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With the 2020-21 NBA season complete and the Milwaukee Bucks celebrating a championship for the first time in 50 years, we’re quickly entering what should be a frantic period in the offseason.
As some of the league’s best players are preparing to compete for a gold medal in Tokyo starting later this week, a new class of future NBA stars will enter the league during the 2021 NBA draft on July 29. Consensus No. 1 overall prospect Cade Cunningham will hear his name called early at the Barclays Center next Thursday. However, the 2021 draft is loaded with talent, and teams are likely to pick up impact players well into the second round.
Ahead of the 2021 draft, the NBA Wires crew assumed the roles of the 30 general managers across the league and staged a full mock draft, complete with a few blockbuster trades. Let’s get started.
Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
Ky Carlin: The Pistons need as much talent as they can get. Cunningham is the most talented player in this draft, and he gives the franchise some buzz as well as a guy who can form a foundation with Killian Hayes and Saddiq Bey going forward.
Houston Rockets: Evan Mobley, USC
Ben DuBose: It's a tough call between Mobley and Jalen Green, but the athletic 7-footer from USC offers more tools as a potentially dynamic force on both ends of the court. Mobley needs to put on weight and may not be as ready for the 2021-22 season as Green, who shot well in the G League bubble earlier this year. However, the rebuilding Rockets have to think long-term with such a premium asset. That same logic is why Houston can’t afford to be too fixated on Mobley’s potential frontcourt fit alongside Christian Wood. After finishing last season with the NBA’s worst record, the Rockets need to bring in the best young talent they can and worry about everything else later. Who knows if Wood will even be on the roster in a few years, once Houston is actually planning for a deep playoff run? If Cunningham is off the board, the next-best talent available is Mobley.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Jalen Green, G League Ignite
Michael Mulford: The Cavaliers obviously have two young guards, Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, but Jalen Green's potential is on another tier. Green steps into the league right off the bat as a potential elite three-level scorer. The combination of having a great touch as a shooter along with his elite athleticism and tight handle gives Green the ability to get a shot off anywhere on the floor at any time. Drafting Green also gives the Cleveland front office more reason to part ways with Collin Sexton as his rookie extension looms. With more attention to detail on the defensive end and a continued improvement and feel for the game as a playmaker, Green can be a star in this league and the best player in this draft.
*TRADE* New York Knicks (via Toronto): Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
Trade details: The Toronto Raptors trade the No. 4 pick (Jalen Suggs) to the New York Knicks for Immanuel Quickley, RJ Barrett, picks No. 19 and 58 in the 2021 draft. Ajayi Browne: The New York Knicks had a resurgence this past season, making their first playoff appearance in eight years. RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley proved promising players, but they will not be enough to get New York over the top. In fact, they are not enough for the Knicks to even get past the first round. Jalen Suggs is that point guard with star potential the Knicks have been longing for, and his time in Gonzaga was all the evidence needed to gamble with this trade. Pairing him with Julius Randle gives the Knicks a higher ceiling. It’s a high-risk, high-reward deal I was willing to bet on.
Orlando Magic: Scottie Barnes, Florida State
Michael Mulford: The Magic have been stuck between life as a floor-level playoff team and a rebuild for several seasons, but the rebuild is finally underway. Under new coach Jamahl Mosley and his competitive, defensive mindset, freshman Scottie Barnes out of Florida State makes a lot of sense. Barnes brings a versatile skill set as a potential elite defender with enticing playmaking skills. Barnes steps in on Day 1 of training camp ready to defend the best player on the opposing team with an NBA ready body, length and competitiveness. Barnes' ability to finish at the basket at a high clip is underrated; he's one of the best finishers in the class. With an improved jumpshot and better feel as a scorer from all three levels, Barnes can become an All-Star level player.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Jonathan Kuminga, G League Ignite
Logan Newman: It feels like the Magic will take either Jonathan Kuminga or Scottie Barnes, and the Thunder will get the player remaining. There are reasons to like both: I think Barnes has a higher floor, but Kuminga has a higher ceiling. In this draft, the Thunder got the player who has elite potential on both sides of the ball but has a relatively raw game. He’s a big guy but is still quick and explosive with the propensity for powerful dunks, whether driving, in transition or on cuts in which he finishes alley-oops. He can drive with the ball in his hand and it could become one of his go-to scoring methods. Even though he shot below 40% from the field, I liked that he spent the G League season experimenting with different angles and releases on post-ups and in the paint. As he discovers what can work, he can get better. Defensively, I think more of it will come down to effort and attention to detail. This will be the first season he’s not the first or second offensive option. I think that will force him to play defense better. From there, it’s all about learning the game, and I’m confident the Thunder can further develop a player who just averaged 16 points and seven rebounds in a season against grown men. For what it's worth, I approached Pistons general manager Ky Carlin with four total first rounders and pick No. 34 as a preliminary trade offer for No. 1. It got rejected with no counter. That's how tough the market is for Cunningham.
