NBA Draft grades 2021: Breaking down every team’s picks

It was a wild night at Barclays Center. It started with the blockbuster Russell Westbrook trade between the Lakers and Wizards, a sign of the chaos to come.

From the trade frenzy that followed to unexpected selections after the first three picks, Thursday night’s NBA Draft didn’t disappoint.

Below, The Post’s Zach Braziller gives out his draft grades:

Atlanta Hawks – C-

No. 20: Jalen Johnson, SF, Duke, Freshman

No. 48: Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn, Freshman

I get taking a big swing on a talent like this 6-foot-9 wing, but there are red flags everywhere, from his injury history to his controversial decision to opt-out in-season at Duke to his on-court struggles even before that. The ability is there – Johnson was a projected top-five pick entering last season – as are the character and production concerns.

Boston Celtics – C

No. 45 Juhann Begarin, SG, Guadelupe

A 6-foot-6 guard with a 7-foot wingspan, Begarin has an NBA frame. Without a first-round pick, the Celtics took a chance on a raw 18-year-old international prospect with ample upside.

Brooklyn Nets – B-

No. 27 Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU, Freshman

No. 29 Day’Ron Sharpe, C, North Carolina, Freshman

No. 49 Marcus Zegarowski, PG, Creighton, Junior

No. 59 RaiQuan Gray, PF, Florida State, Junior

The Nets may have found some decent bench pieces here, especially in the 6-foot-11, 265-pound Sharpe. Thomas could provide instant offense in small doses, although his defense and jumper may not be up to par to contribute as a rookie.

Cameron Thomas after being selected by the Nets.
Cameron Thomas after being selected by the Nets.
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Charlotte Hornets – B

No. 11 James Bouknight, SG, UConn, Sophomore

No. 19 Kai Jones, PF, Texas, Sophomore

No. 37 JT Thor, PF, Auburn, Freshman

No. 56 Scottie Lewis, SG, Florida, Sophomore

The Hornets’ backcourt of LaMelo Ball and Bouknight will be a League Pass must-watch. Jones is more potential than production at this point, but the rim-running big man should benefit from playing with a point guard like Ball. A wing shooter, such as Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp at 37, would’ve raised this grade.

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Chicago Bulls – B+

No. 38 Ayo Dosunmu, PG, Illinois, Junior

Without a first-round pick for the first time since 2005, the Bulls still wound up with a first round-caliber player, according to most projections. Dosunmu, who grew up in Chicago and played for Illinois, probably doesn’t solve the Bulls’ long-term point guard needs, but at worst the Associated Press first team All-American can be a valuable first guard off the bench.

Evan Mobley with USC in 2021.
Evan Mobley with USC in 2021.
Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers – A

No. 3 Evan Mobley, PF, USC, Freshman

There is a significant faction of scouts and analysts who believe the versatile 7-footer will wind up as the best player in this draft. Mobley and Jarrett Allen could throw nightly block parties if the restricted free agent returns.

Dallas Mavericks – No Picks

Denver Nuggets – B+

No. 26 Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland, SG, VCU, Sophomore

Denver needed more backcourt scoring and it found its guy in VCU’s creative shotmaker, a 37 percent 3-point shooter who averaged 19.5 points last year.

Detroit Pistons – A

No. 1: Cade Cunnigham, G/F, Oklahoma State, Freshman

No. 42 Isaiah Livers, SF, Michigan, Senior 

No. 52 Luka Garza, C, Iowa, Senior

No. 57 Balsa Koprivica, C, Florida State, Sophomore

The Pistons were draft winners simply by making the no-brainer selection of Cunningham. Unless everyone is wrong, they now have a franchise cornerstone to build around, someone who is well-versed in their successful history – Cunningham talked glowingly of the Bad Boys after he was picked – and sounds determined to make Detroit a winner again.

Golden State Warriors – B+

No. 7 Jonathan Kuminga SF/PF, G League Ignite

No. 14 Moses Moody, SF, Arkansas, Freshman

The Warriors went safe with one selection and swung for the fences with the other. The pick of the “3&D” Moody is more likely to help Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green next season, while the 6-foot-8, 220-pound Kuminga could become a star by the time the current core is on its last legs.

