NBA Draft Lottery 2021: Predictions, Updated Standings for No. 1 Pick

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 11, 2021

NBA Draft Lottery 2021: Predictions, Updated Standings for No. 1 Pick

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The NBA draft lottery gives hope to the hoops world's hopeless.

    The 2021 iteration features several potential jackpot prizes. Between Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green, the upcoming draft class has at least a handful of prospects with franchise-talent upside.

    While the league's flattened lottery odds somewhat limited the annual race to the bottom, there are still clubs scrambling to fill the loss column before the ping-pong balls are dropped.

    After updating the standings with a look at each current lottery team's odds of landing the No. 1 pick, we'll predict how the first round might play out and quickly spotlight some of the top prospects in the class.

Current Draft Lottery Odds for No. 1 Pick

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    Michael Wyke/Associated Press

    1. Houston Rockets: 14 percent odds

    2. Detroit Pistons: 14 percent

    3. Cleveland Cavaliers: 13.3 percent

    4. Oklahoma City Thunder: 13.2 percent

    5. Orlando Magic: 9.8 percent

    6. Minnesota Timberwolves: 9.7 percent

    7. Toronto Raptors: 7.5 percent

    8. Chicago Bulls: 6.0 percent

    9. Sacramento Kings: 4.5 percent

    10. New Orleans Pelicans: 3.0 percent

    11. Washington Wizards: 2.0 percent

    12. Indiana Pacers: 1.5 percent

    13. San Antonio Spurs: 1.0 percent

    14. Memphis Grizzlies: 0.5 percent

2021 Mock NBA First Round

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    John Locher/Associated Press

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

    2. Detroit Pistons: Evan Mobley, C, USC

    3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite

    4. Oklahoma City Thunder: 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. Washington Wizards: Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan

    12. Indiana Pacers: 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: Usman Garuba, C, Real Madrid

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

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

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

    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

Top Prospects in Draft

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    While every draft board is unique, it seems relatively safe to assume that most (if not all) will start with Cade Cunningham at the top.

    The 19-year-old came into the campaign as the highest-rated prospect in this class and did nothing to lose that spot. If anything, he solidified his place by alleviating any concerns about his scoring (20.1 points per game) and shooting touch (40.0 percent from deep, 84.6 percent at the line).

    Cunningham works best on the ball, but if his shooting holds up, he can add value away from it, too. Defensively, his combination of length (6'8" with a 7'0" wingspan), athleticism and feel should allow him to check multiple spots. He can be an organization's best player, but he can also fit with anyone who currently holds that title.

    The next batch of prospects—Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green—are ranked closely enough that team needs could factor into the decision-making process.

    For instance, the Rockets seem early enough into their post-James Harden rebuild that they should take the best player available, but if they hold the aforementioned trio in similar regard and are dead-set on Christian Wood being their long-term answer at center, they might nudge Suggs or Green ahead of Mobley.

    If the Warriors are in position to draft one of these three, they might also back off Mobley because of James Wiseman's presence.

    The Pistons and Cavaliers, meanwhile, might view their recent investments at the guard spots—Killian Hayes in Detroit; Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in Cleveland—as reason to bump Suggs behind the other two.

    The Magic's need for offensive oomph could vault Green to the top, since he projects to be the best scorer of the bunch.