2021 NBA Mock Draft: Pistons win Cade Cunningham sweepstakes
With the lottery complete, the Detroit Pistons are officially slated to pick first overall in the 2021 NBA Draft.
The selection shouldn't require much deliberation, as Cade Cunningham is a virtual lock to head to Motown as the Pistons' savior.
Here's how theScore sees the entire first round breaking down now that the lottery order is official.
1. Detroit Pistons - Cade Cunningham, G, Oklahoma State
For the first time in 51 years, the Pistons will have the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft. There isn't much to ponder here for Dwane Casey and Detroit's front office - Cunningham has been a virtual lock for No. 1 for the last few months. The Oklahoma State star's size and versatility should pair well with 2020 lottery pick Killian Hayes and give the Pistons the star they need to make noise in the Eastern Conference.
2. Houston Rockets - Evan Mobley, C, USC
A game-changer at both ends of the floor, Mobley has the potential to be the Rockets' next generational big man. The USC product is an elite rim-protector and showed the ability to defend in space last season. Offensively, Mobley is a playmaking threat, can handle the rock, and flashed promising touch from the perimeter.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers - Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite
The Cavaliers already have a young backcourt with Collin Sexton and Darius Garland, but they'll still opt for the best player available with Green at No. 3. That pick could very well send Sexton out of Cleveland, but Green is one of the more polished offensive players in this year's class; the electric G League star projects as a high-volume scorer in the NBA.
4. Toronto Raptors - Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga
Few teams benefited more from the draft lottery than the Raptors. Barring a trade, Toronto is guaranteed one of the coveted top four prospects, and Suggs could be the heir to franchise icon Kyle Lowry. The Gonzaga floor general's defensive versatility and excellence in the open court fit the Raptors' style of play. Though Suggs' jumper needs improvement, Toronto is renowned for having one of the league's best player development programs.
5. Orlando Magic - Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite
The Magic add the ultra-talented Kuminga to a young core that includes Cole Anthony, Jonathan Isaac, Wendell Carter, R.J. Hampton, and Markelle Fultz. The 6-foot-7 forward is one of the draft's best prospects when it comes to getting to the bucket, but he must improve his outside shot to keep the opposition honest at the next level.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder - Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State
Barnes could make an immediate defensive impact just as fellow Florida State alumnus Patrick Williams did a year ago. The 6-foot-8 forward can guard multiple positions with his lateral quickness, 7-foot-2 wingspan, and 225-pound frame. By pairing Barnes alongside Luguentz Dort, the Thunder could give opposing wing players fits.
7. Golden State Warriors (via MIN) - Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor
The Warriors are in win-now mode, and the experienced Mitchell is ready to contribute from Day 1. The Baylor guard starred on both ends of the court in the Bears' NCAA Tournament run and is arguably the best perimeter defender in the draft. Factor in Mitchell's impressive shooting numbers from his final collegiate season, and Golden State is adding an instant-impact player at No. 7.
8. Orlando Magic (via CHI) - Keon Johnson, F, Tennessee
Johnson is one of the draft's top defenders and would undoubtedly bolster an Orlando squad that ranked 26th in defensive efficiency last season. The Tennessee forward showed great burst off the bounce and promise as a playmaker during his lone collegiate campaign. His offensive game as a whole is raw, but the Magic can afford to be patient with him.
9. Sacramento Kings - Franz Wagner, F, Michigan
Wagner won't wow many on the offensive end of the court, but he makes enough outside shots to be considered a strong 3-and-D prospect. The Michigan standout is one of the best defensive players in the draft and immediately addresses a need for a Kings team that's one of the worst defensive squads in the NBA.
10. New Orleans Pelicans - Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga
Kispert gives the Pelicans some much-needed shooting around Zion Williamson. The reigning Julius Erving Award winner knocked down the seventh-most triples in the NCAA last season and shot 40.8% from beyond the arc over his four-year career at Gonzaga.
11. Charlotte Hornets - Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas (Turkey)
Sengun, 19, won Turkish League MVP honors and comes to North America as one of the most polished European prospects in some time. The 6-foot-9 standout can compete at the NBA level with a refined post game, but he'll struggle to defend outside the paint. Well-stocked with guards, the Hornets draft for need at No. 11.
12. San Antonio Spurs - Jalen Johnson, F, Duke
Johnson's decision to opt out of the 2020-21 campaign could hurt his draft stock after the 6-foot-9 forward produced mixed results in 13 appearances for Duke. Johnson impressed with his passing and ball-handling skills in transition, but his jumper was a glaring weakness - one that opposing teams recognized by sagging off him. Regardless, the Spurs snag him at No. 12.
13. Indiana Pacers - James Bouknight, G, UConn
Bouknight brings some much-needed excitement and perimeter scoring to a Pacers team undergoing a complete overhaul. The UConn star was among the top players in the Big East when healthy, thriving on getting to the basket and creating his own shot.
14. Golden State Warriors - Moses Moody, G, Arkansas
With the Warriors already deep into the tax, the club could opt for a cheap replacement for pending free agent Kelly Oubre Jr. Moody could slot in as a 3-and-D wing and provide some additional insurance for Klay Thompson as he makes his way back from a serious Achilles injury.
15. Washington Wizards - Usman Garuba, F, Real Madrid (Spain)
Garuba is arguably the best defender in the draft and will immediately anchor that end of the court for the Wizards. Washington led the league in possessions per game this season, so adding help on the defensive end is a crucial offseason objective. The 19-year-old is a major work in progress on offense, but the Wizards are already well-equipped in the scoring department.
