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2021 NBA mock draft: Top prospects, top landing spots

With the 2020-21 NBA regular season over, teams are moving on to the offseason. It’s in this that NBA Mock draft season is getting going big time.

The 2021 class is expected to be among the most-loaded in recent league history. Multiple prospects have opted to forgo college ball for the NBA G-League pathway. These stars will head the 2021 class.

Based on the order in a draft lottery simulator, here’s a look at our most-recent 2021 NBA mock draft.

1. Houston Rockets: Evan Mobley, center, USC

NBA Mock Draft: Evan Mobley, Orlando Magic
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

A top-three recruit in 2020, the 7-foot Mobley more than lived up to that with USC. He averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks on 58% shooting as a freshman en route to leading USC to the Elite 8. Mobley looks to be a franchise cornerstone-type player.

Instead of going with a backcourt presence in Cade Cunningham or Jalen Suggs here, the rebuilding Rockets change things up with a big man. Mobley would team up with Christian Wood and Jae’Sean Tate to form one of the best young frontcourts in the Association.

2. Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham guard, Oklahoma State

NBA Mock Draft: Cade Cunningham, Washington Wizards
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The 6-foot-8 Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 40% from distance for the Cowboys a season ago. He’s an elite prospect and a future NBA All-Star at either guard position. Heck, Cunningham could end up becoming a better version of Ben Simmons as a potential point forward.

This selection makes a ton of sense for Detroit. Cunningham would team up with 2020 lottery pick Killian Hayes and impressive rookie Saddiq Bey to form a tremendous trio for the long-downtrodden Pistons.

3. Orlando Magic: Jalen Suggs, guard, Gonzaga

2021 NBA Mock Draft: Jalen Suggs
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

There’s now talk that Suggs could go No. 1 in the 2021 NBA Draft after leading Gonzaga to the National Championship Game. There’s good reason for this. The 6-foot-4 combo guard is seen as a great two-way player. As a freshman for the Bulldogs, he averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals on 50% shooting. He’s going to be a cornerstone-type player in the Association.

This specific NBA mock draft has the retooling Magic teaming young point guard Cole Anthony up with Suggs in the backcourt. Add in the presence of wing R.J. Hampton, acquired in the blockbuster Aaron Gordon trade with the Denver Nuggets, and that’s a solid young trio.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jalen Green, guard, NBA G-League

The 6-foot-5 Green was absolutely brilliant for the Ignite during the NBA G-League season, averaging 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals on 37% shooting from distance. In terms of his prospect status, the wing is much higher than four on most big boards. 

It would be tremendously fun to see Green play with elite young point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in Oklahoma City. We’re talking about one of the best young backcourts in the Association for general manager Sam Presti as he continues a long-term rebuild.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Alperen Sengun, forward/center, Turkey

And it could very well come in the form of this Turkish teenage sensation, who ESPN has ranked as its 14th overall prospect. Sengun averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals in 28 minutes per game for Besiktas in the Turkish league. He shot 65% from the field and 81% from the free throw line.

There’s been talk that the Cavaliers might look to move star guard Collin Sexton. Even if that were to happen, getting another inside presence with Jarret Allen makes more sense than adding a point guard. A frontcourt of Isaac Okoro, Allen and Sengun would be a great start for Cleveland.

6. Golden State Warriors (from Minnesota): Jonathan Kuminga, forward, NBA G-League

Kuminga just recently made his NBA G-League debut after deciding to opt out of playing college basketball. He averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds in the Orlando Bubble. This is just the latest example of the 6-foot-6 wing proving himself to be an elite-level youngster.

Comparisons to Kevin Durant might be overblown. But the ability of the Warriors to add someone who can play both forward positions with the pick acquired from Minnesota could loom large. That’s especially true if Kelly Oubre does in fact leave in free agency. Having a pro-ready Kuminga set to back up Andrew Wiggins and Draymond Green would be pure gold. 

7. Toronto Raptors: Moses Moody, guard, Arkansas

NBA mock draft: Moses Moody
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This former Arkansas star was tremendous during his brief career with the Razorbacks, averaging 16.8 points and 5.8 rebounds on 37% shooting from distance. He’d be an absolutely brilliant fit next to smallish Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet, especially if Kyle Lowry leaves in free agency. 

8. Orlando Magic (from Chicago): Scottie Barnes, forward, Florida State

NBA Mock Draft: Scottie Barnes, Sacramento Kings
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A top-five recruit in 2020, Barnes was super impressive as a freshman for the Seminoles. He averaged north of 10 points and four rebounds on 50% shooting from the field. Add in 4.1 assists and 1.5 steals, and he looks like a true all-around player.

After adding a point guard in Suggs with their own first-round pick in this NBA mock draft, the Magic find a wing to replace Evan Fournier. It comes via one of the picks acquired from the Chicago Bulls in the Nikola Vucevic blockbuster back in March.

