The 2021 NBA Draft is on July 29th, 2021, and although we have a rough idea as to how the draft will play out, there are always going to be some moves that no one predicts. The 2021 draft class is loaded with talent, and this is my take on who is going to be picked where and how many players have the potential to become great. Here is my 2021 NBA Lottery Mock Draft:
Disclaimer: This mock draft is my opinion, and my opinion only
#1: Cade Cunningham
Team: Detroit Pistons
Cunningham is the consensus #1 overall pick in this draft. While Jalen Green believes that he could and should be picked #1, the talent is undeniable in the 6’8″ (barefoot) point guard from Oklahoma State University. Statistically, he’s everything you’d want in a point guard, as in college, he averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists, and 1.6 steals per game on 43.8% shooting from the field, an astounding 40% from three, and a solid 84.6% from the free throw line. He averaged this with a 21.6 PER, showing just how efficient he is. In his only year of college, he was named the Big 12 Player of the Year, the Big 12 Rookie of the Year, a member of the All-Big 12 Team, a member of the All-Big 12 Freshman Team, and a consensus All-American. Cunningham was also a football quarterback in his youth, meaning that he is used to seeing the floor as a way to get his teammates open and select the best option. Some other notable point guards who were high school quarterback football stars are Jalen Suggs, Allen Iverson, Charlie Ward, and Rajon Rondo. Cunningham can shoot over most other point guards because of his height, and was the most clutch player in college basketball last year. He thrives in change of pace situations, and his game is complete, not lacking any major facets needed to be an NBA star. Cunningham went to high school at Montverde Academy, which is known for producing NBA stars, such as Ben Simmons, D’Angelo Russell, Joel Embiid, and many more. From the looks of Cunningham, it appears as though Montverde will have another All-Star NBA player to brag about.
Potential: League MVP (most likely Rookie of the Year)
#2: Jalen Green
Team: Houston Rockets
Jalen Green is the perfect fit for the Houston Rockets. As a 6’6″ shooting guard who spent last year playing for the NBA G-League Ignite, Green would fit perfectly with the Houston Rockets. The franchise currently has aging veteran John Wall and Kevin Porter, Jr, who has blossomed as a potential star and began playing the point guard position. The Rockets also have Christian Wood, and adding Green would give the Rockets the final young star they need to build a young core that could all blossom into All-Stars together. Green is the most explosive player in the 2021 NBA Draft by far, and because he can dunk so effortlessly, it results in baskets at the end of transition plays and fast breaks. During his one year with the G-League Ignite, Green averaged 18.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.8 steals on 46.9% shooting from the field, 35.7% from three, and 78.5% from the charity stripe. Green has an incredibly explosive first step, making it easy for him to blow by defenders. He is also a great cutter, giving point guards on the Rockets potential to really rack up their assists. He is not as complete a player as Cunningham, as he does have some problems on the defensive end. Green gambles for steals often times, which when it works goes great, but when it doesn’t results in points for the opposing team. It’s a big part of the reason he averaged 2.8 turnovers per game for Ignite. Green is also not very efficient with the ball, as he cannot immediately read-and-react, but instead holds the ball while making his decision. However, I’m confident that this problem can be fixed with the incredibly efficient Rockets. The most important thing about Green is that he has confidence in his own game, expressing his belief that he should be the #1 pick in this year’s draft. Basketball is 90% about how you mentally approach the game and your confidence (just ask Ben Simmons), and 10% about the physical side. Having these tools and confidence at such a young age will help Green incredibly as he adjusts to the NBA.
