NBA 2021 Draft: Winners and Losers of the Night

Winners and Losers of the Night

The NBA Draft just concluded and the newly added recruits are heading to their new organizations. This year’s draft class was filled with pick swaps, surprising picks, and big trades. Within the first pick selection, the league saw a huge trade that sent Washington Wizards guard Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers for Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Montrezl Harrell and the 22nd pick in the draft. 

Many picks seemed like a guarantee, but some teams were able to acquire prospects that dropped due to another team’s odd selections. After this draft, three winners came out, and three teams looked lost in the draft search. 

Winner – Golden State Warriors

The Warriors had a great draft night. As the team had two lottery picks Thursday night, the injury-riddled dynasty has rebooted their future. With the seventh pick, Golden State selected forward G-Leaguer Jonathan Kuminga. Kuminga was one of the few that overwent the collegiate route and attended the NBA’s newly added G-League team that hosts NBA prospects. Kuminga had a great season with the Ignite team, as he averaged 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game. 


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The forward was projected to be a top-five pick but dropped to Golden State at seven. Golden State would later have their second pick at 14th making it their second time this draft selecting in the lottery. With the fourteenth pick in this year’s NBA draft, the Warriors selected Arkansas guard Moses Moody. Moody was an electric scorer for the Razorbacks. The guard averaged 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds per game on 42 percent from the field. Adding Moody gives the Warriors a more athletic scorer, as he can attack the rim and finish at a relatively high rate.


The Arkansas guard will be able to fit into the Golden State scheme, as he is also able to consistently hit catch and shoot threes.  Adding both Kuminga and Moody have bolstered the teams has bolsters the team’s James Wiseman for the future. In the short term, the two will be best suited for the bench, which could ultimately mean the league’s best young bench core. 

Loser – Boston Celtics

It is always a loss when a team does not have a first-round pick to select a young prospect. But it is even worse for a team that has been rumored to be targeting players before the draft to allow the trade to falter. The Boston Celtics were close to trading for Myles Turner and or Bradley Beal. The team has been rumored to be in contact with both players. It was mentioned that the best time to trade for either was during the NBA Draft. 

However, the team did not make a good enough offer for the trade to go down. By no means does the communication between the Indiana Pacers for Turner, and the Washington Wizards for Beal die out. However, the trade deadline is the best time for a major trade. This is because teams will see players that were high on their draft board get taken or slip down the draft. The Celtics already traded this year’s pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Kemba Walker trade. This draft is very deep in talent, that even with the 45th pick in tonight’s draft, it could garner a solid rotational guy. Adding this pick to a rebuilding Wizards team along with two future first-round picks, guards Marcus Smart, Carsen Edwards, and forward Robert Williams

The Celtics had an opportunity to make another offer to acquire Turner, as the team has been trying to acquire the center for the past two seasons. Yet another opportunity was missed, as the team could have given up their 45th pick to get Turner. Attached to the pick would have been another future first-round pick and either guard Romeo Langford or Aaron Nesmith and center Tristan Thompson


Instead, the Celtics drafted an international guard Juhann Begarin. Begarin was not on many team’s draft boards going into the draft. With names still on the board such as Brandon Boston, Jr., Sharife Cooper, Joel Ayayi, Charles Bassey, and Sandro Mamukelashvili, the Celtics have seemed to waste this year’s only draft selection. 

Loser – Memphis Grizzlies

The Memphis Grizzlies original were drafting at the 17th spot. Due to prior trade, days before the draft the Grizzlies swapped their 17th pick for New Orleans tenth overall pick. It was speculated that the team was heavily favoring Josh Giddey, but the shooting guard was selected a few picks earlier than projected. With the plans in turmoil, the team selected another guard to an already loaded guard depth chart. 

With the tenth pick, the Memphis Grizzlies selected Stanford guard Ziaire Williams. Williams is not a terrible selection for most other teams, however, the Grizzlies already have their four guards on the roster. Ja Morant and Dillon Brooks already start for the team, and the bench consists of newly acquired Eric Bledsoe and breakout sharpshooter Grayson Allen. The team will have to force minutes away from these four to play Williams, which could cause a clogging effect to the rotations. 

 Winner – Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic had a firesale at the NBA trade deadline this season. They saw veteran players that have been with the team for many years Nikola Vucevic, Evan Fournier, and Aaron Gordon get traded. The team headed into this offseason in a total rebuilding mode. In the team’s first offseason under the new rebuild, the team drafted a few young prospects. To each, could be very bright stars in the league. The Magic had two very early lottery picks, as they selected fifth and eighth overall in the first round. 

With the fifth overall pick, the team selected a top-three prospect in Jalen Suggs. The Gonzaga guard was projected to go either third or fourth in the draft but after a shocking Toronto pick, the guard fell miraculously to Orlando. Suggs is a great rebuilding piece and will be the future of the Magic franchise. The team paired Suggs with a shooting forward, as they selected Franz Wagner from Michigan. Wagner is not going to be a star but has the potential to become a high scorer in this league. He is diligent in shooting the ball and can provide rebounding to the defensive side of the ball. Suggs and Wagner will be joining Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz in the new rebuild. 

