2021 NBA Draft grades and analysis for all 60 picks

·13 min read

The NBA draft is officially in the books as 60 prospects heard their names called by teams after a long and grueling process between workouts, interviews and other training.

Of course, the evening had some twists and turns with teams executing trades and other related moves. The draft saw some players taken in their projected range, while others went higher or lower than initially expected to make for one entertaining event.

After the NBA held the draft virtually last year, the festivities returned to the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and allowed for some incredible moments. From players’ suits to some wholesome family moments, it was nice to see things return to some form of normalcy.

Now that we’ve had some time to evaluate the picks and trades from Thursday, Rookie Wire went through and graded all 60 picks in the NBA draft.

Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State

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The Pistons got the player every team coveted this year once they won the lottery last month, and Cunningham is ready to get to work. He is viewed as a franchise-changing talent as the Pistons add a huge piece to their young core. Grade: A+

Houston Rockets: Jalen Green, NBA G League Ignite

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Green is viewed as the player with perhaps the highest upside in the class as many believe he could develop into a superstar. He loves the fit with the Rockets and figures to form quite a backcourt next to Kevin Porter Jr. The two players should prove to be highly entertaining together. Grade: A+ For more coverage on Houston’s draft decision, check out Rockets Wire

Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley, USC

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Mobley believes he can potentially develop into a generational player, and it is easy to see why. He is one of the most versatile players in the draft and is one of the top defenders at his position. He can dominate down in the paint on offense and has the tools to expand his game at the next level. Grade: A+

Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes, Florida State

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The first curveball of the night goes to the Toronto Raptors. They surprised much of the basketball world by taking Barnes and passing on Jalen Suggs. However, Barnes has had a strong pre-draft process and climbed up boards over the past month. Still, we're not quite sure if Barnes was a worthy pick over Suggs. Grade: B+

Orlando Magic: Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga

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Suggs falling to No. 5 was the first surprise of the night, but the Magic certainly won't complain. He brings toughness to the roster as a player that is highly competitive and willing to do whatever it takes to win. He said afterward that he can't wait to get to work, and Magic fans everywhere can't wait until he arrives in Orlando. Grade: A+

Oklahoma City Thunder: Josh Giddey, Adelaide 36ers (NBL)

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Giddey arrives in the United States as one of the best passers in the class. He is highly touted for his ability as a playmaker and ability to get his teammates involved. The Thunder now have plenty of versatility and playmakers on the court. Pairing him up next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander should be very fun to watch. Grade: A- For more coverage on Oklahoma City’s draft decision, check out Thunder Wire

Golden State Warriors (via Minnesota): Jonathan Kuminga, NBA G League Ignite

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Landing Kuminga at No. 7 is an absolute home run for the Warriors. Kuminga is viewed as a prospect with plenty of potential on both ends of the floor and could develop into a strong rotation player for Golden State. Kuminga was once viewed as a top-five player and to get him at No. 7 is certainly a win for the organization. Grade: A+ For more coverage on Golden State’s draft decision, check out Warriors Wire

Orlando Magic (via Chicago): Franz Wagner, Michigan

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Wagner was highly coveted by several teams in this range given his ability on offense and versatility as a defender. Magic president Jeff Weltman said the team received calls about Wagner after they selected him but they ultimately wanted to keep him. They value his basketball IQ, character and intangibles on the court. Grade: A

Sacramento Kings: Davion Mitchell, Baylor

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Mitchell brings a tenacity on defense to the Kings that will certainly be a welcomed addition. His potential as a 3-and-D player at the next level is real and the Kings appear to have done well with this pick. Even Tyrese Haliburton liked the addition. Grade: A-

Memphis Grizzlies: Ziaire Williams, Stanford

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The Grizzlies traded up from 17 to make this selection, and it may be viewed as a bit of a reach by some. Williams largely underperformed at Stanford last season and was projected to be a mid-to-late first-round pick. They certainly see something in him that warranted this pick, and his fit next to Ja Morant should be fun, but it is likely one of the biggest question marks of the draft. Grade: C

Charlotte Hornets: James Bouknight, UConn

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Bouknight, who is regarded as one of the top scorers in the draft, was thought to be a top-10 pick, but eventually fell to the Hornets. The selection of Bouknight was a no-brainer as his transition to Charlotte should be seamless. We should thank them for giving us a backcourt of Bouknight and LaMelo Ball. Grade: A+

