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Official Denver Stiffs 2021 NBA Mock Draft

The Denver Stiffs staff combined together to make selections for every pick of the first round.

SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament - Tennessee v Florida Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

As we approach the 2021 NBA Draft, it’s time to share the official Denver Stiffs 2021 NBA Mock Draft.

With the draft just two days away, the draft experts at Denver Stiffs got together to evaluate the entire first round, focusing on not just the Denver Nuggets, but the entire NBA at large. Site manager Ryan Blackburn, deputy site manager Brandon Ewing, and lead moderator Reid Howard communed the council of the NBA Draft to make selections for all 30 picks of the first round, including rationalizations for every pick.

This exercise is mostly focused on what we at Denver Stiffs believe every team will do with their individual draft picks on Thursday night. There are some biases, but we attempted to be as impartial as possible in this process and think about what each team hopes to accomplish in this year’s draft. There are no trades, though the most recent transaction swapping the New Orleans Pelicans as 10 with the Memphis Grizzlies at 17 WAS accounted for.

Without further ado, let’s get into the picks!

Oregon State v Oklahoma State Photo by C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

1. Detroit Pistons — Cade Cunningham, Lead Playmaker, Oklahoma State

The Detroit Pistons are in need of a franchise cornerstone, and the most likely player to hit that level in the NBA is Cunningham. A 6’8” lead ball handler that imparts comparisons to Luka Doncic among others, Cunningham will become the primary focus of Detroit’s rebuild. He’s a great fit there and has a strong chance to develop into a star.

- Ryan Blackburn

2. Houston Rockets — Jalen Green, Guard, G League Ignite

Accelerated development due to his time in the G-League. Jalen Green will immediately step in and be an instant contributor for the Houston Rockets. For a team that is still a couple years away from competing again, adding a player like Green is a solid first step for getting their franchise back on track. Green is an explosive athlete that could become a star if he continues to grow defensively.

- Brandon Ewing

3. Cleveland Cavaliers — Evan Mobley, Big, USC

The Cleveland Cavaliers have some pieces of a young core together, but they are missing the most important one. With all due respect to Jarret Allen, Collin Sexton, and Darius Garland, I feel confident none of them are ever going to be All-NBA first or second team player. Evan Mobley has that franchise altering potential that Cleveland would be foolish to pass on.

- Reid Howard

4. Toronto Raptors — Jalen Suggs, Guard, Gonzaga

The Toronto Raptors probably need to replace Kyle Lowry at point guard this offseason, and Jalen Suggs is a great candidate. He’s a fun playmaker with elite playmaking skills, and he would be entering a great situation in Toronto playing next to Fred VanVleet. There’s a lot that pops in Suggs’ game as a smart, versatile playmaker.

- Ryan Blackburn

5. Orlando Magic — Scottie Barnes, Forward, Florida State

Scottie Barnes is a point guard in a forward’s body who can immediately step in and contribute for an Orlando Magic team that is young but closer to competing than some might think. Barnes is arguably the best defender in this year’s draft class, and if he can find a jump shot at the next level he will be virtually unstoppable on both ends of the floor.

- Brandon Ewing

6. Oklahoma City Thunder — Jonathan Kuminga, Forward, G League Ignite

The rebuilding Oklahoma City Thunder are an ideal location for Jonathan Kuminga to go through growing pains as he tries to expand his offensive game in the NBA. At the very least the Thunder are still getting a prospect with potential to lock down all five positions.

- Reid Howard

7. Golden State Warriors (via MIN) — Moses Moody, Wing, Arkansas

The Golden State Warriors are trying to win now, surrounding Stephen Curry and their other stars with the right supporting cast to win immediately. Moses Moody is younger than some options, but he projects to be a helpful 3-and-D player with some additional playmaking almost immediately. The Warriors need a player like him, and even if he isn’t fully ready, he’s a player who could be flipped to the right team in a win-now trade.

- Ryan Blackburn

8. Orlando Magic (via CHI) — Franz Wagner, Wing/Forward, Michigan

The Magic double down on forward prospects with their two first round picks, this time selecting Franz Wagner out of Michigan. You could argue Wagner does not have an “elite” trait, but that he is just a solid all-around player. Wagner can beat you off the dribble and his jump shot is pretty solid. Defensively, Wagner is an extremely good team defender who has all the tools to be a great defender at the next level. It also fills a position of need for the Magic and pairs him with a dynamic prospect in Barnes as Jonathan Isaac gets healthy again.

