NBA Mock Draft 2021: Trade talk, rumors and news that could shape fates of Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and E

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cleveland.com 19 July, 2021 - 04:39am 3 views

What is the Green Room NBA draft?

Green room invites are extended to about 20 top prospects, who gather in a staging area with family, friends, agents and others important to their careers while Commissioner Adam Silver announces first-round picks. When they hear their names called, players make the short walk to join Silver on stage. The Spokesman-ReviewFormer Gonzaga standouts Jalen Suggs, Corey Kispert receive green room invites to NBA draft

Here is the latest intel, rounded into cleveland.com’s latest NBA mock draft 2021 with trade talk, rumors and news that could shape the fates of Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green and Evan Mobley.

The draft is July 29 and will take place at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Height, weight: 6-foot-8, 220 pounds

Age: 19 (Sept. 25 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.6 steals in 35.4 minutes per game.

About the pick: The question remains, will Detroit seriously entertain any offers for No. 1? It last happened in 2017 with the Philadelphia-Boston swap that landed Markelle Fultz with the 76ers and Jayson Tatum with the Celtics. The Cavs traded Andrew Wiggins later in the summer after the 2014 draft when LeBron James returned, while Orlando and Golden State swapped Chris Webber for Penny Hardaway and picks in 1993.

The 2017 and 1993 trades, coincidentally, involved the team sitting at No. 3. The Cavaliers have inquired with the Pistons, according to cleveland.com’s Chris Fedor, quoting one executive that it would take more than it cost Philadelphia to get that 2017 pick from Boston to select Fultz (the No. 3 pick that year and two future first-rounders). ESPN Insiders floated the idea of Darius Garland and the No. 3 pick with the top pick, Rodney McGruder and Jahlil Okafor coming to Cleveland. Don’t count on it.

Cunningham is the cornerstone Detroit is craving. In our draft profile on Cunningham, Fedor called him “an unselfish player with winning intangibles, Cunningham is a three-level scorer and potential matchup nightmare at the next level, able to use his size and strength to overpower smaller defenders or rise above and fire from outside. His unique size also allows him to hold his own against frontcourt players while also being able to see over the defense and create passing angles.”

Height, weight: 6-6, 186

Age: 19 (Feb. 19 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.5 steals in 32.0 minutes per game.

About the pick: Last time, we projected Southern California’s Evan Mobley here. Mobley and Green are the favorites, so we’ll flip that selection this time. As Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer wrote, Houston’s selection will dictate this draft. The front office is split between Green and Mobley, according to league insider Chad Ford.

“At one point Green was viewed as a potential No. 1 pick, choosing to pave his own path with G League Ignite,” Fedor said in our draft profile. “While there are areas of his game that Green needs to hone — handle, playmaking and defense — the comparisons to bouncy Zach LaVine are tough to ignore. There’s alluring untapped potential here. Green is a high-flying three-level scorer who has the natural talent to become a star. Green has a relatively safe floor as a bucket-getter, with a high ceiling to one day become a star.”

Height, weight: 7-0, 215

Age: 19 (June 18 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.9 blocks in 33.9 minutes per game.

About the pick: The Cavaliers will have the option of Mobley or Green — whomever Houston doesn’t take — and Gonzaga point Jalen Suggs. Ford added in his mock draft that the Cavs could have a “slight preference” for Mobley and playing him with Jarrett Allen, who is due a contract extension as a restricted free agent.

Scouts and executives have told our Chris Fedor they believe Mobley slots into the power forward spot, leaving Allen at center, should the USC star be the choice.

“Mobley’s length, athleticism, quickness, instincts and switchability give him a great defensive foundation, drawing comparisons to a young Chris Bosh.” Fedor said in our draft profile on Mobley. He fits better with Allen than Suggs would with point guard Darius Garland or Collin Sexton as another small guard. At this point in the Cavaliers’ roster building, fit remains a bonus.

Height, weight: 6-4, 205

Age: 19 (June 3birthday)

2020-21 stats: 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 1.9 steals in 28.9 minutes per game.

About the pick: Suggs slots into the point for Toronto with Kyle Lowry entering free agency. Should Suggs go higher, perhaps to Houston, that won’t hurt the Raptors. They are thinking talent, not fit, according to Ryan Wolstat of the Toronto Sun. Raptors assistant general manager Dan Tolzman said earlier this month on a media call that Lowry’s status has no bearing on their selection. Regardless, it looks to slot out that way.

“One scout recently called him the Russell Wilson of the NBA,” Fedor said of Suggs. “He makes teams better and teammates gravitate toward his magnetic personality. Suggs is a high-IQ unselfish playmaker who plays the game with an uncommon maturity for a teenager. He will make an immediate impact.”

Height, weight: 6-8, 220

Age: 18 (Oct. 6 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals in 32.8 minutes per game.

