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2021 NBA Mock Draft and Updated Top 30 Player Rankings

11 min read

If you’re a Pistons fan like me, you should be absolutely ecstatic that Detroit is making some history by moving up in the lottery for the first time in franchise history and picking #1 for the first time since 1970. On a similar note, congrats to Raptors and Cavaliers fans for moving up into exciting top four draft position and getting the chance to get a cream of the crop player from this class. That being said, this draft should be really interesting as I do not see the Cavaliers staying put at #3 unless they make a different trade that doesn’t include the pick. Specifically, if they draft Jalen Green, Colin Sexton’s role becomes redundant. Also, drafting Evan Mobley would wipe out the functionality of the already excellent paint protector Jarret Allen, who is currently a restricted free agent. Therefore, as you will see, I have the Cavs trading the pick in this mock draft. Let’s hop into my predictions!

The entire mock board is below, with explanations for the picks coming after.

1DetroitC. Cunningham, PG
2HoustonJ. Green, SG
3Cleveland (Traded to OKC)E. Mobley, C
4TorontoJ. Suggs, CG (Combo Guard)
5OrlandoJ. Kuminga, F
6OKC (Traded to Cleveland)J. Johnson, F
7Golden StateS. Barnes, F
8OrlandoJ. Bouknight, SG
9SacramentoM. Moody, Wing
10New OrleansC. Kispert, Wing
11CharlotteK. Jones, C/PF
12San AntonioA. Sengun, C
13IndianaK. Johnson, CG
14Golden StateJ. Springer, CG
15WashingtonF. Wagner, F
16OKC (via Boston) (Traded to Cleveland)D. Mitchell, CG
17MemphisZ. Williams, Wing
18OKC (via Miami)J. Giddey, PG
19NYI. Jackson, C/PF
20AtlantaC. Thomas, SG
21NY (via Dallas)T. Mann, CG
22LakersS. Cooper, PG
23Houston (via Portland)R. Prakcin, F
24Houston (via Milwaukee)M. McBride, CG
25ClippersU. Garuba, C/PF
26DenverC.  Duarte, Wing
27BrooklynC. Bassey, C
28PhiladelphiaJ. Christopher, SG
29PhoenixT. Murphy, Wing
30UtahJ. Robinson-Earl (JRE), PF
First Round Mock

1. Pistons select Cade Cunningham

Detroit’s GM, Troy Weaver, is an absolute wildcard, and sources are saying that the Piston’s organization really loves Jalen Green. With that said, I would still be shocked if Cade does not go to the Pistons. Welcome the MotorCade to Detroit.

2. Rockets select Jalen Green

Most people think Evan Mobley is the consensus #2 player in this class, but I am convinced that Jalen Green will put up at least one 25, 5, and 5 season in his career. For an organization that just lost James Harden and his scoring, this is a natural fit. Plus, though I may have some bias, Christian Wood is a star bigman and does not need to be replaced by Evan Mobley.

3. Thunder select Evan Mobley

As stated in the intro, I am basically guaranteeing the Cavaliers move either Sexton, Allen, or pick #3. In this scenario, OKC swoops in with their plethora of draft picks and moves up from pick 6 to 3. I’d imagine they’d have to give up something like 2021 pick #6, #16, #34, a 2024 1st from the Clippers, and a 2027 second rounder from Indiana. Giving up 2 extra firsts and a 2 seconds to move up 3 spots is a hefty price to pay, but Evan Mobley might be worth it. OKC would get their big man centerpiece to build around, and Mobley himself can build a scary defensive wall to pair with the tenacious Lu Dort. Cleveland would accumulate draft capital and still fill a need with a blue chip prospect at #6 as you will see. 

4. Raptors select Jalen Suggs

Toronto getting the #4 pick is awesome as they get their Kyle Lowry replacement in the form of Jalen Suggs. The potential backcourt of Suggs and VanVleet would be great both offensively and defensively. A perfect spot and pick for Toronto that helps both in the short and long term.

 5. Magic select Jonathan Kuminga

Kuminga going to the Magic at #5 is another exciting pick. The Magic have a need at the SF position and love lengthy players, so this is a seamless fit. A forward rotation of Kuminga at the 3 and Jonathan Isaac at the 4 would be an intimidating defensive duo for opposing offenses, especially with good rim protectors in Wendell Carter and Mo Bamba at the 5. 

6. Cavs select Jalen Johnson

With the Cavs now on the clock, they might finally be able to find their long term answer at the 4 by drafting Jalen Johnson. Kevin Love and Larry Nance are just not cutting it. As the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA last season, you hope Jalen’s 44.4% from deep (though a small sample size) sustains in Cleveland. A young core foundational lineup of Garland, Sexton, Okoro, Johnson, and Allen shows solid potential.