- Brandon Ewing

Maryland v UConn Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

9. Sacramento Kings — James Bouknight, Guard, Connecticut

With a young and exciting backcourt duo of De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton already in place, James Bouknight has just enough size and plenty of athleticism to slot in at small forward while rotating in behind those guards. With less playmaking responsibility, he could flourish in SacTown.

- Reid Howard

10. Memphis Grizzlies (via NOP) — Josh Giddey, Guard, Adelaide 36ers

The Memphis Grizzlies acquired this pick to add another high level contributor, and Josh Giddey could be that player. Giddey has the tools to be an elite playmaker next to Ja Morant for a long time. He’s still only 18 years old, but patience will go a long way toward building a contender around Ja and Jaren Jackson. If Giddey puts on some extra strength and muscle, there are a lot of alley-oop passes to Ja and Jaren in his future.

- Ryan Blackburn

11. Charlotte Hornets — Alperun Sengun, Big, Besiktas

A dominant big man in Turkey, Sengun might not immediately step in and be the Hornets answer at center but he easily could be down the road. Sengun is a skilled offensive player who uses his athleticism on both ends of the floor to his advantage. It just so happens to fill a position of need for the Hornets and they get a really good center who JUST turned 19 and should hopefully contribute by his second year in the league.

- Brandon Ewing

12. San Antonio Spurs — Davion Mitchell, Guard, Baylor

The San Antonio Spurs are reportedly listening to trade offers for both Derrick White and Dejonte Murray. If either are moved, Davion Mitchell makes sense as a replacement guard that could potentially start from day one.

- Reid Howard

13. Indiana Pacers — Corey Kispert, Wing, Gonzaga

The Indiana Pacers are in an interesting position with several positions filled with veterans, so adding Corey Kispert, the best shooter in the draft, makes a degree of sense. He may be able to help replace Doug McDermott while filling in gaps in the rotation as a scorer. It’s a bit of a boring pick for Indiana, but they seem like a team in a holding pattern, and Kispert reflects that a bit.

- Ryan Blackburn

14. Golden State Warriors — Chris Duarte, Wing, Oregon

Duarte is one of “my guys” in this draft class and I think he’ll have an immediate impact in the league. Even though he’s the oldest player in this year’s draft class at 24 years old, Duarte will instantly be able to contribute at the next level on both ends of the floor. Not only is Duarte a lights out 3-point shooter, but his defense is off the charts as he should immediately step in and be a 3-and-D contributor for Golden State.

- Brandon Ewing

15. Washington Wizards — Keon Johnson, Wing, Tennessee

The writing may be on the wall for Bradley Beal’s tenure in Washington. Even if he’s not traded this offseason, the Wizards would be wise to try and find an eventual replacement on the wing. At this point in the draft, Keon Johnson is likely their best bet.

- Reid Howard

16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via BOS) — Usman Garuba, Big, Real Madrid

The Oklahoma City Thunder already took Jonathan Kuminga in this exercise, and they double down on size and athleticism by selecting Usman Garuba here. He’s an awesome defender who needs time on the offensive end, but he would be a great player to help boost the overall defense in OKC’s rotation while having some big upside.

- Ryan Blackburn

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 10 Virginia at Georgia Tech Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

17. New Orleans Pelicans — Trey Murphy, Wing, Virginia

New Orleans moves back seven sports after their trade with Memphis and still lands a player at a position of need in Trey Murphy. It fills a position of need considering the Pelicans can use more sharpshooters and Murphy is one of the best ones in this year’s draft.

- Brandon Ewing

18. Oklahoma City Thunder — Jared Butler, Guard, Baylor

After selecting a pair of forwards with immense defensive potential, the Oklahoma City Thunder land a guard they can potentially pair with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander long term. Butler is an underrated defender and solid all-around offensive guard that might even be more ready to contribute than their sixth overall pick, Jonathan Kuminga.

- Reid Howard

19. New York Knicks — Kai Jones, Big, Texas

The New York Knicks are in a pickle with both Nerlens Noel and Mitchell Robinson being free agents this offseason, so taking a center with upside seems like the safe play. Kai Jones showed a lot of tools at Texas, but he needs time and seasoning to be helpful. He will need to commit defensively to play under Tom Thibodeau. He has some floor spacing potential though, and the Knicks could use that next to Julius Randle.

