This college basketball season was one of the more unique and odd seasons we’ve seen in NCAA basketball history, that being said, it was a blessing as that this college basketball season was able to get completed despite all of the adversity faced. Unlike last year, we now have March Madness and a full year of sample size to truly evaluate the talent in this draft class, which could make this draft at least a little easier to predict than last year. Now the season is finally over in college, what better time is there for a mock draft?
1. Minnesota Timberwolves- Cade Cunningham (PG, Oklahoma State, Freshman)
Whoever ends up with that number one pick has to take Cunningham because he is exactly the type of player NBA teams like to build around. At 6’8”, Cunningham is a very dynamic offensive threat who has the ability to create for himself from three levels, make players around him better, defend multiple positions, shoot from three at a 40% clip. The Timberwolves have had a lot injuries at the top of the roster as Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Malik Beasley have missed a combined 66 games. Even though they are investing a Max contract into D’Angelo Russell and we haven’t seen him healthy alongside KAT, you can’t pass on the opportunity of drafting a talent like Cade Cunningham to form a big three of KAT, Anthony Edwards, and Cade Cunningham, that would be the most gifted young bug three by a long shot.
Comparison: Larry Bird
2. Toronto Raptors- Jalen Suggs (PG/SG, Gonzaga, Freshman)
This would be a super hard spot for Toronto to be in as they have to pick between two potentially great talents and Jalen Suggs and Evan Mobley but if I were them, I would have to close my eyes and crunch my teeth and take Suggs. What makes Suggs truly special is the everlasting drive and desire to dominate. He plays with fantastic energy and fearlessness for an entire game, he is one of the best perimeter defenders in the class, he is an elite passer that led Gonzaga in assists, and he has shown to be a tough shot maker when his number is called. Jalen Suggs would be able to replace Kyle Lowry as the culture reinforcing, franchise point guard contribute immediately. Yes, they have Fred Vanvleet and Gary Trent Jr., but you need a franchise player at this spot and I believe Suggs has the clearest path of becoming a franchise caliber player.
Comparison: Jason Kidd/Jamal Murray
3. Chicago Bulls- Evan Mobley (C/PF, USC, Freshman)
Outside of the first pet, the bulls are definitely at one of the most comfortable spots in this draft as they likely wouldn’t need to contemplate picking between an Jalen Suggs and Evan Mobley. Evan Mobley is the best 2-way big man prospect since Anthony Davis. Defensively, he’s as good as there is in the draft, he is an elite rim protector that was sixth in the nation in blocks, he can shut down your big, but he can also switch on ball screens and defend guards and wings in spurts. Offensively, he can really pass in the post and in transition, he has super touch around the rim, and he has shown promise as a shooter despite only shooting 30% from deep and 68% from the line. The Chicago Bulls would be able to slide Evan Mobley right next to Nikola Vucevic and have him hide the defense Vucevic doesn’t provide at times. Mobley may be a little raw offensively to start out because of his slight build and inconsistent jumper, but that would not be an issue on a team with Zach Lavine and Nikola Vucevic.
Comparison: Anthony Davis
4. Orlando Magic- Jalen Green (SG, G-League Ignite, 19 years old)
The Orlando Magic picked a fantastic time to proceed that rebuild and sell all of their pieces because even if they fall out of the top three, they could have the opportunity to draft a talent like Jalen Green. Green is the best pure scorer in the draft, he is an explosive, Zach Lavine type athlete, that can finish in traffic at a high level, he has a respectable move, and he has a scoring package well beyond his years, a package as good as anybody else in the draft. He needs to improve as a playmaker and defender but he’s shown enough flashes in those aspects of his game to be encouraged. Green would immediately come in and be the offensive vocal point of a promising Markell’s Fultz, Jonathon Isacc, Chuma Okeke and Wendell Carter Jr. core.
