[NBA Draft]: Mock Draft Comparison, December 2020

A comparison of 2021 lottery picks from the ‘way too early’ mock drafts posted by Jonathan Givony at ESPN/Draft Express, BR’s Jonathan Wasserman, The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie, and our friends at Tankathon.

 ESPN
(Oct. 2019)
ESPN
(Nov. 2020)
BRTankathonAthletic
1. CLECade
Cunningham
Cade
Cunningham
Cade
Cunningham
Cade
Cunningham
Cade
Cunningham
2. CHAEvan
Mobley
Jalen
Green
Jalen
Green
Jalen
Suggs
Jalen
Green
3. NYKJalen
Green
B.J.
Boston
Jonathan
Kuminga
Evan
Mobley
B.J.
Boston
4. MEMZiaire
Williams
Evan
Mobley
Evan
Mobley
Jalen
Green
Jonathan
Kuminga
5. PHXTerrence
Clarke
Ziaire
Williams
Jalen
Suggs
Jonathan
Kuminga
Keon
Johnson
6. WASJonathan
Kuminga
Jalen
Johnson
Usman
Garuba
Jalen
Johnson
Evan
Mobley
7. CHIJalen
Johnson
Keon
Johnson
B.J.
Boston
Moses
Moody
Ziaire
Williams
8. OKCUsman
Garuba
Scottie
Barnes
Jaden
Springer
Scottie
Barnes
Terrence
Clarke
9. ATLGreg
Brown
Jonathan
Kuminga
Jalen
Johnson
James
Bouknight
Scottie
Barnes
10. SACB.J.
Boston
Caleb
Love
Ziaire
Williams
Jaden
Springer
Usman
Garuba
11. MINCaleb
Love
Josh
Christopher
Moses
Moody
Day'Ron
Sharpe
Jalen
Suggs
12. DETIbou
Dianko Badji
Juhann
Begarin
Keon
Johnson
Daishen
Nix
Caleb
Love
13. NOPKeon
Johnson
Daishen
Nix
Greg
Brown
Corey
Kispert
Daishen
Nix
14. NYK
(via DAL)
Juhann
Begarin
Usman
Garuba
Terrence
Clarke
B.J.
Boston
Keyontae
Johnson

*Note: No mock drafts published yet from SI’s Jeremy Woo, NBA Big Board’s Chard Ford, or The Ringer’s KOC

References:

Bleacher Report [Jonathan Wasserman]

ESPN/Draft Express [Jonathan Givony/Mike Schmitz]

The Athletic [Sam Vecenie]

Tankathon

Also worth checking out:

Sports Illustrated: Jeremy Woo’s First 2021 Big Board

The Ringer: J. Kyle Mann on Prospects That You Should Know About

[Quotable]: Ryen Russillo on Adjusting Expectations for a League Without a Big 3

Ryen Rusillo on the recent Bill SimmonsOver/Under Mega Preview‘ pod on why we need to adjust our perspective after last season’s shift away from franchises fighting to build super teams in order to win championships:

We spend a lot of time, if we had doubts about the Lakers, asking who the 3rd guy was all the time. If you look around the league right now, we kept asking ‘who’s that 3rd guy’s gonna be’, because of who Golden State was, then because of who the Miami Heat were, and then what Cleveland was once they brought Love in and returned there with Kyrie. There’s not really that 3 that scares you anymore. So, we kept looking at the Lakers wondering who the 3rd piece was, like it was mandatory to consider you a real title threat to have that third guy. You don’t really need it. You don’t really need it, because you’re not facing that Heat team, you’re not facing that Warriors team, or even that Cleveland team when things were right in ’16. So, it’s an important thing to remember about all of these teams chances. Stop using the ‘where’s the 3rd guy’ argument against us. And that was the lesson in the Lakers last year.

[Trade Talk]: If Beal Wants Out, Pels Should Be First in Line

For the time being, everyone is intrigued by the thought of seeing newly acquired Russell Westbrook playing alongside Bradley Beal and the underachieving Wiz. You can count me as one of those people, but….let’s be honest, the odds of them doing any better than a first round exit in the playoffs is extremely low. And in contrast, the odds of the team chemistry not meshing and/or injuries happening to either of the aforementioned All-NBA level stars, and things could get ugly fast in terms of racking up L’s AND Beal’s patience level for a franchise that has rarely not been dysfunctional (cap tip to Ernie Grunfeld!).