- Ryan Blackburn

20. Atlanta Hawks — Miles “Deuce” McBride, Guard, West Virginia

McBride plays inspired basketball on both ends of the floor, and he could step in and have an impact from day one with Atlanta. The Hawks could use more depth at both guard spots, and McBride would certainly fill that need. You could also have lineups where McBride and Trae Young play off one another. McBride can score the ball, pass the ball without turning it over, and plays with a competitive edge defensively that is contagious for everyone else on the court.

- Brandon Ewing

21. New York Knicks (via DAL) — Jalen Johnson, Forward, Duke

As he began his freshman season at Duke, Jalen Johnson was considered a potential top 5 pick. His talent is undeniable, but there are just as many question marks. The Knicks have been attempting to find a large wing in Jalen’s mold for several years and I could see them trying again if Johnson falls to 21.

- Reid Howard

22. Los Angeles Lakers — Cameron Thomas, Guard, LSU

The Los Angeles Lakers need guard help immediately given the impending free agency of Dennis Schroder, Alex Caruso, and Talen Horton-Tucker. Cam Thomas of LSU appears readymade to be a scorer at the next level, and he has the potential to develop quickly as a bench option. This pick could be flipped on draft night.

- Ryan Blackburn

23. Houston Rockets (via POR) — Sharife Cooper, Guard, Auburn

The Rockets just need to add good players and Cooper fits that bill. Houston is still a couple years away from competing so adding a young player like Cooper and letting him develop is a no brainer. One of the best passers in this years class, Cooper could be the Rockets point guard of the future as long as he find a three-point shot and grows defensively. It’s a high upside swing that could definitely pan out down the road for Houston.

- Brandon Ewing

Stanford v USC Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

24. Houston Rockets (via MIL) — Ziaire Williams, Wing, Stanford

After selecting a potential lead guard of the future, Houston targets a lengthy wing in Ziaire Williams. As they begin their post-Harden era, it would be wise of them to target prospects with the most upside and Ziaire may just have the highest ceiling of any of the remaining players.

- Reid Howard

25. Los Angeles Clippers — JT Thor, Forward/Big, Auburn

The Los Angeles Clippers are in a holding pattern until they lock up the injured Kawhi Leonard on a new contract. He will be out for at least the majority of next season though, which means the Clippers will need playable size. JT Thor is raw, but he projects to be a very solid defensive player who takes pressure off of Clippers scorers going forward. The Clippers were at their best when they went small, and Thor seems like the ideal prospect to develop as a small ball center option.

- Ryan Blackburn

26. Denver Nuggets — Jaden Springer, Guard, Tennessee

The Nuggets — like they have done in recent years — take another swing here with a high upside pick drafting Jaden Springer. Now, I’m team “add a contributor” and Springer might not fit that mold. He’s one of the youngest players in the draft seeing as he won’t turn 19 until September 25th. Still, the tools with this guy are off the charts and the Nuggets should run to the podium if he’s still available when their selection rolls around. Springer has the potential to be an elite defender at the next level, and if his playmaking ability continues offensively, the Nuggets could easily have found one of their guards of the future.

- Brandon Ewing

27. Brooklyn Nets — Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, Forward, Villanova

With Blake Griffin and Jeff Green set to hit free agency, Brooklyn is in need of a versatile forward. While Jeremiah Robinson-Earl may not be quite the threat those two are offensively, he brings much needed defensive ability to a Brooklyn team with more than enough offensive fire power already.

- Reid Howard

28. Philadelphia 76ers — Tre Mann, Guard, Florida

The Philadelphia 76ers are probably going to trade Ben Simmons, meaning they need someone who profiles as an actual point guard at some point. Tre Mann is more score than facilitator, but he’s a great pull-up shooter who would help Joel Embiid in a more traditional pick and roll action. Whether Mann clashes with the development of Tyrese Maxey remains to be seen.

- Ryan Blackburn

29. Phoenix Suns — Quentin Grimes, Wing, Houston

After an NBA Finals run that saw them come up just short, the Suns add a solid shooting guard in Quentin Grimes out of Houston. Grimes is a big guard who has all the tools to be a contributor at the next level. Dangerous player in transition who projects to be a really good three-point shooter in the NBA. If he continues to grow defensively, he is definitely someone who could give Phoenix rotational minutes earlier in his career.

- Brandon Ewing

30. Utah Jazz — Isaiah Todd, Forward, G League Ignite

This selection is operating under the assumption that Mike Conley returns to the Utah Jazz in free agency. If this does happen, they’ll likely be forced to move on from Joe Ingles or Bojan Bogdanovic, or even both. Isaiah Todd is a big forward that can potentially help fill the void they may leave behind.

- Reid Howard