NBA Draft day diary: Cunningham goes 1st, Lakers trade for Russell Westbrook
The Detroit Pistons selected Oklahoma State do-it-all guard Cade Cunningham with the top pick in the NBA draft on Thursday night, and the next few picks went chalk.
But that wasn’t the biggest news on draft day.
The Los Angeles Lakers preceded the first overall pick by agreeing to trade Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and Montrezl Harrell to the Wizards, reported The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
Additionally Washington dealt a 2024 second-round pick and a 2028 second-round pick to Los Angeles. The Lakers send the No. 22 overall pick to the Wizards in the trade.
Before that, the Phoenix Suns traded their only draft pick at No. 29 overall, plus guard Jevon Carter, to the Brooklyn Nets to acquire three-point specialist Landry Shamet.
Below, we’ll run through the first-round draft picks on Thursday with notes about any surprises, trades or news.
**Trades listed below are those made on draft day and are based on multiple confirmed reports.
2021 NBA Draft results
1. Detroit Pistons — Oklahoma State PG Cade Cunningham
2. Houston Rockets — G League Ignite G/F Jalen Green
3. Cleveland Cavaliers — USC C Evan Mobley
4. Toronto Raptors — Florida State F Scottie Barnes
In the first (albeit mild) surprise of the night after the top three picks were as expected, Scottie Barnes is off the board. A freshman who has classic tweener size at 6-foot-9 with girth, he’s got a nice 7-foot-2 wingspan and has the versatile tool kit that — in the right place — could develop into a playmaking, defense-focused power forward. Hello, Pascal Siakam!
The shooting stroke is not there, nor were the numbers: 10.4 points, 4.1 assists and 4.0 rebounds a game his freshman year. It appears Toronto liked his upside over Gonzaga lead guard Jalen Suggs, who in hindsight might be a little too similar to Fred VanVleet, who they paid handsomely last summer.
5. Orlando Magic — Gonzaga PG Jalen Suggs
Suggs doesn’t drop far, though we avoided the possibility of a fun trend where the Magic draft yet another lanky, good-at-everything-master-at-nothing oversized forward in Barnes. If you want to finally find stability, it’s not bad to have a well-rounded, mature floor general to get things in order under new coach Jamahl Mosley.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder — PG Josh Giddey (Australia)
And here’s our first huge eyebrow-raiser. Giddey was a prospect who came on the radar not long ago, when it appeared he could be available as a lightly-regarded developmental prospect when the Suns selected at No. 29. Not anymore. Giddey might have to put on weight and lack explosion, but his playmaking at 6-foot-8 is unique, and his poise for being 18 years old could indicate he’s smart enough to make up for his lack of athletic abilities.
7. Golden State Warriors — G League Ignite F Jonathan Kuminga
The Warriors might want to squeeze everything out of the Steph Curry-Klay Thompson-Draymond Green core, but they sure aren’t afraid of projects, now having a toolsy forward to go with last year’s second overall pick, James Wiseman.
8. Orlando Magic — Michigan F Franz Wagner
9. Sacramento Kings — Baylor G Davion Mitchell
The Kings were reportedly in the running to trade shooter Buddy Hield to the Lakers before the Wizards swooped in for the Westbrook blockbuster, but it appears moving Hield could still be on the table.
Mitchell is undersized, but watch the tape on him, and it’s clear: his defensive prowess and shooting ability should make him a great complementary piece alongside young guard De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. Sacramento should be fun. Maybe good at some point.
10. TRADE: Memphis Grizzlies — Stanford F Ziaire Williams
Sun Devil fans could use this example of a Pac-12 freshman who didn’t impress as expected and have hope that Arizona State product Josh Christopher could still have draft pop. Like Christopher, Williams played only a portion of the season and had less-than-stellar efficiency numbers after entering the year as a likely lottery pick.
Williams goes to the Grizzlies from the Pelicans, who swapped Trey Murphy III, who was picked 17th.
11. Charlotte Hornets — UConn G James Bouknight
The Hornets need more guards? LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier are the dudes, and maybe Devonte’ Graham and Malik Monk won’t be back as they reach free agency. Options are never bad, I guess.
12. San Antonio Spurs — Alabama G Joshua Primo
13. Indiana Pacers — Oregon G Chris Duarte
14. Golden State Warriors — Arkansas G/F Moses Moody
15. Washington Wizards — Gonzaga F Corey Kispert
16. TRADE: Houston Rockets — Alperen Sengun
The Thunder are shipping away two of their many first-round picks — you can check the protections on those here — to the Rockets to move up and draft forward Sengun. Some analytics models graded the 19-year-old as the most productive player in this draft.
General manager Daryl Morey may be gone, but Houston is still doing unique Houston things.
17. TRADE: New Orleans Pelicans — Virginia G Trey Murphy III
18. Oklahoma City Thunder — Florida PG Tre Mann
We are officially off the cliff of one major tier. Mann was a player that a few mock drafts saw falling into the Suns’ range at No. 29, and it’s now on to watching surprise picks and surprise fallers that are still around where Phoenix used to own a pick before the Shamet deal.
19. TRADE: Charlotte Hornets — Texas C Kai Jones
The New York Knicks traded out of No. 19 for a future first-rounder, and Charlotte is now adding a big man. The Hornets have bigs Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo entering free agency, and during the draft they swapped the 57th pick in the draft for the Detroit Pistons’ 37th while taking on veteran Mason Plumlee.
20. Atlanta Hawks – Duke F Jalen Johnson
Atlanta has got to make a call on restricted free agent forward John Collins, who is probably pushing for max money but probably doesn’t quite meet the threshold of being worth that.
If Collins isn’t back, having Jalen Johnson, a versatile shooting power forward out of Duke, as insurance is not a bad call.
21. TRADE: Los Angeles Clippers – Tennessee G Keon Johnson
Again, the Knicks pass on using a selection by giving Los Angeles the No. 25 pick and a second-rounder to take the best leaper in the draft here.
22. TRADE: Indiana Pacers – Kentucky F Isaiah Jackson
The No. 22 pick was a key piece in the Lakers’ trade with the Wizards for Westbrook made earlier in the day. But that was made for the Indiana Pacers, who shipped guard Aaron Holiday and the No. 31 pick to Washington.
23. Houston Rockets — C Usman Garuba (Spain)
24. Houston Rockets — Arizona State G Josh Christopher
And there it is. The Sun Devil prospect doesn’t fall far from the lottery despite an up-and-down freshman year, but he’s got his work cut out for him on a team that went 17-55.
Houston selected scoring wing Jalen Green with the No. 2 pick, already has a fellow Pac-12 one-and-done who loved to score in Kevin Porter Jr., plus has glue-guy Jae’Sean Tate coming back after popping onto the NBA map out of nowhere last year. That’s without mentioning vets like Eric Gordon and Danuel House at positions Christopher could play.
25. TRADE: New York Knicks — Houston G/F Quentin Grimes
26. Denver Nuggets — VCU G Bones Hyland
27. Brooklyn Nets — LSU G Cam Thomas
28. Philadelphia 76ers – Tennessee PG Jaden Springer
29. TRADE: Brooklyn Nets — North Carolina C Day’Ron Sharpe
The Suns could’ve used a big man after losing backup center Dario Saric to an ACL tear in the NBA Finals. Alas, they have acquired Shamet, and this will be a story if they make it back to the Finals and face a healthy superpower Nets squad that also needs a center other than DeAndre Jordan.
30. TRADE: Memphis Grizzlies — Loyola (Maryland) F Santi Aldama
The Utah Jazz traded out of the final spot, giving it to Memphis.