NBA mock draft: Sixers take confident guard with deep range

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It’s safe to predict that trades will shake up the 2021 NBA draft.We’ll stay away from any in this mock draft, though we’ll mention that Sixers president of basketball operations Daryl Morey made two significant ones last year, picking up Seth Curry and Danny Green. We’ll also note a source told PhillyVoice’s Kyle Neubeck there’s a “very good chance” the Sixers trade the 28th pick.With all that said, let’s focus on the prospects and get into our first-round mock draft.

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Unlike last year’s draft, there isn’t much debate about which player should go No, 1, and that’s not because there’s a lack of possible stars in the class. Cunningham, who posted 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game in his one college season, joins a young core in Detroit that includes Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes. 

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Mobley said to reporters last week that he thinks he’ll be a “generational player,” and many draft analysts would tell you that isn’t a delusional claim. Though the Rockets have Christian Wood, we don’t think they’ll be too concerned with positions. Mobley has a ton of skills and potential, and the 7-footer’s freshman statistics show he already makes a wide impact: 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.9 blocks and 2.4 assists per game. Not bad at all. 

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Green is a great athlete and impressively picked up some of the nuances of professional basketball during his 15 games with G League Ignite. For a 19-year-old, he’s got an outstanding mix of explosiveness, body control and innate scoring ability. 

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Whatever’s next for Kyle Lowry, Suggs would be a sensible pick for Toronto. He gained valuable big-game experience in his one year with the Zags and looks like he could be a future franchise lead guard. 

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The apparent best-case outcome for Barnes is that he’ll be a passable NBA shooter who’s good to great in a lot of other areas. He measured in at 6-foot-7 without shoes and has a 7-2.75 wingspan. A versatile, high-level defender who makes his teammates better would be an excellent piece for a rebuilding team. 

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Kuminga occasionally outshone Green for G League Ignite, which is saying something. He was not an efficient player (49.7 true shooting percentage), but the Thunder should care far more about tools than anything else. OKC can give Kuminga ample early-career minutes and help him develop through game reps. 

 

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Mitchell feels like the logical pick if Golden State keeps No. 7. NBA executives won’t want to be swayed excessively by his junior-year growth as a shooter and passer. Regardless of whether those improvements are evident in the pros, he’s a smothering defender and the kind of player who could be in a postseason rotation as a rookie. 

 

 

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Johnson might be a bit of a reach at this stage, but Orlando can be more patient than most teams in attempting to iron out his jumper and improve his overall feel for the game. The tidbit you’ll see everywhere — and for good reason — is that Johnson set a combine record with a 48-inch maximum vertical leap. 

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We like the idea of speedy, three-guard lineups with De’Aaron Fox, Bouknight and All-Rookie First Team selection Tyrese Haliburton. The Kings need to upgrade defensively and that isn’t Bouknight’s calling card, but it’s difficult to imagine him not becoming at least a decent NBA scorer. If his shot pans out, perhaps he’s a go-to guy late in games for the Kings in a few years. 

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The conventional selection here would be to add a shooter who can play alongside Zion Williamson, and New Orleans has an opportunity to do so in our mock draft. Kispert shot 40.8 percent from three-point range over four seasons at Gonzaga, boosting both his efficiency and scoring average each year. 

 

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Jones is exceptionally fast in the open floor and a standout all-around athlete. Part of what’s alluring about him are his skills uncommon in traditional big men — successfully staying in front of perimeter players on defense; gliding to the rim from the three-point line in one or two smooth dribbles; making corner three-pointers. The fit with LaMelo Ball is a fun one on paper. 

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Sengun won MVP of the Turkish Super League at 18 years old. He’s nimble, creative and confident with the ball in his hands, and a talented passer. San Antonio lacks depth behind Jakob Poeltl. If Sengun fulfills his promise, the Spurs might end up with a good starting center. 

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Moody is a 3-and-D wing with a wingspan greater than 7 feet who can create shots and draw free throws. Though the Pacers might deal this pick away, Moody would make sense for plenty of teams if he’s available late in the lottery. 

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Giddey told reporters the NBA players he’s looked up to the most were “guys like Luka Doncic, Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles — a lot of those bigger point guards who were pass-first guys and loved getting teammates involved." Giddey’s passing could certainly come in handy on a team with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.

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This is a bit lower than many are projecting Wagner, so we’ve got Washington going with the theoretical best player available here. Wagner is a big wing who does a lot of things well and averaged 12.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.3 steals his sophomore year. 

