- Indiana Pacers- Cade Cunningham (PG, Freshman, Oklahoma State)
The Indiana Pacers are a team that was competed for a playoff spot all season but got knocked out right at the end of the play-in. If they ended up winning the lottery with only the 12th best odds, that would be one of the most surprising lottery results every and it’d change the entire outlook of the organization. If there is an ideal archetype of a player to build around, Cade Cunningham would be that as a 6’8″ point guard that is a high level three level scorer, good passer, defends multiple positions, and isn’t afraid of the moment. Adding a versatile, franchise talent of this caliber to an already talented core of Domantas Sabonis, Malcolm Brogdon, Caris Levert, TJ Warren and Myles Turner could make the Pacers a legitimate contender throughout the 2020s and perhaps beyond.
Comparison: Pass-first version of Jayson Tatum
2. Houston Rockets- Evan Mobley (C, Freshman, USC)
The Rockets would have a very tough decision at the second pick because Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, and Jalen Suggs are all worthy of going this high, but it would be hard for the Rockets to pass on Mobley’s upside. He is a legitimate seven footer that is the best defender in the draft, he is an elite rim protector, and can legit guard five positions at times and does a little bit of everything offensively as a good passer, potential in the post because of his excellent touch and feet, he can also extend the floor. John Wall and Kevin Porter Jr. would be winners as they wouldn’t have another guard take away their minutes. Mobley would also be an excellent compliment to Christian Wood in the front court. Could that front court pairing be what Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson were supposed to be? Probably not fair to say that, but Wood and Mobley would be super appealing, nonetheless.
Comparison: Chris Bosh/Anthony Davis
3. Oklahoma City Thunder- Jalen Suggs (PG/SG, Freshman, Gonzaga)
The Thunder are in a position where they have so many holes, they should completely ignore the concept of fit and take best player available… and that dude is Jalen Suggs. Suggs does a little bit of everything, at 6’5″, he has the best motor out of all of these guys at the top, he is an elite perimeter defender with tremendous vision, also a very capable three level scorer, even though I would not want him to be my top scoring option on a contending team. Pairing Suggs in the back court along with a franchise player in Shai-Gilgeous Alexander would be an exciting possibility for this organization that is trying to accumulate the most talent through the draft possible with their million draft picks over the next few years.
Comparison: Chauncey Billups/Russell Westbrook
4. Golden State Warriors (Via. Timberwolves)- Jalen Green (SG, 19 years old, G-League Ignite)
The Timberwolves, even though they have played much better as of late, losing their pick, regardless would be a massive shot in the gut for them since that pick could be worth gold. The Warriors would be the beneficiaries and would have the luck to have a talent like Jalen Green fall to them. Green is the best scorer in the draft, he has elite athleticism and body control, which helps him be a fantastic finisher around the basket, he also has a pure jumper that he can utilize off the catch as well as on the bounce. Green is an average defender and passer, which makes him less complete than the guys at the top, but he has the tools and physical ability to become effective in both areas. Green could become the face of the Post-Steph area and would be a great pairing with Wiseman, as well.
Comparison: Zach Lavine
5. Detroit Pistons- Jonathon Kuminga (SF/PF, 18 years old, G-League ignite)
The Pistons are in the early stages of their rebuild and because of that, they need to grab as much high-end talent as possible and Kuminga has the most long-term upside on the board. That being said, I do have my questions about Kuminga going this high, he is not the most aware defender yet and his scoring ability is very raw and inefficient from pretty much all levels. But I do see the talent that makes scouts so excited and Detroit doesn’t need Kuminga to be a star from the moment he steps on the court, they have the time to develop him and he can slide in at the small forward spot for them. Kuminga has the long-term talent to be the franchise talent of a team that has a solid starting core with Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey, Killian Hayes, and Isaiah Stewart.
