2021 NBA Mock Draft 6.0: Thunder-Celtics trade shakes up first round before lottery sets order for top 14


Oklahoma State

• Fr

• 6’8″

/ 220 lbs

Projected Team

Orlando

PROSPECT RNK

1st

POSITION RNK

1st

PPG

20.1

RPG

6.2

APG

3.5

3P%

40.0%

Orlando has some interesting pieces in its backcourt and on the wing but no talent matches what Cunningham can bring to the next level. He’s an NBA-ready wing who fits the archetype of a playmaker from a premium position and he’s capable of fitting into virtually every situation. There are no holes evident in his game, and we are nearing a consensus that regardless of who wins the No. 1 pick, he’ll be going No. 1.

Gonzaga

• Fr

• 6’4″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK

2nd

POSITION RNK

2nd

PPG

14.4

RPG

5.3

APG

4.5

3P%

33.7%

Houston is in full rebuild mode after dealing James Harden and recording the worst record in the NBA. Jalen Suggs is a building block type player who with his passing vision, competitive drive and smarts from the point guard position projects as a starter at the position.


Jalen Green


SG

USA

• 6’5″

/ 172 lbs

Projected Team

Detroit

PROSPECT RNK

4th

POSITION RNK

1st

PPG

17.9

RPG

4.1

APG

2.8

3P%

36.5%

Killian Hayes showed flashes as an NBA starting point guard in bursts last season and Isaiah Stewart looks like a real steal, so Detroit takes a piece who can surround some of those young talents in Jalen Green. He’s an NBA scorer already who can create his own shot and has perimeter skills to be an impact player right away. He still has work to do to develop as a playmaker and defensively but his youth and athleticism suggest there is room for him to grow on both fronts.


Jonathan Kuminga


SF

Congo

• 6’8″

/ 205 lbs

PPG

15.8

RPG

7.2

APG

2.7

3P%

24.6%

The first big stunner of the draft: OKC passes on Mobley and bets on the upside of Jonathan Kuminga, who is seen by most as the fifth-best prospect of the big five in this draft. Wouldn’t be a surprise given OKC’s draft history. This front office loves athleticism and length and Kuminga, at just 18 years old, has produced in a big way already for the G League Ignite team. The shot needs work and he is undoubtedly still raw, but the Thunder have enough draft picks over the next few years to take the player whose ceiling long-term might be higher than anyone in this draft.

USC

• Fr

• 7’0″

/ 215 lbs

Projected Team

Cleveland

PROSPECT RNK

3rd

POSITION RNK

1st

PPG

16.4

RPG

8.7

APG

2.4

3P%

30%

By default in a draft with five Tier 1 talents, Cleveland takes the fifth remaining top-level prospect in Evan Mobley. He’s a defensive monster from USC with transcendent talent from the center spot and seen by some as the best big man talent since Anthony Davis. One scout told me recently he’s a legitimate No. 1 pick contender despite Cunningham’s standing among the league.

Florida State

• Fr

• 6’9″

/ 227 lbs

Projected Team

Golden St.

PROSPECT RNK

9th

POSITION RNK

2nd

PPG

10.3

RPG

4

APG

4.1

3P%

27.5%

There is no “next Draymond Green” — he is one-of-a-kind — but Scottie Barnes rightly draws some comps to the Warriors star. He’s a 6-foot-9 forward with excellent passing ability who ran the offense at Florida State. In Golden State’s system he could slot in a similar role as a short-roll decision-maker to create offense, and because of his size and smarts, he projects to be a plus-defender pretty early. All of that seems enticing for a team potentially capable of contending in 2021-22.

Baylor

• Jr

• 6’2″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

Toronto

PROSPECT RNK

7th

POSITION RNK

3rd

PPG

14

RPG

2.7

APG

5.5

3P%

44.7%

Davion Mitchell was the star of the postseason for the title-winning Baylor Bears, serving as a lead initiator, defensive stopper and all-around star. It’s hard to imagine he falls out of the top 10. A place like Toronto makes a ton of sense, too. Kyle Lowry is headed to free agency and in general, Masai Ujiri has always placed a priority on talent regardless of age. Mitchell turns 23 this year.

