Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley top Jason McIntyre's NBA Mock Draft 2.0
By Jason McIntyre
FOX Sports Betting Analyst
With March Madness over, it’s time to take another look at the NBA draft.
We have a good idea who is leaning toward entering the league, and using the draft order as of Monday night, here's NBA Mock Draft 2.0.
The top four players in a very good draft class continue to jockey for position, and there is the potential for a lot of movement from spots six through 30 over the next few months, as player evaluations continue until the lottery balls bounce June 22.
Let's get into it.
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This is not an overreaction to his incredible NCAA Tournament or the fact that he’s from Minnesota. Suggs is just what the Timberwolves need: a defensive-minded PG who is athletic and would not need shots playing alongside volume scorers in Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell.
A frontcourt of Christian Wood (38% on 3s) and Evan Mobley (six games with five-plus blocked shots) is something to get very excited about. Mobley will remind some of Chris Bosh and others of Kevin Garnett, but the bottom line is that he’s a better overall prospect right now than the past two 7-foot centers who went in the top five: James Wiseman and DeAndre Ayton. Mobley defends the perimeter and paint equally well.
The Pistons' top-10 picks this century have been massive whiffs. From Darko Milicic to Brandon Knight to Stanley Johnson, none has panned out in Detroit. Not even Andre Drummond or KCP. Cunningham should start from day one, perhaps alongside Killian Hayes, their 2020 lottery pick. Cunningham has this slow-motion, Magic Johnson-thing going when he attacks the hoop that is a joy to watch. He isn't as explosive as Suggs or Green, but he is more fundamentally sound than both.
Green is the golfer who teed off early and was in the clubhouse watching all the guys after him tear it up. He has done nothing to fall from No. 1 to No. 4. But at this moment, with the NCAA Tournament fresh in everyone’s minds, Green slips. However, the difference between No. 1 and No. 4 is tiny, and none of the other three can score like Green.
The 2021 draft is perceived as a five-player draft, with considerable uncertainty beyond this group. Kuminga definitely seems to be No. 5. He is still only 18, but he shot only 24% on 3-pointers in the 13-game G-League season. Kuminga’s length and athleticism remind me of Jaylen Brown, who came into the league at 20 and by his fourth year was scoring 20 points per game.
If we assume that Bradley Beal is going to ask out of Washington after the season, Thomas makes all the sense in the world as a long-term replacement of the NBA’s leading scorer. Thomas might be the best one-on-one player in this draft, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he averaged 15 points as a rookie. He dropped 57 points in two NCAA Tournament games and had 16 games of 25-plus points this season.
Moody struggled in almost every aspect during the NCAA Tournament (32% shooting in four games; 11 fouls, seven turnovers, two assists). But the 18-year-old shoots 81% from the line, a place he gets to as well as anyone in this draft. An OKC grouping of 6-foot-6 Shai Gilgeous Alexander, 6-foot-5 Moody and 6-foot-4 Theo Maldon has the makings of a big, young, talented backcourt.
"Jason, you really missed not having Mitchell in your last mock draft!" Well, not really. The history of 22-year-olds going in the lottery is not pretty. But Mitchell did go from "Jordan Clarkson, sixth man potential" to "starter and maybe an All-Star" with his explosive NCAA Tournament. With Kyle Lowry likely walking in free agency, a Mitchell/Fred VanVleet backcourt would be small but extremely feisty.
Barnes before the NCAA Tournament: He can be a point-forward!
Barnes after the NCAA Tournament: Can he score?
It was a puzzling March for Barnes, who took a combined four shots in the first two rounds before a 4-for-11 clunker with four fouls and three turnovers vs. Michigan. Still, the NBA is enamored with his sturdy, 6-foot-9, 225-pound frame, switchability defensively and 7-foot-2 wingspan. The Kings are the worst defensive team in the NBA and have the longest playoff drought in the league (14 seasons).
