Grading Each Pick in the 2021 NBA Draft

Grading Each Pick in the 2021 NBA Draft

NBA Draft

Grading Each Pick in the 2021 NBA Draft

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Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports

1. Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham, Guard, Oklahoma State

Cade Cunningham was the surefire best prospect in this years class. A jumbo-sized point guard that can create for himself and others at a high level from all three levels while also bringing versatility on the defensive end. This was an easy selection, but it was also the right one.

Grade: A+

2. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green, Guard, G-League Ignite

If I was the Rockets decision-maker, I would’ve taken Evan Mobley here, who some would argue is a generational-level big man prospect. Despite that, Jalen Green is still a fantastic prospect and quite easily the third best in this class, which is why I struggle to give this pick anything lower than an “A-”.

Grade: A

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley, Big, USC

The Cavaliers had an extremely easy job with this pick. Whoever fell from the top-three, they would take. Evan Mobley is tremendous value at three, and he’ll serve as a franchise pillar for years to come.

Grade: A+

4. Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes, Forward, Florida State

I’m lower on Scottie Barnes than consensus, and I do believe Toronto passed on a handful of better prospects to select him, but that doesn’t mean I hate this pick. Barnes is an extremely versatile defender with uncanny passing ability at his size with an intriguing skill set in transition. He’ll need to develop his scoring ability in the half court, but I have faith in Toronto utilizing Barnes’ unique skill set and at very least untapping some of his potential.

Grade: B

5. Orlando Magic: Jalen Suggs, Guard, Gonzaga

I do think there were a couple better prospects on the board, but Suggs is still a great prospect and solid value here at five. Orlando has a lot of guards, but they still lack talent at the position. Suggs does lack a three ball and primary ball-handling ability, but he’s still going to be a well rounded contributor for years to come.

Grade: A-

6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Josh Giddey, Guard, Adelaide 36ers

Thunder fans should be happy with this pick. Giddey was one of the best players available on my board, and I think he’s nice value here at six. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is Oklahoma City’s primary ball-handler, but running a heliocentric offense around him isn’t going to win you a title. Instead, run a multi ball-handler system, and Giddey helps contribute to that concept. He’s a jumbo-sized point guard with elite passing chops and a raw, but developing scoring arsenal.

Grade: A-

7. Golden State Warriors: Jonathan Kuminga, Wing, G-League Ignite

The first pick of the night I really wasn’t a fan of. With his athletic tools and flashes at such a young age, Jonathan Kuminga obviously has an enticing ceiling, but it’s going to take a lot of work for him to reach expectations. Kuminga is an extremely raw prospect that will require patience and a high-level work ethic on his end. Maybe Golden State can turn Kuminga into an All-NBA caliber player, but he doesn’t fit their timeline, and it’s going to take a lot of work for him to reach that level.

Grade: C-

8. Orlando Magic: Franz Wagner, Forward, Michigan

The Magic take another high-floor prospect after taking guard Jalen Suggs with the fifth overall pick. Wagner is one of the best defenders in this year’s class with a well-rounded, glue-guy skill set offensively. Some will bash Wagner’s lack of on-ball creation, or his lack of upside, but someone who could be a top-tier defender and a versatile offensive piece doesn’t sound so bad, especially when their low-end outcomes are pretty high as well.

Grade: A

9. Sacramento Kings: Davion Mitchell, Guard, Baylor

Between his motor, shooting off the dribble, point of attack defense, and abundance of athleticism, I do see the intrigue with Davion Mitchell. However, I think this was a reach value wise. In terms of fit, I do like the fact that Mitchell will most likely come off the bench, which I think is the appropriate role for him in the NBA. However, the Kings have a lot of bigger needs than a bench guard. I don’t hate this pick as I do believe Mitchell can be a nice player off the bench, but there were clearly a handful of better options.

Grade: C-

10. Memphis Grizzlies: Ziaire Williams, Wing, Stanford

After trading up to 10, the Grizzlies took a swing on Ziaire Williams, and I love it. Williams is a prospect I’m high on, as he ranked ninth on my big board. The Grizzlies have a lot of young talent, but they needed to take a swing on someone with the potential to be a key piece on a contending team. It will definitely take some development, but I believe Williams has that type of upside.

Grade: A

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