The Milwaukee Bucks are our 2021 NBA Champions, the NBA offseason is officially underway and NBA Draft season is in the air. With the 2021 NBA Draft less than 24 hours away, NBA draft analysts from all over are punching in their final predictions heading into tomorrow’s night event at the esteemed Barclays Center.
Time is ticking and there is not much time left before teams will be on the clock. Commissioner Adam Silver will soon be welcoming in the next crop of young potential NBA superstars looking to make a name for themselves at the highest level that basketball has to offer.
Heading into the final countdown, here is my last-minute mock draft predicting who teams will select within the Lottery portion of the much-anticipated 2021 NBA Draft.
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1. Detroit Pistons – Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
Considered to be the overwhelming consensus for the No.1 overall pick for much of the Draft process, Cade Cunningham is a can’t miss prospect. Despite reports that the Detroit Pistons are not completely committed to taking him at No.1 there is no way they pass on Cunningham if they do not trade out of the top spot.
In his lone Freshman season at Oklahoma State, Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game. The big thing that stands out about Cunningham is that he is the peak representation of what every team is looking for nowadays: Elite Two-Way Wings. Standing at 6-foot-8, Cunningham’s combination of size, fluidity and poise makes him a smooth play maker that also has the measurables to guard the 1 through 3 positions.
Next to the likes of guys like Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes, Cunningham will be surrounded by guys that can handle the ball and stretch the floor which also opens things up for him to make plays for himself and others. Something he was not able to do as much of with the lack of spacing provided by his OK State squad. Pistons make the easy call at No.1 and take the best guy on the board.
2. Houston Rockets – Jalen Green, G-League Ignite
Better known as the first ever G-League Ignite program signee, the Houston Rockets look to continue the youth movement by selecting one of the most dynamic scorers in this Draft class.
As a member of the G-League Ignite, Jalen Green was easily the team’s best player facing off against quality competition composed of former NBA players and guys fighting for a chance at a spot on the main roster. At 6-foot-6, Green averaged 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists while displaying his elite above the rim athleticism and signs that he can be a top-flight scorer at the next level.
With comparisons to Chicago Bulls’ guard Zach LaVine, Green is further ahead as a shooter and ball handler than LaVine around this same time coming out of UCLA. At only 19 years old, he has the chance to build up his slight frame and become an even more dynamic finisher that can finish through contact at a more sustainable rate.
Green will join a unique group of young prospects that includes Kevin Porter Jr. and Kenyon Martin Jr. who both showed promise late in the season after a short stint in the G-League. Green instantly provides Houston with yet another athletic ball handler that also could take the mantle as the next Rockets’ All-Star in the post-James Harden era.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Evan Mobley, USC
Whether they believe this to be the best player available or simply the best fit for their team, the Cleveland Cavaliers cannot go wrong with selecting Evan Mobley at No. 3.
As an elite 7-footer who showed out in the Pac-12, Mobley displayed significant upside as a well-rounded big man. This past season Mobley averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and a whopping 2.9 blocks in route to leading the Trojans to the Elite 8.
Mobley has been primarily compared to former No.4 overall pick and 11-time All-Star Chris Bosh which is high praise for the young 20-year-old. Between his rim protecting capability, ball handling skill and high-level passing, Mobley should be a seamless fit on both ends of the floor next to either Jarrett Allen and/or Larry Nance Jr.
4. Toronto Raptors – Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
With the much-anticipated departure of All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry, the Toronto Raptors select the best point guard in the draft in Jalen Suggs.
As a 6-foot-4 combo guard, Suggs displayed the full package as an elite playmaker that could get his own shot and be a high-level facilitator that embraced the talent around him. In his lone year at Gonzaga Suggs averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 assists and 4.5 assists in route to leading his team all the way to the NCAA Championship.
Suggs popped off the screen for his high basketball IQ, positive decision making with the ball and his tenacity on both ends of the floor. As a part of a core that includes Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, Suggs will be able to step in right away to replace Lowry and instantly make an impact as a player with glue guy intangibles and an All-Star upside.
5. Orlando Magic – Jonathan Kuminga, G-League Ignite
The prototypical wing player that just so happens to fit exactly the mold of player that the Orlando Magic have the tendency to draft. Aaron Gordon, Jonathan Isaac, Chuma Okeke; they all have one thing in common: Rangy wings.
