With the 2021 NBA Draft just about three weeks away, the lottery order is set and the combine is now a thing of the past.
At the moment, the top six picks look to be just about set in stone, with Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Kuminga, and Scottie Barnes primed to go in that range.
Outside of the top six is where things could get interesting. The likes of Davion Mitchell, Franz Wagner, Keon Johnson, James Bouknight, and Josh Giddey are at least expected to be sure-fire lottery picks. However, others such as Moses Moody, Jalen Johnson, Kai Jones, and Alperen Sengun could end up as lottery picks as well.
There is a similar level of intrigue for the back-end of the first round, where there is plenty of room for movement as draft day gets closer.
Here is the latest:
Mock Draft Roundup
ESPN’s Jonathan Givony on the Houston Rockets’ plans at no. 2:
“NBA teams say they don’t have a great pulse on the Rockets’ plans because of their brand new front office’s lack of track record, coupled with the franchise’s early stage of rebuilding since the James Harden trade. With that said, most teams think the Rockets will end up prioritizing the shot creation and playmaking ability of Green over Mobley, the type of big man a front office groomed by previous GM Daryl Morey would seem less likely to covet. Green has the type of superstar upside the franchise lacks, making him an exciting prospect to build around long term, on and off the court.”
The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor on the Cleveland Cavaliers’ draft plans:
“Mobley has a versatile skill set, both as a shooter who can make plays off the bounce and as a switchable defender. He’d be the ideal complement to Cleveland’s young core, headlined by Darius Garland and Collin Sexton. But there’s no guarantee he’ll be available, so both Jalens (Green and Suggs) will also be in consideration, opening up the opportunity to flip one of Garland or Sexton, or pursue a trade down with a team that has multiple picks such as Orlando or Oklahoma City.”
Givony on the Golden State Warriors’ draft plans:
“The Warriors will likely feel some pressure created by Steph Curry’s age and soon-to-expire contract to return to championship contention as quickly as possible. With that in mind, there will surely be factions of their decision-making circle, particularly in the coaching staff, attracted to Mitchell, arguably the best two-way player in the college game who is fresh off a national championship run at Baylor. Mitchell’s strong playmaking, shot-making instincts and defensive versatility should allow him to operate in a variety of lineup configurations alongside Golden State’s existing core.”
O’Connor on Alperen Sengun:
“Sengun is the biggest sleeper in the lottery and could be a potential riser as draft day approaches. He won MVP in the Turkish league at just 18 years old and has great NBA potential because of his versatile offensive talents. He’s advanced on the post, has passing vision, and possesses a clear path to becoming a reliable shooter. Defense is a concern for him, but his activity and intelligence are positive indicators for his upside, and the Spurs have a strong track record of helping young players develop.”
Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman on Jalen Johnson:
“Scouts see Jalen Johnson as a candidate to slip. The question is how far. His track record shows instability, with the 6’9″ forward having changed high schools multiple times and left IMG without playing before his midseason departure from Duke. Scouts don’t know how much trust to put in Johnson, whose struggles creating in the half court and shooting are also worrisome.”
Wasserman on Jared Butler:
“Teams are still in wait-and-see mode on Butler, who must be cleared after the NBA red-flagged a heart condition that was discovered during his college recruitment. He played three seasons at Baylor without any issues, but no clearance before the draft creates risk that teams may want to avoid.”
CBS Sports’s Colin Ward-Henninger on Josh Christopher:
“Christopher has all the upside you want in a late first-rounder, and he said he had an “amazing” meeting with the 76ers. He has NBA athleticism and creates tremendous space off the dribble with a confident mid-range and 3-point stroke. He improved toward the end of the year at Arizona State, indicating an upward trajectory. Philadelphia can give him time to develop, but a bench unit featuring Christopher and Tyrese Maxey could do wonders for its offense.”