2021 NBA Mock Draft, Post-Draft Lottery Edition
The unofficial clock has started for the Detroit Pistons, winners of the 2021 NBA draft lottery.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors both moved up, while the Orlando Magic and Golden State Warriors can both prepare knowing they'll have two picks in the top 14.
Teams have until July 29 to do their homework and explore different trade scenarios.
1. Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State, PG/SG, Freshman)
The Detroit Pistons scored a franchise-altering win on lottery night, landing the No. 1 pick and the right to draft Cade Cunningham.
One of the league's weaker offenses suddenly has a special creator, shooter and passer to run through.
He'll take pressure off Killian Hayes and start at the 2-guard slot, giving the Pistons two playmakers. But between Cunningham's 6'8" size, advanced one-on-one game and tough shot-making, he's on track to emerge as Detroit's No. 1 option, putting Jerami Grant into a more comfortable No. 2 role.
2. Houston Rockets: Evan Mobley (USC, C, Freshman)
The Houston Rockets can add their defensive centerpiece in Evan Mobley, whose modernized skill set is also suited for today's NBA.
He'll quickly make Houston tougher to score on with his quickness, timing and length in rim protection, as well as his mobility to switch or guard forwards. But after a few years, Mobley should emerge as a productive, versatile scorer with transition ball-handling ability, shooting touch, face-up moves and a huge catch radius for finishing.
Between his comfort level operating away from the basket at both ends, he should be interchangeable with current top option Christian Wood.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga, PG, Freshman)
The Cleveland Cavaliers will have some roster juggling to do after drafting Jalen Suggs, considering they already have a pair of ball-handlers in Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. But Cleveland can't afford to pass on Suggs' superior passing, defense and intangibles.
Aside from his burst with the ball, playmaking and pull-up/floater game, he brings energy and competitiveness that could help strengthen the Cavaliers' identity.
There was no need for him to show up to the NBA combine. Locked into the draft's top four, he'd be a key addition for Cleveland with his ability to run point, use his athleticism off the ball and cause problems on defense.
4. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Green (G League Ignite, SG, 2002)
One of the draft's easiest bets is on Green's scoring translating. After jumping into the top four, the Toronto Raptors should be able to bank on adding an explosive transition weapon and shot-creator in the half court, where he's made exciting strides with his handle, footwork and jumper.
Having just seen him score relatively efficiently in the G League, it's become easier to picture Green continuing to thrive in the open floor, slash through gaps and hit shots from the mid-range and three.
If Kyle Lowry signs elsewhere in free agency, the Raptors will move Fred VanVleet to point guard and immediately slide Green into the 2 spot.
5. Orlando Magic: Jonathan Kuminga (G League Ignite, SF/PF, 2002)
Once Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs are off the board, the Orlando Magic will presumably be looking at Jonathan Kuminga, Scottie Barnes, Jalen Johnson, Keon Johnson, Davion Mitchell and Franz Wagner. A perceived gap between No. 4 and No. 5 could also lead Orlando to explore trade possibilities.
But sticking at No. 5 will most likely lead the Magic to Kuminga, whose mix of power, speed and perimeter skill at 6'8" creates mismatch scoring potential.
He'll require some patience with his shooting development and decision-making, but he's still loaded with shot-making ability, and he figures to receive enough early reps from age 19 to strengthen his feel for the game and shot selection. Orlando could see a force in peak Kuminga with his physicality, athleticism, face-up package and post game.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Scottie Barnes (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
The Oklahoma City Thunder won't be worried about fit or needs. They'll take the best player available, and Scottie Barnes has become the best bet to leapfrog Jonathan Kuminga on boards.
His NBA combine measurements weren't surprising—6'7" in socks, 7'2¾" wingspan, 225.4 pounds—but they do confirm outstanding measurements for a playmaking forward who can guard ball-handlers and wings.
He has outlier star potential, similar to Draymond Green, in that Barnes seems capable of greatly impacting games with passing, defense and intangibles. He has one of the highest floors in the draft with room to improve as a shooter.
