With analytics becoming increasingly prevalent, every year it is worth wondering if this is the year that teams sharpen up and draft edges become smaller. Analytics cannot solve everything, as there are many factors that cannot be measured with precision, such as context, variance, intangibles, defense, explosiveness, and other various nuances. It requires a sharp intuition to price in all factors with a reasonable accuracy, and most picks that go against the analytical grain have some subjective reason that makes it plausible that they will succeed.
Nevertheless analytics are incredibly helpful to put you in the ballpark of reason, and without them it is easy to get lost in details and overrate guys with too many flaws and underrate guys with too many strengths. In particular, the top 19 picks were rife with mistakes. Let’s run through each individual pick and discuss what was justifiable or not, and leave some grades in the process. Grading is a highly flawed system but the easiest way to provide feedback here, so let’s rip through this:
1. Cade Cunningham: D Detroit
Any half decent analytics model should have Cade solidly below Evan Mobley. The equalizer for Cade would be his #1 RSCI rank entering the season, and that his output may have suffered with an offensively challenged supporting cast at Oklahoma State on top of fitting a more modern mold of great shooting + good passing wing vs a big that is rapidly losing value.
But Mobley is the better athlete in terms of both explosiveness and fluidity, better defensively, and better at basketball. He is the better prospect.
Cade being #1 overall shows that the draft is still narrative driven, and narratives aren’t always sharp.
2. Jalen Green: F Houston
Taking Cade over Mobley was bad, but taking Green ahead was outright indefensible.
At least there is some logical argument that Cade may be conceivably valued above Mobley. It is not a great argument, but it is exists.
Green comes with the issue that non-PG’s his size who play small historically cap out as low tier all-stars in the Devin Booker, Zach LaVine, and Bradley Beal mold. Those guys don’t approximate his average outcome– they approximate his upside.
Meanwhile Mobley’s median outcome seems to be approximately Chris Bosh, who is better than Green’s upside comps. His upside is something like Kevin Garnett, which completely waffle crushes Jalen Green’s upside.
Green may have some wiggle room to edge out the low-end all-star undersized SG mold, but there’s a hard cap. It seems out of bounds to compare him to Kobe on multiple levels– first Kobe was approximately 1″ taller, 3″ longer, and had a stronger frame. Second, he posted similar NBA stats to Green’s G-League stats while being 6.5 months younger.
Given that there are reasons to believe that the Kobe comp is out of bounds for Green, and the KG comp is within the realm of possibility for Mobley, and that KG is better than Kobe (contrary to common beliefs), there’s just no way to slice and dice the information such that Green was the correct pick here.
3. Evan Mobley: A+ Cleveland
Mobley not only has the best statistics in the draft, he also smashes the eye test in terms of athleticism, fluidity, and defense.
The only reason to be skeptical of him is because of skepticism of bigs, but he is capable of playing the perimeter on both sides, although on defense you would prefer to have him close to the rim where he is elite.
You can do quite a bit with him, including unlocking the value of traditional PF’s who are readily available on the cheap. It’s too bad that he is teaming up with Kevin Love on the tail end of Love’s career– if their primes had intersected they would have been an interesting big man duo.
He has likely star potential, and there is no challenge in getting him on the court or fitting him into a variety of lineups. He should be the hands down #1 overall pick, and overreaction to recent trends led to Cleveland getting a huge steal at #3.
4. Scottie Barnes: A Toronto
This was a controversial pick, as Jalen Suggs was the consensus choice and would have also been a good choice. Either guy would have been an A, as this was a no lose situation for Toronto.
Suggs would have been the safer choice to go with consensus and take the guy who has more polish and can more seamlessly slide into NBA lineups, but Barnes is the sexier choice with a higher upside.
Toronto is a good organization with a good front office and good coaching, and when a high variance guy like Barnes lands there, it is reasonable to give a small boost to his long term projections. I had him ranked #3 behind Suggs, but it was a coinflippy decision and I would now be inclined to rate Barnes as the 2nd best prospect in the draft.
