NBA Draft 2021: Final Mock Draft Ahead of March Madness Elite Eight

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IMarch 29, 2021

NBA Draft 2021: Final Mock Draft Ahead of March Madness Elite Eight

0 of 4

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    March Madness has brought the exciting action, thrilling games and major upsets that it's known for. And for some players, it's also brought the end of their college careers.

    The 2021 NCAA men's basketball tournament has reached its Elite Eight round, meaning one of the eight remaining teams will be cutting down the nets in Indianapolis on April 5. Among the 60 teams that have been eliminated, there are plenty of talented players, some of whom will be heading to the NBA, potentially as soon as this year.

    Because the 2020-21 NBA season got off to a delayed start, it won't be ending until July, a month later than usual. It's also not yet known when the 2021 NBA draft will be taking place. But at some point, a new wave of talent will be heading to the professional level.

    As the NCAA tourney nears its conclusion, here's a mock draft for the first round of this year's event. (Note: The order shown is based on reverse order of records, per Tankathon, but that could change significantly during the second half of the 2020-21 season, based on results and the draft lottery.)

1st-Round Mock Draft

1 of 4

    Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

    1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State

    2. Detroit Pistons: Jalen Suggs, PG, Gonzaga

    3. Houston Rockets: Evan Mobley, C, USC

    4. Orlando Magic: Jalen Green, SG, G League

    5. Washington Wizards: Jonathan Kuminga, SF, G League

    6. Cleveland Cavaliers: Scottie Barnes, SF, Florida State

    7. Toronto Raptors: Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas

    8. Oklahoma City Thunder: Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga

    9. Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls): Keon Johnson, SG, Tennessee

    10. New Orleans Pelicans: Kai Jones, PF/C, Texas

    11. Sacramento Kings: James Bouknight, SG, UConn

    12. Indiana Pacers: Franz Wagner, SF/PF, Michigan

    13. Golden State Warriors: Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford

    14. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaden Springer, SG, Tennessee

    15. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami Heat): Usman Garuba, PF, Real Madrid

    16. Atlanta Hawks: Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU

    17. Boston Celtics: Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor

    18. Charlotte Hornets: Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas

    19. New York Knicks: Jalen Johnson, SF/PF, Duke

    20. New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks): Josh Christopher, SG, Arizona State

    21. San Antonio Spurs: Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn

    22. Denver Nuggets: Ayo Dosunmu, SG, Illinois

    23. Houston Rockets (via Portland Trail Blazers): Josh Giddey, PG, Adelaide 36ers

    24. Los Angeles Lakers: Jared Butler, PG, Baylor

    25. Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee Bucks): Taevion Kinsey, SG, Marshall

    26. Los Angeles Clippers: Brandon Boston Jr., SG, Kentucky

    27. Brooklyn Nets: Greg Brown, SF/PF, Texas

    28. Phoenix Suns: Daishen Nix, PG, G League

    29. Philadelphia 76ers: Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon

    30. Utah Jazz: Tre Mann, PG, Florida

Cunningham Remains Likely No. 1 Overall Pick

2 of 4

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Cade Cunningham's season (likely his only one at the college level) ended when Oklahoma State fell in the second round of the NCAA tournament. And while the freshman guard didn't have his best shooting performance in either of the Cowboys' March Madness games, it's still clear he's the top player in this year's draft class.

    In Oklahoma State's first-round win over Liberty, Cunningham had 15 points and shot 3-of-14 from the field. He was better in the Cowboys' second-round loss to Oregon State, tallying 24 points and shooting 6-of-20. However, between the two games, he had nine rebounds and seven steals and went 15-of-19 at the free-throw line.

    There were better examples of what makes Cunningham the probable No. 1 overall pick throughout the season. On Feb. 27, he dropped 40 points in Oklahoma State's overtime win at Oklahoma, recording 11 rebounds, shooting 12-of-21 from the field and going 13-of-14 on free throws.

    It likely won't matter which team ends up with the No. 1 pick. Any team will find a way to make the 6'8" Cunningham fit into their rotation and build around him as a key member of their franchise.

Suggs Should Be 1st Gonzaga Player Drafted

3 of 4

    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    There are a lot of talented players on Gonzaga's roster this season. That shouldn't be surprising, considering the Bulldogs are 29-0 (the only undefeated team in the country), have reached the Elite Eight and could be on their way to winning the national championship.

    Several of Gonzaga's players will likely be selected in this year's draft, including a couple potentially during the lottery portion of the event. And there's a good chance that the first Bulldogs player selected will be freshman point guard Jalen Suggs, who has a skill set that should transition well to the NBA.

    "Nice size for a lead guard at 6'4". Strong, compact frame. Powerful athlete," ESPN's Mike Schmitz wrote in a scouting report. "Finishes above the rim in space, especially off of two feet. Great body control. Embraces contact. Downhill driver who can change speeds. Great in transition."

    That's a lot of positives that show what makes Suggs a strong player. His best showing during March Madness thus far came in Gonzaga's second-round win over Oklahoma, when he had 16 points, three rebounds, three assists and three steals.

Mobley Showcasing Consistent Play for USC

4 of 4

    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Evan Mobley will likely be a top-three pick during this year's NBA draft. The USC freshman center has been showcasing why that's the case with his consistent play during the Trojans' run to the Elite Eight.

    Mobley had a double-double in each of USC's first two NCAA tournament wins, tallying 17 points and 11 rebounds in the first round against Drake and 10 points and 13 rebounds in the second round against Kansas. In the Trojans' Sweet 16 victory over Pac-12 rival Oregon on Sunday night, Mobley had 10 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

    This hasn't been an unusually strong stretch for the 7-footer, either, as he's put up these types of numbers consistently throughout the season. His size and skills are likely going to lead to him having success once he reaches the professional level.

    Like Cunningham, Mobley will be the type of player who teams find a way to fit onto their roster and to build around. So expect to hear his name called early on draft night.