About the pick: With the eighth pick coming up from Chicago, Orlando can take the higher ceiling in Kuminga instead of the safer one in Scottie Barnes. The snub would keep Barnes, who grew up in West Palm Beach and played at Montverde Academy, from staying in his home state. Instead, the Magic can take Jalen Green’s G League teammate.

“Kuminga got off to a great start with G League Ignite before fizzling, showing the concerns that have bumped him to the bottom of the third tier,” Fedor said in cleveland.com’s draft profile of Kuminga. “The tools are there. If a team can be patient, fix his jumper and get him to play hard every possession, he could become one of the best players from this class – a title he carried entering the season.”

Height, weight: 6-2, 205

Age: 22 (Sept. 5 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 14.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.9 steals in 33.0 minutes per game.

About the pick: As five-time OHSAA boys basketball state champion and current Cornerstone Christian coach Babe Kwasniak says, “winners win.” That’s Mitchell, who is coming off a national championship run with the Bears. Mitchell could be an excellent pairing with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma City, which just acquired Kemba Walker at the point.

However, will Walker remain with the Thunder? Mitchell is accustomed to playing in guard-heavy sets at Baylor, which also rolled with two other potential first-rounders in this draft, Jared Butler and MaCio Teague.

“An elite defender who plays with a non-stop motor, Mitchell made significant strides on the offensive end as a junior, hitting 44.7% from 3-point range,” Fedor said in our draft profile on Mitchell.

Height, weight: 6-8, 227

Age: 19 (Aug. 1 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.5 steals in 24.8 minutes per game.

About the pick: Barnes should be the fifth-best prospect, but his shooting, which included a 27.5 percent clip last season on 3-pointers, could lead to a fall down the board. It should only be a slight drop, if any, considering his defensive prowess.

“Is he a small forward or power forward? Does he have a reliable outside shot to keep opponents honest? While those are legitimate questions,” Fedor said in our draft profile on Barnes, “Cade Cunningham’s high school teammate looked like an intriguing point-forward with disruptive defensive tools in his one season at Florida State, where he captured Freshman of the Year and Sixth Man honors.”

Barnes should not drop further than Orlando’s pick that’s up next. It also should be noted there is speculation, according to Eric Ting of SFGate.com, that Golden State could package this pick and James Wiseman in a deal.

Height, weight: 6-8, 185

Age: 18 (Oct. 10 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 11.4 points, 7.1 rebounds, 7.4 assists, 1.1 steals in 31.9 minutes per game during NBL Australia play.

About the pick: Orlando acquired this selection from Chicago as part of the midseason trade of Nikola Vucevic to the Bulls for Wendell Carter Jr. and Otto Porter. A 2023 first-round pick also is headed to Orlando.

The Magic have invested in their frontcourt with Mohamed Bamba and Jonathan Isaac in recent drafts. They can look at more guards, even with two top 10 picks and a roster full of talented role players in those spots.

“Capable of recording a triple-double on any given night, Giddey is a big, crafty playmaker who has a terrific feel for the game and makes teammates around him better,” Fedor said in our draft profile on Giddey. “Like many his age, there are questions about his defense and outside shot (31% on 90 attempts this season), which could push him a bit further down the board — even with the gaudy stats.”

Height, weight: 6-5, 186

Age: 19 (March 10 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 11.3 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2. 5 assists, 1.1 steals in 25.5 minutes.

About the pick: The Kings’ confirmed interviews, according to Jason Anderson of the Sacramento Bee, included Barnes, Mitchell, Arkansas guard Marcus Moody and Tennessee guard Keon Johnson. Duke forward Jalen Johnson, who’s been previously pegged for this spot, reportedly did not meet with Sacramento.

By process of elimination, Moody and Johnson could be the top contenders to join a lineup that includes De’Aaron Fox and 2020 pick Tyrese Haliburton in the backcourt. An off-ball guard makes more sense, so that’s Johnson. “Strong. Fast. Athletic. And ... raw. That sums up Johnson’s game,” Fedor said in our draft profile on Johnson. “In many ways, he has a similar draft profile to Isaac Okoro, Cleveland’s choice with the No. 5 pick last year.”

Height, weight: 6-6, 205

Age: 18 (May 31 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.0 steals in 33.8 minutes.

About the pick: This pick came from Minnesota as a top-three protected selection from the DeAngelo Russell-for-Andrew Wiggins trade of last year. Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart are restricted free agents this summer. General manager David Griffin could be in for some roster shuffling, and the potential departure of either makes Moody an attractive option as he continues to surround Zion Williamson with complementary talent.

We can at least rule out Detroit as a suitor for Hart, who amusingly defused the suggestion. As for Ball, former cleveland.com reporter Chris Haynes asked agent Rich Paul if New Orleans is still an option. “We’re open-minded to the landscape of the league,” Paul replied for a Yahoo! Sports report.

Height, weight: 6-11, 206

Age: 19 (Jan. 10 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 8.4 points, 6.6 rebounds, 2.6 blocks in 20.8 minutes.