This is a spot where Barnes doubters may want to reconsider their position before criticizing the choice too sharply, because there is a significant upside tail that can come to fruition here.
5. Jalen Suggs: A Orlando
Suggs was the obvious choice here. Stats like him, scouts like him, everybody likes Suggs. He is better than the typical #5 overall prospect, so Orlando should be pleased to have him.
6. Josh Giddey: A- OKC
Giddey has a good case for best passing prospect of all time for his size at 6’8″. Past examples such as LeBron, Luka, and Magic had more well rounded skill sets, but as a pure passer Giddey is nothing short of masterful.
Here is a good example of why draft grades is a slippery exercise. For the sake of argument, let’s assign these values to each prospect’s draft rights:
Toronto and Orlando both got BPA and better value relative to slot than OKC, so they deserve higher grades, right?
But almost anybody would have gotten an easy A in those slots. Whereas #6 overall was a much more difficult choice. Mocks had OKC choosing between Bouknight or Kuminga, and instead Sam Presti surprised with a Giddey choice.
If the majority of GM’s would have taken somebody significantly worse, and a small minority would have taken somebody slightly better, Presti gained a ton of expected value over the average front office with this choice.
Giddey is a high variance prospect with his youth and polarized distribution of one monstrous strength and a number of weaknesses. The difference between him and other options could prove to be trivial, or this pick could even look bad if he flops entirely.
But there is a possibility of a rich payoff if he hits his upside, and this pick could eventually prove to be a clutch decision that significantly sets OKC forward.
This isn’t as big of a win relative to slot as the prior two picks, and doesn’t even beat slot value on my board where Giddey ranked #7, thus the A-. But for an extremely difficult slot rife with trappy choices, this was one of the most +EV decisions of draft night and Sam Presti deserves kudos for making it.
7. Jonathan Kuminga: D Golden State
Kuminga is a guy that is difficult for analytics to pin down for a variety of reasons. First, the G-League is not a common source of prospects, and modeling the G-League bubble is incredibly challenging. Second, his elite physical tools should make him valued above his box score statistics.
Kuminga posted negative win shares for G-League ignite, but that was largely due to his poor shooting at 24.6% 3P and 62.5% FT with his form not looking broken by any stretch. He had more assists than turnovers, and for a toolsy 18 year old he is a completely reasonable gamble in the mid-lottery with plenty of time to learn how to shoot and play defense.
But the third point that makes him incredibly fuzzy to model is his uncertain age being born in a country with poor documentation. The difference between being 18 and 20 has a huge impact on his draft value, as those are crucial years for development. A toolsy 18 year old struggling in the G-League is fine. But if your team just drafted a one and done prospect at #7 overall and he struggled in the G-League as a rookie at age 20, enthusiasm for that prospect should heavily wane.
Kuminga has a good upside tail if it hits, but he also loads of bust risk. And if we are saying his upside is something akin to Jaylen Brown, and Franz Wagner is an Otto Porter, then Franz actually has the slightly higher upside on top of a significantly better median outcome and much lower bust risk.
Taking Kuminga with Franz on the board was a fairly significant mistake.
8. Franz Wagner: A Orlando
Franz not only crushed analytic models, he is actually better than his box score stats suggest. His steal, block, and assist rates for his size already suggest a good defensive player, but his steals were suppressed by a heavily anti-gambling scheme at Michigan. And even if he had a steal rate of say 3.5% instead of 2.3%, that would still not convey his defense goodness.
His ability to move his feet, make good decisions, and be aware are among the best for any wing prospect in recent memory. Box score models already see him as an excellent 3 + D prospect, and scouting shows that his defense is comfortably better than what goes into the box score.
The downside is that he is a below average athlete who cannot blow by opponents off the dribble (conveyed by his 19.2% usage rate) and he has a slight frame which prevents him from playing physically (conveyed by his mediocre ORB% and FT rate). These flaws are already priced into his numbers, yet he still looks like an awesome role player.
If there is anything that the numbers fail to capture, perhaps his slight frame makes him a bit more injury prone than the typical prospect. But overall, Franz is an awesome prospect by analytics, and scouting him only enhances his value.