9. Sacramento Kings: Corey Kispert, forward, Gonzaga

NBA Mock Draft: Corey Kispert
JCody Glenn-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a good chance Sacramento moves off underrated wing Harrison Barnes in a blockbuster deal this offseason. He was on the trade block leading up to the March 25 deadline and could bring back a nice amount of assets for a retooling Kings squad.

As for what Kispert can bring to the table, he’s a dynamic offensive threat. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 18.6 points and 5.0 rebounds on 44% shooting from distance for the Bulldogs this past season. He’d be a tremendous fit out on the wing next to the star guard tandem of De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. 

10. New Orleans Pelicans: Cameron Thomas, guard, LSU

NBA Mock Draft: Cameron Thomas
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

This specific NBA Mock Draft has the Pelicans looking for that more traditional two-guard to team up with former first-round pick Kira Lewis Jr. in the backcourt. Of course, that also means New Orleans will trade away point guard Eric Bledsoe while likely moving off restricted free agent Lonzo Ball in a sign-and-trade during the summer.

This is where the 6-foot-4 Thomas comes into play. He’s a score-first two-guard (averaged 23.0 points as a freshman for LSU). Thomas also averaged a whopping 28.5 points on 50% shooting from the field during the NCAA Tournament. He’s exactly the type of backcourt player New Orleans needs with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram in the frontcourt.

11. Charlotte Hornets: Isaiah Jackson, forward/center, Kentucky

NBA Mock Draft: Isaiah Jackson
Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It goes without saying that Charlotte is in need of help in the low post. The team has three foundational pieces on the outside of LaMelo Ball, Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward. It also has a couple solid power forward options with P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges. Center remains the missing component.

Jackson (6-foot-10 and 206 pounds) would be a great fit. A top-26 recruit in 2020, Jackson excelled as a freshman with Kentucky last season. He averaged 8.4 points and 6.6 rebounds on 54% shooting. While still raw, the Michigan native could very well carve out a great career in the NBA. It’s just going to take some time.

12. San Antonio Spurs: Jalen Johnson, forward, Duke

NBA mock draft: Jalen Johnson, Duke
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Some say that Johnson’s decision to opt out of the remainder of the season at Duke might impact his draft stock. I am just not seeing it. The Blue Devils were going nowhere. Why risk injury or COVID? A top-11 recruit last year, the 6-foot-9 Johnson more than proved enough to be a lottery pick.

He averaged 11.2 points and 6.1 rebounds on 53% shooting as a freshman. Johnson also fills an area of need in the frontcourt for a Spurs team that has a buttload of needs up and down the roster. As for a fit with the Spurs, Johnson would work well with guards Dejounte Murray and Derrick White.

13. Indiana Pacers: Franz Wagner, forward, Michigan 

NBA mock draft: Franz Wagner
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana was missing production out on the wing with T.J. Warren suiting up in just four games this past season due to injury. It impacted the team during what was a down campaign for the Pacers. This is an area Indiana must address with its lottery pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Enter into the equation Franz Wagner. He’s been ascending the rankings since finishing out a two-year run with Michigan that saw him average 12.0 points and 6.1 rebounds on 47% shooting from the field. Wagner would be a perfect fit in Indiana.

14. Golden State Warriors: Davion Mitchell, guard, Baylor

NBA Mock Draft: Davion Mitchell
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a chance that the Warriors look to move this lottery pick. However, we’re not projecting trades in this NBA mock draft. Instead, we predict in this NBA mock draft that the Warriors go with an ascending talent from the defending champion Baylor Bears. Mitchell is more of your traditional point guard to work behind Stephen Curry off the bench — creating much-needed depth.

NBA mock draft: Non-lottery picks

15. Washington Wizards: Usman Garuba, forward/center, Spain

While Thomas Bryant has been impressive in limited action, he remains an injury concern. The former second-round pick has played in just 56 games over the past two seasons. Washington just can’t rely on him. That’s where this Spaniard comes into play. Garuba, 19, was named the 2020-2021 EuroLeague Rising Star, an award just recently won by Luka Doncic.

16. Boston Celtics: Josh Giddey, guard/forward, Australia

Having recently declared for the 2021 NBA Draft, Giddey is an interesting case study.  At 6-foot-8 and manning the point guard position for the NBL’s Adelaide 36ers, Gidday is a mismatch waiting to happen. He’s similar to Ben Simmons in that he can play point forward. He’s also a better shooter than Mr. Simmons. For a Celtics team in need of a ball-handler, this couldn’t be a better fit.

17. Memphis Grizzlies: James Bouknight, guard, Connecticut

NBA mock draft: James Bouknight, Warriors
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Bouknight was among the best scorers in college basketball a season ago. He averaged 18.7 points on 45% shooting from the field for the Huskies. The two-guard would be a tremendous long-term fit with Ja Morant in the Grizzlies’ backcourt. 

18. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami): Charles Bassey, center, Western Kentucky

NBA mock draft: Charles Bassey
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

We’re higher on Bassey in this NBA mock draft than others. Having just recently declared for the 2021 NBA Draft, the 6-foot-11 center averaged 17.6 points and 11.6 rebounds on 59% shooting for Western Kentucky last season. After picking up Jalen Green earlier in this mock, the Thunder get a big man.

