2021 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades


The unpredictable 2021 NBA Draft is finally here.

The top of this year’s draft may follow the chalk — there was a clear top four on most teams’ draft boards — but it is thrown wide open after that, and people around the league expect a flurry of trades (we have already seen a couple with the Nets and Suns, and Cavaliers and Timberwolves all striking deals based around guards). This could be the wildest draft in years, and in it there are players who can change the fortunes of teams. There is a lot on the line.

This 2021 NBA Draft Tracker will have it all, a breakdown of every pick, every trade — complete with an analysis of how that player fits (or doesn’t) with his new surroundings.


Pistons small icon No. 1 Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham, 6’8″ point guard, Oklahoma State. The consensus top pick in this class, he has an all-around game — a tall primary ball handler who can run the offense and set up others, or take over a game scoring. He is a fluid athlete that naturally plays at different speeds. He’s an improving shooter (43.8% from 3 last season) and the potential to be an elite defender. He is the kind of playmaking guard the Pistons need to go with their young core and the only real question is if he can be a No. 1 scoring option in the NBA. If so, Cunningham profiles as an All-NBA level player.

Rockets small icon No. 2 Houston Rockets: Jalen Green, 6’5″ guard, G-League Ignite. Green is going to be able to get buckets in the NBA. He’s an elite athlete (maybe the best in this class) who can get to the rim and finish, but also has a good-if-inconsistent jumper that will make him as a threat on pull-ups and threes. Green averaged 17.9 points a game and shot 36.5% on 3s going against men fighting to earn a paycheck in the G-League bubble, and he got better as the games went on. He has star potential in the NBA if he finds a consistent shot.


As has been rumored throughout the day, the Washington Wizards are sending Russell Westbrook back to his native Los Angeles to play for the Lakers in a trade that will send Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Montrezl Harrell and the No. 22 pick back to the Wizards. This move could/should make the Lakers better in the regular season, especially if LeBron James or Anthony Davis miss time, but it poses some challenging questions come the playoffs. The Wizards gain some depth and flexibility, allowing them to put players they like better around Bradley Beal (who doesn’t want to be traded).

Cavaliers small icon No. 3 Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley, 7’0″ center, USC. He has the build, athleticism, and skill set to be a dominant modern NBA center. His strength right now is on defense, where he is an athletic shot blocker and rim protector who also can defend a smaller guard/wing in space on the switch. On offense, he has good handles for a big man who can create for others and, if his shot continues to improve, will be able to score inside and out. Has to get stronger, was pushed around in college at times and is about to start going against much more physical players. A lot of potential here.

Raptors small icon No. 4 Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes, 6’8″ forward, Florida State.The first surprise of the night, but he had been climbing draft boards fast in recent weeks because of his potential. He profiles as the prototypical switchable defensive wing so vital in the modern game: Strong, long (7’2″ wingspan) and can guard anyone from a point guard to a small-ball five. Offensively he has the tools, but it all comes down to if he can develop a steady jump shot, especially a 3-pointer (24.7% in college from 3). He’s got good handles and can pass (he played some point for the Seminoles) but he needs that jumper, right now he is not a threat from the midrange or 3.

Magic small icon No. 5 Orlando Magic: Jalen Suggs, 6’5″ guard, Gonzaga. He has the potential to be an elite offensive initiator in the NBA, the kind of point guard who is a smart floor general, can score when needed, and is a versatile defender. Plays an aggressive, attacking style. He showed off a well-rounded game leading Gonzaga last season and, with an improving jumper (it needs to be steadier), could do the same at the NBA level. This is a team that already has Markelle Fultz on the roster (he has evolved into a decent point guard) and drafted Cole Anthony last year, but Suggs has the potential to be much, much more than either of them and the rebuilding Magic were smart to grab the guy with all that potential.

Thunder small icon No. 6 Oklahoma City Thunder: Josh Giddey, 6’8″ wing, Australia. A surprise pick this high, he was expected to go later in the lottery but had been rumored to have been climbing boards late. He averaged 10.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.5 assists a game last season for Adelaide, playing against men in the Australian league — and did it at age 18. He’s a bit of a project — his jumper has a ways to go, his handle and footwork need work, he’ll have to adjust his change-of-speed moves to the NBA game — but has the high-end potential of being a secondary scorer in the league.

Warriors small icon No. 7 Golden State Warriors: Jonathan Kuminga, 6’7″ forward, G-League Ignite. Two-way wings are in high demand around the league and the Warriors may have just landed themselves an elite one in Kuminga, if he develops. He has No. 1 pick talent, but is raw, especially on defense and with his decision making — how well that fits with the win-now Warriors remains to be seen. Kuminga averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds a game going against men in the G-League bubble last season at age 18. He is athletic, long (7-foot wingspan), a great cutter and finisher at the rim. He has to bring his jump shot and defense around, but if he does this could be a steal for Warriors, if they keep him around.

Magic small icon No. 8 Orlando Magic (via Chicago): Franz Wagner, 6’9″ forward, Michigan. Potential 3&D wing, if he can develop a steady 3-pointer. He’s experienced, having played in Europe before going to Michigan, he’s a strong defender on ball or off (however will need to get stronger to slow other NBA wings). He shot 34.3% from 3 last season but was inconsistent from deep. If his shot comes around this is a quality pick for a future rotation player.

Kings small icon No. 9 Sacramento Kings: Davion Mitchell, 6’3″ guard, Baylor. One of the best defenders in this draft, he can step in and help the Kings right now on that end. What spiked his draft stock was the improvement in his shooting last season, he hit 44.7% from 3 and was a key reason Baylor won a national championship. Mitchell also showed some secondary playmaking skills, allowing him to be plugged into in a variety of lineups. His offensive game will need work to thrive at the NBA level, but he has a reputation of a strong work ethic.

