Cade Cunningham still a top lock, G-League’s Jalen Green vaults to No. 3

The NBA draft is a mere three weeks away.

As the Phoenix Suns and Milwaukee Bucks vie for the NBA championship this month, teams that were out of title contention will soon look to build their futures with pivotal picks and trades to bolster their respective franchises. This year’s class of soon-to-be rookies has no shortage of talent, led by likely top pick Cade Cunningham.

USA TODAY Sports provides a closer look at how everything can unfold on July 29.

Which players are out front to hear their name called early by Adam Silver? A look at the projected first round:

1. Detroit Pistons

Cade Cunningham • Oklahoma State • Freshman • Point Guard • 6-8 • 220

Oklahoma State guard Cade Cunningham (2) during of an NCAA college basketball game against Kansas State.

Cunningham is a lock at this point to be the top pick by Detroit, although reports are swirling that Detroit will target other players. The All-American guard used his freshman season with the Cowboys to show that he’s more than just a dynamic playmaker who’s built for the NBA physically. Cunningham (20.1 ppg in 2020-21) consistently showed a clutch gene, making several game-winning shots and exuding leadership well beyond his years.

Evan Mobley • Southern California • Freshman • Center • 7-0 • 215

Trojans forward Evan Mobley (4) handles the ball while Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Drew Timme (2) defends during the first half in the Elite Eight of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Mobley’s shot blocking ability, length and size position him to make an impact right away for a Houston team rebuilding its identity. But it’s his potential as a long-term All-Star at the big man position that’s most intriguing. Mobley (4) will need to bulk up to have better strength against NBA bigs.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers

Jalen Green • USA • G-League • Guard • 6-5 • 172

NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 18: Jalen Green #4 of Team Stanley watches a game prior to his game against Team Ramsey during the SLAM Summer Classic 2018 at Dyckman Park on August 18, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775204727 ORIG FILE ID: 1019037812

Green has shot up to the No. 3 spot because of how he can give the Cavs much-needed offensive firepower. Green would’ve been a star in the NCAA but instead opted to play in the G-League. He’s not a great decision maker but he’s a bucket-getter who can score at will and has the skillset to develop into a formidable combo guard.

4. Toronto Raptors

Jalen Suggs • Gonzaga • Freshman • Point Guard • 6-4 • 205

Story continues

Apr 5, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Jalen Suggs (1) dunks the ball against the Baylor Bears during the national championship game in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-446986 ORIG FILE ID: 20210409_kkt_st3_239.jpg

Suggs is a potential franchise-changing point guard who would be a steal if he’s still on the board for the Raptors. His table-topping buzzer-beater in this year’s Final Four will live on in March Madness lore, but his freshman season under coach Mark Few saw him blossom into an NBA-ready floor general with poise and smart decision making. Gonzaga’s offense caters well to the pro level so Suggs should be ready to make a splash.

5. Orlando Magic

Jonathan Kuminga • Congo • G-League • Small Forward • 6-8 • 205

Jonathan Kuminga skipped college and signed with the G League’s developmental program for a reported $500,000 deal.

Another G-Leaguer, Kuminga is an oversized wing with a tall ceiling. He won’t be an All-Star right away but has all the intangibles to develop into one. Kuminga averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds in the G-League.

Scottie Barnes • Florida State • Freshman • Small Forward • 6-9 • 227

NSU University School’s Scottie Barnes #32 in action against Montverde in a Boys Quarterfinal game at the Geico High School Basketball Nationals in the Queens borough of New York on Thursday, April 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Gregory Payan) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

Barnes (left) brings raw abilities as a playmaker and versatile defender, but his shooting (27.5% from three) and overall offensive production (10.3 ppg) are not there yet. Put him on the right team and all his growth can come in stride.

Davion Mitchell • Baylor • Junior • Point Guard • 6-2 • 205

April 5, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baylor Bears guard Davion Mitchell (45) after the national championship game in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-446986 ORIG FILE ID: 20210409_kkt_st3_289.jpg

The key catalyst of the national champion Baylor Bears squad, Mitchell (left) is a do-everything guard who can bolster any NBA team with his ballhawking defense. He’s also a capable passer who can stuff the stat sheet without needing to score. He can create and nail threes when he’s open or creates for himself. An ideal fit for Golden State alongside an All-Star backcourt.

8. Orlando Magic

Moses Moody • Arkansas • Freshman • Shooting Guard • 6-6 • 205

Arkansas’ Moses Moody (left) and LSU’s Eric Gaines (25) fight for a rebound in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the Southeastern Conference Tournament.

Moody’s defense will make him hard to pass up in the top 10, as he proved to be an excellent perimeter defender for an Elite Eight-finishing Razorbacks team this past March. He’s also one of the best spot-up mid-range shooters in the draft.

9. Sacramento Kings

James Bouknight • Connecticut • Sophomore • Shooting Guard • 6-5 • 190

Connecticut Huskies guard James Bouknight (2) shoots against the DePaul Blue Demons in the first half at Harry A. Gampel Pavilion.

