The NBA Draft is an important time for many rebuilding franchises. It allows them to potentially pick a draft prospect who could end up being a star or filling a depth role on the team. Obviously, every team's needs are different, but the value of having a young player on a small contract is there for everyone.
One of the things people like to do is project which franchise each draft prospect will go to, as that can affect how they develop, or how many opportunities they get. We have created a mock draft featuring the 2021 NBA Draft class. Check it out below:
1. Detroit Pistons - Cade Cunningham
Cade Cunningham may be the most hyped-up prospect in this draft. While sometimes, hyped players end up disappointing, this situation is entirely different.
When watching his game, we can see that Cade Cunningham can pretty much do everything: create his own shot, make plays for others and run an offense. While he averaged more assists than turnovers in college, there is a big possibility that playing with better players in the NBA will unlock that side of his game.
The Detroit Pistons were the worst team in the Eastern Conference this season, and perhaps Cade Cunningham can help change their fortunes around. Their roster already has some solid players such as Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey, and hopefully, Cunningham can be that special talent that makes it all work in Motor City.
2. Houston Rockets - Evan Mobley
Evan Mobley is the prototype for a modern big man. He is a great rim protector with size who can also switch onto the perimeter on guards. On the offensive end, he will be a great finisher on the interior, and is capable of shooting, though he will have to extend his range at the NBA level. Simply put, the potential for him to become an elite two-way big man is there.
The Houston Rockets will have an interesting big-man pairing on the roster if they end up drafting Mobley. Christian Wood is a versatile power forward who just had the best season of his career, averaging 21.0 PPG and 9.6 RPG, while shooting 37.4% from beyond the arc. If the Houston Rockets can make sure Wood and Mobley work together, then they may have something special on their hands.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jalen Green
What stands out about Jalen Green is his athleticism at the SG position. He is explosive, and he has length and size to boot. He is a willing finisher at the rim but is also a capable shooter. His free throw percentage is at 82.9% in the G-League this season, which bodes well for the development of his jumper. His shot creation will reach a better level if he can improve his handle.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have shown interesting in trading out of their pick, but if they pick Jaylen Green, they will pair one of the most exciting young prospects this year with an elite scorer in Collin Sexton. There's no question that Green has a lot of potentials, and he could be a great building block for the Cavaliers.
4. Toronto Raptors - Jalen Suggs
Jalen Suggs is a combo guard who can do a little bit of everything. Kyle Lowry is getting older and older (and is a free agent this summer), and perhaps the Toronto Raptors will pick Jalen Suggs as a replacement for the future. Suggs is a great playmaker in most situations and is also capable of constantly pressuring the rim on the offensive end. He is agile and athletic to boot.
There is no question that Jalen Suggs will be a great guard who will thrive with the Toronto Raptors' development system. They've made All-Stars out of late first-round picks like Siakam, so perhaps they could make Jalen Suggs into a special player as well.
5. Orlando Magic - Jonathan Kuminga
There's one thing that anyone can see when it comes to Jonathan Kuminga: he's a raw player. He will take time to become good. However, his mix of unique athleticism and raw skill makes him a tantalizing prospect. Kuminga shot less than 25% from beyond the arc and less than 38.7% in the G-League, but if he develops his shot creation and shooting skill, he will be a great player.
The Orlando Magic are a rebuilding team, featuring young talents such as Mohamed Bamba and Jonathan Isaac. Adding Kuminga to the mix would give them yet another lengthy and athletic prospect, and if Kuminga can develop his offensive game in the next few years, he may become a go-to scoring option on their team.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder - Scottie Barnes
Scottie Barnes is a player who is known for his defense, and when you combine it with his sneaky athleticism, one can see why he's an attractive prospect. Defensive skills are easier to translate to the NBA, and Barnes is capable of being good at the NBA level due to his size and defensive IQ. The thing that Barnes does need to work on is his shooting: he only shot 29.7% from beyond the arc in college.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a team that could let Barnes take his time and acclimate to the NBA game. He will have the time to develop properly, address his jump shooting, while still being a solid contributor defensively.
7. Golden State Warriors - Keon Johnson
Keon Johnson is a wing player who can eventually become a decent scorer. Like others, he will need to work on his jump shooting to fulfill his potential as a shot creator, and offensive player. He has great athleticism that lets him get to the rim.
The Golden State Warriors need wing depth, as Kelly Oubre Jr. will be a free agent, and Andrew Wiggins will obviously not play 48 minutes a game. While free agency signings will come into play, Keon Johnson seems like a great depth option. With the Warriors, he won't have any pressure to perform offensively his first season, allowing him to address the flaws in his game.
8. Orlando Magic - Moses Moody
Moses Moody's offensive game should translate to the NBA quite smoothly. He is a great shooter, and could immediately contribute offensively just by spacing the floor. He is a solid perimeter defender as well, meaning he does at least two things that most teams want in the NBA.
