2021 NBA draft first-round report card, starring the Rockets and Magic

It is way too early to judge the 2021 NBA draft class, but let's get our first-round hot takes on the record.

Houston Rockets

2. Jalen Green (6-6, 186), SG, G League Ignite
16. Alperen Sengun (6-9, 235), C, Turkey
23. Usman Garuba (6-8, 229), PF, Spain
24. Josh Christopher (6-5, 215), SG, Arizona State

Green is an incredible consolation prize at No. 2, a dynamic athlete who will generate excitement in a market that just lost James Harden to a trade demand. Just check out the kid's suit. He has swagger.

Then, the Rockets packaged a pair of future first-round draft picks to move up and grab Sengun, a skilled big and advanced statistical darling. He was MVP of the Turkish League at age 18 and is getting only better.

Second-year Houston general manager Rafael Stone also used the back-to-back first-round picks he acquired from Portland and Milwaukee to mix Garuba's ready-made defense with Christopher's offensive potential. The Rockets compiled a fascinating blend of talent to rebuild following a tumultuous season.

Grade: A+

Orlando Magic

5. Jalen Suggs (6-4, 205), PG, Gonzaga
8. Franz Wagner (6-9, 220), SF, Michigan

The Magic lucked into Suggs at No. 5, and then snared another high-floor prospect three picks later in Wagner, a more versatile big than his brother Moe. Instead of taking a chance on a raw talent like Jonathan Kuminga, Orlando drafted a pair of players who should positively contribute right away. It is a welcome change of speed from the gambles that landed them Mo Bamba and Mario Hezonja in recent drafts.

Grade: A+

Detroit Pistons

1. Cade Cunningham (6-8, 220), PG, Oklahoma State
42. Isaiah Livers (6-7, 230), PF, Michigan
52. Luka Garza (6-11, 265), C, Iowa
57. Balsa Koprivica (7-1, 240), C, Florida State

The Pistons received the No. 1 overall pick in a highly anticipated draft, and after serious consideration of Jalen Green and Evan Mobley, they chose the most complete player in the draft. Cunningham can fill every gap on a promising young roster — as a scorer, playmaker, defender, you name it. He is a future superstar.

Add the late selection of Garza, the national college player of the year, and Detroit had itself a night.

Grade: A+

Cleveland Cavaliers

3. Evan Mobley (7-0, 215), C, USC

Mobley is the best big in his class. His versatility and talent would make him worthy of a No. 1 pick in most years. He can play alongside Jarrett Allen in the frontcourt and rounds out a roster that features three more recent lottery picks: Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in the backcourt and Isaac Okoro on the wing.

Grade: A

Brooklyn Nets

27. Cameron Thomas (6-4, 210), SG, LSU
29. Day'Ron Sharpe (6-11, 265), C, North Carolina
44. Kessler Edwards (6-8, 215), SF, Pepperdine
49. Marcus Zegarowski (6-2, 180), PG, Creighton

59. RaiQuan Gray (6-8, 260), PF, Florida State

Thomas is a lottery talent who averaged 23 points in 34 minutes per game at LSU. He will now be an understudy to three of the NBA's best scorers. The Nets also turned Landry Shamet into backup point guard Jevon Carter and the 29th pick, which they used to secure a workmanlike big man with promise.

Brooklyn later added Gray, a popular second-round sleeper. From where the Nets were drafting, it is hard to imagine a better night for a team that desperately needs cheap talent around its high-priced superstars.

Grade: A-

Atlanta Hawks

20. Jalen Johnson (6-9, 220), SF, Duke
48. Sharife Cooper (6-1, 180), PG, Auburn

The Hawks made a surprise run to the Eastern Conference finals on the strength of their recent draft picks, so they have earned the right to take a big swing at No. 20. Johnson might have been a top-10 pick had he not abruptly left Duke 13 games into his freshman senior (after leaving IMG Academy midway through his senior year of high school). If he pans out as a 6-foot-9 playmaker, he could be a home run for the Hawks.

Grade: A-

Philadelphia 76ers

28. Jaden Springer (6-4, 204), PG, Tennessee
50. Filip Petrusev (7-0, 235), C, Serbia
53. Charles Bassey (6-11, 235), C, Western Kentucky

It should come as no surprise that Sixers executive Daryl Morey selected one of the draft's analytics darlings. Springer filled the box score with limited touches at Tennessee, and his work ethic should make the 18-year-old a two-way contributor for a team that has long been searching for help in the backcourt.

