With the 2021 NBA Draft fast approaching, let’s take a look ahead with a full first-round mock draft plus analysis.
1. Houston Rockets
Cade Cunningham, PG, Oklahoma State
Cade Cunningham going No. 1 overall feels like an inevitability at this point. He’s a cut above the rest of the field and there should be no concerns about his fit no matter what team is drafting. Who doesn’t have room for a 6-foot-8 point guard who can do everything?
2. Detroit Pistons
Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga
This is where the draft starts to get interesting. Jalen Suggs shocked the world with his buzzer-beater in the Final Four, but he’s been on the radar of NBA scouts for much longer than that. He’s a floor general with tremendous poise and the ability to score at all three levels.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
Evan Mobley, C, USC
Suggs goes ahead of Mobley here based on the fact that he’s a guard. The NBA is driven by skilled guards, but don’t overlook the size and skill of Mobley. He’s a perfect fit for the Oklahoma City Thunder, a team in need of a big man to pair with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
Jonathan Kuminga, SF, G League Ignite
The Cavaliers could go a few different ways with this pick, but they won’t be able to pass up on the upside of Jonathan Kuminga. The versatile forward should develop into a consistent scorer in the NBA, but he also flashed upside as a facilitator during the G League season.
5. Orlando Magic
Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite
Jalen Green is a scorer’s scorer who won’t slip past No. 5 in this draft. The Orlando Magic have invested heavily in the guard position in recent years, but that won’t keep them from taking Green here. It can’t hurt to take another swing on a potential lead guard for that rebuilding franchise.
6. Golden State Warriors (via Minnesota Timberwolves)
Scottie Barnes, PF, Florida State
Length and versatility are two things that will make NBA teams drool over prospects. Scottie Barnes has both. If healthy, the Warriors are going to want to have switchable defenders who they can plug in around Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Barnes fits that mold.
7. Toronto Raptors
Keon Johnson, SG, Tennessee
The Raptors are not in a full-on rebuild, but they can afford to take a swing on a high-upside guard at this spot. Despite possession elite athleticism, Keon Johnson’s offensive game might take some time to develop. Either way, he should be able to defend from day one while growing into his offensive role.
8. Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls)
Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas
Although we have the Magic taking a guard a few picks earlier, Moses Moody is more of a wing than a lead ballhandler. He can knock down shots from anywhere and has the potential to become a top-notch defender at the next level.
9. Sacramento Kings
Kai Jones, PF/C, Texas
The Kings have building blocks in the backcourt with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. Now they need to add to the frontcourt. Kai Jones is raw offensively, but his quick feet mean he should be a high-impact defensive player at the very least. If he hits his ceiling, he will be a menace on the offensive end as well.
10. New Orleans Pelicans
Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga
Corey Kispert’s stock seems to be falling, but he is still a perfect fit for the Pelicans. They need to add shooters to help space the floor for Zion Williamson and Kispert is the best shooter in this draft.
11. Indiana Pacers
Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor
On the flipside of Kispert, Davion Mitchell’s stock is soaring since Butler’s National Championship. The Pacers could use a guy with a chip on his shoulder and Mitchell fills that box.
12. Washington Wizards
Josh Giddey, G/F, Adelaide
Josh Giddey is another player who is seeing his star rise as the draft inches closer. The Australian wing is turning into the Russell Westbrook of the NBL, notching two triple-doubles in as many games. Giddey won’t be taking over Westbrook in Washington as a rookie, but he could be a leading man off the bench.
13. San Antonio Spurs
Usman Garuba, F/C, Real Madrid
For years, the Spurs have been one of the most proactive teams when it comes to bringing in European talent. Usman Garuba is a bit undersized as a center at 6-foot-8, but he has the rare combination of athleticism and fundamentals to quell any concerns about his size. In fact, he’s only 18 so he still has time to add more size before he’s fully developed.
14. Memphis Grizzlies
James Bouknight, SG, UConn
If you can create your own shot (and score), there is a place for you in the NBA. Teams can always use more scoring punch and James Bouknight should be able to make an immediate impact in that regard.
