2021 NBA Mock Draft: Prospects Facing Major Fall Down Draft Boards
As the 2021 NBA playoffs march on, so too does the lead-up to July's draft. While Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham continues to look like a likely No. 1 overall choice, the rest of the draft field is a little less clear.
Plenty of factors go into a prospect's pre-draft stock, including positional value, team needs and team fit. Athletic upside and proven production also regularly play roles.
Here, you'll find an updated Round 1 mock based on the current pre-lottery draft order, along with a look at some prospects whose stock could tumble in the coming months. We'll dive into the specific reasons below.
2021 NBA Mock Draft
1. Houston Rockets: Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State
2. Detroit Pistons: Evan Mobley, C, USC
3. Orlando Magic: Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Gonzaga
5. Oklahoma City Thunder: 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. Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones, PF/C, Texas
12. San Antonio Spurs: Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas
13. Indiana Pacers: Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan
14. Golden State Warriors: Josh Giddey, PG/SG, Adelaide 36ers
15. Washington Wizards: Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga
16. Boston Celtics (via Dallas Mavericks): Usman Garuba, C, Real Madrid
17. Memphis Grizzlies: James Bouknight, SG, UConn
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami): Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky
19. New York Knicks: Josh Christopher, SG/SF, Arizona State
20. Atlanta Hawks: Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford
21. Los Angeles Lakers: Jared Butler, PG/SG, Baylor
22. New York Knicks (from Dallas): Brandon Boston Jr., SF, Kentucky
23. Houston Rockets (from Portland): Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU
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 via Tankathon
Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford
Stanford forward Ziaire Williams, a former 5-star recruit, at times, looked like a future NBA star this past season. Athletic, agile and a well-built 6'8" and 185 pounds, the physical potential is certainly there. However, Williams' numbers weren't terrific.
Williams averaged just 10.7 points while shooting 37.4 percent from the floor. Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman recently dug into Williams' game tape and determine that this wasn't just a product of streaky play, bad shot selection or a poor supporting cast:
"Williams' lack of explosion and strength to attack are worrisome. There were instances when it looked like he'd predetermine a pull-up and miss on an opportunity to drive, showing no confidence in his ability to burst through a lane and finish at the rim. His shooting is likely sharper than the 29.1 three-point percentage says, but after going back through the tape, I've lost some faith in his three-level scoring or playmaking translating."
Teams are likely to see the same things on film. Unless Williams can prove at the combine or in pre-draft workouts that his physical potential is higher than the tape suggests, he may have a hard time landing in the top half of Round 1.
Kai Jones, PF/C, Texas
While Williams may slide due to a perceived lack of physical upside, Texas' Kai Jones could fall because he's an upside-based prospect. As CBS Sports' Kyle Boone recently noted, the Longhorns big man isn't likely to be an early starter.
"But using the word upside to talk about Jones is also the kind way of acknowledging that, while he has great potential, he also has a potentially long developmental track. Needs to get stronger and definitely not ready to make an impact right now in the NBA," Boone wrote.
Boone does acknowledge that seeing a team gamble on Jones early wouldn't be a shock. The problem is that teams picking in the top half of the first round generally need players who can contribute immediately. If a team isn't absolutely in love with Jones' potential, he could tumble out of the lottery entirely.
Instead, Jones could fall to a playoff team that has enough depth to develop him slowly. That could create a win-win situation over the long term but would also mean that Jones isn't drafted as highly as his upside might warrant.
Jones averaged 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds this past season.
Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga
Gonzaga forward Corey Kispert is in many ways the opposite of Jones as a prospect. He has an NBA-ready frame at 6'7" and 220 pounds but at 22 years old, is close to what he's going to be as a player. A polished shooter who shot 52.9 percent from the floor this past season, Kispert may be nothing more than that at the next level.
As Wasserman explained, this makes it tough to determine how highly Kispert could go.
"It's up to the team on the clock to decide if it wants the known, sure thing, or if it would rather chase a higher-ceiling prospect who can either add more creation and/or defense," Wasserman wrote. "Rebuilding franchises may want to swing bigger on youth."
Kispert's draft positioning may ultimately be determined by how the lottery unfolds. While rebuilding teams want players who can contribute immediately, they also want players who can develop into stars. Despite being a solid plug-and-play option, Kispert probably doesn't fill that mold.
As a high-floor, low-ceiling prospect, he may only be coveted by select teams. If those teams aren't picking early, Kispert could slide.