Golden State Warriors: James Bouknight, UConn
Tommy Call III: While using this pick to net a proven NBA-ready player feels like the ideal move for the Warriors, Connecticut's James Bouknight has the scoring arsenal that could persuade Steve Kerr and Bob Myers to stay on the clock at No. 7. The 20-year-old guard has a bag of tricks when it comes to getting off a shot with the ball in his hands — something the Warriors desperately need when Steph Curry is off the floor. Even without the ball, the Husky standout smoothly navigates around the court to get open, another thing that fits Golden State’s offense while Draymond Green brings the ball up the floor. Along with his exciting scoring repertoire, Bouknight would give the Warriors a needed dose of athleticism on the wing. At 6 feet, 4 inches, the All-Big East guard has an explosive first step that helps him push toward the rim.While his shooting numbers and passing are a concern, Bouknight could benefit from NBA spacing and a role in the second unit while he continues his development behind Curry and Klay Thompson. Following Jordan Poole’s rise, the addition of Bouknight would give Kerr a pair of microwave scorers in the backcourt behind the Splash Brothers.
Orlando Magic: Davion Mitchell, Baylor
Michael Mulford: As stated previously, the competitive nature that new head coach Jamahl Mosley brings to the Magic will be contagious. And, boy, would Mosley love to have a guy like Davion Mitchell. Mitchell, alongside a Scottie Barnes and a healthy Jonathan Isaac, sounds like an absolute nightmare for the opposing team as all three are dogs on the defensive end. Mitchell has that pit bull mentality on the defensive end like Jrue Holiday or Patrick Beverley. On the offensive end, Mitchell is shifty with the basketball, able to create for others as well as get to the rim. Mitchell will bring an intensity to practice and make second-year guards Cole Anthony and RJ Hampton work. If his outside shot continues to improve, as it did during his junior season at Baylor, Mitchell will be a steal at No. 8 for Orlando.
Sacramento Kings: Moses Moody, Arkansas
Sanjesh Singh: Assuming the Sacramento Kings don't trade this pick, which is a possibility, Moses Moody makes sense in various areas. The Kings have multiple holes to fill on the roster, and especially need more wing talent and center depth since Richaun Holmes may not return given Sacramento's financial situation. Kai Jones, Scottie Barnes, Jalen Johnson and more are plausible prospects at No. 9, but Moody projects to be the safest option. He can already knock down 3-pointers at a high percentage, and playing alongside De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, two crafty ball-handlers that slice up defenses in different ways, should put Moody in beneficial positions on offense. Defensively, Sacramento posted horrific numbers last season. Moody can immediately slot in and defend multiple positions, both on and off the ball. Haliburton fell into Sacramento's lap last season and had the tools to be an immediate contributor. Moody could have the same impact at a different position.
*TRADE* Cleveland Cavaliers (via New Orleans): Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
Trade details: The New Orleans Pelicans trade Eric Bledsoe, picks 10, 35 and 53 in the 2021 draft to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Collin Sexton. Michael Mulford: Corey Kispert comes in at No. 10 for Cleveland, bringing his outside shooting stroke and winning intangibles. The Cavs were ranked dead last in 3-point percentage last season, which speaks to why Kispert fits like a glove, as he shot 44.4% from 3-point range as a senior. But Kispert isn't just a shooter. His 6-foot-7 frame and ability to move on defense adds to his value. When you imagine Kispert's ceiling, think of Joe Harris, who Cleveland would love to have back in a Cavs uniform. The kid is a winner and makes winning plays, making the Bulldog a perfect fit with Cleveland.
Charlotte Hornets: Jalen Johnson, Duke
Jacob Rude: The Hornets have a need at center but may be better off addressing that need in free agency. In Johnson, they find a scoring wing option they lacked last season, particularly when Gordon Hayward went down to injury.