Petrusev captured Adriatic League MVP honors, and Bassey was a top high school recruit whose college career was interrupted by leg injury. There are worse bets to find a decent future backup for Joel Embiid.

Grade: B+

Charlotte Hornets

11. James Bouknight (6-5, 190), SG, UConn
19. Kai Jones (6-10, 218), PF, Texas
37. JT Thor (6-10, 205), PF, Auburn

56. Scottie Lewis (6-5, 189), SG, Florida

Bouknight fell to No. 11 after climbing into the top 10 on most draft boards since the end of the college season. His pure scoring ability makes him an ideal offensive backcourt partner for rising Hornets star LaMelo Ball, who needs Bouknight's spacing and can find his fellow dynamic guard anywhere on the floor.

Jones gives Charlotte an interior defensive presence it has lacked in the Cody Zeller era, and his athleticism should help him develop into a rim-running pick-and-roll partner for Ball and Bouknight. Likewise, Thor is an 18-year-old with the potential of an athletic rim-protecting defender who can space the floor offensively. Even if one of them ends up holding down the back line for Ball and Bouknight, the Hornets will be happy.

Grade: B+

Washington Wizards

15. Corey Kispert (6-7, 220), SF, Gonzaga
31. Isaiah Todd (6-10, 220), G League Ignite

Not only did the Wizards nab Kispert to space the floor for Bradley Beal, they rid themselves of Russell Westbrook's contract, acquiring Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma and the No. 22 overall pick from the Lakers.

Washington flipped that pick for Aaron Holiday and No. 31, which it used to snare Todd, a one-time top prospect in his high school class who showed glimpses of his potential in limited G League action. None of them is the talent that Westbrook is, but the Wizards reshaped their roster in one night and created salary cap flexibility for future moves. There is a plan behind it all, a once unfamiliar concept for Washington.

Grade: B+

Los Angeles Clippers

21. Keon Johnson (6-5, 186), SG, Tennessee
33. Jason Preston (6-4, 187), PG, Ohio
51. Brandon Boston Jr. (6-7, 185), SG, Kentucky

The Clippers targeted Johnson, the uber-athlete who set the vertical jump record at the combine, and moved up four spots to get him. They did the same with Preston and Boston in the second round. Preston is a former Pistons blogger, and Boston was one of the top prospects in his class before an underwhelming freshman season at Kentucky. None of them may pan out, but you have to respect them for going after their guys, especially when all it cost them was a pair of future second-round picks and some cash.

Grade: B+

New Orleans Pelicans

17. Trey Murphy (6-8, 206), SG, Virginia
35. Herb Jones (6-8, 210), PF, Alabama

The Pelicans dumped $72.5 million of future salary for Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe on the Grizzlies, acquiring Jonas Valanciunas and his expiring contract. It cost them seven spots in the first round, but they scored a player they might have taken there anyway. Murphy has all the tools to be a highly versatile 3-and-D wing, fit for a roster boasting Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball (assuming he re-signs).

Jones is more established as a 22-year-old senior, and while he may be limited offensively, it is never a bad idea to take a second-round flier on the SEC's Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

Grade: B+

Oklahoma City Thunder

6. Josh Giddey (6-8, 185), SG, Australia
18. Tre Mann (6-5, 190), PG, Florida
32. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (6-9, 230), PF, Villanova
55. Aaron Wiggins (6-6, 200), SG, Maryland

The Thunder could not package their cache of assets to move up in the draft, as they had tried, but they scored Giddey, a surprising pick, but also one who makes sense for them. Add the 18-year-old playmaker to a long and skilled young team that includes Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Aleksej Pokusevski and Lu Dort.

Likewise, Mann is a pick-and-roll scorer with a lot of room to grow on a team years from being serious.

Trading pick Nos. 34 and 36 to move up two spots for Robinson-Earl was a curious move, even if the Big East's co-Player of the Year has a promising future as a role-playing stretch forward with toughness.