19. New York Knicks: Sharife Cooper, guard, Auburn

NBA mock draft: Sharife Cooper
Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

The former Auburn star averaged north of 20 points and a resounding 8.1 assists per game as a freshman. While he has limited range, great ball distribution skills and a good mid-range game makes up for that. He’d work well with Immanuel Quickley in the Knicks’ backcourt.

20. Atlanta Hawks: Chris Duarte, guard, Oregon

nba mock draft: chris duarte
Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The 6-foot-6 Duarte was absolutely tremendous for Oregon last season, averaging 17.1 points and 4.6 rebounds on 42% shooting from distance. Just imagine him teaming up with Hawks star Trae Young in the backcourt. That would be almost impossible for opposing teams to guard. What a steal this would be.

21. New York Knicks (from Dallas): Day’Ron Sharpe, center, North Carolina

NBA Mock Draft: Day'Ron Sharpe
Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Knicks loves themselves some Mitchell Robinson. Unfortunately, injuries have plagued the big man through his first three NBA seasons. While we’re not expecting the Knicks to keep both of their first-round picks, Sharpe would make a ton of sense at 21. He averaged 9.5 points and 7.6 rebounds on 52% shooting from the field for the Tar Heels last season. Sharpe has untapped potential following a one-year college career.

22. Los Angeles Lakers: Ziaire Williams, forward, Stanford 

NBA Mock Draft: Ziaire Williams
Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

While Williams struggled in his only season with the Cardinal, he still has loads of potential. The 6-foot-8 forward was a top-six recruit from Sierra Canyon in Southern California last year. He didn’t lose that potential during a COVID-dominated college basketball season. This would be a great fit for the Lakers following an ugly first-round exit in the NBA Playoffs.

23. Houston Rockets (from Portland): Tre Mann, guard, Florida

NBA mock draft: Tre Mann
Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After going big with Evan Mobley at the top of this NBA mock draft, the rebuilding Rockets potentially find an heir-apparent to John Wall at point guard. The 6-foot-5 Mann was brilliant as a sophomore for the Gators last season, averaging 16.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 40% shooting from distance. Being a shoot-first point guard doesn’t hurt here, either.

24. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee): Marcus Bagley, forward, Arizona State

NBA mock draft: Marcus Bagley
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

With their third first-round pick in this mock, the Rockets get an ascending talent in forward Marcus Bagley from Arizona State. Flying under the radar due to the presence of Josh Christopher with the Sun Devils, the 6-foot-8 Bagley averaged 10.8 points and 6.2 rebounds a season ago.

25. Los Angeles Clippers: Brandon Boston, guard, Kentucky

nba mock draft: brandon boston
Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Boston was in the news earlier this year for tragic reasons after being on the scene of an accident that killed former Kentucky teammate Terrence Clarke. This came after both had declared for the 2021 NBA Draft. On the court, Boston averaged 11.5 points and 4.5 rebounds despite struggling shooting. He was a top-four recruit in 2020 and boasts a ton of upside.

26. Denver Nuggets: Josh Christopher, guard, Arizona State

2021 NBA Mock Draft: Josh Christopher
D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports

The 6-foot-5 Christopher has been compared by some to San Antonio Spurs star wing DeMar DeRozan. For good reason. He’s boasts a tremendous two-way skillset. Last season saw Christopher average 14.3 points and 4.7 rebounds while playing great defense. He’d be a great fit in the backcourt with Jamal Murray in Denver as a traditional two-guard.

27. Brooklyn Nets: Kai Jones, forward/center, Texas

NBA mock draft: Kai Jones
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Depth. That’s what the Nets need behind the elite trio of James Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. This is especially true in the frontcourt. After just recently declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft, Jones is ascending the rankings. The 6-foot-11 forward averaged 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds on a resounding 58% shooting from distance last season.

28. Philadelphia 76ers: Filip Petrušev, forward/center, Serbia

Even with Joel Embiid in the mix, Philadelphia could use more depth in the low-post. That could very well come in the form of this 6-foot-11 Serbia native. Petrušev withdrew from the 2020 NBA Draft, only to average 22.2 points and 7.8 rebounds on 56% shooting for Mega Soccerbet of the Basketball League of Serbia. He also played college ball at Gonzaga.

29. Phoenix Suns: Daishen Nix, guard, NBA G-League

One of three prospects we project to go in the first round in our latest mock who played in the G-League, Nix was a consensus top-five recruit back in 2020 and opted for the G-League rather than college ball. He ended up averaging 8.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists despite struggles shooting the ball. This would be a tremendous value pick for Phoenix with the expectation that Nix can learn behind Chris Paul.

30. Utah Jazz: Jared Butler, guard, Baylor

NBA mock draft: Jared Butler
Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

One of the cornerstones of the Bears’ national championship team last season, Butler averaged 16.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists on 47% shooting from the field. He’s a potential starter in the NBA and can learn from Donovan Mitchell in Utah. It almost makes too much sense.