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via BOS) - Kai Jones, F/C, Texas
Jones represents both a long-term play and an immediate need, with Isaiah Roby the only center currently under contract with the Thunder. The Texas standout is a superb finisher around the rim and was one of the Big 12's top shot blockers over the past two seasons. Jones also showed some promise as a floor-spacer in 2020-21, drilling nearly 40% of his 3-point attempts in a limited sample.
17. Memphis Grizzlies - Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford
Williams had an inconsistent 2020-21 season at Stanford, but he flashed strong all-around play to show why he's a first-round pick. With good size and a solid outside shot, Williams projects as an above-average shot-creator at the professional level. He could thrive in the Grizzlies' system; they'll just have to be patient with his development.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via MIA) - Josh Giddey, G, Adelaide 36ers (Australia)
Don't be surprised if Oklahoma City takes Giddey here - if the team keeps the pick. The Thunder have a history with international prospects, and the 6-foot-8 Aussie guard fits the bill. Giddey has the size to play either backcourt position and uses that size to make all sorts of passes. Like Chris Paul, Kemba Walker could find his Thunder tenure a short one; there will be minutes available for Giddey if that's the case.
19. New York Knicks - Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn
Cooper will never be an elite NBA defender due to his lack of size, but his unbelievable ball-handling skills and proficiency in the pick-and-roll should see him enjoy a very successful pro career. Cooper's style of play should immediately make him a fan favorite when he joins the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
20. Atlanta Hawks - Tre Mann, G, Florida
The Hawks need a long-term backup for Trae Young, whether or not Lou Williams returns for a 17th season. Mann fills that hole and can complement the rising star off the ball with his efficient 3-point stroke. His ability to facilitate in the pick-and-roll will also create more lob opportunities for the likes of Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu.
21. New York Knicks (via DAL) - Isaiah Jackson, F/C, Kentucky
The Knicks' Kentucky pipeline continues to flow with Jackson joining New York at No. 21. The 6-foot-10 standout would be the fifth Wildcats alum on Tom Thibodeau's roster and instantly slot in as a difference-making defender. Though Jackson is limited on offense, he can be very effective on lobs around the rim. But it's his hyper-athleticism on defense that will capture Thibodeau's attention in the opening round.
22. Los Angeles Lakers - Chris Duarte, G, Oregon
The Lakers are seeking an immediate contributor to maximize their championship window. With most of the club's backcourt set to enter free agency, Duarte should be able to step in and fill a role with his 3-and-D skill set. His passing abilities will also relieve LeBron James of some of his playmaking burden.
23. Houston Rockets (via POR) - Cameron Thomas, G, LSU
The Rockets desperately need scoring, and this draft offers few players better than Thomas at getting the ball in the hoop. The LSU freshman was a top-five scorer in the country in his lone season at the collegiate level and can attack defenses in myriad ways. He doesn't offer much on the defensive level or as a ball distributor, but his scoring alone makes him a first-round lock.
24. Houston Rockets (via MIL) - Greg Brown, F, Texas
Houston can afford to roll the dice on upside here instead of chasing the perfect fit. Brown was the ninth-ranked high school recruit in last year's class but didn't live up to those expectations. He was a two-way force at times, showcasing his 3-point stroke, explosive athleticism, and high energy on the glass. But Brown occasionally lacked discipline defensively, and turnovers were an issue all season.
25. Los Angeles Clippers - Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee
Springer exploded down the stretch for Tennessee to firmly put himself in the first round. One of the youngest players in the draft, the freshman can already hang his hat on being an above-average NBA defender. His offensive game needs development, but the Clippers will love his defensive tenacity.
26. Denver Nuggets - Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois
The Nuggets lost some of their wing depth in the midseason Aaron Gordon deal. There's also some uncertainty with Jamal Murray sidelined indefinitely and Will Barton potentially entering free agency. Offering defensive versatility, 3-point shooting, and playmaking, Dosunmu is capable of contributing right away.
27. Brooklyn Nets - Miles McBride, G, West Virginia
Applying constant pressure whenever he's on the court, McBride certainly ranks among the most annoying players to face in this year's draft. While his defense is what stands out, McBride also connected on 42% of his triples and regularly got to the lane last year with West Virginia.
28. Philadelphia 76ers - Trey Murphy, G/F, Virginia
Murphy was a solid addition to a Virginia squad in need of scoring. The 6-foot-9 wing averaged 11.3 points per contest and shot 43.3% from deep across 25 appearances in 2020-21. The 76ers ranked 23rd in 3-point makes per game last season and could use another floor-spacer to compliment Joel Embiid. Murphy's ability to defend multiple positions will give Philadelphia additional lineup flexibility.
29. Phoenix Suns - Max Abmas, G, Oral Roberts
Last year's national leading scorer announced himself to the basketball world during Oral Roberts' Cinderella run in the NCAA Tournament. Abmas is a walking bucket in pick-and-roll situations and led the country in efficiency in that metric. He should be able to thrive in the Suns' offense as Cameron Payne has during these playoffs.
30. Utah Jazz - Jared Butler, G, Baylor
Few players raised their draft stock more in the NCAA Tournament than Butler, who teamed with Davion Mitchell to bring Baylor its first title. The Jazz will hope he can do the same with Donovan Mitchell at the professional level. Butler showed excellent all-around skills at both ends throughout his time with the Bears, and improved shooting could make him a steal at No. 30.