San Antonio Spurs: Josh Giddey, Adelaide 36ers
Justin Quinn: In today's NBA, you want more than one playmaker on the floor at all times, and if you can get one with size, even better. When you consider that drafting for position over talent and potential rarely works out in the first round if at all, Australia's Josh Giddey makes a ton of sense for a franchise known to be among the best at developing overseas talent. Read more:HoopsHype interviews Josh Giddey
Indiana Pacers: Franz Wagner, Michigan
Sanjesh Singh: The Indiana Pacers are in an intriguing position with roster construction issues and Rick Carlisle entering the equation to sort things out. The Myles Turner-Domantas Sabonis clog needs to be resolved soon; T.J. Warren has one year left on his contract. Indiana finished sixth in the regular season in scoring, but the defensive side requires refinement. Indiana needs lengthier, stronger wings on the roster, so Franz Wagner is a logical add. He's one of the premier defenders in this class and can slot in at multiple positions. He'd be a perfect fifth option on offense, assuming Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, Warren and Sabonis are also on the floor.
Golden State Warriors: Chris Duarte, Oregon
Tommy Call III: After landing a developmental prospect at No. 7, the Golden State Warriors grab one of the most pro-ready players in the 2021 draft class in Chris Duarte. After having success with drafting proven college players Draymond Green and Eric Paschall, the Warriors opt for another experienced college standout at No. 14. The 24-year-old guard is a well-rounded shooter that should knock down shots from NBA range right away. The breakout Oregon star shot 42.4% from beyond the arc on 5.5 attempts from deep during his final season in Eugene. Whether it’s moving without the ball for the open look or pulling up off the dribble, Duarte’s shooting will be a valuable asset for a team like the Warriors looking to make a run back to the postseason. While Duarte will likely get drafted because of his solid shooting, his defense isn’t something to overlook. The 6-foot-6 wing is a versatile defender that competes up and down the floor. Duarte led the Ducks in total steals (49) and blocks (21). Along with his solid shooting and consistent defensive effort, what makes Duarte appealing is his knack for the big moment. Whenever Dana Altman’s squad needed either a clutch jumper or a timely defensive stop, it was Duarte who came to answer the bell. Duarte is the type of prospect that looks like he could come to the Bay Area and contribute quickly for the Warriors. Read more:HoopsHype interviews Chris Duarte
Washington Wizards: Ziaire Williams, Stanford
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Michael Mulford: With the hire of new head coach Wes Unseld Jr., the Washington Wizards future finds itself in a bit of limbo given the uncertain futures of Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook. Adding a raw yet very promising prospect like Ziaire Williams at this point in the draft has high upside and if he hits, can fit well next to the two All-Stars. Williams offers great size on the perimeter as a playmaker and defender with potential to be a solid scorer. With a crisp handle, Ziaire can become an above average playmaker and difference maker with the ball in his hands. Some work is needed on his jumpshot but if that can be smoothed out, Williams could become a great two-way player and a strong pick at No. 16.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Keon Johnson, Tennessee
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Logan Newman: Keon Johnson seems like a total Sam Presti prospect. His athleticism is off the charts. His defense looks like it can be very good. And he can’t shoot the ball. Johnson has the speed and athleticism to get to the basket, where he puts together some crazy finishes, whether dunks or layups. On the other side of the ball, he’s super quick, which allows him to move side-to-side and stay on his man effectively. There’s real two-way potential with this player. But that offense worries me. Despite standing 6-foot-4 with shoes, he’s not a shooter, attempted fewer than two 3s per game and hitting 27%. He relied on the midrange, but he wasn’t particularly good their either, and his shot needs work. He had four more turnovers (71) than he did assists. So it’s unclear how he’ll be good if that athleticism doesn’t translate. But boy, is that athleticism there.
*TRADE* Oklahoma City (via Memphis): Alperen Sengun, Besiktas
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Trade details: The Memphis Grizzlies trade pick 17 to the Oklahoma City Thunder for picks 18 and 55. Logan Newman: Alperen Sengun is legitimately one of my favorite prospects in the draft. He’s easily in the top-10 of my Thunder Big Board and is probably there in my overall board, too. He looks incredibly polished for a player so young and was dominant enough on offense in Turkey that I believe in him coming to the U.S. His footwork is already strong. He moves around the court super well and can take it in transition. His dribbling is already impressive for a big and he passes the ball well. He can dunk, he can finish pick-and-rolls, he can get to the free throw line. For the Thunder, I like him at the center position more than I do Darius Bazley, Isaiah Roby or Aleksej Pokusevski. Offensively, he fits the mold. On defense, though … he looks like he’ll be fine in the post, but the moment the offensive sets a pick-and-role and he has to switch, watch out. He gets caught in the air. He gets beat off the dribble. He doesn’t have the quickness to recover. He’d get played off the court if it were the playoffs. But the Thunder won’t be in the playoffs, and they’ll have time to work with him on that end of the court the way they did Moses Brown. I love Sengun’s offensive potential and think he can be a legitimate weapon on that end of the court. Easily worth giving up pick 55 to move up one spot and ensure I can nab him.