Bouknight (2) gave coach Dan Hurley a go-to scorer every night. In the NBA, Bouknight has all the tools to be a potent scorer — possessing the ability to score both off the ball and with it in his hands.

10. New Orleans Pelicans

Corey Kispert • Gonzaga • Senior • Shooting Guard • 6-7 • 220

Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Corey Kispert (24) goes up for a basket against Santa Clara Broncos forward Josip Vrankic (13) in the second half at McCarthey Athletic Center.

Kispert could develop into a Kyle Korver replica. His 44% three-point shooting for a nearly undefeated Gonzaga team was the highlight of his game, but he’s also got great instincts on defense and can do the little things to make just about any team in this draft better.

11. Charlotte Hornets

Keon Johnson • Tennessee • Freshman • Shooting Guard • 6-5 • 186

Tennessee’s Keon Johnson plays against Alabama during the NCAA college basketball Southeastern Conference Tournament Saturday, March 13, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

Johnson can develop into an All-Star but he’s not ready to come into his own yet, as his offensive prowess still needs some work. He averaged 11.3 ppg for the Volunteers and showed flashes of his true potential in his lone NCAA season.

12. San Antonio Spurs

Josh Giddey • Australia • Forward • 6-8 • 205

Josh Giddey of the 36ers competes for the ball with Justin Simon and AJ Ogilvy of the Hawks during the round 18 NBL match between the Illawarra Hawks and Adelaide 36ers at WIN Entertainment Centre, on May 11, 2021, in Wollongong, Australia.

Giddey’s best asset is his court vision, passing and playmaking. His offense outweighs his mediocre defense, which needs help. But at 18 with pro experience already in Australia, he’s got time to hone his craft and adjust to the league’s style.

13. Indiana Pacers

Franz Wagner • Michigan • Sophomore • 6-9 • 220

Michigan guard Franz Wagner dribbles up court during a Sweet 16 game against Florida State in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Sunday, March 28, 2021, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) ORG XMIT: NYOTK

Wagner has size and handle around the perimeter, can knock down three’s accurately and play great team defense. His game will parlay much better at the pro level than at Michigan where he was starting to blossom.

14. Golden State Warriors

Kai Jones • Texas • Sophomore • Power Forward • 6-11 • 220

Jones’ stat line (8.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) at Texas won’t raise eyebrows, but he’s a gamble-type pick based on huge upside.

15. Washington Wizards

Alperen Sengun • Turkey • Center • 6-10 • 240

A standout in the Turkish pro league, the 18-year-old Sengun was the Basketball Super League’s MVP. While he’ll have a transition from the international game to NBA, particularly on defense, he’s got all the tools to excel.

16. Oklahoma City Thunder

Jaden Springer • Tennessee • Freshman • Point Guard • 6-4 • 204

Tennessee guard Jaden Springer (11) passes the ball during a basketball game between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Appalachian State Mountaineers at Thompson-Boling Arena in Knoxville, Tenn., on Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (Via OlyDrop)

Springer (12.5 ppg, 44% three-point shooting) has the ability to progress into a starting point guard, illustrated by his strong outside shooting at the NCAA level.

17. Memphis Grizzlies

Ziaire Williams • Stanford • Freshman • 6-8 • 185

Feb 27, 2021; Stanford, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal forward Ziaire Williams (3) warms up before the game against the Oregon State Beavers at Maples Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-444540 ORIG FILE ID: 20210302_ter_yl1_103.jpg

Williams was on the trajectory of a lottery pick but wasn’t very impressive in his lone NCAA season at Stanford. Teams like his ceiling once he gets some reps in the league.

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18. Oklahoma City Thunder

Ayo Dosunmu • Illinois • Junior • 6-5 • 200

Illinois’ Ayo Dosunmu participates in the NBA Draft Combine at the Wintrust Arena Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: ILCA136

The USA TODAY Sports national college basketball player of the year in 2020-21, Dosunmu was a triple-double machine who helped the Fighting Illini land a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He’s reminiscent of John Wall and Russell Westbrook with his do-everything ability.

19. New York Knicks

Cameron Thomas • LSU • Freshman • Guard • 6-4 • 210

FILE – In this Feb. 13, 2021, file photo, LSU guard Cameron Thomas (24) shoots a free throw in the second half an NCAA college basketball game against Tennessee in Baton Rouge, La. Thomas is a member of The Associated Press All-SEC team in voting announced Tuesday, March 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert, File) ORG XMIT: NY153

An explosive scorer, Thomas averaged 23 points a game for the Tigers and erupted for a bundle of 30-plus scoring nights. He had the ball in his hands a lot at LSU but he’ll have to find a way to make an impact when he’s not scoring at will at the pro level.

20. Atlanta Hawks

Isaiah Jackson • Kentucky • Freshman • 6-10 • 205

Kentucky’s Isaiah Jackson deflects the ball shot by Louisville’s Carlik Jones.. Dec. 26, 2020 (Via OlyDrop)

Jackson’s best attribute is his motor in the open court. His athleticism skills around the rim will make him a contributor to any team that selects him. Kentucky coach John Calipari helped fine-tune his craft in one season in Lexington but there’s still a long way to go to reach his full potential.

