The 2021 NBA Draft is chock-full of franchise-changing talent.
Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham has long been the favorite to be the No. 1 pick, but there are plenty of players with superstar potential who could come to unseat him as the top selection when the draft takes place on July 29.
Outside of Cunningham, there are elite talents in Gonzaga's Jalen Suggs, USC's Evan Mobley and G Leaguers Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga.
We've used NBA standings as of April 22 to determine draft order. And, of course, with a draft class this stacked, there will be some ballers who fall through the cracks, too.
Without further ado, here's our 2021 NBA Mock Draft.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Cade Cunningham, G, Oklahoma State
Cade Cunningham is the most polished and complete prospect in the entire draft. His length, ability to facilitate and score makes him a highly attractive option to every team.
Slot him in as an initiator next to Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns, and the Timberwolves will be virtually unstoppable on offense in due time.
At Oklahoma State, Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 40% from deep. He’s ready.
2. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green, G/F, G League Ignite
Jalen Green was part of the first crop of prospects to forgo college basketball in favor of the G League Ignite.
Green averaged 18 points on 36% shooting from deep and showcased potentially elite scoring and athletic ability. He’d join a young Rockets team with building blocks in Christian Wood and Kevin Porter Jr.
3. Detroit Pistons: Evan Mobley, C, USC
Evan Mobley has all the makings of the next star big man. His 7-foot frame combined with a massive wingspan, a knack for altering shots and containing players on the perimeter give him tantalizing potential.
He played like a veteran on USC, showcasing some nice post moves in addition to serving as the backbone of the defense. The Pistons could pair him with Isaiah Stewart in the frontcourt to form an ultra-athletic tandem.
4. Orlando Magic: Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga
Jalen Suggs showed out in the NCAA tournament, displaying clutch playmaking and gritty scoring ability as a true freshman. He projects as someone who is going to have a long career because his game has very few weaknesses.
Suggs would join a burgeoning Magic core guard group consisting of Markelle Fultz, RJ Hampton and Cole Anthony.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite
The Thunder grab a talented forward in Jonathan Kuminga who has the mold of the next star NBA wing.
Kuminga led the Ignite in rebounds. His physical frame and underrated playmaking ability are huge pluses. One potential red flag is he shot below 25% from deep in the G League, a number that will have to increase if he ever wants to realize his potential.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers: Keon Johnson, G/F, Tennessee
The Cavaliers already have their backcourt of the future in Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, but Keon Johnson is too talented to pass up. Besides, with the way the league is heading, don’t be surprised if the 6-foot-5 Johnson is playing small forward eventually.
Johnson is still young, but his incredible athleticism is his selling point, as well as his multiple breakout performances throughout the season. His defense and ball-handling skills are solid as well.
7. Sacramento Kings: Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State
The Kings are currently set in the backcourt, but are thin at the forward position.
Scottie Barnes has his warts, which include spotty three-point shooting and too many plays that result in turnovers, but his potential lies in his incredible measurables (6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan).
If Barnes put the pieces together, he could be a serious problem. If he doesn’t, it could be a serious problem for his own team.
8. Toronto Raptors: Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor
The Raptors might lose Kyle Lowry this offseason and if Toronto wants to make a playoff push next season, they might go for a more experienced prospect.
That would make 22-year-old Davion Mitchell a perfect fit due to his advanced age for someone coming out of the draft. Mitchell displayed elite defense, solid scoring and playmaking skills for Baylor in the tournament.
If he lands with Toronto’s coaching staff, he and Fred VanVleet will be a mean backcourt combo for years to come.
9. Washington Wizards: Moses Moody, G, Arkansas
Why would the Wizards draft a player who plays Bradley Beal’s position? Two reasons.
One is that in the modern NBA, positional overlap other than at the center position is welcomed because the floor is so spread out. The Wizards need more scoring around Beal and Russell Westbrook which Moody could provide. Also, there’s no guarantee Beal will be on the Wizards in a few years, so drafting Moody would be a smart hedge against that outcome.
Moody shot 81% at the line last season, which bodes well for his future as a shooter. His long wingspan is also enticing.
10. Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls): Zaire Williams, F, Stanford
Zaire Williams certainly fits into the type that Orlando's braintrust has taken a liking to. He’s long, has a sturdy frame and has the potential to become a very well-rounded forward in the league.
If Jonathan Isaac never returns to full form after two serious knee injuries, Williams could be the Magic’s forward of the future. And if Isaac does make a full recovery, Williams would help form a very long and physical duo.
Combine him with Orlando’s growing treasure chest of creators, and the Magic could be done rebuilding sooner than people think.
