2021 NBA Mock Draft 1.0
The NBA Draft Lottery has come and gone, with all the teams knowing where they will select in the upcoming draft.
Although it may seem early, the actual draft is almost a month away(July 29th). Today I will go through my first-round mock draft based off who I believe each team will take, not who I think they SHOULD take.
#1: Pistons- G/F Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
This pick might not be as obvious as a Zion Williamson or a LeBron James, but Cunningham is ranked by almost everyone as the #1 prospect in this draft. The fit with last years draft pick Killian Hayes is really interesting to me, as I believe they can play off each other well. Cunningham has size, versatility on each end and is a knockdown shooter.
#2: Rockets- G Jalen Green, G League Ignite
I think when most people saw the Rockets land the second pick in the draft, they assumed that this would be a spot for Evan Mobley. Although it may be smarter to draft the best player available this high, I still like the fit of Green more compared to Mobley. The Rockets already have a talented big man in Christian Wood, and I don't like that fit as much as some other people do. Green is a polished scorer and potentially has the most upside in the entire draft.
#3: Cavaliers- F/C Evan Mobley, USC
If the Cavs see Mobley drop to their spot, I'm sure they would send the card in instantly. Although Jarrett Allen played well for them last season, his future is definitely uncertain. Mobley brings stellar defensive ability along with some skill on the perimeter. I believe Mobley can be a solid PF in this league, but most teams would most likely play him at the 5.
#4: Raptors- G Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
The Raptors surely did not expect to be picking anywhere near this spot before the season began, but here they are. Suggs would be a perfect Kyle Lowry replacement, who is an upcoming Free Agent and is not expected to re-sign with Toronto. Suggs is probably the most experienced out of the top prospects, already having been to a national title game and been coached under Mark Few. Most people will remember his last second shot against UCLA to send Gonzaga to the National Championship Game, but if you watch his film, he brings more then just game winners.
#5: Magic- F Jonathan Kuminga, G League Ignite
To round out the Top 5, Orlando gets another player who went the G League route. The Magic continue to stockpile high draft picks after committing to a full rebuild, and Kuminga can fit well. Kuminga is explosive with the basketball and brings very good defensive ability. He should be able to play the 3 or the 4 at the next level, depending on matchups and who the Magic have out on the court.
#6: Thunder- G Davion Mitchell, Baylor
I'd say this is really where the draft begins. OKC has options at 6, including a potential trade up into the Top 5. I definitely wouldn't rule that out, but if they stay here, I like Mitchell in this spot. Mitchell is the best defensive prospect in this draft, and gives the Thunder options at Guard. Lu Dort and Davion Mitchell on the perimeter is a nightmare for opposing teams.
#7: Warriors- F Scottie Barnes, Florida State
If you consider Mitchell the best defender in this draft, then Barnes has to be #2. Considering they have two lottery picks, I would see the Warriors just going best player available at this spot, which is what he would be in this scenario. He reminds me of a Matisse Thybulle or Draymond Green type player, who is an excellent defender but is not as polished on offense.
#8: Magic- G Keon Johnson, Tennessee
If you are looking for the most explosive player in the entire draft, Johnson is your guy. He is solid on both ends and is ready to drive to the basket at all times. The only problem with Johnson is his experience, only being 19 years old and starting basketball in high school. If Orlando is willing to be patient, Johnson can give them valuable wing depth.
#9: Kings- F Franz Wagner, Michigan
It feels like I'm saying this about every prospect, but Wagner is another guy who has shown his ability on both ends of the floor. The Kings were the worst defensive team in the league last season, so Wagner alone would boost them a ton. He doesn't have the star power that some of the other players in this range do, which is a risk, but I see it as the best fit in this spot.
#10: Pelicans- F Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
Kispert is one of the best shooters in this draft class and could help space the floor around Zion Williamson. Although taking a similar player to Brandon Ingram could cause conflict, I still think both of them should be able to play together. I also considered a handfull of guards here, but I think New Orleans likes their young guards more then most.
#11: Hornets- F/C Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky
Maybe I'm too high on Jackson, but I love the fit here. I already thought the Hornets needed to add a 4/5 sometime this offseason, so why not grab one with their first? Jackson is another guy who is raw, but after a strong showing at the combine, I could see rising up draft boards. PJ Washington is already in trade talks and Cody Zeller is nothing close to a long-term option so this is a definite need.
#12: Spurs- C Alperen Sengun, Besiktas
I'd say Sengun is the biggest unknown among the top prospects in this draft, including myself up until a few weeks ago. Sengun won the Turkish League MVP at 18 years old and has big NBA potential. San Antonio is a team known for taking risks or reaching on players lower on most teams boards, and I see them doing that exact thing here. Although, Sengun will rise up draft boards when we get closer to the draft.
#13: Pacers- G Josh Giddey, Adelaide
Giddey is set to be another guy who NBA fans will learn to love soon enough. This would be a big gamble for Indiana, since they usually would not be picking in the lottery, but I absolutely love the fit here. The Pacers need playmakers in a lineup dominated by size, especially with some of their guards set to be free agents(TJ McConnell, Edmond Sumner).
#14: Warriors- G James Bouknight, Connecticut
After we got Golden State some defensive presence at 7, let's get them a scorer. Bouknight was held out for most of last season due to an injury, but dominated throughout the end of UConn's season. Simply put, Bouknight just hits shots. Bouknight is actually one of my favorite prospects in this draft, and if I was a general manager I would be willing to draft him in the Top 10. His ability to run the offense and versatility will make him very attractive to NBA teams.
#15: Wizards- F Jalen Johnson, Duke
Jalen Johnson is probably the biggest question mark in the entire draft, just due to him quitting on Duke halfway through the 2020-21 season. He definitely has the potential to be a star in the NBA, but the question is 1. Can his potential be unlocked? and 2. Will he be committed to whatever team he is drafted by? Johnson did show flashes in his short time with the Blue Devils, but his character issues may loom large. The fit in Washington is perfect though, since they need playmakers and are not in a rush to get instant impact.
#16: Thunder- F Kai Jones, Texas
#17: Grizzlies- G Moses Moody, Arkansas
#18: Thunder- F Usman Garuba, Real Madrid
#19: Knicks- G Chris Duarte, Oregon
#20: Hawks- G Cameron Thomas, LSU
#21: Knicks- G Jaden Springer, Tennessee
#22: Lakers- F Greg Brown, Texas
Just a note, I would be shocked if the Thunder kept both these picks and didn't trade up or down. If they do stay at their spot, it would definitely change the board for the teams after them, as you saw there was a run on guards.
#23: Rockets- F Ziaire Williams, Stanford
#24: Rockets- G Tre Mann, Florida
#25: Clippers- G Jared Butler, Baylor
#26: Nuggets- G Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
#27: Nets- C Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky
#28: 76ers- F Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova
#29: Suns- G Sharife Cooper, Auburn
#30: Jazz- G Miles McBride, West Virginia
This is Philly Sports Today after all, so I want to give some quick thoughts on the 76ers pick. I had a lot of good options, and I think the Sixers will just go best player available at this point. Philly needs some forward depth, and Robinson-Earl is already a popular candidate due to his time at Villanova. Especially with the potential Ben Simmons trade, the Sixers could use more wing defenders that can play roles on championship teams.
I also love the Jared Butler in Los Angeles fit.