In a matter of a few weeks, Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, and their future NBA peers will all walk the stage of the Barclays Center, and shake hands with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, signifying the moment where they officially become rookies in the leader of the basketball world. NBA draft analysts continue to disagree and converse with one another, as huge amounts of uncertainty remain with the draft, and I’ll attempt to give the 10 teams I’m selecting for an honest pick…Welcome to Nader Assaf’s 2021 Top 10 NBA Mock Draft.
- Based on what I believe will happen, not what I want to happen
- No trades at the moment
- Detroit Pistons- Cade Cunningham, Guard, Oklahoma State University
At this point, this pick is close to inevitable. Cunningham is by far one of the best all-around prospects in recent memory and has come out to say that he’s excited to go to Detroit. For years, the Pistons have been the joke of the NBA, and I admire Cunningham for wanting to take on a role that has historically put young players’ careers in a tough situation. His elite mix of playmaking, three level scoring, and defense make him as appealing of a prospect as they come. This is the only pick that I don’t believe is debatable in the entire class, and for a good reason at that.
Pro Comp: Luka Doncic
2. Houston Rockets- Jalen Green, Guard, G League Ignite
Yes, you saw that correctly. I have the Houston Rockets buying into G League Ignite product Jalen Green, over the better and more deserving prospect of the second overall pick in Evan Mobley. The situation reminds me of a few months ago in April when the consensus of NFL draft fans believed that the Bengals would take Penei Sewell over Ja’Marr Chase, but soon realized the tides had changed, as the rookie currently attends training camp at Paul Brown Stadium.
Jalen Green is a scoring machine that has some of the best athleticism in the entire draft. Defense is a concern going into the NBA, but as many are starting to realize, guard defense is becoming a non-priority in modern basketball. The Houston Rockets will replace one “bucket getter” with another by building around a core of Jalen Green and Christian Wood.
Pro Comp: Zach Lavine
3. Cleveland Cavaliers- Evan Mobley, Forward, University of Southern California
The Cleveland Cavaliers will luck out with this pick and select Evan Mobley. One of the best big men prospects since Anthony Davis will fit nicely into the Cavaliers’ starting lineup, playing next to Jarrett Allen, forming one of the best shot-blocking duos in the league. The Cavaliers have expressed interest in trading Sexton, so Mobley’s PnR partner for years to come will be Darius Garland, and I couldn’t help but be excited for the potential of the duo.
The PF spot is currently wide open, and Mobley will 100% be a starter by the looks of it. Spacing could potentially be an issue, but Mobley has a solid jump shot and will look to improve from the arc at the next level. His concerns are far less worrying than other prospects, being at the level he is for how young he is. There is no scenario where the Cavaliers should pass up on the USC Product.
Pro Comp: Chris Bosh
4. Toronto Raptors- Jalen Suggs, Guard, Gonzaga
One of my favorite prospects in the entire draft, Jalen Suggs, will be a Toronto Raptor when the time comes in late July. With Kyle Lowry ending his long tenure with the franchise sooner than later, Fred VanVleet will need a new guard to team up with, and Jalen Suggs will be a fantastic partner for him.
The combo guard is an elite playmaker and passer, who has the potential to be a great two-way player in the league. His decision-making and composure make him extremely desirable for his young age. The Gonzaga product does need to improve as a shooter, especially with high-level defenders in the NBA basing their gameplans to keep him away from the paint. Floor generals are always great to draft, and Suggs can be franchise level one.
Pro Comp: John Wall/Lonzo Ball
5. Orlando Magic- Jonathan Kuminga, Forward, G League Ignite
Defense is the name of the game for Jalen Green’s former teammate, and G League Ignite standout Jonathan Kuminga. His extremely impressive measurables make him an NBA-ready prospect, with a 7’0″ wingspan as a forward. His footwork and versatility give him the ability to guard multiple positions, whether it be matching up with a big man or showing off some perimeter defense against a ball handler.
Jonathan Isaac, another defensive-oriented forward that plays for the Magic, is currently recovering from an ACL injury, but is a great player that is still on the team and has shown similar traits to Kuminga. Also, Kuminga is known for his focus issues at times, which can reach another level if he were to see struggles, especially in an offensive-oriented modern NBA. The pick doesn’t make much sense, but I can almost guarantee that he’ll be in Orlando come next year.
