Our final 2021 NBA Mock Draft starts as expected with Cade Cunningham going first but late intel has generated a lot of first round movement.
The 2021 NBA Draft is nearly here, so it’s time to take a look at our final draft projections! For the first time in the pre-draft process, we’re projecting all 60 picks.
This mock draft does not project trades but as we’ve already seen this week, there will be plenty of swaps. Several teams are looking to package multiple picks to move up in the draft or to trade for a veteran, though nothing is set in stone. As such, we’re treating this as if every team is picking where they’re currently slotted.
Detroit is expected to take Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham with the top pick (despite their posturing of other possible outcomes) and, after that, there’s a wide variance of outcomes.
Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, and Jalen Suggs should round out the top four in some order as the top tier of prospects in this class. That much we know. But how high will Scottie Barnes end up? What about late risers like James Bouknight, Chris Duarte, and Alperen Sengun? How far will players like Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Johnson fall? What will happen with Jared Butler, who was recently cleared by the NBA’s fitness-to-play panel?
These are the storylines that will dominate draft night, and we have some intel laid out in our full 2021 NBA Mock Draft that will give you an idea of what to expect Thursday.
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1) Detroit Pistons
Cade Cunningham, PG, Oklahoma State – 6-8, 220 lbs
The Pistons haven’t officially revealed that they’re picking Cunningham here, but it’s pretty much done. Cunningham is the best point guard and prospect in this draft. His vision and unselfishness make his teammates better, and he has the size and skill to play a variety of positions. Detroit needs a point guard and a star — Cunningham is both.
2) Houston Rockets
Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite – 6-5, 180 lbs
Houston is reportedly leaning towards taking Green here over Evan Mobley. It’s much more difficult to build around a frontcourt player than it is around a perimeter player. It’s also about what’s more valuable in today’s NBA, and the Rockets believe it’s the perimeter. Green is an elite scorer with superstar potential and brings an alpha mentality, which Houston needs.
3) Cleveland Cavaliers
Evan Mobley, PF/C, USC – 7-0, 210 lbs
This would be perfect for the Cavs, which have their backcourt secured with Collin Sexton and Darius Garland but have a need at center. Mobley is an elite defensive prospect who doesn’t come around very often. The rarity of his size/skill/athleticism combination holds enough value for Cleveland to lean this direction.
4) Toronto Raptors
Jalen Suggs, PG/SG, Gonzaga – 6-4, 205 lbs
The Raptors have shown a preference of taking the best player available and figuring the rest out later. In this case, it’s Suggs, who will provide needed scoring and playmaking to Toronto’s backcourt, and would be the replacement for Kyle Lowry, who is a free agent.
5) Orlando Magic
Scottie Barnes, SF, Florida State – 6-9, 227 lbs
Forget perfect fit, Scottie Barnes can be that for whoever drafts him. He has the size and wingspan to play center, but also has the ball-handling and vision to play point guard, which he did for the Seminoles in his lone college season. It just so happens that Orlando needs help on the wing and is building an identity based on length and defense. Barnes fits that to a tee.
6) Oklahoma City Thunder
James Bouknight, SG, UConn – 6-5, 190 lbs
Bouknight has risen has much as anyone in the pre-draft process after quelling concerns about a poor shooting sophomore season. He’s an elite athlete who can score from all three levels and can create his own shot. If Oklahoma City keeps this pick — they’re looking to potentially trade up — Bouknight gives them a great prospect with upside to use as a trade piece or as part of their long-term core.
7) Golden State Warriors (via Minnesota Timberwolves) Toronto Raptors
Jonathan Kuminga, SF, G League Ignite – 6-8, 210 lbs
Golden State wants to package their two lottery picks in a trade for a veteran who can help them win right now. But there are no obvious and worthy suitors at this time. If they keep this pick, it’ll be hard on them to pass on Kuminga — a high-upside prospect who will make an immediate impact defensively with this size and quickness. The Warriors think he could be the gem of this draft but, worst case, he could at least be a valuable trade asset.
8) Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls)
Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga – 6-7, 220 lbs
There are rumors that Kispert is not going to make it outside the top 10 in this draft, and those rumors began after he worked out for the Magic. This pick would make sense, too, as Orlando desperately needs shooting help — they were in the bottom five in three-point percentage and threes made this past season — and has the defensive makeup to cover for Kispert’s shortcomings on that end. This would be a surprise to many casual fans but as the best shooter in the draft, the Magic see this as a great fit.
9) Sacramento Kings
Franz Wagner, SF, Michigan – 6-8, 205 lbs
Many think Wagner could end up going in the top 10, and the Kings have been heavily linked to him. Sacramento has tried to keep their pre-draft plans under wraps but haven’t been able to keep this quiet. The Michigan sophomore has tremendous size, giving him defensive versatility, and is a dynamic offensive player with a soft shooting touch.
