Declaring who won or lost draft night is a bit silly considering we have seen these prospects play — hold on, double-checking the math — zero NBA games.
It would be much more reasonable to allow these youngsters to develop and evaluate them based on a significant sample size. But come on, what’s the fun in that?
Now that we know the final results of the 2021 NBA Draft, it’s time to declare a few early winners and losers.
NBA Draft 2021 winners
The Rockets didn’t leave anyone stunned by selecting Jalen Green with the No. 2 overall pick, but there is a reason everyone had the G League star heading to Houston in their mock drafts. Green has the physical tools and skills to eventually emerge as one of the top scorers in the NBA.
But Houston didn’t stop there. It also grabbed Alperen Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Christoper in the first round. Sengun in particular feels like a steal at No. 16 considering he excelled against professionals as a teenager and was named the Turkish league MVP.
It may take time for the Rockets to figure out which young players are truly part of their future, but this is the beginning of a rebuild. Loading up on talent is the first step, and that’s what Houston did.
Wait, the Magic had some draft luck? When you wish upon a star . . .
Disney World jokes aside, Orlando had to be pumped about Jalen Suggs falling to No. 5. The Magic have desired a perimeter creator to balance out a roster filled with flawed forwards, and Suggs could be the perfect guy to fill the void.
Orlando then added to its draft-day haul, snagging Franz Wagner three picks later. The Michigan man is a terrific defender, and he doesn’t need to control the ball on offense in order to make an impact.
If the Magic can get a healthy Jonathan Isaac back on the floor, they could become a very intriguing group.
Charlotte addressed the frontcourt hole in its rotation by acquiring Mason Plumlee and Kai Jones. The Hornets also brought in some scoring punch by taking James Bouknight, who could immediately contribute as an off-the-bench scorer. If he can improve as a shooter and defender, watch out.
“I have high expectations for myself. I never sell myself short,” Bouknight said on Thursday. “I think we’re going to be one of the better young teams in the league.”
Oh, and LaMelo Ball is still here. This is an awesome League Pass team.
NBA Draft 2021 losers
The Kings had been consistently linked to Wagner in the lead-up to the draft, but unfortunately for them, he was taken off the board right before their pick. So they decided to go with Davion Mitchell. Really, another guard?
Sacramento already has De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield, not to mention Terence Davis and Delon Wright. The Kings could trade one or multiple backcourt pieces this offseason in order to open up more playing time for Mitchell, but it doesn’t seem as though they have a plan.
It’s easy to like Mitchell, a tenacious competitor and NCAA champion. It’s much harder to like his fit in Sacramento.
San Antonio Spurs
Here is Mike DeCourcy’s evaluation of the Spurs’ decision to pick Joshua Primo:
How far back do we have to go to find a time when Primo made a difference to his team? He averaged eight points in 22 minutes for Alabama. I was in the gym for the Tide’s Sweet 16 game against UCLA, but, once his name started popping up on NBA Draft sites, I didn’t remember Primo being there. And no wonder: He scored six points and missed all four of his 3-pointers in just 17 minutes of an overtime game.
For the Canadian junior national team at the FIBA U19 World Cup, he averaged four points. He does have shooting skill, but he is thin and will need too much time to be able to physically handle himself. Passing on Corey Kispert feels like the strangest move.
Watching the NBA Draft on ESPN
Those poor Knicks fans at Barclays Center. They couldn’t keep track of their picks.
In their defense, it was impossible to follow what was happening in real time. The ESPN broadcast format for the NBA Draft feels outdated considering the amount of trades that typically occur at the annual event and the fact that Adrian Wojnarowski and Shams Charania tweet out the essential info before it reaches the TV analysts.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver hasn’t been afraid to experiment with previously accepted norms, including the playoff format. Perhaps it’s time to take a hard look at how the draft is covered.