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2021 NBA Draft Lottery: Projection of the Top 5

The ping-pong balls have fallen in favor of the Detroit Pistons, and they are the winners of the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery. After enduring a tough couple of seasons, the lottery gods have offered Detroit a glimmer of hope with the first selection in this year’s upcoming draft. With the draft order finally set, here is a projection of how the top 5 picks will shake out.

2021 NBA Mock Draft – Post-lottery Projection of the Top 5

1. Detroit Pistons – Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State

Cade Cunningham would likely go No.1 regardless of who won the lottery. Cunningham’s combination of size, skill, and basketball IQ makes him the obvious top prospect in this year’s draft, and the ideal selection for the Detroit Pistons.

The 19-year-old’s strengths include a feel for the game that is far beyond his years. Cunningham is an elite-level decision-maker. His passing along with his ability to read the floor and create easy looks has garnered him lofty comparisons to Dallas Mavericks superstar Luka Doncic.

At 6’7 with a seven-foot wingspan, Cunningham has the potential to carry a heavy offensive load as soon as he steps foot into the league. His ability to orchestrate and be the engine of an offense, suggests that Cunningham has the upside to skyrocket the trajectory of a middling Pistons franchise.

Though Cunningham has drawn comparisons to Doncic, he doesn’t lean on scoring as much as the Slovenian. Cunningham’s heavy reliance on passing is sometimes a weakness, however, as he’s prone to forcing passes through tight spaces, which result in turnovers.

Like any rookie, Cunningham will have to take his lumps. But if Detroit puts the ball in his hands and surrounds him with shooting, Cunningham will be a star guard at the NBA level.

NBA Player Comparison: Luka Doncic

2. Houston Rockets – Evan Mobley, USC

Evan Mobley is a versatile two-way prospect and without a doubt the best big man in this year’s class. Standing at seven feet with a 7’5 wingspan, Mobley has the tools to blossom into an elite defender. He has the quickness to stick with guards on the perimeter, whilst having the length to block shots and be an interior presence.

Mobley has also showcased a level of scoring touch that suggests a pathway towards becoming a reliable go-to scorer at an NBA level. Mobley can score on the interior and though he isn’t a reliable outside shooter yet, the freshman out of USC has demonstrated he that can knock down open looks from behind the three-point arc. Additionally, his eye for a pass and ability to handle the ball has seen him compared to Miami Heat big man, Bam Adebayo.

The next step in Mobley’s development is bulking up on his somewhat skinny frame. This will allow him to better combat the physicality of seasoned big men like Joel Embiid or Nikola Jokic. However, if Houston selects Mobley at No. 2, they will be landing a player talented enough to be the first pick in most drafts.

NBA Player Comparison: Deandre Ayton, Bam Adebayo

3. Cleveland Cavaliers – Jalen Green, G League Ignite

Jalen Green is the most explosive athlete in the draft. The 6’5 guard possesses a tantalizing package of skills that will fit seamlessly in the modern NBA.

His polished offensive skillset coupled with freakish athleticism means that Green has potentially the highest upside in this draft. However, whilst Green is a confident shooter, he can sometimes be streaky. The environment in Cleveland is an ideal landing spot for Green to hone his skills and grow alongside fellow young guards, Collin Sexton and Darius Garland.

With a knack for the spectacular and an electrifying leaping ability, Green will enter the league as a walking highlight reel. It wouldn’t surprise me if Green takes LaMelo Ball’s place like House of Highlight’s favorite rookie. In fact, I can’t wait to scroll through Instagram and witness a sea of angry comments that read ‘House of Jalen’ or ‘JalenReport’.

NBA Player Comparison: Zach Lavine

4. Toronto Raptors – Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga

Jalen Suggs is arguably the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft. The 6’4 guard out of Gonzaga possesses an impressive blend of skill, athleticism, and intelligence that makes him a perfect fit for the Raptors.

Suggs is an unselfish floor general that makes others around him better. In Toronto, Suggs will be under the tutelage of veteran point guard, Kyle Lowry. He will have the opportunity to closely study one of the game’s best floor generals before he one day eventually takes the reigns himself.

Suggs will add defensive toughness, leadership, and a winning mentality that fits well with Toronto’s culture. He has also shown that he’s not shy of the big moment. His clutch game-winning buzzer-beater in the Final Four of this year’s NCAA tournament demonstrated this. However, Suggs will have to improve as a shot creator if he is going to be a lead scoring option.

NBA Player Comparison: Dejounte Murray

5. Orlando Magic – Jonathan Kuminga, G League Ignite

Jonathan Kuminga is the most versatile defender in this year’s draft class. The 6-foot-8, 220-pound forward has an NBA-ready body. His combination of size, athleticism, and quickness provide him with the tools to defend both guards and wings in the NBA.

The 19-year-old forward averaged 15.8 points, 7.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists, 1.0 steals and 0.8 blocks per game in the G-League bubble. He also impressed with his defensive expertise.

Kuminga is, however, the rawest out of the top five prospects. His offensive game needs polishing if he is to be a consistent scorer in the league. Which makes the rebuilding Orlando Magic the ideal destination for him. Kuminga will be afforded the time and patience to develop into an impactful NBA player.

NBA Player Comparison: Jaylen Brown

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