2021 NBA Lottery Mock Draft

With exactly a week until the 2021 NBA Draft, I thought I’d try my hand at doing a mock draft of the lottery, which are the first 14 picks. These picks are owned by the teams that missed the playoffs this year, although a team like the Orlando Magic, for example, has two picks in the lottery because of a trade made with the Minnesota Timberwolves. There will likely be trades before, or during, the draft next Thursday, July 29, but for the purposes for this mock, I’m going to assume that all the picks stay the same. Here are my thoughts for how the Top 14 will work out, let’s see how I do:

  1. Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham (PG, Oklahoma State)
    1. Cunningham is the obvious pick at number one. He is the most hyped-up player in this draft, and for good reason. He is a 6’8 point guard with athleticism, size, and explosiveness. He averaged just over 20 points at his first, and only, year at Oklahoma State, and had a solid showing in the NCAA Tournament. Adding him as the focal point of a young core including Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey will make for a bright future in Detroit.
  2. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green (SG, G League Ignite)
    1. At just 19, Green has already shown a massive amount of potential playing in the G League, proving to be an effective scorer who could turn into a superstar. Although there are reports that Houston wants the number one pick, they should actually be thrilled to have number two and will have a potential future star in Green. He would fit excellently with Christian Wood, Kevin Porter, Jr., and Jae’Sean Tate, as well. 
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley (C, USC)
    1. Now, this pick is a little trickier, for me. While Mobley is arguably the most talented player in this draft behind Cunningham, Cleveland already has a young, talented center in Jarrett Allen, although he is a free agent this summer. While Mobley has the spacing and speed to be effective at the four, that is a gamble for Cleveland, as the fit could be tough to adjust to. I almost put my number four pick in this spot but seeing that the Cavs will likely trade Collin Sexton and move Darius Garland to the PG spot, another guard might not be necessary. 
  4. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Suggs (PG, Gonzaga)
    1. With Kyle Lowry being a free agent and unlikely to re-sign, the Raptors need a new point guard. Enter Jalen Suggs. After putting on an unbelievable showing in the NCAA Tournament, some debated whether he could be taken first overall. Ultimately, though, I see Toronto getting lucky with Suggs, and he is a guy that is good at pretty much everything. With the Raptors looking to reset, Suggs could be a real difference maker as the franchise begins a new chapter.
  5. Orlando Magic: Jonathan Kuminga (SF/PF, G League Ignite)
    1. The Magic own two picks in the top ten. Kuminga is the smart pick at five, as the Magic desperately need some young talent as they have embarked on a rebuild this year. Kuminga is athletic, able to create his own shot, and has size to boot, so you can play him at the three of the four.
  6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Scottie Barnes (SF, Florida State)
    1. Barnes is the definitive number six for me in this draft. While his stock has been rising recently, with some mocks putting him at four or five, I think OKC will end up with the talented forward. One of the best defenders in the class, he will join a team that prioritizes defense and can be added to the young talent already on the team. This pick is a no-brainer for me.
  7. Golden State Warriors: James Bouknight (SG, Connecticut)
    1. The caveat here is that I truly believe that the Warriors will trade both of their lottery picks, as they are not a team in need of prospects. But whoever ends up with the seventh pick will take a hard look at Bouknight, who has separated himself as one of the top scorers in the draft and has tremendous upside. While his shooting numbers were lackluster in college, there is room for growth and many scouts see breakthrough potential. 
  8. Orlando Magic: Moses Moody (SG/SF, Arkansas)
    1. Moody is a smart pick for Orlando, who already have the fifth pick. There’s less pressure for this selection to be a star, but Moody has the potential to be a 3-and-D star at the next level. He is able to create his own shots, and he is an efficient scorer, and will likely be a threat from behind the arc. He’s an exciting prospect to draft alongside Kuminga for Orlando.
  9. Sacramento Kings: Franz Wagner (SF/PF, Michigan)
    1. The Kings are kind of a mess. De’Aaron Fox needs some help, bad. Wagner could offer that, at the very least with his shot-making ability. He is versatile and a capable defender and offers a positional depth the Kings need. For a team that hasn’t seen the playoffs in years, they were likely disappointed with number nine, but Wagner is the most solid choice left on the board.
  10. New Orleans Pelicans: Davion Mitchell (PG, Baylor)
    1. I don’t know if I’ve seen Mitchell go here in a mock draft, but I think it’s an opportunity worth exploring for New Orleans. With Lonzo Ball heading toward the exit, the Pelicans could use a point guard to develop alongside building blocks Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. Mitchell is a smart, hard-nosed, defensive guard that has a lot of potential to be effective in this league. He shot 45% from three, which might not translate, but it’s still impressive. The only thing he lacks is size, as he’s 6’2, but I believe in his talent.
  11. Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones (C, Tennessee)
    1. The Hornets need a center. Jones, after Mobley, is the best center available. That’s basically the gist of it. He needs to gain some strength, and once he does, he could be a solid addition to the frontcourt for Charlotte. You’re drafting knowing it’s going to take some time for him to develop, though. 
  12. San Antonio Spurs: Josh Giddey (PG, Australia)
    1. Giddey is known as one of the best passers in this draft, and already plays at a professional level in Australia, which clearly worked wonders for LaMelo Ball. The Spurs are moving toward the direction of blowing things up, so Giddey could be a solid piece moving forward.
  13. Indiana Pacers: Keon Johnson (SG, Tennesse)
    1. Johnson is simply the best player available at this point, and he has the most potential. He is an amazing athlete and will start as a key bench addition to a moderately young Pacers squad. The Pacers have enough talent to afford to allow some time for Johnson to develop.
  14. Golden State Warriors: Corey Kispert (SF, Gonzaga)
    1. Picking this thinking full well that the Warriors will trade this pick, I think Kispert is the smartest selection for most teams at this point. He is the best shooter in the draft, and has played in big games, showing his experience. Being a senior, he will likely only get marginally better, but he will play a shooting role that has become so coveted in the NBA.

This NBA Draft will certainly be an interesting one, as there are so many different ways it could work out. The 2021 NBA Draft is Thursday, July 29 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. 

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