Time flies in the world of professional basketball and it’s been 2 years since the highly touted 2021 NBA draft. As we look back on the talent that entered the league that night, it is fascinating to see how these players have impacted their respective teams and how they project for the future.
Some players have rapidly exceeded all expectations, establishing themselves as franchise cornerstones, while others still haven’t found their footing in the NBA. With the benefit of hindsight, we’ll reconsider the order of selections, taking into account each player’s performance so far and future potential, and dive into the best players from the draft. This Re-Draft won’t necessarily focus on the team’s needs or fit, but rather just the order of the best players in the draft.
1. Detroit Pistons – Evan Mobley
(Original Pick – Cade Cunningham)
Career Stats (148 Games)
57.2 TS% (-0.2% below league average)
Evan Mobley is an ultra-versatile 6 ’11 PF/Center with all the talent in the world to become a future perennial All-Star in the NBA. He has separated himself in my eyes as the best player so far in the draft class due to his exceptional defensive impact.
Mobley in just his second season has already had a top 3 finish for the Defensive Player of the Year award, mainly because of his absurd rim protection ability, which has led the Cavaliers to the best defensive rating in the NBA this past season. Apart from his rim protection, Mobley uses his size, instincts, and dexterity to often switch onto guards and forwards as well as being a fantastic off-ball and help defender. He’s already a top 10 defender in the NBA, with the potential to one day be the best defender in the league.
Mobley’s offense isn’t as great as some of the other players in the draft, but still quite good. He averaged over 16 PPG in his sophomore season with a huge jump in efficiency from his rookie season as he became a stronger finisher, and expanded more areas of his post game. Mobley is a great roll man in the PnR and is also one of the league’s best lob threats. For a 6’11 big man, Mobley’s playmaking and connective passing are also pretty impressive because of his developed decision-making. Expect Mobley to make a giant leap on this end of the floor next season.
2. Houston Rockets – Cade Cunningham
(Original Pick – Jalen Green)
Career Stats (76 Games)
50.2 TS% (-7.2% below league average)
Cade Cunningham suffered a left shin injury just 12 games into his sophomore season which put him out for the rest of the year. Though he hasn’t showcased as much as the other players on this list, Cade has definitely displayed his superstar potential.
Cunningham’s biggest strength is his advantage creation, as he is absolutely elite at drawing doubles, manipulating defenses, and creating advantages and open looks for teammates. He is already one of the best playmakers in all of basketball. Cade has also shown flashes of being a good scorer, the mid-range game and finishing upside is there, but his shooting from college hasn’t translated yet so far. The efficiency is a bit concerning, but as the Pistons develop and become better as a team, it should improve.
Cade is a very underrated defender because he’s a lengthy 6’7 guard who isn’t limited on that end. Due to his size, he’s pretty valuable off the ball and in help, and on the perimeter is also very good against primary ball handlers and at the point of attack. Does Cunningham have concerns? Of course. But he has also shown signs of stardom.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Franz Wagner
(Original Pick – Evan Mobley)
Career Stats (159 Games)
57.5 TS% (+0.1% above league average)
Franz Wagner is objectively one of the most underrated players in the NBA. He’s arguably the most well-rounded player in the class as he really has no true weaknesses in his game. Wagner is an excellent scorer and finisher, averaging nearly 19 PPG this past season, a great playmaker, and above average defender.
Wagner took a leap in every category from his first to second year and is already a borderline all-star player. One of the best areas of his game is his playmaking and ball handling, which for a 6’10 SF is absolutely incredible. He’s also one of the better finishers in the league, with good shot creation and shooting. Franz is also a very solid defender all around. The reason he falls to number 3 in this re-draft behind Mobley and Cunningham is that he’s not really elite at one thing like the other 2 are, and I believe the other 2 have more potential than him.
To look further into Franz Wagner’s playmaking ability, click Here
4. Toronto Raptors – Jalen Green
(Original Pick – Scottie Barnes)
Career Stats (143 Games)
54.2 TS% (-3.2% below league average)
Green falls to 4th in this re-draft from his original number 2 selection but has still been very good in the NBA. He has all the potential in the world to be one of the best scorers in the league because of his electric athleticism and shot creation, and good shooting ability. The efficiency hasn’t been great, but it doesn’t worry me as much because he’s played in a bad situation for his first 2 seasons. The additions of Fred Vanvleet, Dillon Brooks, and rookie Amen Thompson should all help his growth.
Jalen’s biggest concern is defensively, where he is a liability. He’s not awful by any means, but still a clear negative on defense. Improving his playmaking as a primary ball handler and defense are the next steps he needs to take in order to become a star.
