NBA Draft Rumors: Last-Minute 2021 Draft Whispers Around All 30 Teams

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 28, 2021

NBA Draft Rumors: Last-Minute 2021 Draft Whispers Around All 30 Teams

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    The rumor mill is reaching a fever pitch ahead of Thursday's 2021 NBA draft.

    Draft plans are being finalized. Draft dreams are being explored. Draft deals are being discussed.

    It's all happening, as per usual with the annual talent grab.

    Let's break down what people are talking about the final day before the draft.

Rockets Pursuing No. 1 Pick, Pistons Mulling Trade Down

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    The likeliest scenario atop of Thursday's draft still sees the Detroit Pistons spending the No. 1 pick on Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham.

    But that's still not set in stone.

    The Houston Rockets remain in hot pursuit of the top pick, per The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, and the Pistons "will mull trading down if teams keep making offers." It would take "a significant price" to pry away the pick, but Detroit is keeping all options open.

    That seemingly includes selecting G League Ignite scoring guard Jalen Green, who O'Connor reported had "an outstanding workout" for the Pistons last week. If Detroit likes Green and could collect a king's ransom from Houston, maybe there's a deal to be made here yet.

Thunder Chasing No. 1, Offered Shai Gilgeous-Alexander

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    Hearing that the Oklahoma City Thunder made an aggressive push for the top pick isn't too surprising, since they need more young building blocks. It's what OKC reportedly put on the table that really raises an eyebrow.

    Rather than reaching deep into its bag of future draft picks, the Thunder offered standout guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with the No. 6 pick to the Pistons for No. 1, per B/R's Jake Fischer.

    That's a pretty stunning offer, since Gilgeous-Alexander has All-Star upside and clear centerpiece status in OKC.

    Then again, the Thunder are playing the longest of long games, so perhaps they were drawn to the idea of turning the 23-year-old Gilgeous-Alexander into a 19-year-old blue-chip prospect. Cunningham, in particular, could have been quite the draw for this small-market franchise, since he hails from nearby Arlington, Texas and hooped at Oklahoma State.

Magic Focused on Scottie Barnes at No. 5

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    The Orlando Magic have a type at the draft. They seemingly can't get enough of length, athleticism and the promise of versatility.

    That's why Florida State's Scottie Barnes is not just on the radar, he might be the franchise's singular focus.

    "League sources have long expected Barnes to be Orlando's choice [at No. 5]," O'Connor reported.

    Skeptics might wonder whether Barnes is a bit too redundant, as Orlando has other long, defensive-minded frontcourt players with similar shooting struggles. But the Magic like what they like, and Barnes does break the mold a little bit with his top-shelf talent as a playmaker.


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