Comparison: Young Jaylen Brown
6. Cleveland Cavaliers- Scottie Barnes (PF/SF, Freshman, Florida State)
Scottie Barnes has to be one of the most underrated prospects in the draft. At 6’9″ with a 7’3″ wingman, Barnes has length for days that goes along with his awesome quickness, explosion, and body control. His length and athleticism is very composable to Giannis Antetokoumpo. He also handles it and reads the floor like a point guard. This athleticism and versatility makes him an absolute terror in transition, not to mention he is one of the best defenders in the draft. The Cavaliers would be fortunate to have Barnes fall to their lap, he, Okoro, and Allen would provide the defense necessary to hide Darius Garland and Colin Sexton on defense. Even though there would be massive spacing questions with this young core, you can’t pass on Barnes here.
Comparison: Giannis Antetokounmpo/Pascal Siakam
7. Orlando Magic – Moses Moody (SG/SF, Freshman, Arkansas)
The Orlando Magic could really use everything, but they could especially use a wing that can space the floor and defend, Moses Moody is that guy. Even though he only shot 36% from three, he is a better shooter than his numbers suggest, he also is a capable shot creator that doesn’t dominate the ball and projects to be a very good defender in the NBA. The Magic have multiple lottery picks in this mock and Moody would be a great first edition to this incredibly young core.
Comparison: OG Anunoby/Khris Middleton
8. Toronto Raptors- Kai Jones (C, Sophomore, Texas)
Texas has had a few notable bigmen to come to the NBA such as Mohamas Bamba, Jaxson Hayes, and Jarett Allen and Kai Jones is expected to continue that trend. Outside of Jonathon Kuminga, you can argue Kai Jones is the biggest boom or bust prospect in the draft because he wasn’t overly productive on college and has only played basketball since he was 15 years old, but the talent is substantial. At 7 feet, he has tremendous mobility and athleticism, which makes him an intriguing rim protector. Offensively, he is a legit lob threat, he also can stretch the floor and has displayed some ability of being able to hit threes off the dribble. Jones is a prospect that will be as good as his destination, going to an elite player development like the Raptors where he can grow at his own rate and play behind Chris Boucher. The Raptors could get a star at this spot if they remain patient.
Comparison: Christian Wood/Richaun Holmes
9. Orlando Magic- Davion Mitchell (SG, Junior, Baylor)
The Magic have a surplus of young, unproven players throughout the roster so Orlando cannot worry too much about fit with this second lottery pick, which they got from the Nikola Vucevic trade, making Davion Mitchell a logical choice. He is an older prospect, but he isn’t an ordinary order prospect that has upside questions, he is an athletic, and efficient three level scorer that is one of the better passers in the draft, he is the whole package offensively. He also is the best perimeter defender in the draft, when guarding isolation, Mitchell forces a turnover 29% of the time, he is as capable of locking stars down in the perimeter as anyone in years. Between Moses Moody, Donovan Mitchell, Jonathon Isaac, and Wendell Carter Jr., the Magic could eventually develop a defensive juggernaut.
Comparison: Donovan Mitchell/Patrick Beverley
10. Sacramento Kings- Usman Garuba (PF, 19 years old, Real Madrid, )
The Sacramento Kings are one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA and need to desperately improve on that end of the ball however they can, Usman Garuba would make a ton of sense here. He is an athletic forward that plays with great energy, he defends four positions at a strong level, he is also a strong finisher that can make smart reads with the ball in his hands. He is showing a lot of growth as his role has elevated as well, that was displayed when he recently dropped 24 points in an elimination game against Anadolu Efes, which should make fans excited about him.
Comparison: Draymond Green/Jarred Vanderbilt
11. New Orleans Pelicans- Corey Kisbert (SF, Senior, 22 years old)
When Zion Williamson as your franchise player, you need shooting around him! The Pelicans are 26th in three point percentage and lack a pure sharp shooter on that roster, Corey Kisbert would fill that void. Kisbert is the best shooter in the draft, he shot 44% from three on high volume and is able to utilize his shooting talent in multiple situations, including off the dribble and off screens. Kisbert may not have special traits defensively or has any sort of All-Star upside, but at this spot, the priority for New Orleans should be to get players that compliment Zion best, and Kisbert is that dude because of the spacing he provides.
Comparison: Doug McDermott
12. Washington Wizards- Keon Johnson (SG, Freshman, Tennessee)
Keon Johnson has one of the better ceilings in this class. He is an athletic, defensive minded wing with tools to not only be a great defense, but he has the athletics, body control, and go-to-move from mid range to also become a very good offensive player, despite his poor shooting, if you give him time. The Wizards wouldn’t need him to deliver offensively, like the Kings, they just need as much defense as they can find, making Johnson a rational option here.
