Welcome to the 2021 NBA Draft. The Pistons are on the clock.
After winning the NBA Draft lottery draw on Tuesday night, Detroit is able to land a franchise change prospect with the No.1 pick overall. But the Pistons aren’t the only team whose fortunes may have been changed by ping-pong balls.
The Rockets, Cavaliers, Raptors and many more could end up selecting key pieces from their rosters on July 29. This year’s draft class has enormous talent at the top, and a few of these young players are expected to contribute immediately upon entering the league. .
With just over a month before the picks start to fall, here is Sporting News’ best attempt at faking a draft.
NBA DRAFT BIG BOARD: Ranking of the 60 best prospects in 2021
NBA Mock Draft 2021, post-lottery edition
1. Pistons – Cade Cunningham, G, Oklahoma State (19)
Cunningham is considered the consensus top pick because he has the size and skill that every team in the NBA covets. He averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.6 steals per game, and he shot 40% on 155 3-point attempts in his lone season with the Cowboys. Turnovers weren’t great (4.0 per game), but it should be noted that Cunningham had a largely limited roster.
2. Rockets – Evan Mobley, C, USC (19)
Mobley is the kind of great man who is built to excel in the modern NBA. It can protect the rim (2.9 blocks per set) but moves smoothly enough to stay with guards in the pick-and-roll. He also has the potential to become a perimeter threat offensively. The key to his development will be adding muscle to his frame (7-0, 215 pounds).
3. Jumpers – Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite (19)
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Green emerge as the pure top scorer in this class, as he has averaged 17.9 points on 46.1% of shots in 15 G League games. He is an outstanding athlete capable of finishing on the rim, even when he has to fight on contact. He needs to improve his game and be more active defensively, but Green undoubtedly has a huge advantage.
4. Raptors – Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzague (19)
One of the biggest stars in college basketball last season, Suggs has proven himself to be a formidable leader able to function as the primary offensive creator of a team. While Suggs isn’t a long-range sniper (33.7% on 3 points), he should be able to become a more consistent shooter, and he’s a smart off-bullet cutter and sieve.
5. Magic – Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite (18)
Much like Green, Kuminga is one of the top athletes in this group of prospects. His size, strength and stature could allow him to become a legitimate two-way winger, but he will need time to develop. Kuminga can be an offensive brake and doesn’t always provide the required intensity defensively. His shooting spreads weren’t exactly inspiring (38.7 / 24.6 / 62.5 on baskets, 3 points and free throws), although it’s not fair to say his shot is completely broken.
6. Tonnerre – Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State (19)
There is a future in which Barnes makes multiple All-Defensive teams. The State of Florida threw him on just about every type of player, from point guard to big back-to-basket men. He has demonstrated his ability to be a good host, but his shooting needs to improve for him to gain the respect of opposing defenders (27.5% over the arc, 62.1% on free throws).
7. Warriors (via Timberwolves) – Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor (22)
Mitchell made a strong impression in Baylor’s championship race, suffocating any player in front of him. Despite being known as a tenacious defender, Mitchell’s most notable improvements have come at the other end of the pitch. He has become an excellent playmaker (5.5 assists per game) and has seen a dramatic jump in his 3-point shot (32.4% in 2019-20, 44.7% in 2020-2021).
8. Magic (via the bulls) – Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee (19)
Perhaps the best word to describe Johnson is explosive. When this guy comes down the track and flies towards the basket, good luck stopping him. He also uses that quickness and athleticism on the defensive side to give opposing guards problems. Johnson’s main focus should be to expand his reach, as he’s only shot 13 of 38 beyond the Tennessee arc.
9. Kings – Franz Wagner, F, Michigan (19)
Wagner showed versatility on both ends of the court during his time in Michigan. He is a smart team defender who can strike with first zone players but cope with smaller guards. He can also affect play offensively without eating any goods, acting as an elbow passer, screen, or backup shooter. He might not have the guys ceiling in front of him, but he could play for a long time in the league.
10. Pelicans – Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga (22)
One of the best shooters in this category (44% out of 6.5 3-point attempts per game last season), Kispert’s accuracy and quick trigger should allow him to make an immediate impact at the next level. He’s not an exceptional athlete, but he fights on the defensive. He must continue to develop his dribbling skills in order to be able to punish opponents who come very close to the 3-point line.
11. Hornets – Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas (18 years old)
A great old-school man, Sengun led the Turkish Super League, averaging 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game while shooting 64.6 percent from the field. He has excellent feel around the rim and has shown a willingness to hit the man open. There are questions about his lack of shooting and his defensive limits.
12. Spurs – Jalen Johnson, F, Duke (19)
Johnson only played 13 games at Duke, leaving the team in February to focus on preparing for the NBA Draft. His tantalizing talent was at times fully on display, especially his ability to create for himself and others in the outdoors. Will those flashes of brilliance outweigh any concerns about its maturity?
13. Pacers – Josh Giddey, G, Adelaide (18)
Giddey won the NBL Rookie of the Year award after averaging 10.9 points, 7.5 assists and 7.4 rebounds per game. He understands how to manipulate defenses and create passing lanes. He’s not a lightless shooter (29.3 out of 3 points) or an out-of-the-ordinary athlete, but there’s reason to believe he will become a nice piece of an NBA rotation.
14. Warriors – James Bouknight, G, Connecticut (20)
Bouknight receives buckets. A natural scorer (18.7 points per game), the UConn star can fight his way to the basket and hit contested jump shots from dribbling, an important skill for NBA guards. He will need to work on his passes and provide more consistent resistance on the defensive end, but he should provide sufficient offensive firepower.