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 are leaning towards a backcourt talent as the draft looms.
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: Jalen Green, G, G-League
The Rockets have reportedly leaned towards taking Green, the high-scoring guard from the G-League. He’s got great upside as a superstar scorer and Houston feels comfortable pairing him with John Wall in his early years.
No. 3 — Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley, C, USC
The Cavaliers ecstatically take Mobley, even with Jarrett Allen on the roster. The USC big man is potentially a generational talent and gives Cleveland an immediate force down low. His fit with Allen should be good if the Cavs keep both players. Cleveland can continue to evaluate its backcourt while adding potentially the best player in the class.
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: Scottie Barnes, SF, Florida State
Barnes has gotten more attention in the days leading up to the draft and the Magic offer a good fit, even with their insane frontcourt depth. Barnes doesn’t need the ball a lot to be successful and he can anchor Orlando’s second unit defensively for the time being. The upside is high, but the immediate contributions won’t do much.
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. The Thunder are also high on James Bouknight, who has skyrocketed up draft boards.
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): James Bouknight, G, UConn
The Magic add Bouknight, who is a big riser in recent days. He’ll likely be taking over the second unit as the lead guard, but Orlando could pair him with Markelle Fultz eventually. The UConn guard will need to work on his distribution skills, but is already a strong scorer.
No. 9 — Sacramento Kings: Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee
The Kings are happy Johnson, who rose early in the draft process but has seemingly fallen off, lands here. He’s doesn’t have an immediate fit on the roster, but offers Sacramento a dynamic guard with high upside.
No. 10 — Memphis Grizzlies: Franz Wagner, F, Michigan
Wagner fits in Memphis’ system well and can develop alongside Jaren Jackson Jr. His versatility on both ends of the floor should help the Grizzlies take the next step towards becoming a consistent contender. If Wagner can develop a reliable three-point shot, he’ll be lethal.
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: Josh Giddey, F, Australia
The Spurs have a lot of players in the backcourt and on the perimeter, but Giddey is too big a talent to pass up here. His ability to run the floor, distribute the ball and command an offense should be intriguing for San Antonio. If there’s any place for him to develop a shot, this is the place.
No. 13 — Indiana Pacers: Jalen Johnson, SF, Duke
The Pacers are reportedly trying to offload this pick for immediate help, but they’ll take Johnson if they stay put. He’s gone under the radar since leaving Duke early, but the initial sample size suggests the forward has a lot of raw skills that need further development. The Pacers had success with a similar forward coming out of college and can do the same with Johnson.
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, G, 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): Cameron Thomas, G, LSU
Thomas has slowly been moving up draft boards due to his insane scoring ability and upside. The LSU product will thrive alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma City and fits the team’s long-term vision.
No. 17 — New Orleans Pelicans: Trey Murphy, G, Virginia
The Pelicans moved on from Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe in a deal with the Grizzlies and need to add shooting around Zion Williamson. Enter Murphy, a guard who is moving up draft boards steadily due to his elite marksmanship from deep.
No. 18 — Oklahoma City Thunder (via MIA): Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford
The Thunder could look elsewhere, but continue to take a long-term view on what is expected to be a decent rebuild. Oklahoma City has a handful of prospects to choose from here, but goes with Williams. The versatile forward needs to improve on offense, but can eventually become a solid scorer.
No. 19 — New York Knicks: Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn
The Knicks need guard help and take Cooper, who has the potential to be an assist machine in the NBA. New York has a lot of wing players who thrive attacking the basket and Cooper is the perfect player to set them up consistently. If he can develop a shot, this will be a steal.
No. 20 — Atlanta Hawks: Usman Garuba, F, Real Madrid
The Hawks don’t really need more forwards, but Garuba adds an immediate defensive presence to a team looking to take the next step after a run to the conference finals. Garuba is a high-energy forward who can make hustle plays consistently and fit in without needing the ball to succeed.
No. 21 — New York Knicks (via DAL): Tre Mann, G, Florida
After taking a pass-first attacking guard in Cooper, the Knicks add a knockdown shooter in Mann. The Florida product is lights out from behind the arc and has some great playmaking skills himself. The Knicks hope this backcourt duo can establish itself for a team looking to build on a playoff appearance from last season.
No. 22 — Los Angeles Lakers: Chris Duarte, G, 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): Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas
Sengun hasn’t really done much to hurt his stock; it’s other players who have skyrocketed up boards to push him down. The Rockets need a frontcourt prospect and Sengun fits the team’s rebuilding timeline. He might not get much playing time right away, but he could eventually develop into a star in the post.
No. 24 — Houston Rockets (via MIL): Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois
There’s a good chance the Rockets move this pick in an effort to shed salary, but they take Dosunmu if they keep it. The Illinois guard got knocked a little too far down in my opinion after one game against Loyola-Chicago, but was the frontrunner for National Player of the Year at one point. With Wall as a mentor, Dosunmu could thrive in Houston.
No. 25 — Los Angeles Clippers: Nah’Shon Hyland, G, 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, G, 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, G, Baylor
The Nets are in championship mode and need someone who can contribute right away. Butler is a great shooter coming off a championship season with Baylor. He fits in with Brooklyn’s culture and more importantly, can lead a second unit as the Nets manage their stars.
No. 28 — Philadelphia 76ers: Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky
The 76ers need some frontcourt depth behind Joel Embiid and Jackson fits the bill. He’s a high-energy big man who can run the floor, but his biggest asset is protecting the rim. Jackson doesn’t space the floor, but the Sixers have a bigger need behind Embiid.
No. 29 — Phoenix Suns: Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee
Springer could serve a replacement for Cam Payne, who will get a decent offer on the market. The Tennessee product is a more consistent three-point shooter, but lacks the explosiveness of Payne currently. The Suns could go with a big man here, but Jalen Smith’s presence pushes them towards Springer.
No. 30 — Utah Jazz: Luka Garza, F, Iowa
Garza can model his game after Bojan Bogdanovic in Utah. The Iowa star has reportedly slimmed down and can be more of a perimeter player, but Garza is a versatile offensive weapon. He can hit from anywhere on the floor and will fit in well with Utah’s bench unit right off the bat. Garza can also play alongside Rudy Gobert if the situation calls for two big men.