Memphis Grizzlies (via Oklahoma City): Jaden Springer, Tennessee
Bryan Kalbrosky: An ankle injury prevented him from showing everything that he could do during his freshman campaign at Tennessee, but I believe that Jaden Springer is a lottery talent. Still very young, he is an above-average defender who has shot the ball well and can also make plays for his teammates. Those are the kind of players who stick around in this league.
Toronto Raptors (via New York): Kai Jones, Texas
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Justin Quinn: As we hinted earlier, the Raps are going to gamble on this one with Kai Jones, seeing as Quickley and Barrett are the prizes in this deal and we can afford to make a play for upside. If Jones' jumper doesn't translate at the next level, he's got enough skills to be a helpful player. And there's a legitimate chance he could be a star himself, if everything broke right.
Atlanta Hawks: Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
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Ajayi Browne: Ayo Dosunmu is a piece Atlanta would love. He’s ability to create quality shots as a playmaker and spread the floor with his perimeter shooting will fit seamlessly. I expect the former Illinois guard to work on his free throw shooting because he seems to struggle at the line, which is not a trait you want your point guard to have. I also expect Dosunmu to develop his game defensively.
New York Knicks: Usman Garuba, Real Madrid
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Ajayi Browne: If it wasn’t clear enough, Garuba is NBA ready. His experiences overseas with Real Madrid and with the Spanish national team have allowed the young big man to mature as a player. Garuba brings so much energy to his team with his shot blocking and his relentless pursuit for boards on both ends. This is exactly what the Knicks need. Tom Thibodeau will have a field day utilizing the 19-year-old on the defensive end and I can guarantee he will bring the best out of him there eventually. Garuba does not possess a consistent jumper, though, so the floor spacing will be impacted until he develops.
Los Angeles Lakers: Tre Mann, Florida
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Sanjesh Singh: Los Angeles has three guards entering free agency: Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso and Talen Horton-Tucker. It's unlikely all three will return because of financial constraints, but, fortunately, the Lakers should have enticing options with guards at this spot. Tre Mann took a gigantic leap with Florida this season. He's a 40-percent 3-point shooter on solid volume and can hurt you with a deep bag of tricks in his arsenal. The Lakers need more capable scoring options who don't rely on LeBron James and Anthony Davis -- Mann is perfect and can be polished even more. He also reportedly grew two inches and put on 15 pounds of muscle as a sophomore.
Houston Rockets: Cameron Thomas, LSU
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Ben DuBose: If Houston picks Evan Mobley at No. 2, as we did, it could make sense to look at guard options later in the first round. Thomas is a pure scorer and can knock down very tough shots, but his value might be limited to some teams, since he's a slightly undersized shooting guard. In Houston, though, both John Wall and Kevin Porter Jr. have better height and length than most point guards. That could make it easier to mitigate any size concerns with Thomas playing on the wing. Read more: HoopsHype interviews Cameron Thomas
Houston Rockets: Trey Murphy III, Virginia
Ben DuBose: The Rockets might consider trading this pick for a future selection, if they're hesistant to have three first-round rookies on the 2021-22 roster. But if they keep it, the odds are that Houston has already addressed two roster needs with its initial two picks. As such, this pick is all about value and utility. Murphy is a versatile athlete who shot better than 42% on 3-pointers in two of his three college seasons, and he exceeded 50% overall with Virginia last season. That combination of shooting, length, and athleticism is always in demand in the modern NBA, which craves "3&D" wings. Read more: HoopsHype interviews Trey Murphy III
Los Angeles Clippers: Sharife Cooper, Auburn
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Sanjesh Singh: The L.A. Clippers haven't hit on their high draft picks lately, and with Kawhi Leonard's status damaging the Clippers' ball-handling options next season, surrounding Paul George with more off-the-bounce threats is a must. Reggie Jackson's status as an unrestricted free agent is also intriguing because he should get a nice payday for his incredible playoff performances. That's when Sharife Cooper enters the equation. He may be undersized and doesn't have a reliable jumpshot yet, but his feel for the game, change of pace and passing prowess is an ideal target for L.A. His potential could be enormous if the Clippers properly develop him.
