It’s NBA mock draft time!
The conference finals are upon us and the season is wrapping up. More importantly, the NBA draft lottery set the final draft order, giving us a much clearer picture of the top end of the draft and the combine has given us some new measurements to work with.
We already are seeing some climbers and there is a lot that can change between now and the 2021 NBA Draft night, but here is a look at NBC Sports Bay Area’s latest mock draft.
1. Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham, Guard, Oklahoma State
Measurables: 6-foot-7, 220 pounds Age: 19
Detroit is a mess. They have a stable of athletic bigs, including the much-improved Jeremi Grant. Saddiq Bey looks like a long-term rotational player at the wing, but they need talent and an identity. A star at the top end of the draft could help jumpstart the rebuild.
Nothing is going to change this pick, even though he flamed out early in the tournament. The Fade for Cade was real, although he’ll need to find his killer instinct at the next level.
Cunningham is a big, strong, physical guard/forward who has stardom written all over him. He can score at all three levels, including in the post where he has the size and strength to power through contact. He has the court vision to be an elite distributor and his overall basketball IQ is off the charts.
Detroit should be throwing a party in the streets. Cunningham is a starter on Day 1 and they will build this team around him. They have some solid pieces and might be a destination location in the coming years for free agents looking to play with a young star.
2. Houston Rockets: Evan Mobley, Center, USC
Measurables: 7-foot, 210 pounds Age: 19
Life comes at you fast. After eight years of contending teams with superstar players, the Rockets hit the reset button. They didn’t exactly maximize their return for players like James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but this No. 2 overall pick could change the fortunes of the franchise. Christian Wood was a spectacular find and John Wall proved he still had some tread on his tires. The rest of the roster is a mixed bag of spare parts.
Mobley has an incredible basketball IQ and a high-level skill set. He can shoot from the outside, score over opponents at will with his 7-foot-5 wingspan, and he can put it on the deck and attack the rim with either hand.
This is the next evolution of the NBA center. He can man the break, has tremendous court vision and he’s a game-changer on the defensive end.
Can Mobley and Wood coexist? That’s a huge question. Both Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green will be considered at this spot as well, but this is a jump start for a franchise looking to reload on the fly.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Jalen Green, Shooting Guard, G League Ignite
Measurables: 6-foot-5, 180 pounds Age: 18
Is Cleveland sold on the pairing of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in the backcourt? Can Isaac Okoro take a leap as a scorer at the wing? Can the Cavs find an answer at the four? There are a lot of questions that Koby Altman has to answer, but this team was the worst scoring team in the league and they desperately need some upgrades at most positions.
Green’s draft stock is soaring and he’ll battle Mobley for the No. 2 overall pick. He showed major growth in the G League bubble and now has plenty of time to work on getting stronger and refining his skill set. He projects as an All-Star level two-way prospect without a ceiling.
The gamble to go pro has paid off for Green, and the word behind the scenes is that he is a sponge who just can’t take in enough knowledge. This is likely a franchise cornerstone for an NBA team.
Green will likely take longer to reach his potential than the rest of the players at the top of this draft, but Cleveland is a few years away from contending for a playoff spot. Green can play the two and the three and his upside is off the charts.
4. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Suggs, Point Guard, Gonzaga
Measurables: 6-foot-5, 205 pounds Age: 19
The Raptors are in a tough spot. They aged quickly and the front line that helped carry them to the championship a few years back is gone. They still have some players to build around, like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Ananoby, and keeping Gary Trent Jr. makes a lot of sense as well. Overall, they need a player that can score and has upside as they transition to a new era of Raptors basketball north of the border.
If you had any questions about Suggs’ ability to come up big in the clutch, his game-winner against UCLA in the Final Four should answer that. This is a big-time point guard prospect that is built for the modern pace and space game of the NBA. His decision to go to Gonzaga has allowed him to play alongside top-tier talent at the NCAA level, which will allow him to seamlessly take over a team at the next level.
Suggs’s ability to be a difference-maker on both ends of the court could help the Raptors jump back into relevance after a down year. He can play in a dual point-guard set alongside Fred VanVleet if Kyle Lowry decides to go chase a ring elsewhere. This is a true leader in the backcourt and a steal for the Raptors if he makes it all the way to Nop. 4.
