Well hello again, it’s been a while. Life, right?

Alright, that’s enough catching up. I’m here to break my immense writer’s block and that’s what I’m going to do. For those who didn’t know, the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery just occurred recently. Last year I did a mock that went pretty well. I was off on Anthony Edwards but hey, you’re allowed a strikeout every now and then when you’re batting .870. So without further ado, I present the Expert’s 2021 NBA Mock Draft from the most profound basketball mind this generation has seen (it’s me, if you were wondering).

1: Detroit Pistons

Cade Cunningham, PG/SG Oklahoma State

Odds to Be Selected No. 1: (-10,000) Yes, you read that correctly.

Shocker, I know. Everyone with a set of eyes and a working temporal lobe knows that Cunningham is going first overall. The kid’s a stud, what can I say. He averaged 20.1 PPG, 6.2 boards, 3.5 dishes, and 1.6 steals a game on 43/40/85 during his mandatory retainer year at Oklahoma State. 

(Side note – if I ever mention betting on Oklahoma State again, I give anyone reading this full permission to euthanize me like a horse with 2 broken legs and glaucoma. Every time they have a good guard, whether it’s Marcus Smart or Cunningham they pull me back in and it results in nothing but misery for me. So please, do us all (but mostly me) a favor and prevent that from happening). 

Cunningham is everything you want out of the modern NBA combo guard. He stands 6 feet 8 inches tall, but handles the rock like someone a lot closer to the hardwood. He has a passing ability a la Lamelo Ball, and shares his highlight-focused mentality. Cunningham’s going to be bombing from 38 feet and tossing the ball all over the court from the second he steps on until he either walks off or is dragged off by his coaching staff. That being said, expect a slow start for him – his occasional poor passing decisions are most likely going to result in a lot of turnovers early on, and it doesn’t help that his shot selection lacks intelligence a lot of the time. 

However, it’s pretty obvious that Cunningham is the next can’t-miss prospect, and expect Detroit to waste zero time putting this pick in on draft night. 

2: Houston Rockets

Jalen Suggs, PG, Gonzaga

Odds to Be Selected No. 2: (+125)

I know the right pick here is probably Evan Mobley, the big man from USC, but with the Rockets acquiring Christian Wood last season, I personally don’t believe they are going to draft at that position and possibly stunt both of their developments. So, I believe that Jalen Suggs, a very solid guard from Gonzaga, is going to be the pick for this new-look Rockets regime. Suggs can take over some of the primary ball handling duties as John Wall continues to age and miss time due to injury. If they’re so inclined, the Rockets can even run the two of them out there and try that whole two-point-guard thing that worked so well for them again. As long as they figure out how not to go 0 for 28 in the 4th quarter, the strategy may work out for them this time around. 

Suggs averaged 14/5/4.5 with just short of 2 takeaways a game during his lone season at Gonzaga, but he also turned out one hell of a tournament performance that did wonders to his draft stock. While this split is significantly less than the aforementioned Cunningham, Suggs was markedly more efficient from close – hitting shots at a 50/33/75 clip. He’ll also give the Rockets another solid young player to build around – giving them a core 3 of Wood, Kevin Porter Jr., and Suggs – who will all be under the age of 26 next season. 

Look, I like the Rockets organization, they’re just cool. I don’t know if I’m reminiscent of Tracy McGrady and Steve Francis or if James Harden is and always will be one of my favorite basketball players ever. Couldn’t tell ya. But I’d be lying if I said I wanted them to fuck this up somehow someway, because I really don’t. Stephen Silas deserves much better than what this front office is giving him, and I really hope they make the right call and give him a fun new toy to play with in Jaylen Suggs. 

3: Cleveland Cavaliers

Evan Mobley, C, USC

Odds to Be Selected No. 3: (+150)

Yes, I’m aware of what I just said about drafting a very good prospect at a position where you have a young stud. However Max Kellerman, I also think that the Cavs are fairly likely to deal Jarrett Allen elsewhere within the next calendar year. He’s a very good interior defender, possessing a 113.3 Defensive Rating and a 23.3 Defensive Rebound Rate last season, while swatting away just short of 1.5 shots a game. But enough about him, we’re here to talk about the talented Mr. Mobley, who put up a 16/9/3 split last season on 58/30/69 from the field. That being said, he’s one of the most sought-after prospects in this year’s draft because of his defensive ability. Dude turned away 3 (!!!!!!!) shots a game while also coming close to a takeaway per contest as well. It gets even crazier when you take a look at his advanced stats –  where Mobley snagged an 18.9 Defensive Rebound Rate and an absolutely astounding 8.8% Block Percentage (which led the nation by a full point). 

