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NBA mock draft 2021, version 4.0

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It’s officially draft week — finally!

2021 NBA Draft Combine Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

Version 4.0 of the At The Hive mock draft came a bit late this time around and for that I apologize, but with the date of the draft coming up so quickly I decided to wait out some more rumors and let version 5.0 on draft day be the final update.

Now that the mainstream analysts with scoops and insider info have dumped a heap of intel on us, it’s time to hypothesize once more. This version factors rumored interest more heavily than previous ones did and there’s a fair bit of movement in the lottery and mid-first.

NOTE: All stats and measurements from sports-reference.com and https://www.nba.com/stats/draft/combine-anthro/. Positional acronyms are; PG (point guard), G (guard), W (wing), F (forward), C (center).

1 . Detroit Pistons - Cade Cunningham, PG/W, Oklahoma State

2. Houston Rockets - Jalen Green, W/G, G League Ignite

According to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor — along with quite a few other sources — Houston prefers Jalen Green, his scoring upside and positional value with the No. 2 pick opposed to Evan Mobley, a dynamic two-way frontcourt prospect. Only time will tell, but rumors are trending towards Green being a Rocket.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers - Evan Mobley, C/F, Southern California

The Cavaliers have reportedly began to “zero in” on Mobley with the indication that the Rockets will select Green. This creates a bit of a conundrum with restricted free-agent center Jarrett Allen, but Cleveland isn’t in a position to be picky at which positions they acquire unique talent, and Mobley is that.

4. Toronto Raptors - Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State

In addition to Jalen Suggs, the Raptors are considering Scottie Barnes (as well as a trade-down) with the fourth pick per The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie. Barnes has some positional overlap with foundational pieces Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, but he possesses skill and potential as a playmaker that those two don’t.

5. Orlando Magic - Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga

Quick baseball analogy; the Magic having Bouknight, Suggs and Kuminga on the board at five is akin to a pitcher hanging a curveball over the middle of the plate to a lefty at Yankee Stadium. No doubt home-run selection if the Gonzaga product is available here, his style differs from Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony while offering more upside than both of them.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder - James Bouknight, G, Connecticut

Another rumor per Sam Vecenie; the Thunder are rumored to be interested in Bouknight in the top-6, and Jonathan Kuminga’s draft range is becoming wider, extending to 11 or 12. For the sake of change, Bouknight is the pick in version 4.0. It’s sounds like there’s a lot of variance among NBA teams on where they stand on prospects outside of the top-4.

7. Golden State Warriors (via MIN) - Josh Giddey, PG/W, Adelaide 36ers (Australia)

A ready-made prospect like Davion Mitchell, Corey Kispert or Franz Wagner may be the best fit for Golden State, but smart teams don’t draft for anything but upside at seven and Giddey seems like a lock for the top-10. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe and Adrian Wojarnowski on Sunday’s TV special, the “most likely” draft-day scenario is Golden State making the pick and both seven and 14.

8. Orlando Magic (via CHI) - Jonathan Kuminga, W/F, G League Ignite

The slide ends for Kuminga with Orlando’s second top-10 pick. If the Magic end up with Suggs and Kuminga without making a trade, I might become a part-time fan because that would be seriously fun added to their current core. The rumors of a potential Kuminga tumble are certainly intriguing to me as a Hornets fan, though. Something to keep an eye on.

9. Sacramento Kings - Franz Wagner, W/F, Michigan

Sacramento is reportedly trying to acquire a “win-now” player via trade in exchange for this pick per The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor. For the franchise with the longest playoff drought in the NBA, it makes sense, but if they can’t find a deal Wagner is a “win-now” prospect that fits well with any lottery team.

10. New Orleans Pelicans - Moses Moody, W, Arkansas

Much like the Kings, New Orleans is trying to move this pick for a player that can help Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson this season. They’re still a young team so the urgency may be overstated, but this did pop up on Twitter:

11. Charlotte Hornets - Keon Johnson, G/W, Tennessee

If Bouknight, Moody and Wagner are all off the board when Charlotte picks at 11, I think a trade-down becomes a lot more likely. Keon Johnson can defend the perimeter, hit open spot-up looks and make highlights in transition while the Hornets hope his upside is real. As usual, there are few, if any pre-draft rumors circling Mitch Kupchak and his tight-lipped crew. Some reputable mock drafts have connected the Hornets to Kai Jones recently.

12. San Antonio Spurs - Alperen Şengün, C, Beşiktaş (Turkey)

The Spurs have a defensive minded-center in Jakob Poeltl, so why not pick up an offensive counterpart in Şengün? The Turkish Super League MVP’s draft range seems to be all over the place, with the high-end being Orlando and the low-end being one of Oklahoma City’s mid-firsts. San Antonio has a long history with international players as well.

13. Indiana Pacers - Usman Garuba, F/C, Real Madrid (Spain)

Nobody has any clue what the Pacers will do at 13 with a new coaching staff coming in and trade rumors circling Malcolm Brogdon and Myles Turner. If Turner is moved, Garuba and Goga Bitadze form a promising backup frontcourt for Domantas Sabonis and TJ Warren, and if not he could still carve out minutes with his elite defensive versatility.

14. Golden State Warriors - Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor

Mitchell’s meteoric rise up draft boards after the NCAA Tournament seems to have sputtered out — he’s still mocked to the Warriors often, but now with the 14th pick instead of 7th. Regardless, a high-floor pick (Mitchell) to go with a high-ceiling pick (Giddey) would be a smart plan of action for Golden State general manager Bob Myers.

15. Washington Wizards - Chris Duarte, W/G, Oregon

Washington has two options as a franchise; trade Bradley Beal and try to trade Russell Westbrook and get a top pick in 2022, or be right back in this draft range next season. Knowing Ted Leonsis, they will choose the latter, and Chris Duarte’s fiery two-way play on the wing would be great next to their star backcourt.

16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via BOS) - Kai Jones, C/F, Texas

The word on the street is that the Thunder have held true to their tight-lipped nature and other teams are sure of which players they’re high on besides Bouknight and Kuminga. They’ve certainly got trade ammo, but if they stay put at 16 there’s almost definitely going to be a high upside/high variance prospect to take a swing on like Jones.

17. Memphis Grizzlies - Ziaire Williams, W, Stanford

Ziaire Williams’ draft range has been pegged in the teens and early-twenties, but he remains in play for Orlando’s pick at eight per Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo. Here, Memphis can let him add strength with the Hustle and work out the kinks in his game. Prospects like Kuminga, Johnson, Williams and Jaden Springer seem to have very wide draft ranges.

18. Oklahoma City Thunder - Jaden Springer, G, Tennessee

Springer has worked out for the Pelicans at 10 and also for teams in the mid-20s like the Lakers. Oklahoma City picks up a point-of-attack defender that should be able to approve his self-creation ability now that his explosiveness has returned following a lengthy ankle injury.

19. New York Knicks - Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn

Sharife Cooper to the Knicks is a really good fit. Coach Thibs will love his creativity, intuition and unselfishness as a playmaker, plus he’s got a real knack for getting to the free-throw line. He’s very small at about 6-foot-1, but if he can shoot from deep he’s going to be a good player in the league.

20. Atlanta Hawks - Jalen Johnson, F, Duke

In spite of all the raw talent, Johnson slides a bit here due to the sheer unpredictability of this draft. Atlanta doesn’t have a role carved out for him right now, but if they lose John Collins in restricted free agency, a void for an athletic forward that can make plays in the open court suddenly emerges.

21. New York Knicks - Corey Kispert, W, Gonzaga

Corey Kispert goes on a draft-night skid but ends up in a really good situation. Replacing Reggie Bullock, Kispert is free to roam the perimeter on offense and defense, utilizing his elite shooting and basketball IQ to its fullest while not being tasked with much creation responsibility alongside Cooper, RJ Barrett and Julius Randle.

22. Los Angeles Lakers - Jared Butler, G, Baylor

This would be a prime spot for a team to trade back into the first round; the Lakers can always use more cap space, and even an NBA-ready prospect like Butler likely won’t be as impactful as an NBA vet that’s hungry to chase a championship. If Dennis Schroder really thinks he’s worth $100M though, the Lakers might have to make this pick.

23. Houston Rockets (via POR) - Josh Primo, W, Alabama

The Rockets added Green at No. 2 and double-up on high-ceiling, young wings with Josh Primo at 23. He’s got the base-level tools to grow into a versatile shooter, ball-handler and athlete as a 6-foot-5 wing — he’s also the youngest player in the draft and won’t turn 19 until this Christmas Eve.

24. Houston Rockets (via MIL) - Isaiah Jackson, C, Kentucky

In theory, Houston is passing on Mobley at two in part because of Christian Wood’s emergence last season. For as good as Wood is, he’s not a rim protector and the Rockets will need to shore up depth behind him. Isaiah Jackson has plenty of time to develop offensively while utilizing his strengths as a shot-blocker.

25. Los Angeles Clippers - Nah’Shon Hyland, G, Virginia Commonwealth

“Bones” Hyland is one of the best shooters in the draft and the Clippers are likely to be out-priced on Reggie Jackson in free agency, so Los Angeles helps fill that hole here. Rumor has it that the Clippers are trying to move this pick for cap space.

26. Denver Nuggets - JT Thor, F/W, Auburn

It’s hard to nail down what a lot of these late first-round teams will do since most need immediate help and that’s harder to find in the twenties. Denver’s wing depth was exposed last season when they were hampered with injuries, and JT Thor is a worthy flyer at 26 if they plan to add win-now players via free agency.

27. Brooklyn Nets - Tre Mann, G, Florida

The Nets have four picks (27, 44, 49, 59) in this year’s draft and that usually doesn’t work out for a team trying to win a ring this season. Whether or not 27 gets traded is up in the air, but it would make sense given their cap restraints. Either way, Tre Mann would fit nicely as a second-unit shot creator and secondary playmaker.

28. Philadelphia 76ers - Cameron Thomas, G, Louisiana State

Cameron Thomas is yet another prospect with a wide draft range; he’s worked out for the Hornets, while some experts have said it’s possible he slips to the end of the first round. In a normal draft, his shot-creation would have him firmly in the lottery but that speaks to the depth of talent in the 2021 class. We all know Philadelphia needs shooters.

29. Phoenix Suns - Brandon Boston Jr., W, Kentucky

After starting the year as a projected top-5 pick, BJ Boston tumbled down draft boards after a pretty bad freshman season at Kentucky. It wouldn’t surprise me if a team convinces themselves to bet on his high school tape (which is wildly impressive) over college in the late-first, but he could choose to go undrafted and hand-pick his situation a la Lu Dort.

30. Utah Jazz - Ayo Dosunmu, G, Illinois

It would be pretty bad if the Utah Jazz lose Mike Conley in free agency this off-season, in my opinion. Given that their guard depth is mediocre anyways, Big Ten Tournament MVP Ayo Dosunmu could provide them with some off-the-bounce scoring and hounding perimeter defense as a rookie.

56. Charlotte Hornets - Colbey Ross, PG, Pepperdine

Colbey Ross was among the recent slew of prospects that have worked out at the Spectrum Center. A four-year starter at Pepperdine, Ross is an explosive, yet efficient scorer with range and passing ability. He’d be an electric point guard for the Swarm.

57. Charlotte Hornets - EJ Onu, F/C, Shawnee State (NAIA)

How often is it that we see NAIA players in legitimate contention to be drafted? EJ Onu played all four college seasons with Shawnee State University, flashing some floor-spacing (40 percent on 3.9 3PA per game in 2020-21) to go with a 7-foot-9 wingspan at 6-foot-11.