Connecticut

• Soph

• 6’5″

/ 190 lbs

Projected Team

Orlando

PROSPECT RNK

8th

POSITION RNK

3rd

PPG

18.7

RPG

5.7

APG

1.8

3P%

29.3%

An elbow injury and subsequent surgery midseason disrupted James Bouknight’s breakout sophomore season, but scouts are well aware of what he can do on the court. His shot-creation and ability to finish in traffic are NBA skills. Orlando could put those to use as it builds through the draft with Bouknight, who is one of the draft’s true bucket-getters.

Michigan

• Soph

• 6’9″

/ 220 lbs

Projected Team

Sacramento

PROSPECT RNK

16th

POSITION RNK

4th

PPG

12.5

RPG

6.5

APG

3

3P%

34.3%

Sacramento’s depth along with the wing is a spot many believe it will address via the draft. Franz Wagner should be a contender to go in this range, and the fit makes sense. He’s got a long frame and is a heady defensive player whose 3-point shooting — while just-OK — is an area I’d like to buy long-term. The shot doesn’t look broken. If it improves he could be a capable 3-and-D NBA player for a Kings team that could use that exact skill set.

Gonzaga

• Sr

• 6’7″

/ 220 lbs

Projected Team

New Orleans

PROSPECT RNK

18th

POSITION RNK

5th

PPG

18.6

RPG

5

APG

1.8

3P%

44%

New Orleans needs to continue to surround Zion Williamson with shooters so they can space the floor and give him room to operate. So, why not get the best shooter in the draft? Kispert hit 44% from 3-point range last season for Gonzaga and has a quick release that makes him one of the most lethal spot-up shooters in this draft, and he’s also got some wiggle to him as well that should free him up to knock shots down off the dribble. Fit is pretty great in NOLA.


Alperen Sengun


C

Turkey

• 6’10”

/ 240 lbs

Projected Team

Charlotte

PROSPECT RNK

24th

POSITION RNK

2nd

Charlotte desperately needs to address its center position and Alperen Sengun is someone I’d love to have fall to me if I’m them. He’s dominating in Turkey as a scorer and rebounder and scouts are coming around to the idea that he could be a top-10 pick in this draft, despite some defensive limitations and a lack of overall scoring polish beyond the arc.

Tennessee

• Fr

• 6’5″

/ 186 lbs

Projected Team

San Antonio

PROSPECT RNK

6th

POSITION RNK

2nd

PPG

11.3

RPG

3.5

APG

2.5

3P%

27.1%

The Spurs are at a crossroads organizationally and betting big on young talents is a move that’d make a ton of sense. Keon Johnson is a player who would fit the vision of a team with a long-term view, as he’s got the physical gifts of a top-five pick but is at a point developmentally where he still needs to sharpen up offensively to really reach his potential. No better franchise to gamble on those physical tools than one that helped mold Kawhi Leonard into an All-Star.

Duke

• Fr

• 6’9″

/ 220 lbs

Projected Team

Indiana

PROSPECT RNK

20th

POSITION RNK

6th

PPG

11.2

RPG

6.1

APG

2.2

3P%

44.4%

Jalen Johnson did not have a great season at Duke. He then quit the team before the end of the season. But scouts I’ve talked with aren’t worried about that situation nor are they putting too much stock into his one-and-done season. They see a combo forward who has some offensive limitations in the halfcourt but can pass better than most from his position and is pretty killer in transition. The Pacers could probably talk themselves into the value here knowing it’d address forward depth and give them a player once viewed as a potential top-five pick.


Josh Giddey


SF

Australia

• 6’8″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

Golden St.

PROSPECT RNK

12th

POSITION RNK

3rd

PPG

10.9

RPG

7.4

APG

7.5

3P%

29.3%

Stephen Curry was left to fend for himself by the end of the season, shouldering an ungodly work load on offense. Josh Giddey is a player who could at the very least handle some playmaking load. Scouts don’t see him as a true point guard at the NBA level but in the NBL he showed incredible passing and anticipation and could work his way into a secondary creator role — even on a Warriors team with Curry, Klay and Draymond. Most likely, he’s a second-unit creator early and grows into something more as he develops.


