It is yet again another weird year. We are drafting in the end of July for the first time ever. Last year we are drafting in mid-November and now late July. Thankfully we go back to normal next season. For now though we have the same two people from last year here to give you the Couch Guy Sports’ 2021 NBA Mock Draft. Mike Gilligan from Small State Big Takes and Verbally Committed and myself Chris Jones. Just like last year Gilli sent me his and I did not peak. Looking at the new Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay here when it comes to the NBA Draft. We have some similarities this time around, but we also have some different takes as well. Now with that being said here is our 2021 NBA Mock Draft.
1.) Detroit Pistons
Gilli: Cade Cunningham, G – Oklahoma State
No-brainer selection here with the first pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.. Cunningham is the clearcut #1 for a reason, no need for the Pistons to overthink it. His ability to facilitate and score should be evident from day 1 in Detroit. Expect him to be an opening-night starter, and the odds on favorite for the 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year. His combination of size and athleticism could put him in the lottery in any year. Then when you factor in his basketball IQ, and skillset to score and be a playmaker, he’s a bonafide #1 pick. Cunningham’s pairing with 2020 1st-round pick Killian Hayes should alleviate some pressure after a somewhat tumultuous year 1. On the other side of the ball, he’s already a plus defender, with significant size (6’8 and a wingspan of 7’). The biggest (and pretty much only) knock on his game is his quickness/first step.
Jones: Cade Cunningham, G- Oklahoma State
Just like Gilli, I have Cade Cunningham being my consensus number one overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft. Cunningham is great with the ball in his hands and has some serious upside in this league. He is a skilled defender and can easily be a solid two way player in this league. I wrote about Cade Cunningham to Detroit the second they won the NBA Draft Lottery last month. A lot of comparisons in my opinion to Cunningham is Jimmy Butler. A floor general that has a solid jumper. I saw Luka comparisons and I want to pump the brakes a little there. More realistic to me is either Jimmy Butler or a young Grant Hill. Cade Cunningham is a household name and if he is not at the moment after the first month he for sure will be.
2.) Houston Rockets
Gilli: Evan Mobley, F/C – USC
The more and more I watch highlights of Mobley, the more convinced I am that he’ll be the obvious best pick of the 2021 NBA draft in a year or two. His efficiency stats are incredible for a 7-footer, and he’s still barely 20 years old! Mobley’s passing ability at this age is what separates him from any other big in this class, and recent draft prospects. Defensively, Mobley is long and a presence who knows how to control his body. That body control/awareness, in my opinion, is arguably more important than just raw number of blocks stats. He’s got a great block to foul ratio (1.64). In comparison,
DeAndre Ayton’s block:foul ratio was 0.81 in college. His slight frame is what inhibits his ability to rebound and be seen as a defensive anchor, or else we’d be having the conversation of Cunningham or Mobley at #1. If he fills out well, watch out – he could be a nightly triple-double threat.
Jones: Jalen Green, G – G-League Ignite
The highest rated recruit that went to the G-League rather than college goes number two here. Green has huge upside and I think he is a must have prospect for Houston. Houston already has Kevin Porter Jr. who I believe has a bright future ahead of him in Houston. Add a dynamic scorer in Jalen Green to that mike and I believe the Rockets have their back court of the future. Jalen Green is freakishly athletic and has a three level scoring ability which is fantastic for the kind of guard that he can become. He is not a sniper from beyond the arc yet. but I do see Green as a big time player for the Rockets here. Look for Houston to focus on their back court of the future and then trying to figure out what to do with John Wall after this pick.
3.) Cleveland Cavaliers
Gilli: Jalen Green, G – G-League Ignite
Jalen Green is the dynamic scorer alternative to the top 2 prospects in Cunningham and Mobley in the 2021 NBA Draft. Of those 3, Green seems most ready offensively to score 20-plus per game, depending on his team circumstances. His athleticism is top-notch, and in most years, he’d be a bonafide and exciting #1 pick. He progressed really well and was the stud of the G-League Ignite squad, and lived up to the hype. He’s not very big – his 6’5 stature is pretty average for a non-point guard. Defensively he has a ton of work to do – but the Cavs have time for him to work it out.