If things go well, this could be a franchise changing night for Orlando. There is a realistic chance that they got two prospects more valuable than the top 2 guys at #5.
9. Davion Mitchell: F- Sacramento
Not only is this arguably the worst value pick in the draft, but it is also the worst fit. The Kings have two quality young guards in De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton as their only two real long term assets, yet they drafted a little guy who does not fit well with just Fox, let alone both.
What is even crazier is that Mitchell is a defensive specialist, but you aren’t making the defense better by putting a small guy who can be hunted next to De’Aaron Fox.
Mitchell isn’t going to do much to help the offense, he is only 8.5 months younger than Fox, and it just doesn’t make sense how he fits with the team committed to Fox over the next 5 years.
Monte McNair actually said that Mitchell can defend 4 positions with a straight face. It’s worth wondering if he was being held hostage by a certain owner when he made that comment, because McNair seems like an otherwise sharp guy.
This is a disappointing waste of a good pick for the Kings.
10. Ziaire Williams: C- Memphis
Ziaire had an awful freshman season for Stanford, which makes it curious that an analytics driven team in Memphis traded up from #17 to reach for him at #10.
There are reasons to believe he is salvageable relative to #’s. His AAU #’s and RSCI pedigree were much better than he showed at Stanford. Notably, he shot much better pre-NCAA and in workouts. Playing for a terrible offensive coach during COVID, while catching COVID later in the year may have affected his output.
But he still showed some major flaws, including an inability to play under control averaging 4.5 assists per 100 but a disgusting 6.0 TOVs complemented by an awful shot selection. The best example of a prospect succeeding with this flaw was Jaylen Brown, who was even worse averaging 4.2 assists vs 6.6 TOVs as a freshman at Cal. Between meditation and Brad Stevens’ coaching, Brown was able to become an efficient NBA offensive scorer, proving that this is not a fatal flaw.
That said, Brown is 1.5″ longer, much stronger, and more athletic. He was much better defensively in college, as well as superior at getting to the rim and finishing. Williams is 3″ taller and the better shooter, so he has his own advantages to re-balance things. And ultimately he could prove to be solid value at #10 overall.
But it’s difficult to see how gambling on Williams’ high school priors trumping his NCAA performance is better than gambling on Sengun being generally awesome. Especially since the Sengun/JJJ pairing is so thrilling.
If they thought they already had enough bigs with Tillman, Clarke, Adams, and JJJ, and wanted to take a shooting wing, why not take Moses Moody? He is 4″ shorter than Ziaire, but 2.5″ longer and much physically stronger. He can also shoot the lights out, and you don’t need to gamble on him learning to play under control because he already is capable of it.
11. James Bouknight: C- Charlotte
Bouknight is a boring undersized SG prospect, and it is hard to imagine how he is the correct pick with Moody and Sengun on the board. But there were so many worse picks made in this range, Charlotte’s choice gets spared an analytical lashing here.
12. Josh Primo: D- San Antonio
Primo is a curious choice at #12– it would seem that the Spurs may be overreacting to the before/after pictures of Giannis, and trying to find the guy who makes the next physical transformation. Primo is the youngest prospect in the draft, has a nice frame, interviews well, and has the best odds of having a future growth spurt.
So perhaps it is reasonable to bet on above average development both physically and skillwise in Primo, but that still isn’t enough to take him in the lottery. Even if he has a big 2″ growth spurt to 6’7″ and 6’11”, fills out, and improves his defense (which is currently bad), and athleticism (which is currently mediocre), you don’t get an MVP caliber player, and you may not even get an all-star. He averaged 1.5 assists per 40 vs 2.4 turnovers, which indicates that he needs significant improvement to his ball skills to survive on the perimeter, and it is highly unlikely he is ever a perimeter creator.
And if he doesn’t have a big growth spurt, and stays at his current dimensions, he is just a guy who is too small to guard wings, may be terrible on defense, and lacks the ball skills to justify his defensive versatility.