10) Memphis Grizzlies (via New Orleans Pelicans)
Josh Giddey, SG/SF, Adelaide 36ers – 6-8, 205 lbs
Memphis moved up in the draft with an eye on picking Giddey if he’s available, which he is in this scenario. He’s an extremely smart player with point-guard vision at 6-8 and has the kind of all-around game that makes him a triple-double threat every night. The Grizzlies are hoping he can take some of the playmaking burden off Ja Morant.
11) Charlotte Hornets
Kai Jones, PF/C, Texas – 6-11, 220 lbs
This feels high for Jones but at the same time, he might be one of the gems of this class. He’s a springy athlete, which helps him excel in the lob-catching/rim-protecting role. He is also quick enough to defend on the perimeter and has developed a reliable perimeter shot. Charlotte needs a long-term answer in the middle and Jones feels like a perfect fit. Plus, it would be a ton of fun watching him catch lobs from LaMelo Ball.
12) San Antonio Spurs
Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas – 6-10, 240 lbs
San Antonio’s love for international prospects is known and they need long-term help in the frontcourt, making this a great landing spot for Sengun. He will still be 18 years old on draft night and has excelled down low in Europe but may need time to adjust to the pace and physicality of the NBA. The Spurs will give him the coaching he needs.
13) Indiana Pacers
Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas – 6-6, 205 lbs
Indiana would love if Franz Wagner was available here and will also look at Davion Mitchell, but Moody would be a terrific pick at this point. The Pacers need more scoring punch, and Moody is a certified scorer who can play anywhere along the perimeter and has a good deal of defensive upside.
14) Golden State Warriors
Davion Mitchell, PG/SG, Baylor – 6-2, 205 lbs
Again, Golden State is looking to trade this pick. But, if they keep it, the Warriors could use some backcourt depth and likes role players with a 3-and-D focus. Enter Mitchell, who will be able to play immediately and will help in both areas. He’s also the best perimeter defender in this draft and has the athleticism to excel in Golden State’s up-tempo system, too.
15) Washington Wizards
Trey Murphy III, SG/SF, Virginia – 6-9, 205 lbs
It feels like Washington wants to rebuild, but it also seems like Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook want to stay. Assuming that’s the case, the Wizards will look to pick someone who complements them. Murphy fits that mold and brings a lot to the table, too. He has tremendous size, is a knockdown shooter (43.3 percent from three), and is a quality defender with all-around upside.
16) Oklahoma City Thunder (via Boston Celtics)
Keon Johnson, SG, Tennessee – 6-5, 186 lbs
There is a very real scenario in which Johnson does not make it out of the top 10, meaning the Thunder would get some real value with this selection. The former Vol is an elite athlete with tremendous upside on both ends of the court, and he’d have time to fully develop given OKC’s timeline.
17) New Orleans Pelicans (via Memphis Grizzlies)
Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon – 6-6, 190 lbs
New Orleans has a major hole in the shooting department, and they need someone who can help them win right away. That might lead them to trade this pick for a veteran but if not, Duarte’s maturity, high basketball IQ, and offensive ability make him a good fit.
18) Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami Heat)
Isaiah Jackson, PF, Kentucky – 6-10, 205 lbs
Oklahoma City has the ability and desire to gamble on high-upside prospects with any of their picks, but especially this one — their third — if they keep all three. This makes a perfect match for Jackson, who has special athleticism for someone his size. Jackson is still raw offensively but showed flashes of being an elite defender.
19) New York Knicks
Jaden Springer, PG/SG, Tennessee – 6-4, 205 lbs
New York is another team looking to package picks to move up on draft night. They also need help in the backcourt and have a great option here. Springer is the kind of high-upside prospect with the athleticism, three-point shooting chops (43.5 percent), and versatility that should be appealing both immediately and long term.
20) Atlanta Hawks
Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford – 6-8, 185 lbs
The Hawks have built their roster around shooting and versatility. Williams, a top five prospect in the 2020 recruiting class, is an excellent shooter. It’s hard to find a player with his skill, size, and upside at this point in the draft which — coupled with strong performances in pre-draft workouts and interviews — has Williams rising quickly up draft boards. He fits well with Atlanta, especially with the franchise looking to trade one of their young wing players approaching the end of their rookie deals.
21) New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks)
Usman Garuba, PF, Real Madrid – 6-8, 230 lbs
After adding to its backcourt two picks earlier, New York lands a long-term frontcourt piece here. While Garuba may not be an immediate starter, the 19-year-old has an NBA body and years of professional experience under his belt. He has the potential to be a real defensive star.
22) Los Angeles Lakers
Jared Butler, PG/SG, Baylor – 6-3, 190 lbs
The Lakers need backcourt help and more shooting – both of which are reasons they were bounced from the first round of the playoffs. Butler, who shot 41.6 percent from three this past season, fits the mold while being a strong perimeter defender. Now that questions about his heart condition have been answered, we should see Butler go in the first round.