Given the Rockets’ roster structure, it wouldn’t be shocking for Houston to pick Green at #2. Despite the Cavs logjam in the backcourt, it’s highly doubtful they’d pass on Green if he falls to 3. Drafting the best player available, and then worrying about trading Collin Sexton later seems like the move.
Jones: Evan Mobley, F/C – USC
Evan Mobley is one of the best big men that I have seen in quite some time, in this 2021 NBA draft. He has elite level upside and if it was any other year he would be the number one overall pick. High IQ on the floor and in the film room and has the potential to become even more dangerous if he puts on some weight and muscle. Smooth stroking jumpshot and has the length and size to be a Power Forward/Center in today’s NBA. I see Mobley has a potential Chris Bosh style of player. Good offensively and has potential to improve more on the defensive end. Fantastic rebounder and he could fit with any center in the league if he is playing power forward. Watch for the Cavaliers to decide to not logjam their backcourt any longer and draft a big man number three.
4.) Toronto Raptors
Gilli: Jalen Suggs, G – Gonzaga
Suggs might have one of the highest floors of anyone in the lottery. The Raptors are the perfect fit for him as a Kyle Lowry replacement, and him going to TOR at 4 seems like a lock. Suggs’ 3-point shot is a little hot and cold, despite his reputation for hitting big shots for Gonzaga. His playmaking and ability to defend at a high-level on and off-ball is what makes him one of the most NBA-ready prospects in this talented lottery. His impressive NCAA tournament run will follow him for some time, despite the Zags coming up short. Suggs’ ability to make big shots gives off future NBA champion vibes. Will that be in Toronto? We’ll have to wait and find out.
Jones: Jalen Suggs, G – Gonzaga
I have called Suggs to Toronto since Toronto got into the top four of the NBA Draft lottery. He is the perfect transition/passing of the torch from Kyle Lowry. Like Gilli said he might have one of the highest floors of anyone in the lottery right now. Suggs is an absolute dog on the defensive end and gives everything on every single possession. I think he has the potential to be a better version of Malcolm Brogdon. Suggs needs to stay consistent with his three point shot and to continue to be a dominant defender. If he has an impact on both sides of the floor. the back court duo of Suggs and Van Fleet will be a dangerous duo for years to come. Look for Toronto to get exactly what they need with the fourth overall pick.
5.) Orlando Magic
Gilli: Scottie Barnes, F – Florida State
Barnes seems like the most versatile defender in the draft, with serious star potential. Capable of defending 1-5, his 6’7 frame and long wingspan make him a super intriguing prospect. His playmaking skills are already legit, and his athleticism should be enough to have him be an impact player immediately. The Magic could very well utilize him in a point-forward role at some point. His shot and perimeter game needs the most work, but he’s shown some ability – it’s not like he’s a pure bricklayer.
Jones: Scottie Barnes, F – Florida State
Scottie Barnes was a player that I enjoyed watching play at Florida State last season. Barnes plays with great energy on both ends of the floor and reminds me of a better version of Jabari Parker. Scottie has great ball handing skills as well and can easily work his way into a point forward role. I think if he gets a consistent jump shot he will be a solid player in this league for years to come. Also Orlando loved their selection with Jonathan Isaac who also went to Florida State so I think this is a match made in heaven for both teams.
6.) Oklahoma City Thunder
Gilli: Jonathan Kuminga, F – G-League Ignite
One of the best athletes in the draft, Kuminga was another top recruit that went to the G-League Ignite team. His game is very raw, but he has the tools to be an All-Star level player, if he figures out a shot. His shooting mechanics are a little tough to watch, and that part of his game needs a ton of work. But the rest of his game is tantalizing enough to make him a good fit for a team like OKC who are in their own long-term version of ‘The Process’.