San Antonio Spurs: Josh Primo, Alabama

Primo, who was the youngest player selected, had a meteoric rise up draft boards this year, thanks in large part to a strong showing in workouts and interviews. The Spurs have a blend of young and experienced talent and Primo is the next in line to join that core. Still, we're not quite sure if it was worth taking Primo at 12. Grade: C

Indiana Pacers: Chris Duarte, Oregon

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Entering the pre-draft process, Duarte believed he was a sure-fire lottery pick. He got his wish on Thursday and now joins a Pacers team where he can help contribute now on both ends of the floor, something they certainly need. Grade: A-

Golden State Warriors: Moses Moody, Arkansas

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Moody was widely considered to be a top-10 pick given his ability as a 3-and-D prospect. To get Moody at 14 has to feel great for the Warriors, who also got Kuminga a few spots lower than anticipated. Golden State certainly emerged as one of the big winners on draft night. Hopefully, Kendrick Perkins will figure out how to say his name. Grade: A+ For more coverage on Golden State’s draft decision, check out Warriors Wire

Washington Wizards: Corey Kispert, Gonzaga

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Certainly, the big Wizards news of the night came when they drafted sharpshooter Corey Kispert from Gonzaga. Not really, but Kispert fills a desperate need for the Wizards that can help space the floor. With some help on the way from the Lakers, the fit here looks to be a good one. Grade: A

Houston Rockets (from Oklahoma City): Alperen Sengun, Besiktas (Turkish League)

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The Rockets traded two future first-round picks to move up to 16 but it was absolutely worth it to acquire a talent like Sengun. He is considered to be one of the most versatile bigs this year and is a player that can play-make for others. Grade: A+ For more coverage on Houston’s draft decision, check out Rockets Wire

New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Murphy III, Virginia

After trading back, the Pelicans still managed to get Murphy, who they were linked to during the pre-draft process. He gives the team some floor spacing around Zion Williamson, and that should prove to be highly beneficial next season and beyond. Grade: A

Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami): Tre Mann, Florida

The Thunder picked up perhaps one of the top shooters in the class this year. He should provide plenty of floor spacing, which will give the likes of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and others room to operate. Adding Josh Giddey and Mann proved to be a strong night for Sam Presti & Co. Grade: B+For more coverage on Oklahoma City’s draft decision, check out Thunder Wire

Charlotte Hornets (from New York): Kai Jones, Texas

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New York traded the 19th pick to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for a future protected first-round pick. With the 19th pick, the Hornets added a player in Jones that figures to give them additional depth in the frontcourt, an area in which was in need of an upgrade. Grade: B+

Atlanta Hawks: Jalen Johnson, Duke

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Johnson entered the draft projected as a lottery pick but fell down to the Hawks at 20. He had a quiet pre-draft process but figures to give the Hawks a strong inside presence, which is certainly a need. The Hawks likely took the best player available here and it could pay off for them in the end. Grade: B-

L.A. Clippers (from New York): Keon Johnson, Tennessee

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The Knicks once again made a trade, this time with the Clippers. They acquired the 25th overall pick, and a future second-rounder, from the Clippers for the 21st pick. Los Angeles liked what they saw in Johnson and believe in his potential as a 3-and-D prospect. He may need some time to develop but could be one of the most productive players from this class. Grade: B+

Indiana Pacers: Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky

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Washington acquired the 22nd pick from the Los Angeles Lakers in the trade involving Russell Westbrook. However, they sent this selection to the Pacers for Aaron Holiday and the 31st overall pick. Indiana took Jackson, who projects to be able to step in and make an impact on defense. He finished 15th in the country last season in blocked shots, thanks in large part to his insane 7-foot-5 wingspan. Grade: B+

Houston Rockets (via Portland): Usman Garuba, Real Madrid

Garuba, who helped Spain defeat Argentina in the Olympics earlier in the day, will begin his NBA career with the Rockets. Houston hit another one out of the park with this pick as Garuba was touted as a mid-first-round pick. He is arguably the top defender in the class this year and will give the Rockets a strong presence inside and out on the wing. Grade: A+For more coverage on Houston’s draft decision, check out Rockets Wire

Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee): Josh Christopher, Arizona State

Houston had arguably the best night of all teams in the draft, capped off in the first round with Christopher. While he was considered to be an early second-round pick, the Rockets may have felt that they could gamble a bit here after adding four players in the first round. The team needed to add talent to expedite its rebuilding efforts and absolutely nailed it on Thursday. Grade: A+For more coverage on Houston’s draft decision, check out Rockets Wire

New York Knicks (from Clippers): Quentin Grimes, Houston

As aforementioned, the Knicks swapped their 21st pick with the Clippers' 25th pick and took Grimes from Houston. He projects to be a strong 3-and-D guy at the next level with his ability to shoot and defend. Grade: B+