About the pick: This would reunite Jackson with LaMelo Ball after their year together at SPIRE. Jackson has the potential to be the second-best big in this draft, following Mobley, and is physically ready for the next level with a 7-5 wingspan. Ball posted an Instagram video earlier this month showing support for his former SPIRE teammates.

Height, weight: 6-5, 190

Age: 20 (Sept. 18 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.1 steals in 31.7 minutes.

About the pick: DeMar DeRozan is a free agent, so the Spurs could look to add a wing. They also need frontcourt help, as Tom Orsborn of the San Antonio Express-News wrote, suggesting Duke’s Jalen Johnson as an option. Bouknight’s stock is on the rise after a strong combine performance.

Height, weight: 6-9, 220

Age: 19 (Aug. 27 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.0 blocks in 31.7 minutes per game.

About the pick: The Pacers can keep one of the top Big Ten prospects in the heart of Big Ten country. Wagner will help them defensively, as Rick Carlisle returns to the bench as their new coach. Indiana could be prioritizing 3-and-D players, according to a roundup from the Indy Star. Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, who has previously been projected here, also fits that role.

Wagner is the younger brother of Orlando Magic forward Moritz Wagner and is regarded for his defensive play at Michigan.

Height, weight: 6-8, 185

Age: 19 (Sept. 12 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 10.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.2 assists in 27.9 minutes per game.

About the pick: At least one of Golden State’s two picks in the top 14 should be a guard, considering Klay Thompson is still recovering from his Achilles injury. That is, if the Warriors keep both. Williams is a sensible choice, considering Kelly Oubre Jr. appears to be on his way out, based on what he told Chris Haynes on his Posted Up podcast in regards to a diminished role last season.

Height, weight: 6-9, 220

Age: 19 (Dec. 18 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 steals, 1.2 blocks in 21.4 minutes.

About the pick: Johnson interviewed with the Wizards last month at the combine and fits a roster that is dominated by Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal. He is arguably the top prospect available at this point and could be a polarizing player as a draft night decision. Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim criticized Johnson when he announced in February he was leaving Duke to prepare for the draft, while Jay Bilas came to the forward’s defense.

Height, weight: 6-11, 218

Age: 20 (Jan. 19 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 8.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, 0.9 blocks in 22.8 minutes.

About the pick: The Thunder acquired this selection last month with Kemba Walker for Al Horford, 7-footer Moses Brown and a 2023 second-round pick. They could use more help up front after sending away a promising player coming off his second season in Brown (he started 32 games and played in 43 for the Thunder, averaging 8.6 points and 8.9 rebounds).

“The bouncy 20-year-old big man plays above the rim on offense and has the athleticism and mobility to be a multi-positional defensive weapon,” Fedor said in our draft profile on Jones. “There’s always a steep learning curve for big men transitioning from college to the pros. It could take even longer for Jones, who didn’t start playing organized hoops until high school.” Jones was the Big 12′s sixth man of the year.

Height, weight: 6-6, 190

Age: 23 (June 14 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.9 steals in 34.1 minutes.

About the pick: Duarte was listed among five players the Grizzlies should target at No. 17, according to Evan Barnes of the Memphis Commercial Appeal. He included Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu, Florida’s Tre Mann, Baylor’s Jared Butler and Villanova forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Based on this mock draft, Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert also could fit well. However, we’ll defer to Barnes on the beat. He wrote of Duarte: “He would give the Grizzlies another wing at an already loaded position, one who can create his own shot. With his high energy, defensive potential and shooting ability, he could be a good fallback plan if the team decides to part with Grayson Allen after next season.”

Height, weight: 6-3, 195

Age: 20 (Aug. 25 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 16.7 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 2.0 steals in 30.3 minutes per game.

About the pick: Will Oklahoma City keep all three first-round picks? The Thunder also have three second-round picks and seven players under guaranteed contracts. We’ll keep Butler, the Most Outstanding Player from the Final Four, in this spot. Analyst Fran Fraschilla suggested Butler to the Knicks with the next pick, according to the New York Post.

Height, weight: 6-8, 230

Age: 19 (March 9 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 4.0 points, 4.1 rebounds, 0.7 blocks in 16.5 minutes per game during EuroLeague play.

About the pick: Of the players Fraschilla suggested for the Knicks — including Chris Duarte, Jared Butler, Isaiah Jackson — Garuba is the only one left in this mock draft. On Garuba, who could blossom into a versatile defender at the NBA level, Fraschilla compared him to OG Anunoby of the Raptors. The Knicks could still use a long-term answer at point guard with 32-year-old Derrick Rose entering a free agency.

Height, weight: 6-7, 220

Age: 22 (March 22 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 18.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, 1.8 assists in 31.8 minutes.

About the pick: A rare four-year player who could go higher, Kispert shot 44 percent on 3-pointers for Gonzaga and 40.8 percent for his college career.

