NBA Draft 2021: Date, Selection Order, Lottery Predictions and Top Prospects

Kristopher Knox@@kris_knoxFeatured ColumnistMay 17, 2021

NBA Draft 2021: Date, Selection Order, Lottery Predictions and Top Prospects

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    Brody Schmidt/Associated Press

    The 2020-21 NBA regular season has come to a close, and the field for the play-in tournament has been set. 20 of the league's teams are still alive for the postseason, while 10 can officially turn the page to the upcoming draft.

    With less uncertainty surrounding the draft class than there was a year ago, this year's predraft period should be full of intrigue. While we don't know how the lottery will unfold just yet, we do know which teams have the best chances of landing a lottery pick.

    With the regular season now in the rear view, let's examine the early draft picture. Here, you'll find a look at the pre-lottery draft order, the most likely lottery prospects and some incoming players worthy of consideration at the top of Round 1.

2021 NBA Draft Info and Lottery Projections

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    When: July 29

    Where: Barclays Center, Brooklyn

    TV and Live Stream: ESPN, ABC (first round only) and WatchESPN

    Lottery Date: June 22


    Lottery Predictions

    1. Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State

    2. Evan Mobley, C, USC

    3. Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite

    4. Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Gonzaga

    5. Jonathan Kuminga, SF/PF, G League Ignite

    6. Keon Johnson, SG/SF, Tennessee

    7. Jalen Johnson, PF, Duke

    8. Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas

    9. James Bouknight, SG, Connecticut

    10. Scottie Barnes, PF, Florida State

    11. Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan

    12. Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford

    13. Kai Jones, PF, Texas

    14. Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga

Pre-Lottery Draft Order

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    Julio Cortez/Associated Press

    1. Houston Rockets

    2. Detroit Pistons

    3. Orlando Magic

    4. Cleveland Cavaliers

    5. Oklahoma City Thunder

    6. Golden State Warriors (from Minnesota)

    7. Toronto Raptors

    8. New Orleans Pelicans

    9. Orlando Magic (from Chicago)

    10. Sacramento Kings

    11. Charlotte Hornets

    12. San Antonio Spurs

    13. Indiana Pacers

    14. Memphis Grizzlies

    15. Washington Wizards

    16. Boston Celtics

    17. Golden State Warriors

    18. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami)

    19. New York Knicks

    20. Atlanta Hawks

    21. Houston Rockets (from Portland)

    22. Los Angeles Lakers

    23. New York Knicks (from Dallas)

    24. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee)

    25. Los Angeles Clippers

    26. Denver Nuggets

    27. Brooklyn Nets

    28. Philadelphia 76ers

    29. Phoenix Suns

    30. Utah Jazz

    *Draft order via Tankathon

Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham isn't cemented into the top pick the way Zion Williamson was a couple of years ago. However, the offensive powerhouse has the goods to warrant a selection at No. 1 overall.

    This past season, Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists while displaying a level of court vision beyond his years. Not only can Cunningham create his own shots, he can also find open looks for his teammates in a split-second.

    "This is what gets scouts and front offices so excited about Cunningham. His third-level vision and precision are impeccable for a player his age, and he's already able to make NBA reads in traffic," CBS Sports' Colin Ward-Henniger wrote of Cunningham.

    Though he is far from the biggest prospect in this draft class—he's listed at 6'8" and 220 pounds—Cunningham has an NBA-ready frame and is the complete package in terms of offensive skill. There's no such thing as a can't-miss prospect in the NBA, but Cunningham is about as close as you'll find in 2021.

Evan Mobley, C, USC

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    Right now, Southern California center Evan Mobley appears to be the prospect most likely to challenge Cunningham for the No. 1 spot. This is largely due to a contrast in size and styles. If a team is desperate for a big man, it could consider Mobley the more relevant prospect.

    Listed at 7'0" and 215 pounds, Mobley has the height and the wingspan needed to be an elite interior player. However, he isn't just a throwback big. While Mobley was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, his excellence isn't generated solely by a size advantage.

    "Mobley is an extremely mobile and agile big man who regularly initiated USC's offense by pushing the ball off the defensive glass and was often the Trojans' most reliable passer and decision-maker in the half court," ESPN's Jonathan Givony wrote.

    While Mobley is an effective rim-protector, he's also an instinctive offensive force who can set up explosive possessions off the rebound.

    This past season, Mobley averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists.

Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite

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    Gregory Payan/Associated Press

    G League product Jalen Green is another prospect who is likely to earn consideration at the top. Though perhaps not the most polished player in this draft class, he oozes athletic upside and showed improvement throughout this past season.

    "Unmatchable quickness and explosive leaping set him apart, but Green has clearly improved off the dribble, having showcased advanced creation moves and three-point shooting (34 3PTM in 16 games) off the catch and dribble," Bleacher Reports' Jonathan Wasserman wrote.

    Green averaged 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 2.8 assists while shooting 46.1 percent from the field. He also made a solid 36.5 of his three-point attempts.

    Listed at 6'6" and 178 pounds, Green is smaller prospect, which could prevent him from being the first player off the board. however, his ability to create scoring opportunities and generate open looks will likely ensure that he's an early lottery selection.