With the NBA season now complete and just over a week before the 2021 NBA draft, teams are finalizing their workouts and prospect boards.
Confidence in predicting the first three to five picks is rising. But after pick No. 5, the draft could go in a number of directions.
With the Orlando Magic, Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Oklahoma City Thunder each having multiple first-rounders, teams are expecting plenty of trade talk ahead of July 29's event.
1. Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State, PG/SG, Freshman)
Smoke about interest in Jalen Green or trading this pick figures to clear by draft day. In all likelihood, the Detroit Pistons will wind up taking Cade Cunningham, who's been widely considered 2021's No. 1 prospect for over a year.
He also fits too well with the roster, given its need for more creation and players who can generate offense.
Aside from grading as one of the nation's premier isolation scorers (87th percentile, per Synergy Sports), Cunningham also offers passing skills and playmaking potential. The big question for Detroit is how his presence will affect Killian Hayes' development. But it won't cause the Pistons to overthink or pass on the draft's top player.
2. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green (G League Ignite, SG, 2002)
Jalen Green versus Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs is the debate going on behind the scenes in Houston. League sources say Green has the edge for the Rockets, given the team's need for more creation and scoring, and the high likelihood that his quickness, explosion, one-on-one game and shot-making will translate.
He'd give the Rockets a potential No. 1 option they'd have trouble finding elsewhere.
With Green and Kevin Porter Jr., Houston would have two exciting scoring wings to build with behind Christian Wood. The Rockets could then look to use their No. 23 and No. 24 picks to add more defense and/or shooting.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley (USC, PF/C, Freshman)
Unless the Cleveland Cavaliers know they can strike a favorable deal for Collin Sexton, they'll presumably take Evan Mobley over another guard in Jalen Suggs.
Aside from Mobley having a strong best-player-available case at No. 3, he's the easier player for this particular roster to build with.
The Cavaliers would have to think about whether it's still worth offering restricted free agent Jarrett Allen a big contract and whether Mobley could play with him at the 4. He does have quick feet for guarding forwards and the ability to play outside the paint.
But Cleveland didn't give up much to acquire Allen in the first place, and the Cavaliers will likely deem Mobley the more versatile, higher-upside prospect. If drafting Mobley, a defensive centerpiece with budding perimeter skills, means having to let Allen walk, Cleveland should be OK with it.
4. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga, PG, Freshman)
Scottie Barnes will make the Toronto Raptors think, especially if they're looking to re-sign Kyle Lowry. But with Lowry now 35 years old, drafting Jalen Suggs seems most reasonable.
He shouldn't have trouble fitting in next to Fred VanVLeet. Suggs, who played on and off the ball at Gonzaga, can be interchangeable as a pick-and-roll ball-handler and cutter.
He's one of the draft's most complete players, with passing skills, a pull-up and floater game, defensive instincts and winning intangibles that scouts raved about all season.
5. Orlando Magic: Scottie Barnes (Florida State, SF/PF, Freshman)
Interest in Scottie Barnes continues to build, and sources say the Orlando Magic are a good bet to take him at No. 5 if the Toronto Raptors pass at No. 4.
Drafting Barnes means building an identity around defense. The defensive IQ and switchability of Barnes and Jonathan Isaac could cause all sorts of problems for opposing offenses.
But teams also see unique upside tied to Barnes' ball-handling, passing, finishing and potential to improve as a spot-up shooter.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder: James Bouknight (Connecticut, SG, Sophomore)
James Bouknight has seemingly become more desirable as the predraft process has progressed. Rival teams believe he may be the favorite for the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 6 if Scottie Barnes is gone.
The Thunder could solidify their backcourt by pairing Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with Bouknight, whose athleticism, ball-handling for creation and three-level shot-making hint at enticing scoring potential.
The eye test on his jumper looks more convincing than the numbers (just 32 percent from three in his two collegiate seasons), and he helped ease concerns at his pro day, as scouts raved about his shooting performance.
7. Golden State Warriors (via Wolves): Moses Moody (Arkansas, SG/SF, Freshman)
The Golden State Warriors will see Moses Moody as an easy fit for his off-ball scoring and defensive tools to guard both wing spots.
He'll offer immediate shot-making, while his ability to get buckets within the flow of a team's offense should be an obvious draw for this particular roster.
It's unlikely he'll still be there by the team's second first-round pick at No. 14. James Bouknight figures to be in the mix at No. 7 as well if he's still on the board, but Moody's superior shooting and three-and-D archetype could look more appealing.
8. Orlando Magic (via Bulls): Jonathan Kuminga (G League Ignite, SF/PF, 2002)
Jonathan Kuminga could slip to No. 8 if the Oklahoma City Thunder want James Bouknight and the Golden State Warriors value shooting.
