As expected, Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, and LaMelo Ball went 1-2-3 in the recently-concluded 2020 NBA Draft. It was a batch with no clear-cut first overall pick, and the decisions ultimately boiled down to team fit and needs. Of course, it doesn’t mean that those three names don’t have star potential. Edwards is a wide-bodied perimeter scorer. Wiseman’s mobility and athleticism can help him become an elite paint presence. Ball’s crafty playmaking and great size for the point guard position should make him a star in the future.
But the top NBA prospect in the 2021 draft is already a notch higher than the ones taken in this year’s class. Cade Cunningham, who now plays for Oklahoma State, is a complete package. He is a 6-foot-8 point guard who owns an all-around skill set that allows him to be a force to reckon with on both offense and defense.
An exceptional playmaker who can also shoot and defend is the perfect archetype for a guard in today’s positionless basketball. Cunningham will be the face of the 2021 draft class, and these NBA teams should tank to nab his elite services.
The Knicks, who are already jammed up in the frontcourt, selected athletic power forward Obi Toppin in the draft. They passed up on point guards Tyrese Haliburton, Cole Anthony, and Kira Lewis Jr., despite their need for a steady hand in the backcourt. The Knicks now have Elfrid Payton, Dennis Smith Jr., and Frank Ntilikina in the point guard position, and all of them can’t shoot.
Cunningham would be perfect in New York. He is a decent shooter from long-range, and that will provide more space for Toppin and RJ Barrett to operate inside. On top of that, Cunningham’s playmaking will be a solid fit, especially if the Knicks acquire more shooters to shore up their wing depth.
The Bulls have a new front office in place, and they hired an excellent player-coach in Billy Donovan to lead the squad next season. Zach LaVine was a borderline All-Star last season, and Lauri Markkanen should be able to bounce back from an inefficient campaign.
Still, the Bulls are depleted in the point guard position. Coby White was tremendous for the team in his rookie year, but he is more focused on targeting the rim than making plays for his teammates. Tomas Satoransky normed 5.4 assists for Chicago last season, but his lack of shot-creating makes him easier to defend.
Cunningham’s jack-of-all-trades ability should be a major catch for the Bulls, and one that could become their franchise’s cornerstone if they decide to move on from their core of LaVine and Markkanen.
How will the John Wall–Bradley Beal duo look like this season? The Wizards’ foreseeable future depends on the chemistry between those two guards, and the skies are not looking so blue for them. Even if Wall returns close to his All-Star self two years ago, the Wizards just don’t have the supporting cast to seriously compete for a playoff spot in the East.
Having said that, there is a high possibility that the Wizards front office will go through a bunch of mid-season deals that would see them trade away Wall or Beal, or even both. Tanking for Cunningham would be worth it for Washington as he will add to an intriguing young core that includes Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura.