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NBA mock draft 2021: SB Nation bloggers make picks for their teams

The NBA playoffs are over, the Milwaukee Bucks are champions, and it’s officially time to roll into draft season. The 2021 NBA Draft is going down on Thursday, July 29.

Now it’s time for the annual SB Nation NBA mock draft. Each of our NBA team communities made a selection for their club in the first round. Trades were not allowed.

For more draft coverage, check out our top-30 player rankings from Ricky O’Donnell. You can find complete draft coverage from our team communities at our NBA draft hub.

The Detroit Pistons are on the clock with the No. 1 overall pick, and so is our Pistons community Detroit Bad Boys. There isn’t much mystery around the top pick this year.

1. Detroit Pistons – Cade Cunningham, G, Oklahoma State

Cade is not a no-brainer No. 1 pick. The athleticism is a concern and the shooting inside the arc is a red flag. But the skill level is undeniable. He’s a high-level passer, has really good court awareness on the offensive and defensive end and has the height and wingspan to be an impact player on both ends. He is the kind of player who could look way better outside the confines of the NCAA, and if that happens it means he’s a franchise-level talent. On the chances Detroit trades down? Well, you don’t win the lottery and spend your winnings on more lottery tickets. Just take the best player on your board. For me, that’s Cade. — Sean Corp, Detroit Bad Boys

2. Houston Rockets – Jalen Green, G, G League Ignite

Ridiculous high upside, would form a great backcourt alongside Kevin Porter Jr., and Evan Mobley feels slightly redundant with Christian Wood on the roster, so Green is the pick. He has the potential to be a top scorer in the league, and you just can’t pass up on that type of upside with the Rockets light on top-end talent. He’s just 19, so he will need some development, but he’s been playing against grown men in the G-League, so he’s already much further ahead than your typical 19-year-old. — Darren Yuvan, The Dream Shake

3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Evan Mobley, C, USC

Evan Mobley is a no-brainer for the Cavs at No. 3. Some consider him a worthy No. 1 overall pick and someone you can build around going forward. Is there some slight redundancy with him and Jarrett Allen, who is likely to sign a lucrative contract this offseason? Yes. But Cleveland cannot afford to be picky and the right coach and organization can pair Mobley and Allen and build a really solid unit with those two anchoring the frontcourt. Mobley’s upside as a frontcourt playmaker and offensive hub also differentiates from from Allen. Green woulld be in the running too had he not been picked at No. 2. But with the board how it is, Mobley is the eashy pick. — Chris Manning, Fear the Sword

4. Toronto Raptors – Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga

To a certain extent, the choice for the Raptors at no. 4, which already represents a significant lucky break for the franchise, is an easy one. In a draft class with four names at the top, and three players rotated through picks 2-4 in various combinations, there really is no wrong choice. In this, given what’s already happened here, the Raptors will happily select Jalen Suggs as their point guard for today — and tomorrow. To be clear, this selection works even if Kyle Lowry returns to the team. And if Lowry leaves, well then, the Raptors get another young talented guard who can run a team and defend like hell — with a listed 6’4” height to boot. That Suggs will be paired with Fred VanVleet and the up-and-coming Malachi Flynn in the Raptors’ backcourt is pure gravy. Like I said, this is all a lucky break for Toronto. Suggs will fit right in with the squad. — Daniel Reynolds, Raptors HQ

5. Orlando Magic – Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite

I gave Scottie Barnes a long look here (and I think the Magic will as well – high character, length, position versatility). But I also think there would be some redundancy in picking Barnes with Jonathan Isaac and Chuma Okeke already on the roster. Ultimately, I went with Jonathan Kuminga. He’s a huge project, but his size, potential to create offense for himself, and his defensive upside is too much to pass up here. — Aaron Goldstone, Orlando Pinstripe Post

6. Oklahoma City Thunder – Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State

Considering where OKC is at, if they can still get Barnes that would be a win. His stock has been rising recently. If OKC is going to continue to build on Dag’s positionless basketball where all five guys can handle the ball, Barnes fits that mold. Plus he’s arguably the most versatile defender this class and with the NBA becoming more switch heavy, you need a guy who can defend guards, wings & bigs. — Clemente Almanza, Welcome to Loud City

7. Golden State Warriors – Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor

Assuming the Warriors keep their duet of lottery picks, they find themselves in an awkward position: do they try to add high-ceiling prospects who can be core members of the next era of Warriors basketball, or do they aim for more NBA-ready players who can help a championship core maximize on their chances of winning another title in the next two years? Mitchell helps the Warriors put a foot in both pools. He has the ceiling to be a high-quality starter down the road, but at 22 and with strong defensive chops already, can be a contributor immediately. — Brady Klopfer, Golden State of Mind