Usman Garuba


PF

Spain

• 6’8″

/ 229 lbs

Projected Team

Washington

PROSPECT RNK

27th

POSITION RNK

3rd

Garuba is a smidge undersized as an NBA center but categorized as a “big” and looking at his production overseas, there’s a lot to like about his NBA upside, particularly as a defender. That could make him a nice fit in Washington where his energy and mobility could thrust him into a big role early on a team that had one of the worst showings defensively among all teams in the playoffs.

Stanford

• Fr

• 6’8″

/ 185 lbs

PPG

10.7

RPG

4.6

APG

2.2

3P%

29.1%

Stanford had a wacky year in which it lived out of hotel rooms for a huge portion of the season and Williams had his own personal challenges with two deaths in the family. Ultimately, he wasn’t able to live up to his five-star billing, struggling to separate himself as a clear-cut lottery pick. But his shot-making flashes, size and overall scoring ability are nonetheless still very rare. While he’s all over the place with evaluators, a team like OKC could decide the upside bet is worth it. He was a potential top-five pick before the season.

Oregon

• Sr

• 6’6″

/ 190 lbs

Projected Team

Memphis

PROSPECT RNK

17th

POSITION RNK

6th

PPG

17.1

RPG

4.6

APG

2.7

3P%

42.4%

Memphis’ front office has a type: They love betting on winners with good basketball smarts. Duarte is undoubtedly that. The knock is that he’s already 24 years old and probably closer to a polished product than anyone else. That hasn’t dissuaded this franchise before, however. (See: Xavier Tillman, Desmond Bane, Jevon Carter.)

Texas

• Soph

• 6’11”

/ 218 lbs

PPG

8.8

RPG

4.8

APG

0.6

3P%

38.2%

An elite athlete with tons of physical tools, Jones is one of the X-factors of the draft as a true boom-or-bust talent. His ceiling is limitless but his floor is virtually nonexistent. He needs time to develop physically and to learn and feel the game. OKC can afford to be patient and invest on upside, a theme here with this draft for a franchise hoping to build a contender almost entirely through the draft.

Florida

• Soph

• 6’5″

/ 190 lbs

Projected Team

New York

PROSPECT RNK

10th

POSITION RNK

4th

PPG

16

RPG

5.6

APG

3.5

3P%

40.2%

The Knicks were a great story this season. They made the playoffs when no one expected they would, playing a physical style in the mold of their tough-nosed coach. But the playoffs proved their offense is … not great. Tre Mann at No. 19 feels like good value as a potential add to help on that front. He made 40.2% from 3-point range at Florida last season and has the offensive versatility to add a little on and off the ball.

LSU

• Fr

• 6’4″

/ 210 lbs

Projected Team

Atlanta

PROSPECT RNK

14th

POSITION RNK

4th

PPG

23

RPG

3.4

APG

1.4

3P%

32.5%

Cameron Thomas as a freshman for LSU last season led the SEC in scoring, averaging 22.8 points per game. He was a scorer at the prep level, a scorer at the college level, and he’ll be a scorer in the NBA. It’s his NBA skill. The Hawks clearly value that type of talent, too, having traded for Lou Williams earlier this year.

Kentucky

• Fr

• 6’10”

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

New York

PROSPECT RNK

23rd

POSITION RNK

2nd

The Knicks drafted a big last year in Obi Toppin but Toppin, Isaiah Jackson is not. He’s a similarly explosive athlete but he’s brimming with defensive potential and more of a modern rim-to-rim big who can swat shots and finish lobs. Adding Jackson could be nice insurance for Nerlens Noel’s looming free agency.

Arkansas

• Fr

• 6’6″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

L.A. Lakers

PROSPECT RNK

15th

POSITION RNK

5th

PPG

16.8

RPG

5.8

APG

1.6

3P%

35.8%

Moses Moody is a potential lottery pick but his lack of playmaking and separation skills are concerning enough to potentially drop him into this range. That’d be a huge win for a Lakers team who could use his 3-and-D skill set. He shot 35.8% from 3-point range last season and was in the 80th percentile as a spot-up shooter. Ideal traits to be a role-player on a contender.

