The college basketball season is about halfway over and we’ve got a pretty good idea about who the top prospects are in this draft class. There have been a few surprises, players who have performed better than their high school rankings, and a few that have vastly under performed. And, even though we haven’t seen much from the G League prospects this year, we know enough about Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga to safely put them in the top 5 of this class. Here’s a closer look at the lottery prospects and the teams that could land some new talent on draft day (whenever that may be).
1 – Washington Wizards – Cade Cunningham – The Wizards have been terrible and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them make another big trade and send Brad Beal to a contender and go into full tank mode. Russell Westbrook has really fallen off in recent years and, as much as he can fill the stat sheet, he doesn’t help his team win. But all this could be a blessing in disguise if they’re able to land the top pick and add a superstar prospect like Cade Cunningham. Cade is ready to take over the PG position from day one and would fit seamlessly with the Wizards recent high draft picks Deni and Rui.
2 – Detroit Pistons – Evan Mobley – The Pistons could be very tempted by Jalen Suggs but after drafting Killian Hayes in the lottery last year they could look to address the frontcourt with a stud young PF/C like Evan Mobley. Mobley is a rare talent with elite movement skills and an advanced understanding of the game (which you usually don’t see in young bigs). He’d be an interesting fit next to Isaiah Stewart, bringing speed, versatility and perimeter play next to Stewart’s ruggedness.
3 – Minnesota Timberwolves – Jalen Suggs – The Wolves have been a mess this year with injuries, inconsistent play and a roster that is not very well constructed. Adding D’Angelo Russell last year made sense in terms of keeping KAT happy but he’s just not a star player, which you need at the most important position on the floor. Enter Jalen Suggs: a player who has all the winning intangibles you could ever ask for and would be an ideal for this team. Suggs intensity on the court and his elite defensive instincts are just what the doctor ordered for the Timberwolves and could finally lift the team back to respectability.
4 – Oklahoma City Thunder (from Heat) – Jalen Green – The Thunder are well positioned to add talent over the course of the next few drafts, thank to all the trades for future draft picks. This pick from the Heat probably won’t end up being this high but as of now it comes in no.4 overall. If the Thunder can put a talent like Jalen Green next to SGA it’ll help jump-start the franchise back into contention. We haven’t seen much from Green this year but all the talent is still there and NBA teams surely haven’t forgotten about him.
5 – Orlando Magic – Jonathan Kuminga – The Magic had a good thing going for a minute but the Isaac injury last year and the Fultz injury this year have really set them back. Adding a stud wing like Kuminga would help make up for the disappointment and give them a great building block for the future. Kuminga has top 3 talent and could even challenge for no.1 overall in a less talented draft class.
6 – New Orleans Pelicans – Scottie Barnes – The Pelicans seemed to be on the rise and had aspirations of challenging for a playoff spot this year but so far have been really underwhelming. The young talent on the roster hasn’t gelled as quickly has hoped and they miss the steady presence of Jrue Holiday. And so they’re looking at another lottery selection and should be in position to add the ultra-talented Scottie Barnes of FSU. Barnes is a unique player, highly skilled with the ball in his hands and able to run the point despite having the frame of a power forward. He’s not much of a shooter at this stage but his play-making ability, versatile defense and high basketball IQ will make him a lottery pick.
7 – New York Knicks (from Mavericks) – Ziaire Williams – The Knicks are starting to build a nice roster of young talent but are at least a year away from being in contention. The jury is still out on Obi Toppin but Immanuel Quickley looks like the steal of the draft and is a great building block alongside R.J. Barrett. They could use a star point guard in this draft but with a bunch of talented wings in this range of the lottery the Knicks could go with Ziaire Williams, who has shown flashes of big time ability as a perimeter scorer. He needs to add strength and work on his ability to score in the lane but his shooting ability at his size is impressive. He’s got some Paul George in his game.
8 – New York Knicks – James Bouknight – The Knicks could be in position to add two lottery talents (if the Mavs keep faltering) and here we have them taking James Bouknight, the scoring fiend from Connecticut Bouknight is currently sidelined with an elbow injury but should be back by the end of the college season. He’s got an elite pull-up jumper and excels at getting his own offense. He’d be fun to watch in a lineup next to Quickley.
9 – Oklahoma City Thunder – Jalen Johnson – The parade of Thunder draft picks is underway and they’ll be well positioned to add another nice talent to the roster. Jalen Johnson has had an up and down season so far for Duke but his talent is undeniable. He’s got some play-making skills and great open court ability for a combo forward. His outside shooting leaves a lot to be desired but he’ll surely improve in this area over the course of the next few seasons.
10 – Chicago Bulls – Jaden Springer – The Bulls have a combo guard in place in Coby White but he’s really better suited to scoring the ball. Springer could be an interesting option here. He’s a natural scorer as well but has some ability to run the point and would give the Bulls a 3-headed monster at guard with Zach LaVine (assuming he’s not traded).
11 – Toronto Raptors – Moses Moody – I’d be surprised if the Raptors end up in the lottery but as it stands now they’re slated to pick no.11 and could add a young talent like Moses Moody, the sweet shooting guard from Arkansas. Moody has ideal size for position and one of the nicest looking jumpers in this draft class.
12 – Sacramento Kings – Keon Johnson – The Kings are in their usual position of being bad but not bad enough to land a star (except that time they passed on Luka). Luckily for them it’s a deep draft class and they could be in position to land an elite athlete with big upside like Keon Johnson. Keon’s production at Tennessee has been nothing to write a blog post about but he’s got truly special athletic ability and the type of upside that NBA teams go nuts for. He projects as a great, versatile defender, a nightmare in transition and should continue to develop his offensive game. He reminds me of a young Jaylen Brown, although an inch or two shorter.
13 – San Antonio Spurs – Sharife Cooper – The Spurs could use a change of pace and Cooper would bring just that. He’s an elite driver who can get to the basket against anyone and is a special passer. He’s got some limitations with his lack of size and below average 3pt shooting but his dribble-drive ability is special and puts a ton of pressure on the defense.
14 – Golden State Warriors – Usman Garuba – The Warriors keep this pick if it’s in the top 20 and could land another nice young talent, after landing James Wiseman last year. Usman Garuba has long been considered the top international prospect in this class, although his development seems to have leveled off somewhat. If he goes to the Warriors he’d land in a perfect situation, getting to learn the ropes from Draymond Green while forming the frontcourt of the future next to Wiseman.
This draft class has elite talent at the top, a bunch of high upside but imperfect prospects in the mid lottery and really good depth through the first round and beyond.
Check out the full 2021 NBA Mock Draft.