2021 NBA Draft Grades Roundtable: Winners, Losers, and more!

The 2021 NBA Draft has concluded, so now we will dive into some general first impressions on the winners and losers of the night.

Now… full disclosure: it’s way too early to truly crown any teams at this point. Typically by years 3 and 4 are when you can gauge that kind of stuff, but it’s always fun to look back on.

Shoutout to everyone that jumped in, make sure to give them a follow for great draft takes and analysis.

The participants: Mark Schindler, BrianJDraft, Will Morris, Evan Zamir, Damon Allred, Dom Tesoriero, CT Fazio, and MavsDraft.

Q1: Best value pick in each round? 

Mark: Best value in the first round was probably Jaden Springer and Jalen Johnson not far behind. Best value in the second round to me was easily Sharife Cooper to the Hawks.

Brian: This is gonna be a cop-out, but I’m gonna say, Mobley. He’s a legitimate superstar prospect and getting him at 3 feels like a huge win for a team that is really starved for a true building block and has been for…about 7 years now.

Will: In the first round, Usman Garuba and Jaden Springer were two top ten players on my board who slid into the 20’s. I wasn’t in love with Houston’s draft as a whole, but getting a player who can defend like Garuba that low is excellent value. Sharife Cooper, who I would have taken as high as the mid-lottery is the obvious answer for round 2. A few other moves that deserve mention are Toronto snagging David Johnson at 47, Charlotte picking JT Thor 37th, and Utah trading down for Jared Butler.

Evan Zamir: Philly got a steal in Jaden Springer at 28. I had him at 10 on my board. And Atlanta got a huge steal in Sharife Cooper at 48. Not sure how much he’ll like playing behind Trae but at least there won’t be much pressure on him there. If he ever learns to shoot it’s a great trade chip down the road. BJ Boston is also a huge value at 51 if he figures it out eventually.

Damon: Round 1: Jalen Suggs. Round 2: Sharife Cooper.

Dom: Jaden Springer to Philly at 28 and Sharife Cooper to Atlanta at 48 are 2 of the bigger steals in recent history. Neither are locks, but upside-wise they are huge value picks. Shoutout to Utah for grabbing Jared Butler at 40 as well, should provide excellent value over the course of his rookie deal.

CT Fazio: Jaden Springer at 28. Springer was a top 6 prospect on my board. 76ers get a defensive-minded guard who can shoot to pair with Joel Embiid. Jared Butler at 40. Butler was a top 20 player on my board. Jazz are getting a dribble, pass, shoot guard who will fit in with their offensive attack

MavsDraft: James Bouknight: Bouknight was my #5 player, and he went to a perfect fit for him next to a floor general that opens up his scoring. We saw what Terry Rozier did in a career-best season next to LaMelo, and Bouknight’s ceiling is much higher.

Zona: Round 1: Jaden Springer at 28. Round 2: Sharife Cooper at 48.

Q2: Which team stands out as the clear winners? 

MavsDraft: Charlotte Hornets won this draft because of the value they got at every pick. As I addressed above, Bouknight was great value, Kai Jones was worth moving up for to address the frontcourt needs, and they got good value defensively in Scottie Lewis at 56.

CT Fazio: Orlando Magic. Jalen Suggs slid to them at 5 to add to their defensive identity and adding another playmaker to the backcourt. Franz Wagner was also a great pickup at 8. Two players who are going to add to their defensive approach. Shoutout to @Vagberg

Hawks: Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper were top 10 prospects on my board. Adding a versatile big in Johnson and Cooper’s playmaking can make a valuable impact on the Hawks 2nd unit

Dom: — Atlanta: Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper add to an already strong young core. Fit plus value combine for one hell of a draft. OKC: Headlined by creator swings on Tre Mann and Josh Giddey, both with genuine upside to form a formidable trio with Shai. Terrific outcome for their first year of tanking. Philly: Not only did they steal Springer and grab Filip Petrusev, but to land Aaron Henry as a UDFA makes them big winners on draft night. Turned very little into quite a bit.

Damon: The Charlotte Hornets (QB1) and Knicks York Knicks (QB2).

Evan Z: Orlando got an incredible outcome when Suggs fell to them and then following it up with Franz at 8 cemented them as huge winners of the Draft. Houston also had an incredible infusion of talent with their 4 picks and the Warriors got some Draft luck of their own with Moody falling to them at 14.

Will: Detroit and Cleveland are the major winners. Both Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley have true franchise-changing upside. Orlando is still obviously years away from contention, but getting a couple of heady two-way players in Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs is a step in the right direction.

Brian: Thunder, despite their weird trades, took the kind of risk I love to see with Giddey. The Sixers just walking into Jaden Springer and Aaron Henry is great for them. Grizzlies getting Ziaire, good process to me. Charlotte and Orlando did well also.

Mark: I think the clear winner of the draft was the Magic. Suggs falling to them at 5 was huge as they really needed any semblance of creation. Adding another versatile forward in Franz Wagner helps greatly as well.

Zona: Orlando won the night for me. Coming away with Suggs and Franz is incredible. Two long-term plus starters with all the intangibles you love to see is an automatic win. Also shoutout to Charlotte. Loved their draft.

Q3: Which team came out of the draft the biggest loser?

