2021 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Detroit Mock City.
By Cole Blenner
Well, the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery is in the books. The winner, the Detroit Pistons, needed this number one pick. Detroit hasn't seemed relevant in the NBA the past 15 years. Ever since their 2004 title win, they have fumbled decision after decision, trade after trade, draft pick after draft pick. It has been a madhouse in the front office, luckily I don't think they can screw this up. This years draft class has more talent than I have seen in the past handful of years. Several of the top prospects from a year ago seem to have dropped off after off-seasons and new stars have come to light. Guys like Greg Brown and Josh Christopher would of been top 10 picks if allowed to come out after high school, but find themselves at risk of falling out of the first round all together. Lucky for the teams drafting, there is a mix of these underperforming, but still talented, young prospects along with proven older prospects such as Davion Mitchell and Corey Kispert. Enough of the ranting let's talk winners and losers
Winners & Losers of the Lotto
Detroit Pistons- I mean, duh. Getting the number one pick is always a win. Plus, top prospect Cade Cunningham came out immediately afterwards with his announcement that he would not be working out for any other team. That sounds like a hell of an endorsement for a team that needs one.
Toronto Raptors-Another duh moment as the Raptors jump from 7th to 4th in the draft and now have a shot a prime player to pair with Pascal Siakam and Fred VanFleet. Honestly, Toronto should be a bounce back canidate to make the playoffs this year with anyone available at 4 immediately filling a need and making an instant impact.
Cleveland Cavaliers- It's always Cleveland, isn't it? Seriously these guys ran the lottery in the post/pre LeBron years and are set to have a sugar sweet spot drafting at number 3. Seriously though, Dan Gilbert has to be juicing some pockets. No way a town this shitty on luck gets this lucky over and over again. Maybe LeBron is coming back again....
Orlando Magic-While you still have two top 10 picks, it is a hard fall from 3 to 5. Still poised to grab a instant impact rookie with a high upside, they are at the mercy of who falls instead of controlling their destiny. That means more work for scouts and the chance that it is a player at a position you already have a bright future at (cough, cough, Jalen Suggs, cough).Still, there are worse places to be than sitting at #5 and #8 in a loaded and deep draft class.
Minnesota Timberwolves- A year after winning the lotto, the Wolves don't have such luck as they could of recouped their pick from Golden State had it jumped into the top. Alas, they are without a first round pick, but Anthony Edwards seem to gel well with the team so the future isn't too bleak now that new ownership is in town...Still, they might not be long for Minnesota as Seattle can come calling any moment now.
Oklahoma City Thunder- Not so much a pure loser, but more of a "It could of been soooooo good" kind of situation. Still owning the amount of picks they have, I would not be surprised if they get one of the top 4 (my bet would be Cleveland) to trade back a bit and get themselves one of the prime players in this draft.
Teams to watch on the move
Oklahoma City Thunder- The Thunder WILL move, I'm throwing it out in the universe now. They didn't win from the lottery, but with 3 first round picks and some future picks, how can you NOT move up if you're Sam Presti? I like them to shoot up for Evan Mobley to go alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and that absolute coven of prospects who are all intriguing in their own ways.
Cleveland Cavaliers- The Cavs will either move Collin Sexton or trade back...or both! They have good young talent and the easy option of trading with my number one spot in OKC. Still, I think the Cavs will make some headlines before or on draft night.
Golden State Warriors-Sitting at 7 and 14 is an awkward position for a team who should be in the playoffs next year with the return of Klay Thompson. Maybe a team is still high on Andrew Wiggins and you can create a package for a higher pick or some bench assets. Still, Golden State is extremely interesting going into next year.
The Mockening: Hot Lotto
Cade Cunningham-PG-Oklahoma State
As mentioned above, Cade Cunningham is all but certified to go to Detroit. He can be your primary scorer, ball handler, and his defense will improve in time. He is built to lead a franchise and should do just that. If anyone wants to mock it up different, feel free. This is America and you are all more than in your rights to be wrong. But, should you choose the path of being right, just pick Cade and move on. The rest of the draft is up for debate, this pick, isn't.
