2021 NBA Draft: Top Prospects and Pre-Lottery 1st-Round Order
In less than 24 hours, the selection order is going to look quite a bit different than it does right now. The 2021 NBA draft lottery is scheduled to take place at 8:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday, and we'll then know who's on the clock at No. 1 overall.
A lot can change in the coming days—the NBA combine is also this week—but Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham appears to be the likely target at No. 1. However, this is a deep draft class that should deliver talent throughout Round 1.
Even with a fair bit of depth to the draft class, teams will be eager to land lottery selections, even if they aren't at No. 1. The guys at the top are generally perceived as the biggest franchise-changing talents. Teams that don't already have playoff-caliber squads will be looking to land them.
Here, you'll find a full Round 1 mock based on the pre-lottery draft order, along with a look at some of the top prospects teams will be hoping to get a crack at through Tuesday's raffle.
2021 NBA Mock Draft, Round 1
1. Houston Rockets: Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State
2. Detroit Pistons: Evan Mobley, C, USC
3. Orlando Magic: Jalen Green, SG, G League
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jalen Suggs, PG, Gonzaga
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonathan Kuminga, SF, G League
6. Golden State Warriors (via Minnesota Timberwolves): James Bouknight, SG, UConn
7. Toronto Raptors: Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor
8. Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls): Jalen Johnson, SF, Duke
9. Sacramento Kings: Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas
10. New Orleans Pelicans: Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga
11. Charlotte Hornets: Scottie Barnes, SF, Florida State
12. San Antonio Spurs: Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan
13. Indiana Pacers: Ziaire Williams, SG, Stanford
14. Golden State Warriors: Keon Johnson, SG, Tennessee
15. Washington Wizards: Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Boston): Josh Giddey, SG, Adelaide 36ers
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Kai Jones, PF, Texas
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami Heat): Isaiah Jackson, PF, Kentucky
19. New York Knicks: Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn
20. Atlanta Hawks: Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon
21. New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks): Usman Garuba, PF, Real Madrid
22. Los Angeles Lakers: Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU
23. Houston Rockets (via Portland Trail Blazers): Jaden Springer, PG, Tennessee
24. Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee Bucks): Greg Brown, PF, Texas
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Joel Ayayi, SG, Gonzaga
26. Denver Nuggets: Aaron Henry, SG, Michigan State
27. Brooklyn Nets: Tre Mann, PG, Florida
28. Philadelphia 76ers: Ayo Dosunmu, SG, Illinois
29. Phoenix Suns: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, PF, Villanova
30. Utah Jazz: Jared Butler, PG, Baylor
*Draft order via Tankathon
Top 25 Big Board
1. Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State
2. Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite
3. Evan Mobley, PF/C, USC
4. Jalen Suggs, PG, Gonzaga
5. Jonathan Kuminga, SF/PF, G League Ignite
6. Jalen Johnson, PF, Duke
7. Scottie Barnes, PF, Florida State
8. Franz Wagner, SF/PF, Michigan
9. Keon Johnson, SG/SF, Tennessee
10. Josh Giddey, PG/SG Adelaide 36ers
11. Moses Moody, SG/SF, Arkansas
12. James Bouknight, SG, Connecticut
13. Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn
14. Isaiah Jackson, PF/C, Kentucky
15. Davion Mitchell, PG/SG, Baylor
16. Kai Jones, PF, Texas
17. Jared Butler, PG/SG, Baylor
18. Jaden Springer, PG/SG, Tennessee
19. Alperen Sengun, C, Turkey
20. Aaron Henry, SG/SF, Michigan State
21. Josh Christopher, SG/SF, Arizona State
22. Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon
23. Greg Brown, PF, Texas
24. Tre Mann, PG, Florida
25. Day'Ron Sharpe, C, North Carolina
*Per B/R's Jonathan Wasserman
Top 5 Breakdown
As mentioned, Cunningham is widely regarded as the top prospect in this draft class. He's as close to a can't-miss as there is, and he should be the selection regardless of who wins the lottery on Tuesday.
"There just aren't any true weaknesses with Cunningham's game. I don't have him as highly rated as I had Zion Williamson entering the 2019 draft, but he's in that same stratosphere," The Athletic's Sam Vecenie wrote.
There's a slight drop-off after Cunningham, though the next few prospects are certainly worth targeting with a lottery pick.
According to Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman, four of the top-five selections—Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs—are locked in at the top:
"The only way my top five looks different by draft night is if I move down Jonathan Kuminga, whose shooting and awareness are worrisome. More background and intel should also come out over the next month on Kuminga and others who'll be trying to make a top-five case during workouts and interviews. Otherwise, Cunningham is locked into the top spot and Suggs is a hair behind Green and Mobley, based on Suggs' weaker handle for creation and low-volume three-point numbers."
The only real question mark in the top five is G League prospect Jonathan Kuminga. While he possesses the upside of a worthy lottery pick, there are some serious questions about his shooting ability.
The 18-year-old shot just 38.7 percent from the floor this past season while making 62.5 percent of his free throws. Still, his athleticism and size (6'7", 220 lbs) could be hard to pass over.
"He's an ideal athlete for positionless basketball, with the ability to switch on defense to guard different types of players," Chase Hughes of NBC Sports Washington wrote. "His size and explosiveness suggest high upside, which many teams will be intrigued by, even if it could take some years before he realizes it."
As for which prospect goes directly after Cunningham, that could depend entirely on which team lands the No. 2 pick. Mobley and Green are both fantastic prospects, but they bring different skill sets to the table.
We're likely to have a better idea of how the top five will unfold after Tuesday evening.