San Antonio’s 2nd round pick Joe Wieskamp already has ideal wing dimensions, better offensive polish, and is likely the better athlete. Primo’s best case is going to be better than Wieskamp’s, but Wieskamp has an easier path to useful role player and went a full round later.
If you want to bet on a young guy being good, you are much safer taking a guy like Jaden Springer who is already good and only 3 months older instead of doing a bunch of ridiculous extrapolation for Primo. And Springer went an entire 16 slots later.
13. Chris Duarte: F
One of the most bizarre happenings on draft night was a feeding frenzy for Duarte, who is an incredibly boring 3 + D role player and already 24 years old.
First, he is listed at 6’6 (not confirmed by skipping measurements) with a 6’7″ wingspan. If he is 6’5 or 6’5.5″ in shoes, he is a small SG with incredibly limited defensive versatility. And he is an ordinary level of good shooter, making 38% 3P and 80.3% FT over ages 22 + 23 in NCAA, and is incredibly limited at shot creation off the dribble.
The point of the draft is to find longterm upside, not fill out short term rotation minutes. If an NBA team wants to find a short term stopgap, why not look at international FA’s? Maxi Kleber, Joe Ingles, and Brad Wanamaker are examples of players who were signed for the minimum and provided adequate to good minutes for their team. Whereas Duarte is not even clear positive value with a rookie contract in the range of 4 years @ $16M for his draft slot.
Moreover, his RFA rights are near worthless to retain him for ages to 28-31, as he will be washed for the back end of that deal fairly often.
And what is even crazier is that Indy isn’t even a clear favorite to make the playoffs, so why are they so desperate for a win now player?
Forgetting the 18 year old Turkish MVP in the room, we can compare Duarte to the ensuing pick: Moses Moody.
Between two 3 + D guys, Moody is 6″ longer and 5 years younger, and wasn’t even that much worse than Duarte in NCAA. Moody posted a 7.4 freshman BPM for Arkansas, and Duarte was 9.9 in his two seasons at Oregon, which would have been Moody’s 5th and 6th NCAA seasons.
Duarte should provide a bit more contributions early in both player’s careers, but Moody could catch up as soon as year 2 or year 3. And if he develops well, he should peak much higher and longer than Duarte, who has about 5 seasons in the NBA before he starts to decline.
We can also compare him to Jaden Springer taken 15 entire slots later, who offers a similar package of undersized 3 + D guard while being 5 years and 3 months younger.
Springer has much lower 3PA rate but slightly higher FT%, similar size, and only slightly lower rebounds, steals, and blocks. Being so much younger, Springer has good odds of surpassing Duarte as a shooter and defensive player before long, and he is already the better creator.
Indiana is going to rise up the standings by getting a young guy like Springer or Moody to hit long term, not by taking a guy who is ready to give slightly better rotation minutes up front.
14. Moses Moody: A- Golden State
Moody was likely not the optimal play here with Alperen Sengun still on the board, but compared to the average pick in the 9-15 range, he looks like a steal. Even if the Warriors reportedly tried their best to give it away by swapping him plus assets for Chris Duarte.
It’s really wild that in 2021 with all of the information available to assess prospects, two NBA teams battled it out over an obviously inferior prospect of the same archetype. NBA owners really need to get better at hiring talent evaluators.
15. Corey Kispert: D
The Wizards have quietly been racking up a track record of consistently making bad picks, and taking a one dimensional, low upside, old guy with Sengun on the board stays true to their brand of spewing.
16. Alperen Sengun: A+ Houston
Houston made one of the worst blunders of the night drafting Jalen Green over Evan Mobley, but then heavily redeemed themselves by trading for Sengun, who is ridiculously good value this deep into round 1.
Sengun is a case where the numbers cannot be taken at face value due to his athleticism + defensive concerns, as well as the waning value of post-up PF’s in the modern NBA. But his numbers are god tier, and convey a well rounded and versatile player with good perimeter skills to supplement his paint dominance.
