2021 NBA Draft live grades: Pick-by-pick evaluations for first and second rounds as Pistons open with an A+

The Detroit Pistons are off the clock, and Cade Cunningham was in fact the first player selected. The 2021 NBA Draft already has produced its fair share of drama. It’s a month later than normal thanks to the COVID-19-delayed NBA calendar. We’ve already got several trades in the books. And the rumor mill and Twitter mill is spinning at record speeds.

Check back here as the draft goes. We’ll be grading every pick, as we have for years. It’s a collaborative effort — Gary Parrish handles the first round, while Kyle Boone does the second. You can watch our coverage of the 2021 NBA Draft on CBS Sports HQ, which is free and available on all connected platforms (including on this very page). Gary, Kyle, Avery Johnson, Matt Norlander, Bill Reiter, Eric Bossi and more will be breaking down picks as they happen.

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Round 1 NBA Draft Grades


1. Detroit Pistons: PG Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State

Cunningham is the best prospect in this draft and should’ve gone No. 1 regardless of which franchise picked first. So Detroit got this right. If the Pistons spend the coming years building back to a place of relevance, this decision they made tonight will be the biggest reason why. Grade: A+

2. Houston Rockets: SG Jalen Green, G-League Ignite

Green makes a valid point in saying he might have been the No. 1 pick if he’d gone to college. He was awesome in the G-League, and you could argue that what he did there was more impressive than starring in college because he was going against grown men. He has the best chance of anyone other than Cunningham to be a star, and he has the talent to be a future scoring champion. Grade: A+

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Evan Mobley, USC

I actually think this is the easiest pick in the draft. There was nothing to think about. He can defend and score, stretch it out with the jumper and do more. They’ve got a potential star with this pick. Grade: A+

4. Toronto Raptors: SF Scottie Barnes, Florida State

I usually trust the Toronto front office. They get things right. The worry here is the 3-point shot, where he’s obviously not good enough yet. But he does everything else, and his work ethic draws rave reviews from people who know him. If the Raptors can build that shooting out, he’ll be great. Grade: A-

5. Orlando Magic: PG Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga

When Jalen Suggs is available at 5, you take him at 5. We talk a lot about how he was a high school quarterback, and I think that helps him see and make passes that other point guards can’t make. He also has incredible athleticism and can guard and run fast breaks. He’s a tremendous two-way player, and if he figures out his jumper, he’s going to be tremendous. Grade: A+

6. Oklahoma City Thunder: SF Josh Giddey, Australia

I don’t think this is as crazy as it might seem. I would have gone Jonathan Kuminga, but the first five picks had begun to seem clear over the past few days, and the next five were nowhere near as predictable. Again, his only obvious weakness is the 3-point shot, but if he can develop that, he’s got the potential to be special. Grade: B+

7. Golden State Warriors (from Minnesota): SF Jonathan Kuminga, G-League Ignite

Kuminga is a big swing, and I know Golden State is probably conflicted because in theory they’d want to take somebody who is ready to help them contend next year. And 18-year-olds typically aren’t that, but man, there’s so much to like. He has a big body and should be a switchable player on both ends. He’s the highest upside guy left on the board and the smart pick here. Grade: A+

8. Orlando Magic (from Chicago): SF Franz Wagner, Michigan

He’s very young, so there’s a lot of room to develop. He played two years of college basketball, and he was never a top-two player on his own team. People call him a shooter, but he never really made his 3-pointers that well. People love his team defense, but that’s an odd thing to hang your hat on as a top-10 pick. He could definitely work out, but this is not what I would have done here. Grade: B-

9. Sacramento Kings: PG Davion Mitchell, Baylor

I thought Mitchell was a top seven prospect in this draft, and there’s great value here at No. 9. Tenacity and skill combine to make him an outstanding prospect. His defensive intensity is unique and should translate quickly to the pros. Grade: A+

10. Memphis Grizzlies (from New Orleans): SF Ziaire Williams, Stanford

This is much higher than most people had Williams, but it’s completely in line with what the Grizzlies are doing. They were looking for a young prospect who can play on the wing between Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., and Williams has huge upside. This is the big swing to build a real future. Grade: A-