8. Orlando Magic – Moses Moody, F, Arkansas

I don’t feel great about my pick for Orlando at number five, but I’m a big fan of this selection. Moody is exactly the type of prospect Orlando should be looking to pair alongside their stable of combo-guards and bigs. I love his range shooting upside and defensive potential moving forward. I considered Bouknight here as well, but Moody is a perfect fit and too strong of an option to pass up. — Aaron Goldstone, Orlando Pinstripe Post

9. Sacramento Kings – Jalen Johnson, F, Duke

Admittedly, I was hoping Scottie Barnes fell to No. 9, but Jalen Johnson is as good of a consolation prize as the Kings could ask for. Johnson isn’t as safe as a pick as some of the other players that were still available — most notably Franz Wagner and Josh Giddey — but he arguably has the most star potential of anyone left and if there’s anything Sacramento would welcome in the coming years, it’s a homegrown star; particularly one that fits alongside De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton. To me, Johnson fits that bill with his playmaking ability, raw athleticisim and defensive instincts. — Christian Rivas, Sactown Royalty

10. New Orleans Pelicans – Franz Wagner, F, Michigan

If the 10th overall pick is kept, the Pelicans will seek out a versatile rookie who complements their two cornerstones in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. Franz Wagner projects to be an ideal fit, offering in time a valuable 3-and-D component but with upside. Despite spending two years at Michigan, he’ll only turn 20 in August. Additionally, there’s a real chance he develops into an above average playmaker — Wagner finished with a better AST:TOV ratio than many shot creators who will be selected ahead of him in this draft, including Giddey, Green, Cunningham and Suggs. — Oleh Kosel, The Bird Writes

11. Charlotte Hornets – James Bouknight, G, UConn

The Hornets have a glaring need at center, and many fans and pundits expect they’ll target that position with a lottery pick. However, the Hornets spent two second round picks on centers last year, and they may want to use free agency to find a quicker fix. Their wing depth was strained last season, and Malik Monk’s pending free agency won’t help that. Bouknight can immediately shore up the depth at that position while adding some scoring punch on the perimeter. — Jonathan DeLong, At the Hive

12. San Antonio Spurs – Josh Giddey, G, Adelaide 36ers (Australia)

Giddey is the perfect blend of best player available and upside swing. While his lack of range won’t do much to help San Antonio’s abysmal three-point numbers, he’s only 18-years-old and has plenty of time to develop a jumper under legendary shooting coach Chip Engelland. The oversized Australian point guard is one of the best passers in this class, and with DeMar DeRozan possibly on the way out, the Spurs could use another distributor. He won’t lead the Silver and Black to a title anytime soon, but he was a nightly triple-double threat in the increasingly competitive NBL, which turned out productive rookies LaMelo Ball and R. J. Hampton. Should he fall this far, PATFO could be looking at another infamous draft day heist. — Noah Magaro-George, Pounding the Rock

13. Indiana Pacers – Jared Butler, G, Baylor

If the Pacers don’t use the 13th pick to trade down or up or out of the draft in order to bring in another player, they will likely be standing pat with the bulk of their current playing rotation which, when healthy, doesn’t leave a ton of minutes for a rookie, but they still need to look to the future for a point guard or combo forward. I hoped to swing for the fences with Roko Prkacin, an 18-year-old Croation combo forward but after he bailed on the draft, I went with Jared Butler, a strong point guard with good size who can show up on both ends of the floor similar to Jrue Holiday. Butler has health concerns which didn’t hold him back at Baylor and he was recently cleared by the NBA to play. There’s no doubt he can play in the NBA is worth the risk for the Pacers to solidify their backup point guard situation since T.J. McConnell is a free agent and Aaron Holiday has struggled to seize that role over the past couple of years. — Tom Lewis, Indy Cornrows

14. Golden State Warriors – Alperen Şengün, C, Beşiktaş (Turkey)

The Warriors were able to snag an NBA-ready prospect with the No. 7 pick, so now it’s time to swing for someone with more risk but great reward. The Warriors Alen Smailagić experiment failed, and last year’s James Wiseman pick is either disappointing or TBD, depending on who you ask. Sengün has star power — he has a diverse array of low post moves, possesses some divine passing chops for a big man, and won the Turkish SuperLeague MVP at just 18. The Warriors revamped developmental staff, which includes Dejan Milojević, the Serbian national team assistant coach credited with playing a large role in Nikola Jokić’s development, will have a chance to turn Sengrün into the steal of the draft. — Brady Klopfer, Golden State of Mind