Jones: Jonathan Kuminga, F – G-League Ignite
I wish that I got to see Kuminga play in college. He still was solid in the G-League don’t get me wrong, but him at the collegiate level would have been unbelievable. I think there is a chance that if he played in college he would be higher on the draft board. Let’s digress though and talk about how talented this former top recruit is. Solid skill set to handle and facilitate the basketball. He has the build drive and speed to defend positions 1-4 at the NBA level. Kuminga is a freakish athlete that has great body control to go along with his explosiveness. This is a big win for the Thunder as they get what I have heard many compare him to as the next Jaylen Brown. That is a great comparison and good job to the Thunder for getting this guy at 6th overall.
7.) Golden State Warriors
Gilli: James Bouknight, G – UConn
If the first 6 picks fall the way I’ve predicted, it’s a tough spot for the Warriors, in what feels like a big dropoff at 7. That being said, the Warriors are likely shopping this pick (with #14) and other assets to acquire a star. But, if they hold onto the 7th pick expect them to select an instant impact player. After the Wiseman pick last year, it’s hard to imagine the Dubs content with another ‘project’. Bouknight seems like a solid fit of solid size with a scoring ability that should instantly translate to the NBA.
Bouknight’s consensus following his workouts for teams seems to be positive across the board. He was an effective shot creator at UConn, but also was a shifty off-ball threat. His cutting ability could be a nice complement to the Steph and Klay backcourt. Franz Wagner is another option here, if the Warriors go the jack-of-all-trades wing route.
Jones: Moses Moody, G – Arkansas
Mosey Moody looks like he is the second best shooting guard in the draft this year. He has some serious potential to be a solid 3 and D player in this league. His shooting splits at Arkansas were fantastic for a freshman in my opinion. 42 percent from the field, 36 percent from beyond the arc and 81 percent from the free throw line. Golden State needs guys to come off the bench and be able to defend and score, and Moody is the perfect fit for them. Look for Golden State to find themselves a better version of Mikal Bridges which is a much needed fit for Golden State.
8.) Orlando Magic
Gilli: Corey Kispert, G/F – Gonzaga
This is a weird one. This second pick by Orlando is an interesting spot. If they take Scottie Barnes at 5, they’re in a good spot – but don’t really have any glaring fits in my opinion. They have a glut in the frontcourt, so drafting a big doesn’t make much sense. Outside of Davion Mitchell, I think a shooter like Kispert makes the most sense. The Magic need outside shooting desperately. Drafting the best shooting prospect is a great pick to a very young and malleable roster.
Jones: Keon Johnson, G – Tennessee
Johnson’s value has gone up even though he wasn’t a much used prospect at Tennessee last year. He has some serious upside, but will need to polish some of his skills. Keon Johnson is a slasher and a hustle player. He is a pesky defender and I think adding him to the Magic back court I think would be a good fit. Not saying he reminds me of Devin Booker, but they could kind of have the same path to the NBA. Play on a good team don’t get used a bunch, but they flourished at the NBA level. Watch out for Keon Johnson because he could be the diamond in the rough in this draft class.
9.) Sacramento Kings
Gilli: Franz Wagner, F – Michigan
One of the 2021 NBA draft worst kept secrets is that the Kings are in love with Wagner at 9. Only question is whether he makes it past Golden State and Orlando to get there. Wouldn’t be shocked to see a team swoop in via trade with Orlando at 8 to pick Wagner, though. Wagner’s frame is supposedly 6’9 and a 7’1 or so wingspan, and GROWING?! This dude was going to be a great defender based on skills alone – but if he’s growing, that only helps the Kings more. They need a wing who can defend and provide some stability, and Wagner can bring just that. He’s still quite young at only 19, and could grow into being the future of the Kings alongside Tyrese Haliburton.
Jones: Franz Wagner, F – Michigan
The younger brother of Mo Wagner might be better in the NBA than his brother. Franz is a talented wing with a nice feel for the game. For his size he moves well, he stands at 6’9 which is a solid height for the wing from Michigan. Wagner understands spacing, pace, and how to find teammates that are making the right cut. He reminds me of another Mike Dunleavy Jr. A big wing that can move and shoot the basketball with ease. I think this is best case scenario for the Kings as he can fit in the Kings system easily.
