The 2021 NBA Draft begins Thursday, June 29 with the Detroit Pistons holding the top pick. Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham is still expected to go No. 1, but the Pistons have reportedly been shopping the pick in exchange for more assets. The intrigue will start with the Houston Rockets, who will likely be deciding between Evan Mobley and Jalen Green.
2021 NBA Mock Draft 2.0
No. 1 — Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham, G, OK State
Nothing has changed since the lottery; Cunningham is still considered the best prospect in the draft. He’s got all the tools to be a productive player right away while eventually growing into a perennial All-Star.
No. 2 — Houston Rockets: Evan Mobley, F/C, USC
The Rockets will weigh this decision before ultimately going with the generational big man who can anchor the team on both ends of the floor. Houston is in a rebuild and can build from the post out.
No. 3 — Cleveland Cavaliers: Jalen Green, G, G League
The Cavaliers will wish Mobley falls to them, but they decide to add a scorer with him off the board. Green can fit in on the wing if the Cavs decide to hold onto Collin Sexton, but will slide into the backcourt if the former Alabama guard is traded.
No. 4 — Toronto Raptors: Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga
With Kyle Lowry expected to be gone, the Raptors add the best point guard in the draft who can develop into a two-way force. Toronto has a good core going forward with OG Anunoby, Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet. Suggs can grow with that group.
No. 5 — Orlando Magic: Keon Johnson, SG, Tennessee
Johnson has been the big riser of the NBA Combine and goes a bit early here. He’s still raw offensively, but has the explosiveness and hustle to become a star. The Magic have an opening in the backcourt and could use a player with his potential.
No. 6 — Oklahoma City Thunder: Jonathan Kuminga, PF, G League
The Thunder are entering a big rebuild and take a high-energy forward in Kuminga. He may not see much playing time right away as he needs to hone his skills, but Kuminga should be able to develop in OKC.
No. 7 — Golden State Warriors (via MIN): Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor
The Warriors are in an interesting spot heading into the draft. Assuming they don’t package their picks to either move up or trade for a star, the Warriors take Mitchell. He’ll be an immediate contributor on both sides of the floor and should thrive with shooters around him in Golden State.
No. 8 — Orlando Magic (via CHI): Franz Wagner, C, Michigan
The Magic add a versatile wing player in Wagner, who can develop into a strong shooter and secondary ball-handler with time. His most important immediate contribution will be on defense, but Orlando will hope his offensive game comes along to add a playmaking element it is currently struggling with.
Barnes has reportedly had a good combine. He eventually goes to Sacramento, where he’ll be a good fit in the frontcourt alongside Marvin Bagley. The Kings need to make the playoffs next year to avoid blowing things up and Barnes can help with that on both ends of the floor.
No. 10 — New Orleans Pelicans: Josh Giddey, SG, Australia
The Pelicans may not match an offer on Lonzo Ball in restricted free agency and will need a playmaking guard. Giddey was the Rookie of the Year in the NBL and given Lamelo Ball’s success, teams will want him for his potential. New Orleans takes him here and hope he can be a dynamic presence alongside Zion Williamson.
No. 11 — Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones, PF, Texas
The Hornets don’t have much on the interior and although Jones doesn’t quite fit the bill as a traditional big man, he’s able to defend the rim well. His offensive skillset fits with Charlotte’s system and he can develop a post game as time goes on. Jones would be a great pairing for Lamelo Ball as well.
No. 12 — San Antonio Spurs: Alperen Sengun, C, Turkey
The Spurs need to balance their current competitiveness with an eye to the future. Sengun is a strong post presence but will need time to hone his skills on both ends of the floor. There’s no place better to do that than San Antonio. The Spurs are heavy on guards and forwards, so Sengun also fits the current roster construction.
No. 13 — Indiana Pacers: Jalen Johnson, SF, Duke
Johnson slips a little bit due to questions surrounding his commitment but the Pacers ultimately gamble on his upside here. The Duke product did well in limited action but has some big red flags after leaving the program abruptly.
No. 14 — Golden State Warriors: Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga
The Warriors can gamble on a prospect with more upside but decide to take the sharpshooter out of Gonzaga here. Kispert provides some immediate two-way ability for a team looking to win now with an aging core.