Analytics are better at flagging players who aren’t good enough than ensuring stardom for every guy with impressive numbers, but it’s not like Sengun is a plodding big who dominated mid-major basketball. He is a well rounded stud who won MVP of a top tier professional league at age 18. It is reasonable to be reticent to take him top 5 based on his odd mold, but he has better odds of making all-NBA than all of the non-Moody guys taken from #9 thru #15 combined.
At this juncture of the draft he is an insane value pick, arguably the best value relative to slot in the entire draft outside of perhaps Mobley. The painful aspect for Houston is that they could have had Mobley and Sengun and won the entire draft with two bigs who fit awesomely together.
OKC got a decent return for the . Detroit pick protected top 16 in ’22, top 18 in ’23/’24, top 13 in ’25, top 11 in ’26, top 9 in ’27. And Washington pick top 14 in ’23, top 12 in ’24, top 10 in ’25, top 8 in ’26. Lots of times these will be mid-firsts in 25-26 (although if Beal leaves Wash, man do they have a a horrible roster with Dan Gafford as their only interesting young player), which gives them no rush to consolidate on top of their ridiculous hoard of picks. These are undoubtedly more valuable than the non-Moody’s taken 9th thru 15th, so OKC cannot be criticized badly for the trade.
But this was a great move by Houston, and the thought of a Giddey/Shai/Sengun core for OKC would have been fairly thrilling. And for all of the credit that Presti deserves for nabbing Giddey and his overall good drafting record, it’s frustrating that Poku is the international big that he chose to trade up for in the mid-1st last year while passing on Sengun this year.
Also worth noting this was Boston’s pick they used to unload Kemba Walker, which makes that trade look worse in retrospect.
17. Trey Murphy: C New Orleans
Murphy is a weirdo with a strange distribution of good dimensions, athleticism, and shooting and terrible everything else.
This can either be a pro-analytics pick or anti-analytics, depending on whether your model values shooting and efficiency or bulk box score output. Personally he would be on my list of choices in this slot with his poor bulk and bad defense from scouting Virginia, where they often hid him on the opponents’ link.
That said, with Sengun off the board and no clearly excellent choice, this pick isn’t too bad. It could work out fine, and all of the higher upside guys had flags to endure.
18. Tre Mann: D Oklahoma City
OKC’s draft got off to such a promising start with Giddey, but then passing on Sengun and drafting Tre Mann was a major letdown to cap it off.
I already wrote about how it is indefensible to take Mann above Jaden Springer, as Springer is younger, longer, stronger, and better defensively with similar offensive output. Mann currently has better range on his shot as his only real advantage, which should help him mesh with taller primary handlers in Giddey and Shai.
But Springer also meshes well with those guys while being better. It’s tough to reconcile how Mann over Springer is defensible.
19. Kai Jones: D– Charlotte
The primary redeeming factor of this pick is that there was not much interesting talent on the board.
But Kai Jones’ hype is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of which way the NBA is drifting toward small bigs. You still need a guy who can rebound, protect the rim, and not get bullied in the post to fill the role full time, and of those qualities Kai can only vaguely protect the rim.
He is underskilled for a wing, and plays undersized for a big, and he doesn’t even have that much upside to grow in spite of his athleticism because he is so clumsy with the ball.
They paid a 1st that is top 18 protected in 2022, top 16 in 2023, and top 14 in 2024 and 2025 to get this pick. So basically likely a pick in a similar draft slot 2 to 4 years in the future, which indicates that teams are likely not too hot on the talent available here. Perhaps rightfully so, the choices seem fairly ordinary at this point.
20. Jalen Johnson A Atlanta
21. Keon Johnson B+ LA Clippers
22. Isaiah Jackson B Indiana
After the prior GM’s relentlessly spewed on boring and low upside players, we finally get a nice stretch of flaggy, high risk, high reward types.
Jalen Johnson has clearly the best talent package and gets an A. But the other guys have their own brand of athleticism and potential, and all of these guys are better gambles than most of the boring picks preceding them.
23. Usman Garuba: B- Houston
24. Josh Christopher: C+ Houston
Both of these guys are fine, pretty much equal to slot value.
