NBA Draft 2021: Deciphering and Projecting Every Franchises Strategy

By Max Feldman

Prior to getting into the breakdown of how I project every franchise will approach the 2021 NBA Draft in the first round, or if they move into the first round, grasping a feel for my novel approach to evaluation is appropriate. 

Utilizing the implementation of the SWING, STABILITY and HYBRID breakdown, there is now opportunity to essentially test the strength my read of NBA Front Offices. Each NBA franchise is in a different position on the NBA spectrum in terms of contention, realigning and rebuilding. Teams in contention might be seeking to add mature prospects to fill a void on a cheap contract, or their more willing to swing for the fences because they are not seeking immediate production. Rebuilding franchises, or front offices seeking legitimate cornerstones, are primarily seeking swing prospects to provide long-term options to build around. Realigning franchises, or those looking to move around pieces and mold in new pieces to make the next jump into contention, can be seeking any of the three classified prospect pools, but on paper, hybrid prospects fit the bill. Only 10 are on the Big Board, so a maximum of 10 franchises can be denoted as those subject to target hybrids.

Post-NBA Draft, looking back on this piece will provide an opportunity to calculate how strong my current read is. Each franchise and each prospect has received a denotation, if they matchup correctly, the read on the front office shows to be relatively accurate. Teams with two projected first rounders receive two denotations, as it is unlikely both picks would be used on swing or stability picks.

Atlanta Hawks

STABILITY

This post-season has proved the Hawks are in a dramatically different position that it seemed just a year ago. Travis Schlenk had pressure to compete now and adding another piece ready to contribute should be the priority while they carry plenty of youth already. 

Boston Celtics

STABILITY

Boston has some glaring weaknesses and will likely seek some immediate production. A strong group of multi-year collegiate guards with hints of upside should be targets. 

Brooklyn Nets

STABILITY

Sean Marks can afford to swing here if he’d like to, but with nagging injuries to all three of their stars and defensive concerns at points through this season, I would expect them to add an early contributor. 

Charlotte Hornets

HYBRID

Charlotte has plenty of youth and cashed in on their cornerstone last year, thus why I believe they opt for a middle ground this year. An early contributor could provide the bump to becoming a solid playoff roster, but hunting LaMelo’s longterm running partner should be in play. 

Chicago Bulls

SWING

The Bulls have to get lucky early, and if they do, expect Karnisovas to take the necessary swing. The Bulls lack two-way contributors, and I’d expect a swing on one wherever they eventually select.

Cleveland Cavaliers

SWING

I wouldn’t count out some shuffling in Cleveland, as it appears they could be at a crossroads in terms of choosing their long-term direction. Regardless, a swing is necessary with one of the more odd young cores in terms of fit. 

Dallas Mavericks

SWING

Dallas isn’t scheduled to make any selections, but if they move into the draft, taking a shot on a prospect to provide structure alongside Luka is worthwhile. They have enough role-fillers. 

Denver Nuggets

SWING

The Nuggets love to swing and I think another wing could be helpful down the line. When fully healthy, there is plenty of depth in Denver.

Detroit Pistons

SWING

Detroit is the epitome of swing heading into this draft and served as a baseline in the creation of this evaluation approach. They need juice and Troy Weaver will take a shot. 

Golden State Warriors

STABILITY

HYBRID

Relatively straight-forward, the Warriors have to add instant contributors on low contracts to capitalize on their star power quickly. Aligned to be positioned well in this draft if the lottery falls the right direction, they have a chance to add two strong pieces in an area of the draft where teams can hit it big. Another rapid processor would fit in well.

Houston Rockets

SWING

SWING

Similar to Detroit, Houston has been in swing mode since James Harden became distressed. Providing Stephen Silas young talent and upside to build around is the priority. 

Indiana Pacers

HYBRID

Another oddly arranged roster and fit, the Pacers are subjected to realign portions of the roster this Summer. An early contributor with long-term upside around Sabonis fits the bill.

Los Angeles Clippers

SWING

The Clippers are already relatively flexible infusing new pieces in different matchups, so they can take a swing in an area of the draft that should have some high upside prospects. Adding some creativity would be beneficial. 

Los Angeles Lakers

STABILITY

The Lakers have a few crystal clear voids and while they usually manage to do a good job filling voids through free agency and buyouts, their odd season has positioned them in a strong spot to take an instant contributor. 

Memphis Grizzlies

SWING

The Grizzlies broke through and have created a sturdy identity to move forward with. They have done a phenomenal job filling the roster stability prospects over the last few years and should be subject for a swing.

Miami Heat

STABILITY

Miami is not scheduled to pick in this draft, but if they move into the field, look for them to add a mature prospect to contribute to winning and the Heat culture.

Milwaukee Bucks

SWING

Another roster in contention with clear-cut voids. Jon Horst will look for another chess piece to add some flexibility with their lineups. The Bucks have played just 6-7 players at times in these playoffs and are in need of instant impact players.

Minnesota Timberwolves

HYBRID

Minnesota is in a gloomy area with tons of upside but no winning production as of yet. They are in need of rotational prospects now.

New Orleans Pelicans

STABILITY

New Orleans has flexibility with their roster, but infusing ready shooters must be at the top of the checklist. 

New York Knicks

STABILITY

SWING

The Knicks move into the draft with a differing mentality than previous years, they are not desperate. A combination of upside and early impact in the rotation is enticing. 

Oklahoma City Thunder

SWING

STABILITY

The Thunder have a historical amount of draft capital. They’re looking to swing and can afford to do so in a small market. With bounds of youth, they may look to add an early impact player later in the draft. 

Orlando Magic

HYBRID

Orlando was an example of why not all rebuilding franchises have to or should swing, as they have plenty of youth in the fold. I see two stars in the making already on roster in Cole Anthony and Jonathan Isaac, so adding a piece that can fill a void and become part of the core would make them one of the more enticing franchises for me. 

Philadelphia 76ers

SWING

Different than many other previously mentioned rosters, flexibility is exactly what Philadelphia lacks in. Swinging on a versatile, offensive minded off-guard or wing makes plenty of sense. 

Phoenix Suns

HYBRID

The Suns are contending far earlier than expected, and they’ll look to capitalize while Ayton and Bridges remain relatively cheap. A strong two-way guard group should be on the table.

Portland Trail Blazers

STABILITY

At the current standing with how Portland is aligned, adding athleticism on the wing and the front court has to be prioritized. A lot could change here, but what would make Damian Lillard satisfied is adding a prospect who can impact winning now. 

Sacramento Kings

HYBRID

The Kings are not as far off as many others believe in my eyes. Adding two-way production on the wing and at the stretch spot would fit ideally. Sacramento and McNair are well aligned to take a big jump if they add another strong piece. 

San Antonio Spurs

SWING

The Spurs have drafted well over the past few seasons and should look hit on a swing. There are plenty of pieces to play around with and realign, providing some flexibility heading into this draft in San Antonio. 

Toronto Raptors

SWING

For the first time in a few years, Toronto is subject to swing big in this draft in an effort to find a long-term cornerstone. Heading into a new chapter organizationally, Ujiri and Webster will seek a piece to provide juice long-term. 

Utah Jazz

STABILITY

Utah has a few voids but are coming off a season with the best record in the NBA. Adding a steady piece behind the aging Mike Conley would make plenty of sense.

Washington Wizards

STABILITY

It seems as though Tommy Sheppard and the Wizards will ride with Westbrook moving forward. The combination of Hachimura and Avdija is extraordinarily enticing in my eyes, so adding another instant impact contributor would elevate the Wiz. 

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