Grizzlies small icon No. 10 Memphis Grizzlies (via New Orleans): Ziaire Williams, 6’7″ wing, Stanford. The Pelicans made this pick but it was going to Memphis as part of an already agreed to trade. This is a pick about the future and the Grizzlies’ ability to develop players. Williams has the potential to be a quality shot creator and maker at a position of need in the league. He is a smooth athlete with fantastic handles. He can be a difference maker. He’s also got a ways to go to get there. He has to get much stronger (he struggled with the physicality of the college game) and he’s got to smooth out his jumper and make it a consistent weapon. It’s tough to take much away from his year at Stanford, when he was away from the team for a stretch (death in the family). This is a roll of the dice by Memphis, betting on his upside.

Hornets small icon No. 11 Charlotte Hornets: James Bouknight, 6’5″ wing, Connecticut. Bouknight is an athletic and versatile shot creator, one of the best pure scorers in the country with tremendous craft to his game. He can finish at the rim with the best in this class. He helped his draft stock tremendously at the NBA Draft Combine because the question about him has been his shooting (29.3% from 3 last season), but at the combine he looked like one of the best shooters in this class. Has the potential to be a high-level two-guard and second scoring option in the league for a long time, if he can reach that ceiling (and improve his defense).

Spurs small icon No. 12 San Antonio Spurs: Joshua Primo, 6’5″ guard, Alabama. He is the youngest player in the draft and a development project, but he has all the tools (and the size) that teams are looking for on the wing. He has a 6’11” wingspan, is athletic and bouncy, still has a soft touch on his shot, and should be able to defend one through threes in the NBA — once he develops his body and game. He had a good combine, which helped his stock. This is going to take a little patience, but the Spurs have been drafting and developing guys like this for years.

Pacers small icon No. 13 Indiana Pacers: Chris Duarte, 6’6″ guard, Oregon. One of the best pure shooters in the draft, he hit 42.4% on 3-pointers last season with defenses keying on him. He can score on spot-ups, coming of dribble hand-offs, or off the bounce. He has solid handles and passing, and brings offensive versatility. Not at lock-down defender but hustles on that end and plays smart. Spent four years at Oregon and is 24, not a lot of upside compared to younger players in this range, but he can help Rick Carlisle and the Pacers now.

Warriors small icon No. 14 Golden State Warriors: Moses Moody, 6’7″ wing, Arkansas. He projects as a 3&D wing, one with a 7’1″ wingspan who can guard multiple positions. As a scorer he took and made a lot of contested jump shots at Arkansas (opposing defenses keyed on him, despite him playing off ball) which could bode well for his ability to hit more open looks in the spaced out NBA game. However, not everyone is convinced about his shot and the same is true of his focus and intensity. High floor, he should be a solid rotation player at least.

Wizards small icon No. 15 Washington Wizards: Corey Kispert, 6’7″ wing, Gonzaga. Arguably the best pure shooter in this draft, hitting 44% from 3 last season on more than six attempts a game. Incredible range, and deadly on the catch-and-shoot if his feet are set. He is a good passer who will keep the ball moving against rotating defenses, and he can put the ball on the floor a little. He is older, played four years at Gonzaga, and doesn’t have the high-end ceiling of some others. Also not a great on-ball defender but solid as a team defender. Can help right away.


The Oklahoma City Thunder are sending the No. 16 pick to the Houston Rockets in exchange for two heavily protected future first-round picks.

Rockets small icon No. 16 Houston Rockets: Alperen Sengun, 6’9″ power forward, Turkey. The hipster pick coming into the draft, he fell down the board farther than expected. He won the MVP of the Turkish league at age 19, dominating with both scoring and rebounding. He is an old-school big with an ability to score inside with either hand, and he draws a lot of fouls. He’s a good passer and could develop into a player who can be the hub of an offense with the ball at the elbow. Needs to develop a jumper. The biggest concern is on defense, he doesn’t have the foot speed to guard modern fours and isn’t big enough to defend centers on the block. A lot of questions on that end of the court.

Pelicans small icon No. 17 New Orleans Pelicans (via Memphis): Trey Murphy, 6’8″ wing, Virginia. The Grizzlies made the pick but it is part of an already agreed to trade that will have Murphy in the Big Easy. He is a real 3&D prospect on the wing. He’s got good size and strength, moves his feet well, and can switch onto guards and not get overwhelmed. On the other end of the court, he shot 43.3% from 3 and has an impressive shooting form. He was a late bloomer physically, which means he played a lot of guard growing up and carries those skills with him now.

Thunder small icon No. 18 Oklahoma City Thunder: Tre Mann, 6’5″ guard, Florida. A fantastic shooter with range — 40.2% from 3 last season — he also has good handles and can get into the lane, where he has an impressive floater. His stepback jumper is NBA ready. Not a great playmaker for others, but improving. Not a great athlete by NBA standards, which will be an issue on the defensive end, but he has a role in the league as a shooter who can put the ball on the floor against a poor closeout.


The Knicks have traded the No. 19 pick in the NBA Draft to the Hornets in exchange for a heavily protected 2022 pick that sees the protections decrease in value over the next few years.

