Biggest winners and losers of the 2021 NBA Draft

Cade Cunningham

Pistons draft pick Cade Cunningham. (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Who were the winners and losers of the 2021 NBA Draft? The Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers used trades to their advantage while others reached.

The next generation of basketball stars finally got to hear their names called at the 2021 NBA Draft on Thursday night.

It was a celebration for everyone who got drafted. For the teams doing the drafting, the equation is a bit different. This day is the one that can make or break the future of a franchise.

So who made the best of the night and who dropped the ball?

Winners from the 2021 NBA Draft

Detroit Pistons

Even before kicking off the draft with the No. 1 overall pick, the Detroit Pistons were active with a trade. They dumped Mason Plumlee’s contract on the Charlotte Hornets to clear $8 million in cap space this year, which should come in handy in free agency.

Then they kept it simple and picked the best player in the draft, Cade Cunningham.

Houston Rockets

Houston had to settle for the No. 2 pick behind the Pistons and came out big winners thanks to some savvy decisions. Jalen Green is a stud with star personality who may have been worthy of the top pick. Trading up to get Turkish League MVP Alperen Sengun was widely praised. Then they used two more selections to grab Spanish forward Usman Garuba and guard Josh Christopher.

To really drive the point home, trusted draft expert Sam Vecenie of The Athletic had Green, Sengun and Garuba among his top 11 players in the draft. That’s quite the haul!

Golden State Warriors

Golden State took advantage of what was available to nab two strong additions on draft night. Jonathan Kuminga was the best player on the board at No. 7 and will fit their offense. He’s more of a long-term prospect, but the upside is there if the Warriors remain patient with him. Even if they don’t, they could leverage his value as a top-10 selection into a trade to help the Dubs’ aging nucleus.

Best of all, they also got a player they considered taking at No. 7 in Moses Moody. He was there when they picked again at No. 14 in a stroke of luck, and he may be the biggest steal of the draft.

Orlando Magic

Jalen Suggs from Gonzaga could have gone higher based on ability alone. The fact that he fell to No. 5 was a huge win for the Magic. They made another strong selection at No. 8 with Michigan forward Franz Wagner.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland addressed their need for a veteran point guard before the draft by bringing in Ricky Rubio from Minnesota. Then they added the perfect big man to build around in Evan Mobley. The 7-footer is a future star.

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