11. New Orleans Pelicans: Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga
Corey Kispert is by no means a flashy pick. As a senior without a great deal of athleticism, he’s not going to be dunking the ball every other play. There’s a pretty clear ceiling for the player he’s going to become, but he’s just what the Pelicans need.
Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are the stars in town, and everyone else is going to have to fit in accordingly. Kispert is an elite three-point shooter, converting 44% of his triples this season, as well as a reliable playmaker and scorer.
Ideally, he’s the perfect role player for any team, especially one that could use some extra shooting.
12. Indiana Pacers: James Bouknight, F, UConn
James Bouknight served his role as the classic inefficient scorer for the Huskies this season, which begs the chicken or the egg question: was he inefficient because his team didn’t have enough secondary options, or does his jump shot need a lot more work?
If everyone is healthy, the Pacers have one of the most balanced starting fives in the league, but could always use more scoring. Bouknight offers scoring in spades and might develop into a reliable all-around wing player.
13. San Antonio Spurs: Kai Jones, C, Texas
The Spurs have a cadre of young perimeter talent they are developing in Keldon Johnson, DeJounte Murray, Derrick White, Devin Vassell and Lonnie Walker, but they could use some reinforcements for their frontcourt, where the capable yet overstretched Jakob Poeltl has manned the position.
Poeltl is a fine player, but his abysmal free-throw shooting and lack of floor-spacing ability may necessitate a long-term replacement.
Kai Jones has the potential to be an all-around star who can dribble the ball effectively at 6-foot-11.
14. Charlotte Hornets: Franz Wagner, F, Michigan
Franz Wagner is one of the most divisive players in the draft, and he likely won’t fall this far on draft night because a team will take the leap earlier. Some see him as a multi-positional forward who can fit in anywhere and thrive, while others see a potential bust without enough athleticism.
Wagner could represent a younger version of Danilo Gallinari, another forward with a sweet-shooting jump shot who lacks top-tier athleticism but has a good all-around game.
Wagner had a brutal end to his NCAA tournament which may leave a bad taste in scouts’ mouths, and his tendency to disappear for stretches of a game is very worrying.
15. Golden State Warriors: Jared Butler, G, Baylor
James Wiseman still has the chance to develop into a star, but the Warriors' brain trust is likely scarred from this season trying to balance developing a young kid while leading a playoff push behind a veteran squad. That’s why it’s reasonable to assume they’ll be hunting for a prospect who can help this instant.
Enter Jared Butler, who is a tough and versatile player coming off a 22-point, seven-assist performance in the NCAA Championship Game. He may have a limited ceiling, but his shooting, defense and versatility will be very valuable.
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami Heat): Josh Giddey, G, Australia
Josh Giddey, who is still just 18, is the perfect draft pick for a Thunder team willing to swing for the fences at this stage in the draft because of the high volume of picks they have at their disposal.
Giddey is a 6-foot-8 playmaker who can defend multiple positions and make players on his team better. The downsides are his average athleticism and — you guessed it — a rickety jump shot. But his playmaking vision is elite and he clearly sees the floor as a chessboard and is able to manipulate it. He’s also a willing driver who has some smooth finishes under his belt.
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee
The Grizzlies are so deep that they can take the best player available. It also wouldn’t hurt to take a swing on a prospect after a few years of drafting tough, dependable players such as Desmond Bane and Xavier Tillman.
Jaden Springer may not represent a potential superstar, but he’s shown a great feel for the game in college. Springer is a rock-solid scorer and facilitator who plays with incredible confidence, yet never seems out of control. He’d be another tool in the Grizzlies’ growing arsenal of well-rounded players who play both ends.
18. Boston Celtics: Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois
The Celtics have been short on ball handlers all season, with Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown having to assume far more playmaking ability than usual.
Ayo Dosunmu represents a well-rounded player who improved his jump shot. He'd be a big boon to Boston's bench.
19. New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks): Jalen Johnson, F, Duke
The resurgent Knicks pick a tantalizing wing prospect in Jalen Johnson, who made headlines for leaving Duke early.
Johnson possesses quality measurables and drained 44% of his three-pointers (on only 18 attempts though, so don’t be surprised if he struggles with his shot). He’s also a strong playmaker, giving the Knicks a potential small forward of the future after Kevin Knox washed out.
20. New York Knicks: Chris Duarte, G, Oregon
The Knicks currently are a bottom-10 unit in three-pointers made this season, and could really use some shooting help. They’re also likely going to be coming off a playoff appearance that has the franchise looking to prioritize winning now.
