NBA Draft Lottery 2021 Results and Analysis
With 14 teams hoping to secure the top spot, the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery took place on Tuesday night.
By Stone Lexington
Updated: June 23, 2021 • 10:00 AM ET
Cade Cunningham - Wikimedia Commons
Fourteen teams in the NBA Draft Lottery had hopes of securing the top spot in next month’s NBA Draft and the opportunity to select a future league star, possibly Oklahoma State prospect Cade Cunningham. That honor went to the Detroit Pistons on Tuesday night, which will have the luxury of being able to select their most desired prospect on July 29. Below is analysis for each team picking in the lottery of the 2021 NBA Draft.
1. Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons haven’t had a top-six pick in the NBA Draft since the horrendous selection of Darko Milicic at No. 2 overall in 2003. Nobody forgets that Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade were the three players selected immediately after Milicic. Nevertheless, the Pistons haven’t had much success on the court over the last decade, either, only making the playoffs twice. Adding more promising talent to the roster is certainly much-needed for a team that has a history of building championship rosters.
The Pistons seem to have a few young players with some talent in Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, but the jury is still out on last year’s No. 7 overall pick Killian Hayes. Adding a future star at No. 1 overall this year could go a long way to getting the Pistons back where they want to be as a franchise.
2. Houston Rockets
The Houston Rockets sole hope was to not fall to the No. 5 pick in the lottery. If they had, the Rockets pick would have conveyed to the Oklahoma City Thunder due to the Chris Paul/Russell Westbrook trade in 2019, and Houston would have slid all the way to No. 18. Luckily for Rockets brass and fans, that did not happen.
The Rockets finished with the worst record in the league this season after trading James Harden to the Brooklyn Nets, and it looks like the team is in store for a lengthy rebuild. The Rockets have two young and talented players in Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr., the latter of which they stole from the Cleveland Cavaliers for a heavily-protected second-round pick that will likely never convey. Houston also owns the 23rd and 24th picks in next month’s draft, so they have plenty of ammunition to add talent to a roster that needs it.
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3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Picking in the top 10 for the fourth straight year, the Cleveland Cavaliers haven’t made the playoffs without LeBron James on their roster since 1998. The franchise has young players with potential in Collin Sexton, Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro, but it remains to be seen if any of them can become franchise players. Cleveland needed some luck on Tuesday night and got it when they jumped all the way up to the No. 3 spot with only an 11.2 percent chance of securing the pick. The Cavs have an abundance of guards on their roster, but a few talented prospects at the guard position should be there at No. 3 overall, including G Leaguer Jalen Green and Gonzaga product Jalen Suggs.
4. Toronto Raptors
In what was a disappointing season for the Toronto Raptors, the team is hoping to add the right player in next month’s draft to a roster that has veteran talent. The Raptors found some luck on Tuesday night when they vaulted to the No. 4 pick, which seems to be the cutoff for the most coveted prospects in the draft. Point guard Kyle Lowry will become a free agent this summer, and there are several point guards prospects that could be targets for the Raptors next month, including Suggs, Baylor prospect Davion Mitchell and Auburn’s Sharife Cooper.
5. Orlando Magic
Since selecting Aaron Gordon with the fourth-overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic haven’t found much success drafting in the lottery. The team selected Mario Hezonja, who spent only three seasons with the team and averages 6.9 points per game in his career, No. 5 overall in 2015. In 2017, the Magic selected Jonathan Isaac No. 6 overall, and he missed all of this season while recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL. The team’s most recent lottery pick, Mohamed Bamba in 2018, has averaged 6.4 points per game in three seasons. These are not the results you want when selecting high in the draft, but the Magic will get another shot at finding a franchise player in July.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder entered Tuesday night as the only team with a chance at landing two top-five picks. However, luck was not on their side, as the team will select sixth-overall next month. The Thunder acquired Kemba Walker and the No. 16 pick in the draft from the Boston Celtics last week for Al Horford and Moses Brown, while they also own the No. 18 pick, acquired from the Miami Heat. The Thunder haven’t selected in the top 10 since 2009, but general manager Sam Presti has a history of making great selections in the draft.
7. Golden State Warriors (from Minnesota)
As if the Golden State Warriors needed more ammunition, the team will have two selections in the lottery of the upcoming draft. The Warriors found lottery luck last year when they moved up to No. 2 overall and selected Memphis center James Wiseman. With Wiseman and Klay Thompson likely returning from injury next season, the Warriors could be loaded if they add two talented prospects next month.
8. Orlando Magic (from Chicago)
See No. 5 overall pick analysis.
9. Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings have had three lottery picks since 2017, and De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton seem to be very solid selections. The selection of Marvin Bagley at No. 2 overall in 2018, though, has not been without its share of scrutiny, especially since Luka Doncic and Trae Young were selected after the former Duke Blue Devil. Bagley has yet to average more than 14.9 points per game in any of his three seasons in the league, while Doncic and Young are budding superstars. It’s essential that the Kings find a solid player to add to their young core so the team can finally take the next step forward and reach the postseason for the first time since 2006.
10. New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans produced one of the most disappointing seasons in the league this year, but there’s hope on the horizon with superstar Zion Williamson on the roster. After firing Stan Van Gundy at the end of the season, the most important offseason move will be finding the right head coach to lead the Pelicans into the future. With Williamson and Brandon Ingram locked up for the foreseeable future, the Pelicans need to find additional talent to put around them. It will be interesting to see if the team loses Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart this summer, as both will be restricted free agents.
11. Charlotte Hornets
The Charlotte Hornets struck gold in last year’s draft with the selection of LaMelo Ball, the 2020-21 NBA Rookie of the Year, and they need to add talent around him immediately. They’ll also have to make decisions on Devonte’ Graham and Malik Monk, who will both become restricted free agents this summer. Gordon Hayward is a solid forward, who seems to be nearly back to form after suffering a horrific injury in 2017, and Terry Rozier’s final season in Charlotte may be the 2021-22 campaign if he’s not traded before the start of next season. If the Hornets want to keep Ball in Charlotte for the long haul, they need to find more players with star potential soon.
12. San Antonio Spurs
After 22 straight playoff appearances, the San Antonio Spurs have missed the postseason in each of the last two seasons. The Spurs seem to be in a rebuilding process, although the team is already equipped with several promising guards and wings. Dejounte Murray and Derrick White are signed for several more years, while the Spurs are also hoping 22-year-old Lonnie Walker will progress into a premier talent. The team will undoubtedly continue its transformation this summer, as DeMar Derozan and Rudy Gay will both be free agents. The Spurs could look for a frontcourt player in next month’s draft to add to their young backcourt.
13. Indiana Pacers
Seeing the success Nate McMillan has had as head coach of the Atlanta Hawks this season has to be frustrating for Indiana Pacers fans. McMillan reached the postseason every year he finished a season as head coach with the Pacers, but the franchise didn’t feel he was the man for the job moving forward. The team now has to find a head coach that can get Indiana back to the postseason after missing the playoffs this year. As for the roster, Domantas Sabonis is a solid big man in the league, and Caris LeVert can take another step forward as a lead guy in Indiana next season. Myles Turner and Malcolm Brogdon are two more solid pieces, and with T.J. Warren likely returning from injury next season, the Pacers should be back in contention for a playoff spot. Adding a solid development piece in the draft next month should be the Pacers next priority.
14. Golden State Warriors
See No. 7 overall pick analysis.