Comparison: Isaac Okoro/Jarrett Culver
13. San Antonio Spurs- Alperen Sengun (C, Beşiktaş J.K., 18 years old)
Alperen Sengun has began to fly up draft boards as of late. That is because he is a fluid 6’10” big with absolutely incredibly footwork in the post, he is the most polished post scorer in the draft, and he is a really talented passer. This has led to him having one of the most productive seasons for an 18 year old in European history. I do have questions about how his post presence will translate immediately because he doesn’t have the strongest frame, also is not a good shooter yet, but his upside is tremendous and a team like the Spurs would not pass on the opportunity to draft a big with this level of skill and ability in the paint.
Comparison: Domantas Sabonis
14. Memphis Grizzlies- Tre Mann (PG, Sophomore, Florida)
This would be the least fit oriented selection at this point of the draft as Tre Mann is not a seamless fit next to Trae Young, but Mann has really grown on me and at this moment, it would be a travesty to me if he was not taken in the lottery. Mann is a 6’5″ point guard with legitimate half court range, good three level scoring ability with an elite ability to shoot off the dribble and has great body control in the paint, he also is an underrated and instinctual passer. Even though the defensive fit next to Ja could be somewhat worrisome. His scoring and shooting ability would help Ja flourish as he would have more spacing and another option to distribute the ball to.
Comparison: Darius Garland
15. Charlotte Hornets- Isaiah Jackson (PF/C, Freshman, Kentucky)
The Hornets need to improve their big man depth as soon as possible, Cody Zeller and Bismarck Biyombo are simply not good enough. Isiah Jackson is a 6’10” big with premier level rim protection, energy on both both ends, and is a threat inside. Jackson would be able contribute immediately for the Hornets.
Comparison: Kenneth Faried/Nicolas Claxton
16. Golden State Warriors- Franz Wagner (SF/SG, Sophomore, Michigan)
Outside of Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins, there aren’t many reliable wings that could long-term options. Franz Wagner could be that as a 6’9″ wing with two-way ability and playmaking potential. Jalen Green and Jalen Green would both add an infusion of young talent to a Warriors core that can contribute day one and help win after Steph Curry.
Comparison: Mike Dunleavy Jr.
17. Boston Celtics- Josh Giddey (PG, 18 years old, Adelaide 36ers)
The Celtics are in a position where they have enough youth on their roster so if they were to trade this pick, that would be a reasonable move. If they stayed and picked Josh Giddey, he would make a lot of sense as they lack a true floor general on their roster. To fix that, they would be drafting the most talented passer in the draft that has a legitimate 6’8″ frame and tremendous instincts on the glass.
Comparison: Taller Ricky Rubio
18. Oklahoma City Thunder- James Bouknight (SG, Sophomore, Sophomore)
The Thunder are currently in the business of adding as much high-end talent to their roster, or at least as assets, as possible. Bouknight provides a level of athleticism and shot creation that makes him truly worthy of lottery consideration, but there is always somebody that falls and OKC should take advantage in this situation.
Comparison: JR Smith
19. Atlanta Hawks- Ayo Dosunmu (PG, Illinois, Junior)
Ayo Dosunmu tested the draft waters last year and when he didn’t get much buzz, he returned to Illinois and now after a big leap his junior year, he seems like a first round lock. He is a score-first guard with a tremendous ability to finish around the rim, he is a developing shooter, and a solid enough passer. He would add even more playmaking on a Hawks team that has turned it around as well as any team in the league.
Comparison: Dennis Schroader
20. Los Angeles Lakers- Chris Duarte- (SG, Senior, Oregon)
As long as LeBron James and Anthony Davis are on the Lakers, every move should be about it will elevate those two during their window. Chris Duarte is already 24 years old. but because of his shooting, great defense, and secondary playmaking ability, he can help any team right now, especially a team like the Lakers that are always a threat to compete for championships.