Denver Nuggets: Jared Butler, Baylor
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Michael Mulford: It's feasible that the Nuggets were a Jamal Murray injury away from potentially playing in the NBA Finals. As Murray's timetable to return is unknown, Denver could use some reinforcements while he's out. That's where Jared Butler comes in. Butler is a winner -- point blank. He was the adult in the locker room and helped lead the Baylor Bears to the NCAA championship last season. Butler is comfortable with the ball in his hands, whether that's acting as a scorer or as a playmaker. Butler's ability to shoot off the dribble and hit from outside is something every team is looking for. The big question mark with Butler is his health, who was a heart condition and was ruled out by the league to participate in any practices or or games until further evaluation. If Butler is available at No. 26, the Nuggets can consider themselves lucky.
Brooklyn Nets: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova
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Ajayi Browne: The Brooklyn Nets have been longing for a big man to hold it down on the defensive end since Jarrett Allen’s departure. Robinson-Earl is not known for his rim protection, but he can fit the description and inevitably improve on that end. What’s more important is what the young forward provides elsewhere. He can play both the power forward position and the center position for Brooklyn. Sean Marks will love him because he will be able to push the ball, and has proven himself to be a capable ball handler.
Philadelphia 76ers: Miles McBride, West Virginia
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Ky Carlin: The Sixers continue to have a need for shooting around Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and a guy like McBride fits that description. He shot 41.4% from deep last season for the Mountaineers and he made a big leap in scoring. He could be explosive off the bench alongside Tyrese Maxey.
Phoenix Suns: Nah'Shon Hyland, VCU
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Logan Newman: Suns general manager James Jones has his type. I flirted with the idea of a big like Day’Ron Sharpe or Jeremiah Robinson-Earl – the latter of whom I think is a very legitimate possibility for the Suns – but I went with Bones Hyland, a player who may be able to immediately play an end-of-bench guard role in the place of someone like E’Twaun Moore, Langston Galloway or Jevon Carter. The Athletic 10 Conference Player of the Year has been a steady riser in recent weeks since showing out at the combine, where he led scorers after the first two scrimmage games. Though he’s 6-foot-3, his 6-foot-9 wingspan provides him length to be effect. Those long arms and a super quick release help him make the 3 with range, as he shot 37% from behind the arc on 7.8 attempts per game. He averaged 19.5 points per game overall for VCU as a sophomore. And let’s emphasize that range – it’s routine. He’s a fun player to watch and looks like he can be effective in the league. Of course, he’s not perfect. Early in his career, a team would want him to mainly be a spot-shooter and play off ball until decision-making improves. Defensively, he needs work. But at No. 29, he’s a risk worth taking. And this had no role in my selection, but I think Bones and Stix are a fun duo of nicknames for the young Suns. Read more: For The Win interviews Bones Hyland
Utah Jazz: Joshua Primo, Alabama
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Bryan Kalbrosky: While he is the youngest player in this class, Primo carries himself like a seasoned veteran. He was a rising star for Canada on the FIBA circuit and while he didn't get a chance to show his complete game during his one-and-done campaign at Alabama, he has good size for a guard and his scoring profiles projects very well for the next level. It's easy to imagine a world in which this pick makes a front office look very smart as he continues developing. Read more: HoopsHype interviews Josh Primo
Milwaukee Bucks: Quentin Grimes, Houston
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Michael Mulford: The Bucks are in win-now mode so bringing in a raw prospect doesn't necessarily fit their timeline. Enter Quentin Grimes out of Houston. Grimes brings size as a combo guard that improved in all facets of his game last season, specifically from downtown, shooting over 40% from deep. The form on his jumper is pure and his fight on the defensive end is undeniable. As he reaches the league, continued improvement as a playmaker and consistency on the offensive end will be important for his growth as a pro. With upcoming free agents in Bryn Forbes and P.J. Tucker, Grimes could earn himself a few minutes per game off the bench with his consistent effort on the defensive and well-rounded offensive game.
New York Knicks: Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky
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Ajayi Browne: It’s not guaranteed Nerlens Noel will return with the team again next season, and Mitchell Robinson’s durability has not been the best. Charles Bassey is a player the Knicks will surely utilize and he will bring much-needed depth for the frontcourt. This draft class is filled with talent that can block, but I have never seen a player reject shots with perfect timing like Bassey in quite some time. Tom Thibodeau can help transform Bassey’s game defensively, but in regards to his post game offensively, that’s something the 20-year-old must work on more to take his game to the next level.