Jalen Green-G/F-G League Ignite
Jalen is my third favorite player in this draft and I think he will grow on a lot of people over time. He is explosive and is already a more than capable pro scorer. Houston desperately fumbled the James Harden trade and everything else this season, so they need to start of right by getting a franchise changing lead scorer to go with Christian Wood. John Wall's future could change this pick to a certain national title winning PG, but for now as it stands I think they role with John Wall and get him a good wing player that he can facilitate too.
The Cavs have invested heavily in guards the past few years in the draft. That needs to change. Jarrit Allen may be back, but that shouldn't stop you from grabbing a game changer that is the prototype of what the NBA will most likely see out of Centers. Mobley handles the ball like a guard with good court vision, but also bodies in the post and on defense like you expect a Center to. Jarrit Allen is good, I like him, but whether or not you keep him shouldn't influence this pick.
Toronto is in a deadly position to grab Suggs here and rebound. I love Jalen Suggs, He has a bit of a Damian Lilliard feel in his mentality and approach to the game. He's only 19, is good enough with the ball in his hands to run an offense, and savvy enough to play off-ball and be a net positive. Pairing him with Fred VanFleet is the perfect pairing as both can interchange between the two guard positions. This would be a money pickup for the Raptors, who sit in the most luxurious spot at number 4 with a rebound ready roster and star in Pascal Siakam.
Jonathon Kuminga-F-G League Ignite
The Magic more than made it obvious that they are in a full scale rebuild by shipping off Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon. With that being said, if I were in Orlando and had the reigns, I would target high upside with every pick. You already have Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz at the guard spots, so a high ceiling foward should be your next spot. Enter, Jonathon Kuminga. Kuminga is a good defender who honestly reminds me a lot of the guy he will be teaming up with in Orlando, Jonathon Isaac. Both Jonathon's are long, tall, a bit raw coming out of college, but have shown flashes of being absolute game changers on the offensive and defensive side of the ball .Scottie Barnes would also be a solid backup but in the event Kuminga is still available, they should jump out of their chairs with the pick card. Honestly, he could be a player a team like the Thunder trade ahead for. He has Hall of fame level upside that is too juicy to go past number 5, barring any draft stock slippage.
6.Oklahoma City Thunder
Scottie Barnes-F-Florida State
Barnes is the prospect Head Coaches drool over. He can defend, facilitate and play inside at an NBA level already. Concerns over his shooting are valid, but have led to over caution and comparisons to Ben Simmons, which is unfair. Simmons hasn't made a concerned effort in my opinion to really change his shot and some question his love for the game. Not Scottie, I think with the right coaching and environment you will see a kid who will only get better and round out the rough spots. His Basketball IQ is next level and while I have him at #6 here, I have major doubt he makes it out of the top 5.
7.Golden State Warriors(Via Minnesota)
As I noted up top, I think the Warriors have a shot to be on the move come draft night, if not though, you can do a lot worse than Jalen Johnson at 7. To be honest, he is a top 5 pick in a weaker draft class. Jalen is another guy who has length, inside scoring ability and good defensive instincts to help the warriors who could use a more versatile guy to shift between the 3 and the 4 off the bench to start. They are building for right now and the future so you have to be careful to balance things out. Johnson is a safe pick here.
8.Orlando Magic(Via Chicago)
A good team player with high scoring upside, I almost went with Corey Kispert who is the better wing. The 20 year old German though projects better long term and Orlando is in a rebuild and needs wings. They balance the pick of Kuminga with a bit of outside shooting and playmaking here. Wagner, once again, gives me "more complete, less deadly from 3, Duncan Robinson" vibes here.
The Kings are ready to run in the Western Conference. With Tyrese Haliburton and De'Aaron Fox holding down the guard spots, Kispert is a good scoring wing that can help this team win right now. I think the Kings are ready to take that next step and depending on the future of Harrison Barnes, Kispert is dynamic either in a secondary/tertiary role or being your main guy off the bench. Age is a concern, but like I said, this is a "win now" pick.
