- Washington Wizards: Cade Cunningham (PG, Oklahoma State)
The Wizards have really began to turn their season around, to the point where the playoffs are no longer out of the picture. In this scenario, getting lucky with the opportunity of drafting Cade Cunningham would be thrilling for the Wizards organization. Cade is the closest thing to a flawless prospect we have seen in years… a 6’8″ point guard with an NBA ready body that can defend multiple positions, who elevates his teammates around him with his vision, he has an NBA caliber scorers package that allows him the create separation wherever he is on the court, uses his body well around the rim, and he is an elite shooter that’s shooting 43% from deep this year. Yes, the Wizards have Russell Westbrook, but when you have a chance to land a potential superstar like a Cade Cunningham, you can’t worry about fit at all. If Washington doesn’t end up winning often at the end of the season and end up at this spot, landing a Cade Cunningham could save them from having to deal with a potential star wanting out in Bradley Beal.
Comparison: Larry Bird
2. Sacramento Kings: Evan Mobley (C/PF, University of Southern California, Freshman)
Evan Mobley is the most complete center prospect since Joel Embiid. Offensively, there is legitimate unicorn potential here. He can handle the ball in transition, can score around the basket with his super soft touch, he can stretch the floor and hit an occasional jumper, and what really stands out is his ability to find open teammates in the post. He is also an amazing defender, he is the best rim protector in the draft averaging 2.8 BPG, he can switch on both guards and bigs as well and hold his own. Sacramento has their backcourt of the future set with De’Aaron For and Tyrese Haliburton, what they could really use is a versatile big that can become their defensive anchor and play next to Marvin Bagely III. This would be beautiful alignment where best talent available meets needs.
Comparison: Anthony Davis/Chris Bosh
3. Detroit Pistons: Jalen Green (SG, G-League Ignite, 19 years old)
The Detroit Pistons needs absolutely everything, they just need talent! At this spot, to me, Jalen Green is the best player available. Green is the most gifted scorer in the class, evidently he is a very effortless, explosive athlete that is showtime in transition. He is also a really creative scorer around the basket, improved shooter from three, tight handle, he has also is getting better defensively. Now, he does need to improve his decision making as the facilitator of an offense. in this modern game, the very best players tend to be very strong as floor generals. The promise to be that playmaker for Green are there, just needs to refine that ability. Green would immediately become Detroit’s franchise player and could be fun to watch with Jerami Grant, perhaps Killian Hayes also becomes the player Detroit was hoping to select seventh overall when he comes back healthy.
Comparison: Zach Lavine
4. Indiana Pacers – Jonathon Kuminga
The Pacers have really struggled with injuries this year. TJ Warren isn’t expected to come back anytime soon… Caris Levert has also had to recover from a terrifying cancer diagnosis, fortunately, Levert will be back after the All-Star break. You can make the argument that Jonathon Kuminga has the most upside in the draft. At 6’6″ 210 IBS with long arms, Kuminga has a very strong and built frame that is NBA realty right now. He also has shown flashes of being a lockdown defender that can defend four positions and sometimes small-ball fives. Offensively, he passes a lot better than you would expect, it might be his best offensive trait right now. He really struggles with efficiency, he shoots below 40% from the field, 30% from three and 70% from the line, that is terrifying. That being said, he is very physical on the offensive end and has shown glimpses of being a legit three level scorer with his solid handle, physicality around the rim, and natural looking stroke. At only 18 years old, Kuminga is definitely a project, but at this spot, Indiana can’t pass on his potential.
Comparison: Young Jaylen Brown
5. Golden State Warriors: Jalen Suggs (PG, Gonzaga, Freshman)
The Golden State Warriors are making this pick because of Andrew Wiggins-D’Angelo Russell swap in which the Warriors got Minnesota’s pick top three protected. Jalen Suggs you can argue has the highest floor out of any prospect not named Cade Cunningham. He has a very stout 6’4″ frame he uses on both ends of the floor. He has lockdown defense of potential because of his physical nature, his motor and his ability to attack passing lanes. Offensively, he is a bulldog got the rim, he has The ability to create off the dribble with his pull up game as well as a step back, he raise the cord very well, he is a streaky shooter, but he has had some big games from the behind yard, for example when he had seven threes against Iowa. The Warriors may not need a starting point guard on their roster because of Stephen Curry, but they can’t pass on this value at the fifth spot and they could use a playmaker with star potential off the bench that can grow with Wiseman in the future.
