2021 NBA Mock Draft: Who Lands No. 1 Pick in Lottery Simulation?

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJune 1, 2021

2021 NBA Mock Draft: Who Lands No. 1 Pick in Lottery Simulation?

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    The NBA draft lottery odds are set and tiebreakers have been broken between teams that finished with the same records. 

    After simulating the order using Tankathon, the Orlando Magic will pick first in this mock draft edition. The real lottery will take place on June 22 as the NBA combine kicks off.

    This draft ultimately represents a huge opportunity for a number of rebuilding teams who have put a lot of stock into acquiring picks.

1. Orlando Magic: Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State, PG/SG, Freshman)

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    Banking on this lottery and draft after a trade-deadline selloff, the Orlando Magic figure to have done every ounce of homework on Cade Cunningham.

    The long-presumed 2021 No. 1 pick backed up the hype by averaging 20.1 points and shooting 40.0 percent from three while leading Oklahoma State to a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.

    He's just the type of player Orlando could use in its rebuild: An advanced creator to run offense through for go-to scoring and playmaking. Though the Magic have a handful of promising young pieces, Cunningham would give them a true centerpiece before they pick again later in the lottery.

2. Houston Rockets: Evan Mobley (USC, C, Freshman)

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    John Locher/Associated Press

    This is an enormous pick that the Houston Rockets must nail to justify their James Harden deal. They should see the most favorable mix of upside and safety in Evan Mobley, a seemingly guaranteed defensive stud with a modernized skill set.

    He and Christian Wood would be interchangeable up front, particularly given Mobley's ability to guard 4s and protect the rim. 

    His offense will take longer, but patience should pay off, assuming he continues to build on the flashes of shooting touch, face-up moves, open-floor ball-handling and post passing. 

3. Sacramento Kings: Jalen Green (G League, SG, 2001)

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    With a 20.3 percent chance to jump into the top four, the Sacramento Kings catch their break here and lock in on Jalen Green. 

    Evan Mobley seems more ideal for this particular roster, given the team's defensive struggles. But the Kings just need to keep adding talent, and Green offers star potential fueled by explosive athleticism and advanced scoring skills. 

    He looked sharp in the G League bubble, showcasing his improved ball-handling, creation moves and shot-making out to the arc. With Green, the Kings coaching staff would have to accept a more positionless lineup and play him with De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. 

4. New Orleans Pelicans: Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga, PG/SG, Freshman)

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    The Sacramento Kings set with De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton could allow Jalen Suggs to fall to the New Orleans Pelicans, who jump into the top four with a 20.3 percent chance.

    Even if their goal is to re-sign Lonzo Ball, he and Suggs can still coexist. New Orleans would value Suggs' downhill athleticism to put more pressure on the rim. 

    He excels most while playmaking in transition, turning the corner off ball screens, pulling up off the dribble and forcing turnovers on defense. Suggs can replace Ball at point guard if the Pelicans are unwilling to match max offers in restricted free agency. But he's interchangeable enough—particularly due to his cutting—to play a combo role like he did at Gonzaga. 

5. Detroit Pistons: Jonathan Kuminga (G League Ignite, SF/PF, 2002)

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    The Detroit Pistons drop out of the top four here, but they can still land one of the draft's perceived stars.

    There would be some questions about how Jonathan Kuminga fits with Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey. Detroit still can't afford to pass on the best player available, particularly given his scoring versatility and tools to guard 3s and 4s. 

    Kuminga will get looks as high as No. 2 for his 6'6", 210-pound frame, athleticism and wing skills. The Pistons would value his ability to get his own shot, whether it's off a post-up, isolation, ball screen or defensive rebound. He's a potential top-two option for a roster that could use more creation and offense.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Keon Johnson (Tennessee, SG, Fr.)

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    Caitie McMekin/Associated Press

    Too far away to worry about needs, the Oklahoma City Thunder would see Keon Johnson as the top long-term prospect.

    His stats will come later as he builds on the flashes of post scoring and tougher shot-making he showed in February and March. In the short term, Johnson would earn minutes with his ability to apply pressure as a slasher and defender.

    Early on, he'd focus on transition offense, driving, ball-moving and defense until his handle and shooting catch up. He's raw offensively at 19 years old, but Johnson can still make an impact—similar to the way Patrick Williams did this season in Chicago—with his tools, athleticism and developing skill in an off-ball role. 

