2021 NBA Mock Draft: Rounding Up Expert Picks Heading into Final Day of Season

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 16, 2021

2021 NBA Mock Draft: Rounding Up Expert Picks Heading into Final Day of Season

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    The 2020-21 NBA regular season is set to close on Sunday, which means we'll soon know which teams can start focusing on the offseason. Twenty teams will remain alive for the postseason because of the play-in tournament, with the top six in each conference locking up playoff berths.

    Of course, teams like the Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons have been focused on the draft and the draft lottery for some time.

    While there isn't a "can't-miss" prospect at the top of this draft class, there are some intriguing young players for teams to target. Here, we'll dive into where some experts believe those top prospects might land with a full Round 1 mock draft based on the current pre-lottery order.

    Let's dig in. 

2021 NBA Mock Draft

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    Paul Sancya/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 (from Minnesota): Jalen Johnson, PF, Duke

    7. Toronto Raptors: Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas

    8. Orlando Magic (from Chicago): 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. San Antonio Spurs: Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas

    13. Washington Wizards: Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga

    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. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami): Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky

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

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

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

    22. Houston Rockets (from Portland): Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU

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

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

    25, Los Angeles Clippers: Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon

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

    27. Brooklyn Nets: Tre Mann, PG/SG, Florida

    28. Philadelphia 76ers: Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn

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

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

    *predicted draft order

Cade Cunningham Still Trending at the Top

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    Brody Schmidt/Associated Press

    While there isn't a Zion Williamson-type prospect looming over the draft landscape, one player continues to trend as a likely No. 1 pick. Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham is that player.

    The Athletic's Sam Vecenie had Cunningham as his prospect all the way back in January.

    "There simply isn't anything he doesn't do," Vecenie wrote.

    CBS Sports' Gary Parrish had Cunningham as his No. 1 pick in a late-April mock draft. Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman mocked Cunningham No. 1 to the Oklahoma City Thunder earlier this week—though he said that Cunningham isn't a lock in that scenario.

    "Oklahoma City may think about Evan Mobley here, given the team's major need for a big man. But Cunningham is still widely regarded as the No. 1 overall prospect," Wasserman wrote.

    Much will depend on how the draft lottery unfolds, but it's looking unlikely that Cunningham will fall out of the first few picks.

Jalen Suggs on the Rise

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    While Gonzaga ultimately fell short in the NCAA tournament, guard Jalen Suggs accomplished plenty during the lead-up to the final. He hit the game-winning shot against UCLA to send the Zags into the title game against Baylor.

    According to Mike Schmitz of ESPN, however, it isn't Suggs' clutch shooting that has him on the rise heading into the NBA postseason.

    "The 40-foot, game-winning bank shot will be etched into NCAA history, but it's the defensive motor, open-court playmaking, downhill attacks and gamer mentality Suggs brought to the Final Four that has him in the top 3 of our latest top 100," Schmitz wrote in April.

    Suggs remains a hot prospect and was mocked to the Indiana Pacers at No. 4 by Wasserman.

    "As exciting as Suggs is for his open-floor passing, downhill attacking, pull-up shooting and defensive playmaking, the Pacers could be equally drawn to his reputable intangibles that are known to impact winning," Wasserman wrote.

Evan Mobley a Likely Top-Three Selection

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    The modern NBA has devalued traditional centers, which is something Parrish touched on when discussing USC's Evan Mobley.

    "The center position has never been less valued in the NBA than it is right now, which isn't ideal for Mobley," Parrish wrote. "But the one-and-done reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year should still go in the top three based on his ability to rim-protect and stretch the floor."

    Indeed, it does feel like Mobley will be a near-lock for the top three or four spots in the draft—and as Wasserman pointed out, he could be an option at No. 1 depending on who lands the pick.

    Wasserman mocked Mobley No. 2 to the Toronto Raptors, citing his "persuasive offensive skill for scoring versatility" as a draw for NBA teams.

    Mobley averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists this past season for the Trojans. 

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