Comparison: Landry Shamet
21. New York Knicks- Johnny Juzang (SG, Sophomore, UCLA)
Johnny Juzang is one of the biggest risers in this draft as he led UCLA to the final four while playing tremendously in the process. The Knicks would likely like to add day one assets to their team and Juzang is a natural scorer who can help them in that regard.
Comparison: Dillon Brooks
22. Houston Rockets- Zhaire Williams (SF/SG, Freshman, Stanford)
The Rockets are in a stage where they can afford to swing on long-term talent and Williams has the highest upside available. He had a terrible freshman season and will need time, but if he hits, we are talking about a 6’8″ two-way wing that can score fluidly from all three levels, that upside is worth betting on here.
Comparison: Jaden McDaniels
23. New York Knicks- Roko Pkacin
Prkacin is one of the most intriguing long-term international prospects as a 6’8″ combo wing who has an amazing feel with the ball in his hands and can score from anywhere. If he doesn’t come to the league right away and remains in Europe short-term, New York has the time to wait for him, especially since Tom Thibadeau rarely integrates rookies in the rotation.
Comparison: Danillo Galinari/Juancho Hernagomez
24. Brooklyn Nets- Day’Ron Sharpe (C, Freshman, UNC)
This isn’t the strongest center class by any means, there is a legit possibility the second true center won’t be off the board until this spot. Deandre Jordan is aging and that is beginning to show with his play, adding a young, defensive minded big with soft hands makes a lot of sense for Brooklyn.
Comparison: Robert Williams
25. Houston Rockets- Jalen Johnson (PF, Freshman, Duke)
The Rockets have a chance to really upgrade their young core with three potential draft picks this season. Jalen Johnson is a lottery talent that has legit athleticsm, vision in transition, also a really good finisher around the draft. The reason Johnson would fall this far would be similar to Jaden McDaniels to a extreme, both have/had character questions coming into the draft (Johnson has those questions because he essentially quit his team late in the season) and there is always a talented player that slips. Every pick in this scenario for Houston would consist of a player with a really high ceiling, if at least two of the rookies hit, this would be a franchise changing night for the Rockets.
Comparison: Deni Avdija
26. Denver Nuggets- Jared Butler (PG, Junior, Baylor)
Jared Butler had one of the more decorated college careers in this class and certainly could be taken much earlier than this. He is a floor general that knows how to get others involved, he is also an elite shooter and defender. Butler may have a tough time cracking the rotation early on with Monte Morris and Fracundo Compazzo on the roster, but if and when his opportunity comes, it is hard to imagine him not taking advantage of that.
Comparison: Monté Morris
27. Los Angeles Clippers- Jaden Springer (PG, Freshman, Tennessee)
The Clippers don’t have many holes on their roster but one thing you can nitpick on is they don’t have any long-term options at point guard. Jaden Springer has a really high floor due to his ability to defend the perimeter, make the right reads, and hit open shots. He has little upside as a shot creator, but he has the potential to blend into a roster nicely.
Comparison: Dejounte Murray
28. Filip Petrušev (PF, 21 years old, KK Mega Soccerbet)28. Filip Petrušev (PF, 21 years old, KK Mega Soccerbet)
Filip Petrušev may be one of the most slept on prospects in the draft. He was an incredibly productive player at Gonzaga and is now dominating on his team in Europe. He was always a talented scorer inside, but now he’s become a 44%
shooter from three. The 76ers would be getting them someone who can give them more big man depth and scoring versatility.
Comparison: Mike Muscala
29. Phoenix Suns- Shariefe Cooper (PG, Baylor, Gonzaga)
Shariefe Cooper is one of the most confusing prospects to evaluate because his vision, patience, and ability to manage a game is absolutely special. But at six feet, struggling both as a shooter and finisher could minimize what he does best significantly. That being said, his upside is still large and having a Chris Paul mentor him could be huge for him.
Comparison: Tyler Ulis/Chris Paul
30. Utah Jazz- BJ Boston (SG/SF, Freshman, Kentucky)
BJ Boston had one of the more underwhelming seasons among the top recruits of the 2020 high school class. But he is still a smooth shot creating wing with length that if you add some strength as well as shooting consistency, he has a chance to be good. BJ isn’t ready to immediately produce, but Utah can afford to be patient with him.
Comparison: Cam Reddish