It is time to throw away the American inferiority complex with its place in the sport, where many blindly claim that technique should come above all in choosing and developing the best prospects and that the U.S. is not an international power because it cares too much about athleticism.
Quick Thoughts on the 2021 NBA Draft
By: Khaqan Khan
This year's draft is shaping to be one for the ages. Not only does it include game-changing prospects, but the turnaround from the finals last week to the draft and then free agency next week is so condensed compared to years past. Look for GMs and Players to move with more urgency. Draft night is set to have Woj bombs dropping as often as Curren$y.
Speculating what's going to happen is so chaotic that it might not just be worth it. There is just so much fluff that comes out surrounding prospects to mislead other teams or build up trade hype. It's really hard to decipher whether anything is true unless either Woj or Shams tweet it out. However, from everything that I've seen from reports and quotes from players, this is my take on the most likely outcome, which will probably end up being so wrong come draft night.
1. Detroit Pistons - Cade Cunningham - if it's true that they turned down #6 and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the number 1 pick, then they must be locked in on Cade.
2. Houston Rockets - Jalen Green - said he only worked out for Detroit and Houston. I hope the Rockets aren't favoring Green over Mobley because they have Christian Wood, a really good player but not that good when you factor him into your long-term plans.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers - This is where things get interesting. I think the Cavs trade back, and whatever team gets the 3rd pick takes Evan Mobley - Mobley's camp doesn't want him to go to Houston.
4. Toronto Raptors - Jalen Suggs - this is just ideal for both parties. What better player to replace Kyle Lowry than a great teammate and high IQ point guard who's won and made his teammates better everywhere he's played?
5. Orlando Magic - in my opinion, the best player available here is Scottie Barnes, but I doubt the Magic will stay put at #5. As far as Barnes goes, this guy has almost everything you want out of a high lottery pick except probably the most important thing, which is a reliable jump shot. You can classify Barnes in the Draymond Green/Ben Simmons type mold, which are players that can contribute to winning but also put a cap on your ceiling.
Orlando has a bunch of players they could move and have cap space to absorb Kevin Love. Staying at five doesn't help them. If they could move up to three and take Mobley, they could start rebuilding with a potential future star. Send Wendell Carter Jr to Cleveland and take back Kevin Love or maybe even Colin Sexton. Scottie Barnes seems to be the best player available at five, but I don't see how that matches up with the team's core players of Faultz and Isaac, who are also lengthy athletic guys who can't shoot. But then again, they might be starting from scratch, so it might not even matter.
If you're Cleveland, you could have Mobely, or you could have Scottie Barnes and Wendell Carter jr. A lot depends on what the Cavs decide to do with Collin Sexton or whether or not they try to keep Jarrett Allen.
What if the Magic offer the 5th and 8th picks. The Cavs could get Wendell Carter jr - maybe steal another young player like Chuma Okeke - draft Scottie Barnes - then use the 8th pick to select another potential blue-chipper or use that pick to trade back even more and accumulate more assets.
The Cavs dealing with Orlando might land them a solid young player with more flexibility for this year. Trading with the Thunder might offer them more long-term flexibility, but if I'm Kolby Altman, I have to act now because, honestly, it's a surprise I still have a job.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder - If OKC doesn't trade up at least one spot, then all those picks begin to seem pointless. The whole point of accumulating assets was to set yourself up to get the next available superstar. There's a very low chance of getting a superstar player staying put at #6 unless Presti strikes gold again like he's done in the past. Maybe that's James Bouknight, who has worked out for the Thunder and personally said he would love to be in a backcourt with SGA. As a Thunder fan, if that's the worst-case scenario in this draft, that's honestly not that bad. But then again, I would rather have an Evan Mobley-type player if available. I would bet money that OKC is not picking at #6. Look for Presti to stay active on draft night.
Picks to watch for movement from:
Picks 3-7. All these picks are subject to change. All these teams either have an incentive to move up or move back. The Cavs need more than another young player. It's unclear what direction the Raptors will go in. What they decide to do with the pick will be a good indication. Maybe Pascal Siakam will be involved. What if they trade up one spot and pick Evan Mobley? The Magic need a hard reset, and moving up for a top-4 player might help them clear some space for that.
You have to believe Presti isn't going to sit on his hands with all those picks falling out of his pockets. Though I think he might be content with Scottie Barnes or James Bouknight, Presti knows they call it a war chest and not a peace chest for a reason. If he doesn't end up getting a trade down, I fully expect him to raise the price for the other competing team like Orlando.
The Golden State Warriors have not been shy about using picks 7 and 14 to acquire an all-star level player to help them win now. Pascal Siakam has been linked to them and honestly seems the fairest value for what the warriors can offer. I don't anticipate 7, 14, and Wiseman is enough to disembark a Bradley Beal or Ben Simmons, definitely not Dame Lillard. But I could be wrong; stranger things have happened in the NBA.
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