Only 18 and one of the youngest players expected to enter the draft, Giddey’s upside as a playmaking point-forward is immense. He doesn’t have the scoring ability of Luka Doncic, but his vision and body control are already next-level. There’s talent on the Orlando roster; Cole Anthony, RJ Hampton, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter, Markelle Fultz, Chuma Okeke and Jonathan Isaac are all 23 or younger. Toss in "veteran" Gary Harris, and the Magic are a year or two away from being a top-six seed in the East.
While his older teammate (Mitchell) got most of the hype, Butler quietly won Most Outstanding Player in the Final Four after being named a first-team All-American. Only 20, Butler shot 42% on 3-pointers and does everything well. Butler could battle Kira Lewis for the backup point guard spot next season, assuming the Pelicans retain Lonzo Ball as the starter.
The Warriors ideally would trade this pick in a package to get an impact player with NBA experience. If they’re unable to, they’ll look for a high-IQ player who can play around the Splash Brothers in one last run at a title. Duarte turns 24 in June, but he’s a tenacious defender, and his shooting numbers were outstanding: 53% from the field, 42% from 3 and 81% from the line. Duarte's defense gives him a chance to steal minutes from Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre if they’re on the team next season.
Without TJ Warren, the Pacers have lacked a scorer on the wing, and Johnson could toggle between that role and a stretch-4. The Pacers have a financial reckoning coming if they miss the playoffs, and the roster could look dramatically different next season. As long as Johnson interviews well – the list of NBA-caliber players who bail on Duke is few and far between – he definitely has lottery talent.
The brother of NBA forward Moe Wagner, Franz did struggle in some high-profile games (1-for-10 vs. UCLA, 2-for-10 vs. Ohio State, 1-for-9 vs. Illinois), but his inside-out skill is ideally suited for the NBA. This will be only the third time since 1997 that the Spurs have drafted in the lottery. A fascinating offseason awaits with leading scorer DeMar DeRozan’s contract up. Their two leading scorers off the bench, Rudy Gay and Patty Mills, are also free agents.
Tom Thibodeau values defense and will love Dosunmu, a 21-year-old who is ready to contribute on what could be a playoff team with the right offseason. Just forget the last two games of his career vs. Loyola and Ohio State (9-for-27 shooting, 25 points, 11 turnovers, six assists).
Athletically, Johnson is a marvel, and he’s a potentially gifted scorer. The only reason I have him this low is because of his 27% 3-point shooting. He did shoot 70% on free throws, so all is not lost.
The Celtics are one of the league’s biggest regular-season disappointments, though injuries and COVID played a part. If they go up against Joel Embiid or Giannis in the playoffs, their post deficiencies might bubble up. Jones is a fluid 6-foot-11 and a great example of where potential doesn’t line up with production (one double-double, zero games of four-plus blocks, never scored more than 17 points in a game).
Williams got hurt, struggled in January and missed the end of the regular season. He had a triple-double vs. Washington and started his career with 19 points against Alabama. He has the upside of an elite wing, with a quick first step that could make him a devastating scorer.
Other than Davion Mitchell, nobody helped themselves more in March than Juzang, the Kentucky transfer who was unstoppable against elite competition. Against Gonzaga and Michigan, two top-10 defenses, Juzang shot 23-for-37 from the field and 5-for-11 from deep and scored 57 points. He knows how to score the way Alex English did – not that Juzang is going to average 23-plus PPG for nine straight years. But get him in an aggressive offense, wind him up and watch him go.
It’s probably the hair, but the bouncy Jackson kind of reminds me of Kenneth Faried, who averaged double figures for five years in Denver. Jackson is long and active and subsists on a diet of putbacks. He’s a terrific garbageman who can snare rebounds and clean up on the offensive glass. If John Collins departs in free agency, Jackson gets in the big man rotation with Clint Capela and 2020 lottery pick Onyeka Okongwu.
