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2021 NBA Draft- First Round Analysis

The 2021 NBA Draft has potential to become one of the greatest drafts of all timeHere’s my analysis of the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft:


1. Detroit Pistons select: Cade Cunningham, 6’8” 220 lbs Point Guard, Oklahoma State

Analysis: As expected, the Detroit Pistons selected their point guard of the future in Cade Cunningham. Although they drafted another point guard last year in Killian Hayes, teams in a rebuilding situation like the Pistons should always strive to select the best player available and then figure the rest out later. Overall, Cunningham seems to be the most complete NBA prospect in recent memory, and it would’ve been foolish for the Pistons not to take him.

Pro Comparison(s): Brandon Roy


2. Houston Rockets select: Jalen Green, 6’6” 186 lbs Shooting Guard, G-League Ignite

Analysis: At first glance, Jalen Green seems redundant with Kevin Porter Jr., who also possesses some of the same scoring instincts as Green. However, Green is actually complementary with Porter, as Porter has demonstrated the ability to be a playmaker. Like the Detroit Pistons, the Rockets decided to take the best available player rather than making a need-based selection. If I were the Rockets, I would have drafted Jalen Suggs, but Green seems to have the higher ceiling to go along with his flair and charisma which makes him more marketable. Overall, many expect Green to become a superstar but he’ll have to improve on doing the little things in order for him to reach that point.

Pro Comparison(s): Zach LaVine


3. Cleveland Cavaliers select: Evan Mobley, 7’0” 215 lbs Big, USC

Analysis: Although the Cavaliers currently have Jarrett Allen at Center, Mobley is a tweener at the 4 and 5 positions at the moment. Mobley isn’t quite quick enough to guard smaller 4s but doesn’t yet possess the toughness to bang with NBA 5s. That being said, Mobley was not only the best player left on the board but he’s actually a reasonable fit next to Jarrett Allen because of his ability to stretch the floor. If Mobley develops into the franchise big man that many scouts believe he can become, the Cavaliers will be glad they drafted him but time will tell.

Pro Comparison(s): Chris Bosh/ Myles Turner (about 20-30 pounds ago)


4. Toronto Raptors select: Scottie Barnes, 6’9” 227 lbs Athlete, Florida State

Analysis: Scottie Barnes to the Raptors was the first surprise pick of the night. Giannis Antetokounmpo’s performance throughout the NBA Finals seems to have paved the way for prospects like Barnes. Like Antetokounmpo’s situation in Milwaukee, the Raptors will have to be creative with how they use Scottie Barnes whether it’s using him as a point forward or even running him at small ball 5. Although his versatility works in his favor, it can also work against him because of his lack of a reliable perimeter shot at the moment. There will also be questions about his fit with Pascal Siakam and how the floor spacing will work with both of them sharing the court. Overall, this pick raised some eyebrows but this certainly wasn’t a bad pick by any means.

Pro Comparisons: taller, more athletic Draymond Green/ Justise Winslow


5. Orlando Magic select: Jalen Suggs, 6’4” 205 Combo Guard, Gonzaga

Analysis: Anytime you see a prospect like Jalen Suggs still on the board, you have to take that chance. That being said, the Magic have a lot of tweeners at the guard position such as Suggs, Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony, and R.J. Hampton. The good thing that the Magic have going for them is that they have talent at every position but the issue is managing everyone’s minutes. That being said, one thing that sets Suggs apart from the rest of the guards on the roster is his ability to be more of a pass-first point guard as well as his ability to defend. 

Pro Comparison(s): Jrue Holiday/ Kirk Hinrich


6. Oklahoma City Thunder select: Josh Giddey, 6’8” 190 lbs Point Guard, Adelaide 36ers (Australia)

Analysis: This selection reminds me of when the New York Giants selected Daniel Jones with the 6th overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. On the surface, this seems like a questionable pick. However, he was the most complementary guard left on the board with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. If the Thunder believed that Giddey was their guy, why wait if you can draft him now? Although he’s only 18 years old, the extent of Giddey’s potential is very much a question mark but time will tell.

