Go through the gallery to see Rod Beard’s NBA mock draft 1.0 for 2021. Click here if you have trouble viewing the gallery.
It’s really not that difficult. Cade Cunningham will be the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft. Let’s get that part out of the way at the start of this mock draft. There won’t be any subversion about what the Pistons plan to do with their first No. 1 pick since Bob Lanier in 1970.
The only question is whether some other team comes up with a trade package that’s impressive enough to make Pistons general manager Troy Weaver deviate from what seems to be the most likely choice.
The draft is just more than a week away and there seems to be less intrigue about what the Pistons plan to do and more with what the Houston Rockets will do with the second pick. It’s a little less suspenseful than the Pistons’ choice — between Cunningham, Evan Mobley and Jalen Green, who are the presumptive top three options.
After those picks, things can go in any of several directions, with different teams valuing the next tier of prospects differently. There might not be as much picking for need as there is just selecting the best player available and figuring things out later.
What will add some spice to the first round is the number of teams who have multiple first-round picks and might be looking to move up in the draft to get a better player. The Oklahoma City Thunder have picks 6, 16 and 18; the Rockets have No. 2, 23 and 24. The Golden State Warriors have the seventh and 14th picks and the New York Knicks pick 19th and 21st.
With several teams holding multiple picks, it could make for some deals that change the complexion of the first round, which makes projecting the picks that much harder.
The playoffs have shown that teams such as the Phoenix Suns and Atlanta Hawks can turn things around pretty quickly if they have the right draft picks and they work to cultivate those picks and develop them with the rest of their existing roster.
Free agency will play another big role in the formation of rosters, and general managers around the league are just using the draft as the starting point to fine tune their rosters for another run at the playoffs next summer.