The 2021 NBA Draft order is officially set!
Congrats to the Detroit Pistons on winning the NBA Draft Lottery, a franchise that deserves a break and some good karma to go their way.
The 2021 Draft Class is a top-heavy class filled with interesting role players or upside swings outside of the top 4 “prizes” of Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, and Jalen Suggs.
I take a stab at finding an intersection of how I think each of these teams would draft along with how I would draft in these situations. Here are picks 1-14 for your viewing pleasure with a brief blurb on each team talking about the fit.
We have written breakdowns for all of the players whose names are linked, so be sure to click on those for additional in-depth information!
#1: Detroit Pistons
Cade Cunningham, PG- 6’8″ Oklahoma State
This one is a no-brainer no matter which team is making the pick. A Pistons backcourt of Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes would be electric. Then you factor in their other young pieces such as Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart and that’s a fun young core. I believe Cade will bring out the best in Killian. After a rough rookie year, I have not sold any of my Killian Hayes stock and neither should you.
Cade projects to be a three-level scorer that can facilitate and defend. There just aren’t many flaws in his game and I believe he’ll be an all-star as soon as his sophomore year in the NBA.
#2: Houston Rockets
Evan Mobley, C- 7’1″ USC
Mobley does things that are not normal for someone his size. The modern twist to his game makes him the clear number two prize in this draft for me. I’m sure Houston will heavily consider both Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs as well, but Mobley has all of the tools to become a franchise center you can build around for years to come.
Jalen Green makes the second-most sense for Houston and I would not fault them for taking him over Mobley as their franchise cornerstone. That said, I’d love to see Evan Mobley and Christian Wood wreak havoc in the frontcourt.
#3: Cleveland Cavaliers
Jalen Green, SG- 6’5″ G League Ignite
Green has star potential and even with “Sexland” in place, it would be foolish for the Cavs to pass on another guard of his talent level, even if he is a different “type” of guard with ideal size that primarily plays off the ball. Using one of Sexton or Garland as a sixth man and starting Green alongside the other along with Okoro, Nance Jr., and Allen would give the Cavs a legitimately great young core.
#4: Toronto Raptors
Jalen Suggs, G- 6’4″ Gonzaga
The Raptors jumping into the top four means they end up with one of the “fantastic four” from this draft class. I absolutely love Suggs next to Fred VanVleet and potentially Kyle Lowry to start his career without the entire creation burden being thrust onto him immediately. Toronto, like Gonzaga, would probably be a best-case scenario for his own development, as their track record of developing is undeniably excellent.
#5: Orlando Magic
Jonathan Kuminga, PF- 6’8″ G League Ignite
I don’t exactly love this fit, but it seems like the most realistic outcome should they keep and make the pick. If I’m Orlando I look to package picks 5 & 8 to move up or for a significant rotation piece. Orlando has an interesting core in place with Isaac, Fultz, Okeke, Anthony, Bamba, Hampton, and co., so it will be fairly interesting to see how they plan to build around them.
#6: Oklahoma City Thunder
Scottie Barnes, F/C- 6’8″ Florida State
Inject all of the Poku/Scottie minutes right into my veins. OKC has their engine in SGA already, so adding an “enhancer” like Barnes is more than ideal. OKC has a million picks in the coming years, so adding a high-level role player prototype in the early stages to set yourself up for potential star power down the road is the direction I’d go considering the alternatives at this juncture of the draft.
#7: Golden State Warriors (via MIN)
Davion Mitchell, G- 6’2″ Baylor
While I personally would not draft Mitchell this early, this seems like a fit that could make sense as he could theoretically play alongside both Steph and Klay and give them a guard that’s NBA-ready from day one. IF the Warriors keep their pick(s), then there seems to be a strong chance they take players that are ready to hit the rotation right away. Their front office sounds desperate to keep Steph happy, as they should be.
Mitchell is an excellent on-ball defender that has some off the bounce juice as well.