Comparison: Jamal Murray
6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jalen Johnson (PF/SF, Duke, Freshman)
Jalen Johnson is one of the more versatile prospects in the draft. At 6’9”, he has shown flashes of being able to be a secondary play maker of an offense in transition, he can really find teammates when he puts his mind to it. He is also a very solid defenders I can defend multiple positions, he’s an elite defender for his position as the averaged over 11 rebounds per 36, and pretty efficient around the rim. The one weakness that his stats may not show is his jumpshot might not translate very quickly, he shoots a very flat ball. Nonetheless, Johnson would be an immediate contributor to a young thunder team and give them a player that could become their starting power forward of the future.
Compairson: Nicolas Batum
7. Orlando Magic – James Bouknight (SG, UConn, Sophomore)
James Bouknight is the best scoring guard available at this spot. Bouknight is one of the most complete scorers in the draft as he knows how to get his own shot off from cuts and in catch and choose situations, but he is also very comfortable scoring with the ball in his hands. He isn’t much of a playmaker, he isn’t a great three point shooter and isn’t an elite defender by any means, but he can come in and be a day one scoring punch that can get hot in a hurry for the magic, which they could really use.
Comparison: Jeremy Lamb+
8. Cleveland Cavaliers: Scottie Barnes (PF/SF, Florida State, Freshman)
When you have Collin Sexton and Darius garland as your backcourt, there is no such thing as drafting too many defenders. Scottie Barnes has his limits offensively, he shoots below 60% from the line and 30% from three, but that’s not where his value lies. Offensively, what he does best is find others, he leads all of Florida state in assists, he can handle the ball and finish at the rim. Defensively, though, that’s where he leaves his mark… he is arguably the best defender in the draft as he has an unbelievable motor, long arms, and is super active hands in passing lanes and when contesting shots. Adding Scottie Barnes to the rotation with Isaac Okoro and Jarrett Allen should certainly be enough to hide both Garland and Sexton on the defensive side of the ball.
Comparison: Draymond Green
9. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jaden Springer (PG, Tennessee, Freshman)
The Thunder could really use a partner in crime in the backcourt for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jaden Springer could be that. Jaden Springer is a big time defender that does a fantastic job of locking up on whoever he needs to guard, he could become a Marcus smart type where he could take on the majority of the best talents on opposing squads and guard them to his best ability and succeed. He also has been proven to be very efficient from all three levels of the court, he picks his spots inside the three-point line but also can be really efficient hitting wide-open shots from downtown. He’s also a very solid play maker and is showing glimpses of being a guy they can run an offense. Putting Springer next to SGA makes a ton of sense on the offensive end because he won’t take the ball away from SGA, but he also is a great complement defensively as he is already elite on that end.
Comparison: Marcus smart
10. Atlanta Hawks: Moses Moody (SG/SF, Arkansas, Freshman)
When Trae Young is your franchise player, the more floor spacers that can defend, the better. Moses Moody is exactly what you want in the modern NBA role player as he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective on the offensive end, he’s an above average shooter that is really good at moving and finding open spots off the ball. He also has that one dribble pull up game and straight-line driving ability on the ball. Defensively, he is very good with elite length and still has another gear on that end end to unlock. Moses Moody would fit in right away on the wing and between him and De’Andre Hunter, you’re talking about a potentially elite defensive tandem that can also score without dominating the ball, those are the dream wings to have along side a ball-dominant star that doesn’t defend like a Trae Young.