Jonathan Kuminga plays with Team Ignite.
Jonathan Kuminga plays with Team Ignite.
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Houston Rockets – A

No. 2 Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite

No. 16 Alperen Sengun, PF/C, Turkey

No. 23 Usman Garuba, PF, Spain

No. 24 Josh Christopher, SG, Arizona State, Freshman

The Rockets upgraded their talent level with a quartet of young prospects that could allow Houston fans to forget about James Harden one day. It is led by Green, the prospect believed to be the most offensive-ready player in the draft. Sengun, the 19-year-old MVP of the Turkish Super League, was an intriguing selection, and the physical Garuba could be one of the premier defenders in this draft. Christopher’s stock fell after an underwhelming season at Arizona State, but he’s a shotmaker Houston feels has defensive upside.

Indiana Pacers – C

No. 13 Chris Duarte, SF, Oregon, Senior

No. 22 Isaiah Jackson, PF, Kentucky, Freshman

High marks for the first pick, choosing production instead of projection and potential. But the Pacers gave up a lot to select a project in Jackson at 22, sending the Wizards young guard Aaron Holiday and the 31st pick.

Chris Duarte with Oregon.
Chris Duarte with Oregon.
Getty Images

Los Angeles Clippers – B

No. 21 Keon Johnson, PG/SG, Tennessee, Freshman

No. 33 Jason Preston, PG, Ohio, Junior

No. 51 Brandon Boston Jr., SG, Kentucky, Freshman

The Clippers got terrific value in Johnson, a gifted athlete who improves their already terrific perimeter defense. As one of the best passers in this draft, Preston could serve as a reserve playmaker capable of spacing the floor, although there are concerns about his lack of quickness, limiting his ceiling.

Los Angeles Lakers – B+

The Lakers didn’t make any selections, but they shook the NBA world before the draft even started by landing Russell Westbrook in a blockbuster deal with the Wizards. A big three of Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be entertaining. Whether the trio of All-Stars can win a title is another matter.

Memphis Grizzlies – F

No. 10 Ziaire Williams, SG/SF, Stanford, Freshman

No. 30 Santi Aldama, PF, Loyola, Sophomore

Memphis traded starting center Jonas Valanciunas and took on two bad contracts to move up seven spots in the draft for a project of a prospect in Williams it could’ve had with their original pick. Then the Grizzlies moved up again, using their 40th pick and two future second rounders, to reach for Aldama with the last choice of the first round. Talk about wasting assets and cap space.

Miami Heat – No Picks

Milwaukee Bucks – C

No. 54 Sandro Mamukelashvili, PF, Seton Hall, Senior

No. 60 Georgios Kalaitzakis, PG, Greece

The Bucks made some local fans happy by taking Seton Hall’s Mamukelashvili after trading out of the first pick of the second round. He may get to guard Giannis Antetokounmpo in practice, which should be a real welcome to the NBA moment for the skilled forward from the Republic of Georgia.

Minnesota Timberwolves – No Picks

New Orleans Pelicans – A-

No. 17 Trey Murphy, SF, Virginia, Junior

No. 35 Herb Jones, SF/PF, Senior

The Pelicans moved down seven spots and still filled a significant need with the sharpshooting Murphy. Jones is offensively-challenged, but the SEC Player of the Year is a workhorse who has strong intangibles and will do dirty work.

New York Knicks – C+

No. 25 Quentin Grimes, SG, Houston, Junior

No. 34 Rokas Jokubaitis, PG/SG, Lithuania

No. 36 Miles McBride, PG, West Virginia, Sophomore

No. 58 Jericho Sims, PF, Texas, Senior

After an evening of wheeling and dealing that didn’t include a trade up for a coveted wing, the Knicks still ended up with one of the best perimeter defenders in the draft (McBride), a high-level shooter (Grimes) and an intriguing international guard prospect they can stash overseas (Jokubaitis). Oh, and they added a first-round pick belonging to the Hornets that has protections.