“Over the last few years, shooting specialists have worked their way into the lottery — and Kispert could be next,” Fedor said in our draft profile. “A four-year player, he comes into the league more NBA-ready than some of his other classmates. While there are legitimate questions about Kispert’s athleticism, lateral quickness and ball-handling, the swingman has an elite trait that teams covet in this pace and space era. He’s also a winner and high-IQ competitor who made great strides each season. Kispert’s scouting report is eerily similar to Joe Harris’ coming out of Virginia.”

Height, weight: 6-1, 180

Age: 19 (June 11 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 20.2 points, 4.3 rebounds, 8.1 assists, 1.0 steals in 33.1 minutes.

About the pick: There is plenty of buzz surrounding the Knicks, both in trying to acquire Collin Sexton from the Cavaliers and moving their picks at Nos. 19 and 21. SNY.tv’s Ian Begley noted the Knicks are trying to gauge teams’ interest in Cooper. He could be a selection here, but not necessarily for New York.

Height, weight: 6-4, 210

Age: 19 (Oct. 13 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 23.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 assists in 34.0 minutes per game.

About the pick: The Lakers are likely to add a guard, considering Dennis Schroder is a free agent and reportedly turned down an $84 million extension before the trade deadline, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst on the Hoop Collective podcast. Thomas is coming off an All-Southeastern Conference season as a freshman at LSU.

Height, weight: 6-9, 235

Age: 18 (July 25 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.3 steals, 1.7 blocks in 28.3 minutes per game during Turkish Super League play.

About the pick: Fedor thinks Sengun is the best player among this year’s international prospects. “The MVP of the Turkish League as a teenager, Sengun comes into the league with questions about his defense and natural position, but possesses a rare offensive skill set. Passing. Shooting. Ballhandling,” Fedor said in our draft profile on Sengun. “Diverse set of fundamentally-sound post moves. Potential 3-point range. Sengun has it all at that end of the floor. His place as the modern-day big will depend on defensive limitations, including a lack of switchability. Will that lead to him getting played off the floor in certain matchups -- and diminishing his value?”

Considering Nikola Jokic won this year’s MVP as a former second-round pick, this is where teams will think twice about passing on the chance to take a prospect who vaguely compares to Jokic at center.

Height, weight: 6-5, 190

Age: 20 (Feb. 3 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 16.0 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.4 steals in 32.4 minutes.

About the pick: Like Oklahoma City, here sits Houston with its third pick of the first round. Mann confirmed last month to have worked out for the Rockets. He made All-SEC last season in his second year with Florida.

Height, weight: 6-6, 200

Age: 20 (Nov. 20 birthday)

2020-21 stats: N/A

About the pick: Walker played at Moreau Catholic in California and Hillcrest Prep in Phoenix before opting to train with Frank Matrisciano at Chameleon BX instead of a year in college. Walker is confirmed, according to Sports Illustrated, to have worked out for the Clippers. Walker also is a familiar face around Northeast Ohio, having participated in an NEO Youth Elite showcase.

Height, weight: 6-4, 200

Age: 21 (Jan. 17 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 20.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, 1.1 steals in 35.1 minutes.

About the pick: Building around MVP Nikola Jokic and bringing back Jamal Murray from his knee injury are the Nuggets’ priorities this offseason. They don’t have pressing needs, as Michael Porter Jr. has progressed into a potential All-Star. Paul Millsap is an unrestricted free agent and wing Will Barton has a player option. The Big Ten tournament MVP is a safe pick.

Height, weight: 6-4, 204

Age: 18 (Sept. 25 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists, 1.2 steals in 25.9 minutes.

About the pick: Spencer Dinwiddie has a player option and Tyler Johnson will be a free agent, making Springer an enticing option at the end of the first round. He made the SEC all-freshman team and shot 43.5 percent on 3-pointers.

Height, weight: 6-4, 187

Age: 21 (Aug. 10 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 15.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists in 34.6 minutes.

About the pick: All of the buzz around Philadelphia surrounds the trade status of former No. 1 pick Ben Simmons. With that in mind, the 76ers could consider a point guard at this spot. Preston is a flashy option, who drew some LaMelo Ball comparisons after leading the Bobcats to the NCAA Tournament.

Height, weight: 7-0, 235

Age: 21 (April 15 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 23.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 1.1 blocks in 32.0 minutes during ABA Adriatic play.

About the pick: The former Gonzaga forward nearly entered last year’s draft, but opted to play professionally in Serbia with Mega Bemax. He played two seasons at Gonzaga, averaging 17.5 points and 7.9 rebounds during the 2019-20 season.

Height, weight: 6-5, 210

Age: 21 (May 8 birthday)

2020-21 stats: 17.8 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists in 27.4 minutes per game

About the pick: Mike Conley Jr.’s free agency is the top question mark surrounding Utah. Grimes is coming off his second season in Houston after beginning with Kansas. He is the reigning American Athletic Conference Player of the Year and made the NCAA Tournament All-Region team after guiding the Cougars to the Final Four, their first appearance since 1984 with Akeem Olajuwon in the final year of Phi Slama Jama.