Comparison: Zach Lavine
5. Oklahoma City Thunder- Moses Moody (SG, Arkansas, Freshman)
The Thunder have one of the five lowest percentages from three in the league… so it makes too much sense to land the best 3 and D prospect in the draft. Moses Moody isn’t only a talented shooter and defender, he has shown flashes of being able create his own shot off the dribble, which gives him a lot more upside as a dynamic scoring threat than perhaps he gets credit for. Yes, he only is shoot 43/36/81 splits, but as he gets less concentration on him offensively in the NBA, his efficiency should improve. Having Moody alongside Lugentez Dort as the young two-way wings with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander running the show could be very dangerous on both ends of the floor.
Comparison: De’Andre Hunter/Khris Middleton
6. Detroit Pistons- Jonathon Kuminga (SF/PF, G-League Ignite, 18 years old)
Jonathon Kuminga is who I like to describe as this year’s James Wiseman. He has all the insane physical tools, 6’8”, long arms, dynamic athlete, has shown flashes of being a shot creator and can read the court very well his position. What makes him very similar to Wismean is he has all those tools, all that upside, but he’s incredibly raw on both ends, his overall defensive awareness needs improvement, like Wiseman, he is also a long way from being a consistently positive force on offense as he only 39/25/63 splits. Kuminga likely won’t be ready to contribute immediately but his upside is so large that he’s worth taking at this spot. The Detroit Pistons are still in the infant stages of their rebuild, they have time to wait for a Kuminga to blossom.
Comparison: Young Jaylen Brown
7. Cleveland Cavaliers- Scottie Barnes (PF, Florida State, Freshman)
Outside of Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes has a big case to be considered the next best defender in the draft. He has incredibly length at his 6’8” frame with a 7’2” wingspan, great athleticism and ability to recover if a defender creates separation off of him, which makes it a nightmare to be guarded by. He also may have more upside than people give him credit for, he is elite in transition, he has incredible, Giannis like strides in transition with good good footwork that makes him difficult to stop when he’s trying to get to the rim. He also reads the floor very well, he seems to almost always give it to the right shooter in stride, he also has as good of an alley-oop passing ability for a power forward I’ve seen in a few years. Barnes is not a good shooter, to maximize his upside, you need to give him big time spacing, which the Cavaliers wouldn’t have with Isaac Okoro and Jarrett Allen on the court… but the Cavs can’t afford to take best player available, which I believe is Barnes, plus having Barnes and Okoro on the defensive end could hide Darius Garland and Colin Sexton as well as you possibly could.
Comparison: Draymond Green/Giannis Antetokounmpo
8. Washington Wizards- Kai Jones (C/PF, Texas, Sophomore)
The best way for me to describe Kai Jones is he is this draft’s Patrick Williams. When you look at the raw numbers, he isn’t going to blow you away, he only averaged eight points in five rebounds on the season, but like Patrick Williams, he is oozing with upside and will more likely than not be the prospect this year that flies up draft boards last second, for good reason. At 6’11”, he ha s a chance to be dynamic on both ends; offensively, he can be your typical lob threat with good athleticism and instincts around the rim, but he can handle the ball and create for himself in transition, although not in high volume, he can hit a three on the catch… and he has shown the ability to create his own shot with a step back, incredibly rare for somebody his size. Defensively, he is quick enough to switch on guards, he has long, active hands, plus he has shown to protect the rim everywhere on the court, whether it’s contesting a shot from deep, and getting that block in the paint. Jones may be a little raw coming in, like Williams, but all the raw tools he has makes him a top 10 talent in the class. He could become exactly what the Wizards need at the center position on both ends.
Comparison: Myles Turner/James Wiseman
9. Oklahoma City Thunder- Davion Mitchell (SG, Baylor, Junior)
Yes, the Thunder have Theo Maledon, Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, and Moses Moody, but based on what we saw from Mitchell this year, especially after bringing Baylor a national title, it would be hard to pass on him here, especially because this isn’t a draft heavy in bigs. I understand that he’s 22 years old, but with his vision at the shooting guard position, his elite quickness and finishing around the rim, his 45% shooting from three, and because he may be the best on-ball defender since Jevon Carter, I don’t see why his game won’t translate to at least being a high-level starter. Between Mitchell, Lu Dort, SGA, and Moody, the defense in the perimeter could be insane for Oklahoma City very soon.
