2021 NBA Mock Draft: Latest Predictions Ahead of Final Games

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 10, 2021

2021 NBA Mock Draft: Latest Predictions Ahead of Final Games

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    Brody Schmidt/Associated Press

    The 2020-21 NBA regular season has entered its final week.

    Teams should have a clear idea by this point of where they are headed and what they need to get there.

    That means draft strategies should be closer to crystallizing. For some, they might have the luxury of knowing that the best possible fit for them is the best prospect available. For others, their roster might have a specific itch that, if properly scratched on draft night, could allow them to take the next step in 2021-22.

    Needs shouldn't be too hard to fill with this class, which features five potential franchise talents at the top and a host of capable starters and role players behind them. After laying out our latest mock first round, we'll spotlight the top three prospects on our board.

2021 NBA Mock Draft

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    1. Houston Rockets: Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State

    2. Detroit Pistons: Evan Mobley, C, USC

    3. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite

    4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Gonzaga

    5. Orlando Magic: Jonathan Kuminga, SF, G League Ignite

    6. Golden State Warriors (via Minnesota Timberwolves): Jalen Johnson, PF, Duke

    7. Toronto Raptors: Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas

    8. Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls): Keon Johnson, SG/SF, Tennessee

    9. Sacramento Kings: Scottie Barnes, SF/PF, Florida State

    10. New Orleans Pelicans: Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor

    11. Indiana Pacers: Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan

    12. Washington Wizards: Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga

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

    14. Memphis Grizzlies: James Bouknight, SG, UConn

    15. Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones, PF/C, Texas

    16. Boston Celtics (via Dallas Mavericks): Usman Garuba, C, Real Madrid

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

    18. Atlanta Hawks: Josh Giddey, PG/SG, Adelaide 36ers

    19. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami Heat): Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky

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

    21. New York Knicks: Josh Christopher, SG/SF, Arizona State

    22. Houston Rockets (via Portland Trail Blazers): Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU

    23. New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks): Brandon Boston Jr., SF, Kentucky

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

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

    26. Brooklyn Nets: Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn

    27. Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon

    28. Philadelphia 76ers: Tre Mann, PG/SG, Florida

    29. Phoenix Suns: Jaden Springer, PG/SG, Tennessee

    30. Utah Jazz: Miles McBride, PG, West Virginia

1. Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State

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    Garett Fisbeck/Associated Press

    The college basketball world might have twisted and turned during a unique season, but nothing changed at the top of this draft.

    Cade Cunningham opened the campaign in the No. 1 spot, and a productive stint in Stillwater kept him there.

    His appeal is easy to see. He's a 6'8" playmaker who is an effortless shot-creator for himself and his teammates. The positional size alone gives him great versatility at both ends of the floor.

    But if there were any doubts about his game going into his one-and-done collegiate season, he answered them while steering an otherwise forgettable Cowboys squad to a 21-9 record and No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament. Concerns about both his shot and assertiveness as a scorer were all alleviated, as he averaged 20.1 points per game while connecting on 40.0 percent of his threes and 84.6 percent of his free throws.

2. Evan Mobley, C, USC

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    Obituaries for NBA centers were written prematurely.

    Sure, the position was wiped off of the All-Star ballot and doesn't spawn as many focal points as it did in the past, but the modern game is all about skill. And when that skill is paired with impressive size, that's the best of both worlds.

    That's the sales pitch for Evan Mobley, a 7-footer who can control the interior and hold his own away from the basket. He'll make his biggest impact early at the defensive end, where he can protect the rim (2.9 blocks per game) and defend in space on perimeter switches. Long term, he might intrigue more on offense if he can further tap into the flashes he has shown of ball-handling, face-up attacking and shooting touch.

    If he maxes out his potential, he can be his club's best player on both ends of the floor. That's a tremendous advantage to have at the 5 spot, even in this increasingly up-and-down league.

3. Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite

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    If you had to bet on the top player coming out of this draft, Jalen Green would be in the discussion but probably not leading it. But if you were betting on the likeliest prospect to one day win a scoring title, the 6'5" swingman would be the odds-on favorite.

    He has the burst to beat his man off the bounce, the range to launch from anywhere and the bounce to finish above the rim. He played among professionals for the G League Ignite and still worked his way to 17.9 points per night on 46.1/36.5/82.9 shooting.

    "Green's shot-creation and shot-making have developed into legitimate strengths," B/R's Jonathan Wasserman wrote. "For Ignite, he regularly separated into drives and dribble jumpers with decisive ball-handling moves and footwork. ... It's just too easy to picture an elite NBA scorer given how comfortable he looked in the G League bubble."

    Assuming Cunnigham goes No. 1, the next three picks could all be one of Mobley, Green or Jalen Suggs. But if a team is searching for scoring, Green should be the first prospect who comes to mind.