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Rockets draft options: Who to take at No. 2, best fits and trade possibilities

The Athletic 19 July, 2021 - 01:08pm

Rockets draft options: Who to take at No. 2, best fits and trade possibilities

2021 NBA Draft: Key prospects to know in the mid- to late-lottery range | NBA.com Canada | The official site of the NBA

NBA CA 19 July, 2021 - 07:15am

The 2021 NBA Draft is set for Thursday, July 29 at 8:00 p.m. ET at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets.

Upon learning the reported list of top prospects invited to the NBA Draft Green Room, we're reminded that Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs are the consensus top four in this draft class. And while that list of four is clear-cut, the amount of talent in this class extends much further beyond that group.

When the Orlando Magic go on the clock to make the fifth overall selection, there will be a number of players in the mix to be selected there before the team is back on the clock to make the eighth overall selection.

In the first edition of his Mock Draft, NBA.com Draft expert Kyle Irving had Jonathan Kuminga of the NBA G League Ignite going to Orlando but in the weeks leading up to the draft, Florida State's Scottie Barnes and Tennessee's Keon Johnson have each emerged as names in serious consideration to be top-five picks.

The trio of Kuminga, Barnes and Johnson is among a group of key names to know ahead of this year's draft. While some names are in the mix to go in the top five, others are sleepers that you might want to learn more about with the draft fast approaching.

Below, find more info on some of the key names to keep on your radar.

2021 draft profiles: A clear top-6

Celtics Blog 19 July, 2021 - 07:00am

While unlikely the C’s trade their way up, there are six prospects who make this a potentially elite draft class

For Boston Celtics fans, it also marks the first NBA Draft in 18 years where Danny Ainge isn’t seated at the head of the table. Brad Stevens slides down a few seats, tasked now with constructing a roster built to win around Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Stevens knows the cupboard isn’t bare and there’s a clear playoff team here, which is why he moved out of the first round to offload Kemba Walker and make aggressive moves this summer.

That doesn’t mean the Celtics will stay out of the first round, though. Other moves or deals could be on the horizon. Which players stand out as potential fits to trade back in for? What positions do they need? Between now and the NBA Draft on July 29th, we’ll bring you answers to all those questions. We recently set the table for this discussion by previewing some of the Celtics' most glaring needs this summer.

Despite the fact Boston has little cache to trade into the elite tiers of this draft, I think it’s prudent to stop at the top of this draft and examine the clear-cut top-six prospects in the class. That tier could impact the Celtics in two ways. First, the slew of draft day trades from franchises trying to trade into those spots means other first-round selections could be on the move, changing hands and provide an opportunity for the C’s to get back into the top-30.

Second, the big trade chip the Celtics currently possess is the remaining $11 million on the Gordon Hayward trade exception. While the rest was used on Evan Fournier (and the Celts are likely to do whatever they must to retain him), that $11 million is ideal for bringing in another veteran. Players may become available if their franchise seeks to trade into this top tier and would need to clear salary space to do so. Suddenly, the C’s become a great partner and option to offload a proven veteran onto.

In comparison to prior drafts, this year’s group has an awful lot of star power. At the top are six guys, all of whom would make a strong case to go first overall last year. It’s been since 2018 with DeAndre Ayton, Luka Doncic and Trae Young that so many budding superstars are available in the same year. While this class doesn’t have an absence of depth, its highlighting factor is the strength of that top-six. Landing one of those picks changes a franchise, while being in the 8-to-14 range could bring a relatively disappointing return.

By all accounts, Cade Cunningham is the runaway top selection in this year’s draft. A prolific passer, the modern build of Cade’s game is tailored for NBA success. He’s a tall, long alpha who functions as a point guard. With a 7’0” wingspan, excellent fundamentals and solid strength, he creates offense in a variety of ways — through the pick-and-roll, in isolations, off post-ups, in transition and spotting up from 3.

There’s a hybrid of Grant Hill and Luka Doncic in his game, blending cerebral high-IQ passing with polished, clutch shot-making.

Going into his freshman season at Oklahoma State, the big question mark for Cade was his 3-point shooting range. He answered those doubts by shooting 40% from 3 on 5.7 attempts per game. He was top-five in the nation in scoring despite being the sole focus of every scouting report. He carried a subpar Cowboys roster to the NCAA Tournament and first-round victory.

Assist numbers don’t do Cade’s passing justice. He is instantly one of the better playmakers from the moment he steps into the NBA. College teammates missed shots or turned over gift-wrapped opportunities in ways that dragged down his passing metrics. There’s little downside to taking a polished, big guard with the first overall pick. Expect Cade to be off the board first to whichever team is fortunate enough to snag him.

After Cade, the race for number two is on. Jalen Green impressed enough in the G-League bubble to be a legitimate candidate for the designation and has the highest shot-making ceiling of anyone in this group. An elite athlete both in terms of his vertical posterizing and blazingly quick first step, Green puts defenders in a no-win position. Play off him and he’ll drill jumpers, shooting 36% from 3-point range inside the G-League bubble, with most shots coming off the dribble.