10.New Orleans Pelicans
Johnson is a guard who isn't the best shooter, and that is ok. This young New Orleans team needs a guy who can lock down opposing defenders. With Lonzo Ball possibly not being back next season, Johnson can give a good defensive edge to a team that already sports two premier scorers in Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Also, personal opinion, Johnson has one of the highest upsides in the draft should he find that shooting stroke in the pros.
The intrigue over Isiah Jackson is real. He may not be a top 15 talent yet, but there are teams who love his defensive shot blocking and motor. You can't teach good old fashioned work ethic and hustle, and Jackson has that in spades. You have your future in Lamelo, and PJ Washington is a solid frontcourt player, but Jackson has that ability to play alongside Washington and protect the interior.
12.San Antonio Spurs
Gregg Popovich loves his all tool players and this big man fits the bill. Alperen is leagues ahead of other young big man in instincts and offensive ability. He needs to develop a better overall game, but the upside is real and will land him in the top 15, going here to the Spurs at 12.
Last year there was a kid who played professional ball in Australia and shocked the world this year on his way to rookie of the year. While Giddey isn't the scorer that Lamelo Ball is, he is every bit the all-around nightly triple-double threat. Hell, the kid almost averaged a Triple-Double in the NBL this year and the Australian league isn't a joke. You have Carris Levert and Malcom Brogden who can play very well on or off ball, so add a facilitator who can play the 3 but will act as more of a ball handler and facilitator.
14.Golden State Warriors
Garuba is such an interesting player because he could either rise or fall majorly on draft boards in the next month. The Warriors have offense in spades but on this young team depth and defense were big issues and Garuba fixes those. He has a high upside and who better to learn offense from than the Splash Bros. Still, I don't think GS stays at this 14th pick but there are plenty of teams who can fall in love and take Usman in the lotto.
The best of the rest (of the first round)
15.Washington Wizards-Davion Mitchell-G-Baylor-With the Russell Westbrook rumors heating up, this pick all depends on if there is any movement before the draft. Even so, Mitchell is a hell of a pro ready guard who can be an instant impact ball handler and an overall plus on the defensive end, being he is still available at 15!
16.Oklahoma City Thunder(Via Boston)-James Bouknight-G-UConn-Bouknight is a great volume scorer who should polish and hone his skills better in the pros. He has all the offensive tools to plot next so SGA and help with on and off ball production.
17.Memphis Grizzlies-Moses Moody-G-Arkansas- Moody is a solid combo guard who will be an immediate impact player on defense, but is also not a offensive liability. His issue is he a jack of all trades but a master of none. Still you have to like his game IQ and ability to lead a team as he did at Arkansas as only a freshmen
18.Oklahoma City(Via Miami)-Kai Jones-F/C-Texas-Jones has great energy and love for the game. While a little rough around the edges, he should join a Thunder team that is notably rebuilding. Finding minutes should be easier now that Moses Brown is gone and the Thunder could move him or shut him down, or maybe not. Who TF knows.
19.New York Knicks-Tre Mann-G-Florida-Tre Mann was a damn good all around PG for the Gators this year. He shows good ability to shoot off the the ball and score with the ball in his hands. With a net positive in court vision as well, the big knock seems to be that he is weaker and smaller. An NBA training staff and solid meal plan can fix that as if those are the biggest knocks, it is an easy fix in my opinion. The Knicks get a steal because Mann could shoot up the right teams draft board and go in the lotto.
20.Atlanta Hawks-Shariffe Cooper-PG-Auburn-The ability to properly run the pick-n-roll can be lost on some teams, but not the Hawks. Seeing Trey Young light up the playoffs, it is clear that the Hawks are a good young team with a bright future and at the time of this article, championship contenders. Cooper provides immediate bench PG ability that shortens the loss of when Young needs a rest, with the game IQ and shot making ability to make a splash in the pro's. He was not an efficient shooter in college so teaching quality over quantity is the biggest con I see with Shariffe Cooper.
