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We're now only eight days away from the 2021 NBA Draft, and with that, a number of international players have decided to withdraw their names from the pool. While the decisions of players such as Roko Prkacin and Carlos Alocen won't have an impact on this year's first round, those are two names worth tracking for 2022. With that in mind we've got another mock draft, with the majority of the changes coming in the second round. There's rarely a shortage of "draft and stash" candidates in most years but, in 2021, teams may need to get a bit more creative when it comes to finding those gems.
1. Detroit: PG Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
While there are no guarantees until Adam Silver walks to the podium, at this point in the process it feels safe to assume that Cunningham will be the first overall pick on July 29. There have been reports that the Rockets were hoping to move up in order to select the Oklahoma State standout but, unless they make the Pistons an offer that Detroit can't refuse, Cunningham appears headed to the Motor City. He can play either on or off the ball, which would give Detroit some time to evaluate a possible partnership consisting of Cunningham and Killian Hayes.
2. Houston: SG Jalen Green, G League Ignite
Green is considered by many to be the top scoring wing in this draft class. He averaged nearly 18 points per game this season, while shooting 46.1% from the field. And his percentages from three (36.5%) and the foul line (82.9%) were solid, which bodes well with regard to Green's ability to be a consistent perimeter shooter. That being said, he'll need to be a more efficient scorer, and the defense needs some work as well. Houston's rebuild is highly unlikely to be a quick fix, so they could take Green with the hope that he and Kevin Porter Jr. develop into the franchise's perimeter of the future.
3. Cleveland: PF/C Evan Mobley, USC
The versatile Mobley was used both inside and on the perimeter during his lone season at USC, and he was highly impactful. The 7-footer shot nearly 58% from the field and averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 0.8 steals and 2.9 blocks per game. While Mobley isn't the most proficient perimeter shooter just yet, he did display the ability to be effective in pick-and-pop situations. He moves well for his size and did not look like a "fish out of water" when asked to defend on the perimeter, which is key given the NBA's reliance on the two-man game. If he's on the board at this spot, Cleveland shouldn't need the full five minutes to get the card in.
4. Toronto: PG Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
Suggs is a very good decision-maker with the ball in his hands, which can be credited partially to his being a highly-recruited quarterback before going all-in with basketball. Good in the pick-and-roll game, the biggest concern for the Gonzaga standout may be his inconsistency as a perimeter shooter. Suggs also has some strides to make as a decision-maker, but the shot is the more pressing concern at this stage in his career. He should improve in those areas with time and continued work, and landing in Toronto would give him room to grow. Even if Kyle Lowry were to move on in free agency, Suggs would have a very good mentor to learn from in Fred VanVleet.
5. Orlando: SF Scottie Barnes, Florida State
Orlando stands to have quite the decision to make when its turn to pick comes up. Do the Magic go with the wing who's perceived to have the higher upside? Or do they go with the wing who's viewed as having the higher floor? Barnes, who was tasked with the responsibility of defending opposing point guards for much of his freshman season at Florida State, falls into the latter category. That defensive versatility, and the opportunity to serve as a primary playmaker for the Seminoles, should help with regards to his having an early impact at the next level. Barnes does need to improve substantially as a shooter, but that is something that can come with repetition.
6. Oklahoma City: SF Jonathan Kuminga, G League Ignite
Kuminga is a highly athletic wing who, at present time, appears far better equipped to have an immediate impact as a defender than as a scorer. That being said, there were times during his lone season in the G League where he lost track of his assignment when not defending the ball. Offensively he has even more work to to than the aforementioned Barnes, as a lot of Kuminga's best moments on that end of the floor came as a finisher. Be it Orlando or Oklahoma City he will likely land with a team that's facing a lengthy rebuild, which should mean that more patience is exercised with regard to Kuminga's development.