Comparison: Khris Middleton
11. New Orleans Pelicans: Corey Kisbert (SF, Gonzaga, Senior)
When Zion Williamson is your franchise, you need as much spacing as possible! Fortunately, they, in this scenario, have the chance to take an absolute sniper in Corey Kisbert. At 22 years old, you need to be absolutely special in college to actually receive lottery pick considerations and Cody Kispert has been the best player on the best team in the country as he’s averaged 19.5 PPG on absurd 55.6/46.3/88.9 shooting splits. Kisbert is the best shooter in the draft shooter from three; he can function like a JJ Reddick and get throw flames off of screens, but his shot making off the dribble is also a lot better than maybe expected. He is also able to create some of his own offense and projects to be serviceable defensively at the next level. He would be able to open the court a ton for Zion and the Pelicans.
Comparison: Joe Harris
12. Chicago Bulls – Sharieff Cooper (PG, Auburn, Freshman)
The Chicago Bulls don’t necessarily need a certain position to fit into their lineup, they have a lot of solid young players at every position, but I still believe they do need a true initiator of the offense, which is why I believe they should take Sharieff Cooper #12. Cooper is the best passer in the draft, he is currently on track to be top three all time for freshman in assists per game, he has an incredible feel for win to find others on the court, he also has awesome making his passes very to catch, especially in alley-oop situations. there are very real questions about his efficiency, he is shooting below 40% from the field as well as below 30% from three. He isn’t a fantastic finisher around the rim and has a very odd looking jumpshot. At his size, he desperately needs to have a respectable jumper or that diminishes his upside as a scorer. Nonetheless, he is a very talented young guard that would be very entertaining on the court with the Zach Levine‘s and Laurie Markkanen‘s of the world.
Comparison: Shorter Ricky Rubio
13. New York Knicks- Keon Johnson (SG, Tennessee, Freshman)
Tom Thibadeau has his history of drafting athletic defensive minded wings. Although he isn’t the GM, he could certainly have a say of who they would take out this spot. Keon Johnson, is a very athletically gifted wing whose most translatable scale is his defensive talent. He has also shown moments offensively, he has a solid handle, loves getting to the rim and has some of his own fadeaway moves from the post or midrange that give some Jimmy Butler vibes. He is not a great shooter, only shoots 26.8% from three but with this new defensive identity the Knicks have, I don’t think it would prevent them from taking a physically gifted defensive stud like Johnson… who has upside offensively as well.
Comparison: Thinner Isaac Okoro
14. Memphis Grizzlies- Zaire Williams
The Memphis Grizzlies have one of the brightest futures in the league because they have a potential franchise talent in Ja Morant, they are deep, and Taylor Jenkins is a fantastic up and coming coach. Even though this team is really deep with a lot of quality players, I still think they are missing players with legit All-Star upside outside of Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.. Zaire Williams is a gamble at the spot because he isn’t efficient at all and doesn’t finish around the rim, but his physical tools, his fluidity with the ball in his hands, and his pull up ability from mid range is too enticing to pass on here. There is a chance he doesn’t mound to anything, but there is a chance as well that he becomes one of the biggest steals in this class. The grizzlies have enough depth, they need to swing for the fences at this spot.
Comparison: Cam Reddish
15. Charlotte Hornets- Kai Jones
The Hornets desperately need bigs with long-term upside, making Kai Jones a great fit for them . Jones hasn’t been the most productive college player, but his overall athleticism and fluidity is impressive for a big. He has also shown a lot of guard skills, shooting 38% from three at Texas, having a nice handle, being able to find the basic open guy. He is also a super versatile defender that has the potential to guard five positions. Nobody talks about Jones much right now, but I can see has draft stock skyrocket at the end, sort of like Patrick Williams. A Kai Jones and Lamelo Ball pairing could be very entertaining in the future.
