The Atlanta Hawks are a team with a lot of good pieces, so it is hard to zero in on a clear need. They have a pair of big men who play well off each other with John Collins as a stretch four who can also defend the paint, and a traditional center who grabs rebounds and plays defense in Clint Capela. Okongwu is quite possibly the best defensive big man in the draft, and he is smooth on the offensive end as well. He shoots a high percentage and has great touch around the rim. He will not be able to spread the floor, but he will be a dominant interior force in time. We had him as the best overall big man in the draft and he fell to number six. I liked Obi Toppin as a better fit here for a team who struggles on offense, but Okongwu is very talented with high upside. A very solid pick for the Hawks here but Trae Young gets little help on offense. but then again the team was more in need of defense, and they surely hit a homerun in regards to upside with Okongwu. Mays is a guy that should improve their team, and it will not only be on the court. His off-court accomplishments match his on-court ones and that says a lot considering he was a fearless leader for the Tigers, and he provides help on both sides of the floor. He is an underrated shooter having shot in the top 5 in combine shooting drills, and he is a pest on the defensive end. He averaged nearly two steals per game in his last three seasons and went up against every team’s best player. He is just one of the guys that will do everything you ask of him and do it well. He could play a good role off the bench and help a Hawks team making a push to get back to the postseason.
The lack of sharpshooting has been a downfall for the Boston Celtics in many of their recent playoff runs. So, what do they do? They go out and get the best shooter in the draft at the end of the lottery. there were rumors about Nesmith’s foot being redflagged predraft. But how often do the red flags get overanalyzed? Danny Ainge strikes again with another excellent pick acquired through a trade five years ago. Nesmith will make an immediate impact for the Celtics and help spread the floor for Walker and Tatum to make plays. Pritchard is another sharpshooter and leader for a Celtics team that is clearing prioritizing shooting and maturity in this year’s draft. They went out and got the best shooter in Aaron Nesmith and now they are getting the guy with the most range and one of the most accomplished players in college basketball. COVID could have a strong effect on the youth of this draft with so much down time, so the strategy to take proven, mature players with experience was obviously the strategy. Pritchard is a workhorse and a winner, and he showed it at Oregon. He will not have the role of taking game-winning shots right away, but the Celtics might as well consider it, because he has ice in his veins. There were plenty of talented guards still left on the board, so this could be a reach, but none of these guards were nearly as successful as Pritchard and few will work harder. After drafting a pair of sharpshooters, Danny Ainge got Brad Stevens someone he will absolutely love. Madar is a fierce defender who will be disruptive off the bench. He is a rotation player who can come in, give Kemba a rest, and bother opposing point guards. In a conference with some of the best point guards in Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, the Celtics now have a long list of guards, with different skills ets, who can disrupt them and contain them. Madar is also a good ball-handler and has decent court vision as well, but he is going to Boston for defense, and that is enough for Stevens.
R2, P57: Reggie Perry, PF/C, Mississippi State
The Nets had the 19th pick and ended up trading it to Detroit and received Landry Shamet in the deal. Shamet looked like a star on the rise at times last year, but seemed to disappear to a degree in the playoffs and “the master”, Jerry West opted for a better shooter, targeting Luke Kennard over Shamet. Perry is a great offensive talent as a late second round player, but he will be a liability on the defensive end. He found himself in foul trouble quite often at Mississippi State, but he was very impactful offensively in his limited minutes. He has court vision and touch around the rim, while also being a dominant rebounder. He showed potential on the perimeter, but he was not nearly good enough in college to suggest he will develop a three-point jumper in the early parts of his career. He is a developmental player, but a good value pick nearly 20 picks after his projection in our mock draft.
