The wait is over. Almost.
The 2021 NBA draft—a focus for certain fanbases since last offseason—is only a day away. Come Thursday night, organizations and fans alike will tie their short- and long-term hopes to a new batch of ballers fresh out of college, the G League or international hoops.
It's always a fascinating exercise with the promise of potentially transforming a franchise and the knowledge that it usually doesn't move the needle in a major way for most teams.
History holds that this class will produce stars, busts and everything in between. The educated-guessing game of which prospect will become what is one of the greatest annual pastimes for basketball junkies.
No draft coverage is too much draft coverage, so let's keep the ball rolling with the latest selection order, followed by a pair of predictions.
2021 NBA Draft Order
1. Detroit Pistons
2. Houston Rockets
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
4. Toronto Raptors
5. Orlando Magic
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
7. Golden State Warriors (from Minnesota Timberwolves)
8. Orlando Magic (from Chicago Bulls)
9. Sacramento Kings
10. New Orleans Pelicans (reportedly will be traded to Memphis Grizzlies, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski)
11. Charlotte Hornets
12. San Antonio Spurs
13. Indiana Pacers
14. Golden State Warriors
15. Washington Wizards
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Boston Celtics)
17. Memphis Grizzlies (reportedly traded to New Orleans Pelicans)
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami Heat)
19. New York Knicks
20. Atlanta Hawks
21. New York Knicks (from Dallas Mavericks)
22. Los Angeles Lakers
23. Houston Rockets (from Portland Trail Blazers)
24. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee Bucks)
25. Los Angeles Clippers
26. Denver Nuggets
27. Brooklyn Nets
28. Philadelphia 76ers
29. Phoenix Suns
30. Utah Jazz
31. Milwaukee Bucks (from Houston Rockets)
32. New York Knicks (from Detroit Pistons)
33. Orlando Magic
34. Oklahoma City Thunder
35. New Orleans Pelicans (from Cleveland Cavaliers)
36. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Minnesota Timberwolves)
37. Detroit Pistons (from Toronto Raptors)
38. Chicago Bulls (from New Orleans Pelicans)
39. Sacramento Kings
40. New Orleans Pelicans (reportedly traded to Grizzlies)
41. San Antonio Spurs
42. Detroit Pistons (from Charlotte Hornets)
43. New Orleans Pelicans (from Washington Wizards)
44. Brooklyn Nets (from Indiana Pacers)
45. Boston Celtics
46. Toronto Raptors (from Memphis Grizzlies)
47. Toronto Raptors (from Golden State Warriors)
48. Atlanta Hawks (from Miami Heat)
49. Brooklyn Nets (from Atlanta Hawks)
50. Philadelphia 76ers (from New York Knicks)
51. Memphis Grizzlies (reportedly traded to Pelicans)
52. Detroit Pistons (from L.A. Lakers)
53. New Orleans Pelicans (from Dallas Mavericks)
54. Indiana Pacers (from Milwaukee Bucks)
55. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Denver Nuggets)
56. Charlotte Hornets (from L.A. Clippers)
57. Charlotte Hornets (from Brooklyn Nets)
58. New York Knicks (from Philadelphia 76ers)
59. Brooklyn Nets (from Phoenix Suns)
60. Indiana Pacers (from Utah Jazz)
No Surprises in the Top 4
It's peak smoke-screen season, so if you search hard enough, you can probably find a rumored report on just about every draft topic under the sun.
This year, the rumor mill reaches all the way to the top. The Pistons are reportedly still mulling their options at No. 1 with Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley all in the mix, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.
The buzz just trickles down from there.
The Rockets have made an aggressive push to pry No. 1 away from the Pistons, per The Athletic's and Stadium's Shams Charania. The Cavaliers have fielded calls for No. 3, though it would take a "Godfather offer" to get it, per Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor. The Raptors reportedly have three players—Jalen Suggs, Scottie Barnes and Jonathan Kuminga—in the running at No. 4, per draft insider Chad Ford.
If you followed every narrative out there, you could be convinced that anything might happen at the top of this draft.
Don't count on it.
Granted, nothing is ever set in stone until NBA Commissioner Adam Silver makes the announcement, but the top four will probably go as has been planned for months.
That means Cunningham, Green, Mobley and Suggs make the cut—likely in that order.
Warriors Won't Trade Picks
It feels strange to feel like you're going out on a limb by predicting a team will use its picks to draft prospects, but the Warriors' situation is so unique that this might be the only exception to the rule.
They just watched Stephen Curry perform at an MVP level and Draymond Green finish third in the Defensive Player of the Year race. They know Klay Thompson is on the mend after losing consecutive seasons to leg injuries.
They expect to contend for the crown. Not in the near future, but right now.
That's why it has always seemed likely they would extensively shop their two lottery picks for more immediate help. A report from the San Francisco Chronicle's Connor Letourneau even referred to that as "Plan A."
But who is the impact player the Warriors can go get? There are no indications Bradley Beal wants out of Washington. Same goes for Damian Lillard in Portland. Ben Simmons is obtainable, but he doesn't fit what they need. Pascal Siakam sounds fine in theory, but do the Raptors want to deal him? And would Toronto want Andrew Wiggins in such an exchange?
It's just hard to uncover the right trade partner for Golden State. Most teams angling to add a lottery pick probably don't have the win-now talent the Warriors are after. Those that do may not be interested in what Golden State is selling, especially if they aren't big believers in James Wiseman.
If the right trade package presents itself, the Warriors should pounce. Time is of the essence to construct a contender around the 33-year-old Curry.
But our crystal ball doesn't see that offer coming across the table.