NBA Draft Rumors: Latest Trade Rumblings on Potential 2021 Picks and Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 27, 2021

NBA Draft Rumors: Latest Trade Rumblings on Potential 2021 Picks and Prospects

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    Brody Schmidt/Associated Press

    The countdown to the 2021 NBA draft is almost complete.

    Come Thursday night, a batch of 60 new ballers will be welcomed into the Association and carry super-sized hopes with them to their new clubs.

    It's a time for unbridled optimism and a wave of intriguing rumors around prospects and team plans.

    Keep a batch of napkins handy because we're about to dig in to the juiciest buzz bouncing around the rumor mill.

Pistons Undecided at No. 1

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    A word of caution to any Detroit Pistons fans who splurged on a custom Cade Cunningham jersey after the franchise's draft lottery win: Hopefully, you kept your receipts.

    That's not to say the 19-year-old won't be coming to the Motor City on Thursday night, but with two days left to make their choice, the Pistons remain undecided.

    "Detroit's internal meetings are still revolving around three players for the No. 1 pick on Thursday night—Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley," ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski reported. "Detroit isn't fully there yet on committing to Cunningham with their first overall choice."

    Maybe this is posturing. Perhaps it's a late attempt to drive up trade offers as high as they can go. Or maybe the Pistons really don't know what they'll do.

    Cunningham looks like the top prospect in this draft, as a primary playmaker who can also serve as a go-to scorer and possibly defend at an all-league level. But Green might have some scoring titles in his future, and Mobley boasts the exact kind of versatility teams want from a modern big man.

    The Oklahoma State product still seems the likeliest choice, but it's reasonable to keep Green and Mobley in the conversation.

Grizzlies Aiming to Keep Moving Up

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    The Memphis Grizzlies have orchestrated the first big trade of draft season.

    On Monday, they ironed out an agreement to acquire Steven Adams, Eric Bledsoe and a pair of future first-round picks—including this year's 10th overall selection—from the New Orleans Pelicans for Jonas Valanciunas and the 17th pick, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

    The Grizzlies may not be done dealing yet.

    The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor reported Memphis hopes to move up again with a possible eye on the G League Ignite's Jonathan Kuminga or UConn's James Bouknight. ESPN's Jonathan Givony added Arkansas' Moses Moody, Michigan's Franz Wagner and Adelaide's Josh Giddey as other potential targets, though it's unclear if Memphis would need to move up to get one of the three.

    Either way, the Grizzlies are apparently aiming high—as they should. They just saw a brilliant playoff debut from Ja Morant (30.2 points and 8.2 assists per game) and could have bigger things in store with a healthy Jaren Jackson Jr. back in the fold.

Chris Duarte Won't Get Past Pick No. 15

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    Age is often much more than a number at the NBA draft, as prospects are often viewed less for the player they are now and more for what they might become.

    However, Oregon guard Chris Duarte might be bucking that trend as a 24-year-old with an apparently high draft floor.

    According to J. Michael of the Indianapolis Star, he is not expected to fall beyond the No. 15 pick.

    Duarte, an All-Pac-12 first-teamer and All-Defensive selection, just showcased his sweet shooting stroke by converting 53.2 percent of his field goals and 42.4 percent of his triples.

    Even if his ceiling is lowered a bit by his age, his three-and-D skills seem so tailor-made for the NBA that a team could easily decide he's worth a late-lottery investment.