Pro Comparisons: Kyle Anderson/ Greivis Vasquez


7. Golden State Warriors select (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Jonathan Kuminga, 6’8” 220 lbs Wing, G-League Ignite

Analysis: As the case was with the Orlando Magic, the Golden State Warriors are taking a chance with Jonathan Kuminga. It is unclear whether or not Kuminga will be a 3 or a 4 as well as his long term role in the NBA; similar to a 21-year-old Jeff Green back in 2007. Kuminga is an extremely raw prospect who may take longer to unlock his potential since he won’t be asked to average 20 points given the situation that he’s in but he’ll have to earn his way by doing the little things such as hustling and cutting hard which could serve him well in the long run.

Pro Comparison(s): Jaylen Brown/ young Jeff Green


8. Orlando Magic select (via Chicago Bulls): Franz Wagner, 6’9” 220 lbs Wing, Michigan

Analysis: After Jalen Suggs fell right in their lap, the Magic decided to take the safe route by selecting Franz Wagner. Wagner is a versatile wing that can score from all three levels and has shown promise on the defensive end. He’s also shown flashes of being a jumbo-sized playmaker. That being said, he’s a jack of all trades but a master of none and will have to improve his three point percentage as well as tightening his handle. It’s also worth noting that this selection unites him with his brother, Mo Wagner who also played at Michigan.

Pro Comparison(s): young Mike Miller


9. Sacramento Kings select: Davion Mitchell, 6’2” 205 lbs Combo Guard, Baylor

Analysis: This was a surprising pick, not because of the player but more so the fit. That being said, this could be a game-changing pick, not only for the Kings, but for the entire NBA if the Kings play their cards right. In order for Sacramento to make the most of this selection, they’ll have to be creative. Ideally, the more primary ball handlers you have, the faster your team’s pace will be. It appears that the Kings could possibly run a three guard lineup consisting of De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, and Tyrese Haliburton. Mitchell has the ability to play on and off the ball as well as give his opponents an off night as a defender. Overall, this selection could either make the Kings look like geniuses or get their GMs and scouts fired but time will tell.

Pro Comparisons: Marcus Smart/ Kyle Lowry


10. New Orleans Pelicans select (traded to the Memphis Grizzlies): Ziaire Williams, 6’8” 185 lbs Wing, Stanford

Analysis: Before the season, many scouts believed Ziaire Williams was a surefire top-10 pick in this year’s draft. However, he didn’t have the season that many expected of him or that he expected of himself but he still managed to make it in the top 10. That being said, the Memphis Grizzlies have been lacking a high-upside athletic wing ever since they traded Rudy Gay in 2013. Williams and Gay (back in 2006) have a lot of similar qualities in that they both are perceived as athletic wings that are capable of scoring but need to work on their efficiency. The Grizzlies took a big swing with this selection but with the proper development of Williams, the Grizzlies might have their organic big 3 of the future with him, Ja Morant, and Jaren Jackson Jr.

Pro Comparison(s): young Rudy Gay/ Andrew Wiggins


11. Charlotte Hornets select: James Bouknight, 6’5” 190 lbs Shooting Guard, UConn

Analysis: Although Terry Rozier is coming off a bounce back season he doesn’t seem to be a long-term option at the two. Therefore, the selection of Bouknight made a lot of sense. One may argue that they should have taken a big man, preferably a stretch big but when a GM sees a prospect that they really like, they have to take advantage of the opportunity presented to them when it’s available. As far as what Bouknight brings to the Hornets, he gives them a three level scorer who can also be a lob target for LaMelo Ball. Bouknight will have to continue to improve his ball handling, his shooting efficiency, as well as his defense if he wants to reach his full potential. Overall, his skill set is a great complement to his backcourt mate LaMelo Ball.