Jonathan Kuminga follows behind a lineage of Orlando draft picks that stand at 6-foot-8 or better with a plus wingspan that have the potential to grow into an impact two-way player. As another top-flight signee to the G-League Ignite program, Kuminga averaged 15.8 points per game, 7.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game.
The big knock on him is that he lacks the range (24.6% from three) to really fit into his presumed “3 and D” mold that he is projected to be at the next level. As a member of the Orlando Magic, Kuminga will be given the green light next to guys like Cole Anthony and RJ Hampton develop his offensive skillset. But he also has the physical build that will make him an impact player on defense from Day 1 especially with guys like Jonathan Isaac and Wendell Carter Jr. backing him up.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder – Scottie Barnes, Florida State
Oklahoma City makes their first strike of the night by grabbing one of the most interesting prospects in the draft in Scottie Barnes. As a member of Florida State, Barnes was not really given the chance to showcase his overall skill set, but there were a few things that the Thunder should be able to build on.
Standing at 6-foot-8 with an over 7-foot wingspan, Barnes projects to be an elite defender with a high motor and the passing vision of a guard. At Florida State he averaged 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 4.1 assists and showed spurts of point-forward potential that should translate well to today’s more position-less NBA.
Barnes’s swing skill is going to be the three-point shooting (27.3% from three), but he is a hard worker that will have a chance to open his game a bit more on an OKC squad looking to hit on All-Star level talents.
7. Golden State Warriors – Moses Moody, Arkansas
Not necessarily the “veteran” type pick that has been associated with Golden State throughout this process, but nonetheless Moses Moody still has Day 1 impact potential. Despite reports that the Warriors do not have much interest in Baylor guard Davion Mitchell as most presumed, they still need help in the backcourt.
At 6-foot-6, Moody is a guy who works well without the ball, plays with high energy, and can create offense for himself when need be. At Arkansas, Moody averaged 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and shot 35.8% from beyond the arc. He has the kind of play style that should allow him to fit well in interchangeable lineups next to Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins and/or even Jordan Poole in spurts.
In a league where “3 and D” wings are the hot fad across the league, Moody is one of the top prospects on the board that fits the bill.
8. Orlando Magic – James Bouknight, UConn
After selecting Jonathan Kuminga with the 5th overall pick, the Orlando Magic get a double dose of star potential by getting one of the best athletes in the draft in James Bouknight.
Standing at nearly 6-foot-5, Bouknight is well known for his combination of self-shot creation and hyper athleticism. He is a guy who before going down with an elbow injury that put him out for just over a month, he was well on his way to playing himself into the National Player of the Year conversation. In his sophomore season at UConn, Bouknight averaged 18.7 points and 5.7 rebounds per game as the Huskies most reliable offensive option.
Bouknight will be joining a crowded backcourt that includes Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony and RJ Hampton. But he just might easily have the most potential to pop as an All-Star talent and he gives the team some much needed above the rim athleticism out of the backcourt.
9. Sacramento Kings – Franz Wagner, Michigan
Franz Wagner is an absolute “Must Do It” pick for the Sacramento Kings at No.9.
The Kings desperately need help on the defensive end as they were the 28th ranked team in opponent points per game and dead last in defensive rating last season. Wagner is the ideal low-usage versatile wing that can stretch the floor and hunker down defensively on opposing teams’ best perimeter players.
Standing at 6-foot-8, he averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals and a block a game as a member of the Wolverines. As part of a core that includes an improving De’Aaron Fox and a high IQ guard in Tyrese Haliburton, Wagner should be able to step in and make an impact on Sacramento’s team defense right away with a minimal offensive role.
10. Memphis Grizzlies – Josh Giddey, Australia
After a most recent trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, the Memphis Grizzlies moved up from No. 17 to No. 10 to select arguably the best overseas player in this draft.
As a bit of an enigma, Josh Giddey is an 18-year-old, 6-foot-8 point guard well known for his slick ball handling ability and next level court vision. Playing in the National Basketball League in Australia, Giddey averaged 10.8 points, 7.4 rebounds and 7.4 assists per game.
For the Memphis Grizzlies, at the wing they already have a guy in Justise Winslow who they have a club option on. Winslow has not played any games for them due to a season-ending hip injury, but he essentially fits the mold of the big wing ball handler that can play off Ja Morant or and even run the second unit.
Giddey is everything the Grizzlies want Winslow to be, and it could be argued that he has the measurables to be a much more versatile two-way player than Winslow at this stage of his career. Seems like the perfect way for Memphis to kill two birds with one stone.