#8: Orlando Magic (via CHI)
Keon Johnson, G- 6’4″ Tennessee
Johnson is a freak athlete that broke the combine record(s) for max vertical jump at the NBA Draft Combine. This should come hardly as a surprise to anyone that’s watched him play dating back to his high school days, as his explosiveness is truly off the charts. Orlando adding an athlete like him to their young core would be exciting.
Tennessee freshman, Keon Johnson, just set the NBA Draft Combine all-time record with a max vertical jump of 48 inches. Breaking the previous record by 2.5”.
— Derek Murray (@dmurrayNBA) June 24, 2021
#9: Sacramento Kings
Franz Wagner, W- 6’8″ Michigan
Adding a connecting wing piece to complement Fox and Haliburton is the way to go if you’re the Kings. They’ve taken several swings for the fences in past lotteries, but I think adding a competent role player that raises the floor is the right direction for this franchise. Ziaire Williams is another wing I like in this range for them but ultimately leaned Franz.
#10: New Orleans Pelicans
Josh Giddey, PG- 6’8″ Adelaide
Giddey is my fifth-ranked prospect and I would take him over Kuminga if I was the GM for Orlando, but in most intel-based mocks it seems like he’s more likely to be in the late half of the lottery rather than the top half. Giddey throwing lobs to Zion would be glorious and move the Pelicans even higher on my League Pass list.
He proved just about everything you could as an 18-year old playing in the ultra-competitive NBL. I have him (very prematurely) making the All-Rookie First Team next season.
#11: Charlotte Hornets
Isaiah Jackson, F/C- 6’10” Kentucky
A Kentucky frontcourt of PJ Washington and Isaiah Jackson would compliment each other fairly well, and with the Hornets’ gaping hole at center, it’s a fit that makes a ton of sense. The rim running + rim-protecting center is fairly raw offensively, but his defensive prowess is certainly enticing.
#12: San Antonio Spurs
Jalen Johnson, F- 6’8″ Duke
Johnson might be this draft’s biggest wild card for a multitude of reasons. If anyone can get the most out of him it’s the San Antonio Spurs and Gregg Popovich. Keldon Johnson is a prime example of them taking a plus athlete with a raw skill set and harnessing it into a productive player. This along with Suggs to Toronto are probably my two favorite fits from the player’s perspective.
#13: Indiana Pacers
Moses Moody, SG- 6’6″ Arkansas
Indiana has a lot of question marks this offseason, so I went with the best player available on my board. Moody is a low-maintenance “3&D” archetype that has the potential to become a very solid role player or more for years to come. Indiana seems like a perfect fit for him from an identity perspective as well.
#14: Golden State Warriors
Corey Kispert, W- 6’7″ Gonzaga
Adding another NBA-ready player with the timeline being expedited may not be a great long-term plan, but with Steph Curry’s window closing, you need to push all of your chips in. If I’m the Warriors I’d deal both of these picks (7, 14) for an established rotation piece or two. Mitchell and Kispert could each play significant roles as rookies, so that’s the thought process here… nothing more, nothing less.
- 15. Washington Wizards- Kai Jones, F/C
- 16. Oklahoma City Thunder- Ziaire Williams, F
- 17. Memphis Grizzlies- James Bouknight, SG
- 18. Oklahoma City Thunder- Alperen Sengun, C
- 19. New York Knicks- Sharife Cooper, PG
- 20. Atlanta Hawks- Jaden Springer, G
- 21. New York Knicks- Chris Duarte, W
- 22. Los Angeles Lakers- Cameron Thomas, SG
- 23. Houston Rockets- Josh Christopher, SG
- 24. Houston Rockets- Tre Mann, PG
- 25. Los Angeles Clippers- Miles McBride, G
- 26. Denver Nuggets- Terrence Shannon Jr., W
- 27. Brooklyn Nets- Charles Bassey, C
- 28. Philadelphia 76ers- Bones Hyland, G
- 29. Phoenix Suns- Trey Murphy III, F
- 30. Utah Jazz- JT Thor, F/C
Check out our NBA Draft Zone for complete coverage of 30+ prospects from a wide array of angles.
Categories: NBA Draft