We are in the thick of it now. Most of the homework has been done and many of the workouts have been completed – we are now in the decision phase of the pre-2021 NBA draft process.
The verdict will take place in Brooklyn on July 29, but in the meantime there’s a lot of talk about who’s going where in the lottery, with the Golden State Warriors having two choices.
With less than 10 days until the big day, Bay Area Newsgroup sports columnist Dieter Kurtenbach and Warriors beat out writer Wes Goldberg and made predictions for what could be one of the NBA’s most spectacular nights ever:
Pick No. 1: Detroit Pistons P
Cade Cunningham, Point Guard, Oklahoma State
Wes Goldberg, Warriors beat Writer: Although there is some smoke about the Pistons’ decline in business, they eventually take on the consensus top player in the draft. Cunningham is a playmaking perimeter threat with great feel, size and a knack for stepping into the big moments. He would make 3-pointers, defend several positions and drive the offense, giving the Pistons their future face of the franchise.
Pick No. 2: Houston Rockets
Jalen Green, Combo Guard, G-League Ignite
Dieter Kurtenbach, sports columnist: Rockets get the best of the rest in a strong class and can go anywhere with this pick. Ultimately, I think Greene’s athleticism and ability to bring the buckets in bunches is what makes him choose—his ceiling is too high to pass for a team in a complete rebuild.
Pick No. 3: Cleveland Cavaliers
Evan Mobley, Center, USC
wes: There’s no need to overthink things in Cleveland. Mobley is the best player available, with a modern center overhead to run an offense, take up floor space and defend multiple positions. Teams are looking for big guys who can stay on the court at the end of playoff games, and Mobley projects as the best big man in this draft.
Pick No. 4: Toronto Raptors
Jalen Suggs, Point Guard, Gonzaga
DieterThe Raptors are in a strange place to go in the 2021-22 season. Are they rebuilding? Are they struggling? Either way, Suggs is the right pick. His game is absurdly polished for someone who has just turned 20. His vision and confidence with the ball in his hands gives him a lot to look forward to in the future and the potential to be a wonderful complement to Fred VanVleet next season.
Pick No. 5: Orlando Magic
Scotty Barnes, Point Forward, Florida State
wes: Since trading Aaron Gordon last season, Magic could use a big, playmaking wing with the elites on the upside. Barnes is as good a playwright as he is in this draft and, with a 7-foot-2 wingspan at 6-foot-7 and 225 pounds, can reliably defend all five positions. Although his 3-point shot is still shaky (29.7 percent last season at Florida State), he does everything else well. If the NBA team can help improve the jumper, it could end up with an elite two-way wing.
Pick No. 6: Oklahoma City Thunder
Jonathan Kuminga, Wing, G-League Ignite
Dieter: I’ve heard from some people now that Thunder wants Barnes and will try to go to No. If they fail, don’t be surprised if they trade and earn even more draft picks (as if they could use them all). Kuminga may not be their guy right now, but he makes sense for a team in OKC conditions. They have time to let it grow and that can be the difference for them as a professional. I’d say that Thunder bets upside down and the fact that they have lots of options and the best available player on the board takes the Congolese wing.
Pick No. 7: Golden State Warriors
Davian Mitchell, Point Guard, Baylor
wes: Warriors number 7 can go in many directions: high upside, elite shooting, size, and more. But, if the top six are off board, I still think they are bowing to Mitchell. It’s someone who can play and help immediately. A ready defender who can pick up opposing point guards (such as Damien Lillard, Chris Paul, Ja Morant and Donovan Mitchell) and helps stabilize the other unit’s offense when Stephen Curry is out of court. His advanced age (22) and lack of size (6-foot-1 with 6-foot-4 wingspan) begs questions about his upside and may have prompted warriors to go in the other direction (Ken Johnson, Josh Giddy, James Buchknight, Franz Wagner), but Mitchell still makes the most sense for a team seeking to vault back in contention.
Pick No. 8: Orlando Magic
James Bouknight, Combo Guard, UConn
Dieter: The Magic runs to the podium to take Bocknight, a real bucket-getter for the Magic team who can use at least one such player. Bouknight may not have the defensive chops, but the selection of Barnes significantly reduces that concern for Orlando.
Pick No. 9: Sacramento Kings
Franz Wagner, Wing, Michigan
wes: Last season, the Kings drafted Tyrese Halliburton with their lottery pick, an immediate-impact prospect who played a position of need. If that pick serves as a hint at this front office approach this time around, Wagner makes a lot of sense here. Like Haliburton, Wagner thrives as a team defender, hustle, and can serve as a secondary ball-handler and take shots out of catches.
Pick No. 10: New Orleans Pelicans
corey kispert, wing, gonzaga
Dieter: Peliz’s spacing last year was terrible and while he may well need a point guard, Keon Johnson doesn’t make much room for Zion Williamson, who must have the ball in his hands at all times. Kispert is old and limited on his upside, but he can shoot from afar. He is a help-now option for a team that needs to make the playoffs this upcoming season.
Pick No. 11: Charlotte Hornets
Keon Johnson, Point Guard, Tennessee
wes: Perhaps the best athlete in the draft, Johnson Lamelo is a high-upside sport for the Hornets team-building soaring around the ball. It’s easy to project the finishing lobes with a highlight-reel dunk to Johnson running in transition with the ball. His questionable shooting (26.1 percent at 3-pointers) won’t help the Hornets make room on the floor, but his ability to find a co-star next to Ball is too tempting to pass up.
Pick No. 12: San Antonio Spurs
Josh Giddy, point guard, Adelaide (Australian NBL)
Dieter: The Spurs are a Final Draft wild card, but Giddy means a lot in the coming years as a game-changing playmaker at the center of a younger, more athletic Spurs operation. San Antonio is buying DeJonte Murray and Derrick White, but whoever remains can play next to Giddy.
Pick No. 13: Indiana Pacers
Moses Moody, Wing, Arkansas
wes: After missing the playoffs for only the second time in 11 seasons, the Pacers take a 3-and-D wing that could help unlock their best lineup. Moody, with his 7-foot wingspan, can slot in the small forward next to Caris Levert, Malcolm Brogdon, TJ Warren and Domentus Sabonis to give Indiana a lineup that can make open shots and change everything on defense. could. He may not have the upper limit, but he should be a productive player for years to come.
Pick No. 14: Golden State Warriors
Jalen Johnson, Wing, Duke
Dieter: Warriors helped immediately with pick number 7, and now they have a chance to take a big swing at superstar potential with pick number 14. Johnson’s build, athleticism and ballhandling give him a chance to become an alpha wing. A league where you have to have such a player to be a true championship contender. There’s swing-and-miss potential, of course, but if Johnson can buy into the culture of the Warriors and develop his shot at NBA level, he has the potential to become a world-conqueror. If it ends, the Warriors have a star to take off the mantle from Steph Curry and co. There’s a lot of reward for not taking the risk for Golden State, which shouldn’t have a lottery pick—at least two in a single draft—for years to come.