Pro Comparison(s): Jordan Clarkson/ Terrence Ross


12. San Antonio Spurs select: Joshua Primo, 6’6” 190 lbs Shooting Guard, Alabama

Analysis: The selection of Joshua Primo at 12 was a shocker for a variety of reasons. For one, the San Antonio Spurs are stocked with shooting guards. Also, many draft experts didn’t have him going that high. That being said, Primo’s performance at the Draft Combine paid off, and the fact that he’s only 18 years old certainly works in his favor in this scenario. Primo has a long way to go in his development but with the right coaching (as the Spurs have) and player development, the Spurs may have themselves a diamond in the rough.

Pro Comparison(s): Malik Beasley/ Anfernee Simons


13. Indiana Pacers select: Chris Duarte, 6’6” 190 lbs Wing, Oregon

Analysis: This selection makes it clear that the Pacers are still committed to winning. A lot has been made about Duarte’s age but when you’re competing for a playoff spot, you need players that are NBA ready. Duarte wasn’t selected to become a star, he was selected to play a role which is to become a 3 and D wing, which is something an NBA team can never have enough of in today’s NBA.

Pro Comparison(s): Danny Green/ Donte DiVincenzo


14. Golden State Warriors select: Moses Moody, 6’6” 205 lbs Wing, Arkansas

 Analysis: Although Moses Moody is only 19 years old, he already has a defined role on a potential playoff contender; a 3 and D wing. Moody is also a capable three level scorer. However, he’ll have to improve his playmaking and ball handling if he wants to become more than a role player. That being said he’ll play more of a simplified role to start off his career. Overall, Golden State knocked their selections out of the park. They swung for the fences on Kuminga but Moody was the safer pick. While Kuminga is more of a wildcard, the Warriors know what they’re getting with Moses Moody.

Pro Comparison(s): Khris Middleton/Gary Trent Jr.


15. Washington Wizards select: Corey Kispert, 6’7” 220 lbs Wing, Gonzaga

Analysis: Although the Wizards are now overstocked at the wing position, it doesn’t hurt to add shooters to that mix, and that’s what Corey Kispert will add to the Wizards from day one. Kispert may not become a star in the NBA but he already has a defined role in Washingtonand will likely have a long career in  knockdown shooter role.

Pro Comparison(s): Joe Harris/ Doug McDermott


16. Oklahoma City Thunder select (via Boston Celtics, traded to the Houston Rockets): Alperen Sengun, 6’9” 235 lbs Center, Besiktas (Turkey)

Analysis: The Oklahoma City Thunder could’ve really used a big man like Alperen Sengun but they decided to go in a different direction and trade him to the Houston Rockets. AlthoughSengun is really young, he already possesses an advanced post presence as well as an overall feel for the game. However, he isn’t athletically gifted and will have to rely on technique in order for him to become a better defender. It also wouldn’t hurt for him to improve his consistency from behind the three point line. That being said, this trade was a great gamble for the Houston Rockets.

Pro Comparison(s): Domantas Sabonis


17. Memphis Grizzlies select (traded to the New Orleans Pelicans): Trey Murphy, 6’9” 206 lbs Wing, Virginia

Analysis: Had the Pelicans kept their original pick at 10, they could’ve landed Corey Kispert, who is arguably the best pure shooter in the 2021 NBA Draft. However, Trey Murphy is more than just a shooter. He’s also a versatile defender which was an area of concern for the Pelicans last season. Murphy won’t be asked to be a star for the New Orleans Pelicans but he already has a defined role before even stepping foot on an NBA court, and that’s to be a 3 and D wing.

Pro Comparison(s): Mikal Bridges/ Trevor Ariza


18. Oklahoma City Thunder select (via Miami Heat): Tre Mann, 6’5” 190 lbs Combo Guard, Florida

Analysis: Although Tre Mann is capable of playing either guard spot, the Thunder already used the 6th overall pick on a point guard in Josh Giddey and their franchise player, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a combo guard. The Thunder could’ve used this pick to fill their needs at the wing or at center. Ironically, Mann is very similar to Gilgeous-Alexander in that they are both combo guards with a score first mindset but are also capable playmakers. Overall, the Thunder didn’t seem to make the most of their selections as many hoped, but time will tell.