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Thomas, who posted 23 points per game in his one year at LSU, is a scorer through and through. His knack for finding shots for himself in isolation and earning trips to the foul line should be useful in the NBA, and one imagines he’ll fine-tune his shot selection and facilitating around better talent. 

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Murphy is a stellar shooter. After two seasons at Rice, he transferred to UVA and recorded a 50-40-90 season. The Grizzlies could benefit from adding a marksman next to Ja Morant, and the 21-year-old Murphy might fit their contention timeline nicely if Memphis emerges as a legitimate Western Conference threat in a year or two. 

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The shooting numbers were rough for Williams at Stanford (37.4 percent from the floor, 29.1 percent from three-point range), but his skill level is higher than that. The chances of OKC keeping every one of its picks are obviously small, but Williams is the type of player with clear upside we’d expect the team to target. 

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Butler is a very good offensive player who also led the Big 12 in steals last season. Wherever he ends up, we wouldn’t be surprised if he cracks an NBA rotation as a rookie. In New York, that could mean taking on a portion of Alec Burks’ role as a three-point shooter and shot creator off the bench if the veteran guard signs elsewhere in free agency. 

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The 19-year-old Garuba has two years of EuroLeague experience. His defensive passion and versatility jump out; he moves fluidly across positions and roles. Both the potential value of Garuba and the team fit are strong for the Hawks at No. 20. 

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Duarte’s jumper is a thing of beauty, and he led the Pac-12 with a 65.7 true shooting percentage. He made the conference’s All-Defensive team, too. At 24 years old, the hope would that he’s capable of contributing in Year 1 as the Knicks aim to make further progress under Coach of the Year Tom Thibodeau. 

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Cooper is a nifty playmaker who shot poorly in a 12-game college campaign shortened by an ankle injury. A ball handler seems like a decent bet for a Lakers team that will again need to retool around LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and Cooper would be the top one left on many teams' draft boards. 

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While it wouldn’t be a shock if Johnson goes much higher than this, we’ve got the Rockets snagging a player who thrives in grab-it-and-go situations. He made 8 of 18 threes at Duke but only shot 63.2 percent from the foul line and has stiff mechanics. Houston is a rare team with a late first-round pick — two in a row, in fact — that has no need to prioritize immediate NBA readiness. 

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Jackson was a truly elite college shot blocker, leading the SEC with a 12.7 block percentage. His 17.3 rebounding percentage was first in the conference, as well. The team that drafts him will likely want to see whether he can eventually extend his shooting range behind the three-point line or at least become a tad more polished offensively. 

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Mann made a big leap as a sophomore, averaging 16 points, 5.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.4 steals. He’d give the Clippers yet another shooter, in addition to a possible backup point guard of the future. 

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Todd is a smooth spot-up shooter who also knocked down some attention-grabbing fadeaway jumpers from the post in the G League. Perhaps Denver will prefer a prospect who’s more ready for NBA defense, but we think Todd will be tempting late in Round 1. 

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The Nets will want a prospect with the ingredients to be a role player on a championship-level team if they stay at No. 27, and Primo seems to have a shot at fulfilling that criteria. He’s got a pretty jumper and shot 38.1 percent from three-point range in his freshman year. 

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Again, we’ll caution that the Sixers might not make a first-round pick. If they do and the board shakes out this way, Hyland seems like a worthwhile swing to take. The A-10 Player of the Year posted nearly 20 points per game last year and is full of self-belief and scoring knowhow. For the NBA, his ultra-deep range, stepback jumpers and floater are encouraging qualities. He’s skinny (169 pounds at the combine) and not renowned for his defense, although he did have 1.9 steals per game. Few players are sure things at this stage of the draft, so it would be difficult to argue with the Sixers selecting Hyland and hoping he provides a scoring jolt off the bench. If this is the selection, Hyland, a native of Wilmington, Delaware, has all the makings of a fan favorite. 

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Dario Saric is Phoenix’s only real backup center option at the moment. Sharpe, who told ESPN’s Mike Schmitz he’s “the best rebounder in this class, hands down,” would be an intriguing player to have behind Deandre Ayton. He’s already equipped for the NBA physically and is a promising passer. The 19-year-old’s shooting (50.5 percent from the foul line) is a major question. 

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Outside of being undersized, McBride has many qualities that tend to matter in the playoffs, including pesky on-ball defense, sensible decision-making and three-point shooting ability (41.4 percent as a sophomore). If he winds up as a rotation player, one can envision McBride being free to play aggressive defense much of the time with Rudy Gobert protecting the rim behind him. 

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