23) Houston Rockets (via Portland Trail Blazers)
Jalen Johnson, SF/PF, Duke – 6-9, 220 lbs
Johnson is a tough prospect to peg. A five-star player coming out of high school, he underperformed at Duke due to some inconsistent shooting and nagging injuries and left the team before the conclusion of the season. However, he would make sense in Houston, a team that needs help everywhere. Getting him at this spot would be a huge steal.
24) Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee Bucks)
Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn – 6-1, 180 lbs
Houston simply needs to find as many good players as possible. Cooper is a value pick here with a high floor and great upside. He is lightning quick and an elite passer with a phenomenal feel for the game. Cooper’s efficiency needs to improve, and he’s not a great shooter, but his production at Auburn (20.2 ppg, 8.1 apg, 4.3 rpg) tells you about his abilities.
25) Los Angeles Clippers
Nah’Shon ‘Bones’ Hyland, PG/SG, VCU – 6-3, 173 lbs
Another team in need of a point guard, the Clippers land a good one here at the end of the first round in Hyland. He adds another three-point shooter (career 39.9-percent shooter at VCU) around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and showcased the athleticism, playmaking, shot creation, and defense at the NBA Combine that makes him an underrated all-around prospect. He needs to add strength and mature physically, but he has everything he needs to be an effective NBA player.
26) Denver Nuggets
Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU – 6-4, 210 lbs
Thomas’ draft stock is falling as teams have become concerned with his ability to do things other than score the ball. Questions about his shot selection have emerged, too. That said, Denver needs players who can contribute right away and if they don’t trade this pick for a veteran, Thomas would immediately give them another scoring punch off the bench.
27) Brooklyn Nets
Quentin Grimes, SG, Houston – 6-5, 210 lbs
Scoring is not a problem for these Brooklyn Nets but as they face an offseason in which they will have to re-tool much of their bench, finding role players who can contribute will be a top priority. Grimes makes sense here as a shooter with good positional size, someone who is a solid defender, and doesn’t need the ball in his hands.
28) Philadelphia 76ers
Tre Mann, PG, Florida – 6-5, 190 lbs
Philadelphia needs backcourt help — especially if they’re able to trade Ben Simmons — and more shooting. Mann won’t be a star, but he has the size to play either guard position and can both shoot (40.2 percent from three) and facilitate.
29) Phoenix Suns
Miles McBride, PG/SG, West Virginia – 6-2, 200 lbs
The Suns are a team full of young talent and don’t have a ton of needs after their breakout season. However, Chris Paul isn’t going to play forever, and they could use some help behind him. We have them adding that backcourt help in McBride, a combo guard with excellent defensive potential who excels at attacking the rim and creating his own shot.
30) Utah Jazz
JT Thor, PF, Auburn – 6-10, 205 lbs
Utah could probably use another point guard to groom long-term but without a slam dunk choice here, the Jazz go for a high-upside prospect who has shown extremely well in the pre-draft process in Thor. He’s an elite athlete who is a fluid defender and has the ability to stretch the floor with his three-point shot.
31) Bucks (from Rockets): Isaiah Todd, PF, G League Ignite
32) Knicks (from Pistons): Joshua Primo, SG, Alabama
33) Magic: Joel Ayayi, G, Gonzaga
34) Thunder: BJ Boston, SG, Kentucky
35) Pelicans (from Cavs): Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois
36) Thunder (from Wolves): Day’Ron Sharpe, C, North Carolina
37) Pistons (from Raptors): Kessler Edwards, F, Pepperdine
38) Bulls (from Pelicans): Josh Christopher, SG, Arizona State
39) Kings: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, PF, Villanova
40) Pelicans (from Bulls): Joe Wieskamp, SG, Iowa
41) Spurs: Jason Preston, PG, Ohio
42) Pistons (from Hornets): Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky
43) Pelicans (from Wizards): Daishen Nix, PG, G League Ignite
44) Nets (from Pacers): Neemias Queta, C, Utah State
45) Celtics: Rokas Jokubaitis, PG, Zalgiris
46) Raptors (from Grizzlies): Herbert Jones, F, Alabama
47) Raptors (from Warriors): Greg Brown, F, Texas
48) Hawks (from Heat): Jericho Sims, C, Texas
49) Nets (from Hawks): Juhann Begarin, SG, Paris Basket
50) 76ers (from Knicks): Austin Reaves, G, Oklahoma
51) Grizzlies (from Lakers): Aaron Henry, SG, Michigan State
52) Pistons (from Lakers): Amar Sylla, F, Oostende
53) Pelicans (from Mavericks): Filip Petrusev, C, Mega Basket
54) Pacers (from Bucks): Duane Washington, SG, Ohio State
55) Thunder (from Nuggets): Santi Aldama, F, Loyola (MD)
56) Hornets (from Clippers): A.J. Lawson, G/F, South Carolina
57) Hornets (from Nets): Sam Hauser, F, Virginia
58) Knicks (from 76ers): Justin Champagnie, F, Pittsburgh
59) Nets (from Suns): Vrenz Bleijenbergh, F, Antwerp
60) Pacers (from Jazz): David Johnson, G, Louisville