Player Comparison: More explosive Myles Turner
16. Oklahoma City Thunder – Alperen Sengun
The Thunder have a lot of draft ammunition, they could easily use this pic as a piece to move up for a higher selection in a loaded draft, but if they were to have a pic around this range, Sengun makes sense. Sengun is a really skilled big with fantastic feet in the post, he is physical when getting to the basket, active hands in passing lanes also a solid passer. Sengun is not a good shooter and because I don’t trust his body being ready to bang with NBA frames, he may need a couple years before being a legit contributor.
Player Comparison: Domantas Sabonis-
17. New York Knicks- Ayo Dosumu
Even with Immanuel Quickly, the Knicks should still be searching for young point guards to grow with in the future. Ayo Dosumu was one of the best players in college, he’s a very tangy athlete that has a lot of upside defensively because of that range, he is an elite rebounder for a good, good passer, and a crafty scorer from all three levels. He could end up being the steal of the draft.
Player Comparison: Shai-Gilgeous Alexander
18. Toronto Raptors- Usman Garuba
Usman Garuba is this draft’s top international prospect. He’s a gifted athlete that has a chance to become one of the most versatile defenders in the league. He has a competent handle, you can finish run a basket, and really pass. He is not a good shooter, only 47% from the line and 31% from three, but he has a lot of raw ability that can make him a really good player with the proper development… and Toronto would be a team able to maximize that development.
Player Comparison: Smaller Joakim Noah
19. Celtics- Luka Garza
There are a lot of draft analysts that wouldn’t touch Luka Garza in the first round, and I don’t personally agree. Garza has a very low floor, absolutely, which is why I wouldn’t take him in the lottery. But he’s a one of the best shooters in the draft, really effective in the post, and has been one of the most dominant college players we’ve seen since Shaquille O’Neal, that should count for something! He’s glaring concerns include his horrible athleticism and very subpar defensive ability, he won’t be a good defender in the league… but we’ve seen players like Nikola Vucevic and Nikola Jokic slip down boards for that exact same reason, not saying he’s one of those players by any means, but that needs to be considered when evaluating him.
Player Comparison: Enes Kanter
20. Warriors- Davion Mitchell
The Warriors continue to add guard depth in the draft in this particular scenario and they make another very strong selection with a Davion Mitchell. Mitchell is an elite defender, he has the potential to lock up on your best player, automatically making him valuable, offensively, he has dramatically improved, he is nearly averaging six this is a game, shooting over 45% from three, and is very shifty and knows how to finish inside. Jalen Suggs and Davion Mitchell may be rookies next year, but they’d dramatically help the Warriors’ guard play off the bench.
Player Comparison: Less explosive Donovan Mitchell
21. Denver Nuggets- Greg Brown
The Nuggets have historically drafted players with a ton of upside and Greg Brown qualifies as that. Brown is a super gifted athlete that finishes above the rim as well as anyone. He is a bit of a project but he has a ton of physical ability and as he matures, he could become an impact player on both ends. Brown would be a fun athletic toy for Nikola Jokic to use.
Player Comparison: Derrick Jones Jr.
22. Houston Rockets (Via Trailblazers)- Franz Wagner
The Rockets could have multiple first round picks in this draft, as long as they remain in the top four. Franz Wagner, younger brother of Mo Wagner, is a very intriguing talent due to his incredible size for the shooting guard position at 6’9″. Wagner isn’t a dynamic shot creator by any means, but he has a very well rounded offensive game and a level of activity defensively that makes his upside intriguing. The Rockets need upside and Wagner provides that.
Comparison: Mike Dunleavy Jr.
23. San Antonio Spurs- Filip Petrušev
The Spurs have their history of liking international prospects and Filip Petrušev could follow that pedigree. Petrušev is a mobile big with a really good post presence and fantastic touch around the rim. He has also taken a massive leap as a shooter as he is shooting 46% from three on over three attempts with Mega Bemax after only shooting 18% from three at Gonzaga. Petrušev adds depth to the big man. position plus a potential scoring punch the Spurs could use.