7. Golden State (from Minnesota): SG James Bouknight, UConn
The Warriors are one of the teams that many have their eyes on heading into the draft. Armed with two lottery picks, would Golden State entertain the possibility of including those picks in a package that would bring back a veteran who can supplement the team's experienced core? If they hold onto this pick, Bouknight wouldn't be a bad option at all. He can score on all three levels, is a good athlete and isn't a liability on the defensive end of the floor. Bouknight wasn't the most efficient scorer while at UConn, but that says more about the Huskies' lack of consistent supplementary options than anything else.
8. Orlando (from Chicago): SG Keon Johnson, Tennessee
Not only are the Magic very young in the aftermath of trades that sent Aaron Gordon to Denver and Nikola Vucevic to Chicago, but they've also had issues with the injury bug in recent years. And a lot of those injury issues have been on the wings, so loading up on young talents at those spots wouldn't be the worst idea. Johnson, while a bit raw offensively, is arguably the best athlete in this year's draft class. And given the status of the Magic roster, they can afford to take some time with the former Volunteer. The combination of athleticism and defensive chops would make for a solid building block as Johnson begins his professional career.
9. Sacramento: SF Franz Wagner, Michigan
With the De'Aaron Fox being the focal point of the Kings' rebuild, adding players who can play off of him is key. A versatile forward who has room to grow as a perimeter shooter, Wagner would fit that mold. Also, the 6-foot-9, 220-pound forward was also one of the Big Ten's best defenders during his time in Ann Arbor. Given the question marks in the frontcourt, it's possible that Kings go "big" with this pick. That being said, Wagner's positional versatility is too valuable to pass up.
10. New Orleans: PG Davion Mitchell, Baylor
The Pelicans are in an interesting spot this offseason at the point guard position. Lonzo Ball will be a free agent, and they also selected a point guard in the first round last season in Kira Lewis Jr. Even with those two players to consider, it will be very difficult to pass on a guard who's as impactful defensively as Mitchell is. He's an absolute pest on the ball, and also displayed good instincts as an off-ball defender. Mitchell's perimeter shot improved substantially during his final season at Baylor, as he made 44.7% of his 3-point attempts. But it is worth asking whether or not the improvement, as his percentage jumped by more than 12 points, is sustainable.
11. Charlotte: PF/C Alperen Sengun, Besiktas
The Hornets have needed to address the interior for quite some time now, and they'll have another opportunity to do so this offseason. Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo will both be free agents, and neither Nick Richards nor Vernon Carey Jr. had the opportunity to show much as rookies. With that being the case it would make some sense to add another young talent to the mix and, in the case of Sengun, the Hornets would be adding a big who has the potential to be a credible offensive threat. Last season for Besiktas, he averaged 18.6 points, 8.9 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. And at 6-foot-10, 243 pounds, Sengun brings good size to the table despite his status as one of the youngest prospects in this draft class.
12. San Antonio: PF/C Kai Jones, Texas
Primarily a reserve during his two seasons at Texas, the 6-foot-10, 221-pound Jones did begin playing basketball until he was 15 years old. He's made solid strides ever since, and there's still plenty of room for growth when it comes to his skill set. Jones is a very athletic frontcourt prospect who was used primarily as a finisher on the offensive end of the floor, and he also moves well laterally on the defensive end of the floor. Foul trouble was an issue at times during his two seasons at Texas, but that's something that the Spurs (or whichever team selects him) can work with. As he continues to develop, Jones has the potential to be a frontcourt presence who's capable of defending multiple positions.
13. Indiana: SG Moses Moody, Arkansas
Moody averaged nearly 17 points per game last season, and was an absolute handful when given the opportunity to make plays in ball-screen situations. He's got good athleticism and is also a solid perimeter shooter. Moody also averaged 1.0 steals and 0.7 blocks per game this past season. While those aren't prolific numbers, they don't tell the full story when it comes to his ability as a defender. The overall skill set is what makes Moody an attractive prospect who will likely hear his name called in the lottery. With T.J. McConnell and Doug McDermott set to be free agents, the Pacers will have some holes to fill on their second unit, and Moody can help in that regard.