Play him tight and he’ll blow past his man, something he did routinely against already-proven NBA athletes and G-League competition. He has the potential to be an elite finisher due to his leaping ability and coordination, as well as one of the most jaw-dropping step-back scorers in the league:

Green’s upside is only marred by the lack of consistency to his playmaking for others. He’s certainly a score-first option, and with the tools he’s shown, the lack of polished passing isn’t a reason to pass on him. If drafted into a situation where he’s given the keys to an offense right away, Green will immediately be on Celtics fans radar atop an opposing team’s scouting report.

The other top-five prospect to forgo college for the NBA pathways program, Jonathan Kuminga seems to be most firmly entrenched at the fifth spot on most consensus boards. Kuminga’s performance inside the G-League bubble was inconsistent at times but showed incredible flashes that draw him comparisons to names like Kawhi Leonard and Pascal Siakam. At 6’8” with a 6’11” wingspan, strong physique and alpha scoring traits, there’s a ton to like about what he brings to the table.

At 18 years old and one of the youngest players in this draft, seeing the upside in Kuminga despite his inconsistent G-League play is why he’s considered in this top tier of prospect.

The shot-making in the low post is made for playoff basketball. He’s polished with post moves, loves to play one-on-one in the mid-range areas, has long strides to take guys off the bounce and, most importantly, draws a ton of fouls. The jump shot is relatively unproven, but strong reviews about his work ethic and character give confidence that he’ll be passable at worst.

With so much raw upside, Kuminga is the ideal fit for a team entering a rebuild, with patience to develop him and the opportunity to give him steady playing time. It’s hard to envision him slipping past the 5th spot in the draft, although that could become one heavily brought up in trade talks.

Think of evaluating NBA big men like searching for a “five-tool” baseball player. In the modern NBA, those five tools for centers are rare: rim protection, switchability on defense, pick-and-roll finishing, top-of-the-key playmaking and 3-point shooting. Very few bigs possess all five.

Evan Mobley has shown flashes and potential in all five categories. While he may never be a 20-point per game scorer or true offensive hub, the rarity of his combination of skills makes him an instantly intriguing top pick. Combine that with the amount of defensive polish he’s already shown and some team will take a chance on him becoming the franchise anchor of the future.

Defense is where Mobley stands out most. He blocks a ton of shots, can be used in many different pick-and-roll coverages and showed an ability to guard smaller guys for stretches. His mobility has even drawn comparisons to Anthony Davis and give some analysts hope that he can play the 4 and not solely be stuck at the 5.

On the offensive end, I’d say Mobley’s best skill is the off-the-dribble playmaking potential. He can thrive in the open floor by pushing the ball after a rebound, finding open shooters off the short roll or taking his man one-on-one. If the jumper extends out to 3-point range and he starts creating his own shot, look out: Mobley will be a terror who is worthy of those lofty A.D. comparisons.

An underemphasized part of the pre-draft process is on finding winners. That “it” factor is hard to describe or quantify, but some guys just have it.

Jalen Suggs has been such a winner, propelling Gonzaga to a nearly unbeaten season and coming up with clutch play after clutch play when their season was on the line. His individual numbers weren’t breathtaking, as he played in the balanced Zags offense that set record after record this year and rarely played over 30 minutes a night in conference action. What Suggs can boast is being an elite pick-and-roll guard, a trait that should see his skills pop even further in the NBA.

The pace Suggs plays with is hard to replicate. He has tremendous burst whenever there’s a small opening in the lane; while he isn’t an insane above-the-rim dunker, there’s something reminiscent of a young Derrick Rose in how hard he attacks the hoop. Surround Suggs with shooters and give him the keys to a pick-and-roll offense and he’ll make the right play nine times out of ten.

The knock on Suggs has been his outside shooting, as he finished the season only 33.7% from deep. The first half of the season, he was above 36% and only a subpar NCAA tournament performance dragged down his percentages. The saving grace for the ultimate competitor is that he’s a tremendous perimeter defender. Blessed with lateral quickness and tremendous instincts, Suggs will at worst be a physical guard who can play multiple spots. He could go anywhere from 2nd to 5th on Draft Night.

There really isn’t a good label for Scottie Barnes other than “athlete.” The guy is a physical freak of nature, standing 6’9” with a 7’2” wingspan and elite combinations of speed and vertical athleticism. Barnes has snuck himself into this top group with a unique combination of skills to blend with that athleticism and chiseled frame. This past year at Florida State, he functioned as the team’s de facto point guard.

Barnes makes terrific passes to involve others and has a ton of upside as a pick-and-roll creator. He’s fantastic in transition, pushing in the open floor after cleaning the glass. There’s a baby Giannis Antetokounmpo element to his game, thanks to the similar physical tools and ability to function as the top creator in an offense.