7. Warriors select Scottie Barnes

Scottie Barnes falling to the Warriors gives them a Draymond Green replacement for the future. His defensive and playmaking ability will let him play right away and allow the Warriors to run similar sets when Draymond rests. A no-brainer pick in my opinion if he falls to them.

8. Magic select James Bouknight

At this point, I have no idea what the Magic will do here. They addressed their hole at the 3 with Kuminga, have a weird guard rotation, and might try and see if Carter is good enough to be their starting 5. Therefore, it makes sense to me to take the best player available and get a bucket getter in James Bouknight. His scoring ability should give him minutes right away.

9. Kings select Moses Moody

Moses Moody is a good player that can arguably be their long term answer at the 3 with Fox and Haliburton at the 1 and 2 respectively. He fits the 3-and-D mold and likely contributes right away. This move pushes Harrison Barnes to the 4 and maybe helps the Kings move on from the Marvin Bagley experiment.

10. Pelicans select Corey Kispert

New Orleans needs shooting and spacing for Zion. Corey Kispert is damn good at doing that. Other players here may have a higher ceiling than him, but this is a justifiable pick as it sounds like Zion is already unhappy in New Orleans. This would be a good way to help maximize Zion’s talent, which has to be the goal here.

11. Hornets select Kai Jones

I am speaking Kai Jones at pick #11 to the Hornets into existence. This would give the Hornets their own version of the Memphis Grizzlies’ combo of Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson in the form of LaMelo Ball and Jones. It will take Kai a couple years to develop, but I expect Charlotte to sign a big man this offseason to a 2 or 3 year contract anyway. This move would pay major dividends for them in the future. 

12. Spurs select Alperen Sengun

The Spurs are another team that desperately needs a big. The upside and potential of Sengun turning into a Domantas Sabonis type of player with the Spurs coaching staff makes me want to speak this one into existence as well. Be warned Spurs fans; he is pretty slow on defense, so this may be a boom-or-bust pick.

13. Pacers select Keon Johnson

The Pacers are another team where I have no idea which direction they will go. There’s a ton of questions about their roster as they try to take it to the next level, so I feel like changes and/or a rebuild are coming. Regardless, this is an upside-based, long term move as Keon Johnson is pretty raw offensively but brings intense defense and probably the most athleticism in the class. Let’s see if new coach Rick Carlisle can develop his game.

14. Warriors select Jaden Springer

To close out the lottery, I think Keon’s Tennessee teammate Jaden Springer might come off the board and go to the Warriors. He can do a little bit of everything, is a plus defender, and can shoot the ball in the Warriors system, so this pick makes sense to me. A lot of people will want Davion Mitchell here, but I am not sold on his shooting ability, evidenced by his 64% free throw rate. 

15. Wizards select Franz Wagner

Washington’s forward play is considerably lacking compared to the rest of the roster. Enter Franz Wagner. Though the lengthy German probably doesn’t have a high ceiling, he should be a solid filler in the rotation for many years to come. He has fairly similar qualities to last year’s first round pick, Deni Advija, which should help with roster continuity.

16. Cavs select Davion Mitchell

If the previously mentioned Cavs-Thunder trade goes through, Cleveland would be on the clock at pick 16. With it, I think they should take Davion Mitchell. With the short combo guard duo of Darius Garland and Colin Sexton, Mitchell would be the guy off the bench to fill in for those two and help keep a similar flow going when either or both take a rest. He’s also a good defender, which is something the Cavs need as well.

17. Grizzlies elect Ziaire Williams

Memphis is in an interesting spot and can go a lot of directions in this draft, but I definitely think they could use improved wing play. Ziaire Williams could be a long term answer. He shot poorly in college, but he reminds me a lot of a Cam Reddish archetype. In other words, like Reddish, he’s a Paul George type of player if he figures everything out. We will see if Memphis swings for the fences here.

18. Thunder select Josh Giddey

OKC is in a great spot to take a shot on hit-or-miss players, and they should be hype if Josh Giddey is there for them at 18. His playmaking and size next to SGA in the backcourt would be intriguing to say the least.

19. Knicks select Isaiah Jackson

The Knicks are a team that might try to trade up in this draft. I would not be surprised if they package 19 and 21 to move up into the lottery and target a scorer like James Bouknight. In this scenario, I have them staying put and taking Isaiah Jackson. Nerlens Noel will leave in free agency after next year, and Jackson can easily take the elite rim protector and rim runner role along with Mitchell Robinson. Jackson will become a great sparkplug in the league. 

20. Hawks select Cam Thomas

At pick 20, Atlanta might find a replacement for Lou Williams, their bench scoring microwave, in the form of Cam Thomas. As one of the better scorers in this class, Thomas’s presence alongside Trae Young could be an excellent way to force defenses to take pressure off of Trae.

 21. Knicks select Tre Mann

After taking a rotational rim protecting big man at 19 in Isaiah Jackson, the Knicks also need to address depth in their frontcourt. With no guarantee that Derrick Rose comes back in free agency, Tre Mann could be a great scoring and playmaking guard for the Knicks.

