NBA Draft Rumors: Latest Buzz on 2021 Lottery Trades and Potential Picks
The 2021 NBA draft is nearly upon us. The annual selection process is set to kick off at 8 p.m. ET Thursday at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. While the first selection is mere hours away, there's no telling how things will unfold.
The Detroit Pistons are widely expected to take Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 pick. However, USC center Evan Mobley appears to also be under consideration. Even if Mobley isn't the top pick, he'll be one of the first few.
"Mobley certainly will go no later than No. 3 to Cleveland, which has been connected to him for weeks by those within the NBA," The Athletic's David Aldridge wrote.
G League prospect Jalen Green and Gonzaga's Jalen Suggs are also expected to be early selections, though it's unclear exactly where they'll be taken. Trades could quickly alter the draft landscape.
What might transpire later tonight? Let's take a look a some of the latest draft buzz.
Houston Looking to Trade Up; Detroit Could Deal Top Pick
While the Pistons appear set to make a selection at No. 1, it's not a guarantee. According to The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor, Detroit could part with the top pick for the right offer.
"As of late Wednesday night, executives around the league are still predicting that Detroit will stay put and draft Cunningham, but there is at least increased chatter about the possibility of a trade down," O'Connor wrote.
O'Connor also mentioned Green as a potential target for Detroit at No. 1. If the Pistons are truly in on Green, a trade down could make a ton of sense. The Houston Rockets are looking to move up and have their sights set on Cunningham.
"I'm told they're aggressively pursuing Detroit's No. 1 overall pick," Stadium's Shams Charania said on Draft Decisions. "The Rockets have done extensive research on presumptive No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, and that's a player they would target if they were able to land the No. 1 overall pick.
Even if Detroit gives up the opportunity to select Cunningham, it will still have its choice between Green and Mobley at No. 2 in this scenario.
Thunder Also Looking to Land Top Pick, Have Offered Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Unsurprisingly, Houston isn't the only team looking to move up to No. 1. The Oklahoma City Thunder have even offered standout guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander as part of a trade proposal.
"Oklahoma City proactively called Detroit to offer Gilgeous-Alexander plus the No. 6 pick for No. 1, sources said, in an attempt to land Cade Cunningham," Bleacher Report's Jake Fischer wrote.
That's a solid offer, considering that Gilgeous-Alexander is an established starter and still only 23 years old. Of course, such a move would leave the Pistons without their choice of the top few prospects. They could land Gilgeous-Alexander and a quality prospect but perhaps not a true franchise-changing selection.
This potential deal appears to be at the floor of what Detroit would consider.
"Since drawing the top selection in June, Detroit has consistently messaged to rival teams it would need a first in this year's draft, future draft ammo and an established young star," Fischer wrote.
Raptors Expected to Target Suggs
While several teams are looking to land the top pick, the Toronto Raptors appear content to stay at No. 4. They'll have options there, even if Cunningham, Green and Mobley are off the board.
"Toronto doesn't appear to subscribe to the idea that this is a four-player draft, as it has taken hard looks at both Jonathan Kuminga and Scottie Barnes, as well as other players in the top 10 such as Franz Wagner and James Bouknight," Givony wrote.
However, those outside of the organization seem to believe that Suggs will be Toronto's pick.
"The league overwhelmingly expects the Raptors to end up with Suggs, who is an ideal fit for their roster and could easily be considered to have the highest upside of any player available," Givony wrote.
Suggs is indeed a high-upside prospect, though perhaps not as much of a sure thing as the other top prospects. He'd be a fine pickup at No. 4, and even if he isn't the selection, the Raptors are poised to find value by staying put.