With the 2021 NBA Draft hours away, there is plenty of speculation about how picks one through 60 will unfold.
1. Detroit Pistons
Cade Cunningham, PG, Oklahoma State
There are smokescreens out there around Detroit, but don’t buy any of it. Cade Cunningham is the No. 1 overall pick and the Pistons will take him. It’s as simple as that.
2. Houston Rockets
Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite
This is where things get tricky. Cunningham is in his own tier at the top, but the next tier of guys will go two, three, and four in some order. It sounds as if Jalen Green is impressing teams in his workout. He’s a player who the Rockets can build around going forward.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Evan Mobley, C, USC
The Cavaliers have to be thrilled with Evan Mobley falling to No. 3. Reports indicate that Cleveland is asking for a “king’s ransom” for the pick. Mobley fills a need in the frontcourt after a few years of the Cavs taking guards and wings with their first pick.
4. Toronto Raptors
Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga
The Toronto Raptors are getting an absolute steal with Jalen Suggs at pick No. 4. With Kyle Lowry likely leaving in free agency, Suggs can slide right into the backcourt alongside Fred VanVleet. That could be a dangerous duo in the East.
5. Orlando Magic
Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State
There is a lot of chatter about the Magic locking in on Scottie Barnes with this pick. Orlando is in for a long rebuild. As a result, they can afford to take a high-upside player like Barnes with a premium pick.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite
The Oklahoma City Thunder are benefitting from other guys rising on draft boards. Jonathan Kuminga was projected as a top-five pick for the better part of the last year, but he might end up falling into Sam Presti’s lap.
7. Golden State Warriors (via Minnesota Timberwolves)
Moses Moody, G, Arkansas
If healthy, the Warriors are going to be championship contenders next season. Moses Moody projects as an elite 3-and-D wing who should be ready to step in and assume a role from day one.
8. Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls)
James Bouknight, G, UConn
The Magic are starting the rebuild off in a major way by adding not one, but two high-level talents in the first round. While Barnes is more of that do-it-all type of player, James Bouknight is more of a specialist. He’s a scorer’s scorer who can do it at all three levels — inside, mid-range, three-point territory.
9. Sacramento Kings
Franz Wagner, F, Michigan
Franz Wagner makes a lot of sense for the Sacramento Kings right now. He is versatile on both ends of the floor, making him a nice fit with the backcourt pairing of De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. Wagner won’t fix Sacramento’s issues overnight, but he’s a step in the right direction.
10. Memphis Grizzlies (via New Orleans Pelicans)
Josh Giddey, G/F, Adelaide
The Grizzlies are absorbing Eric Bledsoe’s (for the time being) as part of a deal that sent the 10th pick to Memphis. Josh Giddey is a point guard in the body of a forward, standing at 6-foot-9. He should be able to operate as a secondary creator to help take pressure off of Ja Morant.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Keon Johnson, SG, Tennessee
Although Keon Johnson seems to be slipping down draft boards, the Hornets might end up pouncing on him at 12. He’s the type of dogged defender who can play lock-down defense alongside LaMelo Ball for the next 10 years. His flashes of elite offensive potential don’t hurt either.
12. San Antonio Spurs
Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas
The Spurs have never been shy about taking international players. Alperen Sengun’s stock has been up and down in recent months, but his offensive production in the Turkish League is going to be too much for teams to ignore.
13. Indiana Pacers
Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor
Davion Mitchell rose to prominence after Baylor’s run to a championship, but he’s unlikely to go in the top 10. Instead, he’ll go to a team like the Pacers, who could use his defensive tenacity and playmaking on offense.
14. Golden State Warriors
Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon
The fact that the Warriors rejected an offer from the Knicks to move up might tell us that Golden State is locking in on someone. Chris Duarte isn’t a bad choice here. Adding both Moody and Duarte would give the Warriors two rookie 3-and-D options.
15. Washington Wizards
Kai Jones, F/C, Texas
Kai Jones is an uber-athletic big man from Texas who should thrive around a high-level facilitator like Russell Westbrook. Jones might need to develop at his own pace, but the upside is going to be too much for Washington to pass on.
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Boston Celtics)
Usman Garuba, F/C, Real Madrid
The Oklahoma City Thunder have the time to let Usman Garuba develop at his own pace. Although a bit undersized for a center, he has tremendous length as a rim protector. He should be more than capable of playing the five in the NBA.
17. New Orleans Pelicans (via Memphis Grizzlies)
Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga
Kispert is a perfect fit for the Pelicans as a three-point threat who can help space the floor for Zion Williamson. New Orleans taking Kispert at No. 10 would not have been a reach. The fact that they can get him at 17 illustrates the league-wide interest in going for high-upside players over an older prospect like Kispert.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami)
Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford
The Thunder continue their quest to bring in every high-upside project in this draft. Ziaire Williams was inconsistent during his freshman season at Stanford, but he possesses all the physical tools to be a dynamite wing in the NBA.
19. New York Knicks
Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn
The Knicks are still searching for a legitimate starting point guard. It’s unlikely that Sharife Cooper can fill that role as a rookie, but he has potential as a high-level creator and finisher. He’s undersized and needs to improve from three, but his ability to get into the paint is an NBA-ready skill.
20. Atlanta Hawks
Cam Thomas, G, LSU
Cam Thomas is one of the best scoring guards in this draft. Period. Full stop. He could be a dangerous threat for the Hawks off the bench as a potential replacement for pending free agent Lou Williams.