The Christopher pick is a little bit weird though, given that they already invested #2 in Jalen Green. Granted it is a rebuilding team, and they can just see how things shake out and keep one of them and use the other as trade bait.
But you just cannot play Christopher and Green together when you are actively trying to win, because that’s two small guys who need the ball but aren’t floor generals, and it will never work. This would have been a B- pick otherwise, but the Green pick is the curse that keeps detracting.
25. Quentin Grimes: A- New York
Solid 3 + D role player by the Knicks. Honestly Grimes is better than most of the guys taken in the 9 to 19 range, he is like Duarte minus 3 years.
26. Bones Hyland: B+ Denver
Would have been nice to see Denver grab Springer instead, but Bones is an awfully nice fit alongside Murray and Jokic. He can defend PG’s without the pressure to be lead guard, yet is a capable handler who can attempt and make a high volume of 3PA while using his length to make plays on defense.
Drafting for fit is typically overrated, but when Denver is already a fringe contender with a core of Murray, Gordon, MPJ, and Jokic all 25 and under, this is a spot where it made sense and they got the perfect fit with decent enough slot value.
27. Cameron Thomas: C Brooklyn
Cam Thomas is a one dimensional scoring SG in a PG body. Not a very good archetype.
28: Jaden Springer: A Philadelphia
The analytics darling of the late first round, it is crazy that Springer slid this far with guys like Primo, Duarte, and Mann going 10 to 16 slots earlier.
Springer may not perform as well as analytics suggest, because on paper he looks like a guy with creation upside, but he is more of a mid-range chucking bully than an athletic creator off the dribble which makes it less likely that he is an NBA star.
But he is nevertheless young and well rounded, and at minimum fits a 3 + D mold. He should have at least a sliver of star upside, as he says he watches a significant amount of film on Jrue Holiday, who also lacks an elite first step.
29. Day’Ron Sharpe: A- Brooklyn
The Nets acquired this pick for Landry Shamet, which is a fairly nice deal since Shamet is a fairly ordinary rotation player who is due to get paid after this season. And in spite of all of their injuries at guard, he only gave them 17 mediocre minutes per the game in the playoffs.
Then they put the pick to good use, taking a quality big man in Day’Ron Sharpe who offers a rare intersection of rebounding and passing for a big man. The Nets could use a true big man on the roster, and Sharpe is good value with the current anti-big obsession sweeping the draft.
Bad trade for Phoenix. Especially after making the mistake of drafting Jalen Smith over Haliburton last year, James Jones seems to have won executive of the year out of sheer luck that Chris Paul wanted to play for Phoenix.
30. Santi Aldama: B+ Memphis
Aldama is about as exciting as a low major prospect gets, as he is insanely skilled and coordinated for a big man.
The only question is whether he can survive on defense or not. It is difficult to grade this pick, because it is not clear that Memphis needed to trade up from 40 for him, and it is not clear how valuable the two 2nd rounders they gave up are.
But Aldama nevertheless offers unique strengths which makes him an intriguing upside pull at #30, as he has better odds of being a quality NBA player than Kai Jones who went #19.
31. Isaiah Todd: D- Wizards
It’s too late in the draft to hand out F’s, but man did Washington really turn a quarter into two nickels really fast by sending #22 for #31 and Aaron Holiday and then drafting Isaiah Todd.
The Wizards have quietly assembled one of the least impressive young cores in the NBA, and if/when Beal leaves after this season this team might be mired in misery for quite some time.
They did well to pick up Daniel Gafford from Chicago, but Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura, Corey Kispert, Aaron Holiday, and Isaiah Todd is a painful lack of upside otherwise.
32. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl: B- Oklahoma City
33. Jason Preston: B Orlando
Both fine choices relative to slot. OKC paid a huge price giving up #34 and #36 to move up for JRE, but they likely had to consolidate with so many youngs on the roster, so it’s understandable.
