Detroit Pistons- Cade Cunningham, G, Oklahoma State, Luka Garza, C, Iowa, Isaiah Livers, F, Michigan, Balsa Koprivica, C, Florida State
The Pistons have not drafted an all-star since 2012 when they scooped up Georgetown center Andre Drummond. They had their chance to grab the future and they didn’t over think it when they selected Cade Cunningham with the #1 pick in the 2021 draft.
Cunningham immediately upgrades their entire roster, he is a 6’8” point forward that can control the game with or without the ball. He turned around a young Oklahoma State team, making them a contender in the stacked Big 12 all season. He will join a young Pistons core led by Saddiq Bey and the returning 2020 first round pick PG Killian Hayes. Time will tell whether Cade will primarily play on the ball or without it as Hayes was struck with the injury bug last season before anyone could gauge his skill at the NBA level.
Much like 2020 I feel like the Pistons didn’t just crush their first pick but were able to add multiple players that could make an impact on the roster. Adding Michigan’s Isaiah Livers not only gets them a perfect fit for their state fan base but gives them a legit two-way player that has NBA size at the 3. Livers will fit in well off the bench for a Detroit team that will have an open competition for nearly every position. Oh they also added Luka Garza, the most dominant player in all of college basketball. There are a lot of questions surrounding his game transitioning to the NBA, but his skills and late round pick really make him a gamble worth taking at such a low cost.
Koprivica is 7 feet tall and has skills that allowed him to play the up-tempo offense that Florida State played. An NBA body that is worth the risk.
Golden State Warriors- Jonathan Kuminga, F, GLeague Ignite, Moses Moody, G, Arkansas
The Warriors could intend to move both of these players to grab veteran depth to go along with their trio of stars. Nevertheless they grabbed the best possible talent available at 7 and 14 and it is not even that close.
Golden State had Jonathan Kuminga dropped to them at #7, a forward that already has an NBA body at 6’8” and 220 pounds. Kuminga already has a professional season under his belt, playing in the G League, averaging 15 points, 7 rebounds and nearly 3 assists per game. He is a two way player that features a 7-foot wingspan that will allow him to guard positions 1-4 and potentially 5’s in today’s small ball era. The one knock on Kuminga is an inability to stay focused on the defensive end, with the veteran leadership of Draymond Green that problem should be handled. He is a rim runner that will fit in nicely with the skills of Steph and Klay opening up the inside for him.
With the 14th pick the Warriors grabbed Moses Moody. Moody was actually projected in the top ten. Many thought the Warriors would have to take him at #7. Shockingly he fell to them and it is a perfect fit for both parties. Moody also has a professional level body at 6’6” with a long wingspan. Moody has to improve his 3-pt shooting, but his overall game fits in nicely on the offensive end. The Warriors will likely be patient with Klay Thompson, likely trying to reduce his workload. Moody will get many opportunities to be in the limelight.
Charlotte Hornets- James Bouknight, G UConn, Kai Jones, C, Texas, JT Thor, F, Auburn, Scottie Lewis, G, Florida
Charlotte had a lot of holes to fill around LaMelo Ball. First they needed a big man, they traded for Mason Plumlee. A perfect fit for the pick and roll offense along with Ball. Plumlee had a career season in 2021 and he allowed the Hornets to draft and fill in other needs.
Much like the Warriors the Hornets took advantage of a talented player that seemed to fall into their lap. UConn guard James Bouknight was projected in the top 6 but was sitting their at #11. Rather than get tricky, Charlotte grabbed Bouknight and now has a backcourt that will grow over the next five years minimum.
The Hornets continued to add athletes, taking Texas big man Kai Jones and Auburn’s JT Thor. Jones could be a diamond in the rough, he is a mobile 6’10” player that shot 38% from behind the arc and he will be able to move with the pace that Ball and company will bring. JT Thor didn’t dazzle statistically in his freshman season but his raw ability and size make him a project that will reward in the long run if coached up. He brings a lot of defensive ability.
Honorable Mention- Atlanta Hawks, Brooklyn Nets