NBA Draft 2021: Roundup of Expert Mock Drafts After NCAA ChampionshipApril 7, 2021
NBA Draft 2021: Roundup of Expert Mock Drafts After NCAA Championship
The confetti has fallen, and the curtains have closed on the 2021 men's NCAA tournament.
The Gonzaga Bulldogs' quest for perfection fell one game short, spoiled by a Baylor Bears team that played a near-perfect game on Monday night.
Several players from that contest had NBA eyes on them, as they'll hear their names called at the 2021 draft.
To see where those prospects and others might land, we'll spotlight three different expert mocks to mine their top predictions.
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman
April kicked off with the latest mock projections from B/R's resident draft guru, Jonathan Wasserman.
With Cade Cunningham coming off the board first, as expected, Wasserman's first decision came at No. 2. While Gonzaga's Jalen Suggs earned some helium during the tournament, Wasserman instead sent USC center Evan Mobley to the Houston Rockets in that slot.
"They'll picture Evan Mobley as the centerpiece to build their defense and franchise around," Wasserman wrote. "... Though he may need time to add muscle for scoring inside the arc, Mobley's open-floor ball-handling, face-up play, passing and shooting touch still point to plenty of offensive upside."
In the eyes of any analysts, this draft features a clear top five—the aforementioned trio, plus Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga—so Wasserman's next decision came at the sixth slot. There, he united Tennessee swingman Keon Johnson with the Washington Wizards, highlighting his "athleticism, motor and aggression."
Baylor star Davion Mitchell climbed up to No. 10, while Stanford's Ziaire Williams claimed the last lottery spot, with Wasserman noting Williams could sway teams his direction with "workout shooting ... and strong interviews."
Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek
The third mock draft from Yahoo Sports' Krysten Peek includes a few eye-opening predictions that show the influence of the NCAA tournament.
The first thing that stands out, though, is the direction taken at No. 5. The mock starts out as expected with Cunningham, Suggs, Green and Mobley coming off the board in that order. The selection spots might vary from one mock to the next, but those are generally the first four picks.
But Kuminga doesn't round out the quintet as he typically does, instead falling one spot behind Florida State's Scottie Barnes. Peek's rationale is that the Orlando magic "need ... size and versatility," which Barnes clearly offers as a 6'9" playmaker and shape-shifting defender. Still, the Magic would be passing up some upside if they let Kuminga slip past them.
As for the March Madness impact, that's seen in the predictions for Davion Mitchell (No. 7) and Chris Duarte (No. 14). Both are first-round prospects, but this might be the highest you'll find either one mocked. Mitchell was a central figure in Baylor's run to the title, while Duarte piled up 44 points and 13 assists against three turnovers in two tourney games with the Oregon Ducks.
NBC Sports' James Ham
The fourth mock from NBC Sports Bay Area's James Ham opens with—drum roll, please—Cunningham. Sorry for the unnecessary suspense, but you knew this was coming, right? Ham wrote that Cunningham "has stardom [written] all over him" with three-level scoring, elite vision and "off-the-charts" basketball IQ.
Like Wasserman, Ham has the next four picks being Mobley, Suggs, Green and Kuminga in that order, allowing us to fast-forward to pick six. There, Ham has the Wizards snatching up Barnes, noting the forward "might be one of those players that changes the personality of a team, which is something the Wizards desperately need."
Ham later gives the most love of these draft experts to UConn scoring guard James Bouknight, mocking him eighth overall to the Magic. Bouknight's scoring volume, defensive potential and ability to contribute right away are things Ham envisions drawing in Orlando.
Ham has Gonzaga sharpshooter Corey Kispert to the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 10 as a release valve for their star forwards in a similar mold to JJ Redick.
Ham was the only of the three experts to put Tennessee point guard Jaden Springer and Kentucky center Isaiah Jackson in the lottery as the 13th and 14th picks, respectively. Ham has the Golden State Warriors grabbing Springer as the current understudy to and long-term replacement for Stephen Curry, while the Memphis Grizzlies add Jackson to their pile of lanky, high-upside defenders.