Just a few hours ahead of the draft, with one trade already made, we submit version 3.0 of our 2021 NBA Mock Draft and expect plenty more shifting and jockeying for position by the time the picks are announced Thursday night by Adam Silver.
One thing that seems certain on the local front is that the Knicks are interested in moving out of the current quartet of picks -- No. 19, 21, 32 and 58 -- and either moving up into the lottery where Oregon’s Chris Duarte seems to be the target, providing Tom Thibodeau with the kind of player he can make use of right away, or using some of the picks to obtain veteran help as they await the disgruntled call from a star such as Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal.
But they aren’t alone. Oklahoma City, with three first-round picks, could move them, and Golden State has not hid their willingness to deal out of No. 7 and 14.
1. Detroit: Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State, G, 6-8
To the end, little doubt about this one as Cunningham lived up to all of the preseason hype even through a pandemic-ravaged season. Point guard skills, shooting guard touch and size.
2. Houston: Jalen Green, G League Ignite, G, 6-5
In a draft that is considered top heavy, Green has risen among those elite prospects and as the highest-ceiling scorer in the draft, has even garnered some consideration for the top spot.
3. Cleveland: Evan Mobley, USC, F-C, 7-0
New age front court player. Rail-thin, but athletic and skilled. He can score, but immediately is the sort of big who can switch onto almost any position.
4. Toronto: Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga, G, 6-4
With Kyle Lowry on the way out, Suggs is a perfect fit. A heady point guard with Jason Kidd comparisons already. Defense, passing and shooting should translate easily into an NBA lineup.
5. Orlando: Scottie Barnes, Florida State, G, 6-7
Jumped from No. 10 in our first mock. Comparisons to Draymond Green seem like a leap, but he does already serve as a multiple-position defender who plays bigger than his size thanks to his strength and toughness. Measured a 7-2 wingspan at the combine.
6. Oklahoma City: Jonathan Kuminga, G League Ignite, F, 6-8
While we talk about the risers in the draft, Kuminga has had doubts floated about him. But in the end, talent matters. Athletic forward fits the needs as the Thunder build with youth. although don’t rule out Alperen Sengun jumping up here as draft approaches. Kuminga is raw while Sengun already showed skills.
7. Golden State (from Minnesota): James Bouknight, UConn, G, 6-5
After a solid career, his workouts -- notably a pro day shooting exhibition -- have jumped him in most mocks as he has shown an ability to score in different ways.
8. Orlando (from Chicago) - Alperen Sengun, Turkey, F, 6-10
The 18-year-old MVP of the Turkish League has skills beyond his age but still has a ways to go and must improve three-point shooting. Still a more traditional big man with interior scoring skills.
9. Sacramento: Franz Wagner, Michigan, F, 6-9
Defensive-ready, Wagner already projects as a three and D wing and would fit nicely with the Kings' young weapons.
10. Memphis (from New Orleans): Moses Moody, Arkansas, G-F, 6-5
Hard-working defender with 7-foot-1 wingspan (longest at Combine) who can shoot from three.
11. Charlotte: Josh Giddey, Australia, G, 6-8
Interesting playmaking ability for an 18-year-old, but needs to improve his shooting.
12. San Antonio: Keon Johnson, Tennessee, G, 6-5
If you are building, why not take a chance on the raw ability of a player like Johnson? Set Combine record with 48-inch max vertical and nearly topped all in 3/4-court sprint. Already a tough defensive stopper with the ability to get to the rim on the other end.
13. Indiana: Davion Mitchell, Baylor, G, 6-0
Gritty playmaker who plays, yes, bigger than his measurements. Leader of National Championship squad displayed toughness at every test, but still dropping in workouts.
14. Golden State: Chris Duarte, Oregon, G-F, 6-6
While teams seem dubious of taking older players and he’ll be 24 when drafted, his shooting touch (42.4% from three) is hard to resist. If they don’t move pick - hello, Knicks? - he can help immediately.
15. Washington: Kai Jones, Texas, F-C, 6-11
While his athleticism may remind you of Mitchell Robinson, he already shot nearly 40% from beyond the arc this season, which could propel him higher as the draft approaches.
16. Oklahoma City (from Boston): Jalen Johnson, Duke, F, 6-7
Walked away from the Blue Devils in the pandemic, drawing the ire of Duke fans, but wisely readied himself for the NBA. Possesses finesse for his size with huge hands, but still raw and mistake-prone.
17. New Orleans (from Memphis: Corey Kispert, Gonzaga, G-F, 6-7
Shot 44.4% from three this season and enters the draft as the best shooter available. He can create his own shot, too, and move the ball, but his strength is shooting and teams are hunting that right now.
18. Oklahoma City (from Miami): Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky, F-C, 6-10
Athletic if raw big who should be able to contribute as shot blocker and rim-runner immediately.
19. Knicks: Sharife Cooper, Auburn, PG, 6-1
Maybe the purest PG after Suggs in the draft, elite passing ability and can get to the rim in a way that would warm Tom Thibodeau’s heart.
20. Atlanta: Usman Garuba, Real Madrid, F, 6-8
The Hawks have shown they have plenty of scoring, but adding a versatile defender to the likes of Clint Capela and De’Andre Hunter would be a nice plus to their mix.
21. Knicks (from Dallas): Tre Mann, Florida, G, 6-5
Will the Knicks will keep both first-rounders as well as the No. 32 pick and hand Tom Thibodeau three rookies? Likely not. But let’s put a name here anyway. Mann shot 40.2% from three this season, and showed the sort of mid-range and paint ability to score at multiple levels.
22. L.A. Lakers: Jared Butler, Baylor, G, 6-3
Cleared for the draft after health concerns, a scorer who has become more of a playmaker as he helped lead Baylor to an NCAA title.
23. Houston (from Portland): Jaden Springer, Tennessee, G, 6-4
Two-way guard with three-point shooting range.
24. Houston (from Milwaukee): Greg Brown, Texas, F, 6-9
Raw, but versatile defender.
25. L.A. Clippers: Trey Murphy III, Virginia, G-F, 6-9
Never scored 20 points after season-opener, but consistent three-point shooter (43.3%).
26. Denver: Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky, C, 6-10
Shotblocking and rim-running backup for Nikola Jokic could fill a need here.
27. Nets: Ziaire Williams, Stanford, G-F, 6-8
Didn’t quite live up to his preseason hype but still showed some of the steady and smooth playmaking for his size that interests scouts. Posted third fastest lane agility time at Combine.
28. Philadelphia: Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois, G, 6-5
Versatile guard who improved as a junior and shot well on limited attempts from long range.
29. Phoenix: Cam Thomas, LSU, G, 6-4
Could be a steal if he lasts this far down with elite scoring ability.
30. Utah: Nah’Shon Hyland, Virginia Commonwealth, G, 6-5
"Bones" opened eyes maybe more than any other player at the Combine after a very good sophomore season at VCU.