This was an obvious pick for the Hornets once the top two guys were off the board. There were a clear top three players in this draft, but the fact that no trades were made probably shows that teams behind the three didn’t value them that highly. and in a few years, these guys will be ranked interchangeably Ball should be able to bring the most out of the starting guards around him in Terry Rozier and Devonte Graham by allowing them to take less shots and better shots. Ball has tons of upside to work with as a dynamic passer and ball handler and can develop into one of the top playmakers in the NBA. Carey is the one true big man in this class because of his size at 6’10, 270 pounds. He is a force that will play underneath the basket and protect the rim at the very least. Carey shows more promise to eventually develop a perimeter game, but a team that already has Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo is getting two more guys to sit in the post. With LaMelo Ball running the point now, at least we will get to see some exciting alley-oops. Richards was listed as my second-round sleeper and I stand by it here. He has great size at 6’11 and a 7’4 wingspan, but he also has great leaping ability, which makes him play even taller. He developed an offensive game in his three years at Kentucky, but it still has a lot of room for improvement. He’s not a real threat outside of the paint, but he will hold his own and grab rebounds and block shots off the bench while providing quality minutes. And he is a Kentucky Wildcat, which is starting to become a strength on its own for draft prospects. Riller was a great playmaker at Charleston and was one of the better players among the mid-major conferences. He is great with the ball in his hands and is an above average shooter. He only shot 36% as a senior, but this mostly had to do with the intense defensive game plan that came his way. Whether he can contribute as a role player as opposed to a star remains to be seen. he’s older and has a number of question marks, and could end up in Europe.
The Bulls needed a disruptive, defensive player in the frontcourt, with as much upside as possible and they got perhaps the best combination of those things in the draft in Patrick Williams. He is arguably the best defensive player in the draft and will provide the Bulls with a much-needed defensive identity. He has great length at 6’8 and a 7-foot. Like the pick behind him, Williams needs to develop a three-point jumper. It was not terrible at Florida State, but the quality of this pick will solely depend on whether he can develop into a 3 and D wing, or if he will only make an impact on the defensive end. Simonovic is more of a developmental player for the Bulls in the middle of the second round. He is a tall Serbian forward who is very mobile and athletic for his size. He will not make much of an impact as a rookie and will probably rarely get off the bench, but the Bulls are not very close to competing, so taking a chance on a developmental player here is not the worst choice in the world.
R1, P5: Isaac Okoro, SG/SF, Auburn
Okoro will be a fantastic defensive player and should ultimately be able to lockdown a number of players in the NBA. He is too athletic, disciplined, and fundamentally sound not to. But the Cavaliers ranked second to last in scoring for a reason. They do not threaten teams with any sort of three-point shooting with two slashing point guards. Sexton and Garland improved from distance last season, but they could have used more of a natural shooter or someone else to spread the floor. The Cavs could have traded down to receive some assets and pick a more talented scorer like Devin Vassell or Aaron Nesmith. Instead, they reached on a defensive first forward who will crowd the lane for both of his slashing combo guards who start in Cleveland. Okoro is talented and if he vastly improves his jumper, it will be a good pick, but that is a huge “if” for a fifth overall pick, that was pegged to go 3-5 spots lower.
The Pistons needed a lot of help in this year’s draft and through a couple of trades, they made sure they could address a variety of needs. It all started with a point guard to build around in Killian Hayes. He is a playmaking guard with great ball-handling and court awareness who passes the ball effectively as well. He is not extremely athletic and lacks a trustworthy jumper, which are extreme limitations in today’s NBA. With so many draft picks, I would have liked to see them go with the best available with their top pick. Obi Toppin and Deni Avdija were possibilities here, but Hayes could end up being an excellent pick. Stewart was viewed as a big reach and the first real curve ball at 16. I do not mind Stewart, but Daniel Oturu is a taller, more versatile player who went 17 picks later. One has to wonder whehter they could have targeted Stewart much later with a trade and grabbed a player such as Achiuwa at 16. Washington’s big man is an imposing force who was remarkably consistent in a league with several talented centers. His biggest asset is his strength and tremendous post defense. The selection of Saddiq Bey is a major win for a lot of different reasons. It cost them their best shooter in Luke Kennard, but they immediately replaced him with another good shooter with the addition of size and more versatility. Bey is a great defender who is tall and long at 6’8 and a 6’10 wingspan. He can also pass the ball and knock down threes at a high efficiency rate (45% in his final season). Overall, this is a solid pick and makes a lot of sense for a team who had yet to select someone you could trust to shoot.
