NBA Mock Draft 2021: Cade Cunningham still No. 1; Evan Mobley-Jalen Green debate rages; combine causes changes


Oklahoma State

• Fr

• 6’8″

/ 220 lbs

Projected Team

Detroit

PROSPECT RNK

1st

POSITION RNK

1st

PPG

20.1

RPG

6.2

APG

3.5

3P%

40%

Despite the Pistons insisting they’ll explore all options, there’s almost a 100 percent chance that Cunningham, a point guard in a power forward’s body, will be the top selection next month. Don’t be fooled by Cunningham’s relatively low assist average — that should dramatically increase when he gets better players around him at the NBA level. The Pistons will be ecstatic to get a crown jewel like Cunningham to place around their other young pieces and help speed up their rebuild.

USC

• Fr

• 7’0″

/ 215 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK

3rd

POSITION RNK

1st

PPG

16.4

RPG

8.7

APG

2.4

3P%

30%

Sure, there is some positional redundancy with Christian Wood in Houston, but the Rockets are in no position to pass up a talent like Mobley based on those factors. I’ve bumped Mobley up in this mock based on some conversations with scouts who say that Mobley is more akin to a 7-foot wing than a big given his versatility on both sides of the ball, which presents all sorts of lineup options for the Rockets moving forward.

Jalen Green

SG

USA

• 6’5″

/ 172 lbs

Projected Team

Cleveland

PROSPECT RNK

4th

POSITION RNK

1st

PPG

17.9

RPG

4.1

APG

2.8

3P%

36.5%

Green is perhaps the most predictable prospect in the draft in the sense that you know pretty much exactly what you’re getting. He’s a superior athlete who’s been a prolific scorer at every level at which he’s ever played. Mobley might be a better fit given the Cavs’ existing backcourt of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton, but if he’s gone then there’s no reason that Green, at 6-5, couldn’t slot alongside both of them in the modern NBA.

Gonzaga

• Fr

• 6’4″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

Toronto

PROSPECT RNK

2nd

POSITION RNK

2nd

PPG

14.4

RPG

5.3

APG

4.5

3P%

33.7%

The Raptors jumped up in the lottery and now have a chance to grab one of the coveted top-four prospects in this year’s draft. If it ends up being Suggs, he’ll join a near-perfect situation with a franchise that has a habit of maximizing scrappy, skilled guards. Coming from a high-level program with Gonzaga, Suggs should have no problem contributing right away for a team with designs of getting back into the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Florida State

• Fr

• 6’9″

/ 227 lbs

Projected Team

Orlando

PROSPECT RNK

9th

POSITION RNK

2nd

PPG

10.3

RPG

4

APG

4.1

3P%

27.5%

The Magic need all the help they can get as they kick off their rebuild, and Barnes is one of the most intriguing prospects in the draft. A long, versatile, switchable defender with tremendous playmaking upside, Barnes is a prototype wing for the modern NBA, who should be able to eventually guard one through five. The jumper needs work, but Orlando has nothing but time to try to develop it.

Jonathan Kuminga

SF

Congo

• 6’8″

/ 205 lbs

PPG

15.8

RPG

7.2

APG

2.7

3P%

24.6%

I talked to a scout who doesn’t even have Kuminga rated as a lottery pick, but OKC won’t be able to pass on his upside at this stage in the draft. His lack of efficiency is alarming — he made 39% of his field goals and 25% of his 3-pointers for the G League Ignite this season — but the athleticism, build and motor are enough to entice the Thunder. Even if they’re not in love with him, he could become a valuable trade asset down the line.

Arkansas

• Fr

• 6’6″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

Golden St.

PROSPECT RNK

15th

POSITION RNK

5th

PPG

16.8

RPG

5.8

APG

1.6

3P%

35.8%

The Warriors may try to move this pick, but Moody would be a strong addition to the roster as a 3-and-D wing with upside as a scorer. His 6-11 wingspan makes him imposing when playing passing lanes and closing out on shooters. At the very least he’ll fill a need, and at best he could develop into a Mikal Bridges or maybe even Khris Middleton-type two-way player.