7. Golden State Warriors (via Wolves): Franz Wagner (Michigan, SF, Sophomore)
Franz Wagner doesn't possess the star power of this draft's top four picks, but his two-way versatility and valued archetype fuel star role player potential.
He's an easy fit for any lineup based on his catch-and-shoot game and slashing for spot-ups, ball-screen passing and the foot speed to guard the perimeter. And despite still being 19 years old, he'll start his NBA career after two seasons at Michigan and years of experience playing pro and youth ball overseas.
Wagner may seem like a reach at No. 7, but his shoot-dribble-pass skill set may be too clean of a fit for the Golden State Warriors.
8. Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls): Davion Mitchell (Baylor, PG/SG, Junior)
After taking frontcourt scorer Jonathan Kuminga, the Orlando Magic can use the Chicago Bulls' pick to strengthen their backcourt with Davion Mitchell.
Fear over his age (22) should start to fade later in the lottery. His blow-by explosiveness, defensive quickness and intensity, and improved shot-making have become too convincing.
He made significant progress this season as a self-creator, playmaker and shooter off the dribble and catch. Having seen his comfort level sharing the ball at Baylor with Jared Butler, Orlando should see an easy fit, whether it's at point guard or in a combo role.
9. Sacramento Kings: Jalen Johnson (Duke, PF, Freshman)
Unless the Sacramento Kings detect any red flags during Jalen Johnson's background checks or medicals, they should see enough talent and versatility to forget about his midseason opt-out and foot injury.
With an outstanding physical profile for finishing and defending, Johnson's ability to handle in the open floor and pass from the power forward position separate him from other prospects. He should find enough ways to compensate for limited shooting range with his transition game, face-up game around the key, cutting, inside activity and potential to guard different positions.
Durability issues with Marvin Bagley could ultimately sway Sacramento to lean Jalen Johnson over Keon Johnson.
10. New Orleans Pelicans: Keon Johnson (Tennessee, SG, Freshman)
The New Orleans Pelicans can add an explosive slasher and tough defender in Keon Johnson.
They shouldn't count on first-team All-Rookie production for 2021-22, with the 19-year-old lagging in the creation and shooting departments. But Johnson figures to immediately put pressure on opponents at both ends with his athleticism and aggressiveness.
There is a wide range of outcomes for him depending on his skill development. That could cause some teams to hesitate, despite the upside that kicks in if he's able to sharpen his handle and jumper.
But over the second half of the season, Johnson did look more comfortable making tougher shots and playmaking for teammates.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Moses Moody (Arkansas, SG/SF, Freshman)
12. San Antonio Spurs: Josh Giddey (Adelaide 36ers, PG/SG, 2002)
13. Indiana Pacers: James Bouknight (Connecticut, SG, Sophomore)
14. Golden State Warriors: Corey Kispert (Gonzaga, SF, Senior)
15. Washington Wizards: Isaiah Jackson (Kentucky, C, Freshman)
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Celtics): Kai Jones (Texas, PF, Sophomore)
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Tre Mann (Florida, PG/SG, Sophomore)
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Heat): Alperen Sengun (Besiktas, C, 2002)
19. New York Knicks: Chris Duarte (Oregon, SG, Senior)
20. Atlanta Hawks: Jared Butler (Baylor, PG/SG, Junior)
Kispert seems like a good bet to go in the late lottery, even though his age (22), athleticism and limited versatility are obvious drawbacks. Over the past two drafts, we've seen Cameron Johnson go No. 11 and Aaron Nesmith No. 14, and another lottery team figures to put a premium on shooting with Kispert.
Per The Athletic's Shams Charania, Jared Butler won't be able to play until cleared by a Fitness-to-Play panel. I'm told Butler had a defibrillator put in for a heart issue years ago, and the NBA is being cautious. It's unclear how soon a clearance will be approved, and it raises some questions about how teams will assess the risk tied to Butler's condition.
This will obviously be a story that needs to be tracked and updated, but he appeared on his way toward generating top-20 interest. It's also still possible he does.
