(Photo via USC Athletics)
*Note – Only the Top 10 will have player comparisons*
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Cade Cunningham – G/F, Oklahoma State
Player comparison: Grant Hill
Cunningham has met every expectation set up for him in his first year at Oklahoma State. On top of that, he came into College as a below-average 3-point shooter but has been much more than that shooting 44% from outside. He has elite playmaking ability as a Wing player and still has a lot of upside as a player. He can improve on defense as well as toning down his turnovers, but that can also be attributed to being a high-usage player on an average team. This draft has a lot of really good players, but Cunningham is the cream of the crop.
- Detroit Pistons: Jalen Suggs – G, Gonzaga
Player Comparison: Jason Kidd
You’re probably thinking why the hell would the Pistons take a Guard with a lottery pick for the 2nd straight year? The thing is, Suggs and Killian Hayes are both guys who can play the 1 & 2 and would solidify their backcourt for years to come. Coming into Gonzaga as a Top-10 recruit, Suggs has been everything we thought he would be. Elite playmaker at the Point Guard position, deadly in transition, physically tough, etc. He has helped lead Gonzaga to be the #1 team in America so far and has a great chance to help lead them to a National Title. You can easily make the argument for Evan Mobley here for Detroit with Blake Griffin seemingly done and Mason Plumlee is not the long-term solution there, but Suggs is the best player available at #2.
- Houston Rockets: Jalen Green – SG, G-League
Player Comparison: Zach Lavine
Evan Mobley is my 3rd best player in this draft, but the Rockets seem to be content with having a smaller lineup. Otherwise, he would be a deadly duo with Christian Wood in the frontcourt. Instead, the Rockets go with Jalen Green who skipped college to head to the G-League and has insane leaping ability. The biggest question with Green coming out of high school was his shooting ability and so far through 10 games, he’s shooting 37.3% from 3-pt range and 48.1% overall. Green catching lobs from John Wall and running in transition with Wall and Christian Wood would be a sight to behold for years to come in Houston.
- Orlando Magic: Evan Mobley – C, USC
Player Comparison: Bam Adebayo
Mobley has everything you want in a modern Big-Man. Elite defender and rebounder who has great athleticism which allows him to be a rim-runner. He has the ability to improve as 3-pt shooter and with Vucevic and Gordon being in trade rumors, it makes sense for the Magic to get a franchise player of Mobley’s caliber.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonathan Kuminga – F, G-League
Player Comparison: Shawn Marion
Kuminga possesses some of the best physical attributes in this draft. He has a great wingspan & elite athleticism that allows him to be a 3 or 4 in the NBA, but he has to get more consistent shooting the ball to fully maximize his potential. The Cavs have everything but more depth along their wing spots so they go with Kuminga.
- Sacramento Kings: Ziaire Williams – G/F, Stanford
Player Comparison: Rudy Gay
Ziaire Williams is another prospect coming out of College with really high upside due to his elite athleticism and Basketball IQ. Like Kuminga, he has to be a more consistent jump shooter. Williams is a guy who is going to take time to develop and cannot be rushed into a contribute-now situation.
- Washington Wizards: Moses Moody – G, Arkansas
Player Comparison: Tim Hardaway Jr.
Moody has been a huge surprise for Arkansas this year by being one of the better scorers in the nation as a Freshman. He’s really good at moving around without the ball, but other than that he doesn’t posses a ton of upside. He lacks athleticism and doesn’t do much with the ball on offense, and doesn’t show much with defense either. Moody also needs to fill out his frame more and become stronger to expand his game on both sides.
- New Orleans Pelicans: James Bouknight – G, UCONN
Player Comparison: Dillon Brooks
James Bouknight has proven to be a really good scorer for the Huskies this season averaging just over 20 Points Per Game and with JJ Redick and Lonzo Ball hitting free-agency, the Pelicans are going to need a consistent 3rd scorer next to Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Scottie Barnes – F, Florida State
Player Comparison: Jabari Parker
Barnes is a really good playmaker and athlete that would fit perfect next to someone like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in OKC. The Thunder have a really bright future with the plethora of draft picks along with SGA running the show at Point Guard. Adding Barnes would allow them to do a multitude of things on both sides of the floor, although he can use some definite improvement shooting the ball.
- Atlanta Hawks: Jalen Johnson – F, Duke
Player Comparison: Paul Pierce
With John Collins set to hit Free Agency, the Hawks are going to need a formidable 4. Johnson still has incredible upside and despite all the negativity surrounding him due to his Opt-Out in the middle of the season, he can still provide instant support on the Offensive end next to Trae Young. He can shoot, drive to the basket, and has some real nice athleticism which can prove to be deadly in the pick and roll with Young.
- Indiana Pacers: Keon Johnson – F, Tennessee
Elite scorer and athlete but does not consistently shoot the ball and doesn’t do much on defense. Johnson is similar to the likes of Malik Monk and will take some years to develop.
- Chicago Bulls: Sharife Cooper – PG, Auburn
The Bulls go with Sharife Cooper who is averaging a near Double-Double (20.2 PPG & 8.8 APG) and will allow Zach Lavine to play the 3 and Coby White to be a traditional off-ball Guard. Cooper will have to improve his 3-pt shooting, but his ability to drive and hit mid-range jumpers will bring a much needed boost to the Bulls.