R2, P38: Saben Lee, PG/SG, Vanderbilt
The son of former Florida State standout halfback Amp Lee turned into a prolific scorer once Aaron Nesmith went down, and it significantly benefited his draft stock. Lee is a shifty, quick point guard who can get to the basket and also pass the ball out. He has a big wingspan at 6’9 that will help him on defense due to his small size (6’2). Lee struggles from three-point range, which concerns me since they already took a point guard who is a project as a shooter. I would have liked to see them select more of a shooting point guard, especially if he is going to be used as depth, for a change of pace from Hayes. Still, Lee is dynamic, and he knows how to score.
R2, P54: Cassius Stanley, SG, Duke
Stanley, at the very least, brings tremendous athleticism and drive to a Pacers team that did not have a lot of expectations going into this year’s draft. With only one selection, and in the second round, they probably did not think they could get a player of Stanley’s caliber. He is a fantastic rim runner and has a pretty shooting stroke that will only get better. He brings intensity on the defensive end and is an upside pick late on in the draft. He still has to overcome a few weaknesses such as ball-handling and isolation offense, and general feel for the game, but again, the Pacers could not have been expecting much better with this pick.
R1, P20: Precious Achiuwa, SF/PF, Memphis
Achiuwa is one of the more athletic players in this year’s class and a steal at number 20 for a Heat team that has drafted incredibly in recent years. Pat Riley seems to be running laps around the competition with recent picks, and with a number of bad picks made before this one, his job was made easier. Achiuwa had to carry a Memphis team that was supposed to take the nation by storm with incredible freshmen talent. Wiseman played three games and a few other players were disappointing. So, the star forward virtually had to do it all, and that is exactly what he did. He could become a solid shooter in time, as he showed promise on the perimeter, but he is also a run/jump freak who plays like his hair’s on fire, and he can go up with anyone and grab any rebound. Achiuwa has arguably more upside than 10th pick Jalen Smith. This is a great fit for Miami and one of the draft’s best value picks.
In a draft class where great shooters are very hard to find, the Bucks somehow found two (one at 45th overall and the other at 60). Nwora is 6’8, 225 pounds, with great size, and shot over 40% from three-point range at Louisville where he was a do it all player. His percentages do not tell the whole story for a player who had to do almost all of the perimeter shooting. Nwora has a great shooting stroke and will certainly benefit from a decreased role at the next level. The Bucks are adding an impact player off the bench who has the size and skills to develop into an elite shooter off the bench. Merrill shot 42% from beyond the arc for his career on over 750 attempts for the Aggies. The Bucks made a trade to grab Merrill and ensure that he did not hit the free agent market and his upside as a prolific shot maker is well worth it for such a low cost. He could help the Bucks who lost two perimeter shooters including one of the league’s best by percentage in George Hill.
New York Knicks
Toppin is clearly a top five prospect in this draft and probably should have garnered consideration as high as 2. The fact that he fell all the way to eight was a huge surprise, and the Knicks took advantage of this surprising slide. Toppin is someone the Knicks can build around and he should make an immediate impact as one of the more NBA ready prospects. Toppin can spread the floor, get to the basket, control the post, and simply, make plays. Obi will bring a level of excitement that MSG has not seen since Kristaps Porzingis came to the scene in 2015. Look for him to be one of the front runners for Rookie of the Year. I was a little surprised to see Quickley go this early, but I also had him as a better projected NBA player than he teammate Tyrese Maxey who was rated much higher on draft boards. Quickley can spread the floor and absolutely shoot the lights out from beyond the arc and from the foul line. He is an extremely quick player off the ball and on the dribble, who can get into the lane and finish with a pretty floater. Again, Kentucky players are hard to bet against and there is a reason he was the SEC Player of the Year. It seemed a bit early, but the Knicks are getting another playmaker.
