By Jalen Kountze, Marketing Intern
The NBA draft is over, and the NBA was shaken up in a big way. The Detroit Pistons took 6’8 guard Cade Cunningham with the first pick. This pick came as no surprise to anyone as Cunningham has been praised as the best player in the draft class on top of Detroit’s need of a guard. Cunningham’s size, shot creation, and playmaking ability make him an asset that the Pistons can try to build around.
Second on the draft board was the Houston Rockets, who selected 6’6 guard Jalen Green from the G-league. Green has been making a name for himself in recent years with his performances throughout his AAU and G league career. The Rockets, who traded superstar guard James Harden this past season, are hoping that Jalen Green can fill a similar role to the one that Harden filled. The young star’s talent and leadership are a perfect mixture for a star player.
The Cleveland Cavaliers had the third overall pick and drafted center Evan Mobley from USC. The Cavs are in full rebuild mode – and after losing all-star big man Andre Drummond, Cleveland’s young core of Colin Sexton, Isaac Okoro, and Darius Garland – and are in desperate need of help at the center position.
The fourth pick belonged to the Toronto Raptors, who drafted forward Scottie Barnes from Florida State. Barnes is the prototype point forward who excelled on defense in his college career. His length and versatility will fit in perfectly with Toronto’s play style, especially with rumors of Kyle Lowry being traded soon.
Guard Jalen Suggs was drafted to Orlando with the 5th pick. The 6’4 guard made a splash in March madness, leading his team to the national championship. Orlando’s guard position has an opening after the loss of Evan Fournier to the Celtics. Sugg’s ability to score and create plays will make him fit perfectly in with the young core or guards already in Orlando.
The Thunder picked international star Josh Giddey from Australia with the 6th pick. The 6’8 point guard is known for his IQ and passing ability. His game has been compared to Jason Williams and Rajon Rondo. There are some questions about Giddey’s fit in OKC next to star Shai Alexander and recently acquired guard Kemba Walker. However, Giddey is a talent that can play in this league for a long time.
The Golden State Warriors had the 7th pick and drafted G-league affiliate Jonathan Kuminga. Kuminga, only 6’6, may be undersized at the power forward position but makes up for it with incredible athleticism and aggression on the court. Kuminga has the skill set necessary to flourish in this league and, in my opinion, is one of the best talents in this draft. Kuminga can make a huge impact off the bench for the warriors who are looking to make a big playoff push with the return of all-star shooting guard Klay Thompson.
The Orlando Magic also had pick number 8 and drafted Frantz Wagner out of Michigan. The 6’9 point forward has great ball handling and a great shooting stroke. His ability to space the floor will be key for Orlando, who lost all-star big man Nikola Vucevic this past season. Wagner is in a position to be a rookie of the year candidate.
Davion Mitchell was drafted 9th to the Sacramento Kings. The 6’1 guard led Baylor to a National Championship this past season and made a huge name for himself in the process. Sacramento has been open about their issues with guard Buddy Hield and have recently been putting his name in trade talks. With this happening, Mitchell is in a great position to get playing time and experience next to star guard De’aaron fox.
The tenth pick went to the New Orleans Pelicans, who drafted and soon traded forward Zaire Williamson. The Pelicans sent Williamson to the Memphis Grizzlies for the 17th pick. Williamson is tall and a great shooting option to add for Ja Morant to dish to.
The Hornets had pick 11 and drafted James Bouknight from UConn. The guard is an incredible scorer with good size and length. Him and Lamello Ball’s skill set will be complementary to each other, and Bouknight could be the push that Charlotte needs to make the playoffs.
Pick 12 was guard Joshua Primo by the San Antonio Spurs. Primo was selected to the SEC All-Freshman team as well as the Canadian Fiba U-19 team in the Basketball World Cup. Primo’s experience in big games and defensive ability makes him a great fit at the point guard position for San Antonio. I believe Gregg Popovich will embrace and evolve Primo into the next star point guard in the NBA.
The Pacers selected Chris Duarte with the 13th pick. The 6’6 guard was one of the most efficient scorers in college basketball. With the Pacers offense mainly running through big man Domantas Sabonis, a guard who can shoot and run the floor is just what the doctor ordered for Indiana.
The Warriors also had the 14th pick and selected guard Moses Moody. Moody is an athletic guard who is exceptional at playing off the ball. I assume he will play more of a small forward role for the Warriors who are infamous for “small-ball” lineups. However, with Steph Curry and Klay Thompson both being over 30 with histories of lower body injuries, the window for the splash brothers to dominate is closing. Moody may be looked on to be the future star point guard of the Warriors to go along with center James Wiseman.
The biggest news of draft night however is not draft-related at all. Former MVP and 9x all-star Russell Westbrook was traded to the Lakers in a blockbuster trade. The Lakers sent Kyle Kuzma, Montrezz Harrell, Kentavious-Caldwell Pope, and the 22nd pick to Washington in return for Westbrook. Westbrook joins Lebron and Anthony Davis in LA creating one of, if not, the most talented and intimidating big 3s in the history of the NBA. The Lakers who were disappointingly eliminated in the first round of the playoffs are looking ready to make a push for another title with their new three-headed dragon.