5. Orlando Magic: Jonathan Kuminga, Small Forward, G League Ignite
Measurables: 6-foot-8, 210 pounds Age: 18
After years of trying to field a winner with miss-matched pieces, the Magic finally did the right thing and blew it up at the deadline. Gone are Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier. They have some nice young options at the point, including R.J. Hampton, Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz. The Magic even have some intriguing pieces in Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and Wendell Carter. They are a young team in building mode and finding a wing with upside, especially on the defensive end, is a must.
One of the group of young prospects that have skipped the college game and headed straight to the G League, Kuminga played very well in the bubble. He’s a big, physical forward with elite athleticism and big-time two-way potential.
Orlando is just in the beginning of their rebuild, but they have a few young pieces to work with. Kuminga can see time at both forward spots and he plays with a force and energy that stands out. It’s going to take a while for the Magic to right the ship, but Kumniga has the look and feel of a defensive catalyst for a team needing an identity.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Keon Johnson, Shooting Guard, Tennessee
Measurables: 6-foot-5, 185 pounds Age: 18
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a good start and Lu Dort is a nice versatile piece that fits in most rotations. The rest of this roster is replaceable, including players like Poku, Darius Bazley and Theo Maledon. This is a team that needs talent at every position. They have plenty of picks in the coming drafts, but they can’t miss with a top-six selection in one of the best drafts in years.
This is another smooth athlete with top-end potential. He needs to stack on some weight and improve his stroke from the perimeter, but with time, Johnson could be a major piece to a team looking to build through the draft.
Johnson’s Tennessee team crashed and burned in the tourney, but the 18-year-old showed a lot of heart and fire in the loss. He’s a basketball junkie and the Thunder need to gamble on potential above everything else. This is a kid with a tremendous ceiling.
7. Warriors: Scottie Barnes, Small Forward, Florida St.
Measurables: 6-foot-8, 225 pounds Age: 19
Steph Curry’s performance this season has the Warriors believing that their championship window hasn’t closed. The Warriors will likely shop this pick hard, like they did with the No. 2 overall pick last year, with the hopes of bringing in a veteran that can help right away. The Warriors lucked out here, falling just one spot in the lottery and retaining this pick. It has value and Bob Myers is likely already on the phone trying to move it.
Aggressive and athletic, Barnes plays with a fire and force that teams will fall in love with. The 19-year-old measured in at 6-foot-7 without shoes and posted a near 7-foot-3 wingspan. He projects as a plus defender with solid court vision and playmaking skills.
Barnes is a work in progress as both a perimeter shooter and scorer and his performance in the NCAA tournament created more questions than answers, but he’s only scratching the surface.
Barnes has drawn comparisons to Draymond Green, which is high praise. He could find himself working alongside the All-NBA defender early in his career. This would give the Warriors another ferocious defender and a potential partner to play alongside big man James Wiseman for the future.
8. Orlando Magic (via Bulls): Davion Mitchell, Guard, Baylor
Measurables: 6-foot-1.25, 202 pounds Age: 22
The Magic have two picks in the top 10 of a great draft. They have to hit on both and then spend a lot of time developing their young core. They should be able to land a big time player at the top end of the draft. They can search for a player at a position of need with their second top pick.
A lockdown defender at the college level, Mitchell is jumping up the board with his play in the tournament. He brings an edge that translates to victories on the court and his development as a perimeter shooter has turned him into a pro prospect.
With his play in the tournament, Mitchell appears to have climbed into the top 10. He plays the game a little like Marcus Smart and he could be a defensive catalyst at the next level. His measurements at the combine didn’t help his cause, but this is a player that a team like Orlando could build around. They have plenty of defenders, but they need a head of the snake to make this work.
9. Kings: Moses Moody, Small Forward, Arkansas
Measurables: 6-foot-6, 211 pounds Age: 18
Like a lot of teams at this point in the draft, the Kings have plenty of needs. They have their backcourt set with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton as starters and Buddy Hield, Delon Wright and Terence Davis coming off the bench. They also have Harrison Barnes, who is versatile enough to play both forward spots. They could use a long-term answer at center if Richaun Holmes leaves in free agency and Moe Harkless’ return also is in question.