Kentucky

• Fr

• 6’7″

/ 185 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK

32nd

POSITION RNK

10th

PPG

11.5

RPG

4.5

APG

1.6

3P%

30%

Boston’s freshman season was disappointing relative to expectations. Most viewed him as a top-five pick, yet he struggled to really look the part as his shooting inconsistencies were too frequent and at times he looked lost. But he looked better at the end of the season and physically, there just aren’t many wings with his talents. Maybe he figures it out in the NBA, maybe not, but a gamble for Houston worth taking at No. 23 overall given its current state of affairs.

Texas

• Fr

• 6’9″

/ 205 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK

31st

POSITION RNK

4th

PPG

9.3

RPG

6.2

APG

0.4

3P%

33%

Another bet for Houston. Greg Brown was a five-star who played his way out of Texas’ rotation by season’s end. He was too raw and unproductive. But in terms of pure athleticism and explosiveness, there’s physically not many who can move and leap the way he can. He’ll be a developmental project but one worth the investment if he grows into his potential with all those tools carried by his 6-9 frame.

Auburn

• Fr

• 6’1″

/ 180 lbs

PPG

20.2

RPG

4.3

APG

8.1

3P%

22.8%

Sharife Cooper is the most creative passer in this draft. The way he sees plays develop and anticipates windows is next-level for a 20-year-old is remarkable. His 6-1 frame, defensive struggles and outside shooting inconsistency are keeping him from the lottery consideration, but his playmaking could be a boon for this Clippers club to ease the burden a bit for Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

Illinois

• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 200 lbs

Projected Team

Denver

PROSPECT RNK

26th

POSITION RNK

8th

PPG

20.1

RPG

6.3

APG

5.3

3P%

38.6%

One of the most improved upperclassmen prospects in the class, Ayo Dosunmu took his 3-point percentage from 29.6% to 38.6% while serving as the top option on a team that earned a No. 1 seed. He made significant developmental strides the last year. His scoring, playmaking and selfless style fit on a Denver team that needs backcourt depth to put next to MVP Nikola Jokic.

Villanova

• Soph

• 6’9″

/ 230 lbs

Projected Team

Brooklyn

PROSPECT RNK

40th

POSITION RNK

6th

PPG

15.7

RPG

8.5

APG

2.2

3P%

28%

Love the idea of adding a hard-nosed, do-it-all forward to Brooklyn’s contending core. Robinson-Earl packs a punch with his rebounding skills and ability to score it inside the arc. Has role-playing potential to fit neatly into the Nets’ Big 3 infrastructure.

Baylor

• Jr

• 6’3″

/ 195 lbs

Projected Team

Philadelphia

PROSPECT RNK

19th

POSITION RNK

6th

PPG

16.7

RPG

3.3

APG

4.8

3P%

41.6%

Tyrese Maxey has shown no fear in the playoffs and Seth Curry looks like a very real piece Philly can rely on offensively, but the lack of shot-creation on this roster has at times hurt the 76ers’ chances. Final Four MOP Jared Butler can add an extra boost on that front. He’s an experienced college player with a high-level feel for the game and excellent court vision and creation skills with above-average 3-point shooting to boot. Exactly what Philly needs, and someone I’d bet is talented enough to play a big role early.

North Carolina

• Fr

• 6’11”

/ 265 lbs

Projected Team

Phoenix

PROSPECT RNK

30th

POSITION RNK

4th

Phoenix’s roster and postseason run is a masterclass in team-building and it deserves a tip of the cap. But the Suns inexplicably are a conference finals team with one true center in De’Andre Ayton. It’s a position they need to address after getting very little production from 2020 first-round center Jalen Smith. Sharpe is a high-energy, rebounding force who could give Phoenix a different dimension at the position with his big body and ability to run the floor.

Tennessee

• Fr

• 6’4″

/ 204 lbs

Projected Team

Utah

PROSPECT RNK

11th

POSITION RNK

5th

PPG

12.5

RPG

3.5

APG

2.9

3P%

43.5%

Highly — highly! — unlikely Springer falls this far. This is probably his lowest possible draft outcome. That would be a win for the Jazz, though, who in Springer could get a defender with a killer mindset. From what I’ve seen on tape, Springer’s offensive shot-creation is a skill that is likely to translate to the NBA, and I think he’s versatile enough to play on or off the ball.





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