Hornets small icon No. 19 Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones, 6’10” power forward, Texas. Charlotte is addressing its need at center by trading for Mason Plumlee and now drafting Jones as the big of the future. Jones is one of the best pure athletes in this draft — he is a force of nature in transition, and has the potential to be a rim-running beast in the NBA. His potential may even be higher on the defensive end, he is already a good shot blocker/rim protector and has the athleticism to switch on the perimeter and stay in front of smaller players. He came to the game late, picking it up in the Bahamas at age 15, there is a lot of upside here once his decision making and acumen for the game pick up.

Hawks small icon No. 20 Atlanta Hawks: Jalen Johnson, 6’8″ forward, Duke. This is a gamble on Johnson’s upside by Atlanta. He has the playmaking skills of a guard and plenty of athleticism, and he’s a very versatile defender, he’s just raw. He has to improve his jump shot and his decision making — he made aggressive passes in college that led to turnovers — but if he can be developed he is the kind of playmaker every team is searching for.


The Knicks have traded the No. 21 pick to the Clippers in exchange for the No. 25 pick and a future second.

Clippers small iconNo. 21 Los Angeles Clippers: Keon Johnson, 6’5″ wing, Tennesse. Any questions about the best pure athlete in this draft were answered when Johnson set an NBA Draft Combine record with a 48-inch vertical leap. He’s aggressive and plays hard, he can help defensively some now on ball, but he’s also raw on offense and a bit of a project for the Clippers. Very high ceiling because of his athleticism, but can he get there? Could see G-League time next season, not a lot of minutes to go around on the Clippers.


The Lakers had already traded the No. 22 pick to the Wizards in the Russell Westbrook deal, now the Wizards have traded the player taken with that pick, Isaiah Jackson, to the Pacers as part of a trade for Aaron Holiday. The Wizards also get the No. 31 pick as part of that trade.

Wizards small icon No. 22 Washington Wizards: Isaiah Jackson, 6’10” center, Kentucky. While the Lakers officially made this pick, Jackson the pick belonged to the Wizards as part of the Westbrook trade, and they turned around and traded Jackson to Indiana as part of a trade for Aaron Holiday. One of the best athletes in this draft, he has real potential to develop into a paint-protecting force on one end and a rim-running finisher on the other. He excels when he gets to use that athleticism running the floor, finishing, or flying in from the weak side as a shot blocker. He’s got to get a lot stronger, he’s got to work on his fundamentals and finishing, bottom line his game still needs a lot of polish, but the potential is there.

Rockets small icon No. 23 Houston Rockets: Usman Garuba, 6’8″ forward, Spain. Arguably the best defender in this draft, and his 7’3″ wingspan helps with that. Played a large role last season for Real Madrid, one of Europe’s powerhouses, where he was asked to guard point guards and occasionally switch on to bigs and bang inside with them, and he proved he could do both. Potential All-Defensive Team player in a few years, but he has a lot of work to do on the offensive end. Can pass well in transition, but does not have a scorer’s mentality, or much of a jump shot, and he is not a strong finisher around the rim.

Rockets small icon No. 24 Houston Rockets: Josh Christopher, 6’5″ guard, Arizona State. He was a volume scorer for the Sun Devils with good athleticism and the ability to hit tough shots — he could become an off-the-bench bucket getter in the NBA, if he refines his game. Good handles, knows how to change speed, is quick with the ball, is dangerous in the open court and is a strong finisher at the rim. Shot 30% from 3 in college and his decision making is questionable — because he can make tough shots he takes a lot of them. He wasn’t efficient, but if he cleans that up there’s a role for him in the NBA.

Knicks small icon No. 25 New York Knicks: Quentin Grimes, 6’5″ guard, Houston. Powerful combo guard who uses that strength and good handles to get off his shot. He has developed a solid 3-pointer (40% last season) and has a nice stepback. At his best in transition and is a strong passer in the open court. Needs to get better and more focused on the defensive end, has to become more consistent with his jumper, but could develop into a solid rotation player.

Nuggets small icon No. 26 Denver Nuggets: Nah'Shon Hyland, 6’3″ guard, VCU. He goes by “Bones.” A combo guard with a score-first mentality, strong handles, a good first step, and deep shooting range, all of which makes him an attractive pick as a potential microwave scorer off the bench — something the Nuggets might need with Jamal Murray out much of next season. Bones had a strong showing at the combine and his 6’9″ wingspan means he can guard ones or twos at the next level. Not a great facilitator, needs to get stronger, but he’s a player with potential.

Nets small icon No. 27 Brooklyn Nets: Cameron Thomas, 6’3″ guard, LSU. A steal by the Nets this deep in the draft. The guy can just go get buckets, one of the best pure scorers in the draft (side note: those kind of players thrive in Summer League, he could dominate in Vegas). He’s an old-school, isolation scorer who has a knack for getting defenders off balance. The problem is he’s a ball stopper on offense and not a good or focused defender. He just scores, but could become an old-school microwave sixth man kind of player.

Sixers small icon No. 28 Philadelphia 76ers: Jaden Spinger, 6’4″ guard, Tennessee. Tenacious, physical defender with quick hands, he’s able to bother guards, but he can’t guard NBA threes and fours. He uses his strength and physicality on drives and was able to bully ball his way to the rim, where he is a good finisher, however it’s much tougher to play that way at the NBA level. Needs to develop a better jump shot. One of the younger guys in the draft, good upside, but a bit of a project.

Nets small icon No. 29 Brooklyn Nets: Day'Ron Sharpe, 6’11” center, North Carolina. The Suns made this pick but it goes to Brooklyn as part of the Landry Shamet trade. A big who brings energy and hustle, he is a beast on the glass (on both ends) and is maybe the best passing big in this class. He sets a quality screen and has good hands, making him a potential pick-and-roll, rim-running big. There’s question about his defense at the next level, and his fit. He’s a project, but he will work hard and has some interesting skills.