Like Barnes, Moody didn’t have the type of NCAA tournament that he hoped for, but that won’t completely damage his draft stock. He’s a solid all around 3-and-D player with good size for an NBA wing and he measured in with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. Moody has a good motor, solid basketball IQ and he might have more skills in his bag than what he showed at Arkansas.
Moody will need some time to acclimate to the NBA, but he has a nice frame and the ability to play a couple of different positions. The Kings have been searching for this type of player for a while. Harkless filled the void in the short term, but he’s a free agent this summer and there are no guarantees that he’ll be back.
Sacramento also is looking to turn this ship around quickly with the hopes of snapping a 15-year playoff drought. Don’t be surprised if this pick isn’t packaged in a deal to land a veteran who can help with that objective.
10. New Orleans Pelicans: James Bouknight, Shooting Guard, Connecticut
Measurables: 6-foot-4.75, 190 pounds Age: 20
Shooters. Shooters. Shooters. The Pelicans have plenty of talent, but so far, they haven’t been able to make it all fit together. They overloaded on size last offseason and then traded away their best shooter in JJ Redick at the deadline. Someone needs to play the role of floor spacer for this team or opponents are going to continue to pack the lane.
Bouknight is a crafty scoring guard with big time handles and nice range. He’s developing as a defender, which could move him from a super-sub to starting shooting guard at the next level. He has great balance, finishes in traffic and has a nice first step.
The Pelicans are once again in flux. Stan Van Gundy is out as coach and they are searching for answers. There is no guarantee that Lonzo Ball will return and Josh Hart is in the same boat. Bouknight is a mature player who could play rotational minutes early and might develop into a perfect third option behind Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones, Power Forward/Center, Texas
Measurables: 6-foot-11.5, 221 pounds Age: 20
Has Michael Jordan built a winner? The Hornets are fun to watch with high fliers, solid veterans and LaMelo Ball running the show. They hunted for size at the trade deadline and they’ll do so again in free agency and the draft. They could use a few more shooters as well, but this is a nice team on the rise.
Super long. Super athletic. Super raw. Jones is fun to watch, but he’s going to need a lot of time and development. Built like Wenyen Gabriel or Jonathan Issac, Jones can block shots, rebound and run the floor. He plays with energy and is extremely active. He has shown a lot of improvement over a short period of time, but at the NBA level he’ll struggle between getting pushed around and picking up too many fouls early in his career.
Charlotte needs a starting center for the present and the future. Jones has the right tool set, but he’ll need time to develop. If they can bring him along as a reserve, this could be a very nice player to pair with Ball in the two-man game. His height and wingspan (7-foot-1.75) measurements at the combine will only help his cause.
12. San Antonio Spurs: Josh Giddey, Point Guard/Wing, Adelaide (Australia)
Measurables: 6-foot-8, 205 pounds Age: 18
Is this finally the end of the Spurs? After a quick exit from the play-in tournament, the Spurs are facing a difficult reality. LaMarcus Aldridge left mid-season and now DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Patty Mills are all free agents coming off the books. San Antonio has a lot of money tied up in the backcourt of Derrick White and Dejounte Murray, but the rest of the roster is in flux. They need a lot of everything and they need it quickly.
This is another riser in this year’s draft. Giddey is a crafty passer with great court vision and a flair for the spectacular. He’s solid in the pick-and-roll and he’s just now starting to grow into his frame. He’s likely a secondary ball handler and playmaker at the NBA level, but he’s developing quickly and has the ability to sling passes all over the court with either hand.
Giddy is climbing fast with his play in the ABL and he might make it all the way to the top 10 before it’s all said and done. His combination of skill and size is appealing, as is his ability to play 1 through 3 on the court. San Antonio is on the cusp of a full blown rebuild and Giddey’s versatility will come in handy as the Spurs search for a core to move forward with.
13. Indiana Pacers: Corey Kispert, Small Forward, Gonzaga
Measurables: 6-foot-7.25, 224 pounds Age: 21
How much different would this team have looked with T.J. Warren, Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb and Caris LaVert in the postseason? There is quality depth all over this roster, but they need to find some sort of identity. Nate Bjorkgren is out as head coach after just one year and the Pacers are once again searching for a leader.