Pro Comparison(s): Shai Gilgeous-Alexander/ Nickeil Alexander-Walker


19. New York Knicks select (traded to the Charlotte Hornets): Kai Jones, 6’11 218 lbs Stretch Big, Texas

Analysis: The Knicks could’ve actually used a big man like Kai Jones, who would’ve provided Julius Randle the spacing to operate down low. That being said, this was an absolute steal for the Charlotte Hornets. At the moment, Jones is raw but he has all of the ideal tools that you’d want in a modern NBA big, such as the ability to stretch the floor, run the floor, and protect the rim. With LaMelo Ball as his point guard, he’ll get a lot of easy baskets from running the floor which is an ability derived from his background in track.

Pro Comparison(s): Christian Wood


20. Atlanta Hawks select: Jalen Johnson, 6’9” 220 lbs Wing, Duke

Analysis: The Hawks are currently overstocked at the wing position with De’Andre Hunter and Cameron Reddish. That being said, the Hawks already have a solidified core so they can afford to take a swing on a prospect like Jalen Johnson who was once a projected top 10 pick. Johnson saw his stock drop because of inconsistent play and his decision to opt out of the season with a chance to perhaps fight for a spot in the NCAA Tournament. Overall, Johnson’s best basketball seems to be ahead of him but will have to become a knockdown shooter, and a more polished ball handler if he wants to reach his potential. 

Pro Comparison(s): young Nicolas Batum/ Josh Jackson


21. New York Knicks select (via Dallas Mavericks, traded to the Los Angeles Clippers): Keon Johnson, 6’5” 186 lbs Wing 

Analysis: Keon Johnson would’ve been a great fit in Tom Thibodeau’s system because of his ability to defend. However, this trade gives the Clippers insurance at the wing position whether Kawhi Leonard decides to stay or go elsewhere. Johnson is a world-class athlete and was a regular on the SportsCenter top 10. However, if he wants to have a long career in the NBA, he’ll have to become a more reliable three point shooter as well as a more polished ball handler.

Pro Comparison(s): young Iman Shumpert/ Lonnie Walker IV


22. Los Angeles Lakers select (traded to the Indiana Pacers): Isaiah Jackson, 6’10” 206 lbs Center

Analysis: Unlike his new teammate Chris Duarte, Isaiah Jackson is not someone who’s ready to contribute to winning right now. However, the Pacers can afford to take that gamble because they selected Duarte who is a ready made pro. At times, Jackson looked his age (19) at Kentucky and is still learning the game. With the proper coaching and player development, the Indiana Pacers might have a diamond in the rough in Jackson.

Pro Comparison(s): Chris Boucher/ Nerlens Noel


23. Houston Rockets select (via Portland Trail Blazers): Usman Garuba, 6’8” 229 lbs Center, Real Madrid

Analysis: When you’re in a rebuilding situation like the Houston Rockets, you can afford to take gambles like these. At the moment, Garuba is mainly an energy big which will certainly earn him minutes early in his career. However, to make up for his lack of height, he’ll have to add a consistent perimeter shot in order for him to play for longer stretches. 

Pro Comparison(s): Kenneth Faried/ Thomas Robinson


24. Houston Rockets select (via Milwaukee Bucks): Josh Christopher , 6’5” 215 lbs Shooting Guard, Arizona State

Analysis: Like the previous pick, this selection was another swing for the fences. Although Josh Christopher’s skill set is redundant with that of Jalen Green’s and Kevin Porter Jr.’s, you can never have enough irrational confidence on your roster. Christopher didn’t have the season that he hoped during his freshman year at Arizona State but he really helped himself with his performance at the NBA Draft Combine when he scored 16 and recorded 10 rebounds in a scrimmage which helped to boost his stock from a second round pick to a late first round pick. 

