NBA Mock Draft 2021: Predictions for Top Prospects with Draft Day Approaching

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJuly 26, 2021

NBA Mock Draft 2021: Predictions for Top Prospects with Draft Day Approaching

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    The Detroit Pistons are on the clock.

    OK, that won't officially happen until Thursday evening when the 2021 NBA draft begins, but unofficially, time has been ticking ever since the Pistons won the draft lottery and snagged the top overall selection.

    Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham has been penciled in by most prognosticators, though ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said Sunday "they haven't formally made that decision yet."

    Could Cunningham land somewhere other than the Motor City? And where will the draft's other blue-chip prospects go? We'll answer those questions after running through our latest mock first round.

2021 NBA Mock Draft

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    1. Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State

    2. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite

    3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley, C, USC

    4. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Gonzaga

    5. Orlando Magic: Scottie Barnes, SF/PF, Florida State

    6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jonathan Kuminga, SF, G League Ignite

    7. Golden State Warriors (via Minnesota Timberwolves): James Bouknight, SG, UConn

    8. Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls): Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas

    9. Sacramento Kings: Keon Johnson, SG/SF, Tennessee

    10. New Orleans Pelicans: Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor

    11. Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones, PF/C, Texas

    12. San Antonio Spurs: Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan

    13. Indiana Pacers: Josh Giddey, PG/SG, Adelaide 36ers

    14. Golden State Warriors: Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga

    15. Washington Wizards: Trey Murphy III, SF, Virginia

    16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Boston Celtics): Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas

    17. Memphis Grizzlies: Jared Butler, PG/SG, Baylor

    18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami Heat): Jalen Johnson, PF, Duke

    19. New York Knicks: Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky

    20. Atlanta Hawks: Tre Mann, PG/SG, Florida

    21. New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks): Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn

    22. Los Angeles Lakers: Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU

    23. Houston Rockets (via Portland Trail Blazers): Usman Garuba, C, Real Madrid

    24. Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee Bucks): JT Thor, PF, Auburn

    25. Los Angeles Clippers: Ayo Dosunmu, PG/SG, Illinois

    26. Denver Nuggets: Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon

    27. Brooklyn Nets: Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford

    28. Philadelphia 76ers: Nah'Shon Hyland, SG, VCU

    29. Phoenix Suns: Miles McBride, PG/SG, West Virginia

    30. Utah Jazz: Roko Prkacin, PF, Cibona

Cunningham Won't Slip Past No. 1

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    There's an argument to be made for Cade Cunningham having both the draft's tallest ceiling and its highest floor. He is good at a lot of things and potentially great at several of them.

    For a rebuilding team like the Pistons, he seems like the perfect centerpiece to assemble a roster around. He works on or off the ball, can be a primary playmaker or a No. 1 option scorer and he could one day defend at an all-league level.

    Detroit shouldn't overthink this.

    The Athletic's Kelly Iko wrote it would take "a cosmic offer" to get this pick away from the Pistons. While I can't say for certain exactly what that is, I can confidently say it isn't enough.

    Cunningham is bound for Detroit.

No Surprises in the Top 4

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    Jeff Roberson/Associated Press

    If you like intrigue in your drafts, you're in luck. The 2021 talent grab should provide it early and often.

    As previously written, the Pistons aren't entirely locked in with Cunningham at the top, so there's at least a slight chance something unexpected could happen at No. 1. Drop down to the Rockets at No. 2, and it wouldn't be shocking for them to select any of Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs. Same goes for the Cavaliers at No. 3 and the Raptors in the No. 4 slot.

    Saying that, this is as mysterious as things should get through the first four selections. The payoff with these prospects is too rich for a team to stray outside of this quartet and make someone else a top-four pick.

    Regardless of how big boards rank Cunningham, Green, Mobley and Suggs against one another, the takeaway should be that this is the top tier, and it's separated from everyone else.

Moses Moody Will Be a Top-10 Pick

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    Darron Cummings/Associated Press

    While not every top-10 pick will turn into a star—most won't, in fact—that's usually the hope when making such an early investment.

    Moses Moody probably isn't headed to stardom at any point. He doesn't have the off-the-dribble verve or fluidity to get him there.

    For some, that might rule him out of top-10 consideration. It shouldn't. As obsessed as the modern NBA has become with three-and-D wings, Moody's combination of shot-making and defensive versatility should get him noticed within the top 10 picks.

    Those dead set on hitting a home run won't give him a ton of thought, but those who can see the value in lacing a double to the gap—with the chance to leg it out into a triple—should be all over him.