Texas forward Greg Brown III, once a five-star recruit from the same state, earned his keep during a one-year run at the school. A 24-game starter in 2020-21, Brown averaged over nine points and grabbed six rebounds per game. His high-flying antics date back to his time playing with Detroit Pistons 2021 number one overall draft pick Cade Cunningham as a member of the Texas Titans AAU squad in 2019.
Brown III actually has some wing capability and his movement complements rare explosiveness and bounce off the floor. The former Texas Gatorade Player of the Year went under 11 seconds (10.98) in the lane agility and posted a 33 1/2″ standing vertical jump at the 2021 NBA Combine.
Petty has been one of the more consistent players in the SEC over the last four seasons and he has rightfully earned his place as one of the most impressive long range artists in the country. Want proof? Over his last three games, the senior guard is connecting at a blistering 65% rate from behind the three-point line.
Aside from just shooting three-point shots at a high rate (698 career attempts as of 1/20/21), he’s been rather efficient, connecting at 39.1% clip for his career. Petty very easily could have joined fellow Crimson Tide guard Kira Lewis in the 2020 NBA Draft if he had chosen to leave school a year early.
Instead, Petty -a former AAU standout with Team Penny dating all the way back to 2016- stayed in school for one more season to increase the chances of hearing his name called in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. The 18th-ranked Crimson Tide currently lead the SEC in three-point field goals per game (11) and rank sixth in the country in that same category (175 three-pointers).
The former five-star recruit stands out from the either the left or right wings off the catch-and-shoot, but he has also displayed his quick release from the corners of the court. He connected on 80% of his 10 three-point shots (made his first seven) to lead an Alabama charge that finished with an SEC-record 23 three-pointers in a resounding 105-75 win over LSU.
The Crimson Tide improved to 7-0 in SEC play and are led by a sharp shooter who plays on both ends of the floor. Aside from his three-point barrage, Petty also contributed three steals versus the Tigers (1/20/21). He has averaged over a steal per game in each of the last two seasons while also attacking the glass with vengeance. He tallied 6.6 rebounds per game in 2019-20 and is currently averaging 5.2 rebounds per game. After struggling with turnovers in 2019-20 (nine games with four or more turnovers), he is taking better care of the basketball as a senior (nine games with one or fewer turnovers).
Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers are up for free agency. Evans led the team in points per game and Chalmers averaged 20 minutes per night. The Grizzlies could look to add another guard to complement Mike Conley if one of their free agent guards walks. Evans may command a big contract, which will probably price him out of Memphis. The Grizzlies will probably use the fourth overall pick on a big man but if they decide to use their 32nd pick on a combo guard, Duke’s Trevon Duval is a potential option. Duval is raw but has good size for his position (6’3”), athleticism and the handle to get where he wants while setting others up.
Bagley Jr. has all the tools offensively but the one thing that could shy teams away from is his defense. Coupled with the right lineups, however, Memphis could hide some of his deficiencies.
Cap space: -10 million, 110 million
Free agents: Tyreke Evans, Mario Chalmers
The Rockets have numerous free agents but since they were so close to an NBA Finals appearance, look for them to return its core and make another championship run next season. Houston could use some more depth along the frontcourt after showing a lack of depth and resorting to seven-man rotations against the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. The Rockets have the 46th pick in the draft, but there’s no guarantee someone picked that low will even make the roster. Maryland’s Justin Jackson could be intriguing. Standing 6’7” with a 7’2” wingspan, Jackson has size and positional versatility. More importantly, his three-point shooting (43 percent his freshman season) is a characteristic that Rockets general manager Daryl Morey covets.
Cap space: -19 million, 119 million
Free agents: Chris Paul, Trevor Ariza, Tarik Black, Clint Capela, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute
New Orleans Pelicans
Rajon Rondo and Ian Clark logged heavy minutes for the Pelicans during their playoff run. Rondo has jumped from team to team over the past few years and if he does the same this free agency period, New Orleans will be in the market for another guard. New Orleans has the 51st pick overall but if they decide to test the free agency market, Elfrid Payton could be a younger option. Payton came into his own offensively last year in Phoenix and would be a younger and cheaper option than Rondo.
Backup big man
New Orleans won a playoff series without DeMarcus Cousins but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are better without him. Even with Cousins, New Orleans could use a backup big man. The Pelicans signed journeyman Emeka Okafor after Cousins got hurt, but he will be 36 years old by the start of next season. If New Orleans decides to use their 51st overall pick on a big man, USC’s Chimezi Metu could develop alongside Cheick Diallo to possibly provide a low post duo in the future.
Cap space: -19 million, 119 million
Free agents: DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo, Ian Clark, Jordan Crawford
San Antonio Spurs
Above all else, the Spurs will have to figure out if they will have Kawhi Leonard on the roster after he missed most of this season with a quadriceps injury. Leonard covers so much ground for the Spurs and to lose him would be a major setback for San Antonio. If Leonard stays or leaves, look for San Antonio to still target another athletic wing, who can long minutes at both the shooting guard and small forward position since Kyle Anderson and Bryn Forbes will hit free agency. Boise State’s Chandler Hutchison is a name to watch for at the Spurs’ 18th pick. Hutchison doesn’t shoot the three as well as the Spurs wings that have come before him, but each season he has improved his three-point shot. Hutchison (6’7″) also has good height and can play within the Spurs offense at either the shooting guard or small forward position.
Cap space: -17 million, 117 million
Free agents: Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson, Davis Bertans, Bryn Forbes
The Dallas Mavericks signed Harrison Barnes to a max deal but don’t have much behind him. Doug McDermott averaged seven points and two rebounds in 20 minutes per game last season. Dallas could use another wing player that could play off the ball and defend both shooting guards and small forwards. The Mavericks could go with a big man with their fifth overall pick, but if Luka Doncic from Slovenia is available expect Dallas to take a long look at him. Doncic has a polished game for a 19-year old and has the ability to create for himself or play off the ball.
Doncic could very well be drafted in the top three picks, which means Dallas could fill another one of their needs with pick number 5. Nerlens Noel is a free agent and Dirk Nowitzki will be 40 years old by the start of next season. The Mavericks could use an athletic big ma who has the ability to play both the forward and center positions. Michigan State’s Jaren Jackson Jr. is raw but has all the physical tools, can block shots as good as anyone in the draft and showed an ability to put the ball on the floor and shoot threes during his one season in East Lansing.
It’s been a mixed bag for Jones after becoming the Houston Rockets 18th pick in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft. While he has averaged 10.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in six NBA campaigns, he was regulated to just three games with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2017-18 before being released. He was recently acquired by the Santa Cruz Warriors of the NBA’s G League in December 2017.