10.) Memphis Grizzlies
Gilli: Moses Moody, G – Arkansas
Post-trade, it feels like Memphis has a target in mind, hence taking a downgrade at center to move up 7 spots. Who is that player? I think it’s Moses Moody. He’d be a fun fit alongside Ja Morant – and could see a bit of playing time right away. Unreal wingspan for Moody – he’s 6’6 but has a 7’1 wingspan. Seems like a great versatile fit to grow alongside their PG of the future. He might be limited to being a 3&D guy, but could eventually become a dynamic shot creator.
Jones: James Bouknight, G – UCONN
Now I know what you are saying, you have Bouknight joining the Grizzlies backcourt. Bouknight has great athleticism that includes speed and a solid jumping ability. Having him be in the back court with Ja Morant and Dillion Brooks would be a solid back court trio. Bouknight has good ball handling ability and has a solid create your shot skill as well. He can be a good fit for the Grizzlies and having a solid step back can help this team a bunch moving forward.
11.) Charlotte Hornets
Gilli: Alperen Sengun, C – Beşiktaş
Hornets are in an interesting spot here at 11 in the 2021 NBA draft. Sengun would be a fun fit for the young core forming in Charlotte. Only 18, he might be the most offensively talented big in the draft, with an old-school post game. The big man was the Turkish MVP at age 18. Defensively he has a ton of question-marks, on top of no real outside shot, leading to him slipping this far. He’s an old school big in a new school NBA. Sengun’s talent is undeniable and exciting. But given the state of today’s game, he could struggle to find consistent minutes. Kai Jones is another alternative option for a Hornets team in need of a big. Sengun would be a big swing for Charlotte should they hold onto this pick instead of trading it for Myles Turner or another big.
Jones: Jalen Johnson, F – Duke
Jalen Johnson quit on Duke to prepare for the 2021 NBA Draft. Johnson does have some serious talent athletically and has a great frame. He is very versatile and has solid ball handing skills for his size. I think he can fit in with this Hornets team tremendously. If the Hornets move Washington to the five having Johnson play alongside with him would be good for the Hornets. Johnson has good speed and control on the floor. I think Johnson would be a solid stretch four and has similar stature and play style as T.J. Warren. Look for the Hornets to take the risk on Johnson here to solidify their starting five.
12.) San Antonio Spurs
Gilli: Davion Mitchell, G – Baylor
Mitchell slides all the way to San Antonio, and sticks around in Texas. Mitchell is an older prospect (22), undersized (6’0), not a ton of length either. BUT, he passes the eye-test in terms of what he brought in terms of shot-creation and scoring ability at Baylor. Rumors are that San Antonio is shopping around Derrick White and/or Dejounte Murray on the trade market. So, drafting a guard on a rookie contract could be in the cards for the Spurs. If Davion Mitchell isn’t there – Josh Giddey is another very Spurs-y guy.
Jones: Alperen Sengun, C – Beşiktaş
The San Antonio Spurs are infamous for taking overseas centers. I think this is another year that they do that when they take Aleperen Sengun out of the Turkish league. Sengun has given me some serious Jonas Valanciunas vibes in the tape that I have seen of him. He has great foot work in the post and can develop into a strong paint scorer overtime. Winning the Turkish League MVP at the age of 18 is no joke either. I think San Antonio gets a real solid center here and has potentially their center of the future.
13.) Indiana Pacers
Gilli: Josh Giddey, G – Adelaide
I’ll be honest – I really have no idea what the Pacers are going to do. Their roster is good enough to see them draft an instant-impact player, but volatile enough to see them take a long-term prospect. Or they could trade the pick outright! With Myles Turner on the trade block (again) – perhaps they’d be open to a big like Kai Jones? Assuming they stand pat, but I think Giddey’s potential and makeup could be a great fit for Indiana. We could also see a swap of these 12/13 picks, with the Spurs taking Giddey, and the Pacers taking Mitchell. Both front offices should be in play for either guy, should they make it this far.