Baylor

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

Orlando

PROSPECT RNK

7th

POSITION RNK

3rd

PPG

14

RPG

2.7

APG

5.5

3P%

44.7%

They already have Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony, but the rebuilding Magic can’t pass up a talent like Mitchell based on positional redundancy. At 22, Mitchell should contribute immediately on both sides of the ball with his strength and motor. He became a consistent 3-point shooter and playmaker over the course of his college career, turning him into an elite prospect with tremendous upside.

Tennessee

• Fr

• 6’5″

/ 186 lbs

Projected Team

Sacramento

PROSPECT RNK

6th

POSITION RNK

2nd

PPG

11.3

RPG

3.5

APG

2.5

3P%

27.1%

When you set the record for highest vertical leap at the NBA Draft Combine, you’re going to open some eyes, and the 48-inch jump should get Johnson at least into the top 10. Sacramento wants to play fast, and having an athlete like Johnson on the wing would make that much easier. He still needs to develop as a scorer and shooter, but he should be able to contribute in transition and on defense right away.

Gonzaga

• Sr

• 6’7″

/ 220 lbs

Projected Team

New Orleans

PROSPECT RNK

18th

POSITION RNK

5th

PPG

18.6

RPG

5

APG

1.8

3P%

44%

The Pelicans shouldn’t overthink this one. They need as much shooting around Zion Williamson as possible, and Kispert is probably the best shooter in the draft. He should be able to hold his own defensively given his size and strength, and knows all the tricks to get open off the ball. This may be a little early for Kispert on some big boards, but he has a high floor and fills an important need for New Orleans.

Connecticut

• Soph

• 6’5″

/ 190 lbs

Projected Team

Charlotte

PROSPECT RNK

8th

POSITION RNK

3rd

PPG

18.7

RPG

5.7

APG

1.8

3P%

29.3%

You want to give LaMelo Ball as many transition weapons as possible, and Bouknight is an elite athlete who consistently throws down highlight dunks on the break. When he gets into the halfcourt, he’s an intriguing one-on-one scorer whose efficiency should improve with NBA coaches drilling him on shot selection.

Stanford

• Fr

• 6’8″

/ 185 lbs

Projected Team

San Antonio

PROSPECT RNK

21st

POSITION RNK

7th

PPG

10.7

RPG

4.6

APG

2.2

3P%

29.1%

Williams was the No. 6 player in his class coming out of high school before suffering through a train wreck of a freshman season at Stanford. His upside is undeniable as a shot creator and ball-handler with a 6-11 wingspan. Williams’ trainer told me that he’s “going to be a star,” and I trust his opinion after he raved about Tyrese Haliburton last year. The Spurs have a knack for developing players, so Williams seems like a worthwhile gamble at this juncture of the draft.

Michigan

• Soph

• 6’9″

/ 220 lbs

Projected Team

Indiana

PROSPECT RNK

16th

POSITION RNK

4th

PPG

12.5

RPG

6.5

APG

3

3P%

34.3%

The Pacers ended the season as one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA, and they could look to improve that by drafting Wagner, one of the best defenders in the draft with his length, strength and instincts. He’s also an impressive finisher in transition and a threat as both a roller and a popper. If he can become a league-average 3-point shooter, he’ll be a valuable asset for new coach Rick Carlisle.

Oregon

• Sr

• 6’6″

/ 190 lbs

Projected Team

Golden St.

PROSPECT RNK

17th

POSITION RNK

6th

PPG

17.1

RPG

4.6

APG

2.7

3P%

42.4%

Duarte is an absolute pure shooter, and the Warriors won’t be scared away by him being 24 years old since they’re trying to win a title now. He’s actually reminiscent of Klay Thompson in the way he can shoot and with his defensive potential, so there’s no better place to learn from the master. He may never reach Thompson’s ceiling, but Duarte should be a knock-down shooter with potential off the dribble as well.

