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NBA draft 2021: Analysis for all 60 players selected

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Evan Mobley walks off stage with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected third overall by Cleveland on Thursday.
Evan Mobley walks off the stage with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver after being selected third overall by Cleveland during the 2021 draft Thursday night in Brooklyn.
(Corey Sipkin / Associated Press)

Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley were the top 3 picks Thursday night during the NBA draft. A look at all 60 selections with analysis.

Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham has been selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NBA draft by the Detroit Pistons.

Who will be next? The Houston Rockets selected G League Ignite guard Jalen Green with the second pick and the Cleveland Cavaliers chose USC forward Evan Mobley at No. 3.

Stanford forward Ziaire Williams, another Los Angeles prep star from Sierra Canyon High, was selected by the New Orleans Pelicans with the No. 10 pick.

The Lakers will package their No. 22 overall pick along with Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell in a trade for Wizards guard Russell Westbrook.

He is a pick-by-pick analysis.

Detroit Pistons take Cade Cunningham with first pick

Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham drives against Texas.
Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham drives against Texas during a game on Feb. 6, 2021.
(Mitch Alcala / Associated Press)

Here is a look at each selection in the two-round NBA draft on Thursday night, which is underway.

FIRST ROUND

Pick/Team: Player, School, Pos., Ht., Class, Age (as of Oct. 1)

1. DETROIT: Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State, G, 6-8, Fr., 19

Can score in a variety of ways, either using his athleticism or size. Projects as a potential franchise centerpiece with ability to help immediately.

2. HOUSTON: Jalen Green, G League Ignite, G, 6-6, Fr., 19

His explosiveness and ability to drive allow Green to score in a variety of ways. His passing is best out of pick-and-roll plays.

3. CLEVELAND: Evan Mobley, USC, C, 7-0, Fr., 20

A prototypical NBA big man who can play inside and out, he has the size and skill to be a force on both ends of the court.

4. TORONTO: Scottie Barnes, Florida State, F, 6-9, Fr., 19

He might have the most upside of any draft prospect. He’s athletic, powerful and has a 7-2 wingspan, but lacks a consistent outside shot.

5. ORLANDO: Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga, PG, 6-4, Fr., 20

A savvy floor leader who guided the Bulldogs to the NCAA title game. Has the potential to be a solid contributor on both ends of the court.

6. OKLAHOMA CITY: Josh Giddey, Adelaide (Australia), PG, 6-8, Int’l, 18

An all-around floor leader with high IQ who can score and assist, his only drawbacks are a willowy frame and lack of elite athleticism.

7. GOLDEN STATE: Jonathan Kuminga, G League Ignite, F, 6-7, Fr., 18

This combo forward from Congo will turn 19 just before training camp. He could be an explosive two-way player if his shooting improves.

8. ORLANDO: Franz Wagner, Michigan, F, 6-9, So., 19

A combo forward who can score inside and from deep, rebound and defend. He might only lack athleticism to create own shot in NBA.

9. SACRAMENTO: Davion Mitchell, Baylor, PG, 6-2, Jr., 22

The do-it-all floor leader for the Bears should make an impact in the NBA with his scoring and playmaking abilities. Also a solid defender.

10. NEW ORLEANS: Ziaire Williams, Stanford, G-F, 6-8, Fr., 19

The former Sierra Canyon High star is an elite athlete who impacts the game on both ends of the court, but was a streaky shooter for the Cardinal. (Draft rights traded to Memphis.)

11. CHARLOTTE: James Bouknight, UConn, G, 6-5, So., 20

A true scorer with a streaky shot who is strong around the basket and creating. All he lacks is a consistent 3-point shot and elite speed.

12. SAN ANTONIO: Joshua Primo, Alabama, G, 6-5, Fr., 18

This Canadian has a good feel for the game and 6-9 wingspan. What he lacks in athleticism he makes up for with scoring ability and shooting touch.