15. Washington Wizards – Corey Kispert, F, Gonzaga

The Wizards need to improve their three point shooting given that they were 22nd in the league in accuracy and 29th in threes made last season. Kispert has been one of the nation’s top shooter in each of the last two seasons, shooting over 40 percent and averaging at least two made threes per game and never had a usage rate of above 20 percent until his senior season.. Though Kispert is a little “old” as a four-year player, the Wizards need someone who can make an impact right away at one of their weaknesses. Based on the players available, Kispert will fit their void at the three point line nicely. — Albert Lee, Bullets Forever

16. Oklahoma City Thunder – Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee

He’s super raw, really athletic and we didn’t expect him to fall this far. Johnson might be something special and it’s a swing worth taking. Keon Johnson at 16 is too good of value to pass up on. A high upside guard and wing combo that is worth the risk. Johnson’s elite athleticism was on display when he broke the NBA Combine’s record for vertical leaps at 48 inches. Another added bonus to the pick is that he should be able to help contribute to OKC getting a top pick next draft as well since he’ll need time to develop and refine his skills. — Sarah Dewberry, Welcome to Loud City

17. Memphis Grizzlies – Trey Murphy III, F, Virginia

The Memphis Grizzlies as currently constructed do not need a player that needs to help them right now. They’re one of the deepest rosters in the NBA – they can afford to, for the first time in the Zach Kleiman Era, take a swing at a player who perhaps is not ready made for the rotation of a playoff contender. Enter Trey Murphy III, who despite playing three years of college basketball is still an uncertainty due to his transfer from Rice to UVA. His numbers for the Cavaliers are not other worldly. But he projects to be a very good NBA three point shooter who can create for himself and others off the dribble with 6’9” height. His game has room to grow in several spots. But at #17 overall? You can do a lot worse…especially considering the Grizzlies do not need him to be a contributor immediately. — Joe Mullinax, Grizzly Bear Blues

18. Oklahoma City Thunder – Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky

Jackson won’t need many touches and can impact the game in other ways. An athletic big who can develop into a defensive anchor for the team. The Thunder will not to help improve his shooting, but the canvas is basically blank with him at just 19 years of age. At the minimum, he should be a good, rim running big that can rebound and protect the rim. — Sarah Dewberry, Welcome to Loud City

19. New York Knicks – Tre Mann, G, Florida

If the Knicks keep their two first-round picks, they will undoubtedly be looking for some scoring punch. They were a middling offense last season even before all their shooters forgot how to shoot in their first-round defeat to Atlanta. Tre Mann was a premier bucket-getter last season at Florida, and could help mitigate the loss of Alec Burks in free agency. — Joe Flynn, Posting and Toasting

20. Atlanta Hawks – Kai Jones, C, Texas

Atlanta sticks with their ‘best player available’ strategy with the selection of Kai Jones. Jones is a versatile big who some consider a top-10 talent in the draft, and ideally would be part of the Hawks’ frontcourt rotation of the future along with Onyeka Okongwu and John Collins (if he’s resigned later this Summer). Hawks GM Travis Schlenk has shown throughout his tenure that he has little to no interest in drafting for need, so while backup point guard options like Jaden Springer were tempting, it’s difficult to pass on a talent like Jones. — Zach Hood, Peachtree Hoops

21. New York Knicks – Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn

Sharife Cooper may be tiny, but the kid can dish the rock like nobody else in this draft. The freshman from Auburn averaged 8.1 assists in his one year in the SEC. If he can fix his jump shot, he might be the rare undersized PG to make a splash in the modern NBA. And no team needs a PG more the the Knicks. — Joe Flynn, Posting and Toasting

22. Los Angeles Lakers – Usman Garuba, F, Real Madrid (Spain)

I get why Lakers fans would want a 3-point shooter with the No. 22 pick, I do. But the thought of Frank Vogel rolling out a super-switchy, small-ball lineup with Anthony Davis and Usman Garuba in three year’s time was too exciting to not act on. Garuba has the size to play either forward positions, the wingspan to protect the interior and the lateral quickness to guard the perimeter — he has all of the tools to be an elite defender in the NBA. His offense leaves a lot more to be desired — particularly his shooting — but he can put the ball on the floor and make plays for his teammates at a high level, which is a good quality to have for a guy his size. He’s a steal at No. 22 even if he’s not exactly what the Lakers need. — Christian Rivas, Silver Screen and Roll