*TRADE* Toronto Raptors (via Orlando): Greg Brown
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Trade details: The Orlando Magic trade pick 33 and Dwayne Bacon to the Toronto Raptors for Aron Baynes. Justin Quinn: Whether the Magic wanted Aron Baynes for his play, his leadership or some combination thereof, it was clear he isn't a part of the Raptors' future. In exchange, Toronto can kick the tires on another high-ceiling, moderately low-floor Texas prospect, Greg Brown. While incredibly raw, he has the athleticism and size to become an impact player if he can manage to refine much of his game.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky
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Logan Newman: Athletic. Bouncy. Aggressive. Isaiah Jackson could turn into a strong lob threat off the pick-and-roll and a gifted defensive player with his physical traits. He averaged 2.6 blocks in just 20.8 minutes per game and grabbed 6.6 rebounds per contest, 2.1 of them on the offensive end. With quickness, agility and a wingspan of at least 7-foot-2, he was able to get into passing lanes, recording 0.8 steals per game. Even with those numbers, though, Jackson has a lot to learn. His size and length alone won’t allow him to succeed in the NBA. But I like him as a potential rim-rolling threat and post defensive option for the Thunder going forward. If he can average a block and a steal per game, contribute multiple offensive rebounds per contest, and set some solid picks, he can find a place in the league. If I’m the Thunder and I get Jackson in the second round after a different big in the first, I would initially put Jackson in the G League to get him used to this pace and physicality. There are a couple players still available at this point who I like more in general, but with this pick, I’m going for potential.
Cleveland Cavaliers (via New Orleans): Isaiah Todd, G League Ignite
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Michael Mulford: The youth movement is real in Cleveland. With additions of Jalen Green and Corey Kispert so far, the Cavs look to another Ignite prospect, Isaiah Todd. Todd is a versatile big who is well-versed on the offensive end and can switch on the defense. He can step out and shoot the three while also finishing in the paint through contact as he shows potential of being a three-level scorer. As an agile defender with many tools, Todd can both switch onto a guard/wing on the perimeter as well as protect the rim. With some coaching and polish of his game, Todd can become the backup center for Cleveland behind Jarrett Allen with little to no depth in the front court for the Cavaliers. Read more: Rookie Wire interviews Isaiah Todd
*TRADE* Boston Celtics (via Oklahoma City): Vrenz Bleijenbergh, Antwerp
Trade details: The Oklahoma City Thunder trade pick 36 to the Boston Celtics for Carsen Edwards, pick 45 and $1.8M in cash considerations. Justin Quinn: Boston has been a fan of Bleijenbergh for some time now, a point forward who could slot into the Celtics rotation nicely as a depth piece with upside for more if his shot comes around. To be able to get Carsen Edwards to a team with minutes to develop him in the process should be a win for all involved, and the Thunder still get another bite at the apple in a relatively deep draft with No. 45.
Detroit Pistons: JT Thor, Auburn
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Ky Carlin: Thor has an NBA ready body at just 19-years old and he already has a nice handle of the ball with a solid basketball IQ. His decision making will need to develop, but being around Dwane Casey should help him. Read more: HoopsHype interviews JT Thor
Chicago Bulls: Herbert Jones, Alabama
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Michael Mulford: The Bulls could use more defensive depth on the perimeter and that's where Herb Jones of Alabama could help. Jones brings a versatile competitiveness on the defensive end of the floor with an NBA-ready body and good feet to guard several positions. On the offensive end, Jones was used as the primary facilitator for the Crimson Tide while he looked best as a scorer on the break going downhill. His size and skills as a playmaker would give the Bulls another facilitator to get looks for Zach LaVine and the likes of Coby White coming off screens. If Jones can add some polish to his offensive game and hit consistently from downtown, he can carve out a role for himself coming off the Chicago bench. Read more: HoopsHype interviews Herbert Jones
Sacramento Kings: Joe Wieskamp, Iowa
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Sanjesh Singh: The Kings grabbed a wing earlier in the draft, but a team can never have enough adept options to utilize. Sacramento could try to select a big man -- someone like Sandro Mamukelashvili or Jericho Sims -- in this area, but Wieskamp is a scorcher from beyond the arc. He hit over 46 percent from deep for Iowa this season, and at 6-foot-7 (in shoes) he has positional versatility. He won't glide past defenders off the bounce or hit on 2-point jumpers as efficiently, but surrounding De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton with shooting options like Wieskamp is the right idea.
New Orleans Pelicans: Matthew Hurt, Duke
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Jacob Rude: The Pelicans sorely need shooting around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. On top of adding to the former Duke players calling New Orleans home, Hurt is one of the top shooters in the draft and would immediately be one of the best shooters on the Pelicans.
San Antonio Spurs: B.J. Boston, Kentucky
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Justin Quinn: Long regarded as a top prospect before stumbling considerably in his lone season with the Wildcats, Boston is among the players with the highest remaining upside for the Spurs. And with their backcourt situation largely settled, they can afford to bring the Norcross native along slowly.