13. INDIANA: Chris Duarte, Oregon, G, 6-6, Sr., 24

This Dominican native is a well-rounded scorer who shot 44% from deep last season. A solid ballhandler who only lacks elite athleticism.

14. GOLDEN STATE: Moses Moody, Arkansas, G, 6-6, Fr., 19

One of the better spot-up shooters, what this wing lacks in athleticism he makes up for with a knack for rebounding and a 7-0 wingspan.

15. WASHINGTON: Corey Kispert, Gonzaga, G-F, 6-7, Sr., 22

Among the best shooters available, his efficient 3-point shooting and polished game only lacks natural athleticism. Ability to defend a question mark.

16. OKLAHOMA CITY: Alperen Sengun | Besiktas (Turkey), C, 6-9, Int’l, 19

A physical player in the post who can score through contact, he has the power and bulk to hold his own in the NBA but might lack some athleticism. (Draft rights traded to Houston.)

17. MEMPHIS: Trey Murphy, Virginia, F, 6-9, Jr., 21

Another of the draft’s top shooters, particularly from deep (40% in college), he’s an efficient scorer. Needs to upgrade ballhandling/passing. (Draft rights traded to New Orleans.)

18. OKLAHOMA CITY: Tre Mann, Florida, G, 6-5, So. 20

This combo guard might project more as a floor leader with his all-around offensive game since he lacks length (6-4 wingspan) and elite athleticism.

19. NEW YORK: Kai Jones, Texas, C, 6-11, So., 20

This Bahamian needs to bulk up from 220 pounds, but his leaping ability and athleticism to go along with a nice shooting touch make him an intriguing prospect. (Draft rights traded to Charlotte.)

20. ATLANTA: Jalen Johnson, Duke, F, 6-9, Fr., 19

A combo forward with an all-around game that features athleticism and ability to make plays as a scorer and passer. A solid defender as well.

21. NEW YORK: Keon Johnson, Tennessee, G-F, 6-5, Fr., 19

An athletic, explosive wing with the potential to be a great defender at the next level. He can score on the move but is a subpar shooter from perimeter. (The Clippers have acquired the draft rights for Johnson in a trade.)

22. LAKERS: Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky, F-C, 6-10, Fr., 19

A lanky, athletic big man with a 7-5 wingspan who can impact the game at both ends of the court. At only 200 pounds, he’s considered a project. (Draft rights for Jackson packaged in a trade with Washington.)

23. HOUSTON: Usman Garuba, Real Madrid, F-C, 6-8, 19

The Spanish international is intriguing because of his athleticism, 7-2 wingspan and high-energy play. He’s not a polished offensive player yet.

24. HOUSTON: Josh Christopher, Arizona St., G, 6-4, Fr., 19

A big-time athlete with a 6-8 wingspan, this L.A. native has plenty of potential to be a combo guard if he can develop a consistent 3-point shot.

25. CLIPPERS: Quentin Grimes, Houston, G, 6-6, Jr., 21

He had a breakout junior season (17.8 ppg, 40.3% 3-pointers) that showcased his 3-and-D potential. Inconsistent on offense, particularly creating shots. (Draft rights traded to New York.)

26. DENVER: Nah’Shon Hyland, VCU, G, 6-3, So. , 20

A combo guard who is considered one of the best shooters in the draft (40% from deep in college), he also has solid two-way skills.

27. BROOKLYN: Cameron Thomas, LSU, G, 6-4, Fr., 19

A shoot-first guard who can score in bunches and has 3-point range, he’ll need to improve his all-around game at the next level.

28. PHILADELPHIA: Jaden Springer, Tennessee, G, 6-4, Fr., 18

A combo guard with a developing game, he lacks explosiveness but has a smooth game and good shooting touch — 43% from deep, 81% free throws.

29. PHOENIX: Day’Ron Sharpe, North Carolina, 6-11, PF, Fr., 19

He’s an athletic and talented low-post player who lacks shooting touch outside of the lane. A solid defender and rebounder as well. (Draft rights traded to Brooklyn.)