Potential: Member of the All-NBA First Team, Slam Dunk Champion
#3: Evan Mobley
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Mobley is a talented young big man who can help anchor a team defensively. At 7’0″, 215 pounds, the Cavaliers drafting Mobley would give them a twin towers in the front-court of Mobley and Allen. At this point, it’s incredibly unclear if the Cavs are going to trade Kevin Love or just keep him until his career winds down, but if they do keep him, he can’t complain. Mobley has been described as a high-character person, being quiet, and humble. Love would love this as he has been known to complain about certain rookie (cough *Collin Sexton* cough) personalities. Playing for USC in his one and only season of college basketball, Mobley averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, and 2.9 blocks per game on 57.8% shooting from the field, 30% from three, and 69.4% from the free throw line. As a freshman, he won the Pac-12 Player of the Year Award, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year Award, and the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Award, making him the first player to win all three awards in a major conference since Anthony Davis did so in the SEC in 2012. Mobley is an incredibly versatile shot blocker, and he is great at utilizing his 7’4″ wingspan. Per 40 minutes, Mobley averaged 2.1 fouls, which is great considering how many shots he blocks. The one thing that he needs to work on to succeed and maximize his potential is put on a little muscle. Much like Giannis Antetokounmpo first coming into the league, Mobley is skinny, and if he gains muscle, it’ll be amazing to see just how much he can do.
Potential: Defensive Player of the Year, 1st Team All-Defense
#4: Jalen Suggs
Team: Toronto Raptors
This selection makes a lot of sense for the Toronto Raptors, but only if they trade Kyle Lowry and admit to everyone (including themselves) that they are in rebuilding mode. Jalen Suggs is a 6’4″ point guard who also played quarterback in high school, and if he kept pursuing that route, he could be preparing for the NFL Draft, not the NBA. Suggs led his high school, Minnehaha Academy to three state championships in a row, and at Gonzaga, he averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists, and 1.9 steals on 50.3% from the field, 33.7% from three, and 76.1% from the free throw line. His draft stock exploded in the 2021 NCAA March Madness tournament, as he helped lead Gonzaga to the national championship game with a near half-court buzzer beater against UCLA in the Final Four. His team finished with only one loss the whole season, giving the impression that Suggs is a winner. He has an incredible work-ethic, as he shoots hundreds of jump shots a day, and is very explosive. Suggs comes from a long line of athletes, having parents and cousins who played at the collegiate level and in the NBA and NFL (Eddie Jones and Terrell Suggs). He has a very high Basketball IQ, can score from almost everywhere, and has great court vision. Not only is Suggs great on offense, but he’s a terrific defender, as his nearly two steals per game average shows. He is a willing and engaged defender, something that’s highly valued in a league that doesn’t place as much emphasis on defense anymore. His mid-range jump shot could use some work, as he only took 17 throughout his entire college career. His 3-point shot could also use a little bit of work, but with his will to get better, I sincerely believe that it will.
Potential: All-Star, 2nd option on a championship team
#5: Scottie Barnes
Team: Orlando Magic
At Florida State University, Scottie Barnes averaged 10.3 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.1 assists on 50.3% shooting, 27.5% shooting from three, and 62.1% from the free throw line. So how is it that he’s projected to be a Top 10 pick in the draft? For one, Barnes only played an average of 24 minutes per night in college, and if we look at his Per 40 Minute numbers, we find Barnes averaging 16.7 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 6.6 assists. Another reason is that Barnes is incredibly efficient, with a 21.4 PER. Before college, Barnes played high school basketball at University School with Vernon Carey, Jr, and then transferred to Montverde Academy, teaming up with Cade Cunningham, Moses Moody, and Day’Ron Sharpe to form what many believe is the best high school basketball team this decade. Since Cunningham is a clear point guard, Barnes played forward on the team. Barnes can also play the guard positions, which is amazing considering that he is 6’9″. His versatility means that the Magic can mold him into whatever kind of player best helps them, which gives Barnes huge upside. With a 7’3″ wingspan and weighing 225 pounds, Barnes is not a player that can easily be intimidated. He’s unselfish, quick, plays with passion, and most importantly, those that have played with him have said he has a fantastic attitude, which is great for front offices to hear. The ACC Rookie of the Year in 2021 can guard positions 1-4, meaning that he is a great player to have switching off of picks. He communicates well while on the floor, and has great court vision. His Basketball IQ is very high, and he is great at making the right decision at the right time. The two major things Barnes needs to fix to become a good player in this league are his explosiveness (while he is quick, he is not explosive, and that difference is very easily shown and exploited) and shooting. Barnes is not a great shooter, which is why his averages don’t jump off the page at you; however, if he fixes this, he has a much better chance at finding success.
