2021 NBA Draft: Picks and Predictions
This draft has some special potential. It is poised to be much deeper than the last two drafts, with more potential starting-quality players than drafts since the Ayton-Luca-Trae Young draft. Some draft analysts say there are multiple #1 picks in this draft.
Disclaimer: No possibly trades are taken into account, so draft order remains as is. The New Orleans-Memphis trade was taken into account as it occurred prior to the draft, so Memphis possesses the #10 pick now.
1. Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Detroit Pistons
Cade is as clear cut a #1 pick as can be, remaining on top of the 2021 draft board since he was a senior in high school. Although he is not as clear cut as Zion was, he is the most NBA ready in most scouts’ minds. He is a great facilitator at 6’8, with advanced handles, great shot creation skills, and shot 37% from 3 in college. His skill set is more impressive when you consider that he was the sole focus of imposing defenses and had his best game against some of the best opponents down the stretch of the season.
2. Jalen Green, SG, Houston Rockets
Green took the route of playing for the G League Ignite team which helped him vault up draft boards, as he proved his scoring ability against many pros. He was the go-to option for the Ignite team down the stretch and showed his ability to score at all three levels. Houston needs to go best talent available and Green is that too talent once Cade is off the board.
3. Evan Mobley, C, Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland is in a somewhat precarious situation where they acquired Jarrett Allen for basically nothing in the James Harden bonanza, yet they should definitely consider going best player available. Allen will prove to be an expensive restricted free agency signing based on his progressions each year in the league and the Cavs are far from becoming a playoff team. Jonathan Kuminga would be the pick if teams would draft position by position, but Mobley is a #1 pick in another draft. He fits many of the characteristics of a modern day center in that he is a rim runner, who doesn't need the ball in his hands to be productive, and proved he is a dominant defender during his year at USC.
4. Scottie Barnes, Forward, Toronto Raptors
Most people would see Kuminga as the pick here, but he has the potential to slip a few slots. Barnes is possibly the most intriguing prospect as far as upside in this draft as he came off the bench for a majority of the season for FSU, while being their best overall player. At 6’8, he constantly picked up players full court, while being the best playmaker on the team. Currently, its the playmaking and defense that lead to the intrigue. His plus-wingspan, size and instinct are hard to teach and make him an instant impact role player. He can initiate offense and attack using his athleticism and intelligence. Although he did not shoot the longball well, his ability to bring up his 3 point percentage is where his upside lies. Lots of GMs and draft analysts are raving about this kid because of his motor and energy he brings to the arena. High school coaches, college advisors and spectators at the NBA Combine rave about his enthusiasm that he brings to all areas. This is a guy that didn't need to be on the court much at the combine, but was noted to have been on the court at every moment possible and was coaching up other prospects during the scrimmages, which isn't something many guys do when competing against other prospects. Keeping a guy in state may bring something out of him that might not be seen otherwise.
5. Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Orlando Magic
Thus far, this mock draft hasn't been too surprising and this draft appears like it won't be surprising unless there are trades. Suggs played his way up to being the #2 pick in mocks during the college season. He will be remembered for his shot to beat UCLA, but its his playmaking, athleticism, defense, and shotmaking ability that make him the top prospect he is. At 6’4, he can play either guard position and can play on or off the ball. This makes GMs salivate at the chance to draft him in this positionless age of basketball. The poise of this young kid adds to the allure.
6. Jonathan Kuminga, PF, OKC Thunder
OKC has more picks than there are draft spots in this draft and the next. They have a stud in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Lu Dort is an undrafted guy that has proven he can be a starter. OKC needs to find dynamic prospects with its plethora of picks. Kuminga fits that mold. He’s 6’8, with an NBA ready body and has shown that he can bang down low while also hitting jumpers. His physicality is something of a question in some eyes in that will it translate to playing against grown men. Wait. He did that in the G League with the Ignite team. This kid is a stud and any lottery team will be thrilled to draft him.