Oklahoma City Thunder – C

No. 6 Josh Giddey, G/F, Australia

No. 18 Tre Mann, PG, Florida, Sophomore

No. 32 Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, PF, Villanova, Junior

No. 55 Aaron Wiggins, SG, Maryland, Junior

This is the Thunder and this is Sam Presti, so of course they kicked the can, trading the 18th selection to the Rockets for protected first round picks in 2022 and 2023 belonging to the Pistons and Wizards, respectively. Presti made one of the more shocking picks of the first round, going with the Aussie playmaker Giddey over high-ceiling combo forward Jonathan Kuminga and UConn shooting guard James Bouknight, two players to which Oklahoma City had been heavily linked.

Orlando Magic – A+

No. 5 Jalen Suggs, PG, Gonzaga, Freshman

No. 8 Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan, Sophomore

Years down the road, we’ll wonder how Suggs lasted until the fifth pick. The Magic had to be doing cartwheels to land the gifted athlete, and three picks later they made another strong selection in the underrated Wagner. Orlando found a pair of two-way difference-makers with its two picks.

Gonzaga's Jalen Suggs fell to the No. 5 pick.
Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs fell to the No. 5 pick.
Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers – B

No. 28 Jaden Springer, PG/SG, Tennessee, Freshman

No. 50 Filip Petrusev, C, Serbia

No. 53 Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky, Junior

Ben Simmons is still a 76er, for now at least, which overshadowed Philadelphia’s night. That doesn’t mean Daryl Morey had a bad evening. Springer is a sneaky-good pick – he defends, shot 43 percent from deep in his lone year in college and is still 18 years old – while the physically imposing Bassey could backup Joel Embiid in the pivot.

Phoenix Suns – C

The Western Conference champions sent their only pick (29th overall) to the Nets in exchange for guard Landry Shamet, a veteran who could help them with the possible departures of free agents Cam Payne, Langston Galloway and E’Twaun Moore.

Portland Trail Blazers – C

No. 43 Greg Brown III, SF/PF, Freshman

His stock plummeted, from a potential lottery pick early on in the college basketball season to the middle of the second round, after an underwhelming season at Texas. A terrific athlete who is just 19 years old, he was worth a flyer.

Davion Mitchell holds the trophy after Baylor defeated Gonzaga in the NCAA Championship game.
Davion Mitchell holds the trophy after Baylor defeated Gonzaga in the NCAA Championship game.
Getty Images

Sacramento Kings – C

No. 9 Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor, Junior

No. 39 Neemias Queta, C, Utah State, Junior

It’s not about the player, but the fit. Mitchell is the kind of tenacious defender the Kings need, but the backcourt is already full with past lottery picks De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. Queta could force his way into the rotation on rim-protection alone.

San Antonio Spurs – D

No. 12 Joshua Primo, SG, Alabama, Freshman

No. 41 Joe Wieskamp, SF, Iowa, Junior

San Antonio could’ve gotten Primo, at best a mid-20’s selection in most projections, by trading several picks down. There was little value in this reach, unless the Spurs know something nobody else did. If that’s the case, find me on Old Takes Exposed in a few years.

Toronto Raptors – D

No. 4 Scottie Barnes, SF, Florida State, Freshman

No. 46 Dalano Banton, PG/SG, Nebraska, Sophomore

No. 47 David Johnson, PG, Louisville, Sophomore

The biggest “holy sh–” moment of the night. The Raptors, despite an almost certain need at point guard with Kyle Lowry’s expected departure, passed on Suggs for the well-rounded yet jumper-challenged Barnes. The Magic should send a gift basket north of the border.

Utah Jazz – A-

No. 40 Jared Butler, PG/SG, Butler, Junior

After trading out of the last pick of the first round, the Jazz still ended up with a first-round talent in the Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four, and landed two future second-round picks from the Grizzlies as well. That’s good drafting.

Washington Wizards – B

No. 15 Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga, Senior

No. 31 Isaiah Todd, PF, G League Ignite

The trade of Russell Westbrook to the Lakers was a shrewd move. Washington was able to move his onerous contract without taking back bad money, and ended up adding young guard Aaron Holiday for the 22nd pick that was obtained from the Lakers. Kispert will help space the floor for Bradley Beal, but he has significant limitations otherwise, which was evident in the NCAA Tournament when the All-American struggled against athleticism and length.

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