Winner – New York Knicks

This past year has been a win for the New York Knicks. The team overperformed during the season and reached the playoffs. They had a breakout star in Julius Randle and RJ Barrett, and the team surprisingly selected well during the draft. It is very rare for the Knicks organization to make the right call during draft night. However, this seems to be the new-look New York Knick organization. 

It is very rare that a team that drafts good players and trades them for future assets gets praise. The Knicks drafted both Texas forward Kai Jones and Tennessee guard Keon Johnson in the first round. The team did not need either player as their wing positions were already filled. The team drafted the best available and traded away both players for future assets. A total mogul-move as the team is preparing for the hopes of signing a superstar this offseason. These trades keep their cap space under control and are able to use the future first-round picks to acquire another superstar in a trade. The Knicks actually looked into the future and deserve to be praised. 

Winner – Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets needed everything on their roster. The team was stripped down this season after trading franchise player James Harden. The team is in a full rebuilding mode and has drafted three young talents that are all capable of becoming all-stars. With the second overall pick, the Rockets selected G-League Ignite guard Jalen Green. Green is a top prospect and was a premiere scorer during his time in the NBA G-League as he averaged 17.9 points against NBA talent. 

The team also drafted Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher in the first round. Garuba is an extremely talented defender, as he is able to lock down the paint and protect the rim. The Spanish forward is versatile and can guard the perimeter as well which is rare to see from a forward/center position. Christopher is a guard from Arizona State and was regarded as a tremendous athlete. He will provide the much-needed athleticism this team lacks and will provide instant defense heading into the NBA. 

Loser – Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls are in a midst of a rebuild that is nearly complete. The team has their star in Zach LaVine, and has traded for all-star Vucevic. The team is still young and they have veteran players that are tradable to move back into this draft. This draft had plenty of talent that can come into the league and produce. The Bulls need another young talent, as their previous selections have not been great. The team needs a replacement for Lauri Markkanen, who has not been progressing since his rookie season. 

This draft had his replacement in Franz Wagner who would have been a perfect fit in Chicago. What Chicago did during this draft was draft Ayo Dosunmu, a scoring guard from Illinois. Dosunmu played for three years in college and is one of the older draftees from this class. The guard will be a reliable scorer in the league during his rookie season, but he will not help progress this franchise into becoming a playoff contender. The team really dropped the ball to trade back into the first round for a player that can help them win now. 

Winner – Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks had another great draft night. Atlanta has now had multiple drafts in a row to wear the team successfully drafted. The Hawks had two picks the whole night and made each selection perfectly. With their first pick, the team drafted Jalen Johnson from Duke. Johnson plays like a true power forward, as he can body the passing lanes and play aggressively on offense. He is able to spread the floor but is best within the 20-foot marker. Johnson is able to create for teammates and fight for boards. Johnson should have been a lottery pick, and his ceiling is top ten in the draft. The Hawks may have found their replacement for John Collins if they decide to not match his contract in free agency. 

The team would later select Auburn guard Cooper. Cooper had a tremendous season at Auburn as he averaged 20.2 points and 8.1 assists per game. He is a highly-touted point guard and will be a great fit to backup Trae Young. Cooper is an excellent scorer, and an even better passer and ball maestro. His basketball IQ is amongst the best in the draft, and he will be a future all-star given the chance. 

Loser – Toronto Raptors 

The Toronto Raptors had a bad season but still have a talented roster. The right move in this draft was to select a prospect that can make a difference right away. Suggs, Giddey, and Kuminga were all options available for the Raptors. Instead, the Raptors drafted a project prospect in forward Scottie Barnes. Barnes is extremely raw offensively, as his best attribute on offense is in the transition. The forward is a high-energy, high flyer type of athlete. If given the right training, Barnes could be the best player in the draft. 

Barnes is great defensively, and he will come into the league a ready defender. Toronto doesn’t need that right now. The team needed a viable scorer who could lead a team in the future. Barnes will just be a high-energy player, for a team that will be losing their leader Kyle Lowry this offseason. Toronto needed a Suggs, Giddey, or Kuminga who can come in and average over 15 points a game for a team. Toronto also drafted Dalano Banton from Nebraska, a 6’9” guard. Banton was a prospect projected to not get drafted. The team could have selected Boston or Cooper at this spot, but decided to go after a lower-end prospect. 

Banton has potential as a very tall guard, but the team needs players for the present and not the long term. Toronto’s last pick came right after the Banton selection, and the team selected Louiseville guard David Johnson. This was a good selection as Johnson should be able to compete right away in the NBA. Johnson is a good, not great shooter, but has the floor spacing awareness and shooting stroke to become a great NBA shooter. Johnson is also a complete player, although he will not have the all-star talent. The Louiseville product can become a tremendous rotational guy and even a reliable starter. 

Loser – Phoenix Suns

The reigning Western Conference championships who will have an eventful offseason with Chris Paul being unsure about his future in Phoenix selected not a single player in tonight’s draft. The team is in dire need of a point guard. Even if Paul returns to Pheonix the team needs a potential backup. This draft had multiple potential candidates to fill that role. If the team did not want to pay the cost to trade up, the team could have traded down for players such as Auburn’s Cooper, Alabama’s Herbert Jones, Baylor’s Jared Butler, or even Duke’s Boston. All four of those players would have made an impact as a backup for Paul.

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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images


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