7. Cleveland Cavaliers: Scottie Barnes (Florida State, PF, Freshman)

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    The Cleveland Cavaliers could view Scottie Barnes as Kevin Love's future replacement, as well a player too unique to pass on at No. 7. 

    At 6'9", 227 pounds, Barnes was used as both a playmaker and full-court pressure defender at Florida State. The Cavaliers could put him in ball-screen situations to pass and facilitate over the top. And though not known for scoring, his handle and length are advantageous for creating and converting opportunities. 

    Still, Barnes figures to make his money with defensive versatility as a big who can guard and switch onto all five positions. 

8. Golden State Warriors (via Timberwolves): Moses Moody (Arkansas, SG/SF, Fr.)

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    With the Minnesota Timberwolves' pick, the Golden State Warriors could target Moses Moody for his shooting versatility and defensive wing tools.

    It's a textbook fit for both player and team. Demonstrating an impressive knack for scoring within the flow of team offense, Moody averaged 16.8 points despite receiving few isolation and ball-screen possessions. 

    The Warriors should be able to plug him right in for off-ball scoring from the 2 or 3 positions. 

9. Toronto Raptors: Davion Mitchell (Baylor, PG/SG, Junior)

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    With Kyle Lowry entering free agency, the Toronto Raptors could show interest in Davion Mitchell. 

    Most scouts have bought into his junior breakout, given his explosiveness for the NBA, 44.7 percent three-point shooting and improved playmaking numbers. But there is equal interest in his defensive outlook, based on Mitchell's ball pressure, intensity and knack for forcing turnovers.

    He's an easy fit to project due to the comfort level he showed at Baylor playing on and off the ball alongside Jared Butler. The Raptors could picture him replacing Lowry or simply adding more depth as a two-way playmaking combo off the bench.

10. Orlando Magic (via Bulls): Jalen Johnson (Duke, PF, Freshman)

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    After winning the lottery and drafting Cade Cunningham, the Orlando Magic get to pick again and add another versatile frontcourt player.

    Despite an up-and-down season at Duke, Jalen Johnson remains attractive for his ball-handling and athleticism as a 6'9", 220-pound, playmaking 4. Even without a reliable jumper, he's a threat to make an impact by initiating fast breaks, passing on the move, scoring in the paint, crashing the offensive glass and defending multiple positions.

    Between Johnson, Chuma Okeke and Jonathan Isaac, Orlando would have a strong core of interchangeable bigs. 

Late Lottery

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    David Butler II/Associated Press

    11. Charlotte Hornets: Franz Wagner (Michigan, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    A need for a center won't stop the Hornets from drafting Wagner, an easy NBA fit for his shoot-dribble-pass skill set at 6'9". His versatility at both ends and experience—both overseas and at Michigan—should be a selling point to every team once the top freshmen and Ignite players are taken. 

    12. San Antonio Spurs: Alperen Sengun (Besiktas, C, 2002)

    Sengun's season in the Turkish BSL ended, but not before he was rewarded with MVP honors. Even if there are questions about his physical tools for a center and perimeter game for the NBA, his effectiveness/ production at 18 years old was unprecedented with advanced post moves, timing as a finisher and occasional flashes of transition ball-handling, shooting and passing. 

    13. Indiana Pacers: James Bouknight (Connecticut, SG, Sophomore)

    Scouts are high on Bouknight's scoring potential based on his creation flashes, three-level shot-making and athletic finishing. He shouldn't be counted on for much playmaking, but there is a belief that Bouknight could develop into a solid top-three option. 

    14. Golden State Warriors: Josh Giddey (Adelaide 36ers, PG/SG, 2002)

    Giddey built a strong lottery case by leading the NBL in assists and putting up triple-doubles at 18 years old. There are questions about whether he's quick enough at both ends to play point guard full time, but in Golden State, Giddey could work as a playmaking combo.

Nos. 15-20

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    Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

    15. Washington Wizards: Corey Kispert (Gonzaga, SF, Senior)

    The Wizards could plug a hole with Kispert, who'd give them a needed shooter from the wings. Excelling as a transition scorer and cutter could allow the 6'7", 220-pound forward to reach the higher end of the shooting-specialist spectrum.

    16. Boston Celtics: Kai Jones (Texas, PF, Sophomore)

    Jones did most of his damage running the floor and finishing around the basket with his athleticism and motor. But scouts remain enticed by the flashes of shooting, slashing and defensive versatility. 