Chris Duarte fits both of those points since his superb 42% three-point shooting mark and advanced age (he’ll be 24 on draft night) should allow him to offer immediate contributions.
21. Atlanta Hawks: Tre Mann, G, Florida
The Hawks are a very deep squad but are still relying on Lou Williams to backup Trae Young at point guard. Williams can still get buckets in his sleep, but he’s 34, so it would be wise to look toward the future.
Tre Mann greatly improved throughout the season, and his scoring and shooting ability from the guard position are as valuable as ever. He may not possess elite playmaking skills, but playing with facilitating forwards such as Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari should help him.
22. Houston Rockets (via Portland Trail Blazers): Isaiah Jackson, F/C, Kentucky
Isaiah Jackson — and his ridiculous 9-foot-5 standing reach — projects as a strong rim defender who averaged 2.6 blocks per game in his lone season at Kentucky.
Jackson’s best case is prime DeAndre Jordan; a player who can catch lobs, defends the rim and grab rebounds. It’s unlikely he ever becomes an offensive powerhouse, but he has flashed some intriguing ball-handling and shooting ability. Jackson would also bolster the Rockets’ porous defense.
23. Los Angeles Lakers: Cameron Thomas, G, LSU
The Lakers are light on reliable playmakers outside of LeBron James and Dennis Schroder, who is an unrestricted free agent this offseason.
One of the upsides of slipping in the standings due to injuries is that it increases the odds of someone like Cameron Thomas falling to them. Thomas was one of the best scorers in college basketball and was excellent at getting to the free-throw line, where he shot 88%. That number should offset some concerns over his lackluster three-point shooting percentages.
24. Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee Bucks): Brandon Boston Jr., G/F, Kentucky
Brandon Boston Jr. had a very underwhelming first season in Kentucky, struggling with his jump shot and scoring. But he still oozes potential, and a lot of his struggles can be traced to his slight frame, which he will grow into. Kentucky’s offense, which he won’t have to deal with anymore, didn't do him any favors, either.
The percentages may not have reflected it, but Boston Jr. has a clean shooting stroke that should improve when he has more space to work with in the NBA. The Rockets should be swinging for the fences left and right, and Boston Jr. has star potential.
25. Denver Nuggets: Johnny Juzang, F, UCLA
Johnny Juzang erupted in the NCAA tournament, showcasing tough defense, plus shooting, shifty scoring and playmaking abilities. He seems like the perfect player next to Nikola Jokic, who is a magician at setting his teammates up for easy baskets.
Juzang may not be an elite athlete, but he doesn’t have to be since he’s so good at everything else. Well-rounded players at this stage in the draft are rare, and Juzang could be a solid rotational piece for years to come.
26. Brooklyn Nets: Greg Brown, F/C, Texas
Greg Brown is a divisive prospect who flashed star potential, but often disappointed and was ultimately benched down the stretch of the season.
Brown showcased his super athletic, mobile and versatile game at times, which is what impressed scouts. On the downside, Brown's inability to make plays for others is worrisome.
27. Los Angeles Clippers: Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn
Sharife Cooper has clear limitations due to his size and shaky jump shot, but his other skills are enticing.
Cooper possesses an elite first step, with his quickness allowing him to get anywhere on the floor. He’s also an excellent facilitator, which is very useful because the Clippers are aging in the backcourt. Cooper can also learn the dark arts of being a point guard from Rajon Rondo.
28. Philadelphia 76ers: Usman Garuba, F, Spain
Usman Garuba is like the Matisse Thybulle of power forwards. His tenacity on defense is his calling card, and he’s making incremental progress on his offensive game.
The 76ers clearly value defense, and Garuba can combine with Ben Simmons, Matisse Thybulle and Joel Embiid to form the defensive Avengers.
29. Phoenix Suns: Marcus Bagley, F, Arizona State
Marcus Bagley battled injuries this past season but displayed a modern NBA skillset composed of defending multiple positions, getting his own shot and stretching the defense.
The brother of Kings big man Marvin Bagley, Marcus Bagley could bring his perimeter-oriented skills to the desert.
30. Utah Jazz: Josh Christopher, G/F, Arizona State
Josh Christopher brings a lot of potential thanks to his athleticism and scoring ability, but he really struggled with his efficiency this season from all areas of the floor.
His hype as a high school prospect and potential positional versatility will keep him from falling too far. The Jazz could get younger on the wing with Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles both over 30. And while Christopher may not fit their ideal player archetype, at this point in the draft teams can’t get too picky.
Photo: Getty Images