14. Golden State: PG/SG Josh Giddey, Adelaide 36ers
Giddey was used as a primary playmaker in the NBL, and his ability to navigate pick-and-roll situations is one of his best attributes. There is still some work to be done when it comes to his perimeter shot, but the combination of playmaking ability and size (he's 6-foot-8) make the young Australian an intriguing draft prospect. Should Giddey land with the Warriors there wouldn't be too much pressure on him right away, as Golden State will still have Stephen Curry and Draymond Green to rely on as set-up men (Curry will also do a lot of scoring, obviously).
15. Washington: SF Corey Kispert, Gonzaga
With Russell Westbrook and Bradley Beal set to once again have the ball in their hands a lot, players who can be effective in supplementary roles will be of high value to the Wizards. Rui Hachimura made some noteworthy strides last season but he's more of a four than a three, and Washington is in need of additional talent at the latter spot. Kispert shot the ball well throughout his four years at Gonzaga, is a solid defender and can also chip in as a facilitator if needed. If he isn't gone by the end of the lottery, Kispert shouldn't be on the board much longer than that.
16. Oklahoma City (from Boston): SF/PF Usman Garuba, Real Madrid
While Garuba has a lot of work to do on the offensive end of the floor, he was highly effective defensively for Real Madrid. He's listed as a power forward, but there were times this season when he took on perimeter-based defensive assignments. Unless Sam Presti were to make a major move, the rebuild in Oklahoma City won't be a "quick fix." That would allow for some patience when it comes to developing Garuba's offensive skill set, and (in theory) set him up for long-term success.
17. Memphis: SF/PF Jalen Johnson, Duke
The Grizzlies are in an interesting spot, as the franchise is clearly on an upward trajectory. The team option held on Justise Winslow could free up additional money to add a veteran wing in free agency, a player who can provide consistent scoring in spots when the team's top options are on the bench. As for the draft pick, Johnson is a bit of a wild card in this class. Generally considered to be a first-round talent, he only played in 13 games at Duke before deciding to leave the program. He's a versatile forward who does offer "upside," but landing in a spot where the team can exercise some patience early on will be key.
18. Oklahoma City (from Miami via the LA Clippers, Philadelphia, and Phoenix): PF/C Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky
With the Thunder moving Al Horford and Moses Brown to Boston, and Mike Muscala (unrestricted) and Tony Bradley (restricted) both being free agents, there's a need to replenish their numbers in the frontcourt. Jackson, who averaged 2.6 blocks in 20.8 minutes per game at Kentucky, would certainly fit the bill. The 6-foot-10 forward was also a solid offensive rebounder, as he produced a OREB% of 11.2. Jackson still has some work to do when it comes to his offensive skill set, as he's a bit limited away from the basket, but his work as a defender and rebounder make him an attractive option in this draft class.
19. New York: SG Chris Duarte, Oregon
Alec Burks and Reggie Bullock will both be unrestricted free agents, and Frank Ntilikina will be one of the restricted variety. Duarte, an experienced guard who's capable of making plays on the ball or playing off of it in a supplementary role, is also an active defender who averaged 1.9 steals and 0.8 blocks per game last season. Duarte's versatility is one of his greatest strengths, along with the perimeter shooting ability (42.4% on 5.5 3-point attempts per game). He would be a very good asset for the Knicks to add if available at this point in the draft.
20. Atlanta: PG Sharife Cooper, Auburn
The Hawks clearly have their franchise point guard in Trae Young, but adding some depth behind him wouldn't be a bad idea. Cooper, whose season began late thanks to the NCAA having questions about his status as an amateur, was electric for the Tigers. In 12 games he averaged 20.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 8.1 assists per. That being said, the shot selection and decision-making will need some refining if Cooper is to be an impact player at the next level.
21. New York (from Dallas): SG/SF Trey Murphy, Virginia
Murphy is one of the best shooting wings in this draft class, and that just happens to be an area where New York can use an infusion of talent. In his lone season at Virginia he was a 50-40-90 player, while also being a solid defender. Evaluating draft prospects out of Virginia based on their stats alone can be a fool's errand, as the Cavaliers traditionally play at one of the slowest paces in college basketball. So while Murphy was a modest scorer (11.3 ppg) last season, that should not overshadow how efficient he was. At 6-foot-9 he has very good size for an NBA wing, and the catch-and-shoot ability would help with the fit alongside Julius Randle.
