James’ 2021 NBA Lottery Mock Draft
The NBA offseason is officially in full swing with the draft on Thursday night, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Without the Sixers in mind, I decided to do some research on the top talent in this years draft. This year’s lottery is intriguing, there are some clear cut studs such as Cunningham and Mobley, but there are some late lottery sleepers as well. Here’s how I see the lottery playing out.
1: Detroit Pistons – Cade Cunningham (obviously) – Oklahoma State
A 6’8 positionless playmaker with the creativity of modern guards but the strength and physicality of a bruising wing. Cunningham caught the attention of NBA eyes a very long time ago, but all the expectations for him last season were not only met by Cade, but blown out of the water.
During his first and only season at Oklahoma State he averaged 20/3.5/6.2 on a shooting split of 44/40/85. Seriously scary numbers for a player built like a power forward. Cunningham seems like he’s a sure fire stud, I am sincerely excited to see him become one of the next rising stars in the game. Every mock draft has Cade going one and it won’t be different here.
2: Houston Rockets – Jalen Green – G League Ignite
This could be a bit of personal preference over pure fit, but the great Sam Hinkie preached of the “best player available” option, especially in a rebuild scenario. Green is smooth and explosively athletic off of one or both feet, and is a blur in transition.
The 19 year old guard has three level scoring and perfect combo guard potential, could bare to gain some weight but aside from his thinner frame he’s physically prepared for the NBA. Posted shooting splits of 46/37/83, Green’s upside should be intoxicating enough for Houston at the number two spot, and I think his potential provides reason to take him with this selection.
3: Cleveland Cavaliers – Evan Mobley – USC
Mobley falls into the BPA category here the same way Green did at number two. The 7-footer has fantastic defensive prowess with the rare run and jump ability that gives him the potential to become an anchor on that side of the ball. Mobley projects as a stretch big as well, his jumper looks fluid and while he only shot 30% from deep in his year at USC he has the touch of a solid shooter.
Mobley possesses the athleticism to outrun other bigs in the NBA, which in turn becomes one of his biggest weaknesses as he does not match up size wise with those same players. Gives an advantage in pace and space offenses but could potentially get beat up against more physical bigs. Mobley is potentially the next generational big, the Cavs would have the cornerstone of their rebuild in this selection.
4: Toronto Raptors – Jalen Suggs – Gonzaga
Coming off of a fantastic freshman season, Suggs would be the perfect way to turn over the Lowry era in Toronto. The 6’4 combo guard has the ability to beat everyone down the floor in transition but also the power to play bully ball against smaller guards. Apparently a natural leader as well.
In his single year at Gonzaga, he averaged 14 points while shooting 50/34/75, there is more to be desired from beyond the arch and from the line but I expect Suggs to develop nicely in the NBA. I actually enjoy the idea of Suggs and VanVleet in the back court together, and the defensive potential of this Raptors team is a scary thought with the addition of Suggs.
5: Orlando Magic – Jonathan Kuminga – G League Ignite
Kuminga is a bit of a project for the Magic at this draft position but seems to be worth the risk due to his athleticism that bears an exciting upside. Kuminga is a lengthy wing that plays above the rim, and fits nicely alongside Jonathan Isaac in the other forward slot, and will have the chance to be fun in transition with their guards.
Jonathan doesn’t have the shot locked in quite yet, shooting under 25% from three during his season in the G League, but was not afraid to pull the shots with 5 attempts per game. The Magic have the liberty of taking a high upside player here, having another pick in the top 10, so while I do not think Kuminga is necessarily the best player available here, he has the chance to become an extremely effective wing in the NBA.
6: Oklahoma City Thunder – Scottie Barnes – Florida State
Barnes has been rapidly rising in mock drafts and draft boards over the last few weeks, and after a bit of my own research I completely buy into his hype. He stands at 6’9 with a 225 lb frame, has an extremely high basketball IQ and gives you the defensive versatility similar to the likes of a Draymond Green. In terms of fit with the Thunder, Barnes has the chance to become a massive part of their identity with his defensive ability and pairing him with Lu Dort would be a nightmare for opposing offenses.
Barnes is a team first player that will allow guys like SGA to continue to flourish offensively. Barnes gives them a unique foundation of attack with his facilitation from the forward position alongside all of their guards, I’m very high on Barnes, one of my favorite players in the draft.
7: Golden State Warriors – James Bouknight – University of Connecticut
I actually believe that the Warriors will look to move both of their lottery picks in exchange for a player that would help them win now, but if they were to make this pick I think they would select James Bouknight. The sophomore guard is an elite slasher at 6’5 with a 7’ wingspan, gets to the line frequently, and shot nearly 54% from inside the arc on almost 10 attempts per game last season. A slightly different offensive attack in comparison to the Splash Brothers, but GS has been searching for the heir to the throne over the past few drafts, and Bouknight could be part of the next generation.