Sengun and Giddey will be trying to make their national teams' rosters for the Olympics, so it's unclear if and when they'll be available for any team workouts before the draft. Both could wind up in the top 10 given their unique production in pro leagues at 18 years old, Sengun's expanding skill set and motor, and Giddey's translatable playmaking because of his 6'8" size and special passing IQ.
21. New York Knicks (via Mavericks): Usman Garuba (Real Madrid, PF/C, 2002)
22. Los Angeles Lakers: Cameron Thomas (LSU, SG, Freshman)
23. Houston Rockets (via Blazers): Sharife Cooper (Auburn, PG, Freshman)
24. Houston Rockets (via Bucks): Ziaire Williams (Stanford, SG/SF, Freshman)
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Jaden Springer (Tennessee, PG/SG, Freshman)
26. Denver Nuggets: Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois, PG/SG, Junior)
27. Brooklyn Nets: Miles McBride (West Virginia, PG/SG, Sophomore)
28. Philadelphia 76ers: Josh Christopher (Arizona State, SG/SF, Freshman)
29. Phoenix Suns: JT Thor (Auburn, PF, Freshman)
30. Utah Jazz: Aaron Henry (Michigan State, SG/SF, Junior)
We have the Knicks taking Garuba at No. 21, but if they aren't able to package this pick with No. 19 to move up, it wouldn't be surprising if they traded it outright, knowing they pick again at No. 32. It's highly unlikely they keep all three selections. Regardless, Garuba is a coach Tom Thibodeau-type player, given his elite defensive IQ.
Opinions vary on McBride, with some scouts even projecting more of a mid-second-round pick. We believe one team in the late 20s or early 30s will see a three-and-D spark with more room to improve as a playmaker. He just weighed in at 195 pounds with a monster 6'8¾" wingspan.
Thomas dropped out of the NBA combine, presumably content with the feedback he's heard about his stock. A playoff team would be ideal for him. For the Lakers in a veteran rotation, he'd play an instant-offense role with a short leash that helps tighten his decision-making and wild shot selection.
We've predicted Thor rising for the past month, and after measuring a 7'3¼" wingspan, his case continues to improve.
31. Milwaukee Bucks (via Rockets): Day'Ron Sharpe (North Carolina, C, Freshman)
32. New York Knicks (via Pistons): Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky, C, Junior)
33. Orlando Magic: Trey Murphy III (Virginia, PF, Junior)
34. New Orleans Pelicans (via Cavaliers): RaiQuan Gray (Florida State, SF/PF, Junior)
35. Oklahoma City Thunder: Josh Primo (Alabama, SG, Freshman)
36. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Timberwolves): Joel Ayayi (Gonzaga, PG/SG, Junior)
37. Detroit Pistons (via Raptors): Roko Prkacin (Cibona, PF, 2002)
38. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans): Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova, PF, Sophomore)
39. Sacramento Kings: Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine, SF/PF, Junior)
40. New Orleans Pelicans (via Bulls): Ariel Hukporti (Nevezis Kedainiai, C, 2002)
Sharpe and Edwards are Bleacher Report's top-ranked projected second-rounders.
There is naturally some hesitation from scouts on Sharpe, a 265-pound back-to-the-basket big. A lack of perceived upside could allow him to fall into the 30s, where he's a potential value pick due to the likelihood of his power, motor, mobility and passing translating to high-to-low assists, second-chance points, hustle plays and defensive versatility.
Edwards didn't face many noteworthy opponents outside of Gonzaga twice in the WCC. Continuing to bury threes, score from the post and defend during NBA combine scrimmages could help sway scouts who've been hesitant to buy his skill set and production due to Pepperdine's strength of schedule.
Prkacin and Hukporti, international teenagers, will also have an opportunity in Chicago to improve their stock. Both could have a chance at the late-first round, with Prkacin's appeal stemming from his scoring versatility at 6'9". Hukporti is an enticing upside pick with 7'0", 250-pound size, plenty of athletic ability and a desire to prove he's developing some perimeter skill.