After adding defense and passing with Scottie Barnes at No. 5, the Magic could target Kuminga for his three-level scoring potential.
Orlando may wind up with a logjam at the forward spots, but the franchise is too early in its rebuild to worry about needs and fit. There is good chance the Magic will deem Kuminga the best talent available, given his physical profile, athleticism and flashes of creation and shot-making.
9. Sacramento Kings: Franz Wagner (Michigan, SF/PF, Sophomore)
A rumor making the rounds has a top-10 team granting a promise to Franz Wagner. He's a sensible target for the Sacramento Kings given their need for more frontcourt depth and defense.
At 6'9", he flashed the versatility to shoot, play-make in ball-screen situations, slash past closeouts and guard wings.
The Kings could use him at either forward spot, including as a modern 4 if they ever choose to move on from Marvin Bagley III.
10. New Orleans Pelicans: Corey Kispert (Gonzaga, SF, Senior)
The New Orleans Pelicans are looking for quick results, and Corey Kispert figures to add shot-making and create spacing as a rookie.
In the conversation for the draft's top three-point threat, he's also an exceptional transition finisher and high-IQ half-court player.
Teams are looking at the success of Cameron Johnson with the Phoenix Suns to justify taking a shooter who has a role-player outlook in the lottery. New Orleans also figures to consider Davion Mitchell and Franz Wagner.
11. Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones (Tennessee, PF/C, Sophomore
12. San Antonio Spurs: Josh Giddey (Adelaide 36ers, PG/SG, 2002)
13. Indiana Pacers: Davion Mitchell (Baylor, PG, Junior)
14. Golden State Warriors: Chris Duarte (Oregon, SG/SF, Senior)
15. Washington Wizards: Keon Johnson (Tennessee, SG/SF, Freshman)
16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Celtics): Alperen Sengun (Besiktas, C, 2002)
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Usman Garuba (Real Madrid, PF/C, 2002)
18. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jalen Johnson (Duke, PF, Freshman)
19. New York Knicks: Trey Murphy III (Virginia, SF/PF, Junior)
20. Atlanta Hawks: Cameron Thomas (LSU, SG, Freshman)
Mitchell is expected to draw looks in the Nos. 7-10 range. But Franz Wagner and Corey Kispert could push him outside the top 10. Mitchell will turn 23 before Giddey turns 19.
If the Hornets prioritize needs, then Jones figures to earn strong consideration. He recently worked out in Charlotte and seems like a fit for his rim running and lob catching in a lineup with LaMelo Ball.
Scouts have cooled a bit on Keon Johnson, despite the wild leaping ability he showed at the NBA combine. Questions about his skill level and timetable could lead to a mini slide.
Murphy is trending in the draft discussion. I've heard Mikal Bridges used as a comparison from a team that sees a valuable three-and-D role player.
21. New York Knicks (via Mavericks): Isaiah Jackson (Kentucky, PF/C, Freshman)
22. Los Angeles Lakers: Jared Butler (Baylor, PG/SG, Junior)
23. Houston Rockets (via Trail Blazers): Jaden Springer (Tennessee, PG/SG, Freshman)
24. Houston Rockets (via Bucks): Ziaire Williams (Stanford, SG/SF, Freshman)
25. Los Angeles Clippers: Sharife Cooper (Auburn, PG, Freshman)
26. Denver Nuggets: Tre Mann (Florida, PG/SG, Sophomore)
27. Brooklyn Nets: Day'Ron Sharpe (North Carolina, C, Freshman)
28. Philadelphia 76ers: Nah'Shon Hyland (VCU, SG, Sophomore)
29. Phoenix Suns: Miles McBride (West Virginia, PG/SG, Sophomore)
30. Utah Jazz: JT Thor (Auburn, PF, Freshman)
Butler and mid-first-round teams received good news after the NBA cleared him to play (heart condition). He appears back in play in the Nos. 15-25 range.
Springer is getting looks from lottery teams, and he's still scheduled to visit more. He has one of the wider ranges of anyone in the first-round mix.
After skipping the NBA combine, Sharpe has seemingly gone into dark mode, as teams have little information about his workouts or schedule. It's led to some talk about a promise, though his name hasn't been tied to any specific team.
With the Knicks having two first-round picks and one at No. 32, the Rockets owning three first-round picks, and selections in the Nos. 25-30 range often moved, we're likely to see multiple trades in this stage of the draft.