Jones: Davion Mitchell, G – Baylor
We saw how solid Mitchell was in his career at Baylor. He is a very efficient scorer and is an elite shooter from all areas of the floor. I think adding him to the Pacers back court will be lethal. Having two tough guards on both ends of the floor in Brogdon and Mitchell will be huge for Rick Carlisle’s Indiana Pacers. Mitchell is also a fantastic decision maker and can easily run any offense. I think he is one of the more ready NBA prospects that can immediately make an impact right off the bat. He falls to 13 in my opinion because I think teams will miss the mark on Mitchell.
14.) Golden State Warriors
Gilli: Usman Garuba, F – Real Madrid
The final pick of the lottery! Chances are relatively slim that Golden State actually makes both picks 7 and 14, but if they do – Garuba is a GREAT fit for the Dubs. A big body and arguably the best defensive player in the draft on day 1. The Warriors obviously are looking to compete now. Garuba’s shooting needs improvement, but his ability to play defense and pass the ball well on the interior is what will get him minutes as a rookie. He’s the perfect fit and is capable of giving the Warriors big-time playoff minutes as a rookie.
Jones: Corey Kispert, G/F – Gonzaga
Corey Kispert to me is a late lottery selection. We saw Kispert be what looks to be the best three point shooter in the 2021 NBA Draft this year. I have seen the improvement in his jump shot over his career at Gonzaga. Kispert looks like Joe Harris did out of college. A knock down three point shooter that can play solid defensively. I think this would be a solid addition to Golden State’s roster if they were to keep this pick of course. Even if they don’t I do see Kispert going at the end of the lottery.
2021 NBA Draft: Non-Lottery
15.) Washington Wizards
Gilli: Trey Murphy III, F – Virginia
Jones: Sharife Cooper, G – Auburn
16.) Oklahoma City Thunder
Gilli: Keon Johnson, G – Tennessee
Jones: Kai Jones, C – Texas
17.) New Orleans Pelicans
Gilli: Chris Duarte, G/F – Oregon
Jones: Josh Giddey, G – Adelaide
18.) Oklahoma City Thunder
Gilli: Ziaire Williams, F – Stanford
Jones: Jared Butler, G – Baylor
19.) New York Knicks
Gilli: Jalen Johnson, F – Duke
Jones: Tre Mann, G – Florida
20.) Atlanta Hawks
Gilli: Kai Jones, C – Texas
Jones: Chris Duarte, G – Oregon
21.) New York Knicks
Gilli: Jaden Springer, G – Tennessee
Jones: Ziaire Williams. F – Stanford
22.) Los Angeles Lakers
Gilli: Ayo Dosunmu, G – Illinois
Jones: Trey Murphy III, F – Virginia
23.) Houston Rockets
Gilli: Jared Butler, G – Baylor
Jones: Usman Garuba, F – Real Madrid
24.) Houston Rockets
Gilli: Charles Bassey, F/C – Western Kentucky
Jones: Isaiah Jackson, C – Kentucky
25.) Los Angeles Clippers
Gilli: Isaiah Jackson, C – Kentucky
Jones: Cam Thomas, G – LSU
26.) Denver Nuggets
Gilli: Joshua Primo, G – Alabama
Jones: Ayo Dosunmu, G – Illinois
27.) Brooklyn Nets
Gilli: Cam Thomas, G – LSU
Jones: Day’Ron Sharpe, C – North Carolina
28.) Philadelphia 76ers
Gilli: Miles McBride, G – West Virginia
Jones: Quentin Grimes, G – Houston
29.) Phoenix Suns
Gilli: Day’Ron Sharpe, F/C – North Carolina
Jones: Jaden Springer, G – Tennessee
30.) Utah Jazz
Gilli: Quentin Grimes, G – Houston
Jones: Miles McBride, G – West Virginia
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-Chris Jones (@cjoneswho1212)
-Mike Gilligan (@BigGilli, @VerbalCommitPod and @SmallStateTakes Podcast)