    17. Memphis Grizzlies: Tre Mann (Florida, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    Mann would give the Grizzlies an additional ball-handler who made up a jump up boards by improving his shot-making and playmaking decisiveness. At 6'5", it's easy to picture his shiftiness, pull-up and floater game translating to creation and scoring. 

    18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Heat): Usman Garuba (Real Madrid, C, 2002)

    With the Heat's pick, the Thunder can add a defensive ace in Garuba, who started earning Euroleague minutes at 17 years old. He won't offer much offense, but at 6'8", 220 pounds, he has a special ability to guard wings, make reads and bring toughness create impact role-player potential.

    19. New York Knicks: Jared Butler (Baylor, PG/SG, Junior)

    Butler would give the Knicks more playmaking than Immanuel Quickley. But he also developed into one of the nation's best spot-up and off-screen shooters. He could be used as a creator or off-ball scorer from either backcourt spot. 

    20. Atlanta Hawks: Cameron Thomas (LSU, SG, Freshman)

    The Hawks can add another shot-making weapon in Thomas, the nation's leading freshman scorer. He'd take over for Lou Williams in a sixth-man role that values Thomas' ability to create for himself and catch fire for stretches with his jumper.

Nos. 21-30

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    21. New York Knicks (via Mavericks): Ziaire Williams (Stanford, SF, Freshman)

    Williams' stock is all over the place, but one team figures to look past 20 games of inefficiency for long-term potential tied his ball skills, shooting stroke and defensive tools. 

    22. Los Angeles Lakers: Isaiah Jackson (Kentucky, PF/C, Freshman)

    Scouts see a high floor tied to Jackson's athleticism and motor for finishing and shot-blocking. But he'll have a chance to rise further during workouts by showing off more shooting touch than he did at Kentucky. 

    23. Houston Rockets (via Blazers): Jaden Springer (Tennessee, PG/SG, Freshman)

    Springer's game doesn't scream upside, but his versatility should create an easy fit. Capable of playing on and off the ball and guarding both backcourt positions, the 18-year-old combo flashed passing IQ, three-point shooting accuracy and solid defensive technique. 

    24. Houston Rockets (via Bucks): Josh Christopher (Arizona State, SG/SF, Freshman)

    Injuries and losses clouded Christopher's season, but the flashes of explosiveness, creation and shot-making still point to scoring potential. He doesn't come off as NBA-ready, but the Rockets will use next season to develop their prospects and let them play through mistakes. 

    25. Los Angeles Clippers: Sharife Cooper (Auburn, PG, Freshman)

    Bigs and shooters will enjoy playing with Cooper, who will get them open looks off transition and penetration. His elusiveness and passing are sure to translate to playmaking, despite questions about his physical tools and jumper for scoring and defense.

    26. Denver Nuggets: Aaron Henry (Michigan State, SF, Junior)

    Teams could use Henry as a rookie for his wing defense along with his offensive versatility to slash, play-make, operate out of the post and make rhythm jumpers. Offensive improvement over the final two months helped strengthen his first-round case. 

    27. Brooklyn Nets: Josh Primo (Alabama, SG, Freshman)

    Slotting Primo in the first round means anticipating a predraft rise after he averaged just 8.1 points. Scouts have shown an interest in the draft's youngest prospect, a 6'6" guard who shot 38.1 percent from three and could offer more scoring and playmaking potential than he was given the freedom to showcase at Alabama. 

    28. Philadelphia 76ers: Chris Duarte (Oregon, SG, Senior)

    Turning 24 years before the draft, Duarte could be ready for rookie minutes with his three-point shooting. But he also demonstrated enough advanced creation and shot-making skills for teams to expect a more threatening three-level scorer. 

    29. Phoenix Suns: Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois, PG/SG, Junior)

    Veteran teams could see an immediate rotational guard in Dosunmu, whose creation, shooting and passing skills have improved each season. For a 6'5" ball-handler, he should be a useful pick-and-roll ball-handler and perimeter defender.

    30. Utah Jazz: Roko Prkacin (Cibona, PF, 2002)

    Still 18 years old until November, Prkacin had productive seasons in the Croatian and Adriatic Leagues with a skill set suited for the NBA. At 6'9", he's a fit at the power forward position for his shooting range, ability to handle and defensive mobility. 


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