Player Comparison: Mike Muscala
24. Milwaukee Bucks- Jared Butler
Jared Butler has been the best player on one of the best teams in Butler. Butler is efficient from all three levels but especially elite from downtown as he is shooting 44% from three, he is a really good playmaker, and one of the best and most polished defenders in the draft… averaging over two steals a game. Butler may not have the highest ceiling in the world. but he projects to have a day one impact in the NBA and would benefit a contending Bucks team.
Comparison: Darren Collison
25. Los Angeles Clippers- Terrance Shannon Jr.
Defense is the word I think of when thinking about Terrance Shannon, at 6’6″ 210 pounds, he has an NBA frame right now, which will compliment his discipline on the defensive side of the ball and ability to stay in front of top-tier athletes. Shannon is a limited offensive player and not a great shooter, but he has steadily improved on that end from his freshman to sophomore year. Shannon could eventually become a solid defensive option in the league while having room to improve offensively.
Comparison: Josh Okogie/Kelly Oubre Jr.
26. Los Angeles Lakers- Isaiah Todd
Nobody talks about this, but there are more than just two five star prospects in Jalen Green and Jonathon Kuminga, Isaiah Todd is one of the other ones, along with Daishen Nix, who you will see soon in this mock. Isaiah Todd is a skilled, fluid big with really pure stroke from mid range and three. Todd isn’t very physical nor does he defend as well as other bigs in the draft, but his offensive versatility gives him promise. There is no such thing as too many shooters, especially when you have a someone like Lebron on your roster, Todd makes sense at this spot.
Comparison: Channing Frye
27. Brooklyn Nets- Day’Ron Sharpe
With the loss of Jared Allen, the Nets need to find big man depth, especially bigs that can gobble rebounds and defend. Sharpe is very traditional big, he hasn’t hit a three this year and is a 52.7% shooter from the line, but he is a high energy player with good athleticism that averages a ridiculous 14.6 rebounds per 36 minutes, he also has active hands… giving him nearly 1.7 steals and rebounds per 36. His lack of offensive versatility puts a lid on his ceiling, but his skillset fits a Nets team very well.
Comparison: Nerlens Noel
28. Philadelphia 76ers- Chris Duarte
Similar to what I said about the Lakers applies with Philadelphia, with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, get as much shooting as you can! Chris Duart is one of the best shooters in the entire class, shooting 44% from downtown on nearly six attempts… he also has nice touch around the rim making an asset in transition. Duarte may be on the older side as he is already nearly 24 years old, but his skillset as a really efficient shooter and solid defensively translates, especially on a team like the 76ers.
Comparison: Landry Shamet
29. Phoenix Suns- Daishen Nix
Nobody talks about this, but there are more than just two five star prospects in Jalen Green and Jonathon Kuminga, Daishen Nix is one of the other ones. Nix has a very big frame for a point guard at 6’5″ 224 pounds, but that frame helps his ability to finish around the rim, get seven rebounds per 36, and find open teammates, leading him to also averaging seven assists per 36 . Nix has a strong all around game, but he could cut some weight and he needs to improve his shooting, 38.4/17.6/71.4 splits won’t cut it. The Suns could use another point guard of the bench, Nix would not be a bad addition.
Comparison: Bigger Raymond Felton
30. Utah Jazz- Cam Thomas (SG, LSU, Freshman)
Is it weird to have a freshman averaging 23 PPG at the end of the first round? Thomas may be somewhat of a controversial prospect, his game is very dimensional as he is not a good defender, passer, or renounce once so ever… but at this moment me writing this article, which is the afternoon of March 8th, 2021, he is in the middle of 10 straight games with 20+ points, the only freshman’s to ever do that are Kevin Durant, Trae Young, Michael Beasley, Carmelo Anthony, Zion Williamson and Markelle Fultz, all are top three picks. The reason he is mocked to be taken this late is the fact there is potential for him so struggle in the league…. because like I said, very one-dimensional player who is only shooting 30.5% from three. Thomas has a chance to be a legitimate microwave scorer with his ability to get hot in a hurry and get to the foul line (shoots 87.6% on 7.8 attempts per game fro the line) provides legitimate value.
Comparison: Dion Waiters