Denver Nuggets: Nah'Shon 'Bones' Hyland, VCU

Hyland has outstanding physical tools, standing at 6-foot-3 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, and projects to be a strong player on both ends of the floor. He had a strong showing during the pre-draft process and essentially played himself into the first round. Denver has a strong development system and should be a good landing spot for Bones. Grade: B+

Brooklyn Nets: Cameron Thomas, LSU

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Brooklyn adds perhaps the best scorer in the draft as Thomas projects to be a good addition to their second unit. While the Nets have very few holes on their roster, adding a pure scorer is always helpful. Grade: A For more coverage on Brooklyn’s draft decision, check out Nets Wire

Philadelphia 76ers: Jaden Springer, Tennessee

The Sixers add one of the most NBA-ready prospects, something they will certainly need. He is also regarded as a strong defender as he could step in and help them on that end of the floor off the bench. Grade: B+For more coverage on Philadelphia’s draft decision, check out Sixers Wire

Brooklyn Nets: Day'Ron Sharpe, North Carolina

The Nets were said to be highly interested in Sharpe, and they got him after sending Landry Shamet to the Phoenix Suns. They like his toughness and ability to rebound, and he projects to be a good fit with the Nets as a player that can contribute off the bench. Grade: BFor more coverage on Brooklyn’s draft decision, check out Nets Wire

Memphis Grizzlies (from Utah): Santi Aldama, Loyola Maryland

Aldama was a productive player last season for Loyola-Maryland and the Grizzlies traded up to get him. He was perhaps the biggest surprise of the first round as many had him projected to go in the second round. The Grizzlies certainly believe he can help them now as they add an all-around player. Grade: C

Second Round: Nos. 31-40

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31. Washington Wizards (from Indiana): Isaiah Todd, NBA G League Ignite | Grade: C 32. Oklahoma City Thunder (from New York): Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova | Grade: B 33. L.A. Clippers (from Orlando): Jason Preston, Ohio | Grade: C 34. New York (from Oklahoma City): Rokas Jokubaitis, Zalgiris | Grade B+ 35. New Orleans Pelicans (via Cleveland): Herbert Jones, Alabama | Grade: B+ 36. New York (from Oklahoma City): Miles McBride, West Virginia | Grade: A 37. Charlotte Hornets (from Detroit): JT Thor, Auburn | Grade: A 38. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans): Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois | Grade: A 39. Sacramento Kings: Neemias Queta, Utah State | Grade: B 40. Utah Jazz (from Memphis): Jared Butler, Baylor | Grade: A

Second Round: Nos. 41-50

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41. San Antonio Spurs: Joe Wieskamp, Iowa | Grade: B 42. Detroit Pistons (via Charlotte): Isaiah Livers, Michigan | Grade: B+ 43. Portland Trail Blazers (from New Orleans): Greg Brown, Texas | Grade: B 44. Brooklyn Nets (via Indiana): Kessler Edwards, Pepperdine | Grade: B+ 45. Boston Celtics: Juhann Begarin, Paris Basketball | Grade: B+ 46. Toronto Raptors (via Memphis): Dalano Banton, Nebraska | Grade: C 47. Toronto Raptors (via Golden State): David Johnson, Louisville | Grade: B 48. Atlanta Hawks (via Miami): Sharife Cooper, Auburn | Grade: A+ 49. Brooklyn Nets (via Atlanta): Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton | Grade: A 50. Philadelphia 76ers (via New York): Filip Petrusev, Mega Bemax | Grade: B+

Second Round: Nos. 51-60

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51. L.A. Clippers (from Memphis): BJ Boston, Kentucky | Grade: A 52. Detroit Pistons (via LAL): Luka Garza, Iowa | Grade: B+ 53. Philadelphia 76ers: Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky | Grade: A- 54. Milwaukee Bucks (from Indiana): Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall | Grade: A- 55. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver): Aaron Wiggins, Maryland | Grade: B- 56. Charlotte Hornets (via LAC): Scottie Lewis, Florida | Grade: B- 57. Detroit Pistons (from Charlotte): Balsa Koprivica, Florida State | Grade: B 58. New York Knicks (Philadelphia): Jericho Sims, Texas | Grade: B+ 59. Brooklyn Nets (via Phoenix): RaiQuan Gray, Florida State | Grade: B 60. Milwaukee Bucks (from Indiana): Georgios Kalaitzakis, Greece | Grade: B+

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