30. UTAH: Santai Aldama, Loyola (Md.), 6-11, F, So., 20

This Spaniard dominated at the lower NCAA level with the ability to score in a variety of ways and an all-around game. (Draft rights traded to Memphis.)

SECOND ROUND

31. MILWAUKEE: Isaiah Todd, G League Ignite, F-C, 6-10, Fr., 19

A prototypical modern big man with shooting range and plenty of skill to go with his athleticism. Needs more development, particularly adding bulk. (Draft rights traded to Washington.)

32. NEW YORK: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova, F, 6-9, So., 20

A strong defender and rebounder who lacks length and athleticism but has plenty of skill and power down low. Needs to improve shooting outside the lane. (Draft rights traded to Oklahoma City.)

33. ORLANDO: Jason Preston, Ohio, PG, 6-4, Jr., 22

He’s a skilled playmaker who has a good all-around game despite his lack of elite athleticism and speed. (Draft rights traded to Clippers.)

34. OKLAHOMA CITY: Rokas Jokubaitis, Zalgiris, PG, 6-4, Int’l, 20

What this Lithuanian might lack in elite athleticism he makes up for with IQ, passing touch and play in the pick-and-roll. Lacks a consistent shot. (Draft rights traded to New York.)

35. NEW ORLEANS: Herbert Jones, Alabama, F, 6-8, Sr., 22

A solid athlete and spot-up shooter, he never matched his potential in college but could be a 3-and-D wing at next level. Needs a more consistent shot to excel.

36. OKLAHOMA CITY: Miles McBride, West Virginia, PG, 6-2, So., 20

A hard-nosed defender with a 6-9 wingspan, he improved his shooting during a breakout sophomore season and drew notice at the combine. (Draft rights traded to New York.)

37. DETROIT: JT Thor, Auburn, F-C, 6-10, Fr., 19

He has plenty of potential with his athleticism, 7-3 wingspan and defense, although his offensive game is raw and inconsistent. (Draft rights traded to Charlotte.)

38. CHICAGO: Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois, G, 6-5, Jr., 21

An elite scorer in college who shot a career-best 39% from deep last season, this combo guard could be a playmaker at the next level despite a lack of speed and athleticism.

39. SACRAMENTO: Neemias Queta, Utah State, C, 7-0, Jr., 22

The Portuguese national is a traditional center with solid post moves and interior play. Among the NCAA’s leading shot-blockers (2.4 per game).

40. NEW ORLEANS: Jared Butler, Baylor, G, 6-3, Jr., 21

This combo guard who helped the Bears win the NCAA title with his scrappy play and scoring ability. A hard-nosed player who lacks raw athleticism. (Draft rights traded to Utah.)

41. SAN ANTONIO: Joe Wieskamp, Iowa, G-F, 6-6, Jr., 22

This long-range specialist (46.5% last season from deep) can score off the dribble or catch-and-shoot plays. Not much of a creator on offense and defense is a downside.

42. DETROIT: Isaiah Livers, Michigan, F, 6-7, Sr., 23

While he lacks elite athleticism, he’s a solid two-way player who had a productive four years in college, averaging 41.2% from deep.

43. NEW ORLEANS: Greg Brown, Texas, F, 6-9, Fr., 20

He has 3-and-D potential with his athleticism and explosiveness, although he only made 33% of his 3-pointers last season. Inconsistent with his shot and creating offense. (Draft rights traded to Portland.)

44. BROOKLYN: Kessler Edwards, Pepperdine, F, 6-8, Jr., 22

The former Etiwanda High star is a rangy combo forward. A career 39.5% 3-point shooter, he averaged 17.2 points last season and can defend.

45. BOSTON: Juhann Begarin, Paris, G, 6-6, Int’l, 20

An active and solid two-way combo guard with plenty of potential, his game is unrefined and his shot, and shot selection, is questionable.

