It’s almost a foregone conclusion that the Pistons, Rockets, Cavaliers, Raptors, Magic and Thunder are gonna stand pat in next week’s 2021 NBA Draft.
The consensus belief is they are gonna take Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Kuminga and Scottie Barnes in that order.
This barring some draft night or pre-draft trades which could happen but right now it’s more smoke and mirrors than anything.
Those six are considered the cream of the crop of this year’s draft. But picks 7-14 are talent-laden possibilities as well.
Let me introduce you to these talented young hoopers.
7. The Warriors hold the seventh overall pick (via MIN) and I think UConn star James Bouknight is a hidden gem.
He’s been steadily rising up draft boards. He’s a three-level scorer with explosive athleticism and he brings a defensive intensity sure to be liked by the Dubs. His biggest asset is he can play both guards, meaning relief for Curry and Klay.
8. Next up, the Magic have the eighth pick (via CHI) and although they’d love to get their hands on Kuminga, the most logical choice will be Arkansas star guard Moses Moody because Mings will be gone. Moody is a safe pick for a team devoid of talent.
For some reason he seems to be the lottery pick whose skillset is being overlooked the most. He can shoot, get to the rim and defend with a 7’1 wingspan and NBA level strength at just 19 years old.
9. The Sacramento Kings need to infuse some length and athleticism on the wings. So with the ninth pick they’ll take Tennessee star Keon Johnson who has just that and plenty of it.
He’s still raw in his game but the athleticism is undeniable and will really help the Kings who posted the second worst defensive rating in the league last season.
Johnson has elite defender tools and when his offense catches up, watch out, because he’s going to be a problem on both ends.
10. Down in Nawlins, the hype about Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram seems to be very real and neither disappointed in 2020-21, as Williamson was named an all-star in 2021 and Ingram was in 2020.
Now they must make a decision on whether to retain Lonzo Ball or move on to the young, talented Kira Lewis Jr.
As far as who they’ll look to add to the roster via the tenth pick in the draft, I like Franz Wagner out of Michigan because he can do a variety of things.
Bouknight is the pick that I’m pretty sure new head coach Willie Green would love to have, but he won’t be there.
But with Wagner, you’ll get a floor spacer for Zion and BI, as well as a guy who can assume some of the playmaking duties. He’s also a solid defender who’s being overlooked due to his NBA readiness.
11. Drafting LaMelo Ball was huge for Charlotte’s franchise. The dynamic NBA Rookie of the Year combined with other pieces from previous drafts — Miles Bridges, PJ Washington and Devonte Graham — to give Michael Jordan a nice, young nucleus in the “Queen City.”
Now with the eleventh pick they need to add a nice wing with the ability to handle the ball. Josh Giddey has just those skills. Standing at 6’8 and athletic, he’ll be a nice chess piece for the Hornets.
He played in the NBL (Australia) last season and averaged 7.6 assists per game. He’s got an array of floaters, midrange pull-ups and he’s scrappy on defense. Giddey needs work on his long range shooting, but that looks to be mostly mechanical.
12. Gregg Popovich probably thought he’d be building around Kawhi Leonard this day and age but that ship sailed in 2018-19, and the Spurs have basically been in band-aid mode ever since with DeMar DeRozan and the recently retired LaMarcus Aldridge leading the franchise the last couple seasons.
The franchise has some young quality pieces to boot and adding former Texas athlete Kai Jones with the twelth pick is what I see them doing here.
He’s a project but so was Kawhi, and he has all the tools to be a floor-spacing, rim protecting big.
13. Baylor guard Davion Mitchell dominated March Madness on both ends but especially on defense, as he helped lead the Bears to their first ever National Championship.
The Indiana Pacers need a combo guard with an all-around skillset and he fits that mold. So with the thirteenth pick I like “‘Naptown” to take Mitchell to be developed under new head coach Rick Carlisle.
His combination of defense, playmaking, and off-the-bounce scoring ability is too tantalizing to pass on.
14. The last pick of the lottery is owned by the Warriors and the executive brain is contemplating whether or not they should keep both picks or move them for a star caliber player that can help them right now.
But if they do pick, former Gonzaga sharpshooter Corey Kispert fits seamlessly out by the Golden Gate Bridge.
Getting Bouknight and Kispert would be good for the immediate and long-term projections. Kispert is easily the best shooter in the draft. A career 41% shooter from deep, and 59% inside the arc, he can flat stick it. Solid playmaker as well and underrated on the defensive end.