The NBA Finals have come and gone and the offseason is officially underway. The first major checkpoint on the journey to opening night is the NBA Draft, where months of preparation, interviews, workouts, and speculation finally come to a close. While the NBA Draft always promises to be unpredictable, and at times baffling, here is my futile attempt at getting in the minds of each team’s front office as they select the players that will shape the next generation of this league.
I have based my mock draft based off of a combination of team needs and player talent, without factoring in trades. So, without further ado, here is the Burbs Entertainment official 2021 NBA Mock Draft.
1. Detroit Pistons - Cade Cunningham, G, Oklahoma State
Despite reports that suggest the Pistons haven’t made up their minds on who to take with this pick, I choose to believe they aren’t going to overthink this decision. Cunningham has been the number one pick since last offseason and has only gotten better as the season progressed. With Cunningham, the Pistons have found their versatile, playmaking face of the franchise to work alongside a nice young core consisting of Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, and Isaiah Stewart.
2. Houston Rockets - Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite
This is another pretty cut and dry pick, assuming the Rockets don’t pull off a trade that sends them into Cunningham Territory. It’s been rumored that Houston is keen on Green and has a “strong desire” to select him with the second pick. Green is a tremendous prospect with freaky athleticism and has the upside to become one of the league’s best. Being on a rebuilding Rockets team will give him the time and space to make mistakes and grow as a player, and him working out with Christian Wood in the pick and roll could be a thing of beauty.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers - Evan Mobley, C, USC
Although the Cavs didn’t wind up with their fourth 1st overall pick in the last decade, Evan Mobley is a pretty sweet consolation prize. The big man out of USC is much more than just a rim-protecting big (even though he does that incredibly well). Mobley is a ridiculously versatile big man that has nice touch around the rim, can push in transition, and has the ability to cover just about anybody on the defensive end, even at his size. Adding him to the Sexland backcourt along with Isaac Okoro could make Cleveland a sneaky playoff team in the years to come.
4. Toronto Raptors - Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga
Regardless of what happens with Kyle Lowry this offseason, the Raptors will have a very solid heir apparent in Jalen Suggs. As a member of the Gonzaga Bulldogs last season, Suggs averaged 14.5 points, 4.5 assists, and 2.8 steals per game and came very close to leading his team to a national championship. He has all the qualities of a winner and will help keep Toronto relevant for years to come.
5. Orlando Magic - Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite
The Magic aren’t really anywhere close to having a “win now” mentality, which could bode very well for Jonathan Kuminga. As a member of the G League Ignite, Kuminga showed flashes of brilliance that provided a glimpse of NBA stardom, but he’s a very raw prospect. If he can improve his shooting consistency and lock in on defense, the Magic could finally have a bonafide franchise player to build around.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder - Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State
I could see the Magic taking Scottie Barnes, but if he’s still available at spot number six, then he certainly won’t make it to seven. The Thunder conducted a pre-draft interview with Barnes and seem enamored with him according to reports. The Florida State product showed impressive defensive ability that has many scouts comparing him to Draymond Green, but he’ll need to spend quite a bit of time working on his shooting in order to go from a really good piece to a franchise focal point.
7. Golden State Warriors - James Bouknight, G, UConn
I don’t expect the Warriors to keep both of their lottery picks since they have an aging core that wants to win now, but if they remain at seven, then I see them taking James Bouknight. With the loss of Klay Thompson for a second consecutive season last year, the Warriors recognized how important it is to have playmakers surrounding Steph Curry. While Bouknight isn’t as prolific of a shooter as Golden State is accustomed to, he is an explosive athlete that could provide much-needed relief for the Warriors’ primary scoring options as the season and postseason wear on.
8. Orlando Magic - Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor
If the Magic pass up on Scottie Barnes at five, they can certainly still help out their defense by taking Davion Mitchell at the eighth spot. Mitchell was a tremendous defender for the Baylor Bears on their way to a national championship last season and even adds some nice playmaking ability on the other end of the floor. While his height could limit his ceiling, his knack for making winning plays could help shift the culture in Orlando.
9. Sacramento Kings - Alperen Sengun, F/C, Turkey
There’s a lot Sacramento can do with this ninth spot, but after seeing Luka, Trae, and Deandre Ayton all thrive this season, I imagine the stench of their Marvin Bagley pick is becoming too rancid for Sacramento to stomach. Alperen Sengun is the Kings’ attempt to move on from the past as they attempt to construct their future around the ultra-promising Fox/Haliburton backcourt. Sengun is a traditional big man that has room to expand his game and be everything the Kings need him to be. He has incredible footwork and finishing ability down low and plays really solid on-ball defense. He’ll need to extend his range as a shooter in order to take the next step in his development, especially since he’s a slightly undersized big man in this league, but I believe he’s capable of righting the Kings’ previous wrongs.
10. Memphis Grizzlies (Via New Orleans) - Chris Duarte, G, Oregon
The Grizzlies are a team quickly on the rise thanks to their young and gritty core. Although Eric Bledsoe isn’t expected to remain with this team, the addition of Steven Adams will hopefully help Memphis on the defensive end, but don’t count on much offensive production. That’s where Chris Duarte can provide assistance. The Grizzlies already have their starting lineup more or less set, so adding someone like Duarte to their bench would be a really solid move. While Duarte isn’t the most athletic player and certainly doesn’t have the highest upside, he has a very stable floor as an elite shooter who hustles and plays solid defense. He gives off the same gritty energy that has made Memphis so likable over the years and would fit right in with the culture they already have.
11. Charlotte Hornets - Kai Jones, F, Texas