Detroit Pistons: Jericho Sims, Texas
Ky Carlin: Sims is a very athletic big man who could prove to form a solid tandem with Isaiah Stewart as a backup. He's a high-energy player that can score on rolls, put backs, in transition, and he can finish around the basket. He's also a solid interior defender. Read more: Jericho Sims jumped so high on a dunk he hit his head on the rim
New Orleans Pelicans: Scottie Lewis, Florida
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Jacob Rude: Lewis has limitations as a shooter but his 7-foot-0 wingspan, defensive talent and athleticism all should help him find minutes.
Brooklyn Nets: Daishen Nix, G League Ignite
AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast
Ajayi Browne: The young point guard is always looking to set up one of his teammates, and his court vision is elite. I can compare his game to Chris Chiozza, who flourished in his playmaking role on the Nets. Nix can be another Chiozza for the team, but with more potential. Nix still has a long way to go to develop his offensive bag. It all starts with his jumper, but the quickness is there.
Oklahoma City (via Boston): Day'Ron Sharpe, North Carolina
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Logan Newman: I truly was not planning to use this many draft picks. I was not planning to end up with zero draft-and-stash players. But when Day’Ron Sharpe, who very well could be a late first-round pick, ends up at No. 45, I have to go for it. I can stash him in the G League instead of stashing someone overseas. Sharpe withdrew from the combine, which implies that he has a promise from a team, likely in the late first or early second round. The 6-foot-11 North Carolina big averaged 9.5 points, 7.6 rebounds – 3.4 offensive – and 1.4 assists in only 19.2 minutes per game. He averaged 0.9 blocks and 0.8 steals per contest. When plays are run through him on offense, particularly when he’s at the top of the key, he’s a good passer. He has defensive potential. I honestly like him more than I do Isaiah Jackson, the Thunder’s No. 34 pick in this draft, but for OKC I like Jackson’s ceiling. If this is how the Thunder’s draft goes, their center rotation will be way too full, but I’m not drafting on fit in the second round. I’m drafting the best player available. That’s very clearly Sharpe. If he and Jackson start with the Blue, so be it.
Toronto Raptors: Joel Ayayi, Gonzaga
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Justin Quinn: With so much draft capital to burn, the Toronto Raptors can afford to take some big swings with these two consecutive late seconds, especially with one more left in the chamber at No. 58 that came to us from trading the No. 4 pick. With that in mind, we went with Joel Ayayi given his relatively high upside for a player taken this late in the draft. Highly efficient close to the cup and an able rebounder for his position, Ayayi has solid court vision and good size for a guard at 6-foot-5, and should make for at minimum a deep rotation option with a lot more potential.
Toronto Raptors: Luka Garza, Iowa
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Justin Quinn: While Luka Garza may be a bit of a disaster guarding the pick and roll, he can hit a 3-pointer well enough to compliment any rotation. He rebounds with a bit of rim protection that may not work so well against the more athletic bigs he'll encounter at the NBA level, but isn't likely going to be a non-useful skill in the NBA either. Neither of these Raptors picks is likely to become a star, but both could turn into solid starters with some luck, and that is a lot of value in the back end of the second round.
Atlanta Hawks: Filip Petrusev, Mega Bemax
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Ajayi Browne: Petrusev has a high motor. He can score the ball at all three levels and his footwork is among the best in the draft. Petrusev can struggle when taking care of the ball and playing interior defense. I see the young Serbian becoming a better decision maker under Nate McMillan while also being an important piece for the Hawks. As mentioned earlier, he can score on all three levels, but his perimeter shooting is elite. Petrusev will shoot a lot of threes in Atlanta, especially with Trae Young as your facilitator. His offensive game would only improve under this system.
Brooklyn Nets: Mac McClung, Texas Tech
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Ajayi Browne: Mac McClung took high school basketball by storm years ago with his unparalleled athleticism. It also translated to college. His first school, Georgetown, did not provide the best role for McClung. He was not the primary facilitator for the Hoyas and so he took his talents to Texas A&M in pursuit of that. McClung’s defense remains questionable and that can determine whether or not he will see minutes with the Nets.
Philadelphia 76ers: Matt Mitchell, San Diego State
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Ky Carlin: The Sixers need shot creators and 3-point shooting around their star duo and Mitchell fits that mold. He's a guy who has an NBA ready body and could make a dent in Philadelphia's rotation sooner rather than later.