46. TORONTO: Dalana Banton, Nebraska, G, 6-9, So., 20

A Canadian combo guard with an all-around game that includes playmaking, scoring and all-around ability.

47. TORONTO: David Johnson, Louisville, G, 6-5, So., 20

A point guard in college, he could be a wing at the next level with solid defense, a 6-10 wingspan and more consistent offensive production.

48. ATLANTA: Sharife Cooper, Auburn, PG, 6-1, Fr., 20

He’s a talented offensive floor leader who only played 12 games last season after gaining NCAA eligibility. Lack of size and athleticism a downside on defense.

49. BROOKLYN: Marcus Zegarowski, Creighton, PG, 6-2, Jr., 21

A hard-nosed floor leader who has good shooting touch, his size and lack of athleticism are question marks.

50. PHILADELPHIA: Filip Petrusev, Mega Basket, C, 6-11, Int’l, 21

The former Gonzaga big man can play inside and out with solid scoring and playmaking skills. The Serbian national has filled out and is ready for the NBA.

51. MEMPHIS: BJ Boston, Kentucky, G, 6-7, Fr. 19

Another lanky wing (6-10 wingspan) with plenty of athleticism who projects as a scorer at the next level despite an off season with Wildcats. (Draft rights traded to Clippers.)

52. DETROIT: Luka Garza, Iowa, C, 6-10, Sr., 21

A highly skilled big man with an all-around game who can score inside and outside. Mobility and athleticism are question marks.

53: PHILADELPHIA: Charles Bassey, W. Kentucky, F-C, 6-11, Jr., 20

The Nigerian native shows plenty of promise with his effort, rebounding and 7-3 wingspan. Inconsistent on offense, particularly shooting touch and range.

54: INDIANA: Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall, C, 6-11, Sr., 21

A skilled big man from Georgia with good all-around skills although he will need to improve his defense at the next level. (Draft rights traded to Milwaukee.)

55. OKLAHOMA CITY: Aaron Wiggins, Maryland, G, 6-6, Jr., 22

He has all the tools to be a 3-and-D wing with his 6-10 wingspan if he improves long-range shot (35.6% from deep last season).

56. CHARLOTTE: Scottie Lewis, Florida, G, 6-5, So., 21

He is a very athletic combo guard and a strong on-ball defender who primarily scores off the dribble and on the move.

57. CHARLOTTE: Balsa Koprivica, Florida State, 7-1, C, So., 20

The Serbian big man has plenty of tools, including good shooting touch around the basket. Needs more bulk and development. (Draft rights traded to Detroit.)

58. NEW YORK: Jericho Sims, Texas, F-C, 6-10, Sr., 22

He has the athleticism, length and defense to play in the NBA yet will need to improve offensively to make it.

59. BROOKLYN: RaiQuan Gray, Florida State, F, 6-8, Jr., 22

He’s an athletic combo forward who is a solid defender and can score inside or off the dribble. He’s a streaky shooter.

60. INDIANA: Georgios Kalaitzakis, Greece, G, 6-7, Int’l, 21

A slashing combo guard who is a streaky shooter, he’s likely a draft-and-stash pick for the Pacers. (Draft rights traded to Milwaukee.)

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Lakers likely to focus on guards in NBA draft

Kentucky's Isaiah Jackson attempts a layup against Florida during a game in February.
(James Crisp / Associated Press)

The player the Lakers will select in the NBA draft on Thursday night in many ways remains a mystery.

For starters, picking at No. 22 in the first round probably means the player the Lakers want will be long gone by the time comes for them to draft.

Then it comes down to what the Lakers need on their roster and how a draft prospect fits.

They could use a point guard, but the Lakers also could use a power forward or center.

Several NBA scouts said the Lakers really like Isaiah Jackson, a 6-foot-10 forward-center out of Kentucky. But the scouts said Jackson is projected to go before the Lakers pick, perhaps as high as No. 14 to the Golden State Warriors.