21. New York Knicks

Tre Mann • Florida • Sophomore • Point Guard • 6-5 • 190

Mar 19, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Florida Gators guard Tre Mann (1) controls the ball against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-450055 ORIG FILE ID: 20210319_jla_lb1_034.jpg

Mann is the type of point guard who can play on and off the ball, which could be a nice fit in New York. He shot 40% from beyond the arc at Florida and is used to a physical style.

22. Los Angeles Lakers

Chris Duarte • Oregon • Senior • Shooting Guard • 6-6 • 190

Oregon Ducks guard Chris Duarte (5) attempts to shoot the ball as he is fouled by Iowa Hawkeyes guard Tony Perkins (11) during the second round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament on Monday, March 22, 2021, at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. Mandatory Credit: Sam Owens/IndyStar via USA TODAY Sports ORIG FILE ID: 20210322_jla_usa_2433.jpg

Duarte (5) has shot up on draft boards, making his decision to skip the draft combine a smart one. He’s older than most players so he brings a maturity to his game. His size is solid and he shot 38% from three-point range for the Ducks.

23. Houston Rockets

Jalen Johnson • Duke • Freshman • Forward • 6-9 • 220

Jan 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jalen Johnson (1) warms up before playing the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-443430 ORIG FILE ID: 20210119_gma_al8_085.jpg

Johnson didn’t overly impress at Duke but he still got a chance to develop under arguably the greatest coach of all-time and has the skillset to grow into an All-Star.

24. Houston Rockets

Jared Butler • Baylor • Junior • Guard • 6-3 • 195

April 5, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baylor Bears guard Jared Butler (12) in the second half during the national championship game in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-446986 ORIG FILE ID: 20210409_kkt_st3_222.jpg

Butler, the leading scorer of a national champion Baylor squad, improved his assists and playmaking this past season as a first-team All-American. But he’s still not a natural point guard and as a combo guard he’s undersized.

25. Los Angeles Clippers

Johnny Juzang • UCLA • Sophomore • Shooting guard • 6-6 • 210

Jun 23, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; UCLAÕs Johnny Juzang participates during the NBA Draft Combine at Wintrust Arena.Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-453280 ORIG FILE ID: 20210623_neb_bb6_092.JPG

The crafty scorer for a surprise Final Four UCLA team this past March Madness, Juzang has length on defense and a hard-nosed knack for playmaking on offense.

26. Denver Nuggets

Miles McBride • West Virginia • Sophomore • Point Guard • 6-2 • 200

Feb 23, 2021; Fort Worth, Texas, USA; West Virginia Mountaineers guard Miles McBride (4) moves against TCU Horned Frogs guard RJ Nembhard (22) during the second half at Ed and Rae Schollmaier Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-446552 ORIG FILE ID: 20210223_gav_sh2_108.jpg

McBride averaged 15.8 points and 4.9 assists for the Mountaineers in 2020-21, and has a high basketball IQ that would make him a great asset off the bench for a contending team.

27. Brooklyn Nets

Usman Garuba • Spain • Power Forward • 6-8 • 229

Usman Garuba of Real Madrid fights with Derrick Williams of Valencia Basket during the Liga ACB Semi-finals match between Real Madrid and Valencia at Wizink Center on June 10, 2021 in Madrid, Spain.

The big man has international experience playing for Real Madrid, but he’ll need to develop more because his offense is too raw while his defense will be of use right off the bat. Garuba (16) was born in Madrid, Spain, to Nigerian parents.

28. Philadelphia 76ers

Sharife Cooper • Auburn • Freshman • Point Guard • 6-1 • 180

Jan 16, 2021; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers guard Sharife Cooper (2) takes a shot over Kentucky Wildcats guard Davion Mintz (10) during the first half at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-439392 ORIG FILE ID: 20210116_jla_sr5_206.jpg

Cooper’s numbers speak volumes, averaging 20.2 points and 8.1 assists per game with the Tigers. He’s a multi-dimensional passer and can create for himself, while making open shots. That’s a recipe to boost just about any playoff team. His size will get knocked, but so did Fred VanVleet’s stature.

29. Phoenix Suns

Nah’shon Hyland • Virginia Commonwealth • Sophomore • Point guard • 6-3 • 175

DAYTON, OHIO – MARCH 14: Nah’Shon Hyland #5 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams puts up a shot against Jalen Adaway #33 of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies in the second half during the championship game of the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 14, 2021 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775629817 ORIG FILE ID: 1307074528

Hyland could be the steal of this draft, as he possesses Steph Curry and Damian Lillard mid-major-to-NBA-star potential. He averaged 19.5 points for the Rams in a breakout season.

30. Utah Jazz

Josh Christopher • Arizona State • Freshman • Guard • 6-5 • 215

Arizona State’s Josh Christopher participates in the NBA Draft Combine at the Wintrust Arena Thursday, June 24, 2021, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast) ORG XMIT: ILCA127

Christopher didn’t have a major national spotlight last season as the Sun Devils underachieved, but he made great strides as a freshman and is a natural scorer who can slash to the rim with ease.

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA mock draft 3.0: G-League’s Jalen Green vaulting up the board


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