As the 2021 NBA Draft approaches, even mediocre franchises will be tempted to imagine a championship contention window hiding just around the corner.
But hopes of breaking through are much easier for certain teams to believe in; having young cornerstones to build around and a stockpile of future picks separates organizations such as the Thunder and Pelicans from the rest of the league.
The next powerhouse of the NBA may be in the community of asset-rich clubs yet to make a profound playoff appearance. Here we’re breaking down five potential fast risers.
Here are the Top NBA Drafts as of now:
1) Oklahoma City Thunder:
The Thunder could be a dominant, conference-leading power by the 2022-23 season with potential salary cap stability and crazy draught money. They definitely ought to draught at least one superstar to team up with 22-year-old guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to hit the heights they like though.
Future cornerstones: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Future complementary stars: Kelly Oubre Jr.
Wild cards: Darius Bazley, Luguentz Dort
2)New Orleans Pelicans:
Every year through 2026, after struggling with Jrue Holiday to the Bucks this week the Pelicans have future first-round draught assets from other teams. These options would perhaps temporarily divert viewers from the fact that they were losing Chris Paul and Anthony Davis, combined with the abundance of ascending stars already in their ranks.
Future cornerstones: Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram
Future complementary stars: Lonzo Ball
Wild cards: Jaxson Hayes
3) Atlanta Hawks:
For a while now, the Hawks have been on up-and-coming lists, but they might soon be close to going through on their pledge. In his sophomore campaign, Trae Young showed he’s a stud, and his pick-and-roll collaborations with John Collins and Clint Capela will be fun to see next season as the team inches for its first playoff berth since 2016-17. As long-term contenders, more expansion from a number of under-25 wings will solidify the company.
Future cornerstones: Trae Young
Future complementary stars: John Collins, Clint Capela
Wild cards: Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, DeAndre’ Bembry
4) Phoenix Suns:
In Chris Paul, Devin Booker now has a Hall of Fame-bound running partner who this year could make Phoenix a playoff team. When Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton peak, Paul definitely won’t be a contributor, but his experience will live on in a locker room that needs support from veterans. By the time Paul is gone after 2021-22, in order to build a well-rounded Booker-Ayton-Bridges heart, the Suns hope 24-year-old wing Mikal Bridges will have evolved into a supporting star spot.
Future cornerstones: Devin Booker
Future complementary stars: DeAndre Ayton
Wild cards: Mikal Bridges, Cam Johnson