“When you draft in the 20s, most teams are looking for talent,” said an Eastern Conference executive who was not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. “You can usually find point guards in the lower part of the draft, but every now and then you can find a big man that can be a rotation player.”

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How the Kawhi situation impacts the Clippers’ draft

Baylor guard MaCio Teague drives around Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs during the NCAA championship game.
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

Back in June, when the Clippers were rolling through the second round of the postseason, their 25th overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft carried the possibility of being expendable.

After all, what were the chances of a newly minted rookie taken deep in the first round cracking the rotation of a team pursuing a Finals run in 2022? Perhaps, some league observers believed, its return could be more meaningful if packaged in a trade in exchange for an established difference-making veteran.

Then franchise centerpiece Kawhi Leonard partially tore a ligament in his right knee, an injury he underwent surgery to repair earlier this month. Even if Leonard, who can become an unrestricted free agent next month by declining his 2021-22 player option, does return to the franchise its ability to build on this season’s first Western Conference finals appearance has likely been significantly hampered because of his injury recovery that could cost him most of next season, if not all.

With their plans for a realistic championship pursuit perhaps on pause because of Leonard’s uncertain timetable, the Clippers could view the 25th pick in a new light: A chance to draft and develop a prospect who, in their best-case-scenario, could become a factor when their title window re-opens.

The Clippers did not announce which prospects worked out for the team, but guard Daishen Nix, who spent last season with G League Ignite, and guard MaCio Teague, from national champion Baylor, are among those who auditioned.

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Who will go No. 1 in the draft? Here’s a look at one mock up

USC forward Evan Mobley shoots over Arizona forward Ira Lee during a Pac-12 game in January.
(Rick Scuteri / Associated Press)

They are young and gifted, all viewed as having the talent to be NBA players and All-Stars at some point in their careers.

The players that are figured to be chosen in the top five of the NBA draft played only one season after high school, but Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs and Scottie Barnes, in the eyes of talent evaluators, are the real deal.

It appears that Green could be joined by as many as three of his G League teammates during the two-round draft — Jonathan Kuminga, who might be a top-10 selection, Isaiah Todd and Daishen Nix.

Mobley might be one of a handful of former high school stars from Southern California selected in the draft. Former Chatsworth Sierra Canyon stars Ziaire Williams and BJ Boston are potential first- and second-round selections, respectively, while Josh Christopher, who played at Lakewood Mayfair, figures to be selected toward the end of the first round.

This is a look at how things might shake out Thursday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn:

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Draft prospects’ path to NBA continues to expand with paying jobs

Days before his 19th birthday, Kevin Garnett stood inside a Springfield, Mass., hotel in front of teammates at Nike’s Hoop Summit, featuring some of the best high school basketball players in the country, explaining why he was bucking convention by not following them to college.

One of Garnett’s peers, a Georgia forward bound for California named Shareef Abdur-Rahim, heard the reasoning that day but struggled to process the apparent risk. No one in 20 years had gone directly from high school to the NBA.

“He’s crazy,” Abdur-Rahim recently recalled thinking. “Like, he’s out of his mind.”

Garnett’s decision, of course, wasn’t doomed but a trend-setting moment. His immediate success as an NBA rookie, the start of his Hall of Fame career, opened a preps-to-pros pipeline that lasted a decade until the NBA ruled in 2006 that draft-eligible prospects must be at least one year out of high school.

The moment in the hotel and what it foretold has been instructive in recent years for Abdur-Rahim, now the president of the NBA’s developmental arm, the G League. Because 26 years later, the NBA draft on Thursday is notable not only for its entrants’ potential but the differing pathways that led them there.

For the first time, the draft’s 60 selections will include not only prospects trained in college or internationally but through G League Ignite, a special team created by the NBA last year to pay and nurture recruits who otherwise would have been bound for college.

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