8: Orlando Magic – Keon Johnson – Tennessee
With their second top ten pick, the Magic drafts another raw guard/wing with a high ceiling. Johnson is a 6’5 2-guard that has natural defensive ability and is an explosive athlete. He is not an innate scorer by any means, but uses his body and athleticism to create opportunities for himself.
Keon only averaged 11 points per game, and turned the ball over more times than he assisted on shots during his time at Tennessee, but both are things that would fixable issues especially in a situation that facilitates growth with a bad team like Orlando. Johnson has the chance to become an exciting slashing wing, and within this draft the Magic have stocked up on high ceilinged prospects.
9: Sacramento Kings – Jalen Johnson – Duke
Jalen Johnson is a sneakily intriguing prospect, and additionally a perfect fit for Sacramento. Johnson’s frame at 6’9 paired with his ball skills and facilitation ability is enough to intrigue any NBA executive. His 6’11 wingspan and athleticism projects him to be a solid, versatile NBA defender as well. He played a good amount of Power Forward while at Duke, but was a main ball handler as well, which would make him an incredible opportunity for both him and the Kings as the Marvin Bagley experience is seemingly coming to an end.
Johnson’s biggest knock seems to be the fact that he left Duke in the middle of the season, which a lot of people thought was weak and selfish, but I think in the grand scheme of things he made the best decision for himself at that time and he credits his time away for his confidence and preparation.
10: New Orleans Pelicans – Moses Moody – Arkansas
With Zion in mind, New Orleans is undoubtedly seeking a floor spacer with this pick, in this scenario they add a great 3&D prospect. Moody stands 6’6 and 205 lbs, high level defender coming into the NBA. Just recently turned 19 years old and projects as a volume shooter and relentless defender. Moody works incredibly hard as a rebounder, which could be an absolute nightmare on the glass next to Zion.
A benefit to the Pelicans situation is that Moody doesn’t create his own shot very often, but can use his athleticism to run transition and his shooting ability to help clear the floor for Zion, and won’t be asked to do too much early on. He is a very mature player for his age, and could have a low ceiling due to his lack of offensive creation, but I think he fits the mold of what every team would want in a defensive minded, floor spacing wing.
11: Charlotte Hornets – Corey Kispert – Gonzaga
Charlotte takes a lights out shooter to pair in the back court with Lamelo Ball. Corey Kispert is just a flat out flamethrower, in his four years with the Zags he shot nearly 41% from deep, and last season shot 44% on 6.5 attempts per game, and an unsurprisingly terrific free throw shooter. Bigger than people think, standing at 6’7 and 220 lbs, and is a solid wing defender.
Kispert is an unselfish player, who pairs nicely alongside Ball and the rest of the Hornets, valuable in transition and can take it above the rim as well. He spent four years in college and has transformed his game in many ways. He’s mature, he lives in the gym and he’s the best shooter in the draft, hard not to love this guy.
12: San Antonio Spurs – Josh Giddey – Australia
In all honesty, I think this is a bit of a reach but I just love the idea of Giddey in San Antonio. It could be the perfect place for a player like him to flourish. Josh Giddey is a big point guard at 6’8 who plays with the craftiness of a European guard. He’s an elite passer and floor general, has three-level scoring potential, crafty finisher with either hand, and while he didn’t shoot for average in the NBL he definitely has the confidence and form to shoot.
Josh is an average athlete but putting him in a protected defensive situation where Dejounte Murray takes the lead, he could be in the perfect spot to grow. I like Giddey here, he seems like a player that will need a few years to grow, and in the Spurs style offense he has a chance to grow.
13: Indiana Pacers – Franz Wagner – Michigan
Wagner is a versatile defender and is comfortable guarding multiple positions. He is a good enough ball handler to be a secondary or tertiary playmaker. Being able to stretch the floor is the make or break factor for Wagner, he shot under 33% from deep during his two seasons at Michigan, but shot 34% last season and 83% from the line so there is reason to believe he will continue to improve in this area. He finishes well around the rim, over 70% in close, so his slashing ability and jump shooting potential are what make him interesting here towards the end of the lottery.
14: Golden State Warriors – Zaire Williams – Stanford
The Warriors round out the lottery with another good pick in Zaire Williams, a lengthy wing from Stanford. Williams is a 6’9 athletic wing that could be a havoc wreaker defensively. He is only 190 lbs so he could benefit by gaining some weight to help be a more well rounded defender, as he already has the height, length, and ability to guard bigger players.
Zaire is a slasher and did not shoot particularly well in his time at Stanford but did shoot nearly 80% from the line so there is definitely a solid fundamental basis to his shot, and does rely heavily on his mid range jumper. Would be a solid fit in Golden State if they are to make this pick, any addition of defense and wing depth that they can get would be positive.
For the 76ers, they own the 28th pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft with several possible options available like Tre Mann nd Miles McBride. While the Sixers currently own the pick, they’ve been heavily rumored to be trading the pick for a win-now player.
Mandatory Credit: Getty Images