5. Orlando Magic – Josh Giddey
(Original Pick – Jalen Suggs)
Career Stats (130 Games)
51.3 TS% (-6.1% below league average)
Giddey goes 5th in a re-draft as he’s shown excellent playmaking ability, decent scoring, and a very good all-around offensive game. Giddey is an adept decision-maker and great at finding guys for open looks. He needs to improve his scoring, shooting, and efficiency, just like many others in the draft, which I’m sure will steadily get better every year. Giddey isn’t a strong defender but he has shown improvement from his rookie year, which is a good sign.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder – Scottie Barnes
(Original Pick – Josh Giddey)
Career Stats (151 Games)
53.8 TS% (-3.6% below league average)
You might be wondering why the 2021 Rookie of the Year is at number 6. Don’t get me wrong, Barnes is a fantastic player with high potential and has already proven to be solid all-around, but I am lower on him than the consensus.
Scottie is a good playmaker, and finisher, and has shown signs of being a really good defender, but he’s one of the worst shooters in the NBA, shooting only 28.1% from 3 last season, as well as only shooting 32% on mid-range attempts, the worst mark of any player who shot over 100 mid-range shots last season. Scottie is good defensively, but not great. He isn’t great off the ball or as a rim protector, and often gets beat by smaller guards, but has definitely shown signs of being a positive on defense. He has the potential to be much better this year with the absence of Fred Vanvleet, but right now, I see his scoring holding him back.
7. Golden State Warriors – Alperen Sengun
(Original Pick – Jonathan Kuminga)
Career Stats (147 Games Played)
58.0 TS% (+0.5% above league average)
Sengun rises from 16th to 7th in this re-draft due to his exceptional playmaking ability as a big man, and improvement as a scorer. He has all-star potential if he can ever improve his defense, where he is currently one of the worst in the NBA. If he can improve this in the next couple of years, there’s no doubt in my mind he will become at least a borderline All-Star.
8. Orlando Magic – Trey Murphy III
(Original Pick – Franz Wagner)
Career Stats (141 Games)
62.6 TS% (+5.2% above league average)
After a slow start to his rookie year, where Murphy didn’t see much playing time, he took a massive leap in his sophomore season averaging 14.5 PPG and solidifying himself as a lights-out shooter. Murphy has a great role on the Pelicans and will only get better at every aspect of his game.
9. Sacramento Kings – Herb Jones
(Original Pick – Davion Mitchell)
Career Stats (144 Games)
57.0 TS% (-0.4% below league average)
Simply put, Jones is one of the best wing defenders in the league, in my opinion, a top 3 wing defender in the league. Offensively, there isn’t much upside, but he is very serviceable. He comes in at 9th because of his disruption on the other side of the game.
10. New Orleans Pelicans – Quentin Grimes
(Original Pick – Ziaire Williams)
Career Stats (117 Games)
60.4 TS% (+3.0% above league average)
Grimes took a big leap in his second season becoming an important role player who the Knicks relied on heavily. He’s an outstanding defender, guarding multiple positions really well, and has also become a great shooter and solid shot-creator.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Jonathan Kuminga
(Original Pick – James Bouknight)
Career Stats (137 Games)
59.8 TS% (+2.4% above league average)
Kuminga has become a decent role player for the Warriors, but playing behind Curry, Klay, Wiggins, Draymond, and Poole has really stunted his growth as a player. Hopefully, with more opportunity next year, he can use his explosive athleticism and talent to take his game to new heights.
12. San Antonio Spurs – Jalen Suggs
(Original Pick – Joshua Primo)
Career Stats (101 Games)
48.7 TS% (-8.7% below league average)
Suggs isn’t the player most thought he was going to be coming out of college, but he is still one of the better players from his class. He’s an elite on-ball defender, in my opinion, a top 5 guard defender in the NBA. His biggest struggles come on the offensive side where he struggled badly during his rookie year as a shooter but made some improvements in his second year. Suggs has a chance to carve out a good role for himself on the Magic, but the chances of him becoming a star are very very slim at this point.
13. Indiana Pacers – Corey Kispert
(Original Pick – Chris Duarte)
Career Stats (151 Games)
62.4 TS% (+5.0% above league average)
Kispert doesn’t have a high ceiling, but he will be one of the league’s most consistent and best shooters for a long time, which pushes him into the lottery in a re-draft.
14. Golden State Warriors – Cam Thomas
(Original Pick – Moses Moody)
Career Stats (124 Games)
54.3 TS% (-3.1% below league average)
Cam Thomas can be a really good scorer, already showing glimpses of it last season, but is limited in basically every other aspect of the game.
Ayo Dosunmu – Solid role player for the Bulls
Bones Hyland – There are signs of being a good player
Davion Mitchell – Awesome defender, limited offensively
Chris Duarte – Okay player, but already very old
Note: All career stats are accurate through the end of the 2022-23 NBA season