Mobley is the next-up big man prospect, but coming after James Wiseman’s alarming rookie campaign, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fall a little bit lower than 3 – but don’t expect him to drop out of the top 5. He has all of the defensive intangibles, which almost always translate to a high draft pick. The typical thought process in most NBA front offices is that defense is more natural and is harder to develop at the professional level, whereas there are a plethora of offensive-minded head coaches that can either develop a player to realize his offensive potential, or can create a scheme where he will be most effective. The big issue with this is finding the head coach. Frankly, I don’t think Cleveland has that at all, so expect a slow offensive start for Mobley, but expect his lockdown defense to be there from the second he laces them up for over-the-table money. 

4: Toronto Raptors

Jalen Green, PG/SG, NBA G League

Odds to Be Selected No. 4: (+160)

Almost all of the conversation about the Raptors this past season has been about how they’re more likely to trade away Kyle Lowry than they are to keep him around and continue to pay him his designated $30 million a year. Hence, expect them to look guard in this very top-heavy draft (according to most “experts”). 

Green opted to forgo college and became one of the first big-name prospects to enter the NBA G League. If they were so inclined, one could say that it worked out pretty well for him, as he put up an 18/4/2.8 split on a 46/37/83 clip. Keep in mind, Green shot 3s from the NBA 3 point line, not the collegiate stripe like his competitors. This absolutely gives him a leg up over players like Suggs, who were not as efficient from a closer target. However, Suggs showed that he was more well rounded as a scorer, hence Green’s drop to number 4 here. 

If the Raptors take Green in this slot, and hit on the inevitable draft picks they’ll get for Lowry and Pascal Siakam, expect them to be back in the top of the East (but with a very, VERY different play style). It seems like head coach Nick Nurse operates a little bit better when his offense is humming – something that flat out didn’t happen this past season. So, expect the Raptors to take the electrifying Green, and try to build a roster around him like the Hawks have done with Trae Young. 

5: Orlando Magic

Jonathan Kuminga, SF, NBA G League

Odds to Be Selected No. 5: (+170)

Orlando doesn’t really have to do anything special here, as they have 2 top 10 selections in this year’s draft (5 and 8). That being said, historically they really stink at this whole picking players thing, and on the draft picks that they hit, they immediately ship them out of town. Over the past five years, they’ve selected Cole Anthony at #15 (granted, he’s been solid recently, but his game has a lot of holes in it and he looks to be a fringe-level starter or sixth man at best over his career – but I hope I’m wrong here), Chuma Okeke at #16, Mo Bamba (of Sheck Wes fame) at #6, Jonathan Isaac at #6 (Isaac has been very good for the Magic, showing a lot of improvement in his offensive game over his first 4 seasons, and his defense is still on the fringe of an All-NBA team), and Domantas Sabonis at #11 (who they immediately traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder). So yeah, they can’t draft high picks and they can’t draft mid round picks. The problem here is they’ll probably never be good enough again to get into the end of the first round where they haven’t really had success either, but maybe a new viewpoint could do them wonders. 

I digress, this is less about how sad and pathetic the Magic are as an organization and more about Jonathan Kuminga – who joined Jalen Green as the five-star revolutionaries who opted to forgo college and enter the NBA G League. Kuminga possessed a 16/7/2.7 split on 38/25/63 from the field, which is quite terrifying if you ask me. He doesn’t look to be markedly efficient from really anywhere on the court, as he had a 49.7% True Shooting Percentage in his lone G League season, which is an advanced metric that weighs 3 point shots as 1.5x more difficult as a regular 2 point shot, and free throws as half as difficult (but not for Ben Simmons, HEY!!). Keep in mind that 56.5% True Shooting is league average, so Kuminga’s 49.7% isn’t too horrendous for an 18 year old. It’s just something that we’ll have to keep an eye on in his career. However, Kuminga showed that he has some tremendous potential as a lockdown defender in the league, as he showcased a 111 Defensive Rating last season. Combine this with the fact that he averaged both 1 swat and poke a game shows that his value on the defensive end is going to be closer to a Matisse Thybulle than it will a Kawhi. Kuminga just doesn’t allow guys to score on him, but white collars in league offices will want to see him creating more havoc with some steals early on in his career. Overall, I don’t think that this is the pick that the Magic necessarily need, but it’s worked out for them in the past with Aaron Gordon and Jonathan Isaac, so why stray from what doesn’t really work?