No. 15 — Washington Wizards: Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas
If the Wizards decide to retain Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal, Moody can help immediately as a three-point shooter while developing his all-around game. He’ll also be an asset defensively for Washington.
No. 16 — Oklahoma City Thunder (via BOS): Ziaire Williams, SG, Stanford
Another high upside play for the Thunder, who are rolling in first-round picks for the foreseeable future. Williams is raw right now, but can eventually develop into a versatile forward with time.
No. 17 — Memphis Grizzlies: Usman Garuba, PF, Spain
The Grizzlies can take a more offensive oriented player here, but opt to go for Garuba for defensive purposes. Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr. are the stars for Memphis, but Garuba can be a high-energy role player who eventually develops into a solid starter.
No. 18 — Oklahoma City Thunder (via MIA): Jaden Springer, PG, Tennessee
The Thunder add another versatile guard who can provide an immediate boost on the defensive end. Springer took a backseat to Johnson at Tennessee, but he can become a strong three-point shooter assuming his limited sample size is reflective of his ability.
The Knicks have a bevy of wings and big men, so they take Bouknight to bring some balance to the roster. The UConn guard is a scoring machine but will need to become more of a playmaker and shooter as his career grows.
No. 20 — Atlanta Hawks: Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn
The Hawks grab a ball handler who can also defend in Cooper. He will allow Atlanta’s shooters to get more open looks off his aggressive drives, but needs to improve as a perimeter threat himself. Cooper can also allow Trae Young to play more off the ball.
No. 21 — New York Knicks (via DAL): Tre Mann, PG, Florida
The Knicks continue to add talent in the backcourt by snagging Mann, a smooth ball handler with a great shooting stroke. The Florida guard will have to improve on defense, but he’s got the offensive skills to be a force from the jump.
No. 22 — Los Angeles Lakers: Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon
The Lakers might flip this pick if the right player becomes available, but Duarte is a natural fit as a perimeter scorer alongside LeBron James. He’s not going to do much else, but he’s a solid role player on both sides of the ball and the Lakers are trying to win now.
No. 23 — Houston Rockets (via POR): Cam Thomas, SG, LSU
After taking Mobley second overall, the Rockets add backcourt help with Thomas. He’s a volume scorer who can do well alongside the big man. Thomas can become Houston’s top perimeter option if he develops a stronger outside shot.
No. 24 — Houston Rockets (via MIL): Ayo Dosunmu, SG, Illinois
The Rockets are going to shoot for upside at this point and Dosunmu also fits with Mobley and Thomas. He was the best player in college basketball at one point and had one rough game in the NCAA Tournament, which may have dropped his value a bit too much.
No. 25 — Los Angeles Clippers: Nah’Shon Hyland, PG, VCU
The Clippers might not be able to retain Reggie Jackson after the postseason he had, but Hyland comes in and immediately contributes as a three-point shooter. The VCU guard is also a strong rebounder for his position.
No. 26 — Denver Nuggets: Quentin Grimes, SG, Houston
Grimes’ stock is going up after the NBA Combine and there’s good reason for it. The Houston guard was one of the stars of the tournament on both ends of the floor, helping the Cougars reach the Final Four. Grimes fits in well in Denver’s backcourt mix.
No. 27 — Brooklyn Nets: Jared Butler, PG, Baylor
Baylor’s second star guard goes here and boosts a thin bench in Brooklyn. Butler is a decent two-way player who can shoot from the perimeter, but his most important quality is leadership. He’ll be a good rotation player for a franchise looking to win now.
No. 28 — Philadelphia 76ers: Luka Garza, PF, Iowa
The 76ers need scoring outside of Joel Embiid and although Garza might not be a positional fit, that’s exactly what he provides. The Iowa star has reportedly slimmed down and can be more of a perimeter player in the NBA.
No. 29 — Phoenix Suns: Isaiah Jackson, PF, Kentucky
The Suns are probably going to run it back after a very successful season. Jackson fits as a high-energy big man who can add some frontcourt depth for the team. His rim protection will provide an immediate contribution for a group that has turned into a contender.
The Jazz were championship contenders this season before injuries and Paul George derailed their season. Robinson-Earl isn’t going to be a star, but he adds a valuable rotation piece to a team looking to take the next step. If his three-point shooting is going to come around anywhere, why not for a franchise that took the most threes per game this season?