In Orlando, Moody would be able to get minutes just by being a good shooter. It remains to be seen if he can develop into something more, and the key there will be to work on his finishing and shot creation against good defenders.
9. Sacramento Kings - James Bouknight
James Bouknight would give the Sacramento Kings a guard who could contribute right away. He is a good ballhandler and playmaker and can slash well to the rim and finish. He needs to work on his shooting though, but as with many other prospects, that will come with reps at the NBA level.
Bouknight could be a bench point guard in Sacramento, as they already have De'Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton on the roster. He is capable of creating for himself and others while playing good defense, which makes him a solid fit for the role.
10. New Orleans Pelicans - Davion Mitchell
Davion Mitchell's draft stock dropped due to him being shorter than projected at 6'0, but he is still an extremely skilled player. He plays with tenacity on the defensive end, and he is an extremely capable offensive player and shot creator even at his size. He has a versatile skillset at the guard position, and that could be useful for the Pelicans.
The New Orleans Pelicans already have some promising guards, but Lonzo Ball could potentially leave this summer which would free up minutes for all the guards on the roster. There is no doubt that he is talented, and he could potentially contribute as a bench scorer on the Pelicans.
11. Charlotte Hornets - Jalen Johnson
Jalen Johnson is a forward who is a great playmaker and defender. He is a team player, setting good screens for his teammates, and playmaking for others. Johnson does need to work on his half-court game, as he is elite in transition, but doesn't have as large of an impact in a half-court setting. Not a huge scorer either, but not everyone is.
On the Hornets, Jalen Johnson could be a solid depth option who makes the right plays on the offensive end. While he wouldn't necessarily be a scorer, his facilitating should be of use to the team that ends up drafting him.
12. San Antonio Spurs - Corey Kispert
Corey Kispert is a 4-year player, so he should be ready for the NBA. His shooting would suggest that he definitely has a role to play: he averaged 44.4% from beyond the arc, and he has most of the attributes that you'd want out of a shooter at the NBA level. While he isn't likely to stand out with any sort of off-the-dribble skill, he definitely can fill a role.
The San Antonio Spurs have some of the worst spacing in the NBA, so having a shooter like Corey Kispert would definitely help solve some of that. While Kispert won't necessarily be a star, his shooting should allow him to stay in the NBA and be valuable to his team.
13. Indiana Pacers - Josh Giddey
Josh Giddey is a guard who has the size of a wing who played in the NBL last season. He has professional experience, which could be useful in adjusting to the NBA. The potential is there: he has solid playmaking and vision for his size (7.4 APG last season), but the scoring and shooting need to be developed. Capable rebounder as well.
With Josh Giddey, the Indiana Pacers would get a prospect with high upside, and one that they could slowly develop into an all-around player. If the Pacers believe Giddey can develop his offensive game further, then picking him at 13 is worth it.
14. Golden State Warriors - Chris Duarte
Chris Duarte is a senior from Oregon who should fit what the Golden State Warriors need in a ready-made player. The Warriors have a veteran core, and a player that would be able to contribute immediately is a solid pick at 14.
Duarte is a great shooter (42.4% from beyond the arc), and he will be capable of hitting the open shots that will come from Stephen Curry's offensive gravity. He would give the Warriors yet another option on the wing and will be a good fit with the Warriors 3PT based system.
15. Washington Wizards - Alperen Sengun
Alperen Sengun is a slight unknown due to playing in the Turkish League but he has shown himself to be a versatile offensive talent that won MVP in that league. He is skillful when playing on the interior, has a good feel for the game, and is an excellent passer. There are concerns about his defense and his shooting, though the defense should improve with experience, and his high FT% bodes well for his shooting.
The Washington Wizards would take a chance at Sengun here, simply because of his potential. While Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook are the "now" of the team, a younger talented prospect gives the Wizards a building block for the future.
16. Oklahoma City Thunder - Kai Jones
Kai Jones isn't a ready-made player, but his upside makes him a worthy selection at No. 16 for the Oklahoma City Thunder, who can give him time to develop. While his college statistics don't necessarily look spectacular, he is a talented big man who shot 38.2% from range last season.
Jones projects to be a solid stretch 5 with switchability, which is a useful player for any team if he can develop. While he would obviously be one of the riskier picks for Oklahoma City, they can definitely afford to take on a project with their current situation.
17. Memphis Grizzlies - Ziaire Williams
Ziaire Williams is a player who could potentially boast great shot-creation and defensive skills if he develops right. He has the tools physically, but he needs to work on his shooting and improve his finishing to fulfill his potential as an offensive force.
There is no question that many have viewed Williams highly, as he was a top-10 recruit coming out of high school. The Memphis Grizzlies made the playoffs this year, but they're still a young team, whose timeline Williams fits perfectly. If he can develop the skill to go with his athleticism, then Williams may be a solid fit next to Ja Morant.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder - Franz Wagner
Franz Wagner is a shooter who makes smart plays on both defense and offense. He is an okay enough shooter, who also does some other things on the offensive end, such as cutting well, and he isn't a turnover machine like some other college players. On the defensive end, he is fairly capable of guarding multiple positions.
