NBA Draft Results 2021: Team-by-Team List of Grades and Picks
The Detroit Pistons had the easiest decision to make at the 2021 NBA draft on Thursday night.
They took the best player on the board in Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham with the No. 1 overall selection.
Of course, it is easy to judge Detroit's pick in a good light because it took the top player on the draft board first.
Sometimes the smart pick can be the best selection as well, and the Pistons are set up for success with Cunningham added to a few promising young players on their roster.
Other teams did not fare so well in the court of public opinion on Thursday night, including the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs.
Toronto surprisingly bypassed Gonzaga's Jalen Suggs to land Florida State's Scottie Barnes with the No. 4 pick. Suggs was taken at No. 5 by the Orlando Magic.
San Antonio made a bit of a reach by landing Alabama's Joshua Primo at No. 12. He likely would have been available a few picks beneath that spot, but it allowed the Indiana Pacers to take Chris Duarte at No. 13 and the Golden State Warriors to land Moses Moody at No. 14.
NBA Draft Grades
Golden State: A
Los Angeles Clippers: B
Los Angeles Lakers: N/A
New Orleans: B-
New York: B
Oklahoma City: B-
San Antonio: C
The Detroit Pistons officially declared Cunningham as their reward for winning the draft lottery with the top pick on Thursday night.
The selection of the Oklahoma State playmaker gives the Pistons a solid crop of young players to build out of the Eastern Conference basement with.
Cunningham will be the primary ball-handler in the Detroit offense, and he has a decent backup in Killian Hayes coming off the bench.
Saddiq Bey displayed plenty of promise from three-point range in his rookie season, and the path is cleared for Isaiah Stewart to dominate down low after Mason Plumlee was traded to the Charlotte Hornets.
Detroit still has Jerami Grant on the roster as well, so he should serve as the primary scorer while the young players develop into their roles.
With Cunningham, Hayes, Bey and Stewart in place, Detroit has a good core to build around and gradually move up the Eastern Conference standings.
The team still needs to fill out its depth across the board to challenge for a playoff position, but it has set itself up to avoid competing for the worst record in the league next season.
Toronto appeared to have the heir apparent to Kyle Lowry land in its lap at No. 4 with Jalen Suggs.
Most mock drafts had the 20-year-old landing with the Canadian franchise after Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley went in the first three spots.
Instead, the Raptors went after Barnes, who is no slouch in his own right, but he does not fill a need that appears to be open this offseason.
Barnes could turn into a solid contributor alongside Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and others, but he does not fill the starting spot that could be open in the coming weeks.
If Toronto finds a way to re-sign Lowry, then the Barnes move makes more sense since it would have an experienced ball-handler running its offense.
If Lowry chooses to leave the franchise in search of a better title-winning opportunity, the Raptors need to find pieces that work to fill the scoring production.
Barnes shot 27.5 percent from three-point range and averaged 10.5 points per game in his lone season at Florida State. Those numbers have to be concerning for someone billed as a two-way player.
Barnes will earn immediate minutes with his defensive ability, but it may take some time for the Raptors to develop his shooting mechanics and be an all-around contributor, like Suggs can be right away in Orlando.
San Antonio: C
San Antonio drafted on potential at No. 12 with Joshua Primo.
The Alabama shooting guard was the youngest prospect in the draft class, which gives Gregg Popovich plenty of time to mold him into a solid NBA player.
Popovich's developmental record can't be questioned much, but it feels like the Spurs could have taken the 18-year-old a few spots beneath No. 12 and collected an asset or two through a trade with a team that was interested in Chris Duarte, Moses Moody or Corey Kispert.
To San Antonio's credit, it developed Dejounte Murray and Derrick White into solid guards from the 2016 and 2017 first rounds. Lonnie Walker (2018), Keldon Johnson (2019) and Devin Vassell (2020) appear on their way to being decent contributors as well.
With those five guards occupying spots on the depth chart, it may be hard for Primo to see much time on the floor in his rookie season.
The Spurs may have a plan in place to get him to put on more muscle and develop his game more so he is ready in the coming years, but he does not appear to be an immediate need pick.
San Antonio could have used a frontcourt player, like Kai Jones or Isaiah Jackson—both of whom they could have dropped back a few spots to get—to partner with Jakob Poeltl.
Instead, the Spurs reached on Primo and may not see what he can fully bring to the court until the 2022-23 campaign.