We asked our hoops experts — Marc Berman, Brian Lewis and Zach Braziller — for their bold predictions ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft.
What will the Knick and Nets do on an intriguing night for both local teams. And who could be the boom and bust picks when we look back at this draft years from now.
Here are their responses.
Marc Berman, Knicks Beat Writer
Q: The Knicks have stockpiled a large amount of draft picks. Do you think they will be able to use this draft capital and make a big splash on Draft night?
A: Last November, Knicks chief strategist Brock Aller added to their already deep reservoir of draft capital in making a series of minor moves (see Ed Davis’ contract). No wonder Tom Thibodeau reportedly nicknamed Aller “Hinkie” in reference to former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie.
As it stands, the Knicks have four draft picks Thursday (19, 21, 32, 58) and a Hinkie-like grand total of 20 picks in the next six drafts, dating to 2026.
While they have their own first-rounder and one second-rounder in 2022, it gets crazy starting in 2023. The Knicks wield two first-rounders in 2023 and three second-rounders. In 2024, the Knicks have their own first-round pick while possessing three second-round picks (some on contingencies).
That’s a lot of capital to throw around in a big trade on draft night for an established player such as point guard Collin Sexton or to move up in the draft. On a larger scale, there’s still rumblings about Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal’s uncertain future – not to mention Damian Lillard being disgruntled with the Blazers.
The Knicks are willing to trade out of the first round entirely for the right player since they also have No. 32 — always considered a good-value pick because of the non-guaranteed contracts for second-rounders. Win-now Thibodeau has no use for all these 2021 draft picks.
Q: Who is the NBA team to watch at this year’s NBA Draft?
A: The Warriors, desperate to win a championship in 2022 in their new home in San Francisco, have the No, 7 and 14 pick.
Since the lottery, it’s been reported the Warriors are eager to wheel and deal on draft night with a potential eye on adding a solid veteran to their core of Stephen Curry, a returning Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. The window is shutting on the The Bay’s Big 3 and the Warriors don’t have the cap space to be big players in free agency.
The Warriors’ eagerness to plug in a ready-made player could impact the Knicks. Golden State is working out 24-year-old Oregon sharpshooter Chris Duarte a second time with the potential of taking him at 14. Duarte is on the Knicks’ radar and the two clubs could work out a deal. Problem is, do the Knicks have any attractive veterans under contract for 2021-22 they’d be willing to give up? Not really. Either way, the Warriors are likely to make a splash as GM Bob Myers is one of the NBA’s best.
Brian Lewis, Nets Beat Writer:
Q: The Nets finally have a first-round draft pick again this year. What are the chances they actually use it?
A: Since Houston isn’t going to exact their right to swap with Brooklyn, the Nets have not only their natural first-round pick (No. 27 overall), but three second-rounders (Nos. 44, 49 and 59). Already well into the luxury tax and needing to fill out the bottom of their top-heavy roster, Brooklyn could easily make at least three of these selections for cost-effective bodies. But even though they’re in win-now mode, don’t expect GM Sean Marks to stray from his best-available strategy and start drafting for need.
Q: What NBA team makes the biggest splash during the 2021 NBA Draft?
A: Oklahoma City GM Sam Presti has been hoarding picks (Nos. 6, 16, 18, 34, 36, 55) like a squirrel collecting nuts, while Houston also has three first-rounders and has been among those aggressively eyeing Beal. But the team that could make the biggest splash is the Warriors, Golden State manages to pull off a mega-deal for Beal or Lillard or just sit tight and add not one but two lottery picks to a Splash Brothers-led playoff contender.
Zach Braziller, College Basketball Writer:
Q: Which college player is not getting enough respect heading into this NBA Draft?
A: All you hear is how important shooting is now in the NBA. It’s why Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert, a limited athlete who underwhelmed in the NCAA Tournament, is considered a lock lottery pick. Then, why is Iowa sharpshooter Joe Wieskamp so lightly regarded as a mid second round pick? Wieskamp shot 46.2 percent from deep and averaged 14.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in a far better conference than Kispert. He will be a true value for a smart team, unlike the overrated Gonzaga wing.
Q: Looking three years down the road, which player in this year’s draft will be making the biggest impact in the NBA?
A: The top six in this draft are absolutely loaded. Multiple NBA scouts believe there may be four to five All-Stars. Give me the big man who perfectly fits the league’s new mold as an elite rim-protector and explosive finisher who can stretch defenses from beyond the arc. Evan Mobley, the one-and-done 7-footer from USC, averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks in his one year of college. He hasn’t even scratched the surface of his immense potential. Years from now, we’ll wonder how he wasn’t the No. 1 pick.
Q: Who will be the biggest bust in this year’s NBA Draft?
A: Despite flaming out in his one year at Duke, opting out of the disappointing season in mid-February, teams appear to be willing to overlook the obvious red flags and still select Jalen Johnson in the top-20. That could be a big mistake. The 6-foot-9 prospect is a project, a turnover-happy wing who didn’t handle adversity well when it struck last season, whether it was his poor play or decision to walk away from his teammates at a difficult time.
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