6: Oklahoma City Thunder

James Bouknight, PG/SG, Connecticut

In such a guard heavy draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder’s ideal scenario is if Kuminga gets past the Magic and falls to them. However, I have Kuminga getting selected by the team from Disney, so the Thunder are kind of stuck here. They have 2 electrifying young guards in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort, but the latter is fairly limited offensively as solely a 3 and D guy this early in his career. That’s why I have the Thunder taking the scoring machine that is James Bouknight. 

The Brooklyn native averaged 15/3/2 on 46/32/80 during his 2 year stint at UConn, but jumped his PPG from 13 to 18.7 last year. Unfortunately, his efficiency dropped from 46/35/82 his freshman year to 45/29/78 his sophomore campaign. This can probably be deduced to an increased role and shot selection, as his attempts across all platforms jumped tremendously between the two years he was in Kevin Ollie’s system. Bouknight looks to have all the tools that GMs drool over at the professional level – a tight handle, a smooth looking jumper, and an aggressive mentality that will serve him well as a scorer. Personally, I believe that he can be a Jamal Murray-eque player at the next level, as his 6’2” frame will limit him to a lot of looks at Shooting Guard. However, Bouknight will fit nicely splitting ball handling duties with Shai, and should provide the Thunder with a solid volume scorer for a long time.

7: Golden State Warriors (via Minnesota Timberwolves)

Davion Mitchell, PG, Baylor

True to form, the Golden State Warriors had a fairly surprising season but still lucked into the top 10 on draft night. While I fully expect them to trade this pick, if Davion Mitchell is available to them at 7, they’ll probably put the pick before anyone thinks about it too hard. 

Mitchell stayed for 4 years in college, but sat out his second due to a transfer from Auburn after his freshman campaign. This past year, he put up 14/3/5.5 on 51/45/64 from the field. While Mitchell was very efficient, his struggles from the free throw line are not representative of how good he is as a shooter from the field, so expect many GMs to be a little wary early on. That being said, 6 or 7 would be the perfect place for Mitchell to fall. Being in the Golden State system can do wonders for a young shooter like him, and his skills as a distributor are certain to improve as well. Mitchell will more than likely fit right into the backup point role, as Nico Mannion just looks horrendous out there on the basketball court. I mean seriously dude, you can’t be both ginger and uncoordinated. Pick one. 

Anyways, Mitchell had a phenomenal season this past year at Baylor, especially in the tournament, so his draft value is probably at its peak right now. Many sites you’ll see will have him projected in the 4-5 range, but we’re not most sites, and I’m not most writers. Seriously, those guys hit like .360 and get praised for it, but I’m over here above .800 and I’m looked at like a buffoon. If you want to make some real money in this draft, place your money where my mouth is and take Davion Mitchell over 5.5 draft position. 

8: Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls)

Scottie Barnes, SF/PG, Florida State

What can I say about Orlando that the media or myself hasn’t said already. They simply love tall, athletic guys that don’t really do anything particularly special, hence the Scottie Barnes pick here. 

Don’t get me wrong, Barnes is a solid prospect, and probably one of the best Florida State has had in a long time. He stands at 6 foot 9, which is some astronomical size for a point guard, but normal size for a point forward. It kind of reminds me of Ben Simmons, which does him no favors. The Simmons comparison rears its head again when you look at Barnes’ slash line from his one season at Florida State – 50/27/62. His high field goal percentage shows that he converts well at the rim and inside the arc, but his atrocious 3 point and free throw percentages show that he’s naturally not a great shooter. Barnes’ stat line wasn’t terribly impressive either – 10/4/4 with about 1.5 takeaways a game. I know this sounds like a whole lot of hate from me, but I do like Barnes’ potential a lot. He’s extremely athletic and plays some good defense, while also possessing a great passing ability. Despite his 4 assists a game, Barnes’ Assist Rate was one of the highest in the nation at 31.6%, which also kind of brings me back to the whole Ben Simmons thing again. Yikes. 

