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The NBA Draft Lottery Was Wednesday Night. Here’s One Draft Scenario

Let the madness begin!

2021 NBA Draft Lottery
SECAUCUS, NJ - JUNE 22: Deputy Commissioner of the NBA, Mark Tatum holds up the cards of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Houston Rockets and the Detroit Pistons during the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery on June 22, 2021 at the NBA Entertainment Studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. 
Photo by Steve Freeman/NBAE via Getty Images

The NBA Draft Lottery was held Wednesday evening and while Duke is a bit light on prospects this year, it’s still relevant in a lot of ways. Let’s take a look.

Our colleague at SBN, Ricky O’Donnell, put together this instant reaction and while we have some differences, it’s pretty impressive. We couldn’t have done this as quickly as he did. That turnaround is pretty dazzling really.

Detroit won the lottery and will almost certainly take Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham. He has Houston taking Evan Mobley at #2 and that makes sense. At #3, he sees Cleveland taking Jalen Green from the G-League and that could be. Makes some sense.

He has Jalen Suggs going to Toronto at #4. He’ll be a solid player who could become really good over time. Fine pick.

Then it’s Scottie Barnes to Orlando at #5. We like Barnes but at times we’d watch him and think, where’s the athleticism? Is he really an NBA player? But as plenty of players have proved, smart usually beats athletic in the end so it might be hard to go wrong with him.

Then OKC takes Jonathan Kuminga, who sounds like he was somewhat exposed in the G-League and, by his reckoning, Golden State takes Jalen Johnson out of Duke at #7. And we’re not sure about that one.

No one doubts Johnson’s talent. But between the pandemic and leaving Duke early, we barely saw what he could do and he took plenty of criticism for being soft. He might become unusually good. Or he might be another guy with talent who doesn’t really care that much for the game. There’s no way to know for sure, so taking him, whoever does, is going be an inherent gamble. Ask yourself this: Kobe Bryant said he always wanted to take key shots because his teammates didn’t work as hard as he did so he didn’t trust them with that. What would Kobe think of Johnson’s commitment?

Some other picks of interest in this mock draft: New Orleans taking UConn’s James Bouknight at #10. He’d get plenty of opportunities to score with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram getting so much attention.

He sees Charlotte taking Franz Wagner at #11. LaMelo Ball aside, Michael Jordan hasn’t shown much savvy as an owner so we’ll reserve judgement on whoever they take.

At #19 in this scenario, New York adds Auburn’s Sharife Cooper to its exciting young core which includes RJ Barrett. He’s smallish for a guard but could be a good fit.

At #20, Cam Reddish and Atlanta would get Gonzaga’s Corey Kispert who is our pick for a draft dud. No one doubts that he can shoot, but can he do it with NBA defenders on him? Baylor handled him pretty well and as great as Baylor was, the NBA is on a very different level.

At #20, he has Chris Duarte heading to the Knicks which seems like a better fit than Cooper to us.

Of course, as Mike Tyson says, everyone has a plan until they get hit. Some genius in the lottery will fall in love with a player who has limitations or question marks - it could be Johnson come to think of it - and will make a weird pick. It happens every year. And when it does, the rest of the draft has to adjust.

Plus consider this: scouting has been minimal due to the coronavirus. Very few players will have been thoroughly screened. So more than almost any prior year, this draft is going to be a combination of a crap shoot and, probably, Let’s Make A Deal.