7. Franz Wagner, SF, Golden State Warriors
Most people might remember him for the air ball down the stretch of their loss to UCLA, but Wagner is poised to be an instant contributor and floor spacer off the bench. Even though he’s more of a slasher and spot up shooter at this stage, he can attack the rim off of close outs and doesn’t look totally lost on the defensive end. Golden State is looking for immediate contributors to build their bench, as they will be back to being title contenders with Curry and Klay healthy. Wagner would have lots of success slashing off of the success of the Splash Brothers, with Draymond Green as the main distributor.
8. Keon Johnson, SG, Orlando Magic
Despite disappointing long distance shooting, Johnson has the form and the skills that havent translated to success from deep just yet. Think of Lonzo Ball, who shot from across his body. Johnson shoots with his elbow tucked in, so its a matter of fine tuning and consistency to get his jumper wet. His athleticism, size at 6’5 and instincts enable him to attack the rim with ease and pose a downhill threat. The Magic need an off guard, as they currently have several young point guards on the roster.
9. Moses Moody, SG, Sacramento Kings
As the leading scorer of a loaded Arkansas team, he can certainly get a bucket. He shot 36% on 162 three point attempts, which is pretty good for a one-and-done freshman on a team with high aspirations. Moody can score at all three levels, although the big question mark is his athleticism. He is definitely not the best athlete in this class and not the worst, but the concern for Moody’s transition to the NBA revolves around whether he can continue to score against bigger and more athletic players.
10. James Bouknight, SG, Memphis Grizzlies
Bouknight has been rising up draft boards following his impressive showing during the combine. During the season at UCONN, he showed everyone he was a capable three level scorer, although he needs to become more efficient around the rim. His scoring is definitely not in question, but as a smaller two guard he should work on the ball handling to become a more capable playmaker. That being said, teams will be vying to draft him. Bouknight would be a good fit in Memphis, as they lack scoring other than Ja Morant. They possess enough size to mask Bouknight’s lack of size for a shooting guard.
11. Alperen Sengün, PF/C, Charlotte Hornets
The Turkish big man has risen up draft boards but his range is quite variable at this point and likely will remain so till his name is called by the commissioner. He provided good run protection in Europe as well as good post play, but questions of whether he can duplicate that success in the NBA remain. The center spot needs to be addressed by Charlotte and Sengun fills that void.
12. Davion Mitchell, Guard, San Antonio Spurs
Mitchell is a Coach Pop type of player. They could be looking for guys to complement them, guys to bolster their bench, or guys to add something to help them to become the contender they were before injuries struck. Mitchell is one prospect that many expect to be drafted by a team that has title aspirations. Mitchell is a guy that can clamp the other team's best player and then go and slice up a defense to get a bucket. At 23, he is older than most other guys in the lottery, but with age comes poise. Contending teams will look for a 23 year old to come in and add positively to such a team. He brings skill, craft and grit to whoever is lucky enough to grab him.
13. Josh Giddey, PG, Indiana Pacers
Giddey won NBL ROY averaging 11 points and 7.6 assists. The comparisons to Luka Doncic are solid enough due to size for a PG, lack of explosiveness off the dribble, creativity to get shots off in the paint, and inefficiency shooting threes despite great form. Bigger point guards are the trend in the NBA and Giddey will command lots of interest. Indiana needs a true point guard, as Malcolm Brogdon and Caris Levert are combo guards.
14. Chris Duarte, SG, Golden State Warriors
Duarte has been another guy leaping up the draft boards, despite just having turned 24. He brings the ability to immediately contribute to a team like the Warriors. He shot 42% from three and 63% on twos, to highlight his efficiency as a number one option in college. He will get much easier looks on Golden State.
Top 4 Exact Order:
1.Cunningham, 2. Green, 3. Mobley, 4. Barnes +360
#4 Overall Pick:
Scottie Barnes +230
To be taken in the Top 10:
Keon Johnson +184
Moses Moody -132