11. Charlotte Hornets: SG James Bouknight, Connecticut

I didn’t think as of this morning that Bouknight would be available outside the top 10, and Charlotte was smart to snatch him up. He can play with the ball, play off the ball and is a top-shelf athlete. He didn’t shoot that well at UConn, but by all accounts, he shot the cover off the ball in workouts and at the combine. If I’m a Hornets fan, I’m thrilled right now. Grade: A+

12. San Antonio Spurs: SG Joshua Primo, Alabama

This is the biggest reach of the draft so far. But Primo is only 18, and he is a shooter. Even so, I’d probably go a lower grade if this were a different franchise than San Antonio. He simply has not had the track record of other prospects still available in terms of his production in college. It’s not what I would have done, but we’ll have to see how it plays out. Grade: C+

13. Indiana Pacers: SG Chris Duarte, Oregon

This is a guy who was a JUCO player of the year and then led Oregon to back-to-back Pac-12 titles. Yes, he’s 24, but you’ll be very happy with that when he’s ready to play on Day One. I love Duarte, and I think he’s going to be one of the 10 best rookies. Grade: A-

14. Golden State Warriors: SG Moses Moody, Arkansas

I had Moody as a top seven, eight, nine prospect in this draft. If you can get him here, that’s a great value. He was the best player as a freshman on a power-conference team that went to the Elite Eight. Golden State gets a young prospect who is actually ready to play minutes next season. Grade: A+

15. Washington Wizards: SF Corey Kispert, Gonzaga

I never liked Kispert as a top-10 prospect, which was his hype at one point. There are too many things, many of which we saw in the championship game, that could hold him back. But this guy is probably the best shooter in this NBA Draft, and I have no issue with Washington using the 15th pick on that. Grade: A-

16. Houston Rockets (from Oklahoma City): C Alperen Şengün, Turkey

The Rockets traded for this pick on draft night, sending two future first-rounders to the Thunder. Şengün is an incredible force around the basket, both in the post with his back to the basket and facing up, as well as his offensive rebounding. If you want to be skeptical, he’s a traditional big. But analytics love him, as he was historically productive for a teenager in a very good league in Turkey, and he was the best player left on my board. Grade: A+

17. New Orleans Pelicans (from Memphis): SG Trey Murphy, Virginia

This pick is all about Zion Williamson and how to maximize him. The Pelicans knew they had to surround their superstar with shooting, and Murphy is a 6-9 wing who can really, really shoot it. I have been touting Murphy for a while, and he was the highest-ranked player on my own big board, plus he’s a great fit. Grade: A+

18. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami): PG Tre Mann, Florida

19. Charlotte Hornets (from New York): PF Kai Jones, Texas

20. Atlanta Hawks

21. New York Knicks (from Dallas)

22. Los Angeles Lakers

23. Houston Rockets (from Portland)

24. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee)

25. Los Angeles Clippers

26. Denver Nuggets

27. Brooklyn Nets

28. Philadelphia 76ers

29. Phoenix Suns

30. Utah Jazz

Second Round NBA Draft Grades

31. Milwaukee Bucks (from Houston)

32. New York Knicks (from Detroit)

33. Orlando Magic

34. Oklahoma City Thunder

35. New Orleans Pelicans (from Cleveland)

36. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Minnesota)

37. Detroit Pistons (from Toronto)

38. Chicago Bulls (from New Orleans)

39. Sacramento Kings

40. New Orleans Pelicans (from Chicago)

41. San Antonio Spurs

42. Detroit Pistons (from Charlotte)

43. New Orleans Pelicans (from Washington)

44. Brooklyn Nets (from Indiana)

45. Boston Celtics

46. Toronto Raptors (from Memphis)

47. Toronto Raptors (from Golden State)

48. Atlanta Hawks (from Miami)

49. Brooklyn Nets (from Atlanta)

50. Philadelphia 76ers (from New York)

51. Memphis Grizzlies (from Portland)

52. Detroit Pistons (from L.A. Lakers)

53. New Orleans Pelicans (from Dallas)

54. Indiana Pacers (from Milwaukee)

55. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Denver)

56. Charlotte Hornets (from L.A. Clippers)

57. Charlotte Hornets (from Brooklyn)

58. New York Knicks (from Philadelphia)

59. Brooklyn Nets (from Phoenix)

60. Indiana Pacers (from Utah)


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