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2021 NBA draft: Everything you need to know from locks to sleepers

·6 min read
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How convenient to have all your questions about the upcoming 2021 NBA draft answered in one place ...

When is the 2021 NBA draft?

Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC (first round) and ESPN (first and second rounds).

Where is the draft?

Brooklyn's Barclays Center.

What is the draft order?

  1. Detroit Pistons

  2. Houston Rockets

  3. Cleveland Cavaliers

  4. Toronto Raptors

  5. Orlando Magic

  6. Oklahoma City Thunder

  7. Golden State Warriors (from Minnesota)

  8. Orlando Magic (from Chicago)

  9. Sacramento Kings

  10. Memphis Grizzlies (from New Orleans)

  11. Charlotte Hornets

  12. San Antonio Spurs

  13. Indiana Pacers

  14. Golden State Warriors

  15. Washington Wizards

  16. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Boston)

  17. New Orleans Pelicans (from Memphis)

  18. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami via the L.A. Clippers, Philadelphia and Phoenix)

  19. New York Knicks

  20. Atlanta Hawks

  21. New York Knicks (from Dallas)

  22. Los Angeles Lakers

  23. Houston Rockets (from Portland)

  24. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee)

  25. L.A. Clippers

  26. Denver Nuggets

  27. Brooklyn Nets

  28. Philadelphia 76ers

  29. Phoenix Suns

  30. Utah Jazz

Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham is the complete package as a 2021 NBA draft prospect. (C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)
Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham is the complete package as a 2021 NBA draft prospect. (C. Morgan Engel/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Who will be the No. 1 pick?

Cade Cunningham is as close to a consensus No. 1 overall pick as you will get in a draft that features a handful of potential superstars but nobody considered a cannot-miss generational talent (i.e., LeBron James, Anthony Davis or Zion Williamson). Cunningham fits the modern mold as a 6-foot-8 playmaker who can create for himself and others off the dribble, score at all three levels and defend multiple positions.

[ 2021 NBA free agency: All you need to know from Kawhi's option to Luka's extension ]

As a freshman at Oklahoma State this past season, Cunningham averaged 20.1 points (on 46/40/85 shooting splits), 6.2 rebounds, 3.5 assists (against four turnovers) and 2.4 combined blocks and steals in 35.4 minutes per game. The Cowboys lost to Oregon State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

What do the oddsmakers say?

BetMGM released the following odds for the No. 1 overall pick:

  • Cade Cunningham (-5000)

  • Jalen Green (+1400)

  • Evan Mobley (+2200)

  • Jalen Suggs (+2500)

  • Jonathan Kuminga or Scottie Barnes (+5000)

  • Keon Johnson, Jalen Johnson, Davion Mitchell or Corey Kispert (+8000)

Nobody else has has better than 100-to-1 odds to be drafted first on Thursday.

Is there a clear-cut top tier of prospects?

Cunningham, Green, Mobley and Suggs are considered the potential franchise cornerstones in this draft.

Green is an electric athlete in a slight 6-foot-5 frame who can generate highlights as a shooter and finisher. He played 15 games for the G League's developmental Ignite roster this past season, averaging 17.9 points (46/37/83 splits), 4.1 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.8 combined blocks and steals in 32 minutes a night.

The 7-foot Mobley is a versatile two-way big man who can score, create and defend in space. He played 33 games for USC as a freshman, averaging 16.4 points (58/30/69 splits), 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 3.7 combined blocks and steals in 33.9 minutes a night. The Trojans lost in the Elite Eight of the NCAA tourney.

Suggs is a polished 6-foot-4 ball-handler who will enter the NBA ready to contribute on both ends of the floor. He led Gonzaga to a 31-0 record entering the NCAA championship game this past season, averaging 14.4 points (50/34/75 spits), 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 2.2 combined steals and blocks in 28.9 minutes per game as a freshman. The Bulldogs lost the title game, despite a game-high 22 points from Suggs.

It would be a real surprise if this quartet was not drafted one through four in some order on Thursday.

Where does the talent start to level out?

The next tier of elite prospects includes Florida State freshman wing Scottie Barnes, 18-year-old Ignite wing Jonathan Kuminga, Baylor junior guard Davion Mitchell and UConn sophomore guard James Bouknight.

There are reasons any one of them could fall in the first round. Bouknight's athleticism and scoring prowess has him rising on draft boards, but his passing and defense are question marks. Barnes and Kuminga are not great shooters, and Mitchell's 44.7% clip from 3-point range was a significant improvement from his first two college seasons, raising questions about whether he is elite at the game's most sought-after skill. Mitchell is also 6-feet tall and 22 years old. He is closer to a finished product than others with higher upside.

To see any of them fall out of the top 10 would be somewhat surprising.

[ Peek: 8 players who improved their 2021 NBA draft stock ]

A cluster of intriguing prospects behind them will also be considered for the lottery. Tennessee freshman wing Keon Johnson, LSU freshman guard Cameron Thomas, 18-year-old Australian guard Josh Giddey, Michigan sophomore forward Franz Wagner, Duke freshman forward Jalen Johnson, Gonzaga senior wing Corey Kispert, Arkansas freshman wing Moses Moody, Texas sophomore big man Kai Jones, 19-year-old Turkish big Alperen Sengun, Stanford freshman wing Ziaire Williams, Oregon senior wing Chris Duarte and Kentucky freshman big Isaiah Jackson round out the list of 20 players reportedly invited to attend the draft.

This year's draft is considered a deep one with quality players to be had throughout the teens.

What is the Yahoo Sports NBA mock draft order?

Krysten Peek's latest mock draft projects both rounds. Here is her projected lottery order:

  1. Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham

  2. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green

  3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley

  4. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Suggs

  5. Orlando Magic: Scottie Barnes

  6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jonathan Kuminga

  7. Golden State Warriors: James Bouknight

  8. Orlando Magic: Josh Giddey

  9. Sacramento Kings: Franz Wagner

  10. Memphis Grizzlies: Corey Kispert

  11. Charlotte Hornets: Davion Mitchell

  12. San Antonio Spurs: Kai Jones

  13. Indiana Pacers: Keon Johnson

  14. Golden State Warriors: Chris Duarte

Who are the sleeper picks to watch?

If we knew every sleeper in the 2021 draft, we would be the best front office in the NBA, but no prognosticator covering the sport has seen more of this class than Peek, who she recently identified six players who could be steals in the second round, a la Finals participants Jae Crowder and Khris Middleton.

  • Kentucky freshman wing B.J. Boston, a one-time top-10 recruit in his class

  • Florida State junior forward RaiQuan Gray, a 6-foot-8, 269-pound bruiser with skill

  • Auburn freshman forward JT Thor, a swingman with potential as a versatile two-way player

  • Alabama senior Herbert Jones, the SEC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year

  • Ohio State junior Duane Washington Jr., a point guard like his uncle, ex-Laker Derek Fisher

  • Texas freshman forward Greg Brown, an extraordinary athlete whose raw skill must be honed 

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Ben Rohrbach is a staff writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rohrbach_ben@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @brohrbach

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