The top of the board has gone to the script, but per usual, projections and buzz have go down the toilet in short order. The following is a pool of my storylines, takeaways and overarching thoughts. My final Big Board as well as the full draft are available.
There are not enough positive adjectives to describe sam presti anymore
Amidst all the James Bouknight buzz at 6, I was reminded why Sam Presti is as good as it gets as an NBA decision maker. Adding Josh Giddey allows Shai to slot over and do exactly what he’s best at, rather than forcing the young All-Star into a playmaking role. At 18, Presti hit it big once again, snagging my 6th overall prospect in Tre Mann. Whether it’s while Shai gets a rest or alongside him with Giddey, at near 6-9, plays a wing creator role, the Thunder have an electrifying space creator with extended touch and some enticing upside. With all that, Presti also acquired an additional 2022 and 2023 first round pick.
Shockingly, San Antonio’s Front Office Saw What I saw
I was vastly higher on a bunch of prospects compared to the consensus in this class, but none more so than Josh Primo. The selections of fellow prospects I was notably high on in their respective classes – Dejounte Murray and Lonnie Walker – had my attention, but taking Josh Primo vaults the Spurs to the top of my favorite front offices. Primo is younger than just about the entire 2022 NBA Draft class and as the Spurs move into a new chapter, they’ll have the full opportunity to squeeze out every facet of the 18 year old Canadian wing’s untapped tools as a two-way creator. RC Buford follows the Primo addition by selecting Joe Wieskamp, my 27th overall prospect, at the 41st pick.
The Bright Future Orlando magic are here
A Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs backcourt is going to be nothing short of sensational down the line. I touted both as the third overall prospect in their respective classes, and the combination projects well. The Orlando core is jam-packed with high speed processors with defensive tools and versatility on the other end up and down the roster. Two mature prospects, a stability prospect in Franz Wagner and the closest swing prospect there was to being a hybrid in Jalen Suggs, which continues the build, rather than a raw restart. After moving Vucevic and committing to developing young talent, John Hammond has stockpiled a plethora of tools to write the script of the Bright Future Magic – led by Cole Anthony, Jon Isaac, Chuma Okeke, Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner.
As a Monte McNair supporter, I am bewildered by the 9th overall selection
In McNair’s first draft in Sacramento, he was the clear winner for me walking away with the Haliburton, Jahmi’us Ramsey and Robert Woodard. Come 2021, not only was Davion Mitchell a reach at 9 in my eyes, but also an incredibly mysterious fit considering the Kings roster and the condition of the franchise. I am extremely curious what Mitchell provides Sacramento offensively that they do not already have. With Franz Wagner off the board, the rumored trade back scenario likely should have been opted for here, unless Davion is on the move with Buddy Hield or Marvin Bagley.
Zach Kleiman and the Grizzlies have an incredibly refined draft process
The Grizzlies have as deep of a rotation as there is in the league currently and have nailed the last few drafts under Zach Kleiman. Jaren Jackson Jr was the lone one-and-done prospect they took in the last few years, but they clearly coveted what Ziaire Williams presented and accordingly moved up to secure him while adding future draft capital by swallowing available cap space. Hitting to the capacity they have over recent years on draft night has allowed ultra-flexibility and most importantly, patience with future picks as the rotation is capable of winning now.
Bob Myers stays steady, sits back and stacks assets
Whether or not Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody are in the Golden State Warrior’s plans for the future, Bob Myers essentially ignored relying on the draft to add immediate contributors and instead took the best player available. With a Ben Simmons offer being rejected and Bradley Beal preferring other destinations, Myers is clearly seeking a big fish and adding the best available at 7 and 14 regardless of age gives Golden State a ton of ammo. Moses Moody, a hybrid prospect, can provide floor spacing and defensive versatility in Steve Kerr’s ultra-flexible lineups, while a combination of Kuminga, my 4th overall prospect, and James Wiseman should be enough to entice any front office with a superstar toying with a trade request.
Houston’s Haul will be an entertaining follow
Houston adds two elite athletes on the wing with shot creation alongside Kevin Porter Jr as well as two of the top international prospects in the field, adding juice to the frontcourt. The group is extremely young and the fit is not seamless, but Jalen Green, Josh Christopher, Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba is an enticing as a haul as there is. The draft is always a game of darts, and while it’s doubtful all hit the target in Houston, one or two have the chance to really fast-forward the reconstruction of the Rocket roster.
Charlotte surrounds lamelo ball with unlimited upside
Quietly, Charlotte added two of the most enticing, raw forwards in the field in Kai Jones and JT Thor. James Bouknight provides scoring firepower and rim pressure with Devontae Graham and Malik Monk approaching contract time. With Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo likely on their way out, Kai Jones and JT Thor absolutely maximize what LaMelo Ball is looking to do: Run. All three selections add fuel to the identity LaMelo Ball has rapidly constructed in Charlotte.
Chicago Sees a hometown hero fall into their lap
The storybook pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. Ayo Dosunmu curiously falls below Jason Preston and Rokas Jokubaitis, but has the chance to stay home and fill an immediate role for the Chicago Bulls. Ayo’s journey as an Illini and as a premier recruit was epitomized by loyalty throughout, committing to Illinois after a 14 win season. The Bulls were in a pinch to infuse contributors after off-loading their 8th overall selection to Orlando in the Nikola Vucevic trade and Ayo Dosunmu provides a physically mature, two-way backcourt combo tool.