Preston is terrible on defense but is a wizard passer with good dimensions and great basketball IQ for a guard. Fun mid-major flier
34. Rokas Jubaitis: D New York
A cursory glance at this guy’s box score makes him look like a dud, but he is basically a free pick for the Knicks from the OKC that can be stashed so it’s not all bad
35. Herb Jones: B+ New Orleans
Getting one of the best defensive players with ideal tools for a wing with a prayer of offensive passability at #35 overall is a win
36. Miles McBride: A New York
The Knicks cap off an overall very solid draft by drafting one of the best role players in McBride, who has Patrick Beverley potential.
They didn’t get great value for #19 overall, but they weren’t wrong to trade out either. And they could have done more with the Jubaitis pick, but it was basically a free stash so it doesn’t burn. And McBride and Grimes are both great pickups.
They fit especially well with RJ Barrett and Julius Randle being offensive hubs at the 3/4, with less pressure on their guards to create a high volume of offense. Now between McBride, Quickley, and Grimes they have a nice rotation of young 3 + D guards to fill out the lineup.
It’s not a championship caliber core, but if things go well it can be pretty solid.
37. JT Thor C- Charlotte
The Hornets take the less athletic version of Kai Jones in round 2. Now they have two awkward guys who are too small to play big and too unskilled to play wing effectively.
Pretty bad draft by the Hornets, all things considered
38. Ayo Dosunmu: A Chicago
Ayo has a bit of Spencer Dinwiddie upside, and goes at the precisely the same draft slot. Can’t knock this pick.
39. Neemias Queta: A- Sacramento
Queta is a well rounded pick who is adored by analytics and a nice value at #39.
So far Monte McNair has made 4 picks for Sacramento– 3 analytically sharp picks in Tyrese Haliburton, Jah’mius Ramsey, and Queta, and the most heavily flagged pick in the draft by the numbers in Davion Mitchell.
Gotta wonder if a meddlesome owner meddled in one of those choices…
40. Jared Butler: Incomplete Utah
It’s so difficult to grade this pick, because Butler is so obviously overqualified for this slot in terms of basketball playing ability, but his heart condition seems to have scared teams off quite a bit.
On one hand, perhaps it is such low odds of him dying on the floor and they are being unnecessarily risk averse by passing on him.
On the other hand, the prospect of a player dying on the floor is so bad, and may be realistic enough such that any minor scare could cause Butler to be forced into early retirement.
Can’t knock the choice at 40th overall, but without having any idea how significant his condition matters it cannot be graded with any confidence either.
41. Joe Wieskamp: A San Antonio
Joe Wieskamp actually may have a better median outcome than the Spurs’ choice at #12 Josh Primo
42. Isaiah Livers: B- Detroit
This pick is fine. Livers is a 3 + D wing with a chance of finding an NBA niche.
43. Greg Brown III: D Portland
Brown is a former top 10 recruit with ideal wing dimensions, great athleticism, and a passable jump shot making 33% 3P 70.8% FT as an NCAA freshman. How hard can you knock taking a guy with those strengths mid-2nd?
Probably a little hard, because it is difficult to find a single past example of any non-big who had an NBA career with his NCAA assist to turnover ratio, as he had a grotesque 10 assists vs 60 turnovers on the season. He has an all-time bad basketball IQ and cannot dribble a lick, and it’s difficult to imagine him being anything other than a disaster in the NBA in spite of his strengths.
44. Kessler Edwards: C- Brooklyn
Edwards has ideal wing dimensions at 6’8″ with a 6’11” wingspan and is a good shooter, but likely lacks the defense or creation ability to make it in the NBA.
45. Juhann Begarin: C- Boston
Brad Stevens’ first draft pick is difficult to read much into. Begarin is young and decently athletic, but glancing at his numbers, he seems too unskilled to be interesting for a 6’5″ guy.
That said, if Stevens just wanted to stash a random young guy maybe it’s fine.
46. Dalano Banton: C- Toronto
47. David Johnson: A- Toronto
Banton is a 6’9″ PG who just wasn’t good in college. Interesting mold to gamble on in round 2, but he turns 22 in November and is a major longshot to be good enough to make it in the NBA.