There’s already been surface level speculation about where Beal could end up if he demands a trade and that list includes some of the same franchises who, sadly, lost the Giannis sweepstakes this past week when he signed the super max offer from the Bucks–the Heat, Nets, Warriors….and maybe the Sixers (if Doc can’t turn around the ship). All of this makes sense, but I would be on the Pelicans to be the most likely landing spot, since instead of the Wiz accepting spare change to equal a dollar (i.e. packages including [Tyler Herro, Meyers Leonard, Kendrick Nunn, KZ Okpala, Andre Iguodala] [Caris LaVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen] [Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman, 2021 1st from Minny]), they 23-year old Brandon Ingram from the Pel’s, who just re-signed him to a 5 year/$158m max contract last month + 1st round picks + a rotation player + prospect.

Goes without saying that losing Beal is horrific, but to get a proven, young, all-star level player would trump any other offer out there, and if the bidding gets heated, Pel’s head honcho, David Griffin has a lot more sweeteners to throw in the deal thanks to the bounty of assets from the Anthony Davis trade.

Here’s an example of how the trade could go down:

https://tradenba.com/trades/ecXqnmWJW

[Roster Analysis]: Celtics Already Missing Romeo

The shortened preseason schedule just ended and it’s already blatantly apparent that the Celtics will greatly miss Romeo Langford. With Kemba Walker out for the first month of the season with knee issues, newly-signed Tristan Thompson out with a strained hamstring, and Langford healing from hand surgery, the Celtics depth will be tested early. Even worse, is the gap in the starting lineup left by Gordon Hayward, who was a main facilitator for Brad Stevens offense when he was healthy–a gap that may very well have been filled by Langford, especially if he hadn’t missed out on the valuable experience of going deep into the playoffs in the bubble.

Now Langford is certainly not the passer that Hayward is, but they are both crafty offensive player who can score at all three levels, and most importantly, Langford brings a strong defensive presence to the table. He was so solid in stints last year, that he earned Stevens trust and along with it, a decent amount of P.T. Langford is a crafty scorer and a solid rebounder for a guard–and he averaged about 3 assists per game in high school and at Indiana. So he has it in him to be a decent passer, and would fit in nicely as a dynamic wing in between Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, who could project to average 12/5/3 per game, while guarding the best 2 or 3 on the opposing team. Modest numbers for sure, but production that would make a big difference in Hayward’s absence.

Sadly, Langford’s reality is that he has never gotten into an extended groove, and will not be in one anytime soon, having missed out on the vast majority of the bubble experience, needing to heal from the surgery, and now missing training camp. When he returns, in February, as is being speculated currently, the Celtics will be happy to have him, but he’ll need to regain Stevens trust and fight to gain that starting spot that may have been earmarked for him with Hayward gone.

[Roster Analysis]: Jazz Overrated…Again.

Reading and listening to season previews by NBA writers this week, one thing continues to hit me like nails on a chalkboard: predicting the Jazz to be one of the strongest teams in the West and a playoff team that could catch lightning in a bottle a la Miami in the bubble–with many even saying that they’ll be in the top four seeds, including ESPN’s Kevin Pelton. Not sure if these guys are pals with Quin Snyder or Dennis Lindsey, but as with last year, the Jazz are overrated. Yes, there is a shortened season, but even with 72 games you need quality depth on the roster to win enough games to earn home court advantage in a challenging West, and the Jazz don’t have it, period.

IF Mike Conley plays more consistently and IF Bojan Bogdanovic is healthy they will certainly have a talented starting 5, but that’s where the fun ends. Those are just some of the IF’s for the starters. From there, lineups will feature Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, and Derrick Favors? Sorry, but that roster looks to me like a team that is in the 6-10 range at best. They don’t have enough quality wings and they spent their money this offseason on Favors, who will only get so many minutes per game backing up Rudy Gobert (who may mope all season waiting for his max contract), or with a two-big lineup. They have no real back-up PG besides Ingles which equals more minutes for Donovan Mitchell.

In addition, the front office doesn’t have young players or many assets to try and improve the roster in-season, with the possible exception of dealing Ingles or using draft capital. In the end, the weak roster will inevitably force Snyder to overplay the starters, risking fatigue and injuries along the way which could easily have a trickle down effect to underachieving in the playoffs. Enjoy the hot air while you can, Jazz fans, then buckle up for a deflating season.

Update 12/19/2020: Jazz signed Yogi Ferrell and Shaq Harrison since I wrote this post, somehow waking up and realizing that they need more wing depth. Harrison, at the least, will most likely be in their 10-man rotation starting immediately, but sadly, this still doesn’t move the needle for them at all.