21.New York Knicks(Via Dallas)-Jared Butler-G-Baylor-The other half of the Baylor championship backcourt, is not as flashy or high upside as Davion Mitchell, but provides a very comparable all-around game that should develop nicely in New York. He and Shariffe Cooper in this scenario would be a very interesting as they could make a very solid fit and compliment each other well.
22.Los Angeles Lakers-Zaire Williams-F-Stanford-This pick makes sense in multiple ways. One, the Lakers clearly need valuable wing depth behind LeBron James and Williams has a very high ceiling, but has dropped down draft boards do to a so-so year at Stanford. Williams is tall and long with the ability to play good defense, has the ability to make shots and flat out score. Still, he doesn't shine in any one particular area. Second reason I believe this happens in Zaire happened to be teammates with Bronny James, so LeBron has an had more than up-close look at the kid who starred on the young freshmen's team his first year at Sierra Canyon High School.
23.Houston Rockets(Via Portland)-Day'Ron Sharpe-F/C-North Carolina-Sharpe was a bench player in a loaded UNC backcourt and I think has a chance to be an outside of the lotto pick that surprises some people. He is young, a beast on the offensive glass and has shown a good ability to pass and steal the ball as a big man.
24.Houston Rockets(Via Milwaukee)-Greg Brown-F/C-Texas-Greg Brown one year ago could of been a top 10 pick coming out of high school. He was viewed by many as a top recruit. He was viewed as a modern big man that can pass and shoot. This year he struggled mightily at the college level with his overall offensive game and turnovers. Still, in Houston where the future doesn't seem to be bright anytime soon, You can take a flier on what is still a player with tons of upside.
25.Los Angeles Clippers-Ayo Dosunmu-G-Illinois-Dosunmu may only be 6'4", but he hardly plays like it. Honestly, I can a lot of Russell Westbrook in his upside once he gets to the pros. With Patty Bev getting older, they need someone to back up at the PG position right away with the upside of being a starter with good game impact. He doesn't get many steals, but is a much better defender than that single stat and will be an overall plus to a team that has several good defenders already,
26.Denver Nuggets-Chris Duarte-G-Oregon-Chris Duarte is sneakily one of the best players in the draft and I was even surprised at myself for having him fall this far down to 26. Never the less, The Nuggets need shooting and he will provide it in spades. Duarte can convert overall on the offensive end, but is a bit older than some may like and needs to work on getting the line more in the league
27.Brooklyn Nets-Charles Bassey-C-Western Kentucky-Bassey is a throwback Center to a simpler time when you wanted your center to just get rebounds and score inside. Well luckily if you're the Brooklyn Nets, then you already have shooting in spades. Bassey can step in and fill the role of DeAndre Jordan ideally long term and improve other aspects of him not suitable to the "modern big man"
28.Philadelphia 76ers-Cameron Thomas-G/F-LSU-Cameron Thomas can flat out score. He doesn't pass or defend well, but he can score. He projects to be a better shooter in the pro's as good coaching and mentorship can help him smooth his game out and be the number one option possibly when Joel Embiid goes out of the game.(Simmons is a goner this off season IMO)
29.Phoenix Suns-Jaden Springer-G-Tennessee-With guard Keon Johnson rising on draft boards, this could have an adverse effect on the other half of the Tennessee back court. Springer is a good shooter who can defend extremely well. For a point guard though you would love to see a huge leap in passing and overall offensive output from him. Putting him behind Chris Paul in Phoenix could unlock just that.
30.Utah Jazz-Trey Murphy III-G/F-Auburn-Murphy is long, tall, and efficient. He is a bit older than a lot of teams may prefer so hence the slip because I believe personally he is a top 20 talent. Still, there will be a place in the first round for the efficient combo wing who can do a lot well and still has tons of potential to grow more and be a great impact player.