Comparison: Marcus Smart/Donovan Mitchell
10. Indiana Pacers- Ayo Dosumu (PG, Illinois, Junior)
The Pacers would be at a very unique spot for a lottery team because they don’t have really any needs and their starting lineup. That makes it so they could possibly just take the best player available, which I believe is Ayo Dosumu. Dosumu is a 6’5” point guard with a dynamic scoring ability, he has awesome touch around the rim, good creativity, also an above average shooter, rebounder, defender, and playmaker. He averaged over six rebounds and five assists a game to go along with 20 PPG. A concern for Dosumu is he sometimes looks for his shot a little too much, when he can’t get going, instead of finding others, he will force shots, he also gets out of control and forces silly turnovers. Lastly, there are questions about his off ball ability, can he play off of other ball handlers? That’s the question. In Indiana, he could come in and be the primary play maker off the bench, so he wouldn’t need to worry about functioning off the ball as much as he would perhaps in other places.
Comparison: Shai-Gilgeous Alexander
11. New Orleans Pelicans- Corey Kisbert (SF, Gonzaga, Senior)
When Zion Williamson is your franchise player, the element you need to surround him is shooting, this makes Corey Kisbert a fantastic fit. Kisbert isn’t only a good shooter, at 44% from three this year, he’s the best shooter in the draft, he is fantastic at getting open shots off the ball by running to an open spot in a rhythm, by getting shots off screens, he has a pull-up game, he also can occasionally create his own shot. He also has shown the potential to be a solid defender in the NBA because of his size and motor, despite his subpar lateral quickness. Kisbert’s value would truly pop because of the spacing he would provide for Williamson.
Comparison: Joe Harris
12. Sacramento Kings- Jalen Johnson (PF, Duke, Freshman)
The Sacramento Kings are in a weird and potentially uncomfortable situation with Marvin Bagely III, he has dealt with injuries since the moment he got drafted and Sacramento reportedly attempted to deal for for Saddiq Bey, which Detroit declined. At this spot, they could take advantage of this opportunity by drafting MBIII’s replacement in Jalen Johnson. Johnson is a very athletic do it all combo forward who can provide much needed defense for Sacramento, he is an elite rebounder, he can really read the floor in transition, and has an NBA ready frame that’ll allow him to finish around the basket at a high level. Johnson would be able to fit in nicely with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton as the power forward of the future.
Comparison: Deni Avdija
13. Memphis Grizzlies- Keon Johnson (SG, Tennessee, Freshman)
Even as the Marc Gasol and Mike Conley era is beginning to fade more as time goes by, they still haven’t given up their gritty, physical identity and Keon Johnson would be an amazing addition to that addition. Johnson is a high level athlete at the shooting guard position that’s best trait is to defend, he has shown flashes of being a lockdown defender. Offensively, even though he is raw, he is a dynamic finisher around the basket who has shown NBA caliber go-to moves in the mid range already, he also is an underrated passer. He may be struggle cracking the rotation early because of his slight frame and his below average shooting from three, but his long-term upside is worth betting on.
Comparison: Isaac Okoro/Jimmy Butler
14. Golden State Warriors- Jaden Springer (PG, Tennessee, Freshman)
A clear hole in the Warriors current rotation is they lack an established playmaker off the bench, Jaden Springer could fill that void. He is a 6’5” point guard that stands out because of his patience with his ability to get a good shot off for him or others, he has shown promise as a shooter, he can also really defend. There are questions about what his ceiling is as a player because he isn’t a fantastic shot creator and can’t create separation, but his ability to hit open shots, find teammates, and defend give him a high floor, he could become an early contributor in the Warriors’ rotation.
