NBA Mock Draft 2021: Latest Predictions Entering Final Four

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMarch 31, 2021

NBA Mock Draft 2021: Latest Predictions Entering Final Four

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    Brody Schmidt/Associated Press

    While only four teams remain in pursuit of the men's 2021 NCAA tournament title, there is still information to be gleaned by NBA scouts.

    Gonzaga might send four players to the pros with possible lottery picks Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert, plus Joel Ayayi and Drew Timme. Baylor could put multiple prospects in the first round with Davion Mitchell and Jared Butler. Houston's Quentin Grimes might hear his name called early in the second round. Maybe UCLA's miracle run to the Final Four puts someone like Johnny Juzang on the NBA radar.

    A single-elimination tournament inside of a bubble isn't the place to make rigid draft-night decisions, but under-the-spotlight performances can still move stocks up or down the board.

    We'll factor in those fluctuations with our latest mock first round, then examine three of the biggest questions with this draft.

2021 NBA Mock Draft

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

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

    2. Houston Rockets: Evan Mobley, C, USC

    3. Detroit Pistons: Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite

    4. Orlando Magic: Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Gonzaga

    5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonathan Kuminga, SF, G League Ignite

    6. Washington Wizards: Keon Johnson, SG/SF, Tennessee

    7. Toronto Raptors: Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas

    8. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jalen Johnson, PF, Duke

    9. Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls): James Bouknight, SG, UConn

    10. New Orleans Pelicans: Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga

    11. Indiana Pacers: Scottie Barnes, SF/PF, Florida State

    12. Sacramento Kings: Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan

    13. Golden State Warriors: Kai Jones, PF/C, Texas

    14. Memphis Grizzlies: Brandon Boston Jr., SF, Kentucky

    15. Atlanta Hawks: Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU

    16. Boston Celtics: Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford

    17. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami Heat): Jaden Springer, PG/SG, Tennessee

    18. New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks): Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor

    19. Charlotte Hornets: Usman Garuba, C, Real Madrid

    20. San Antonio Spurs: Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas

    21. New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks): Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn

    22. Houston Rockets (via Portland Trail Blazers): Josh Christopher, SG/SF, Arizona State

    23. Denver Nuggets: Ayo Dosunmu, PG/SG, Illinois

    24. Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee Bucks): Greg Brown, PF, Texas

    25. Los Angeles Lakers: Jared Butler, PG/SG, Baylor

    26. Los Angeles Clippers: Josh Giddey, PG/SG, Adelaide 36ers

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

    28. Brooklyn Nets: Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky

    29. Phoenix Suns: Isaiah Todd, PF, G League Ignite

    30. Utah Jazz: Ochai Agbaji, SG, Kansas

Can Anyone Challenge Cade Cunningham for the No. 1 Spot?

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    While this class boasts a handful of potential franchise players, Cade Cunningham has largely been running unopposed in his bid to be the first overall selection for much of the season.

    But a strong close to the campaign by Evan Mobley could be changing the conversation. While that seemingly runs counter to the Association's devaluing of the center spot, the truth is that size still matters in this league. The only difference is that size must now be attached to a well-rounded skill set, and Mobley's has very few holes for a 19-year-old 7-footer.

    "NBA scouts have started to entertain the idea that the draft has two quality candidates for the No. 1 overall pick," B/R's Jonathan Wasserman reported. "... Mobley's impact and projected fit at the next level have some scouts challenging the assumption that a gap exists between Cunningham and the field."

    Cunningham remains the likeliest candidate for the No. 1 pick, as there are few (if any) more valuable archetypes in today's game than a jumbo playmaker who can create his own shots. But Mobley has clearly closed the gap with a wildly intriguing blend of interior finishing, shot-creation, soft shooting touch, shot-blocking and perimeter defense.

Who Goes No. 6?

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Every draft class has a clear line of demarcation. In weak drafts, it might start right at the top. For the 2021 crop, the intrigue starts at No. 6.

    The order of the first five picks is unknown, but the players taken at those spots seems all but cemented. Cunningham, Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga occupy the Nos. 1 through 5 picks in some order on virtually any mock draft you'll come across. 

    The real question, then, is who comes next. There is no shortage of candidates.

    Jalen Johnson is an athletic combo big with two-way versatility. Keon Johnson offers a wealth of possibilities with explosive athleticism and a high motor. Moses Moody is a walking bucket who can hold his own defensively. The rim always seems wider when James Bouknight has eyes on it. Corey Kispert is the top sniper in this draft. Scottie Barnes provides size, defense and point-forward-level playmaking.

    They have more risks and fewer rewards than the first five prospects, but the way this tier shakes out could be the most fascinating thing to track on draft night.

How Far Has Greg Brown Fallen?

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    Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

    Greg Brown might be the biggest eye-of-the-beholder prospect in this draft.

    Some will look his direction and see a top-10 prospect on tools alone. He might be the best athlete in the draft, and when he's shown flashes of shot-making, it's easy to get carried away thinking about his future.

    Others will focus on the present and question why he wasn't able to impact winning more at Texas. He was almost squeezed out of the Longhorns rotation by season's end—he played just six minutes in their upset loss to Abilene Christian—and showed a frightening lack of feel. He managed only 10 assists against 60 turnovers in 26 games.

    He once had top-10 potential, but that seems too early for the risk now. Maybe he hovers around the back end of the lottery, but it's just as likely he might wait to hear his name called until the final picks of the opening round.

    He could have the widest range of potential outcomes in this class, and it's always interesting to see when one team is willing to pounce on such a risk-reward prospect like this.