Mark: I personally felt the Kings owned that. The Kings were clearly linked to Wagner, and he went just before them. I understand Davion going mid-lottery even if I don’t have him there, but the fit with Fox and Haliburton is just a bit confusing to me. They needed a wing/forward and ended up with a one position guard and an interesting big in Neemias Queta.

Brian: Which team came out of the draft the biggest loser? There’s not a huge loser aside from me personally not getting to see Sharife Cooper in a Bulls uniform. The Spurs and Kings picks were truly confusing.

Will: I knew that Josh Primo had risen up boards during the pre-draft process. But 12? Primo’s youth and off-ball shooting made him an interesting second-round gamble to me, but I don’t know what the Spurs saw on film that led to them pounce on him in the lottery.

Evan Z: I really am mystified by the Spurs taking Primo at 12. I hope they know something the rest of us don’t.

Damon: The San Antonio Spurs were the losers of this draft. Lakers pre-UDFA signings.

Dom:  Sacramento: The history of small backcourts isn’t great. Mitchell plays above his size, but the long-term fit alongside Fox at the highest level is very questionable. Houston: Unsure what their long-term vision is. KPJ/Josh Christopher/Green is crazy fun but not tenable defensively whilst lacking playmaking. Meanwhile, the Alperen Sengun/Wood fit is non-existent.

Love the Usman Garuba pick to help defensively, but this isn’t a core to build around for me. By season’s end I’d be picking 1 of KPJ/Christopher and 1 (arguably 0) of Sengun/Wood to stick with. Indiana: What should a team do when stuck in NBA purgatory? Anything other than using 13 and 22 on two relatively low upside players in Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson, whilst offloading Holiday and multiple future picks.

CT Fazio: Knicks. The Knicks could have come away with two solid contributors in the first, but wound up trading into the second round. Spurs also reaching for Primo at 12 when they probably could have traded back to select him.

MavsDraft: New York Knicks. I wasn’t a fan of how they handled 19 & 21, then when they moved back to 25 they took a player I felt was a reach/ not a safe player. Luckily McBride was a good pick, but they had a high ceiling for the draft and didn’t deliver.

Zona: The Knicks. It pains me to say this because I loved the McBride pick but thought they passed up a golden opportunity with how the board shook out to land a pair of high-impact prospects. Grimes was a reach. Kings get a shout as well here.

Q4: Which player benefits the most from an ideal team fit? 

MavsDraft: It’s hard not to say Bouknight, but since I’ve addressed him so much, I say Moses Moody. He is a perfect fit on both sides of the ball next to the Warriors’ core trio, which can only make him even more efficient.

CT Fazio: Josh Giddey. Playing beside SGA, Giddey can play off the ball at times instead of having a ton of responsibility early on. I have a great belief that Sam Presti will surround those two players with the proper personnel to thrive in the near future.

Dom: Outside of guys that just went to a good franchise (such as Barnes in Toronto) I think the biggest winners in terms of on-court fit would be Nah’Shon Hyland (Denver), Springer (Philly), Cooper (Atlanta), and Butler (Utah).

Damon: Moses Moody in Golden State.

Evan Z: I felt like Moody was a great fit for Golden State all along and somehow he ended up there at 14. Sengun ending up on the rebuilding Rockets is probably good for developing him while letting him play without pressure to win right away.

Will: As a big who provides size, play-finishing, and floor spacing, Christian Wood is one of the best possible front-court partners for Usman Garuba. Bones Hyland in Denver is another fit I love. Bones can provide the Nuggets offense with some much-needed pull-up shooting while Jamal Murray recovers from his ACL injury. Playing next to a primary initiator like Jokic will allow him to thrive as a cutter and off-ball shooter as well.

Brian: Aside from the top guys, Josh Giddey basically getting free reign in OKC is great for him. Moses Moody in Golden State is great. While I don’t love it long-term for Sharife, him in Atlanta is hand in glove.

Mark: I love Jalen Johnson’s fit with the Hawks. I think there’s a real opportunity for him to unlock some lineups for that roster as he develops, while also buffering his role and helping him learn parts of the game in chunks

Zona: Moses Moody in Golden State is perfect.

Q5: Who are your top 3 undrafted free agents?

Mark: Top 3 UDFA would be Sam Hauser, Justin Champagnie, and Matt Mitchell

Brian: Aaron Henry, Joel Ayayi and Vrenz Bleijenbergh

Will: Sam Hauser, Joel Ayayi, Aaron Henry, and Austin Reaves are four players that I can realistically see developing into future rotation players. Hauser is someone I’m especially intrigued by, given his skillset as a 6’8” movement gunner with historically great shooting numbers

Evan Z: Justin Champagnie, Daishen Nix, Moses Wright

Damon: Joel Ayayi, Onu, Austin Reaves

Dom: Sam Hauser, Chris Smith, and Matt Mitchell

CT Fazio: Joel Ayayi, Aaron Henry, Austin Reaves

MavsDraft: Moses Wright, AJ Lawson, and Feron Hunt

Zona: Joel Ayayi, Sam Hauser, and Aaron Henry

That does it for our roundtable! Thanks to everyone that participated, and be sure to give them a follow on Twitter (names tagged above).

Take a look at our NBA Draft Zone for more draft coverage.

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