Pro Comparison(s): Nick Young/ Lance Stephenson


25. Los Angeles Clippers select (traded to the New York Knicks): Quentin Grimes, 6’5” 205 lbs Wing, Houston

Analysis: Once a highly touted prospect coming out of high school, Quentin Grimes’ college career was off to a rocky start during his time at Kansas. However, once he transferred to the University of Houston, he started to show glimpses of the potential that draft experts saw in him. It took Grimes longer than many expected to make the jump to the NBA but his style of play is a great fit for what Tom Thibodeau wants. Although Knick fans might’ve preferred a point guard, Grimes has shown glimpses of playmaking ability, along with an ability to defend and knock down threes. Grimes will have to prove that he’s more of a knockdown shooter at the next level rather than a streaky shooter. Overall, this might be an unpopular pick at the moment but an unpopular pick doesn’t always equate to a bad pick.

Pro Comparison(s): Josh Hart


26. Denver Nuggets select: Nah’Shon Hyland, 6’3” 173 lbs Combo Guard, VCU

Analysis: Those who didn’t pay attention to college basketball, let alone the draft combine may not know who Nah’Shon Hyland is. Hyland really helped himself at the NBA Draft Combine recording 17 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists in a scrimmage. At VCU, Hyland ran the show at point guard but the Nuggets would likely ask him to play both on and off the ball since he’s a tweener at the guard position.

Pro Comparison(s): Immanuel Quickley


27. Brooklyn Nets select: Cameron Thomas, 6’4” 210 lbs Shooting Guard, LSU

Analysis: Cameron Thomas was an absolute steal for the Brooklyn Nets. Although, Thomas said he wanted to prove that he was more than just a scorer during the media availability, scoring is what he does best, and that’s the main thing that the Nets are going to ask of him. However, he’ll have to improve his playmaking ability as well as become a more focused defender if he wants to be perceived as more than a one dimensional player.

Pro Comparison(s): Dion Waiters/ Ben Gordon


28. Philadelphia 76ers select: Jaden Springer, 6’4” 204 lbs Combo Guard, Tennessee

Analysis: Although Springer doesn’t fit the direction of the Philadelphia 76ers, it never hurts to add youth to your roster. However, Springer won’t have much room for error in Philly and will have to earn his minutes through his defense as well as knocking down threes. Overall, Springer is a jack of all trades but a master of none and will have to prove that he can make 3s with consistency at the next level.

Pro Comparison(s): Malcolm Brogdon


29. Phoenix Suns select (traded to the Brooklyn Nets): Day’Ron Sharpe, 6’11 265 lbs Center, North Carolina

Analysis: The Phoenix Suns could’ve used Day’Ron Sharpe to help out DeAndre Ayton on the boards, especially after the way the Milwaukee Bucks dominated them down low in the NBA Finals. However, the Brooklyn Nets really needed a center as well. The only question about this pick is; how often will Sharpe see minutes? He may even get sent down to the G-League early on in his career. Either way, he won’t be asked to do much besides be a presence down low as well as setting screens for Kyrie Irving and James Harden. Overall, the Nets could afford to swing for the fences after selecting Cameron Thomas, who already has a defined role in the NBA.

Pro Comparison(s): Kendrick Perkins/ Brendan Haywood


30. Utah Jazz select (traded to the Memphis Grizzlies): Santi Aldama, 6’11 224 lbs Stretch Big, Loyola (Maryland)

Analysis: This selection is reminiscent of when the Minnesota Timberwolves used the 11th overall pick to draft Cameron Johnson and then traded him to the Phoenix Suns. Although Aldama wasn’t a projected first round pick, the Memphis Grizzlies needed more shooting, and in today’s NBA you can never have enough shooters. It’s a plus when your big men demonstrate the ability to be knockdown shooters rather than relying on wing players to play bigger than they actually are. Overall, the Memphis Grizzlies threw a curveball with this selection and time will tell if this selection will work out.

Pro Comparison(s): Frank Kaminsky

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