NBA Draft 2021: Latest 1st-Round Order, Mock Predictions Before First Four Games
The NCAA D1 men's basketball tournament is set to kick off on Thursday with the First Four round. While college basketball fans will spend many days watching to see who emerges as champion, NBA decision-makers will be checking out who might be the league's next big playmaker.
While a prospect's ability to perform in the tournament isn't always an indicator of pro success, it can show potential NBA employers the ability to handle big games and big moments.
In many ways, the tournament spotlight is bigger than it would be in an average NBA game.
Some stars are sure to rise in the weeks leading up to the April 5 championship game. It will certainly be interesting to revisit players' pre-tournament draft stock next month. For now, though, we're going to take a look at the current draft order and how things might unfold if picks were made now.
Round 1 Mock Draft
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State
2. Detroit Pistons: Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Gonzaga
3. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite
4. Orlando Magic: Evan Mobley, C, USC
5. Washington Wizards: Jonathan Kuminga, SF, G League Ignite
6. Cleveland Cavaliers: Keon Johnson, SG/SF, Tennessee
7. Sacramento Kings: James Bouknight, SG, UConn
8. Toronto Raptors: Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor
9. New Orleans Pelicans: Scottie Barnes, SF/PF, Florida State
10. Oklahoma City Thunder: Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas
11. Indiana Pacers: Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn
12. Chicago Bulls: Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan
13. Memphis Grizzlies: Kai Jones, PF/C, Texas
14. Golden State Warriors: Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga
15. New York Knicks: Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford
16. Boston Celtics: Jalen Johnson, SF, Duke
17. Atlanta Hawks: Jaden Springer, PG/SG, Tennessee
18. Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Boston Jr., SF, Kentucky
19. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami): Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky
20. New York Knicks (from Dallas): Usman Garuba, C, Real Madrid
21. San Antonio Spurs: Aaron Henry, SF, Michigan State
22. Houston Rockets (from Portland): Josh Christopher, SG/SF, Arizona State
23. Denver Nuggets: Cam Thomas, SG, LSU
24. Los Angeles Clippers: Ayo Dosunmu, PG/SG, Illinois
25. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee): Jared Butler, PG/SG, Baylor
26. Los Angeles Lakers: Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon
27. Philadelphia 76ers: Daishin Nix, PG, G League Ignite
28. Brooklyn Nets: Josh Giddey, PG/SG, Adelaide 36ers
29. Phoenix Suns: Isaiah Todd, PF, G League Ignite
30. Utah Jazz: Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas
*Draft order from Tankathon
Rockets Trade P.J. Tucker, Shake Up Draft Order
The draft order has been altered a bit, as the Houston Rockets have agreed to trade forward P.J. Tucker to the Milwaukee Bucks.
According to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, it will be a multiplayer deal that also involves Rodions Kurucs, D.J. Augustin and D.J. Wilson.
As part of the trade, the Bucks will swap their first-round pick with Houston's second-round selection—if Milwaukee's pick doesn't fall into the top nine. This means that the Rockets should now have three picks in Round 1 on draft night.
"Considering the upside Tucker offers and room below the hard cap to refill the roster, the Bucks' cost is justified," Dan Feldman of NBC Sports wrote.
It's becoming clear that in the post-James Harden era, the Rockets are in full-on rebuilding mode.
Is Cunningham a Lock for the No. 1 Spot?
While the draft order is still being shuffled, Oklahoma State standout Cade Cunningham is busy trying to cement his status as the top prospect in this draft class. The freshman guard has averaged 20.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 assists while shooting 45.4 percent from the field.
Listed at 6'8" and 220 pounds, Cunningham has the size and the upside to be a franchise-changing acquisition in the draft.
While Cunningham has carried plenty of hype this season, he hasn't taken his future draft status for granted.
"He's got a business-like approach to this deal," Oklahoma State coach Mike Boynton said, per The Athletic's Brian Hamilton. "And it's admirable. I've heard stories of other coaches who coached guys coming in with his kind of hype—they've not been invested in the process."
Cunningham appears to be fully focused on advancing the Cowboys through the tournament. He'll be in Round 1 action against Liberty on Friday.
Isaiah Jackson to Test Draft Waters
While the Kentucky Wildcats surprisingly won't be in the tournament this year, at least one prospect is likely to end up in the Round 1 draft range. Freshman forward Isaiah Jackson has decided to see if he can be a first-round pick.
According to ESPN, Jackson plans to enter the draft pool for evaluation. However, he will not hire an agent, leaving open the possibility of a collegiate return for the 2021-22 season.
Jackson is widely considered a first-round talent. However, with Kentucky out of the tournament, there's always a chance that he could fall down draft boards as other prospects raise their own stock in the dance.
Listed at 6'10" and 206 pounds, Jackson has intriguing physical upside. This past season, he averaged 8.4 points and 6.6 rebounds while shooting 54 percent from the field.