Potential: All-Defense, Quality Starter
#6: Jonathon Kuminga
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Considering the Thunder have multiple guards, it makes sense for the team to take a forward or center, and that’s why I have them selecting 6’7″ Jonathon Kuminga, who can play either small or power forward. Kuminga, like Suggs, has many family members who play basketball, including Emmanuel Mudiay (former lottery pick, his cousin), Joel Ntambwe (brother, played at UNLV), and his parents. Kuminga has also had pro players make an impact on his life, as in his junior year of high school, he transferred to The Patrick School, most notably known for producing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kyrie Irving. Irving is heavily invested in his routes, and decided to take Kuminga under his wing. Kuminga was ranked the best recruit by ESPN in the Class of 2021, but he ultimately reclassified to the Class of 2020, where he was considered the 4th best recruit. Despite having options from nearly every college, he decided to play for the G-League Ignite, along with Jalen Green. During his one year there, he averaged 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists on 38.7% shooting from the field, 24.6% from three, and 62.5% from the free throw line. He is an explosive athlete who can initiate and play through contact, and thrives in transition settings. However, Kuminga does have some red flags that could raise questions in front offices come draft night. Kuminga is not a good defender, which is not something you want from a 6’7″ 210 pound wing player. He is not consistent on defense, he has trouble playing through on-ball screens, he falls asleep a little too often, and he is not good on closeouts, which will lead to made shots or drives right past him. He also averages 2.6 turnovers per game, which is a bit too much for my liking. Kuminga is very much a raw player, as he does not make good decisions and shot selections. His handle isn’t very tight, and he isn’t a good shooter, as evidenced by his percentages. Personally, I think Kuminga has the biggest chance to be a bust. However, being in a place like Oklahoma where everyone is rebuilding and many players have gone through the process of being labeled a bust and reviving their careers will help Kuminga adjust to the start of his.
Potential: Borderline All-Star Player
#7: Moses Moody
Team: Golden State Warriors
If the Golden State Warriors make and decide to keep this pick (I highly doubt they will and believe they will instead use it in a big trade, but let’s pretend for the sake of things), I think they will draft Moses Moody, who is the perfect compliment to their system. Moody is a 3-D shooting guard who could be the perfect backup to Klay Thompson. Coming out of Montverde Academy playing with other potential NBA Draft picks Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes, and Day’Ron Sharpe, Moody attended the University of Arkansas in the SEC, averaging 16.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.0 steals per game on 42.7% shooting from the field, 35.8% from three, and 81.2% from the free throw line. Despite standing at 6’6″, he has a 7’1″ wingspan. Moody has a smooth jump shot and good mechanics, something that will fit right in with a team of shooters. He’s great at drawing fouls, and he has active hands on the defensive end. Although Moody isn’t a high-level athlete, and he needs to improve his passing, his provenance as a winner (he led the Razorbacks to the Elite Eight) and shooting will propel him up most mock drafts. His shooting stands out the most, as he has the highest shooting percentages outside of the top three draft picks. I think Moody could become one of the best shooters in the draft, and it feels as though he and the Warriors were a match made in heaven. Who wouldn’t love to learn under the wings of the greatest shooters ever?
Potential: 6th Man of the Year, Potential Starter on Average or Below Average Team
#8: James Bouknight
Team: Orlando Magic
With their second lottery pick in the top ten, it wouldn’t make sense for the Magic to pick Davion Mitchell, the Baylor point guard who was projected to go either 7th or 8th. Since, as previously mentioned, they have so many point guards, and with the possibility of the Magic drafting the forward Kuminga, it makes sense for the Magic to go for a shooting guard, James Bouknight. Bouknight is a 6’5″ shooting guard with a 6’8″ wingspan, playing two years of college basketball for UCONN. In his second season, Bouknight averaged 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 1.8 assists, although it was on 44.7% shooting from the field, 29.3% from three, and 77.8% from the free throw line. His shooting raised some question marks from multiple front offices, which is a major reason why he is projected this low, although according to reports, he shot very well in pre-draft workouts. Bouknight is very quick and an incredible athlete. He has an explosive first step, he’s versatile, and when he drives the lane he converts and initiates contact. He is also a good defender, something that many other prospects have trouble with. Bouknight has a great work ethic, according to his coaches, and is a person with positive character. The biggest question mark regarding his game is his shooting, but in Orlando, he’ll join Fultz and Carter-Williams as guys who need to work on their shooting and scoring capabilities. It may have gone unnoticed, but Orlando is good at creating cores of young guys. At one point in time, they had Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, and Nikola Vucevic all on their roster, before trades occurred. With this lottery, a new young core could be forming for Orlando.