On the Oklahoma City Thunder, Wagner will add to their collection of solid shooters. The Oklahoma City Thunder could potentially trade some of their later draft picks, but Wagner would be a solid enough fit anywhere due to his positive influence on both sides of the court.
19. New York Knicks - Usman Garuba
The New York Knicks would select Usman Garuba here who even as a Rookie, would fit Coach Thibodeau's defensive mentality. Usman Garuba is a pure hustle type of big man, who does it all on the defensive end.
As a later pick, Garuba merits the selection as he could potentially develop into an elite defensive big man for years to come. In a lot of draft classes, there are talented big men who are drafted later in the draft, and perhaps Garuba is this year's personification of that concept.
20. Atlanta Hawks - Cam Thomas
Cam Thomas was a great scorer at the college level although his efficiency numbers weren't great. He is a great isolation scorer, who can also finish strong at the rim, in transition or otherwise.
There is no doubt that Thomas would take on a much smaller role with Trae Young running the majority of the Hawks' offense, which would allow him to have more room to operate at the NBA level.
21. New York Knicks - Jaden Springer
Jaden Springer is a player who makes the smart plays as a perimeter and help defender, and he is another prospect that the Knicks and Tom Thibodeau could be interested in. Thibodeau's Knicks often grind out games just by playing strong defense, and Springer would fit that style of play.
22. Los Angeles Lakers - Sharife Cooper
Sharife Cooper is a pass-first player who could potentially be adept at running the offense one day. He's a gifted passer and often displays awareness far beyond his years. The red flags here are the shooting and his smaller frame, but perhaps the Los Angeles Lakers would take a chance on a prospect who can play a team-oriented style like Cooper.
23. Houston Rockets - Greg Brown
Greg Brown is a big man who has great athleticism, and the potential to be a good player in the future. He has incredible upside, and that could be good in the low 20 range for the Houston Rockets. While they will likely draft Evan Mobley as No. 2, having another high potential big man getting spot minutes on the roster wouldn't hurt.
24. Houston Rockets - Tre Mann
Tre Mann has the capability to be the main ball handler on a team, and he also has a lethal perimeter game. The game is moving towards having multiple capable perimeter creators on the court at the same time, so Mann's attributes fit the direction of the future. Mann can create off the bounce well, and at No. 24, there's no reason for the Rockets to not add another high upside prospect.
25. Los Angeles Clippers - Ayo Dosunmu
Ayo Dosunmu is a big guard who can take on the defensive challenge against NBA-level competition. While he won't necessarily be a game-changer on offense, he is a very capable guard who has good awareness on the defensive end. He has a winning mentality and would be useful for the Los Angeles Clippers as he has offensive upside while being able to contribute to a contender with his defense.
26. Denver Nuggets - Josh Christopher
The Denver Nuggets are often known for taking high-upside prospects such as R. J. Hampton and Bol Bol in the past, so perhaps history could repeat itself here. Josh Cristopher is a high upside guard who showed good flashes of NBA-level shot creation. While some were concerned about his 3PT shooting, he finished his year strong, so perhaps the Denver Nuggets would take a look at him as a project for the future.
27. Brooklyn Nets - Jeremiah Robinson - Earl
As mentioned before, contenders often need players who contribute immediately, and that is even more true for the Brooklyn Nets, who have all the pressure in the world to win a championship next season considering the star power on the team. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl would be a wing who can contribute immediately on defense, and if he develops his shooting, on offense. He may not "wow" you with his upside, but the Nets are a team that needs to win now.
28. Philadelphia 76ers - Day'ron Sharpe
Dwight Howard will be a free agent, and could potentially leave the Philadelphia 76ers. That would mean that they need a potential backup, and Day'Ron Sharpe could potentially be that player. Sharpe is a capable rebounder who hustles on both ends and is the perfect big man to play spot minutes backing up Joel Embiid. While he isn't that versatile offensively, in a backup center role it is doubtful that teams would play through him.
29. Phoenix Suns - Miles McBride
Miles McBride would be yet another guard on the Phoenix Suns' roster, but depth is key to a contender. The Phoenix Suns have shown themselves to be firmly in that category. Miles McBride is a player who can contribute immediately as a shooter, and lock up on the defensive end. While he likely wouldn't see the court in the playoffs, he'd be a solid bench player in limited minutes.
30. Utah Jazz - Trey Murphy III
Trey Murphy III is a player that would slot in nicely to the Utah Jazz's system, as he is a great shooter from range. The Jazz surround Rudy Gobert with 4 shooters most of the time, and Trey Murphy III could get doing just that during the regular season. The Jazz could never have too many shooters.