Ayayi declined an invite to the NBA combine, as his camp has created the perception that they're happy with his stock. It's possible a team in the late 20s has expressed interest, but we aren't ready to slot him in the first round until more intel is dug up.
41. San Antonio Spurs: Brandon Boston Jr. (Kentucky, SF, Freshman)
42. Detroit Pistons (via Hornets): Nah'Shon Hyland (VCU, SG, Sophomore)
43. New Orleans Pelicans (via Wizards): Max Abmas (Oral Roberts, PG/SG, Sophomore)
44. Brooklyn Nets (via Pacers): Herb Jones (Alabama, SF, Senior)
45. Boston Celtics: Terrence Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech, SG/SF, Sophomore)
46. Toronto Raptors (via Grizzlies): Isaiah Todd (G League Ignite, PF, 2002)
47. Toronto Raptors (via Warriors): Rokas Jokubaitis (Zalgiris, PG/SG, 2000)
48. Atlanta Hawks (via Heat): Filip Petrusev (Mega Bemax, C, 2000)
49. Brooklyn Nets (via Hawks): Johnny Juzang (UCLA, SF, Sophomore)
50. Philadelphia 76ers (via Knicks): Austin Reaves (Oklahoma, SG, Senior)
Boston's storyline remains one of the draft's most interesting, given the predraft hype and his poor freshman season.
Teams will be studying Shannon's shot during the combine and workouts, given what a more reliable three-ball could do for an explosive, 6'6" wing and quick defender.
Built to score, Hyland comes off as a candidate to stand out during scrimmages. And after NBA teams saw an undersized shot-maker like Immanuel Quickley succeed with the New York Knicks, some may have an easier time buying into a Hyland, a 6'3" shooter with nifty creating and finishing.
We're still waiting to hear if Juzang will stay in the draft. His play and feedback in Chicago will likely help the breakout sophomore make a decision.
51. Memphis Grizzlies (via Blazers): Daishen Nix (G League Ignite, PG, 2002)
52. Detroit Pistons (via Lakers): Luka Garza (Iowa, C, Senior)
53. New Orleans Pelicans (via Mavericks): Matthew Hurt (Duke, PF, Sophomore)
54. Indiana Pacers (via Bucks): Joe Wieskamp (Iowa, SF, Junior)
55. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Juhann Begarin (Paris Basketball, SG, 2002)
56. Charlotte Hornets (via Clippers): Isaiah Livers (Michigan, SF, Senior)
57. Charlotte Hornets (via Nets): Neemias Queta (Utah State, C, Junior)
58. New York Knicks (via Clippers): David Johnson (Louisville, PG/SG, Sophomore)
59. Brooklyn Nets (via Suns): Quentin Grimes (Houston, SG, Junior)
60. Indiana Pacers (via Jazz): Justin Champagnie (Pittsburgh, SF/PF, Sophomore)
Prospects in the Nos. 50-60 range will use scrimmaging this week at the combine to strengthen their draft stocks.
Begarin played at the G League Elite Camp but wasn't asked to move on to the combine. The fact that he was invited to Chicago suggests teams are still interested, and there is still a chance he's drafted and stashed with a second-round pick.
Iowa's stars put up notable numbers during measurements, with Garza weighing roughly 22 pounds lighter (242.8 lbs) than his senior listing, and Wieskamp registering a 42" max vertical with a 6'11" wingspan. The new playing weight makes it easier to picture Garza sliding his feet on an NBA floor, while Wieskamp's size and bounce are excellent for a 46.2 percent three-point shooter.
Johnson is one of the more interesting prospects among projected late second-rounders, considering he started the season in the first-round discussion. He didn't help himself by struggling badly as a shooter off the dribble. But the arrival of Carlik Jones at Louisville limited Johnson's reps to create. The 6'5", 210-pound sophomore could help himself during measurements, testing and scrimmages if given a suitable role to shine as a lead ball-handler.
Grimes has already experienced one NBA combine, so it wouldn't be surprising if the now-21-year-old wing looked good and confident during five-on-fives. He's back on scouts' radars after transferring to Houston and transforming into an elite shot-maker who buried 100 threes in 30 games.