Is it way too premature to do a re-draft of the 2021 NBA Draft? Absolutely. Am I going to do it anyway? Absolutely. Will I have any regrets about this list in the future because of how quickly I put this out? Absolutely.
There is still any number of outcomes that could play out in the future, and this is by no means a be-all and end-all of who will perform at what level in years to come. Additionally, some of these picks are fit-based and not necessarily completely weighted on upside. We will assume that the trades in the draft (in terms of position) still happen to make it easier and less confusing. The second half of the first round will be more speculative since we have not seen quite as much of some of those players.
1. Detroit Pistons – Evan Mobley
Evan Mobley squeaks out the number one spot over Cade Cunningham and others in the Lineups.com 2021-22 NBA Rookie Re-Draft. On a team filled with capable scorers, length, and athleticism, Mobley has still found a way to shine, averaging just shy of 15 points, eight rebounds, three assists, and two blocks this season. Mobley is somewhat of a unicorn, and if the Pistons’ front office was somehow omniscient, then I could see them pulling the trigger on Mobley at No. 1.
2. Houston Rockets – Cade Cunningham
The second pick, belonging to the Houston Rockets, would likely be Cade Cunningham, despite an up-and-down rookie season. Not often does a well-polished, long, tall, athletic point guard come along, and Cunningham’s ceiling is still sky-scraper-ish. Even if we are just analyzing the “fit,” it still makes sense: Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr are fun on NBA 2K, but it’s hard to say whether it can legitimately work out. Cunningham gives you a true point guard who can also score as well, and that backcourt would be too intriguing to pass up.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Franz Wagner
If the Cavaliers knew back then what they know now, then it would be upsetting to see Mobley go off the board first; however, they would still be just fine. Based on how well starting three seven-footers has worked out, Cleveland likely goes with a tall, athletic, rangy forward, and there are a few of those still left on the board. One player in particular, who has far surpassed my first-year expectations, is Franz Wagner out of Michigan. Wagner is a fantastic prospect because of his size, length, fluidity, shooting, and athleticism, but I hardly think anyone expected him to blow up this quickly.
4. Toronto Raptors – Scottie Barnes
Would you look at that! Scottie Barnes is the first player to wind up on the same team in the re-draft. There’s no way that Toronto would pass up on Barnes as he has exceeded expectations. I loved Barnes as a prospect out of college but questioned the fit with Toronto. Spoiler Alert: it worked!
5. Orlando Magic – Jonathan Kuminga
With Franz Wagner off the board, and Jalen Suggs not fitting in super well in Orlando (it’s a crowded backcourt any way), the Magic would go with the limitless potential of Jonathan Kuminga with the fifth pick. There’s still plenty of incredible talent on the board, but Kuminga has shown flashes of brilliance for a Warriors team that has a tough lineup to crack. Since Draymond Green suffered a calf injury, Kuminga has been stepping up massively.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder – Josh Giddey
This is almost criminal considering how well Josh Giddey has played this season, but it’s either Orlando at No. 5 or OKC at No. 6. In our case, Giddey also winds up being re-drafted by the same team that drafted him in the first place! Giddey’s basketball IQ is exceptional, and his passing ability is just as spectacular. He’s another player that has adjusted to the NBA game despite being extremely young. It’s becoming a trend for uber-talented teenagers to play in the NBL and then come over to the NBA and perform at an exceptionally high-level (LaMelo Ball, anyone?).
7. Golden State Warriors – Chris Duarte
The Warriors do not have the luxury of stealing Jonathan Kumings with the seventh pick in the re-draft. Instead, they will likely elect to go with Chris Duarte, another lengthy shooter to complement the Warriors roster. Duarte was advertised as one of the most polished players in the 2021 Draft, which has certainly been the case. The age is less of a concern because the Warriors know that their roster is elite and can still take the win-now approach.
8. Orlando Magic – Jalen Green
The Orlando Magic are back on the clock, and to no one’s surprise, they pull the trigger on a different “Jalen.” Grabbing the high-ceiling Jalen Green with the eighth pick in the re-draft feels like somewhat of a steal. They already got Kuminga, and pairing those two together could be fireworks in the future. Orlando would not win now by any stretch, but grabbing another top pick in the next year or two would set up its roster for the next decade.
9. Sacramento Kings – Davion Mitchell
This should be crystal clear to readers: the Kings just traded Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield, freeing up De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell to be the backcourt of the future. Once again, Sacramento would pull the trigger on Mitchell here. Harrison Barnes has played well, Sabonis is an All-Star caliber player, and Holmes is serviceable at center. There were really no options that made sense at the five here for the Kings, so Mitchell is the most sensical pick.
10. Memphis Grizzlies – Herb Jones
It’s a bit hard for me to imagine the Memphis Grizzlies doing anything besides picking Herb Jones here. First off, the Grizzlies are thin at the forward position without Dillon Brooks on the floor. Even when he returns, Jones would still get a significant amount of tick, and Memphis would welcome his defense with open arms. Can you imagine adding someone who cuts off the ball on offense so well, too? Imagine how well the floor would be spread offensively with Bane bubbling up or sliding down the baseline and Jones cutting through the middle while Ja Morant penetrates off the dribble.
- 11. Charlotte Hornets – Isaiah Jackson
- 12. San Antonio Spurs – Jalen Suggs
- 13. Indiana Pacers – Ziaire Williams
- 14. Golden State Warriors – Alperen Sengun
- 15. Washington Wizards – Ayo Dosunmu
- 16. Houston Rockets – Jeremiah Robinson-Earl
- 17. New Orleans Pelicans – Nah’Shon Hyland
- 18. Oklahoma City Thunder – Cam Thomas
- 19. Charlotte Hornets – James Bouknight
- 20. Atlanta Hawks – Tre Mann
- 21. Los Angeles Clippers – Brandon Boston Jr.
- 22. Indiana Pacers – Moses Moody
- 23. Houston Rockets – Quentin Grimes
- 24. Houston Rockets – Usman Garuba
- 25. New York Knicks – Trey Murphy III
- 26. Denver Nuggets – Corey Kispert
- 27. Brooklyn Nets – Josh Christopher
- 28. Philadelphia 76ers – Jalen Johnson
- 29. Brooklyn Nets – Kessler Edwards
- 30. Memphis Grizzlies – Day’Ron Sharpe