Grade: B

San Antonio Spurs

12. Josh Primo (6-6, 190), SG, Alabama
41. Joe Wieskamp (6-6, 212), SF, Iowa

The Spurs did what the Spurs do, making a surprise pick in Primo who does not seem so surprising at second glance. The kid has a shooting stroke and understanding of the game that belies his 18 years. The same can be said of Wieskamp with the No. 41 pick. The two combined to shoot 43% from 3-point range.

Grade: B

Sacramento Kings

9. Davion Mitchell (6-2, 205), PG, Baylor
39. Neemias Queta (7-0, 245), C, Utah State

Mitchell is an incredible defender and skilled playmaker who rose to the occasion in the NCAA tournament. He is a commanding presence both on and off the floor, even at 6-foot-2. At 22 years old, he will help right away, but how he fits into a backcourt featuring De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton remains a question.

Queta is another 22-year-old whose old-school game around the rim may not translate to NBA success. 

Grade: B-

Denver Nuggets

26. Nah'Shon "Bones" Hyland (6-3, 173), PG, VCU

The Nuggets lost some scoring punch in their backcourt behind injured point guard Jamal Murray when they traded Malik Beasley in February 2020, and Hyland has the ability to fill that role for a team still on the rise. His range should complement an established star-studded core if he can hold his own on defense.

Grade: B-

Indiana Pacers

13. Chris Duarte (6-6, 190), SG, Oregon
22. Isaiah Jackson (6-11, 206), PF, Kentucky

The Pacers went safe with Duarte, a 23-year-old sharpshooting bulldog, before taking a gamble on Jackson, a raw and slight athlete who could develop into a replacement for Myles Turner at center. Sharing a frontcourt with All-Star big man Domantas Sabonis, Turner is perennially in trade discussions. The No. 22 pick cost them Aaron Holiday and No. 31, no small price for a project misfit on the current depth chart.

Grade: C+

Golden State Warriors

7. Jonathan Kuminga (6-8, 220), PF, G League Ignite
14. Moses Moody (6-6, 205), SG, Arkansas

The Warriors shopped both picks in an effort to find established help for a veteran roster hoping to contend this coming season, and instead they drafted Kuminga, the rawest high-end prospect in the draft. He has tremendous upside, but that could come when Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green are no longer capable of carrying a champion. Moody is a safer bet to help right away as a 3-and-D wing, but this grade will look a lot better if Golden State general manager Bob Myers can flip them into something better.

Grade: C

Memphis Grizzlies

10. Ziaire Williams (6-8, 185), SG, Stanford
30. Santi Aldama (6-11, 215), PF, Loyola

The Grizzlies must really like Williams, because they took on two bad contracts from the rival New Orleans Pelicans and sent their starting center packing in return for moving up seven spots in the draft. Memphis has rarely missed on first-round prospects in recent years, and this one better be another good one, because it just cost them Jonas Valanciunas and $72.5 million worth of Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe.

Memphis also shipped the 40th pick and two more future second-rounders to the Utah Jazz to move into the final pick of the first round. They grabbed Aldama, who might have been available at No. 40. Knee surgery limited Aldama to 26 productive games over two seasons against Patriot League competition.

Grade: C-

Toronto Raptors

4. Scottie Barnes (6-9, 227), SF, Florida State
46. Dalano Banton (6-9, 204), PG, Nebraska
47. David Johnson (6-5, 210), PG, Louisville

The Raptors shockingly passed on Gonzaga's Jalen Suggs — the fourth and final member of a clear top tier in this draft — to take Barnes. They moved up three spots in the lottery, striking gold, and rather than draft the best prospect available (and a Kyle Lowry replacement), they took a defensive-minded wing with offensive limitations when they have two (Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby) in the starting lineup already.

Grade: D

New York Knicks

25. Quentin Grimes (6-5, 205), SG, Houston
34. Rokas Jokubaitis (6-5, 195), PG, Lithuania
36. Miles McBride (6-2, 200), PG, West Virginia
58. Jericho Sims (6-9, 245), PF, Texas

The Knicks entered a deep first round with pick Nos. 19 and 21 and left with Grimes — a 21-year-old projected second-round pick — at No. 25. They did add a heavily protected 2022 first-round pick from the Hornets and a 2024 second-rounder from the Clippers before turning the No. 32 pick into Nos. 34 and 36, adding a pair of point guards to a roster desperate for one to emerge, but it was a dud of a night. Second-year team president Leon Rose better have bigger plans for the money he saved New York on Thursday.

Grade: D

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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