The Utah Jazz have traded the No. 30 pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 40 pick this year and two future first rounders.

Grizzlies small icon No. 30 Memphis Grizzlies: Santi Aldama, 6’11” forward/center, Loyola of Maryland. He comes from Spain where he played at a higher level than the Patriot League of the NCAA (he dominated that conference). He has a great feel for the game and can do a little bit of everything on offense, he’s got good handles, can drive, and shot 36.8% from 3 last season. The questions are about his strength and athleticism at the next level, he wasn’t tested or really pushed in college, can he hang with NBA players? If he can he can be a role-playing big.


Wizards small icon No. 31 Washington Wizards (via Milwaukee and Indiana): Isaiah Todd, 6’10” power forward/center, G-League Ignite. A top high school recruit, he struggled some against pros in the G-League, but still shows promise as a floor-stretching big. His best skill is shooting, he shot 36% from 3 for the Ignite and could be a dangerous pick-and-pop screen setter who can roll to the rim and finish. He’s got good athleticism. The problem is he looks for his shot a lot and takes contested long twos rather than pass out, his feel for the game is questioned by scouts. Defensively he has tools but has to get stronger and tougher. Prefers to live on the perimeter, not go inside.

Knicks small icon No. 32 New York Knicks: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, 6’10” forward, Villanova. Players coming out of Jay Wright’s program the past few years just know how to play smart basketball and fit in as quality role players, and Robinson-Earl should fit that mold. He’s a versatile, well-rounded player who can be physical in the paint or switch onto smaller players on the perimeter and hold his own. Offensively can spot up, set picks and roll to the rim, he can handle contact and score inside. Not an elite athlete, but should be a solid NBA role player.


The Orlando Magic have traded the rights to the No. 33 pick to the Los Angeles Clippers for a future second round pick and the all important cash considerations.

Clippers small iconNo. 33 Los Angeles Clippers: Jason Preston, 6’4″ point guard, Ohio. The Magic made the pick but it is going to the Clippers via a trade. Classic facilitating point guard with an impressive feel for the game. Uses his big frame and a change of pace to create passing angles, and he is one of the best passers in this draft. Good catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter (39% last season), but he struggles to shoot off the bounce. He’s not an elite athlete by NBA standards, will he be able to create the same space for passing? Also, the athleticism is a concern on the defensive end.

Knicks small icon No. 34 New York Knicks: Rokas Jokubaitis, 6’4″ point guard, Lithuania. The Thunder made the pick but it is headed to the Knicks via a trade. This is a draft-and-stash for New York as Jokubaitis has already signed to play for Barcelona next season. He’s played off the ball mostly in Europe but does have handles and a nice midrange game. If he can develop a trustworthy 3-point shot, especially off the dribble, he becomes more dangerous on offense. There are questions about his level of athleticism and with that ability to defend at the NBA level, but some scouts are big fans.

Pelicans small icon No. 35 New Orleans Pelicans: Herb Jones, 6’7″ wing, Alabama. He has the frame (7-foot wingspan) and athleticism to be a prototypical NBA wing. He uses that athleticism best on defense where he is disruptive and switchable onto multiple positions. On offense, he is fantastic in the open court and as a finisher working off the ball. The challenge is his shot — he is not much of a 3-point shooter (although improved some his senior year) and isn’t much better from the midrange. Not a great shot creator for himself. If he can just develop a steady corner 3 he becomes much more valuable.

Knicks small icon No. 36 New York Knicks: Miles McBride, 6’2″ point guard, West Virginia. The Thunder made the pick but it is headed to the Knicks via a trade. He has NBA quickness and athleticism, shot 41.4% from 3 last season, can knock shots down off the catch or the bounce, and he’s a quality on-ball defender who moves his feet well, and he’s got a 6’8″ wingspan to help make up the difference. He also hit tough shots with the Mountaineers, generally a good sign at the next level. He has the potential to be a quality guard off the bench — and maybe more — in the NBA.

Hornets small icon No. 37 Charlotte Hornets: JT Thor, 6’10” power forward, Auburn. The Pistons made the pick but it has been traded to the Hornets. Thor is very raw, a development project for Hornets, but he has all the tools to become a very good modern stretch four. He is long, athletic, can protect the rim or defend fairly well on the perimeter, and he has a good looking 3-point shot (but hit 29.7% last season). He has to get stronger and refine his skills, but the upside here is huge. Could spend time on a two-way or in the G-League.

Bulls small icon No. 38 Chicago Bulls: Ayo Dosunmu, 6’5″ guard, Illinois. One of the best players in college last year, scouts are less sold on how well his skill set fits in the NBA. Averaged 20.1 points a game, is efficient in the pick-and-roll, works hard on defense, but he doesn’t have one elite skill. Also, a solid midrange shooter but not a great from 3-point range, and his shot is a little funky looking. This is a pick that a high-character, hard-working guy can figure it out in the NBA.

Kings small icon No. 39 Sacramento Kings: Neemias Queta, 7’0″ center, Utah State. He was born and started his playing career in Portugal before coming to Utah State. He’s got a big NBA body (250 pounds) with a 7’4″ wingspan, he is a force defensively in the paint (he could be fantastic in drop coverage). Moves well for someone his size, although there are questions about whether his foot speed will be good enough at the NBA level, especially if he gets pulled out on the perimeter. Can finish around the rim on offense but not do much else.