Kispert is a winner and the best pure shooter in the 2021 draft. He has a compact, quick release that resembles something Klay Thompson would throw up. This is an elite floor spacer who understands the game and is coming from a system that teaches the fundamentals. He might not be an elite athlete, but he is a max effort player with tremendous awareness.
With Doug McDermott set to hit the free-agent market and Warren coming off a major injury, there is need for depth at the wing. Kispert is an elite floor spacer and maximum effort player. Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, he looks like a player who can instantly fit into an NBA rotation and stick around for a while as a high-end role player.
14. Warriors: Franz Wagner, Small Forward, Michigan
Measurables: 6-foot-8, 205 pounds Age: 19
It’s possible that the Warriors have two top-20 picks, although it would be a surprise to see them make both selections. Kelly Oubre’s free agency is a concern, which means the Warriors should be looking for help at the wing. They could also use depth at the four and five.
Wagner can score, rebound and he’s developing as a secondary distributor. He has a quick release and a clean stroke from long range, although his numbers don’t jump off the page. A high basketball IQ player, Wagner moves well without the ball and isn’t afraid to take the big shot. He has good size for an NBA wing, although he is an average athlete at best.
The Warriors love shooters and high basketball IQ players. Wagner’s size and versatility are a plus and he comes into the league as a solid defender as well. This is a nice insurance policy to have in case Klay Thompson doesn’t regain his All-Star form. Either way, Golden State needs to get younger and start planning for the future.
15. Washington Wizards: Jaden Springer, Point Guard, Tennessee
Measurables: 6-foot-4.25, 202 pounds Age: 18
Washington needs more size, although Daniel Gafford seems to have been a nice find and Thomas Bryant is set to return next season. They could also use some scoring punch off the bench and a player to learn behind Russell Westbrook. The Wizards also are in the bucket of teams currently searching for a new head coach. It should be a busy summer of change in DC.
Early in the season, Springer looked a little lost on a deep squad, but he found his place as the season developed. Powerful, fearless and maybe a little angry, Springer loves to get fancy with the dribble, the pass and the dunk. He shot the ball well with the Vols and he has made solid decisions with the ball as a distributor. Springer has a nice feel for the game and an NBA-ready body, although he could use some seasoning.
Springer has the raw skills to be an excellent NBA point guard, but at 18 years old, he will need time. If he could train behind the star-studded tandem of Westbrook and Bradley Beal, the Wizards might have a player ready to take on a bigger role in a year or two.
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Celtics): Alperen Sengun, Power Forward, Beskitas
Measurables: 6-foot-9, 240 pounds Age: 18
OKC added Kemba Walter in a swap with the Boston Celtics, which is why they are drafting here at No. 16. Walker fills a role as a high -end scoring options and backcourt partner for Shai Gilgious-Alexander for the next few seasons. This team needs talent improvements at almost every position, but they also don’t seem to be any rush in building a winner.
Sengun is putting up huge numbers in the Turkish Super League, which is bound to get an NBA team to bite. The 18-year-old has a big body, plays extremely well in the pick-and-roll and has shown some ability to play defense. He needs plenty of work, especially on his body, but he has a soft touch around the rim.
Someone will take a chance with Sengun. The numbers he’s posting overseas are crazy for a kid his age. The Thunder could use a big man for the future, especially with Al Hordford being sent to Boston. Sam Presti has a war chest to work with and can swing for the fences in every draft for the next half decade.
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Usman Garuba, Power Forward/Center, Real Madrid
Measurables: 6-foot-8, 230 pounds Age: 18
The biggest thing this team needs is just a fast forward button. A year or two down the road, they are going to be a contender, especially if they can get Jaren Jackson Jr. healthy. Memphis already has 14 players under contract for next season. They could use more shooters, like every team, and maybe a long-term solution at the three.
Garuba is an intriguing prospect playing in Europe. At 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, he looks like a clone of former NBA defender Lub Mbah a Moute. In the modern NBA, he’s likely a combo forward or maybe a stretch-four prospect. He has a solid release from the perimeter and he has good movement without the ball, but he doesn’t jump off the page.
