The Detroit Pistons were the biggest winners of Tuesday night’s 2021 NBA Draft Lottery, with the prize being Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State. Cunningham is the consensus No. 1 pick of this year’s draft and the team that won this year’s lottery is expected to take him.
Watching the NBA Draft Lottery may not be the same as watching the playoffs, but it sure provided a lot of suspense, excitement and even disappointment for some fans. Expect a lot of wheeling and dealing in the coming weeks heading into the 2021 NBA Draft which will be held on July 29.
So what did we learn?
Here are our 5 big takeaways from the recently concluded 2021 NBA Draft Lottery:
#1 Detroit Pistons almost guaranteed to pick Cade Cunningham
The 2021 NBA Draft ended with the Pistons grinning from ear-to-ear. After enduring a difficult 2020-21 NBA season in which they tanked their way to the bottom of the Eastern Conference with a 20-52 record, Detroit will have a cornerstone player for the future.
Cunningham is the perfect player for them in the 2021 NBA Draft. After trading away Derrick Rose, the Pistons were in need of a lead guard who could orchestrate and stabilize their offense. It’s unlikely that they will take USC’s Evan Mobley with Isaiah Stewart already in tow, so Cunningham will almost assuredly be their pick at No. 1.
#2 Houston Rockets finally get a lucky break
It was a long and difficult 2021 season for the Houston Rockets, who endured a lot of hard times. Russell Westbrook demanded a trade before the season and Harden followed suit with his own trade demands. John Wall was hit several times by the injury bug and so was Christian Wood, their prized center. Then there was the horrific Sterling Brown incident that shocked the organization and its players.
During the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery, the basketball finally bounced the Rockets’ way as they landed the No. 2 pick. It’s not the same as getting the first pick but at least it didn’t fall to No. 5 or lower as that would have conveyed to the OKC Thunder.
Now they can select a franchise-altering player from the draft who could change their fortunes as they rebuild from the ground up.
#3 Toronto Raptors have the perfect night
The Toronto Raptors should have had the No. 7 pick but they jumped three places thanks to the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday. At No. 4, they don’t really need to decide which player to pick since any of the four top prospects that will be available to them would help them immensely.
If the Pistons select Cunningham as expected, the Raptors can wait as to which of Evan Mobley, Jalen Green or Jalen Suggs falls into their laps. Any of the three could be part of their rebuilding efforts.
Depending on what the Raptors do with Kyle Lowry in the offseason, they can slot either of the Jalens alongside Fred VanVleet. If Mobley ends up being available, he would immediately solve their starting center problems. No matter what happens in the 2021 NBA Draft, this is a winning situation for Toronto.
#4 Golden State Warriors left with problem of plenty
The Golden State Warriors are another big winner from the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery. After missing the playoffs, they were assured of the 14th pick at least but they had the benefit of getting a bonus pick after the Minnesota Timberwolves’ selection fell outside the top three. This was part of the D'Angelo Russell-Andrew Wiggins trade.
So now they have a No. 7 pick to go along with No. 14 pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. It will be interesting to see what GM Bob Myers does with this pair of picks. He can keep them and wait for the kids to develop or they can keep their championship window open with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green as their core.
They can package the picks along with incoming sophomore James Wiseman for an All-Star or All-Star caliber player who could help them win another title.
There’s a lot that the Warriors can do thanks to the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery and they have time to consider all options, all of which are good.
#5 OKC Thunder will look to move up the draft
The OKC Thunder had a huge opportunity to land one of the top four picks but, unfortunately, they ended up with the sixth pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. All that tanking this season (22-50 record) was meant to give them a high draft pick, but now they have more work to do.
They have six total picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, three in the first and three in the second. GM Sam Presti stockpiled a ton of draft picks for the future and this draft will be their first one with a number of them. More than likely, the Thunder will put together a package that could help them move higher up, potentially aiming for the No. 3 pick owned by the Cleveland Cavaliers. They also have enough cap space to absorb a huge salary if the Cavs decide to unload Kevin Love’s contract. That’s just one option that the Thunder can explore.
Expect Presti to give the teams that landed the No. 1 to 5 picks a call. He will leave no stone unturned until he gets the pick that he wants, and consequently, the player that he wants from the 2021 NBA Draft.