Duke

• Fr

• 6’9″

/ 220 lbs

Projected Team

Washington

PROSPECT RNK

20th

POSITION RNK

6th

PPG

11.2

RPG

6.1

APG

2.2

3P%

44.4%

Johnson is a bit of a mystery because he only played 13 games at Duke, but he’s a tantalizing prospect because of his length, athleticism and upside. He would be a menace in transition for the Wizards, who played at the league’s highest pace (by far) last season. Given the trouble Washington has experienced surrounding Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal with quality rotation players, Johnson should get a shot to contribute right away.

Josh Giddey

SF

Australia

• 6’8″

/ 205 lbs

Giddey is almost a perfect OKC pick — he has incredible upside, but needs development in order to unlock his full potential — so he could present great value if he falls this far in the draft. Giddey’s virtuoso passing ability is close to LaMelo Ball levels, and he can also finish on the break himself. The jump shot is a concern, but he could become an elite playmaker if he continues to develop his ball-handling.

Usman Garuba

PF

Spain

• 6’8″

/ 229 lbs

Projected Team

Memphis

PROSPECT RNK

27th

POSITION RNK

3rd

With a 7-2 wingspan and tremendous technique, Garuba has perhaps the most defensive potential of any big in the draft besides Evan Mobley. Where the intrigue lies is in Garuba’s potential to be a Draymond Green-esque playmaker, both in transition and in the half-court. Obviously it will take a while for that to develop, but Memphis has the depth to be patient while Garuba gets some seasoning.

Tennessee

• Fr

• 6’4″

/ 204 lbs

PPG

12.5

RPG

3.5

APG

2.9

3P%

43.5%

One scout I talked to ranks Springer ahead of Jalen Suggs in his projections. I wouldn’t go that far, but it explains the value that Springer could have at this point in the draft. The Thunder are no stranger to taking big swings — they traded up to get Aleksej Pokusevski at No. 17 last year — so taking a flier on Springer, one of the youngest guards in the draft, makes sense here.

Virginia

• Jr

• 6’9″

/ 206 lbs

Projected Team

New York

PROSPECT RNK

49th

POSITION RNK

14th

PPG

11.3

RPG

3.4

APG

1.2

3P%

43.3%

I think Murphy is one of the more underrated prospects in the draft, largely because he has a ready-made role as a 3-and-D wing, and he improved his stock at the draft combine. He took very few mid-range jumpers in his last college season in favor of NBA-level shot distribution. The Knicks are in dire need of shooting, particularly from the wing, and Murphy can step in right away with the defensive ability and discipline to keep him on the court under Tom Thibodeau.

Florida

• Soph

• 6’5″

/ 190 lbs

Projected Team

Atlanta

PROSPECT RNK

10th

POSITION RNK

4th

PPG

16

RPG

5.6

APG

3.5

3P%

40.2%

I don’t rate Mann as highly as some other draft evaluators, but the Hawks would be lucky to get him at this point and start grooming him as Trae Young’s backup. His scoring ability is undeniable, and his shot creation is among the best in the draft. His short arms make him play smaller than he is defensively, and he needs to work on his playmaking ability, but he won’t have pressure to play major minutes right away with Atlanta’s incredible depth.

Kentucky

• Fr

• 6’10”

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

New York

PROSPECT RNK

23rd

POSITION RNK

2nd

PPG

8.4

RPG

6.6

APG

0.7

3P%

0%

Nerlens Noel and Taj Gibson are free agents, so the Knicks could beef up their frontcourt with the addition of Jackson, an explosive pogo stick of a center with a 7-4 wingspan. He’s one of the best shot-blockers in the draft, and would essentially become a second Mitchell Robinson coming off the bench. He also shows the potential to switch on the perimeter, but he’ll likely get into foul trouble a lot as a rookie, just like Robinson.

Baylor

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 195 lbs

Projected Team

L.A. Lakers

PROSPECT RNK

19th

POSITION RNK

6th

PPG

16.7

RPG

3.3

APG

4.8

3P%

41.6%

It’s clear that the Lakers need as much shooting and playmaking as possible off the bench, and Butler will bring those in spades (assuming he gets cleared to play by the NBA panel looking into his diagnosed heart condition). He’s also a strong enough defender to hold his own on the league’s best defensive team. Butler will be 22 when next season starts, and he’s physically and mentally mature enough to contribute to a winning team right away.

