Ahh, what a fantastic year to put out my first mock draft into the public forum. The basketball lottery gods blessed the Detroit Pistons with the first pick in the draft, which hasn’t happened since 1970. Not only did Detroit win the first selection, they won it in a year with a surefire star at the top of the class and a few amazing consolation prizes down the board.
Before we get into the mock, I must disclose: I am not as caught up on the prospects in the mid to late lottery as I usually would be. In most years, I have to worry about Detroit picking the right guy in the 7-10 range (hint: they usually don’t.) That problem has evaded the Pistons this time. Good for them, and good for us.
Mock drafts are fun. They’re always wrong. Things always change, especially in the last few days leading up to the draft. Best of all, nobody seems to go back and check and see if they got their mock draft right. I have nothing to lose. Let’s start the party!
With the first pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Detroit Pistons select Cade Cunningham.
The residual draft angst that Pistons fans have brought onto themselves this year simply isn’t warranted. The pick will be Cade Cunningham. You can relax.
With the second pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets select Jalen Green.
G League Ignite guard Jalen Green has risen to the number two spot in many mocks for good reason. His ability to finish plays all three levels and use his athleticism to explode in traffic have him drawing comparisons to Zach LaVine.
Green is the type of offensive powerhouse that many teams would covet in the draft, but the Rockets seem to have already keyed in on him, as displayed in this cryptic comment from Kevin Porter Jr:
With the third pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers select Evan Mobley.
What an awesome consolation prize for Cleveland, who would add another defensive monster to their rotation in Mobley. He is as unique as they come, with his combination of size, athleticism, finishing, shooting, IQ & creation ability for a 7’1 big man.
Cleveland gets another franchise cornerstone and adds to their defensive identity, while allowing the freedom for GM Koby Altman to shuffle the roster around both Mobley and Jarrett Allen.
With the fourth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Toronto Raptors select Scottie Barnes.
Barnes is this year’s Patrick Williams, and I’ve got no doubt in my mind he will supplant some of the other current consensus top prospects and jump into this top 4. He projects to be the best defender from this class, with a growing offensive game that will need polishing in his first year as a pro.
Drafting Scottie Barnes gives Toronto some leeway on what to do with OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam, as the Raptors are at a bit of a crossroads with the expected departure of Kyle Lowry.
With the fifth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic TRADE Jalen Suggs.
Orlando is still in position to accumulate assets, and I predict that there are a few teams who will see Suggs fall to five and make the call. Orlando actually has quite a bit of interesting, young pieces in Cole Anthony, RJ Hampton, and Chuma Okeke, along with Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz rejoining them after major injuries.
Golden State, New Orleans, and Charlotte are three teams that come to mind who could make the move to add Suggs.
With the sixth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Jonathan Kuminga.
Kuminga may fall out of the top 5, but not very far: I think OKC is in prime position to take a chance on a big, physical wing with the highest upside in the class. Sam Presti lives in the world of upside. He traded up and made a promise to draft Aleksej Pokusevski with the 17th pick in 2020.
It will be interesting to see what the Thunder do with their remaining five picks in this draft. It would be hilarious if nobody was willing to trade with them, and they were forced to draft six players.
With the seventh pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors TRADE Franz Wagner.
It’s easy to imagine many teams are watching the success of the Phoenix Suns and wishing they had a Mikal Bridges-type wing on their team. While Wagner may never be as good, he sports a similar frame and movement patterns and is another great team defender in this class.
I can see Philadelphia, Minnesota, and Portland all looking for ways to acquire Wagner. This pick could be part of a Warriors mega-deal, as well.
With the eighth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select Keon Johnson.
I think Orlando keeps this pick and takes another super-athlete to join their cast, and Keon Johnson is exactly that. He’s a growing offensive player that could become dangerous if everything breaks right for him, and also recorded the highest vertical jump in the history of the NBA Draft Combine.
With the ninth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Sacramento Kings select Corey Kispert.
Buddy Hield insurance.
With the tenth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the New Orleans Pelicans select Josh Giddey.
If I were the top decision maker in New Orleans, I would do whatever it takes to get Giddey on my team: a jumbo pass-first playmaker who could make things a whole lot easier for Zion in their minutes. Pelicans should look to add playmaking and size with Lonzo Ball’s restricted free agency looming.
With the eleventh pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Charlotte Hornets select James Bouknight.
Bouknight was my safety valve pick if Detroit fell out of the top four, but scouts are concerned that he’s only an off-ball prospect with limited creation for others. The Hornets can afford to add more players like this, as LaMelo Ball should be the engine of their offense for years to come.
With the twelfth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the San Antonio Spurs select Alperen Şengün.
Seems to be a high floor, old school type big man who can finish post-ups and clean the glass. Best player available.
With the thirteenth pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Indiana Pacers select Jalen Johnson.
Johnson is very talented (and should be a top-10 player) but I can foresee him falling because the off-the court issues, most importantly not finishing out his freshman season at Duke.
With the 14th pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Golden State Warriors select Moses Moody.
I currently have Golden State keeping this pick, but it could easily be moved; either way, Moody is too enticing for competing teams as a 3-and-D prospect to fall out of the lottery.
15. Wizards – Ziaire Williams
16. Thunder – Kai Jones
17. Grizzlies – Davion Mitchell
18. Thunder – Usman Garuba
19. Knicks – Isaiah Jackson
20. Hawks – Sharife Cooper
21. Knicks – Jared Butler
22. Lakers – Nah’Shon Hyland
23. Rockets – Jaden Springer
24. Rockets – Day’Ron Sharpe
25. Clippers – Cameron Thomas
26. Nuggets – Chris Duarte
27. Nets – Roko Prkačin
28. 76ers – Joel Ajayi
29. Suns – Josh Christopher
30. Jazz – Ayo Dosunmu
Featured Image: Courtney Bay/OSU Athletics