Jazz small icon No. 40 Utah Jazz (via Memphis and New Orleans): Jared Butler, 6’3″ point guard, Baylor. Good pick this deep for a team without Jamal Murray for much of next season. The Most Outstanding Player of the NCAA tournament, Butler led the Bears to a national championship. Tremendous handles and has good lateral movement, he is able to create space and score, plus he can create for others. He’s got a versatile offensive game, although not considered a great finisher at the rim. Works hard on defense but is pretty average on that end. Could be a scoring guard off the bench.

Spurs small icon No. 41 San Antonio Spurs: Joe Wieskamp, 6’7″ wing, Iowa. Could be a steal this deep in the draft. An elite shooter, one of the best in this draft, he hit 46.2% from 3 last season and is deadly on the catch-and-shoot. He impressed at the NBA Draft Combine showing off unexpected athleticism, and he has an NBA frame with a 6’11” wingspan. He can put the ball on the floor but needs to improve there. Real concerns are on the defensive end, where that athleticism doesn’t seem to translate. If the Spurs can develop his feel for the game (and they are historically great at it) this could be a great pick, big shooters are very valuable.

Pistons small icon No. 42 Detroit Pistons: Isaiah Livers, 6’7″ forward/wing, Michigan. One of the best spot up shooters in this draft, having hit 41.3% from 3 last season and he was above 40% from beyond the arc his last three years in Ann Arbor. He can put the ball on the floor and drive past a closeout, and he makes good decisions. Decent on-ball defender. Has the potential to develop into a sharpshooter at the NBA level, but after four seasons at Michigan how much better will he get?

Blazers small icon No. 43 Portland Trail Blazers: Greg Brown, 6’8″ forward, Texas. The Pelicans made this pick but traded the rights to the Trail Blazers. Brown is maybe the most explosive athlete in this draft, but also one of the most raw players in this draft. This is a multi-year development project for Portland (likely a two-way or G-League player at first). That athleticism makes him an impressive dunker and finisher at the rim, and he can be an intimidating shot blocker coming from the weak side. He has to get stronger, has to develop a jump shot, improve his handles, and gain better defensive awareness. But the potential John Collins style of player (not as good, but that kind of athletic impact in the paint) is there, and the Blazers bet on it.

Nets small icon No. 44 Brooklyn Nets: Kessler Edwards, 6’8″ forward, Pepperdine. Potential to become a 3&D wing at the next level. He’s got the build with a 6’11” wingspan and he has the athleticism, he showed real potential as an on-ball defender. He’s become a good catch-and-shoot guy from 3 at Pepperdine. He’s got to get stronger and show he can defend NBA wings, and he needs to develop his handle so he can do more than just shoot, but he’s a good prospect for Nets at this point in the draft.

Celtics small icon No. 45 Boston Celtics: Juhann Begarin, 6’6″ wing, Guadeloupe. A former Basketball Without Borders standout, he played for Paris in France’s second division last season. Fantastic athlete with a 7-foot wingspan and NBA frame, he is a force in transition (but not as good a finisher at the rim as you’d think). However, he’s just raw right now and needs a lot of development — improved shot, improved handle, decision making, feel for the game. Likely will spend time in the G-League. A roll of the dice by the Celtics that they can develop him over a few seasons.

Raptors small icon No. 46 Toronto Raptors: Dalano Banton, 6’9″ wing, Nebraska. Born and raised in Toronto, he becomes the first Canadian-born player drafted by the Raptors. A tall ball handler with fantastic passing skills, he sees the floor well and can make all the passes. Uses his change of pace well, but a great athlete by NBA standards and there are questions about his ability to create space to make passes, or defend, at the next level. Also not a great shooter (24.7% on 3-pointers last season).

Raptors small icon No. 47 Toronto Raptors: David Johnson, 6’5″ point guard, Louisville. Great size for a lead guard and has a 6’10” wingspan. Good handles and a very willing passer, he is particularly strong in the open court or transition, where he can find teammates or score on the drive. He’s an active defender. His shot is improved (38.6% from 3 last season) but still not steady, especially off the bounce, and he can be a bit turnover prone. Has to get stronger. Makes sense as secondary playmaker/spot up shooter, could carve out that role at next level.

Hawks small icon No. 48 Atlanta Hawks: Sharife Cooper, 6’1″ point guard, Auburn. Could be a real steal this late in the draft. After missing the first half of the season (thanks to the good ol’ NCAA and their love of psuedo amataturism), he averaged 20.2 points and 8.1 assists a game for Auburn. Probably the best ball handler in this draft, with a nice change-of-pace, which he uses to get to the rim and draw fouls. He’s an excellent passer. The concerns are two-fold: He needs to improve his jump shot (22.8% from 3 last season) and he’s not tall or wildly athletic, so can he defend at the NBA level?

Nets small icon No. 49 Brooklyn Nets: Marcus Zegarowski, 6’2″ point guard, Creighton. His calling card is his 3-point shot, he hit better than 42% from beyond the arc the last two seasons. He can knock it down off the bounce or on a catch-and-shoot. Also plays a high IQ game. The challenge is he is not an explosive athlete at the NBA level and there are concerns about his ability to create space to get off his shot, and his ability to defend at the next level (he’s not making up for any defensive deficiencies with height). The Nets are going to give him a chance.

Sixers small icon No. 50 Philadelphia 76ers: Filip Petrusev, 6’11” center, Serbia. He played two seasons at Gonzaga, was the WCC Player of the Year as a sophomore averaging 17.5 points and 7.9 assists a game, but withdrew from the draft last year and played professionally for Mega in Serbia where he was league MVP. He is a floor-spacing five who shot 46.2% from 3 last season, and he’s a good finisher at the rim. Potential as a pick setter who can pop out or roll. The big concern is defense. Petrusev is not not a top-level NBA athlete, not explosive, has to get stronger but is expected to struggle to get stops at the next level.

