2021 NBA Draft Results: Team Grades and Analysis of Top Prospects
Cade Cunningham was long expected to be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft. And on Thursday night, the Detroit Pistons used the top selection on the 19-year-old guard out of Oklahoma State. No surprises there.
But not everything went according to plan. As always, trades occurred on draft night that shook up the order. Some players came off the board much earlier than expected, while others were available for longer than anticipated.
In the end, 60 players were selected during the two-round event as many of the league's 30 teams added some potential future stars to their rosters.
Here's a look at this year's draft results, along with grades for all the teams.
2021 NBA Draft Results and Grades
Atlanta Hawks: A
Brooklyn Nets: B+
Boston Celtics: C
Charlotte Hornets: A
Chicago Bulls: A-
Cleveland Cavaliers: A-
Dallas Mavericks: N/A
Denver Nuggets: B+
Detroit Pistons: A+
Golden State Warriors: A
Houston Rockets: A
Indiana Pacers: B-
Los Angeles Clippers: A-
Los Angeles Lakers: N/A
Memphis Grizzlies: C+
Miami Heat: N/A
Milwaukee Bucks: C
Minnesota Timberwolves: N/A
New Orleans Pelicans: B-
New York Knicks: B
Oklahoma City Thunder: B
Orlando Magic: A-
Philadelphia 76ers: B+
Phoenix Suns: N/A
Portland Trail Blazers: C
San Antonio Spurs: D+
Sacramento Kings: B+
Toronto Raptors: B-
Utah Jazz: A
Washington Wizards: B+
Cunningham Leads Pistons' Impressive Draft Haul
It may have been the easy thing to do, but it was also the right thing. Cunningham was the consensus top player in this year's draft class, and while essentially all experts, analysts and mock-drafters were projecting him to go to Detroit, it was up to the Pistons to make it happen.
Cunningham should immediately become one of Detroit's key players as it looks to build a roster that can help it win a playoff series for the first time since 2008. But Cunningham isn't the only reason why it was a successful draft night for the Pistons.
With its three second-round selections, Detroit added Michigan forward Isaiah Livers (No. 42 pick), Iowa center Luka Garza (No. 52) and Florida State center Balsa Koprivica (No. 57). They each have the potential to develop and become NBA contributors, but Garza was the most intriguing pick of the three.
Garza had a tremendous four-year career at Iowa, becoming one of the best college players in the country. The 22-year-old even became the AP College Basketball Player of the Year during his final season with the Hawkeyes.
So while Cunningham will be the star of the class, Garza could end up being the steal of the draft for the Pistons.
Rockets Come Away with 4 Solid 1st-Round Players
The Houston Rockets entered Thursday night with three first-round picks. They came out of the draft with four players, all of whom were taken within the first 24 selections of the night. And each has the potential to become a strong players for Houston.
With the No. 2 overall pick, the Rockets added G League Ignite guard Jalen Green, who has the potential to be among the best players to come out of this class. His scoring ability could see him become Houston's franchise player.
Houston added Real Madrid power forward/center Usman Garuba and Arizona State shooting guard Josh Christopher with the Nos. 23 and 24 picks. But before that, it pulled off a trade for Besiktas power forward/center Alperen Sengun, who was taken by the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 16.
Although the Rockets had to send two future first-round picks to the Thunder, it may end up being more than worth it, as the 6'10" Sengun could give Houston a post player to build its lineup around. Green and Christopher could be the perfect complementary scorers to put around him.
All in all, it was an eventful and successful draft night for the Rockets.
Warriors Keep Draft Picks, Add Talented Pair
Leading up to the draft, there had been rumors about whether the Golden State Warriors may look to trade either of their first-round picks. They owned the Nos. 7 and 14 selections, so they could either add two top prospects or move the picks to acquire an established NBA player or two.
Golden State held on to its selections and came away with two players who could become solid contributors in the near future. It landed G League Ignite forward Jonathan Kuminga with the No. 7 pick and Arkansas guard Moses Moody at No. 14.
Both players could have been selected earlier than they were. Kuminga has a ton of potential, but he may need time to develop. Moody was a possible top-10 pick whose three-and-D skills could quickly earn him a spot in the Warriors rotation.
While Golden State could get back into the playoffs—and NBA title contention—next season, it also helped itself for the future with the selections of Kuminga and Moody.