If Barnes projects like he’s supposed to, I do think that he would benefit from taking an off-ball role in Orlando. Well, not necessarily off-ball, but we’ve seen what happens (in Philadelphia) when your primary ball handler can’t or won’t shoot the basketball. If Orlando knows what they’re doing (spoiler, they don’t), they should let Markelle Fultz and the aforementioned Cole Anthony do most of the ball handling, and try to use Barnes as a Boris Diaw kind of player. That is, a secondary or tertiary ball handler that can take and make long 2s and make the right pass to keep the offense moving. Overall, this would be a good pick for the Magic, I do believe that Barnes is going to be solid at the professional level, they just need to find the right role for him to fit in.

9: Sacramento Kings

Kai Jones, PF, Texas

The Kings are in a really similar position to Orlando – they just can’t seem to get anything right. They infamously drafted Marvin Bagley Jr. over Luka and Trae Young, and if that doesn’t sum up the franchise, I’m not sure what else does. David Stern really did a number on this organization when he fixed the Western Conference Finals to send Kobe and Shaq to the NBA Finals instead of Chris Webber and Mike Bibby. Honestly, if you can permanently fuck up an ENTIRE ORGANIZATION and have them blowing every single pick and trade they’ve made since, that’s the most toxic shit I’ve ever heard and I respect the absolute hell out of it. Rest in paradise, Mr. Stern. 

All that said, Kai Jones would be the right pick for the Kings. They have a couple of great young players in DeAaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton, so even in this guard-heavy draft the Kings probably won’t Kings and stunt the development of their two young stars. Hence, I have them taking Kai Jones, the two year player out of Texas, with their pick here. 

Jones averaged 9/5/0.6 on 58/38/69  in his second year at Texas, which was drastically more than what he did in his freshman campaign. NBA GMs are drooling over his year to year improvement, along with his impressive athleticism and instincts. Jones’ True Shooting jumped to 64.6% his sophomore year from 56.1% his freshman year, while also decreasing his usage rate about 6%. This shows that Jones was converting on much more of his attempts his second year while having the ball in his hands less often. So despite his less than impressive stat lines, the improvement from year one to year two is what is going to jump his draft stock. If Jones can continue this type of improvement, he is going to have a solid career for years to come. 

10: New Orleans Pelicans

Moses Moody, PG/SG, Arkansas

Moody had a great year last season for the Razorbacks, averaging 17/6/1.6 on 43/36/81 from the field. Despite his slightly inefficient shooting, his high free throw percentage shows that he’s a good natural shooter, and that his efficiency should improve once he’s in a pro system. Additionally, his lack of dimes to his teammates should not be a concern, as his Turnover Rate (9.9%) was exceptionally low despite his high usage rate at 22.3%. So yes, this makes Moody more of a pick for potential instead of contributing immediately. However, Moody showed last season that he is a big time shot maker. He demonstrated throughout the regular season and the NCAA tournament that he was more than willing to be the guy in the last few minutes of the game, when every shot is critical. NBA brass is certainly going to love his confidence and his potential for improvement into one of the best offensive players in the league, so 10 is certainly not a stretch despite some of the efficiencies in his game.

New Orleans has a pretty good setup going forward, as we all know about their young core of Zion, Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball. While Zion might be leaving in the near future, the best that they can do to keep him around is trying to improve now. Giving this team another offensive weapon like Moody could prove to take some of the weight off of Zion’s massive shoulders, and hopefully keep him around for a little longer.

This concludes my second annual NBA Mock Draft, presented by the most unknown Expert on the planet. If you want to make a little change on some young men finding out where they’re going to work for the foreseeable future, take the odds I so conveniently wrote out for you with the top 5 picks. I mean most of the so-called experts out there call this a 4 to 5 player draft, so those gentlemen are essentially locks to go within those top 5 selections. If you do end up making a little scratch off of my opinions, tweet me @yunasdro, it would be a real confidence boost to someone who desperately needs it.