21. New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks)
Trey Murphy III, F, Virginia
Trey Murphy III is one of the fastest-rising prospects in this draft. He is viewed as a guy who could become an elite role player. He can shoot the three-ball effectively while providing versatility on defense.
22. Los Angeles Lakers
Jared Butler, PG, Baylor
Jared Butler has shown that he can seamlessly transition between playing on and off the ball. That’s a useful skill to have when you play on the same team as LeBron James. Butler’s catch-and-shoot ability make him an ideal fit for the Lakers.
23. Houston Rockets (via Portland Trail Blazers)
Jalen Johnson, F, Duke
Jalen Johnson’s NBA future has been a heated topic of debate since he decided to opt out midseason at Duke. He has all the tools to be a starter, or potentially a star, in the NBA, but there are question marks. Houston can afford to roll the dice on prospects with high ceilings.
24. Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee Bucks)
Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky
Isaiah Jackson could creep up towards the lottery or drop to the late 20s in this draft. He has a wide range, but it’s hard to see the Rockets passing up on him twice. Jackson should be a dependable center for years to come.
25. Los Angeles Clippers
Tre Mann, PG, Florida
The Clippers could use a floor general to take pressure off of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Tre Mann is everything teams look for in a point guard — poise, toughness, consistency. The only question for the Clippers is whether or not Mann is capable of assuming a large role on a championship contender.
26. Denver Nuggets
Josh Primo, G, Alabama
On one hand, it would be wise for the Nuggets to take a safe prospect who can contribute immediately on a winning roster. On the other hand, Denver has taken big swings in the draft before. Josh Primo surprised some by leaving Alabama early, but it could pay off with a first-round night.
27. Brooklyn Nets
Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee
The Nets have a few holes to plug after flaming out in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. Finding a reliable lead guard for the second unit should be at the top of the list. Jaden Springer is the best lead guard left on the board.
28. Philadelphia 76ers
Day’Ron Sharpe, C, North Carolina
Day’Ron Sharpe might be the most interesting center in this entire draft. There is speculation that Sharpe already has a first-round commitment from someone. He could bring a splash of playmaking and floor spacing as the backup center for Philadelphia.
29. Phoenix Suns
Miles McBride, PG, West Virginia
With Cam Payne likely leaving in free agency, Phoenix has a gaping hole on the second unit. Miles McBride is exactly what we expect out of a West Virginia point guard — tough defense. With that said, McBride should have enough offense to help anchor a second unit.
30. Utah Jazz
Bones Hyland, PG, VCU
Even if the Utah Jazz re-sign Mike Conley, they could use some depth in the backcourt. Bones Hyland’s willingness to play on or off the ball make him a strong fit alongside guys like Conley, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, and Jordan Clarkson.
31. Milwaukee Bucks (via Houston Rockets)
Josh Christopher, SG, Arizona State
32. New York Knicks (via Detroit Pistons)
B.J. Boston, G, Kentucky
33. Orlando Magic
Isaiah Todd, PF, G League Ignite
34. Oklahoma City Thunder
Quentin Grimes, G, Houston
35. New Orleans Pelicans (via Cleveland Cavaliers)
Joel Ayayi, G, Gonzaga
36. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Minnesota Timberwolves)
JT Thor, F, Auburn
37. Detroit Pistons (via Toronto Raptors)
David Johnson, PG, Louisville
38. Chicago Bulls (via New Orleans Pelicans)
Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois
39. Sacramento Kings
Herb Jones, SF, Alabama
40. Memphis Grizzlies (via Chicago Bulls)
Filip Petrusev, C, Mega
41. San Antonio Spurs
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, F, Villanova
42. Detroit Pistons (via Charlotte Hornets)
Kessler Edwards, F, Pepperdine
43. New Orleans Pelicans (via Washington Wizards)
Jason Preston, PG, Ohio
44. Brooklyn Nets (via Indiana Pacers)
Charles Bassey, C, Western Kentucky
45. Boston Celtics
Luka Garza, C, Iowa
46. Toronto Raptors (via Memphis Grizzlies)
Vrenz Bleijenbergh, F, Antwerp
47. Toronto Raptors (via Golden State Warriors)
Isaiah Livers, F, Michigan
48. Atlanta Hawks (via Miami Heat)
Aaron Wiggins, G/F, Maryland
49. Brooklyn Nets (via Atlanta Hawks)
Rokas Jokubaitis, PG, Zalgiris
50. Philadelphia 76ers (via New York Knicks)
Austin Reaves, G, Oklahoma
51. New Orleans Pelicans (via Portland Trail Blazers)
Joe Wieskamp, SF, Iowa
52. Detroit Pistons (via Los Angeles Lakers)
Juhann Begarin, SG, Paris Basket
53. New Orleans Pelicans (Dallas Mavericks)
Greg Brown, PF, Texas
54. Indiana Pacers (via Milwaukee Bucks)
Aaron Henry, G/F, Michigan State
55. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Denver Nuggets)
Daishen Nix, G, G League Ignite
56. Charlotte Hornets (via Los Angeles Clippers)
Justin Champagnie, F, Pittsburgh
57. Charlotte Hornets (via Brooklyn Nets)
Neemias Queta, C, Utah State
58. New York Knicks (via New York Knicks)
Santi Aldama, F, Loyola (MD)
59. Brooklyn Nets (via Phoenix Suns)
Sandro Mamukelashvili, F/C, Seton Hall
60. Indiana Pacers (via Utah Jazz)
Jericho Sims, C, Texas