Potential: Solid Starter, Key Contributer on Playoff Team
#9: Franz Wagner
Team: Sacramento Kings
Franz Wagner has remained one of the more mysterious players in this year’s NBA Draft. Declining to attend the NBA Draft Combine and only working out for a few teams, Wagner is a 6’9″, 220-pound wing from Germany. His brother, Moe Wagner, has played in the NBA for a handful of seasons, playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, Washington Wizards, Boston Celtics, and Orlando Magic. He played at the University of Michigan for two seasons before declaring for this year’s draft, and during his sophomore season, he averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 1.3 steals, and 1.0 block per game on 47.7% shooting, 34.3% from three, and 83.5% from the free throw line. He led Michigan to a number one seed in the 2021 NCAA Tournament and managed to advance to the Elite Eight before being eliminated. There is a large chance that Wagner is not done growing, as he grew two inches between his freshman and sophomore years (his brother is 6’11”). Wagner is an incredible defender, and it is one of his biggest attributes. The Kings are one of, if not the worst team in the NBA when it comes to defense, as they are ranked dead last in defensive rating, last in opposition field goal percentage, last in field goals allowed, and were not any higher then 15 in any defensive category last year. Considering that Marvin Bagley is disgruntled and should leave or be traded as soon as the chance arises, Wagner could be very helpful in rebuilding Sacramento’s defense.
Potential: A better version of Robert Covington
#10: Davion Mitchell
Team: New Orleans Pelicans
There has been lots of talk of Lonzo Ball leaving New Orleans for either Chicago or New York, and if that is true, then the Pelicans will need a new point guard of the future, not counting Zion Williamson (he’s still a power forward, and Eric Bledsoe is 31 years old). Because of this, I have them selecting Davion Mitchell, the point guard that led Baylor to a national championship in 2021. Mitchell averaged 14.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 5.5 assists on 51.1% shooting from the field, 44.7% from three, and 65.2% from the free throw line. The biggest contribution Mitchell can bring to a team is defense. Mitchell’s play resembles Patrick Beverly, to an extent. He is an aggressive on-ball defender and averaged nearly two steals per game during his final collegiate season. He’s a high-energy player with a nobody-getting-past-me attitude, something that often seems to be missing in today’s NBA. Great NBA teams have these players, and so do champions, such as Jrue Holiday and Draymond Green. Mitchell is very laterally quick, but aside from defense, he has an offensive game to. He is not a bad 3-point shooter, and he has become a good finisher. He can score, but won’t need to score too much with Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson to pass to. He doesn’t have much of a game between the paint and the 3-point line, and he can throw his passes a little too hard. However, overall, I think he can be a great addition to a team.
Potential: That annoying, pestering guard on a championship contender (Jrue Holiday, Patrick Beverly, Marcus Smart, etc), All-Defense if his game transitions well to the NBA
#11: Josh Giddey
Team: Charlotte Hornets
After Lamelo Ball, Giddey is the next potentially great prospect to come out of the NBL, Australia’s professional basketball league. The 18-year old is a very well rounded basketball player, as he averaged 10.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.5 assists, and 1.1 steals per game on 42.7% shooting from the field, 29.3% from three, and 69.1% from the free throw line. He has great size for an NBA guard (6’8″), and he’s a great passer, whether it comes in the form of outlet passes or in a half-court setting. Giddey has a great basketball IQ, and it’s part of the reason why he racks up so many assists and may become a triple-double threat. His shooting and ball-handling could definitely use some work, as well as his defense, but the latter shouldn’t be too difficult given his size and that nearly all his matchups will be smaller than him. If he does get drafted by the Hornets, then they will have two 6’8″ guards, as well as multiple forwards ready to catch lobs. The Hornets would be fast, and they would be furious.