The Grizzlies have a specific player type. They love physicality and versatility and Garuba fits that mold. He also has played professionally overseas for a while and despite his age, he’s close to ready to compete for minutes. The Grizzlies are on the cusp of being a dangerous team. They have a ton of young players, but they clearly have some more tinkering to do if they are going to take another leap forward.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Heat): Jalen Johnson, Small Forward, Duke
Measurables: 6-foot-9.25, 210 pounds Age: 18
OKC needs a lot of everything. They should be able to fill a major void with their top pick, but they need to find value here as well. They have some young pieces, but nothing that would limit them from choosing the best player available here in the mid-first.
Talent is a four letter word. There will be a team that takes Johnson just on potential alone, but maybe not. He has the body and an elite skill set, but there is something missing. His motor is questionable and so is his awareness. Coach K was hard on the 18-year-old, so he bailed. His entire journey to the NBA leads you to wonder what will happen when things get difficult at the next level.
OKC now has three first-round selections in the top 18. The Thunder can gamble on a talent like Johnson with the hopes that they can pull something out of him where others have not succeeded. This might be the perfect landing spot for a young man in need of guidance.
19. New York Knicks: Isaiah Jackson, Center, Kentucky
Measurables: 6-foot-10, 205 pounds Age: 19
A season ago the Knicks needed everything. That list is shrinking. Scott Perry has done a very nice job of building out the talent base and finding brawlers who fit Tom Thibodeau’s system. They can use more depth and length in the post and they still are in search of their long-term floor general.
Sign me up. There are very few things that are unteachable in the game of basketball. Blocking shots is one of them. Jackson has a natural ability to hunt and divert shots. In the right situation, this could be a Dennis Rodman type player. He’s a hot mess on offense, but what Jackson can do on a court is pure instincts. If you can teach him some basic pick-and-roll sets and get him in the weight room, this could be a game-changing steal.
New York finally is building something. They need more versatility in the backcourt and more shooters, but Jackson is one of those players who brings a defensive mindset to the table and would instantly fit into Thibs' system. There are questions as to whether he’ll return to Kentucky, but if he stays in the draft, he could go anywhere from 10 to 20.
20. Atlanta Hawks: Ziaire Williams, Small Forward, Stanford
Measurables: 6-foot-9.75, 188 pounds Age: 19
The Hawks tried to bolster their roster last offseason with players like Kris Dunn and Rajon Rondo. Neither worked out well, although they did find value with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danillo Gallinari. This team has talent at every position, but they could use a little more athleticism, especially if John Collins sneaks away in free agency.
The 2021 draft is packed with long, athletic wings. Adding muscle to play small forward is a must for Williams, but he’s wiry like Tayshaun Prince and might be stronger than he looks. He struggled with his overall shooting percentages at Stanford, but he has a clean jumper both inside and outside the arc and he can fly up and down the court.
Atlanta is building a long-term winner. They’ve jumped way ahead of schedule and they are on the brink of something special. Williams is one of those players who can fill a variety of roles and there is a good chance he looks better in the pro game with better talent and spacing around him. It doesn’t hurt that he has grown since his last measurements and comes into the draft as a near 6-foot-10 wing with his shoes on.
21. New York Knicks (via Mavericks): Jared Butler, Point Guard, Baylor
Measurables: 6-foot-3.75, 193 pounds Age: 21
The Knicks have a stack of point guards on their roster, all of which enter the summer as free agents. They have to find the long-term answer at the position. They’ll likely try to address the position with a veteran, but they’ll still need depth.
3-pointer? Check. Ability to distribute? Check. NBA body? Check. Butler is one of those veteran college players who makes an impact at the next level. He knows who he is and he has a game that translates. He’s also a big-time winner who helped Baylor take home a National Championship.
The Knicks have a lot of work to do in the summer, but finding a mature guard who can step in and play early might take some of the strain off the franchise. Butler was a heck of a player at the NCAA level and that mentality might translate to the NBA.
According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Butler was referred to the league’s “Fitness-To-Play Panel” and he is not permitted to play or practice in the league until he is cleared. This is a developing situation that could impact Butler on draft night.