Clippers small iconNo. 51 Los Angeles Clippers via New Orleans and Memphis: B.J. Boston, 6’7″ wing, Kentucky. His physical tools — impressive athleticism, 7-foot wingspan — made him a top recruit and is why NBA teams are interested. He is also a project. The upside is his athleticism and handles allow him to get into the lane or create space on the perimeter. However, has to get a lot stronger, he struggled with the physicality of the college game and that is about to get tougher. Has to improve his 30% 3-point shot. He has the $1 million moves and the 5¢ finish, and that has to change to stick at the next level.

Pistons small icon No. 52 Detroit Pistons: Luka Garza, 6’11” center, Iowa. Has been one of the best and most acclaimed players in college basketball the past couple of seasons. Incredibly strong and uses that, a lot of crafty moves, and a soft touch to score around the basket. He also shot 44% from 3 last season, which helps his NBA stock. He’s not athletic by NBA standards and that will be an issue both in getting off his shot and particularly on the defensive end at the next level. He scored a lot in the post in Iowa, but he’s not going to get those touches in the NBA.

Sixers small icon No. 53 Philadelphia 76ers: Charles Bassey, 6’10” center, Western Kentucky. He was a higher-level prospect as a freshman, went back to college, tore his ACL, and now is seen as a bit of a development project. He has good size (7’3″ wingspan) and impressive athleticism, he has potential as a rim protector and force in the paint if he can add some muscle and improve his foot speed. Very raw on the offensive end and will take time to develop. Could be a rim-running center in a few years.

Bucks small icon No. 54 Milwaukee Bucks via Pacers: Sandro Mamukelashvili, 6’11” center, Seton Hall. He lived for a while in Georgia (the country, not the state) but mostly grew up learning the game in the United States. NBA frame and decent athleticism, can grab the board and lead the break, and is a good passer. Can shoot from 3 but is not consistent. Real issues on the defensive ends, struggles to guard more athletic fours and isn’t big enough to slow fives in the paint. Could stick in the league if he finds a steady jumper.

Thunder small icon No. 55 Oklahoma City Thunder: Aaron Wiggins, 6’6″ shooting guard, Maryland. He has an NBA frame (6’10” wingspan) and was a strong shot creator in college. Has a good pull up jumper and shot 36% from 3 his junior season, plus he can get to the rim on drives. Puts in good effort on defense. Just never blows scouts away, kind of a jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. Impressed enough in workouts to get drafted but may spend a year on a two-way to show he can develop into an NBA player.

Hornets small icon No. 56 Charlotte Hornets: Scottie Lewis, 6’5″ wing, Florida. This is a bet that Charlotte can develop a jump shot and help Lewis find a better feel for the game. Lewis has plenty of athleticism (42-inch vertical at the combine) and an NBA frame (7-foot wingspan). All that has made him a pretty good defender already. The problem is the offensive end of the court, where he has no jump shot and he just doesn’t seem to have a feel for where to be or how to react. If the Hornets can develop that in the G-League, then they may have a nice rotation player.

Pistons small icon No. 57 Detroit Pistons via Charlotte: Balsa Koprivica, 7’1″ center, Florida State. Born in Serbia, he played high school ball for a season with Cade Cunningham. Koprivica spent the last two seasons with the Seminols, averaging 9.1 points per game he sophomore season, and he was efficient scoring around the rim. He has an NBA frame, but wasn’t on a lot of teams draft boards. A long shot to make the roster, but could be a defensive specialist.

Knicks small icon No. 58 New York Knicks: Jericho Sims, 6’10” center, Texas. NBA build and athleticism as a center, he is a strong defender and has grown into an offensive role as a Longhorn. He’s not a high-flying shot blocker, more of a big body who knows where to be to get in the way and be disruptive, but he was a good rim protector in college. Can he do that at the NBA level? On offense he can rim run and finish around the basket, but that’s about it. Not a shooter. He’s not a sexy pick with a lot of upside, but he has the chance to become a solid NBA role player with some development.

Nets small icon No. 59 Brooklyn Nets: RaiQuan Gray, 6’8″ forward, Florida State. Physically strong, but doesn’t just play bully ball, he has some craft and finesse to get off his shot. Solid defender who can hold his own in the post and switch pretty well on the perimeter. Can drive the lane and finish. He has to develop a jumper on offense and learn to play bigger than he is on defense, if he can do that he could be a small ball five in the league. But there is a lot development to do to get there.

Bucks small icon No. 60 Milwaukee Bucks via Pacers: Georgios Kalaitzakis, 6’7″ guard/wing, Greece. A draft-and-stash pick who will likely continue to play for Panathinaikos in the Greek league. An attacking slasher with the ball in his hands, he can get inside, score and draw fouls. Shows some potential as a playmaker. Not an elite athlete at the NBA level. Has to develop a better shot, improve his decision making, and get stronger.

Add Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Ingram to USA World Cup roster

Memphis Grizzlies v Golden State Warriors
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The Team USA roster heading Manilla for the World Cup this summer just gets deeper and more athletic.