Potential: Triple-Double Machine, Solid Starter
#12: Alperen Sengun
Team: San Antonio Spurs
The San Antonio Spurs have had luck drafting big men (David Robinson, Tim Duncan) and they have had luck drafting overseas players (Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker). Together, big men and Europeans ruled the Spurs dynasty, and they could get a little bit of both with their #12 selection. Sengun is a 6’10” power forward/center who has a knack for rebounding and playing good defense. In his second year playing professionally in Turkey, Sengun averaged 19.0 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.6 blocks, and 1.3 steals on 63.2% from the field, 20.0% from three, and 79.4% from the free throw line. Three of those 8.7 rebounds were on the offensive end, which is very impressive. Sengun can dominate in the post, often times drawing double-teams. This leads to multiple open teammates, passes, shots, and points. He has a great post-up game, so if there is no double-team, chances are he can convert and score. However, Sengun is not very fast or agile, meaning that he is exactly the kind of player the opposing team hopes their point guard gets on a switch. He is not a good perimeter defender, and being 6’10”, he is sandwiched between the four and the five. He is also not a very good shooter from outside the paint, something he will need to work on if he wants to succeed in the current NBA.
Potential: A better version of Myles Turner, a poor man’s David Robinson
#13: Corey Kispert
Team: Indiana Pacers
A small forward is the missing piece to the Indiana Pacers. They have good point guards (Malcom Brogdon, TJ McConnell, Aaron Holiday), shooting guards (Caris Levert, Justin Holiday), a power forward (TJ Warren), and center (Myles Turner). However, they don’t have a go-to incredibly small forward. Kispert could fill that gap, as the 6’7″ small forward for Gonzaga has proven he can be a leader during his four years at Gonzaga University. One of the few players in the draft that stayed all four years in college, Kispert averaged 18.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 1.8 assists on 52.9% shooting from the field, 44% from three, and 87.8% from the free throw line. As you can tell from the percentages, Kispert is an incredible shooter, arguably the best in his class. Kispert’s value lies in his shooting, as his release and shot are perfect. Although he is great at spotting up, he is not the best at creating his own shot off the dribble. He is also not very laterally quick, so some matchups may be difficult for him. However, he has a chance to become one of the great shooters in the league if his game transfers well to the NBA.
Potential: 3-point contest champion, a Davis Bertans role for a team
#14: Chris Duarte
Team: Golden State Warriors
Duarte has one of the more unusual paths to the NBA. He started playing ball after high school in a junior college, Northwest Florida State, and after two years, transferred to Oregon in the Big-10. Although the transition took him a little bit, in his senior season he exploded, averaging 17.1 points per game, 4.6 rebounds per game, 2.7 assists per game, and 1.9 steals per game on 53.2% shooting from the field, 42.4% from three, and 81% from the free throw line. In that senior year, he was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year, the Jerry West Award (which goes to the best shooting guard in college basketball), and was given first-team All-Pac 12 honors, Pac-12 All-Defense Honors, and was a third team All-American. Standing 6’7″, Duarte is even taller than the average NBA shooting guard, which will be helpful for him. His incredible shooting ability will be very helpful to the Warriors (if they keep this pick), and since Andrew Wiggins isn’t the greatest shooter, they could include him in a three guard lineup with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Duarte. Duarte is also not a liability on defense, as evidenced by his Pac-12 All-Defense Honors. He plays great help defense, and has very active hands, which is how he racked up so many steals. The one thing that needs a lot of work in his game is passing, which I am certain he will quickly pick up playing alongside Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green, and being coached by Steve Kerr. If Duarte gets picked up by the right team, I think he could thrive in the NBA.
Potential: NBA All-Star if he plays in the right system
Who do you think I put too high or too low? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!