Comparison: Dejounte Murray
15. Boston Celtics- James Bouknight (SG, UConn, Sophomore)
The Celtics already have a lot of young guards that they have taken over the last couple years, but this is too much value for Boston to pass on. Bouknignt is a score first shooting guard that has a tremendous feel at finding his own shot, whether it’s at the rim, from mid range, even though he has a below 30% average shooter for three, he has gotten hot three at times as well. He needs to improve both defensively and as a shooterBouknight needs to improve both defensively and as a shooter, he is average in those aspects, but his scoring upside should be exciting for any team.
Comparison: Jeremy Lamb+
16. Atlanta Hawks- Franz Wagner (SF/SG, Michigan, Sophomore)
Franz Wagner is a very intriguing prospect . At 6’9” he has elite size, he also compliments that with a very good feel, he does a good job of finding open teammates, when to move off the ball, he is also a 37% shototer from three. There are questions aboht his upside as a shot creator, but his overal size and feel on both ends makes him a very fascinating long-term talent. Wagner would be Atlanta’s most interesting long-term shooting guard prospect.
Comparison: Mike Dunleavy Jr.
17. Knicks- Josh Giddey (PG, Adelaide 36ers, 18 years old)
Even with Immanuel Quickley’s emergence as a very talented young guard, the Knicks still need to discover more reliable point guards. Giddey has really drawn interest in the league because he’s a legitimate 6’8”, he can rebound, he is a fantastic passer, and he is crafty around the basket. He’s basically what people said what Lamelo Ball was last year, a creative oversized playmaker with shooting and defensive concerns due to their slight frames.
Comparison: Taller Ricky Rubio
18. Rockets- Isaiah Jackson (PF, Kentucky, Freshman)
The Rockets could benefit from adding prospects that can compliment Christian Wood well by providing impressive interior defense and Isaiah Jackson is a fantastic fit there. Jackson wasn’t only a good rim protector, he was elite as he averaged 4.5 blocks per 36. Jackson has a limited offensive game, but he certainty makes up for it with that defensive impact.
Comparison: Kenneth Faried
19. Charlotte Hornets- Charles Bassey (C, Western Kentuvcky, Sophomore)
The biggest hole on the Hornets roster at this moment has to be the center position, they need at add young talent there quick. Bassey is a legitimate 6’11” with long arms and an NBA frame which he used to average over three blocks at Western Kentucky. He also is a threat around the rim and has show some touch from deep . Bassey has a chance to be a strong rotational price for Charlotte because of that size and interior presence they don’t have.
Comparison: Bismack Biyombo with shooting potential
20. San Antonio Spurs- Alperen Sengun (C/PF, Besiktas, 18 years old)
Alperen Sengun has been absolutely dominant for Beşiktaş as he is averaging an eye popping 24.5 PPG and 11.4 RPG per 36. He has fantastic footwork and touch in the post, he can really pass out of that post, and he has good instincts for rebounds. He needs to add to his frame and at least have a respectable jumpshot to be impactful in the NBA… but the talent is certainly there and the Spurs would be a fantastic spot for his development due to their elite development staff and understanding of international prospects.
Comparison: Poor man’s Domantas Sabonis
21. New York Knicks- Usman Garuba (PF, Real Madrid, 19 years old)
I would have zero problem if Usman Garuba went in the lottery but every year, someone is bound to slip and in this mock, it’s Garuba. Garuba is a super energetic, versatile defender who can guard multiple positions and provide playmaking and finishing around the rim offensively while showing some signs from three. The Knicks did draft Obi Toppin last year, but with bad little as he’s shown both offensively and defensively, it wouldn’t be surprising finding his replacement in the rotation already.
Comparison: Smaller, more athletic Al Horford
22. Denver Nuggets- Zhaire Williams (SF/SG, Stanford, Freshman)
The Nuggets have had a history of drafting high upside prospects in the last couple years such as RJ Hampton and Bol Bol. Zhaire Williams has arguably the most upside out of anyone available at this spot. They don’t need him to contribute immediately, so why not develop another high-end talent to eventually add to this loaded young core?