22. Los Angeles Lakers: PG/SG Jared Butler, Baylor
Last week Butler received the news that many were hoping he would, as the NBA's doctors have medically cleared him for competition. Obviously what team doctors advise their front offices to do in the days leading up to draft night will determine when and where Butler goes, but there's no denying the fact that skill-wise he's a first-round talent. He's more than capable of playing either on or off the ball (Butler shared the backcourt for the national champs with the aforementioned Davion Mitchell), which would be of high importance if he were to be drafted by the Lakers. Something else worth noting: Butler ranked in the 98th percentile in catch-and-shoot situations last season.
23. Houston (from Portland): PG/SG Tre Mann, Florida
Mann's opportunities -- and draft value -- improved substantially before last season even began, as Andrew Nembhard made the decision to transfer to Gonzaga. That meant that the ball was truly in the 6-foot-5 Mann's hands from the start, and he made noticeable strides as both a scorer and facilitator. Two areas where Mann will need to improve: finishing around the basket, and playing with greater physicality on the defensive end of the floor. That being said, the promise that his displayed as a playmaker last season should be enough to ensure that Mann is a first-round pick next week.
24. Houston (from Milwaukee): SF Ziaire Williams, Stanford
While Williams certainly had his moments during his lone season at Stanford, he was a bit of a wild card as far as production is concerned. While that isn't the most glowing endorsement of a draft prospect, the potential is there for him to be a productive wing at the next level. At 6-foot-10 Williams has good size for a small forward, and he's a better shooter than what he showed at Stanford. The Rockets are in a position where they can afford to take the long-term approach with a prospect like Williams, due to the status of the team's rebuild.
25. LA Clippers: SG Cameron Thomas, LSU
Thomas is one of the best scorers in this class, as he's coming off of a season in which he led the SEC in scoring with an average of 23.0 points per game. He will need to get better when it comes to the accuracy, as Thomas shot 40.6% from the field and 32.5% from beyond the arc. There are also strides that need to be made defensively, but Thomas' primary job in Baton Rouge was the put the ball in the basket. Depending upon what happens with Kawhi Leonard, who can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent, the Clippers could be in need of more scoring on the perimeter. Thomas would certainly help in that area.
26. Denver: PG/SG Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois
Denver's biggest issue in the postseason was its lack of perimeter depth, thanks to the team being hit extremely hard by injuries. And with it not being known if Jamal Murray (torn ACL) will be healthy enough to play when next season begins, this is an area that the Nuggets will have to address this offseason. Obviously that can be done in free agency, but they can also add a guard in the draft. Dosunmu would fit the mold, as he's a more than capable playmaker with the ball in his hands. Given his experience, as the Dosunmu played three seasons of college basketball, he stands to be a good fit for a team that's looking to contend in 2021-22.
27. Brooklyn: PF JT Thor, Auburn
An inconsistent shooter during his lone season at Auburn, the 6-foot-10 forward showed off an improved form (and efficiency) during his workouts in Chicago. It's also worth noting that he averaged 1.4 blocks per game, so there's some defensive production to be had as well. Brooklyn being in "win-now" mode could mean that this pick becomes available, if the team finds a deal that can improve the roster immediately. While Thor has shown promise at this early point in his basketball career, patience will need to be exercised when it comes to his development. That being said, the growth that Thor has displayed in this offseason alone shows that he's willing to put in the work.
28. Philadelphia: PG Jaden Springer, Tennessee
The biggest question that the 76ers will need to answer this offseason is whether or not they believe that Ben Simmons will be the team's point guard for years to come. Everyone said the right things int he aftermath of the 76ers' exit from the postseason, and Simmons will sit out the Olympics in order to work on his shot. But even if he remains the answer for the 76ers, there's still a need for additional depth at the point. Springer will need some time to continue to sharpen his skills as a floor general, but he did also show some promise as a perimeter shooter. That being said, it's important to keep in mind that his percentage from three (43.5%) came on just 1.8 attempts per game.