31. Milwaukee Bucks (via Rockets): Quentin Grimes (Houston, SG/SF, Junior)
32. New York Knicks (via Pistons): Josh Christopher (Arizona State, SG/SF, Freshman)
33. Orlando Magic: Josh Primo (Alabama, SG, Freshman)
34. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois, PG/SG, Junior)
35. New Orleans Pelicans (via Cavaliers): Isaiah Todd (G League Ignite, PF, 2001)
36. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Timberwolves): Aaron Henry (Michigan State, SG/SF, Junior)
37. Detroit Pistons (via Raptors): Joel Ayayi (Gonzaga, PG/SG, Junior)
38. Chicago Bulls (via Pelicans): Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky, C, Junior)
39. Sacramento Kings: Brandon Boston Jr. (Kentucky, SG/SF, Freshman)
40. New Orleans Pelicans (via Bulls): Joe Wieskamp (Iowa, SF, Junior)
Teams view Christopher as a first-round talent, but his shooting and shot selection suggest it could be a few seasons before he's ready to make an impact.
Primo is also drawing first-round looks, though Day'Ron Sharpe could steal a spot in the 20s, and Miles McBride appears significantly closer to helping a team.
Franchises are trying to decide where Todd stacks up after his 15 games of shooting 36.2 percent from three in the G League bubble. His potential to stretch the floor and guard the perimeter makes him appealing and could lead to first-round consideration.
Bassey is an interesting name who some scouts can envision going in the first round. His shot hasn't improved much, but he's an outstanding shot-blocker with more offensive skill than potential first-round bigs like Usman Garuba and Isaiah Jackson.
41. San Antonio Spurs: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova, PF, Sophomore)
42. Detroit Pistons (via Hornets): Jason Preston (Ohio, PG, Junior)
43. New Orleans Pelicans (via Wizards): Filip Petrusev (Mega Soccerbet, C, 2000)
44. Brooklyn Nets (via Pacers): Herbert Jones (Alabama, SF, Senior)
45. Boston Celtics: Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine, SF/PF, Junior)
46. Toronto Raptors (via Grizzlies): David Johnson (Louisville, PG/SG, Sophomore)
47. Toronto Raptors (via Warriors): Jericho Sims (Texas, C, Senior)
48. Atlanta Hawks (via Heat): Vrenz Bleijenbergh (Port of Antwerp, SG/SF, 2000)
49. Brooklyn Nets (via Hawks): Austin Reaves (Oklahoma, SG, Senior)
50. Philadelphia 76ers (via Knicks): Luka Garza (Iowa, C, Senior)
Opinions are all over the place on Robinson-Earl, who some see as a potential pick in the 20s, and others view as a late-second-rounder.
Herbert Jones has fans for his defensive versatility and development as a point-wing. Questions about his shooting will keep him from rising into the 20s, but the right fit could unlock role-player potential.
MVP of the Adriatic League after generating no buzz through two seasons at Gonzaga, Petrusev could wind up going much earlier than No. 43. Teams buying his jumper likely see a second-round steal. He went from two made threes as an NCAA sophomore to 43-of-93 from deep during his first year as an international pro.
Bleijenbergh has been on an incredible workout tour since the Minnesota combine. The 6'10" playmaker seems to be maximizing his chances of getting drafted by putting himself in front of as many teams as possible.
51. Memphis Grizzlies (via Blazers): Isaiah Livers (Michigan, SF, Senior)
52. Detroit Pistons (via Lakers): Rokas Jokubaitis (Zalgiris, PG/SG, 2000)
53. New Orleans Pelicans (via Mavericks): Matthew Hurt (Duke, PF, Sophomore)
54. Indiana Pacers (via Bucks): Greg Brown (Texas, PF, Freshman)
55. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Nuggets): Juhann Begarin (Paris Basketball, SG, 2002)
56. Charlotte Hornets (via Clippers): Sam Hauser (Virginia, SF, Senior)
57. Charlotte Hornets (via Nets): Neemias Queta (Utah State, C, Junior)
58. New York Knicks (via 76ers): McKinley Wright IV (Colorado, PG, Senior)
59. Brooklyn Nets (via Suns): Aaron Wiggins (Maryland, SF, Junior)
60. Indiana Pacers (via Jazz): Trendon Watford (LSU, PF, Sophomore)
With Marcus Bagley and Terrence Shannon Jr. returning to college, and Roko Prkacin withdrawing, three new spots opened since our last update.
Brown was added, as some team figures to think the upside of his athleticism and shot-making is worth the risk tied to his wild decision-making and poor feel. Wiggins moved into the 50s after a strong G League Elite camp highlighted his scoring and shot-making skills. Watford checks in at No. 60 and could be worth drafting for his face-up scoring, paint touch and passing skills.
Teams buy Hurt's shooting, and though there are questions about how his lack of quickness and physicality could limit him, there is some steal potential for a team that can grab him in the 50s.