- Toronto Raptors: Cam Thomas – G, LSU
Kyle Lowry is going to be a free agent which will leave a huge void at the Guard spot. VanVleet can slide over to a full-time Point Guard role and allow Norman Powell to start at the 2 and Cam Thomas can develop behind Powell. Great scorer and although his 3-Pt% is not great, his FT% (87.9%) suggests that improvements can be made in that area quickly.
- Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones – C, Texas
2 things are true here: One is that Texas has been producing a ton of talented big men in the last few years and Secondly, the Hornets have been searching for a big man in the last few years as well. It’s a match made in heaven and Kai Jones can knock down open 3’s, rim-run, and play good defense. The only problem is that he started only 2 games so far this year so it’s not a certainty he can handle the starting job in the NBA right away.
- Miami Heat: Franz Wagner – F, Michigan
Wagner is a gritty, hard-working player that has a ton of upside and can also step into a starting role right away. He is the perfect player to replace Andre Iguodala who has seemed to have hit father time. Wagner can hit 3’s, rebound, drive to the basket, and plays elite defense.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Corey Kispert – F, Gonzaga
You can never have enough shooters and Kispert is just that. He is having an unreal season for Gonzaga this year shooting 46.3% from 3 and is also a good enough defender.
- New York Knicks: Josh Christopher – G, Arizona State
Christopher is a big-time talent that has suffered through some injuries this year, but when healthy he produces at a high level. He’s the type of guy that can provide a huge spark off the bench and has a very young Iman Shumpert feel to his game.
- Golden State Warriors: David Johnson – G, Louisville
With uncertainty surrounding Klay Thompson and his ability to be the same player again, the Warriors go with Johnson who is shooting 39.2% from 3 and would instantly fit the Warriors system.
- Boston Celtics: Greg Brown – F/C, Texas
Another big man from Texas goes in the 1st-Round and this time, he is going to Boston. Tristan Thompson has been a disappointment and David Theis is a matchup problem against bigger and faster players. Greg Brown can hit open 3’s, is super athletic, and can defend pretty well which can help the Celtics out instantly.
- Dallas Mavericks: Marcus Bagley – F, Arizona State
Bagley is a 3 & D player with tons of upside that can bring much needed wing depth to Dallas. Really nice future as a bench player and a possible fringe starter on a bad team.
- San Antonio Spurs: Usman Garuba – F/C, Spain
Death. Taxes. Spurs draft a Foreign player. Garuba is an elite athlete with great length and with LaMarcus Aldridge becoming a free-agent, the Spurs will definitely need some depth in the Frontcourt.
- Denver Nuggets: Ayo Dosunmu – G, Illinois
Dosunmu is a very Tyrese Haliburton-like player who can similarly hit open 3’s, play good D, & be a great playmaker. With Gary Harris struggling and being a disappointment for Denver, Dosunmu can step in and make an impact in his place right away.
- Portland Trail Blazers: Terrence Shannon Jr. – F, Texas Tech
Carmelo Anthony is nearing the end of his career so the Blazers need to find some more wing depth and Terrence Shannon Jr. provides that. Tremendous athlete who is a great slasher and defender. He will need to improve on his outside shooting, though he has improved a little since last year.
- Milwaukee Bucks: Jaden Springer – G, Tennessee
Jaden Springer is an outstanding defender and scorer with the ability to knock down open 3’s. He’s at his best off the ball and slashing to the basket and would fit well on the Bucks as a key role player.
- LA Clippers: Davion Mitchell – PG, Baylor
It’s kind of surprising that Mitchell isn’t higher on more mock drafts since he can defend, shoot 3’s, and be a playmaker at the Point Guard position. He has helped Baylor to being one of the top teams in College this year and with the Clippers needing a true playmaker at Point Guard, Mitchell can step in immediately and help LA out.
- Brooklyn Nets: Isaiah Jackson – F/C, Kentucky
Brooklyn lacks a big man presence aside from DeAndre Jordan and Nic Claxton so they go with Isaiah Jackson who is a rim-running big who can rebound and defend. Jackson will provide the Nets with much-needed depth around the rim to help on both sides of the ball.
- LA Lakers: Charles Bassey – C, Western Kentucky
The Lakers are missing Dwight Howard & Javale McGee down low and will be needing a long-term solution at that position. Bassey can score in every way in the post and can occasionally hit an open 3 as well being a ferocious rebounder and formidable as a defender.
- Philadelphia 76ers: BJ Boston – G, Kentucky
The 76ers are loaded with depth so they can afford to take on a “project” player in Boston. He has been a major disappoinment for Kentcuky this year, but still possesses a ton of upside as an elite scorer.
- Phoenix Suns: Jared Butler – G, Baylor
Another Baylor player that should be higher on most draft boards due to his versatility as a 3 & D payer and ability to be a playmaker. CP3 is set to be a free agent after the 2021-22 season and the Suns will need a high-floor player to help alleviate that loss.
- Utah Jazz: Daishen Nix – PG, G-League
Nix was another high-level player out of high school to take the G-League route. He posseses a lot of upside as an elite level pure Point Guard and defender due to his long and lanky frame, but outside of that has not shown much. It will take some years for him to develop, but the Jazz are able to wait with the amount of depth they have.