23. Houston Rockets – Miles McBride, G, West Virginia

Houston needs a backup point guard and McBride should be able to fill that role just fine. This is somewhat of a value pick for the Rockets, as McBride is going in the teens in many mock drafts. He’s an excellent defender and has great scoring ability, though he does need some work running the offense. But that skill set should fit in perfectly off the bench, providing some offensive punch and using his athleticism to defend either guard spot. — Darren Yuvan, The Dream Shake

24. Houston Rockets – JT Thor, F, Auburn

After passing on Evan Mobley earlier in the draft, the Rockets need a big with some potential, and many think Thor has some of the best long-term potential in the draft. A plus athlete and defender, Thor does need some polishing on the offensive side, but also possesses an accurate shot, making him a threat from three, the pick and pop, and is solid at the free throw line. A high energy 4/5 hybrid, Thor is an adept switcher, capable of guarding smaller players, and should earn playing time right away on a rebuilding Rockets squad. — Darren Yuvan, The Dream Shake

25. Los Angeles Clippers – Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee

The Clippers don’t have a lot of first-round picks coming up, so going for the high-upside play this season makes a lot of sense, and Springer is the youngest collegian in the draft. He plays with high energy and makes quick decisions, both of which are hallmarks of Clippers role players, and his forays to the rim should be more successful with L.A.’s spacing. Springer was also a force defensively in college, and his tools should translate. If the Clippers player development staff can fix his shot like they did with Terance Mann, they’ll have a real player. — Sabreena Merchant, Clips Nation

26. Denver Nuggets – Chris Duarte, G, Oregon

The Nuggets break from their mold of selecting younger players in the draft by instead selecting Duarte, a 24-year-old shooting guard who fits their roster well. The Nuggets have multiple point guards they trust, but in the event that Will Barton doesn’t return, the wing position is decidedly thin. Duarte provides an element of 3-and-D potential to a roster that desperately needs it, and adding him to a roster that already features Nikola Jokić, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr. means he can focus on what he’s best at: shooting and defense. — Ryan Blackburn, Denver Stiffs

27. Brooklyn Nets – Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford

For this pick, if I’m the Nets I’m looking for someone with tons of upside potential who may have fallen on draft night and the only real caveat is that this player is a supreme athlete who can keep up with Brooklyn’s pace. Enter, Ziaire Williams. Williams had a rough freshman season, missing some time due to injuries and when he was on the court he shot pretty pedestrian from the floor. That said, he has late-lottery potential. He’s a great athlete, is very (very) long, and can play on both ends of the floor. The Nets are looking for much immediate help in the draft, which is why they can swing for the fences here with this pick. — Tom Lorenzo, Nets Daily

28. Philadelphia 76ers – Nah’Shon Hyland, G, VCU

In search of players who can score and create off the bounce, the Sixers go with Nah’Shon Hyland, guard out of Virginia Commonwealth University. Hyland shot 39.9 percent from beyond the arc over 331 career attempts at VCU and he has different-area-code range. With shooting chops like that, Hyland could find minutes early in his career as a spark plug off the bench. Hyland’s poor assist-to-turnover ratio would be concerning if the intention were to play him at point guard. But with Tyrese Maxey already on the roster, Hyland makes more sense as a two-guard. The bigger concern surrounding Hyland is his size, standing 6’3” and weighing 165 pounds. He’ll be fast tracked into a training program to bulk up. — Kevin Love, Liberty Ballers

29. Phoenix Suns – Josh Christopher, G, Arizona State

Phoenix takes the best player available on the board and keeps the local product in state. Christopher is a powerful athlete with good size and strength for his position standing at 6’5” and weighing in at 215. The self creation flashes combined with his athletic profile and three-level scoring potential makes him an intruiging prospect for any team in the late-1st round. Phoenix has struggled with shot creation at times when Paul or Booker were sitting, so adding someone that can create for themselves in a low-usage role (to start) off the bench alongside Cam Payne would be more than ideal. — Brandon Duenas, Bright Side of the Sun

30. Utah Jazz – Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois

Utah’s loss in the 2nd round showed a fatal flaw in perimiter defense that did them in. This offseason should be spent by the Jazz looking for perimiter defenders that can shoot, something they should have gone after last year. Ayo Dosunmu is a bit of a swing for the fences type pick but he had great measurements in the combine and has proven to be a high level defender in college. He showed signs of good shooting at Illinois also and, if he can shoot the three with consistency in the NBA, Dosunmu could be a nice rotational player for years. — James Hansen, SLC Dunk

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