Comparison: Cam Reddish
23. Houston Rockets- Cam Thomas (SG, LSU, Freshman)
Cam Thomas has been a polarizing prospect because he doesn’t have an incredibly well rounded game and is inefficient offensively, but he did lead all freshman in scoring averaging over 23 PPG at LSU. It is a question how his play style will translate to winning basketball in the NBA, but that’s a question worth trying to answer when you’re approaching the late first round.
Comparison: Dion Waiters
24. Los Angeles Lakers- Jared Butler (PG, Baylor, Junior)
If the Lakers were to draft a rookie in the first round, they need one who can contribute immediately and Jared Butler can do. He is a smooth playmaker who shot over 40% from three his junior year… he is also one of the best perimeter defenders in the class. Butler just helped the Baylor Bears win a title, perhaps he can also help the Lakers win one as well.
Comparison: TJ McConnell
25. Houston Rockets- Sharief Cooper (PG, Auburn, Freshman)
Sharief Cooper is the best and most creative passer in this draft, period. He has a feel for the game that could match up with some of the very best floor generals in the league. The issue his he struggled shooting from every level of the floor at Auburn, especially at the rim. If he doesn’t become an efficient shooter, as an undersized guard, it can limit what he can do as a passer. The Rockets would cap up this draft with three high-upside talents post-lottery, if one hits, the Rockets would be major winners.
Comparison: Chris Paul/ smaller Greivis Vásquez
26. Clippers- Terrance Shannon Jr. (AG, Texas Tech, Sophomore)
The Clippers, for one reason or another, haven’t been as dominant defensively as their talent suggest… they fix that issue by adding another high-end defender in Terrance Shannon Jr. Shannon Jr. also greatly improved his shooting last year from 25.7% from deep to 35.7%, even if that isn’t for real, the Clippers still have the best three point shooting percentage in the league so if he got playing time early, there should be enough spacing there.
Comparison: Jarrett Culver/Kelly Oubre Jr.
27. Philadelphia 76ers- Day’Ron Sharpe (C/PF, UNC, Freshman)
The 76ers have gotten great production from Dwight Howard as their backup center in his 17th season, but he’s still aging and he’s on a one year deal, so it could be smart to find their backup center replacement. Day’Ron Sharpe is a physical big with a really good interior presence that also has very good hands offensively and finishes around the basket at a strong level. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling in the world, but could fill the void in the 76ers rotation if needed.
Comparison: Robert Williams
28. Brooklyn Nets- Chris Duarte (SG, Oregon, Senior)
Chris Duarte is one of the oldest prospects in the draft as he will be 24 by the time his rookie season starts, but what makes him a potential first round pick is because he’s an elite shooter in a game that loves spacing. He could play on the Brooklyn Nets right now and provide spacing for James Harden, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving. It may be hard for him to get those minutes over Landry Shamet snd Joe Harris, but it’s never an issue to have too much shooting.
Comparison: Landry Shamet
29. Phoenix Suns- Roko Prkacin (PF, Cibona, 18 years old)
Roko Pkarcin is an intriguing long-term European prospect because at 6’8”, he is fluid with the ball in his hands, he has shown signs of potentially spacing and he can really pass. It is unknown where he will be taken in the 2021 NBA draft, but Phoenix would be a good place for him to develop with veterans like Chris Paul and Jae Crowder there to mentor him.
Comparison: Juancho Hernagomez/Luka Šamanić
30. Utah Jazz- Tre Mann (PG, Florida, Sophomore)
Tre Mann had a breakout for Florida and really began to get attention during the SEC tournament as he really began to pop, including scoring 30 in the SEC championship, despite a loss to Texas. The Jazz would be getting a quick, shifty guard with fantastic size at 6’5” who can really shoot it. There is a lot of potential for Mann to become a steal in this draft, considering his size, shooting, and improvement from his freshman to sophomore year.
Comparison: Devin Harris