Alperen Sengun

C

Turkey

• 6’10”

/ 240 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK

24th

POSITION RNK

2nd

Sengun didn’t play against the best competition this season in Turkey due to COVID and passport issues, but the Rockets would gladly take the versatile center prospect at this stage in the draft. He’s a polished low-post scorer who has shown tremendous playmaking potential, and he possesses a rare combination of skill and toughness. He’ll need time, but the Rockets don’t mind waiting.

Auburn

• Fr

• 6’1″

/ 180 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK

22nd

POSITION RNK

7th

PPG

20.2

RPG

4.3

APG

8.1

3P%

22.8%

Cooper is one of the most dazzling playmakers in the draft, with elite passing potential at the next level. He’s constantly putting pressure on the defense in transition and is a whiz in the pick-and-roll. His small stature and lack of shooting thus far in his career raise some flags, but he’s well worth a flier for Houston.

Illinois

• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 200 lbs

PPG

20.1

RPG

6.3

APG

5.3

3P%

38.6%

The Clippers could use some scoring pop off the bench, and Dosunmu is one of the most polished scorers in the draft. If his 3-point shooting can hold up it will take him to the next level, but he’s still incredibly valuable as a mid-range jump shooter and pick-and-roll operator. His size and length will allow him to play multiple positions and fit into the Clippers’ switching defensive scheme.

LSU

• Fr

• 6’4″

/ 210 lbs

Projected Team

Denver

PROSPECT RNK

14th

POSITION RNK

4th

PPG

23

RPG

3.4

APG

1.4

3P%

32.5%

Talk about a bucket-getter. Thomas has the game, and the confidence, to eventually become a 20-point-per-game NBA scorer — he just needs to work on his efficiency. The Nuggets, like pretty much every team, are always looking for bench players who can create and put the ball in the basket, so Thomas would be a gem this late in the draft.

West Virginia

• Soph

• 6’2″

/ 196 lbs

Projected Team

Brooklyn

PROSPECT RNK

33rd

POSITION RNK

9th

PPG

15.9

RPG

3.9

APG

4.8

3P%

41.4%

If we learned one thing this season, it’s that the Nets need some backcourt depth. With Spencer Dinwiddie likely leaving in free agency, McBride could slide in nicely as a combo guard off the bench capable of both scoring and facilitating. He’s also a tenacious defender with a powerful frame, which should make him ready to play right away. McBride’s stock has improved with a strong combine performance, which means he could slide into the first round.

Arizona State

• Fr

• 6’5″

/ 215 lbs

Projected Team

Philadelphia

PROSPECT RNK

37th

POSITION RNK

13th

PPG

14.3

RPG

4.7

APG

1.4

3P%

30.5%

Christopher has all the upside you want in a late first-rounder, and he said he had an “amazing” meeting with the 76ers. He has NBA athleticism and creates tremendous space off the dribble with a confident mid-range and 3-point stroke. He improved toward the end of the year at Arizona State, indicating an upward trajectory. Philadelphia can give him time to develop, but a bench unit featuring Christopher and Tyrese Maxey could do wonders for its offense.

Texas

• Soph

• 6’11”

/ 218 lbs

Projected Team

Phoenix

PROSPECT RNK

13th

POSITION RNK

1st

PPG

8.8

RPG

4.8

APG

0.6

3P%

38.2%

Jones is a lottery prospect in terms of talent but center is just not a premium position right now in the NBA, so he could fall far enough for a team like Phoenix to grab him late in the draft. Jones is mobile and attacks the rim on offense while protecting it on defense, but the real game-changer will be if his 3-point shooting translates to the pro level.

VCU

• Soph

• 6’3″

/ 173 lbs

Projected Team

Utah

PROSPECT RNK

25th

POSITION RNK

8th

PPG

19.5

RPG

4.7

APG

2.1

3P%

37.1%

Hyland is a pure scorer who is rising up draft boards following an excellent combine performance. He’s an extremely confident scorer with tremendous range off the dribble, and has shown the ability to hit clutch shots. His offensive game, particularly his playmaking, needs some fine tuning, but he has tremendous potential for a player taken with the last pick in the first round.

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