22. Los Angeles Lakers: Cam Thomas, Shooting Guard, LSU
Measurables: 6-foot-3, 185 pounds Age: 18
The Lakers have just five players under guaranteed contract for next season and they already are well over the cap. They need to find a way to retain players like Dennis Schroeder, Andre Drummond and Montrezl Harrell, or LeBron James will play out his final years with Anthony Davis and a mixed bag of low-level vets.
Every team needs a scorer. While Thomas doesn’t move the needle as a passer or rebounder and he goes through the motions on the defensive end, he can fill it up with the best of them. He’s one of the few college freshmen who lived up to his potential. Thomas lacks a conscience as a shooter, which is both a blessing and a curse.
You have to have thick skin to play with King James. Thomas is brimming with confidence and might step into the NBA and instantly provide an offensive spark. That could come in handy for the Lakers, especially if they lose some of their secondary free agents.
23. Houston Rockets (via Trail Blazers): Greg Brown, Forward, Texas
Measurables: 6-foot-8.5, 206 pounds Age: 19
New ownership? Is that a possibility? Probably not. So the answer is a lot of everything. The Rockets should be able to add a budding young star at the top of the draft, but with the way their roster is constructed, they’ll need more help with each of their picks in the 20s.
A super athletic combo forward, Brown came into the season very highly regarded. He had a solid freshman season, but consistency was an issue. He can shoot from behind the arc, run the floor like a gazelle and he has the potential to be an elite rim protector with his 7-foot wingspan. Like his teammate Kai Jones, Brown is a gamble on potential, but there is a lot to work with.
Brown is very talented, but he’s probably a season or two away from stealing major minutes. The Rockets have back-to-back picks here in the early 20s, but they also have a ton of holes to fill on their roster. This is a nice gamble for the future, when Houston climbs back out of the hole it has dug for itself.
24. Houston Rockets (via Bucks): Sharife Cooper, Point Guard, Auburn
Measurables: 6-foot-1, 180 pounds Age: 19
Giving away veterans for late first-round picks doesn’t usually work out as planned. Houston would be better served trying to move off of one of these two picks in the 20s. If the Rockets do stick around and make both selections, they can swing for the fences and hope they land at least one player for the future.
Cooper is a flashy point guard who loves to create for himself and others off the dribble. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands and averaged nearly nine assists per game in his freshman season at Auburn. He’s a work in progress when it comes to perimeter shooting and he turns the ball over at a high clip, but this is a highlight-reel player waiting to happen.
The Rockets need help all over the court and there is a good chance it will take a few years to climb out of the hole they’ve dug. If you’re going to be bad, you might as well be fun to watch and Cooper brings a ton of energy and excitement.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Day’Ron Sharpe, Center, North Carolina
Measurables: 6-foot-11, 265 pounds Age: 19
This is an important offseason in LA. Kawhi Leonard has a player option for next season and can walk away. Serge Ibaka can do the same. The Clippers could quickly go from a contender to a team with a lot of bloated veteran contracts and no real chance for a ring. Either way, they could use depth in the backcourt and at the center position, where DeMarcus Cousins has earned spot minutes in the playoffs.
Sharpe is one of the few big-bodied centers in this year’s draft and even he has done some really nice work on his physique. He’ll need a professional training staff to keep him in top shape, but there is a lot to like about the Tar Heel big. He has soft hands, works close to the basket and knows how to hit the glass hard. He turns the ball over too much and needs to be more efficient as a scorer, but with a draft void of true bigs, he might have a shot to make it.
The Clippers are in a weird spot. They spent a massive amount of money to build a championship-quality team. They are in the Western Conference finals, which is a promising development, but whether or not they have enough to get over the top is still in question. Sharpe is loaded with potential, but needs direction. This late in the draft, that is about the best you can ask for.
26. Denver Nuggets: Ayo Dosunmu, Shooting Guard, Illinois
Measurables: 6-foot-5, 194 pounds Age: 21
The Nuggets have made a ton of savvy moves over the last few seasons, and their ability to find talent late in the draft has been overlooked. They have an immediate need in the backcourt with Jamal Murray out for a while and Gary Harris now a member of the Orlando Magic.
