2021 NBA Mock Draft: Predictions for Top Prospects Alive in NCAA Tournament
Starring in the NCAA tournament certainly isn't a prerequisite for becoming a top NBA draft pick. However, many future pro players do use the annual men's tournament as a proving ground and a showcase for prospective employers.
While draft stock should never be based entirely on the tournament, the bright lights, high-stakes and strong competition—especially in the later rounds—can help a player separate himself from the pack.
Of course, getting to the later rounds is part of the equation, and we've already seen some sizeable upsets in the 2021 tournament. 15th-seed Oral Robert, for example, knocked off second-seed Ohio State on Friday.
Several top prospects are still in the dance, though, and you'll find a look at some of the best here—along with the current draft order and an updated Round 1 mock.
2021 NBA Mock Draft, Roudn 1
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State
2. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite
3. Detroit Pistons: Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Gonzaga
4. Orlando Magic: Evan Mobley, C, USC
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonathan Kuminga, SF, G League Ignite
6. Washington Wizards: 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. Chicago Bulls: Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan
12. Indiana Pacers: Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn
13. Memphis Grizzlies: Kai Jones, PF/C, Texas
14. Golden State Warriors: Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga
15. Charlotte Hornets: Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford
16. Boston Celtics: Jalen Johnson, SF, Duke
17. New York Knicks: Jaden Springer, PG/SG, Tennessee
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami): Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky
19. Atlanta Hawks: Brandon Boston Jr., SF, 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. Brooklyn Nets: Daishin Nix, PG, G League Ignite
28. Phoenix Suns: Josh Giddey, PG/SG, Adelaide 36ers
29. Philadelphia 76ers: Isaiah Todd, PF, G League Ignite
30. Utah Jazz: Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas
*Draft order from Tankathon
Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Gonzaga
While nothing is guaranteed in the NCAA tournament, standout Gonzaga guard Jalen Suggs is expected to go deep into the bracket. He's still alive, as the No. 1-seed Bulldogs handled Norfolk State 98-55 on Saturday.
Gonzaga remains undefeated and realistically could stay that way until the end. The 6'4", 205-pound Suggs has played a big role in that.
Suggs has averaged 14 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists this season while shooting 50.4 percent from the floor. He's a tremendous all-around offensive player with the size and the quickness to play point guard at the next level. He should be a lottery pick, though Suggs has remained focused on the task at hand.
"It’s impossible not to think about [the NBA] at all. It’s definitely come across my mind, but my main focus has been trying to stay in the moment," Suggs said, per Howie Kussoy of the New York Post.
Suggs' next moment will come against Oklahoma in the second round.
Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor
Baylor's Davion Mitchell is another premier point-guard prospect who could conceivably stick around until the final rounds of the tournament. The 6'2", 205-pound junior brings a wealth of experience for the Bears and a tremendous all-around game.
A strong scorer and defender, Mitchell should be viewed as a high-end two-way player at the NBA level. He's averaged 14 points, 2.8 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 51.4 percent from the floor this season.
Perhaps the biggest knock on Mitchell is his lack of ideal height. However, elite skills and a strong work ethic should keep him high on draft boards.
"Davion stayed in trouble for never wanting to leave the gym," his uncle Derrick said, per Andrew Goldstein of WSAV.
Mitchell and the Bears moved past Hartford in Round 1 and will take on Wisconsin on Sunday.
Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan
While Mitchell may not possess ideal length, the same can not be said for Michigan wing Franz Wagner. The 6'9", 220-pound forward has more than adequate size for the pro game to go with a variety of shot-making skills and solid court vision.
The younger brother of Washington Wizards standout Moritz Wagner, Franz has helped lift Michigan to a No. 1 seed and a spot in the second round.
"Man, Franz is playing extremely well," coach Juwan Howard said, per Orion Sang of the Detroit Free Press. “He’s locked in."
Wagner has averaged 12.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and three assists this season while shooting 49.1 percent from the floor. He and the Wolverines moved past Texas Southern in Round 1 and will next battle LSU on Monday.