Memphis Grizzlies: Neemias Queta, Utah State
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Bryan Kalbrosky: For a pick this late in the draft, I'm incredibly happy with what Portuguse big man Neemias Queta offers. He is an elite passer and playmaker out of the post whose massive size makes him a threat as a rim protector as well. It's hard to find many centers with the blend of size and skill that he has, and when you do, you often find them in the first round.
Detroit Pistons: Austin Reaves, Oklahoma
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Ky Carlin: The Pistons could use another guy who can create his own shot while also being able to knock down the 3-point shot. Reaves has a terrific feel for the game, an ability to make things happen off the dribble from the perimeter, and the work ethic to match his talent. Read more: HoopsHype interviews Austin Reaves
Cleveland Cavaliers (via New Orleans): Aaron Henry, Michigan State
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Michael Mulford: Like Davion Mitchell, Aaron Henry brings hard-nosed mindset to the game of basketball. Coming out of Michigan State, Henry was named to the All-Defensive team in the Big Ten last season as his prowess on the defensive end is his bread and butter. His size and speed gives him the ability to guard multiple positions. But, the junior also greatly improved on the offensive end of the floor as he grew as a playmaker and improved his outside shot. If nothing else at the next level, Henry will be extremely competitive during training camp which will surely standout among the coaching staff. Read more: Rookie Wire interviews Aaron Henry
Indiana Pacers: Jason Preston, Ohio
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Sanjesh Singh: If the Pacers lose T.J. McConnell in free agency, selecting Jason Preston could be a plausible depth piece at this pick. Preston averaged 15.7/7.3/7.3/1.5 in his final season at Ohio and drilled 39 percent of his 3-pointers on 4.1 attempts. Questions facing Preston are whether he can replicate these types of performance against a higher level of competition, and if his basketball IQ is high enough to compensate for a lack of athleticism on both ends of the floor against quicker, shiftier guards. At 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, Preston could develop into a capable point guard who can lead a second unit.
Memphis Grizzlies (via Oklahoma City): Santi Aldama, Loyola (MD)
Bryan Kalbrosky: Those who follow international basketball are infatuated with Spain's Santi Aldama for good reason: he won MVP at the U18 European Championships with 18.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg and 2.3 bpg while shooting well and often from beyond the arc. He didn't get a chance to raise his profile playing in the Patriot League during his time in the NCAA but he could be an excellent draft-and-stash candidate or developmental prospect in the G League as he gets more comfortable against tougher competition.
Charlotte Hornets: Josh Christopher, Arizona State
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Jacob Rude: Christopher isn't a perfect fit alongside LaMelo Ball but it's impossible to pass on a player of his talent at the end of the draft. He provides the Hornets with a young guard that will likely replace one of their free agent guards that will likely leave. In Charlotte with their reputation for player development, Christopher could really blossom into something special.
Charlotte Hornets: Isaiah Livers, Michigan
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Jacob Rude: The Hornets again add size on the wing. Livers is an offense-first prospect who has a shooting ability that Charlotte could certainly use more of.
Toronto Raptors (via New York): Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton
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Justin Quinn: For Toronto's final pick, we went with an older, undervalued guard who can shoot the lights out but might otherwise have gone undrafted, having learned from our experience with Fred VanVleet. A little taller than the Wichita State product at 6-foot-2, Zegarowski shot 42.1% from beyond the arc with Creighton in 2020-21, and dished out an average of 4.3 assists per game. While we don't expect Michael Carter-Williams' little brother to be the next VanVleet of the draft, we see a solid rotational player for our backcourt in the Massachusetts native. Read more: Rookie Wire interviews Marcus Zegarowski
Brooklyn Nets: Cameron Krutwig, Antwerp
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Ajayi Browne: Krutwig showed off his post presence in Loyola. A player that can score in a multitude of ways in the post is what Brooklyn lacks. Taking a chance on drafting Krutwig and seeing what he becomes is a low-risk move for the Nets.
Indiana Pacers: Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall
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Sanjesh Singh: With the last pick in the draft, the Pacers can take a swing on any prospect they like before players enter the undrafted pool. Sandro Mamukelashvili is an enticing option because of his rare skillset. At 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Mamukelashvili is a point forward -- he can initiate half-court sets, handle the ball and stretch the floor. His 3-point percentage dropped from 43 to 33 this season but on increased volume. There's positional concerns on where he slots in defensively because he's not athletic enough to hold his own on the perimeter, and the shot-blocking isn't there either. But if there's a player for Mamukelashvili to learn from, it's Domantas Sabonis. He could be a massive steal if he pans out the right way.