David Johnson on the other hand is muy interesante at this stage. He looked like a possible lottery pick after a promising freshman season off the bench, and then got COVID this year and disappointed heavily. He has good tools and vision for a SG, so he could be a steal if he had an uncharacteristic sophomore performance.
48. Sharife Cooper: A Atlanta
Sharife slid a crazy amount for a guard who can create such insane volume for himself and teammates.
The big knocks on him are bad defense and jump shooting mechanics. He is small and should be a liability on defense, but he does not seem quite as bad as the guy starting ahead of him: Trae Young.
Shooting is interesting. He made 82.5% FT to convey natural touch on his shot, and has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics as he just turned 20. But perhaps his shooting mechanics are more hopelessly broken than from the typical good NCAA FT shooter who is bad from 3.
He can still perhaps run the 2nd unit offense with a busted shot, but he needs to have a jumper to hit his true upside as a solid starter. What the odds of that are anybody’s guess, but it seems that NBA teams are particularly bearish on that proposition.
49. Marcus Zegarowski: D Brooklyn
Zegarowski doesn’t have the physical tools or passing ability to have much of a chance of making the NBA for a guy who turns 23 a few days after the draft. Seems like a waste of a pick, but this is around the juncture of the draft where everybody is going to fail anyway.
50. Filip Petrusev B Philadelphia
Petrusev is kind of a boring big, but he was the statistically best international available, so makes sense as a stash since Morey does not seem to want to roster two late seconds.
51. BJ Boston A- LA Clippers
It’s really difficult to understand how Boston slid this far. He was #4 RSCI freshman, and has ideal wing dimensions.
He was a bricklaying machine for Kentucky as a freshman, but at least had more assists than turnovers, decent steal rate, and made 78.5% FT. If it turns out that he was less than his typical self physically because of the pandemic, then he has potential to be a solid 3 + D role players.
Given how frequently Calipari players underperform in school and then overperform in the NBA, it is curious that NBA teams had such little interest in him letting him slide to the dead zone of the draft.
He is an interesting contrast to Ziaire Williams, who also had nice wing dimensions, an ultra skinny frame, and terrible freshman offense, but was forgiven enough to go #10 overall.
52. Luka Garza C Detroit
Luka was one of the best players in college basketball, but is a molasses slow big who is rapidly going extinct.
53. Charles Bassey A- Philadelphia
The last interesting player to get drafted unsurprisingly goes to Daryl Morey, who was on point using analytics to find value on a night where most teams were shirking the stats.
Sliding this far is not a great signal for Bassey’s NBA future, but he can score inside, make an open shot, rebound, and block shots so he has clear potential to make it as a rotation big.
54. Sandro Mamukelashvili B- Milwaukee
Mamu is a PF who has just enough skill and mobility of having a shot of becoming a guy in the NBA, but likely will be a buck short like most picks in the 50’s.
Going to skip the last few picks that are largely irrelevant and focusing on UDFA winners:
1. LA Lakers: Joel Ayayi + Austin Reaves
Ayayi and Reaves reportedly passed up opportunities to be drafted to get two way deals for the Lakers. And man are these guys sorely needed for the Lakers after they gutted their roster to trade for Russell Westbrook who fits horribly with LeBron.
The Lakers get two SG’s who can handle, pass, shoot, and play efficiently in a supporting role offensively.
2. Philadelphia 76ers: Daishen Nix + Aaron Henry
Morey just cleaned up all of the value on the nigh, also scooping two of the top UDFA on the board.
3. Toronto: Justin Champagnie
Champagnie is my top UDFA available, and the Raptors finished with a nice value in each of round 1, round 2, and UDFA. It would have been a perfect night for them if they took Sharife Cooper over Banton, but that is a minor nitpick. They had a great draft.
4. Houston: Matthew Hurt
You know who Hurt would pair well with? Evan Mobley! Houston solidly redeemed their night after blowing that pick, but it could have been so different otherwise
5. Minnesota: McKinley Wright + Isaiah Miller
Minny takes a couple of solid pulls on little PG’s.