Oklahoma City – The NBA season is officially over and that means it’s time to get ready for the offseason and the first thing up is the 2021 NBA Draft.
Draft season is one of my favorite parts of the NBA because it gives us a chance to see a new class of elite talent realizing their life long dreams. It also gives us a glimpse of how some teams are thinking going into the new season.
Take a team like the Thunder who have 36 total draft picks over the next 7 drafts including 18 first round picks, they are in full rebuild mode but they can’t really afford to tank two year in a row and quite frankly, with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on the team, they’ll be too good. They’re in a trick spot because this year’s pick (6th) is the most valuable pick they have out of all of their picks. Most of them have protections on them and the picks that don’t are from good teams.
Yes, it’s possible to find a really good player outside of the top 5 but it is really hard to do so. They could package the 6th pick with their other picks this year and from future drafts to move up but that is also hard to do.
You can check out some NBA Draft Odds here.
While the Thunder are looking to rebuild, there are teams at the top of the draft who aren’t really looking to rebuild and want to win as fast as possible.
For teams like the Warriors who have the 7th and 14th pick, the Raptors who have the 4th pick, and even teams like the Cavs who have the 3rd and Pelicans who have the 10th pick, they all want to win now for their specific reasons. The Warriors have Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and a returning Klay Thompson so it makes no sense to have two picks in the lottery when you can package those to get more or better pieces around those three. The Pelicans have a top 5 scoring duo in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson and don’t want to build a losing culture so they need to start winning now. The Raptors have been a decent to championship team in the last few years and a rebuild isn’t something they want to go through right now. The Cavs have been losing long enough without Lebron so they want to end that.
For whatever reason, those teams, and possibly others, don’t really have a need to keep their picks but it doesn’t mean they won’t.
Drafting is a hard process. There have been teams like the Lakers who have really hit on most if not all of their picks over the last few years and there have also been teams who have missed on just about every pick the last few years even though they drafted in the lottery.
GMs and scouts really have to do their jobs to figure out who is the best player with the best fit for their team. If you’re lucky you may end up drafting a franchise changing player but that also takes the right culture. Players can have all the talent in the world but if the culture isn’t right then the team won’t succeed. It’s called a team for a reason. Takes an effort from everyone to help the team succeed.
And the truth is, no matter how stacked a draft may seem, there are only going to be a few (maybe) franchise changing players drafted. Everyone else will either be an Allstar, a role player, or a journeyman. None of which are bad because you need all of those types of players to win a championship. The Warriors drafted Steph (the franchise changing player), Klay (the perennial Allstar), Draymond (who is an Allstar and kind of a role player), and surrounded them with good vets and a few journeymen.
So if you’re a fan of a team that doesn’t have a top 5 pick, it doesn’t mean things will go badly for the team because you can find really good players all over the draft. Keep in mind, we just saw a team win the championship with the highest drafted guy on their team being the 10th pick.
Now, let’s talk about this year’s draft and what can we expect from the new upcoming talent.
For pretty much the whole season, it has been a 5 player draft. Every team wanted to be in the top 5 to get one of Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green, or Jonathan Kuminga. It has now turned into somewhat of a tiered draft with Cade, Mobley, Suggs, and Green in the top tier and Kuminga, Scottie Barnes, and James Bouknight with some having Moses Moody in that tier also.
My opinion is, right now, that it is a 5 player draft with Cade is the clear best player but Jalen Green is right behind him. I think Mobley is someone that can change a team on both ends of the floor and Kuminga and Suggs will turn out to be some really good players for a long time. I also think that this draft is full of really talented guys who are a little raw and will need some time to develop and get acquainted with the NBA game. One of the most talented drafts from top to bottom.
I expect people to talk about this draft as one of the best in recent years because of all the talent. There may not be HoF players or even many Allstars but I think there will be at least 5 Allstars from this draft with a lot of them being in the league for a long time.
For me, the players after the top 5 in this draft are really close. I’m higher on some guys than a lot of other draft experts and I think that since they are so close, some will be further down than a lot have them. Some of it is situational. It doesn’t mean I don’t like them or I don’t think they’re good, they just might not be the best fit for that particular team.
There has been a lot of talk about how great this draft is and I agree, it’s a really deep draft. Some people think that it’s the best one since 2003 that had HoF players in Lebron, Wade, and Melo. I’m not there yet and I think they have to go through the 2018, 2016, 2009, and 2008 drafts before they get to 2003. I wouldn’t be one bit surprised if this draft did end up better than all of those though.
Now let’s get into where everyone should go.