The good: scoring machine.
The bad: Passing is not in his DNA. But does it matter if you can get to the rim, regardless of who is guarding you?
Bouknight is ideally suited to back up Immanuel Quickley. But the 20-year-old must improve on his 29% shooting from 3.
Mann saved his best ball for the end of the season, averaging 20.8 points in his last seven games while shooting 56%. He shot 83% from the line this season and 40% on 2-pointers. Keep an eye on Mann during the draft process because when you combine his scoring efficiency with his size (6-foot-5, 190 pounds), the "lottery talent" whispers are coming.
23. Houston (via Milwaukee) – Corey Kispert, wing/forward, Gonzaga
The Kispert-in-the-lottery chatter always seemed surprising to me, but he’s too good a shooter (46% on 3s) to let a rough NCAA Tournament drop him out of the first round. He’s probably more Duncan Robinson than Joe Harris, but in the right system, Kispert can be a valuable fourth scorer on a contender.
24. Los Angeles Lakers – Usman Garuba, PF, Real Madrid
LeBron James and the Lakers want to chase rings, and it’s difficult to do that with young, inexperienced players getting minutes in the playoffs. This is a draft-and-stash. Garuba is a swift, powerful, 6-foot-9 jumping jack who moves with the fluidity of a young Serge Ibaka. I can picture him in three years, when he’s 22, playing some minutes alongside Anthony Davis.
25. Denver Nuggets – Alperen Sengun, F/C, Turkey
The Nuggets have the best depth in the NBA. This pick will be a draft-and-stash, and Sengun – who turns 19 in July – fits the profile. If you squint, you can see some pick-and-roll similarities between the 6-foot-10, 240-pound Sengun and a young Nikola Jokic, who arrived in Denver at age 20.
I’m more fascinated by the Clippers' upcoming offseason than that of any other team in the league. Paul George is signed long-term, and you’d think Kawhi Leonard will stay … but what if they don’t get to the conference finals? Will he bolt? The Clippers need a point guard and a rim-protector. Cooper is a dynamic offensive player who lacks size (6-foot), but man, can he score.
We know he will be able to score in the NBA, but the question is can he defend? Opponents will put him in a million pick-and-rolls, and he didn’t react well to them vs. Oregon in the NCAA Tournament. But if you want a professional to add to the locker room who can bolster your bench, you draft Garza.
He’ll turn 19 before next season, and Springer's attacking style reminds me of Norman Powell, the former UCLA second-round pick who is averaging 19 points per game at the age of 27. Springer shot 43% on 3-pointers, but his volume was low (1.8 attempts per game). It’s going to take a few years for him to be an impact player, but the potential is there.
As excited as I was to see him vs. Gonzaga, Mayer’s 2-point performance on two shots in 16 minutes left a lot to be desired. He’s 21 and never started a game in three seasons, but if he elects to forgo his senior season for the NBA, he has a chance to sneak into the first round. At 6-foot-9 and 225 pounds, he moves well enough to be a factor at both ends as a flexible wing on the perimeter. This is an extremely optimistic projection, but the measurements and talent are there.
The new Jazz owner has made it clear the luxury tax isn’t an impediment, and Utah could finally be headed back to the Western Conference finals. It’s going to be difficult to find a pick here to help them, but in the long term, Christopher could be a huge win. He scored 28 against Villanova in his second college game and had 22 points in an overtime loss to UCLA. Christopher has a similar style to Donovan Mitchell, but he must improve his 3-point shot (30%).
Jason McIntyre is a FOX Sports gambling analyst, and he also writes about the NFL and NBA Draft. He joined FS1 in 2016 and has appeared on every show on the network. In 2017, McIntyre began producing gambling content on the NFL, college football and NBA for FOX Sports. He had a gambling podcast for FOX, "Coming Up Winners," in 2018 and 2019. Before arriving at FOX, he created the website The Big Lead, which he sold in 2010.