22. Lakers select Sharife Cooper

With it pretty much guaranteed that Dennis Schroeder is gone in free agency, adding depth at the PG position in the form of Sharife Cooper would be a great move for the Lakers. As an excellent playmaker (8 assists per game at Auburn) he could take some of the playmaking load off of Lebron. 

23. Rockets select Roko Prakcin

The Houston Rockets are back on the clock with picks 23 and 24. Like the Knicks, I could see them packaging these picks in an attempt to move up in the draft. If they stay, I can see them trying to take a shot on versatile international prospect Roko Prakcin, who might become a long term answer at the 4. 

24. Rockets select Miles “Deuce” McBride

Houston also eventually needs an answer at the point guard position once John Wall’s contract expires. Deuce McBride made strides as a shooter and passer in his sophomore season at West Virginia, and his tape makes a convincing argument for him being a good NBA player. Houston could see how he turns out with some minutes as the lead point guard.

25. Clippers select Usman Garuba

The Clippers should be very happy if Mr. Garuba falls to them in the draft. As one of the best defensive players in this draft class, he could be the center the Clippers need. He is slightly undersized at 6’8”, but he makes up for it by being great at defending on the perimeter. This would work perfectly for a Clippers team that frequently switches on most screens.

26. Nuggets select Chris Duarte

As seen in the playoffs, the Nuggets were lacking in guard play with Jamal Murray injured. Chris Duarte could be a great fit to alleviate these concerns. As one of the older players in this class, he should make an impact and be able to play from day 1. 

27. Nets select Charles Bassey

Everyone knows Brooklyn has the star power to win it all. Still, they do not have a formidable option at the center position. Bassey could add solid depth as another option alongside DeAndre Jordan and Nic Claxton.

28. Sixers select Josh Christopher

I have Philly getting a steal at pick 28 with Josh Christopher. If he falls to them, he would add instant scoring on the wing. He is very similar to Kevin Porter Jr. and might fall to the late first round in the 2021 draft.

29. Suns select Trey Murphy

The Suns might win the Finals this year. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t use more 3-and-D wing depth. Trey Murphy checks those boxes. As a 6’9” sniper, he would make this Phoenix team even scarier.

30. Jazz select JRE

Finally, to round out the first round, I could see Utah selecting Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Jay Wright always has his Villanova kids in possession of some secret stuff that makes them into productive NBA players, and I think this trend will continue with JRE. As a good defender and rebounder with potential upside as a shooter, he could be a missing piece to the puzzle for this Jazz team. 

With that, let’s get to the updated player power rankings. The original list from about six weeks ago is here.

Top 30 Big Board MovementTier Tier Explanation
1C. CunninghamNo Change1Franchise Player
2J. GreenNo Change2Potential All Star with Franchise Changing Capability
3E. MobleyNo Change2Potential All Star with Franchise Changing Capability
4J. SuggsNo Change3Lowkey Star
5J. KumingaNo Change4Likely Quality Starter with Star Potential
6S. BarnesNo Change4Likely Quality Starter with Star Potential
7J. Bouknight+24Likely Quality Starter with Star Potential
8M. Moody-14Likely Quality Starter with Star Potential
9K. Johnson-15Potential Starting Quality Player. Some may become stars and some may only be role players.
10J. JohnsonNo Change5Potential Starting Quality Player. Some may become stars and some may only be role players.
11K. Jones+15Potential Starting Quality Player. Some may become stars and some may only be role players.
12J. Springer-15Potential Starting Quality Player. Some may become stars and some may only be role players.
13C. KispertNo Change5Potential Starting Quality Player. Some may become stars and some may only be role players.
14D. Mitchell+25Potential Starting Quality Player. Some may become stars and some may only be role players.
15A. Sengun+85Potential Starting Quality Player. Some may become stars and some may only be role players.
16J. Giddey-15Potential Starting Quality Player. Some may become stars and some may only be role players.
17J. Christopher+45Potential Starting Quality Player. Some may become stars and some may only be role players.
18Z. Williams-15Potential Starting Quality Player. Some may become stars and some may only be role players.
19F. Wagner-56Quality Role Player with Niche Role
20I. Jackson-26Quality Role Player with Niche Role
21T. Mann+16Quality Role Player with Niche Role
22S. Cooper+66Quality Role Player with Niche Role
23C. Thomas+16Quality Role Player with Niche Role
24U. Garuba-46Quality Role Player with Niche Role
25C. DuarteUp into top 30 (Previously 31)6Quality Role Player with Niche Role
26B. BostonNo Change7Potential Role Player
27JRE-27Potential Role Player
28M. McBride+17Potential Role Player
29C. Bassey-27Potential Role Player
30N. HylandUp into top 307Potential Role Player

Johnny Juzang (formerly 30) and Jarod Butler (formerly 19) have fallen out of the top 30.

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