With the 2020-21 NBA season in full swing, the focus is obviously going to be on the court. In no way does that mean it’s too early to give you our initial 2021 NBA mock draft. After all, the college basketball season is now in full bloom.
It’s a class that is expected to be among the most-loaded in recent league history. Multiple prospects have opted to forgo college ball for the NBA G-League pathway. These stars will head the 2021 class.
1. Orlando Magic: Jalen Suggs, guard, Gonzaga
There’s now talk that Suggs could go No. 1 in the 2021 NBA Draft after leading Gonzaga to the National Championship Game. There’s good reason for this. The 6-foot-4 combo guard is seen as a great two-way player. As a freshman for the Bulldogs, he averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals on 50% shooting. He’s going to be a cornerstone-type player in the Association.
As for the Magic, they pretty much have a need at every position outside of point guard after holding a fire sale at the NBA trade deadline. Adding Suggs to the mix to team up with Markelle Fultz and stud rookie Cole Anthony in a three-guard lineup might seem excessive. But he just seems to be more of a natural fit than Cade Cunningham at this point.
2. Sacramento Kings: Evan Mobley, center, USC
A top-three recruit in 2020, the 7-foot Mobley has more than lived up to that with USC. He averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks on 58% shooting as a freshman en route to leading USC to the Elite 8. Mobley looks to be a franchise cornerstone-type player. With the Sacramento Kings needing to find an inside game to pair with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton in the backcourt, Mobley makes the most sense. He could also make an immediate impact on both ends of the court.
3. Houston Rockets: Cade Cunningham, guard, Oklahoma State
The Houston Rockets need to get that franchise cornerstone as they show themselves to be the weakest team in the NBA. The consensus No. 1 prospect up until recently, Cunningham would be just that. The 6-foot-8 point guard averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 40% from distance for the Cowboys a season ago. He would be the face of this organization to go with Christian Wood moving forward. It makes too much sense in our latest NBA mock draft.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jonathan Kuminga, forward, NBA G-League
Kuminga just recently made his NBA G-League debut after deciding to opt out of playing college basketball. He averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds in the Orlando Bubble. This is just the latest example of the 6-foot-6 wing proving himself to be an elite-level youngster.
Comparisons to Kevin Durant might be overblown. But the ability of the rebuilding Thunder to add a talented wing like Kuminga to team up with stud young point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander just makes too much sense.
5. Golden State Warriors (from Minnesota): Jalen Green, guard, NBA G-League
It’s pretty much about fits in the top four that enables Green to land on the Warriors laps in the pick they acquired from Minnesota. It also fills a pretty big initial need behind Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in Golden State’s backcourt. In fact, Green could team up with stud youngster Jordan Poole to fill out a tremendous second group.
The 6-foot-5 Green was absolutely brilliant for the Ignite during the NBA G-League season, averaging 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals on 37% shooting from distance. In addition to backing up at the two-guard position, Green could even make sense at the three when the Warriors go small. This is an ideal fit.
6. Detroit Pistons: Scottie Barnes, forward, Florida State
Imagine the length these rebuilding Pistons would have with the 6-foot-5 Killian Hayes manning point, the 6-foot-9 Scottie Barnes at two and stud rookie Saddiq Bey (6-foot-8) playing the three. That would create a ton of mismatches for opposing defenses. All three do different things, too. That could loom large moving forward.
A top-five recruit in 2020, Barnes was super impressive as a freshman for the Seminoles. He averaged north of 10 points and four rebounds on 50% shooting from the field. Add in 4.1 assists and 1.5 steals, and he looks like a true all-around player. This makes just too much sense.
7. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jalen Johnson, forward, Duke
Some say that Johnson’s decision to opt out of the remainder of the season at Duke might impact his draft stock. I am just not seeing it. The Blue Devils were going nowhere. Why risk injury or COVID? A top-11 recruit last year, the 6-foot-9 Johnson more than proved enough to be a lottery pick. He averaged 11.2 points and 6.1 rebounds on 53% shooting as a freshman. Johnson also fills an area of need in the frontcourt for a Cavaliers team that has perimeter options in Collin Sexton, Garius Garland and rookie lottery pick Isaac Okoro.