However, Barnes and Giannis have the same fatal flaw: their jump shot. Scottie was 4-19 on dribble jumpers and only shot 30.8% on catch-and-shoots. It’s a really tough skill to lack, though the development plan of watching Giannis win MVP awards without one means there’s a chance Scottie can take over games without it. The combination of those factors has propelled a guy once outside this top-five into legitimate discussions to leapfrog a guy or two on July 29th.

Barnes projects as a multi-positional forward who can guard 1 thru 4 without problem and should be fine guarding smaller 5’s. He picks up the ball far from the basket and isn’t afraid to pressure, slides his feet with elite guards and has great instincts to challenge shots or swipe for on-ball steals. Even if the offense doesn’t pan out, there’s a pretty high floor for a guy who impacts the game like that on defense.

The Celtics would be incredibly fortunate to have one of these guys fall into their lap, though the likelihood of me marrying Kate Upton is greater than that happening. Still, there will be plenty of other suitors calling around the league to trade into this elite tier of prospects. One domino could fall to impact how the Celtics approach this summer, free agency and their $11 million trade exception.

This tier of prospects really is that good.

Rumor: Rockets deciding between Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs at No. 2

Yahoo Sports 18 July, 2021 - 12:46pm

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

The Rockets are said to be very high on Cade Cunningham in the draft but the former Oklahoma State guard is widely expected to be the first player off the board. Houston will be forced to choose a different player should Cunningham go first, as expected.

According to Zach Harper of The Athletic, the Rockets are deciding between Jalen Green of the NBA G League and Jalen Suggs from Gonzaga. Green is expected to be the pick by the Rockets but some within the front office also like Suggs.

League sources have said Houston is heavily leaning toward Jalen Green there, but there are people within the Rockets’ decision-making process pushing for Jalen Suggs out of Gonzaga. Green’s potential as a star wing in this league has the Rockets’ focus, but the idea of Suggs grabbing the momentum at some point exists. Scouts and executives love his size at the point guard position and believe he can be the leader of a young, rebuilding team.

While the Rockets may want Cunningham, it is unclear if they will be able to construct a trade package attractive enough to entice the Pistons to trade back. Certainly, drafting Green or Suggs would be a nice consolation as both players project to have bright futures in the NBA.

In any case, it should be worth monitoring to see which way the Rockets go on draft night. With about a week and a half left until the draft, trade rumors and other speculation should only intensify as it nears closer to July 29.

Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green are among the 15 prospects invited to attend the NBA draft from the green room.

Jonathan Kuminga has tons of upside, but would need time to develop. Do the Warriors have that kind of patience right now?

Kevin Love isn't done playing professional basketball.

The Warriors head coach this week said he believes Wiseman can follow a similar career path as Suns center Deandre Ayton.

We look back at the 2017 NBA draft where the Philadelphia 76ers selected Markelle Fultz with the No. 1 overall pick.

The Bengals got a good one in front of Joe Burrow.

How well do you know this Mopar muscle car?

Which quarterback does Washington select in way-too-early 2022 mock draft?

Janiak tells IndieWire her hopes for the future of her already ambitious series: another trilogy, standalone films, TV shows, and maybe even more.

The Ogwumike sisters and Elizabeth Williams were left off of the U.S. Olympic basketball roster, so they are fighting to compete for Nigeria in Tokyo.

Deuce has some observations on the clothes he and his dad have been rocking of late.

Nuggets executive Tim Connelly spoke with NBC Sports Washington's Chris Miller on new Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr.

Projecting who will make the Detroit Lions final offensive roster at the start of training camp

Even without looking, Klay Thompson can get buckets.

The five-star point guard suffered a serious knee injury this month, but he’s looking toward his future (and helping the Cats recruit).

Rockets legends including Calvin Murphy and Mario Elie will be on hand at Karbach Brewing for Houston's official draft watch party for fans.

Damian Lillard denied a report that he plans to request the Blazers trade him, but he also hasn't made "any firm decision on what my future will be."

Let's take a look at some of the pros and cons for potential Knicks draft options, continuing with Duke's Jalen Johnson.

Report: Cavs 'starting to zero in' on Evan Mobley based on indication that Rockets will take Jalen Green

Cavaliers Nation 18 July, 2021 - 09:10am

The Cleveland Cavaliers apparently believe that the Houston Rockets will select Jalen Green in the 2021 NBA Draft.

For that reason, the Cavaliers are now reportedly focusing on Evan Mobley.

Matt Moore of Action Network looked at the different rumors and speculation surrounding the draft and noted that the Rockets’ apparent interest in Green has pushed the Cavs in Mobley’s direction.

“Jalen Green is the odds-on favorite to go No. 2 to Houston,” Moore wrote. “The options seem to be down to Green and Mobley, and there’s been a decent amount of noise that the Cavaliers are expecting Houston to take Green, which is why they’re starting to zero in on Mobley.”

The Detroit Pistons have the top overall pick and are expected to take Cade Cunningham, who played this past season for Oklahoma State University.