R1, P15: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
This pick is an absolute home run for the Orlando Magic. They desperately needed a point guard to build around and they got a potentially excellent one in Cole Anthony. He was one of the top recruits coming into college basketball and a dismal UNC team along with an injury that kept him out of nearly half of the season, caused him to fly under the radar to some degree. The Magic have struggled to address their point guard position and got a tremendous value and a possible star in Cole Anthony. They should be thankful that Anthony fell out of the lottery and into their lap at number 15.
Maxey is one of the more well known players in this year’s class. He struggled from three-point range at Kentucky, but if he can improve in this category, the Sixers will absolutely love him. He can get into the lane and finish very well around the paint so an outside jumper will make him incredibly tough to guard. I initially questioned why the 76ers didn’t opt for more of a natural shooter like Tyrell Terry or Desmond Bane, but a trade to acquire Seth Curry and with the trade acquiring Isaiah Joe at 49, they addressed their main deficiency, plus they got rid of Al Horford’s contract. This was clearly their biggest need and they surrounding Simmons with a bunch of guys who can spread the floor and threaten from the three-point line. This is also a tremendous value pick as Joe easily could have gone as high as the first round, as one of the more talented shooters in the class. This is an underrated pick for the Sixers. Reed is a player with a high ceiling because of his size (6’9, 220 pounds) and potential ability to work hard for rebounds and stretch the floor. He did not take a ton of threes in college, but he showed the potential that suggests he could eventually develop into a stretch four. His best trait, though, is easily his defense. He is a suffocating defender who is good on the perimeter, but even better in the post. He averaged two steals and two and a half blocks in his last season for the Blue Demons. Reed is worth a shot with the third to last pick, and the Sixers capped off a great night with a sleeper pick at the end of the second round.
Flynn definitely fits as a Raptors type player, and was projected to their pick heavily by this site included leading up to the draft. He is a hard-working defender with great court vision and comes from a smaller school at San Diego State. Flynn is a great leader but does so while keeping his head down and being the hardest worker in the room. He has great range and will surely be a 35-40% three-point shooter. He rarely makes the wrong decision in pick and roll plays and at the worst will be an efficient change of pace off the bench for a contending team in Toronto. Flynn is very well rounded and will make some noise as a rookie in a crowded Raptors backcourt (depending on their moves over the short off-season). He rarely makes the wrong decision in pick and roll plays and at the worst will be an efficient change of pace off the bench for a contending team in Toronto. Harris is another mid-major player who Toronto sought after. Harris does not run the offense like Flynn, but he can really shoot it. He was a high-volume shooter in his only season for the Wolfpack and still shot 36% from three-point range. He has NBA size for a shooting guard at 6’5 and plays solid defense. This is a pretty good selection at the very bottom at the draft and Harris has a chance to get some minutes right away for a team that loves to rotate players in. Both Harris and the Raptors should be happy that the Nevada star is heading to Toronto.
It was a bit surprising to see Avdija fall to the ninth overall pick, so this is a great pick for the Wizards. If John Wall can come back close to what he used to be, the Wizards backcourt will be lethal with Bradley Beal playing alongside him. This means an obvious need for Washington was help in the frontcourt. They have a few talented youngsters in Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, Moe Wagner, and Troy Brown, Jr., but none of them have truly broken onto the scene to suggest future stardom. Deni Avdija has good upside as a 6’9 point forward. He has great ball-handling and improved his jumper recently. He should fit in nicely into their starting lineup, and hopefully live up to the hype as the next great foreign star. Winston is a natural leader and simply a guy that you want in your locker room. He has overcome countless trials in his life and has maintained consistent and positive through it all. He is a hard worker, a winner. He will provide valuable point guard depth behind an injury prone starter and bring out the best of everyone around him. He is a great passer with tremendous vision and can also shoot from anywhere on the floor.