8. Toronto Raptors: Davion Mitchell, guard, Baylor
The 6-foot-2 Mitchell upped his stock big time during the Bears’ shocking run to the national championship this past season. A former transfer from Auburn, he earned All NCAA Tournament Team honors by averaging 13.5 points and 5.8 assists on 50% shooting from the field. Mitchell was also the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Sure we’re talking about a smallish two-guard to team up with Fred VanVleet. That could be cause for alarm on defense. But offensively, this could by dynamic. If the Raptors can retain Gary Trent Jr., a core four of VanVleet, Mitchell, Trent Jr. and Pascal Siakam would be a nice start.
9. Orlando Magic (from Chicago): Corey Kispert, forward, Gonzaga
After finding a legit two-guard option with Jalen Suggs at one, Orlando doubles down with another former Gonzaga star. This time, the idea would be to replace the recently-traded Evan Fournier. It makes a ton of sense in that regard.
As for what Kispert can bring to the table, he’s a dynamic offensive threat. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 18.6 points and 5.0 rebounds on 44% shooting from distance for the Bulldogs this past season. In reality, he’s an higher upside version of Fournier. You can’t go wrong with that at nine.
10. Washington Wizards: Franz Wagner, forward, Michigan
Washington could go a number of directions in this latest NBA mock draft. It has a need in the backcourt next to Bradley Beal. Center is also somewhat of a need. However, we really like Wagner’s fit out on the perimeter. The 6-foot-9 wing averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists on 48% shooting as a sophomore for Michigan last season.
11. New Orleans Pelicans: Keon Johnson, guard, Tennessee
Regardless of whether the Pelicans find a way to retain impending free agent Lonzo Ball, the team will need to find a traditional two-guard moving forward to team up with Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. The 6-foot-5 Johnson would make perfect sense. He averaged 11.3 points on 45% shooting as a freshman for the Volunteers a season ago and is already seen as a plus-level two-way player.
12. Indiana Pacers: Josh Christopher, guard, Arizona State
One of the most-underrated players in the draft, Christopher has drawn comparisons to DeMar DeRozan. this would be a pretty big get for a Pacers team that needs more scoring from the perimeter. Christopher (6-foot-5) averaged 14.3 points and 4.7 rebounds on 43% shooting from the field as a freshman. He’d be an immediate impact producer for Indiana.
13. Golden State Warriors: Isaiah Jackson, forward/center, Kentucky
This specific NBA mock draft will not project trades. With that said, I fully expect the Warriors to flip this pick for a proven player should they acquire the Timberwolves’ lottery selection. If not, Jackson makes perfect sense. A forward/center combo, he earned SEC All-Defensive Team honors as a freshman. That included the 6-foot-10 big man averaging 6.6 rebounds and 2.6 blocks in 21 minutes of action. He’d be a great fit with James Wiseman inside.
14. San Antonio Spurs: Alperen Şengün, center, Turkey
The Spurs going international in the first round? Never! In all seriousness, this could very well be the best fit of our most-recent NBA mock draft. Şengün already played at a high level in the Turkish Super League this past season, averaging 19.3 points and 9.3 rebounds on a resounding 64% shooting from the field. He’s just 18 years old and boasts plus-level athleticism at 6-foot-10. This just makes too much sense for a Spurs team that already boasts a ton of young talent.
2021 NBA Mock Draft: Non-lottery picks
15. Charlotte Hornets: Usman Garuba, forward, Spain
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami): Brandon Boston, guard, Kentucky
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Moses Moody, guard, Arkansas
18. Boston Celtics: Day’Ron Sharpe, center, North Carolina
19. New York Knicks (from Dallas): James Bouknight, guard, Connecticut
20. New York Knicks: Ziaire Williams, forward, Stanford
21. Atlanta Hawks: Kai Jones, forward/center, Texas
22. Houston Rockets (from Portland): Greg Brown, forward, Texas
23. Los Angeles Lakers: Jared Butler, guard, Baylor
24. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee): Filip Petrušev, forward/center, Serbia
25. Denver Nuggets: Daishen Nix, guard, G-League
26. Brooklyn Nets: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, power forward, Illinois
27. Los Angeles Clippers: Cameron Thomas, shooting guard, LSU
28. Philadelphia 76ers: Charles Bassey, center, Western Kentucky
29. Phoenix Suns: Xavier Foster, center, Iowa State
30. Utah Jazz: Matthew Hurt, power forward, Duke