Green bypassed college last year and instead played in the G League, where in 15 games he averaged 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.5 steals per contest.

Mobley is a 7-foot forward who played this past season at the University of Southern California. In 33 contests for the Trojans, he averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.4 assists per game.

This year’s draft is scheduled for July 29, with the Cavaliers hoping that this will be the final year that they make an early selection because of their poor record.

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Brad Sullivan is a lead writer for Cavaliers Nation. He has spent much of life in the Cleveland, Ohio area, and has remained a Cavalier fan from their 1970 beginnings through the return of LeBron James. While that fandom was sorely tested during the Reign of Error known simply by one word, Stepien, that overall historical perspective will be part of his writing for Cavaliers Nation in the months ahead.

The Cleveland Cavaliers apparently believe that the Houston Rockets will select Jalen Green in the 2021 NBA Draft. For...

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Report: Rockets deciding between Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs at two, NOT Evan Mobley

The Dream Shake 18 July, 2021 - 07:21am

Green Gang, Mobley Mob, and now Suggs Squad?

Conventional wisdom has Houston deciding between Jalen Green and Evan Mobley should they end up staying with the second overall draft pick. However, the latest report from The Athletic and national reporter Zach Harper says it’s actually Green and Jalen Suggs vying for the pick.

“League sources have said Houston is heavily leaning toward Jalen Green there, but there are people within the Rockets’ decision-making process pushing for Jalen Suggs out of Gonzaga.

“Green’s potential as a star wing in this league has the Rockets’ focus, but the idea of Suggs grabbing the momentum at some point exists. Scouts and executives love his size at the point guard position, and believe he can be the leader of a young, rebuilding team.”

I’m personally not a huge Suggs fan, and I’m even less of a fan of drafting Suggs when you already have Kevin Porter Jr. on the roster, because I’m not sure Suggs is going to end up as the better player.

I can understand the philosophy of moving on from KPJ if you’re replacing him with Cade Cunningham, the consensus top player in the draft. Though I suppose if GM Rafael Stone is aware of some great offers for KPJ on the table, it makes drafting Suggs a little more palatable.

But once again, this is the season of dis-information, so it’s difficult to put too much stock in these national reports this close to the draft. The Rockets have been already linked to everyone in the top four. They’ve been rumored to want to trade up for Cunningham, both Green and Evan Mobley certainly have their supporters, and now this recent report on Suggs comes to light.

Basically, the only thing we know right now is that no one knows for sure, and if I’m Rafael Stone, that’s just the way I like it.

NBA Draft: Cade Cunningham’s rank among last decade of #1 picks

Piston Powered 18 July, 2021 - 03:00am

Cade Cunningham #2 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Detroit Pistons draft picks (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

To get a superstar in the NBA Draft a team has to get lucky more than once. Not only does the team have to land the number one pick, but do it in a year when there is an obvious superstar to draft. The Detroit Pistons are hoping this is exactly what happened this year with Cade Cunningham.

Cunningham is a 6-foot-8 point guard who can score from all over, defend and has all of the intangibles to be a superstar in the NBA.

Cunningham has been compared to everyone from Penny Hardaway to Grant Hill, and it makes sense, as he has the size and skill set to be a similar talent.

The Cunningham hype train is real, but where does it stand compared to some of the other number one campaigns we’ve seen over recent years?

I went back to 2010 to rank every number one pick. These rankings are based on the prospects play entering the NBA and the amount of hype they received, not necessarily how their careers turned out.

So where does Cade Cunningham stand among recent number one picks?

Anthony Bennett is known as one of the biggest draft busts of all time, so it’s not surprising to find him last on this list. Bennett came out in a  year without a consensus number one but no one thought it would be him. He had no hype, and the pick was immediately questioned. This was the worst draft of the decade by far and it shows with Bennett as the top pick.

One of a couple Philadelphia entries on the list, Fultz was another questionable #1 pick, as many thought Lonzo Ball or Jayson Tatum should be the top choice. It turns out the Celtics knew what they were doing as they got by far the best of the three, as Lonzo Ball is just ok and Fultz has barely played and is trying to overcome an extremely broken shot on his second team. The Process, folks!

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Cade Cunningham Says He Wants To Be The Greatest Shooting Guard Of All Time

Fadeaway World 17 July, 2021 - 02:37pm

There is a good chance that Cade Cunningham will have a good NBA career, but it seems though he has higher goals than just "good" for his career. In a recent episode of The Old Man And The Three podcast, Cade Cunningham told JJ Redick about his goals for his first season and his career, and it seems as though he wants to become the greatest at his position, which would suggest that he

Cunningham's position is listed as PG/SG, but as he is 6'8, he will likely be a SG. Being the greatest at his position would mean he has to surpass legends such as Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. While those are lofty goals, it is good to see Cade Cunningham confident in his abilities. There's no doubt that Cade Cunningham could develop to be special, and hopefully, he is put in the position to do so.

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