Dosunmu is a big, strong, active combo guard who fills up the stat sheet. He has an active body with really nice length (6-foot-10.25 wingspan) and the ability to play both guard positions. He was part of the big turnaround in Illinois basketball and there’s a good chance his game will translate to the next level as a rotational player.
Denver needs depth and Dosunmu brings a little of everything to the table. He isn’t afraid to play defense, which Michael Malone will like and he should be a solid addition this late in the draft, especially for a team looking for NBA-ready talent to eat minutes.
27. Brooklyn Nets: Chris Duarte, Shooting Guard, Oregon
Measurables: 6-foot-6, 190 pounds Age: 23
What does a team with superstars at every position really need? The answer might be end-of-the-bench depth for when the stars take turns sitting for months at a time. This late in the draft, you try to find a prospect who can do one or two specific things, regardless of position.
Oregon was a lot of fun to watch in the tournament and Duarte was a big reason why. Long, athletic and under control, Duarte looks a lot like another former Duck in Dillon Brooks. He can hit the 3-ball, pass and he averaged nearly two steals per game.
Duarte isn’t on every board, but he potentially could be one of those draft night surprises. Teams this late in the draft like veteran college players or draft-and-stash options. Despite being one of the older prospects in the draft, Duarte might be a riser. He would fit in well with a veteran team that needs budget depth.
28. Philadelphia 76ers: Tre Mann, Point Guard, Florida
Measurables: 6-foot-4.25, 178 pounds Age: 19
The 76ers have struggled to balance out their roster for a few years. They have a top-heavy rotation with massive contracts for Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons eating up a combined $100 million next season. They need depth all over the court, but they have yet to reach that point where veterans line up to take the minimum to play for a ring. They also have the huge issue of Simmons' postseason struggles to deal with, so a major shakeup might be on the horizon.
Mann is a former McDonald’s All-American who had a quiet freshman season at Florida. While he’s not on every draft board as of now, he should be. The sophomore point guard has grown, both physically and as a player. He shot 40.2 percent from 3-point range and he’s a tremendous creator with the ball in his hands.
Mann is a low-risk, high-reward pick this late and his size and skill set are very intriguing. The 76ers are a contender, but they are still building out their bench. Mann is fun and with some time, he might become something in the pros.
29. Phoenix Suns: David Johnson, Guard, Louisville
Measurables: 6-foot-4.75, 203 pounds Age: 20
The Suns burst onto the scene this season, skipping two or three steps on their way to a stunning 51-21 record and a run to the Western Conference finals. Most of their core is under contract for next season, but they’ll need to fill out the bench and could use depth at every position.
The only thing separating Johnson from being an NBA prospect following his freshman year was his 3-point shooting percentage. After knocking down just 21.7 percent from beyond the arc last season, he improved to 38.6 percent as a sophomore. Johnson is a big, solid guard with nice scoring potential and a smooth game. He plays through contact, can back smaller guards down in the post and he’s a quality rebounder. His wingspan measured 6-foot-10.5 at the combine, which is likely to turn heads.
Johnson is physical and not afraid to battle. He might not be a star-level prospect, but he’s built for the grind of a long season and might be closer to being able to step on the floor than a lot of other players in this range. The Suns are onto something. They’re running through teams in the playoffs and they could use more long defenders with offensive upside.
30. Utah Jazz: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Power Forward/Center, Villanova
Measurables: 6-foot-9, 242 pounds Age: 20
The Jazz are the most complete team in the league. They have a major decision to make with Mike Conley, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent. Can they retain the All-Star? He’ll have to take a major pay cut to make it happen. Outside of the Conley situation, Utah is mostly intact for next season. This late in the draft, the Jazz likely will attempt to find another strong veteran college player who can step in and help out.
The Clippers exposed a weakness in the Jazz on their way to the Western Conference finals. While Rudy Gobert is the reigning NBA Defensive Player of the Year, he doesn’t defend on the perimeter.
Robinson-Earl is a versatile big man who plays larger than his listed size. While he doesn’t block shots like Gobert, he can rebound, do damage around the rim, pass the ball and he’s working on extending his game to the perimeter. He also defends and has the potential to be a rotational player early in his career.