29. Phoenix: SG Joshua Primo, Alabama
The 6-foot-6, 190-pound Primo won't turn 19 until Christmas Eve, which makes him the youngest player in this class. And it's also worth noting that he was originally not expected to enter college until this year, so he's very much a developmental prospect. That all being said, Primo shot 38.1% from three on nearly four attempts per game, and he's an athletic wing who would give the Suns some additional depth on the perimeter. E'Twaun Moore, Langston Galloway and Torrey Craig will all be free agents this summer, so it's likely that Phoenix will look for veterans as they attempt to make another deep playoff run. That being said, adding a young talent like Primo to the mix wouldn't be a bad idea.
30. Utah: PG/SG Miles McBride, West Virginia
McBride made noticeable improvements from his freshman to sophomore season, going from being a role player to an essential starter who could very well be a first-round pick. The 6-foot-2 guard increased his scoring average by more than six points while also dishing out nearly five assists per game. And he did so while shooting better than 41% from three, an increase of more than 11 percentage points from his freshman season. And as we've come to expect from Bob Huggins-coached guards, McBride is also a handful on the defensive end of the floor (the 6-foot-8, 3/4-inch wingspan certainly helps). The end of the first round can be a tricky spot, as it doesn't take much to slip into the second round. And McBride is one of those players caught in that "gray area."
31. Milwaukee (from Houston): SF Herbert Jones, Alabama
32. New York (from Detroit via the LA Clippers and Philadelphia): SG Quentin Grimes, Houston
33. Orlando: PF Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Villanova
34. Oklahoma City: PG Nah'Shon Hyland, VCU
35. New Orleans (from Cleveland via Atlanta): SG Josh Christopher, Arizona State
36. Oklahoma City (from Minnesota via Golden State): SG Joel Ayayi, Gonzaga
37. Detroit (from Toronto via Brooklyn): SF Kessler Edwards, Pepperdine
38. Chicago (from New Orleans): SF Brandon Boston Jr., Kentucky
39. Sacramento: SG/SF Aaron Henry, Michigan State
40. New Orleans (from Chicago): SG/SF Terrence Shannon Jr., Texas Tech
41. San Antonio: C Filip Petrusev, Mega Bemax
42. Detroit (from Charlotte via New York): SF Isaiah Livers, Michigan
43. New Orleans (from Washington via Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Utah): PG Jason Preston, Ohio
44. Brooklyn (from Indiana): PG/SG Rokas Jokubaitis, Zalgiris
45. Boston: SG David Johnson, Louisville
46. Toronto (from Memphis via Sacramento): PF Jericho Sims, Texas
47. Toronto (from Golden State via Utah and New Orleans): C Luka Garza, Iowa
48. Atlanta (from Miami via Sacramento and Portland): C Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky
49. Brooklyn (from Atlanta): SG Austin Reaves, Oklahoma
50. Philadelphia (from New York): PG Daishen Nix, G League Ignite
51. Memphis (from Portland via Dallas, Detroit, and Cleveland): SG David Duke Jr., Providence
52. Detroit (from Los Angeles Lakers via Sacramento, Houston, and Detroit): C Isaiah Todd, G League Ignite
53. New Orleans (from Dallas): SF Joe Wieskamp, Iowa
54. Indiana (from Milwaukee via Houston and Cleveland): PF Greg Brown III, Texas
55. Oklahoma City (from Denver via Golden State and Philadelphia): PF Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall
56. Charlotte (from LA Clippers): SF Matthew Hurt, Duke
57. Charlotte (from Brooklyn): C Neemias Queta, Utah State
58. New York (from Philadelphia): SG Juhann Begarin, Paris Basketball
59. Brooklyn (from Phoenix): PF Vrenz Bleijenbergh, Antwerp
60. Indiana (from Utah): PG McKinley Wright IV, Colorado