11. Charlotte Hornets – Alperen Sengun, Turkish Pro League
The Charlotte Hornets address their biggest positional hole while also getting the best Center prospect on the board in Alperen Sengun.
As much as Charlotte would love for Evan Mobley to take a tumble down to No.11, Sengun is a solid backup option. Sengun notably dominated as a 6-foot-10, 240-pound 19-year-old as a member of team Besiktas over in the Turkish League. This past season he averaged 19.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.6 blocks and 1.3 steals.
The biggest knock on Sengun is that he plays more of a traditional bully ball Center that tends to get played off the court in today’s NBA. But what does play in his favor is that he has the chance to shoot it at the next level as he shot 79.4% from the free throw line which projects well in terms of his shooting touch.
Also, as a big-time around the rim finisher, he is a guy who will be frequently rewarded with easy looks with a guy like LaMelo Ball running the show in Charlotte. He may not be the sexy pick for the Michael Jordan owned team, but he is a guy who should be able to thrive in a system that embraces a run-n-gun/transition-based offense.
12. San Antonio Spurs – Davion Mitchell, Baylor
In a backcourt that has serious questions going into this offseason, it only seems right that the San Antonio Spurs pick up a sure thing in Davion Mitchell to help make sense of things.
The talk around San Antonio is that Demar DeRozan is on his way out and guys like Dejounte Murray and Derrick White could potentially be on the trading block. Not to mention veteran point guard Patty Mills is a 32-year-old pending free agent who could command some serious money from contending teams on the open market.
As a key catalyst to the Baylor Bears winning the 2021 NCAA National Championship, Mitchell averaged 14.0 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.5 assists while shooting 44.7% from three. Mitchell has the physical frame to be a positive backcourt defender at the next level despite being only 6-foot-1, but the real question is whether his junior year shooting stroke is the real deal.
Mitchell was not a 40+% shooter from distance in his two years at Texas Tech and his 64.1% free throw percentage this season does not spell well for this immaculate shooting touch to stick at the next level. But if the shooting is real, even at 22-years-old, Mitchell’s combination of defensive acumen and decision making could quickly lead him to become one of the best two-way guards in the league.
13. Indiana Pacers – Jalen Johnson, Duke
In the late lottery, the Indiana Pacers taking a swing on a top-end talent like Jalen Johnson gives them a potential superstar in the making that also addresses a positional need.
Standing at 6-foot-10, Johnson projects as a versatile point-forward that gives you a little bit of everything. Before making the decision to step away from Duke, Johnson averaged 11.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.2 blocks and 1.2 steals in 13 games with the Blue Devils. Of course, his decision was frowned upon by Duke fans and Draft evaluators alike, but the skillset he displayed in spurts is undeniable.
In a Pacers system next to guys like Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, TJ Warren and Domantas Sabonis, Johnson will initially be simplified. He will be able to slowly integrate himself on the pro level as a combo forward that can handle the ball a little bit and stretch the floor. Indiana does not have a ton of depth behind Warren at small forward, so Johnson should be able to see significant time on the second unit where he will get the chance to flex his untapped potential.
14. Golden State Warriors – Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
The short and simple explanation is that it is only right that the Golden State Warriors, home of the Splash Brothers, get the best shooter in the draft with the last pick in the Lottery.
At 6-foot-7, Kispert averaged 18.6 points and 5.0 rebounds while shooting 44.0% from three in his senior season. With a projected skillset comparable to Brooklyn Nets guard Joe Harris, he is going to be able to step into the league as a Day 1 contributor that thrives in catch-and-shoot situations.
Kispert is not the kind of defensive prospect that Kuminga nor Wagner are, but he has one of the most translatable skills in the NBA as a three-point specialist alongside one of the deadliest shooting duos of the modern era.
Hi there! My name is Jalon Dixon, but most people just call me Jay. As an aspiring, young sports writer and podcaster, I enjoy discussing sports (mainly basketball and football) and sharing my knowledge with others. Growing up right in the middle of Towson University, Morgan State, Goucher College and others, I have gotten the chance to learn so much about a handful of the different athletic teams that thrive here in Baltimore. I want to be the voice of local fans and teams that may not get the same spotlight as others, but still play a big part in our everyday lives. My motto is “Always Embrace Conversation,” so if you ever want to give me feedback on a piece or even just have a friendly sports debate, feel free to email me! Hope you enjoy my work and maybe even learn something along the way.