2021 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

My first stab at a mock for the 2021 NBA Draft

We are a little under three weeks away from the NBA Draft, and much like with the NFL Draft, this means as much draft wagering as I can possibly get my hands on. To help prepare, it’s always nice to go through the process of creating my own mock draft.

This first iteration will be LOTTERY only, with so much information still coming in around the league.

*Positional designations courtesy of Jonathan Givony of ESPN

1 - Pistons - Cade Cunningham, PG, Oklahoma State

There has been some speculation that Detroit could go elsewhere, but Cunningham is a massive -10000 favorite on DraftKings Sportsbook to be the first pick overall. If the Pistons decide they prefer Jalen Green or Evan Mobley, they will likely trade out of this selection.

2 - Rockets - Jalen Green, SG, G League

Givony has noted that teams around the league believe Houston will take Green, and it doesn’t appear that he’s the only one.

This has become a growing consensus around the industry, though certainly could be a bit of an echo-chamber effect off the Givony report. Still, we know Givony is incredibly accurate in his mocks, so that wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.

My hand-in-the-dirt-take here is that the Rockets are likely star-hunting with this pick, and that would generally side with the alpha scorer over the reserved big-man.

3 - Cavaliers - Evan Mobley, C, USC

For now, Mobley is definitely the favorite to land at three, but that could change quickly if the Cavs are able to trade Collin Sexton — which is reportedly in play. Such a deal could mean Jalen Suggs is coming to Cleveland, with Jarrett Allen being the long-term option at center.

4 - Raptors - Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Gonzaga

Toronto is likely to select whichever of the top four prospects make it to them — in this case, Suggs. Kyle Lowry is a free agent, and may not be back with the club. With that said, need likely doesn’t factor in here at all with Masai Ujiri.

5 - Magic - Scottie Barnes, SF/PF, Florida State

Barnes impressed at the Combine and throughout the interview process. It is believed by many that he has jumped Jonathan Kuminga on a lot of boards, after it was previously considered to be a five-player draft. He can defend multiple positions, and has point skills in a forward’s body.

6 - Thunder - Jonathan Kuminga, SF/PF, G League

It’s a tough scene for Oklahoma City, who could have had two picks in the top-five, but instead pick sixth after the balls didn’t bounce their way. Kuminga isn’t a bad pull, however, as he is still under 19 years old and has a high ceiling out of the G League.

7 - Warriors - James Bouknight, SG, UConn

Davion Mitchell is the most popular pick here for Golden State, but I just can’t see them taking a small, 23-year-old guard. Bouknight is an excellent three-level scorer who has been rising all throughout the draft process, and has a wingspan a little over 6’8”.

With that said, there is a strong chance the Warriors aren’t even making this pick — or if they do that it is a pre-cursor to a trade. That makes it even less likely they select Mitchell, and gives more credence to Bouknight, whose skill-set should be coveted around the league.

8 - Magic - Keon Johnson, SG, Tennessee

When you’re in a full rebuild it makes sense to swing for the fences, and there may not be a bigger boom/bust candidate in the lottery than Johnson. He smashed the Combine record for vertical leap at 48”, but is seen as very raw. If Bouknight doesn’t go at seven, I think he would be the Magic’s preferred pick at eight. This team is in need of scoring, and won’t really get any from Barnes if he is the pick at five.

9 - Kings - Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan

Chad Ford called the Kings drafting Wagner an “inevitability”, and that certainly has me paying attention. He cited the analytically-minded front office of Sacramento to match Wagner’s profile. This would also fill a need. The Kings have their two primary ball-handlers, but need some more defense and shooting on the perimeter.

10 - Pelicans - Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor

The Pelicans also appear to be in the trade-out market, as they look to expedite the winning process with Zion Williamson as their cornerstone. If they keep it, Mitchell makes sense as someone who can step in and play right away, especially with Lonzo Ball a free agent. If they trade the pick, look for someone like Josh Giddey to come off the board.

11 - Hornets - Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas

Charlotte could desperately use a center, but they have the cap space to handle that in free agency (I read somewhere that was their preference, but apologies because I cannot find the report). Instead, they look to add another three-and-d wing to the equation, surrounding LaMelo Ball with as much help as possible.

12 - Spurs - Alperen Sengun, PF/C, Besiktas

San Antonio has a history of drafting international players, and Sengun could end up being quite the value outside of the top-10. He was the MVP of the Turkish league at just 18 years old. Some scouts have cited that he has a bit of an old-school game, but others have noted they believe he has the ability to expand his offensive repertoire to the three-point line. Defense will remain a question. Don’t be surprised if Sengun comes off the board much higher — potentially at eight — on draft night.

13 - Pacers - Josh Giddey, PG, Adelaide

Corey Kispert is a popular choice here, but it also feels a little reductive. The Pacers certainly want to compete, but I’m not sure Doug McDermott being a free agent means we should just plug in another white shooter to Indiana. Instead, I like Giddey here, who can be a play-maker and distributor for all of the scoring talent the Pacers have.

14 - Warriors - Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga

Kispert is another older prospect, but one of the best shooters in the entire draft (44% from three his final two seasons at Gonzaga). The Warriors — if they keep the pick — are always in the market for some shooting, and Kispert is seen as a fringe-lottery prospect. If Golden State trades this pick, I’d expect someone with more upside to land in this spot — perhaps a Kai Jones or Jalen Johnson.