15. Charlotte Hornets
Franz Wagner, F, Michigan
Franz Wagner is one of the better shooters in this draft class, but he’s more than just a catch-and-shoot guy. He should be a nice addition to this creative offensive group led by LaMelo Ball.
16. Boston Celtics
Cam Thomas, G, LSU
Scoring, scoring, and more scoring. That’s what Cam Thomas does and he does it well. The Celtics have more of a need in the frontcourt, but Thomas could become a tremendous scorer off the bench sooner rather than later.
17. Golden State Warriors
Jalen Johnson, F, Duke
Jalen Johnson is a forward with a tremendous feel for the game as a passer. Although skilled with the ball in his hands, he still needs to develop a jumper.
18. Atlanta Hawks
Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford
Ziaire Williams didn’t do much to help his stock during his one year at Stanford, but much of that was out of his control. The Hawks can afford to take a swing on a high-upside wing.
19. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami Heat)
Alperen Sengun, F/C, Besikitas
Speaking of teams that can take a home run swing, here are the Thunder again. After taking Mobley with the No. 3 pick, Oklahoma City is going with another big man. Alperen Sengun is a 19-year-old dominating grown men in Turkey right now.
20. Los Angeles Lakers
Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee
No matter what happens in the playoffs this year, the Lakers are going to want to bring in a shot of life this offseason. Jaden Springer can be an impact defender from day one and can play on or off the ball offensively. He seems like a good fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
21. New York Knicks
Jared Butler, PG, Baylor
The Knicks are another team that has been searching for an answer at point guard for what feels like an eternity. Jared Butler might not be the sexiest pick here, but he might be the perfect fit for Julius Randle and RJ Barrett. Butler can knock down shots off the bounce or the catch and he is a capable defender with decent size.
22. Houston Rockets (via Portland Trail Blazers)
Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn
Sharife Cooper is one of the most dynamic offensive players in this draft. He uses his elite ballhandling to create for himself and his teammates. However, whether or not he can develop as a defender is a major question mark.
23. New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks)
Chris Duarte, G, Oregon
Chris Duarte already feels like a Tom Thibodeau kind of player. He is a capable scorer and dogged defender that will immediately compete for minutes. Again, he’s a Thibs guy if we have ever seen one.
24. Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee Bucks)
Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky
This pick is heavily dependent on what the Rockets do earlier in the draft. It’s also worth noting that Isaiah Jackson still might return to Kentucky for another year. He has all the traits of a prototypical NBA rim-running center, but could try and up his stock with one more year in school.
25. Denver Nuggets
Joel Ayayi, G, Gonzaga
This might feel like a reach on Joel Ayayi, but he fits exactly what the Nuggets need right now. They have the framework of a championship team in place with Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr., but they need glue guys to fill in the gaps. Ayayi comes from a winning program as one of those glue guys.
26. Brooklyn Nets
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova
The Nets typically choose to trade away their first-round picks for established players, but they should make an exception for Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. He’s a versatile forward who comes from a winning program. Give him a small role on this team and watch him grow.
27. Los Angeles Clippers
Tre Mann, PG, Florida
Rajon Rondo doesn’t usually stop in one place for very long. The Clippers can afford to take a shot on a point guard here. Tre Mann’s poise and athleticism should translate to the next level.
28. Philadelphia 76ers
Aaron Henry, F, Michigan State
Aaron Henry is a tough, rugged player who should have no problem embracing Philadelphia’s physical style of play. His shooting touch needs work, but he has the potential to develop into a strong 3-and-D player.
29. Phoenix Suns
Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois
Ayo Dosunmo is a combo guard who can learn a lot behind Chris Paul and Devin Booker. If he can develop a consistent three-point stroke at the next level, he will have a long and successful career in the NBA.
30. Utah Jazz
Day’Ron Sharpe, C, North Carolina
Rudy Gobert isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but that doesn’t mean the Jazz don’t have space for another big man. Day’Ron Sharpe is a good passer for his size who could offer a change of pace off the bench.