Two more players have committed to playing: Defensive Player of the Year Jaren Jackson Jr. and the Pelicans scoring machine Brandon Ingram, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

We now have eight of the 12 players expected to represent the USA this summer:

Mikal Bridges
Jalen Brunson
Anthony Edwards
Tyrese Haliburton
Brandon Ingram
Jaren Jackson Jr.
Bobby Portis
Austin Reaves

Jackson Jr. brings rim-protecting defense plus the ability to space the floor needed by bigs in the international game. Ingram fits the style of scorer — from Kevin Durant back to Carmelo Anthony — that has always done well for Team USA in international competitions. Ingram averaged 24.7 points per game this season, but missed almost half the season due to a toe injury.

The World Cup takes place this summer in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia, feating 32 teams from around the world. The USA is in Group C with Greece, New Zealand and Jordan. The World Cup is the primary qualifier for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is in charge of Team USA, with his assistant coaches being Erik Spoelstra (Heat), Tyronn Lue (Clippers) and Mark Few (Gonzaga).

The USA will have a training camp in Las Vegas, where they play Puerto Rico in an exhibition before heading to Abu Dhabi and then on to the World Cup, where the USA will play all its games in Manilla.

The World Cup starts Aug. 25 and continues through Sept. 10.


Coaching, front office updates: Sam Cassell headed to Celtics’ bench

2023 NBA Playoffs - Philadelphia 76ers v Boston Celtics
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The musical chairs in NBA coaching and front office circles continues at full speed during the NBA Finals.

We’ve done a couple of notebook-style updates. Here’s another:

• Sam Cassell is headed to Boston to be one of the new key assistants for Joe Mazzulla with the Celtics, a story broken by Shams Charania of The Athletic and confirmed by Chris Forsberg at NBC Sports Boston. Cassell had been on Doc Rivers’ bench in Philadelphia the past few seasons and the Los Angeles Clippers before that. This is as close to bringing in a head coach as you can get without hiring a former head coach, plus he had a 15-year NBA career players’ respect.

Cassell can also teach the players a dance that can get them fined.

Marc Stein reports that the Mavericks are testing the waters to see if former Knicks head coach turned lead broadcaster for ABC/ESPN Jeff Van Gundy — who is currently working the NBA Finals — might want to return to the bench on Jason Kidd’s staff. That seems an incredible long shot, but it never hurts to ask.

• If they can’t get Van Gundy, the Mavericks may turn to former Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek, Stein reports.

• Stein also reports these are the four finalists for the still-open Toronto Raptors head coaching job: Kenny Atkinson (former Nets head coach who is on Steve Kerr’s staff in Golden State), Jordi Fernández (Kings lead assistant), Darko Rajaković (Grizzlies assistant coach) and Sergio Scariolo (Italy’s Virtus Bologna and the Spanish national team head coach). Scariolo will not fly to Toronto for another interview because Virtus Bologna starts the Italian league finals this week.

• Former Rockets head coach Stephen Silas will join the staff of Monty Williams in Detroit as an assistant coach, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

• As expected, the Los Angeles Clippers have promoted from within to replace former GM Michael Winger, who left to become the head of Wizards basketball operations.

The Clippers are considered one of the league’s smarter and more stable front offices, one built on collaboration, so it makes sense to promote from within.

Kyrie Irving reportedly reaches out to LeBron about joining Mavericks… good luck with that

Celebrities At The Los Angeles Lakers Game
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The NBA’s silly season started during the NBA Finals.

Kyrie Irving has reached out to LeBron James about coming to Dallas and has pushed the Mavericks into looking to acquire LeBron via trade, according to reports from Shams Charania of The Athletic and Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report/TNT.


There is no shortage of rumors around the league about Irving and LeBron appearing to warm to the idea of playing together again. That was fueled by Irving being courtside at multiple Lakers playoff games.

There are so many problems with and obstacles to this LeBron in Dallas idea I’ll need to go to bullet points to break them down.

• This was either a tactical leak from the Irving camp to try and make this happen, or, it was a tactical leak by LeBron and Irving to put pressure on the Lakers to bring Irving to Los Angeles this summer. I’m not going to pretend to know Charania’s and Haynes’ sources, but nobody else benefits from this coordinated leak. If it did come from the Irving camp in any way, that’s pretty rich considering days ago he scolded anyone listening to sources and not what he says.

• The Lakers, for their part, are focused on running it back with players such as Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura and have shown limited if any interest in pursuing a sign-and-trade to land Irving. Dallas has no interest in a sign-and-trade that brings them D'Angelo Russell back. The Lakers bringing in Irving remains an incredible long shot.

• LeBron was not trade eligible at the last trade deadline after signing an off-season extension. Maybe the report was intended to mean Dallas was going to make an offer for a LeBron trade this offseason (before the Lakers run to the Western Conference Finals), but the Lakers could not have traded LeBron at the deadline, even if he wanted it.

• Making a LeBron to Dallas trade come together under the much harsher terms for big spending teams in the new CBA is next to impossible, something Haynes talks about in his story. Luka Dončić is already on the books for $40 million next season, and LeBron will make $46.9 million (plus he has a $50.6 million player option for 2024-25). If you pair those two and pay Irving anywhere near the salary he wants, the Mavericks would be right up against the salary cap with no way to fill out the roster except for minimum contracts. Wasn’t LeBron just on a team that gutted its depth for a third star?

• Along those same lines, if the Lakers sign-and-trade for Irving to put next to LeBron and Anthony Davis, they will have no cap room to round out a contending roster and it would look like the Lakers of a couple of seasons ago, with Irving in the Russell Westbrook role.

• Haynes suggested the numbers work for Dallas if LeBron forces a buyout with the Lakers and then signs in Dallas at a reduced salary. Does anyone think LeBron would even consider that for more than a second?