Pro Comp: OG Anunoby
6. Oklahoma City Thunder- Scottie Barnes, Forward, Florida State
OKC fans around the world were thrown into disappointment after landing on the 6th overall pick, which still is great, but missed out on the potential to have two top five prospects on their way to Oklahoma. With this pick, I have them taking Florida State product Scottie Barnes. His pro comp Draymond Green is a fantastic comparison for Barnes. He’s a defensive minded PF, with impressive measurables and guard-like abilities, being an elite playmaker for his position. Green has been one of the most underrated defenders and overall players of the decade, and Barnes is a player that is underrated in my book.
He’s a 6’9″ PG, with a body of a PF, who constantly brings energy and effort to the floor. He has a knack for getting steals and has a jack of all trades defensive playstyle. Scoring is a concern with Barnes, but similar to Green, he doesn’t need to be a scorer if surrounded by other main options. Let’s just say if this guy develops a three point shot, he’ll be ONE. SCARY. PLAYER.
Pro Comp: Draymond Green
7. Golden State Warriors-Moses Moody, Forward, University of Arkansas
With their first of two picks in the lottery, the recovering Golden State Warriors will take a rumored pre-draft friend and top prospect, Moses Moody, to help them bounce back into the playoffs. Moody is a great all-around prospect with elite two-way potential. He’s a lights-out shooter from deep and plays great defense, with length and the ability to guard the two and three.
Moody’s concerns come from his ability to create for himself at times, but playing next to one of the best playmakers of all time in Steph Curry should help his game tremendously. He’s a low-risk, high-reward player, and could end up being the piece that takes the Warriors to the next level. A lineup of Stephen Curry, Moses Moody, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and James Wiseman looks great on paper for the most part, and I can’t help but say that this is a perfect fit for Moody. The Splash Brothers have found a cousin.
Pro Comp: Khris Middleton/Robert Covington
8. Orlando Magic-Davion Mitchell, Guard, Baylor University
Orlando will pair Kuminga with NCAA March Madness champion Davion Mitchell, capping off an impressive first round. Mitchell is one of the best perimeter defenders in this class, and has a Patrick Beverly type style. Length may limit him to permanently guarding the 1-2 spot, but as a 6’2″ defensive plus in an era where backcourt defense is overrated, it really doesn’t matter.
On the other hand, Mitchell is a strong, explosive player on the offensive end that can pretty much score from anywhere on the court. He prefers to drive to the basket but certainly isn’t scared to pull up from mid-range or behind the three point line. In simple terms, his handle is nice and he can play make pretty well, showing his potential as a true two-way player in the league. If he can stay consistent, Mitchell will be a solid piece for years to come.
Pro Comp: Donovan Mitchell/Jrue Holiday
9. Sacramento Kings-Franz Wagner, Center, University of Michigan
The Kings will stick to their word and take pre-draft promise Franz Wagner, in an attempt to start turning their franchise towards better days. Sacramento is one of the worst teams in the league, especially defensively, and Wagner will help them immensely as one of the best two-way prospects in the draft. Wagner can guard any position, with size to work in the paint, and quickness to work on the perimeter, possessing great on and off ball defense.
The German product has a high shot selection IQ, which is important as a primary three point shooter. Playmaking wise, he can be a glue guy for the Kings, but of course, won’t be the first option to distribute and create opportunities for others. This pick will definitely help Sacramento, pairing De’Aaron Fox and Franz Wagner together to create an intriguing young duo.
Pro Comp: Lamar Odom/Nicolas Batum
10. New Orleans Pelicans-Corey Kispert, Forward, University of Gonzaga
The Pelicans will take Corey Kispert to round out the top 10, filling their biggest needs in shooting and wing defense. Kispert is one of the best, if not the best shooter in the draft, and can knock down a shot in any situation (transitions, screenplays, etc). He’s a very efficient player, that makes the right decisions and knows where to be on the court.
Similar to his pro comp, Joe Harris, Kispert isn’t a primary ball-handler by any means, but knows what to do with the ball in his hands, and can hit a shot off a few dribbles. When it comes to playmaking and passing, he isn’t some prodigy, but always keeps the movement going and isn’t too aggressive. Athleticism isn’t his strong suit, but unless you know how to use it well, it’s an overrated tool in my book. It’s always nice to have, but many players thrive without it.
He’s a solid defender with a nice frame and possesses a high IQ to make up for his other physical shortcomings. In simple terms, he’s a 3&D catch-and-shoot player, who should fit extremely well in a smart team system. He isn’t going to be a superstar, but he can be a great player in the league.
Pro Comp: Joe Harris