• If Irving is willing to take a massive discount and play for closer to the mid-level exception things fit a little better, but Irving has shown no interest in doing that. Remember he opted in with the Nets rather than leave to play for less, then pushed for a trade when Brooklyn would not give him the extension he wanted.

• There is no motivation for the Lakers to play along with this and there is no trade the Mavericks can put together that would interest Los Angeles. Technically the numbers work if Dallas trades Davis Bertans, Tim Hardaway Jr. and Maxi Kleber to Los Angeles, but why would the Lakers even consider it? The Lakers have traded almost all their draft picks and put all their energy into building a winner around LeBron and Anthony Davis, they are not trading the guy that fills their building for three rotation players. It would not matter what or how many picks were involved.

• Does LeBron James want to leave his family in Los Angeles, and playing literally down the street from his son Bronny at USC next season, to play for the Mavericks? Especially when they have to gut the roster to get him? If this season goes sideways for the Lakers maybe he feels differently about finishing his career somewhere else, but it’s hard to see right now.

Adam Silver said he would not release the update on the Ja Morant investigation right now because he didn’t want to distract from the NBA Finals. I would have paid good money to see his face when he saw this news.

From Santa Barbara to G-League to NBA Finals star, Gabe Vincent epitomizes Heat

2023 NBA Finals - Miami Heat v Denver Nuggets
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DENVER — Bam Adebayo had been a teammate of Gabe Vincent in the bubble and through much of the 2020-21 season (all while Vincent was on a two-way contract with the Heat), but the first time he realized just how good his teammate could be was when Adebayo had to go against him.

“Man, when he torched us in the Olympics, in the exhibition game facing Nigeria,” said Adebayo, who would go on to win gold with the USA in Tokyo. “He came out with that type of energy, that type of voracity and that type of anger. I felt like, from there, he’s one of us.”

Gabe Nnamdi — who uses that name of his ancestry when he represents Nigeria — scored a team-high 21 points against the best the USA had to offer in an exhibition game where Nigeria upset Team USA and sent tremors through the basketball world. It was a breakout moment for Vincent.

That energy and veracity were back in Game 2 of the NBA Finals, when Vincent dropped a team-high 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, leading the Heat to a Game 2 victory. Vincent was the guy getting pulled onto the NBA TV set with Charles Barkley and Shaq.

Vincent’s personal arc to get to that moment may be the embodiment of a Heat player and their team culture.

“I would say that old saying that we use a lot: People severely overestimate what you can get accomplished in a day, and they grossly underestimate what you can get accomplished in a matter of months, years, when nobody is paying attention,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said to describe Vincent’s path. “And he’s the epitome of that.”

Vincent played four years of college basketball at idyllic UC Santa Barbara, where he was a standout for the Gauchos — Big West Freshman of the Year in 2015, and made an All-Big West team his senior year — but he went undrafted and found himself in the G-League with the Stockton Kings. There he played for two seasons, earned the Most Improved Player award, and caught the eye of the Heat front office, who, in January 2020 signed him to a two-way deal.

Vincent’s transformation as a player was just beginning. Vincent had played up to that point as more of an undersized scoring two-guard, but the Heat had other ideas.

“He was a gunslinger, two-guard. We wanted to develop him into a combo guard, somebody that could organize us, be an irritant defensively, tough, learn how to facilitate and run a team,” Spoelstra said. “I think that’s the toughest thing to do in this league, is turn a two into a one. He openly just embraced that. Then he struggled at times with that because you’re trying to reinvent yourself. Instead of saying, This is too tough, let me be me, he’s really grown the last three years.”

“It definitely wasn’t easy,” Vincent said of the transformation of his game. “The staff was great with me, whether it was film or getting in the gym, and my teammates have been phenomenal, coaching me up, telling me to be more aggressive when I’m questioning it or trying to think, should I pass first.

“And our stars, Jimmy, Kyle, Bam, they have just been in my ear and telling me just to play, play basketball. They trust my IQ of the game, and they want me just to go out there and play hard.”

As his game transformed, the Heat signed him in August of 2021 to a two-year minimum deal. He just kept getting better and outplaying that deal.

Vincent was coming off the bench for the Heat to start the season behind Kyle Lowry, but as Vincent’s game grew and Father Time seemed to be winning the race with Lowry, their roles switched. In February he moved into the starting lineup and hasn’t looked back.

“I know the level of confidence that we have in him and that he has in himself to go out there and run the offense at any point in time, first through fourth quarter, maybe even overtime,” Jimmy Butler said of Vincent. “And we live with the decisions and the shots that he makes and takes, and he’s our starting PG for a reason.”

Through the playoffs, Vincent has averaged 13.9 points a game shooting 41.3% from 3, plus dishing out 3.9 assists a game. On Sunday night he was the highest-scoring player on his team in an NBA Finals game.

It’s a long journey from Isla Vista in Santa Barbara to the NBA’s biggest stage.

And it will get him paid — Vincent is an unrestricted free agent this summer who will land an eight-figure-a-year contract. That’s likely with the Heat, who want to retain him, but his playoff performance will have teams looking for two-way ball-handling guards — Orlando, San Antonio, and plenty of others — calling. Vincent will have options.

“He’s just an incredible winning player,” Spoelstra said of him. “This year, he’s been a starter for us. He’s been great. He’s off the bench, he’s been great. He’s like a lot of our guys, the competitive spirit. You get challenged like we’re getting challenged in this series, you hope it brings out the best in you. And that’s what it’s doing with him.”

Adebayo saw that potential when Vincent was challenged in a Las Vegas exhibition game a couple of years ago. Now he’s happy Vincent is on his team and not the opposition.