As the NBA playoffs stretch into the summer months, the future success of league franchises will soon be on the line during this year’s NBA draft. Due to NBA’s pushed-back season in light of COVID-19, the draft will be a month later than usual – on July 29.
Although the draft lottery on June 22 will determine the order of lottery teams and the draft combine (June 21-27) will allow prospects to bolster their stocks, USA TODAY Sports provides an early look at how everything can unfold in less than two months.
Which players are out front to hear their name called early by Adam Silver? A look at the projected first round:
1. Houston Rockets
Cade Cunningham • Oklahoma St • Freshman • Point Guard • 6-8 • 220
KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI – MARCH 12: Cade Cunningham #2 of the Oklahoma State Cowboys controls the ball as Davion Mitchell #45 of the Baylor Bears defends during the Big 12 basketball tournament semifinal game at the T-Mobile Center on March 12, 2021 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775629798 ORIG FILE ID: 1306775356
The All-American guard used his freshman season with the Cowboys to show that he’s more than just a dynamic playmaker who’s built for the NBA physically. Cunningham (20.1 ppg in 2020-21) consistently showed a clutch gene, making several game-winning shots and exuding leadership well beyond his years.
2. Detroit Pistons
Evan Mobley • Southern California • Freshman • Center • 7-0 • 215
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 30: Drew Timme #2 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs shoots the ball against Evan Mobley #4 of the USC Trojans during the second half in the Elite Eight round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 30, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775630332 ORIG FILE ID: 1310012491
Mobley’s shot blocking ability, length and size position him to make an impact right away. But his potential as a long-term All-Star at the big man position that’s most intriguing. He’ll need to bulk up to have better strength against NBA bigs.
3. Orlando Magic
Jalen Suggs • Gonzaga • Freshman • Point Guard • 6-4 • 205
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – APRIL 03: Jalen Suggs #1 of the Gonzaga Bulldogs shoots a game-winning three point basket in overtime to defeat the UCLA Bruins 93-90 during the 2021 NCAA Final Four semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 03, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775630334 ORIG FILE ID: 1310685378
Suggs’ table-topping buzzer-beater in this year’s Final Four will live on in March Madness lore, but his freshman season under coach Mark Few saw him blossom into an NBA-ready point guard with poise and smart decision making. Gonzaga’s offense caters well to the pro level so Suggs should be ready to make a splash. His ceiling is being a franchise point guard so passing on him to meet team needs wouldn’t be wise.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jalen Green • USA • G-League • Guard • 6-5 • 172
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 18: Jalen Green #4 of the G League Ignite brings the ball up the floor during a G-League game against the Westchester Knicks at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on February 18, 2021 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. ORG XMIT: 775619808 ORIG FILE ID: 1302910234
Green would’ve been a star in the NCAA but instead opted to play in the G-League. He’s not a great decision maker but he’s a bucket-getter who can score at will and has the skillset to develop into a formidable combo guard.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
Jonathan Kuminga • Congo • G-League • Small Forward • 6-8 • 205
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 18: Jonathan Kuminga #0 of the G League Ignite shoots during a G-League game against the Westchester Knicks at AdventHealth Arena at ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex on February 18, 2021 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. ORG XMIT: 775619808 ORIG FILE ID: 1302912564
Another G-Leaguer, Kuminga is an oversized wing with a tall ceiling. He won’t be an All-Star right away but has all the intangibles to develop into one. Kuminga averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds in the G-League.
6. Golden State Warriors
Scottie Barnes • Florida State • Freshman • Small Forward • 6-9 • 227
Mar 13, 2021; Greensboro, North Carolina, USA; Florida State Seminoles guard Scottie Barnes (4) drives to the basket against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets during the second half in the 2021 ACC tournament championship game at Greensboro Coliseum. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets won 80-75. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-447785 ORIG FILE ID: 20210319_ter_ra3_456.jpg
Scottie Barnes is a top-10 talent in this class with the one question — his shot and offensive production — being significant enough to potentially push him into this range. He made 27.5% of his 40 3-point attempts at FSU and isn’t much of a scoring threat. Yet there’s enough to love about his game that Golden State could see value. He is a monstrous defender who at times guarded 1-5 in college and has some serious playmaking chops to go with his huge frame and long wingspan.
7. Toronto Raptors
Davion Mitchell • Baylor • Junior • Point Guard • 6-2 • 205
April 5, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baylor Bears guard Davion Mitchell (45) after the national championship game in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament against the Gonzaga Bulldogs at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-446986 ORIG FILE ID: 20210409_kkt_st3_371.jpg
The key catalyst of the national champion Baylor Bears squad, Mitchell is a do-everything guard who can bolster any NBA team with his ballhawking defense. He’s also a capable passer who can stuff the stat sheet without needing to score. He can create and nail threes when he’s open.
8. Orlando Magic
James Bouknight • Connecticut • Sophomore • Shooting Guard • 6-5 • 190
Connecticut’s James Bouknight (2) shoots a free throw during a first-round game against Maryland in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, Saturday, March 20, 2021, at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind. Maryland won 63-54. (AP Photo/Robert Franklin) ORG XMIT: NYOTK
Bouknight gave coach Dan Hurley a go-to scorer every night at the NCAA level. In the NBA Bouknight has all the tools to be a potent scorer — possessing the ability to score both off the ball and with it in his hands.
9. Sacramento Kings
Moses Moody • Arkansas • Freshman • Shooting Guard • 6-6 • 205
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 29: Moses Moody #5 of the Arkansas Razorbacks shoots over Mark Vital #11 of the Baylor Bears during the second half in the Elite Eight round of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 29, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775630330 ORIG FILE ID: 1309853534
Moody’s defense will make him hard to pass up in the top 10, as he proved to be an excellent perimeter defender for an Elite Eight-finishing Razorbacks team this past March. He’s also one of the best spot-up mid-range shooters in the whole draft.
10. New Orleans Pelicans
Corey Kispert • Gonzaga • Senior • Shooting Guard • 6-7 • 220
April 5, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Corey Kispert (24) dribbles the basketball against Baylor Bears guard Davion Mitchell (45) in the second half during the national championship game in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-446986 ORIG FILE ID: 20210409_kkt_st3_248.jpg
Kispert could develop into a Kyle Korver replica. His 44% three-point shooting for a nearly undefeated Gonzaga team was the highlight of his game, but he’s also got great instincts on defense and can do the little things to make just about any team in this draft better.
11. Charlotte Hornets
Keon Johnson • Tennessee • Freshman • Shooting Guard • 6-5 • 186
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 19: Keon Johnson #45 of the Tennessee Volunteers drives the ball as Ethan Thompson #5 of the Oregon State Beavers tries to defend during the first half in the first round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on March 19, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775630318 ORIG FILE ID: 1307992527
Johnson can develop into an All-Star but he’s not ready to come into his own yet, as his offensive prowess still needs some work. He averaged 11.3 ppg for the Volunteers and showed flashes his true potential in his lone NCAA season.
12. San Antonio Spurs
Jalen Johnson • Duke • Freshman • Forward • 6-9 • 220
Jan 19, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Jalen Johnson (1) warms up before playing the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Petersen Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-443430 ORIG FILE ID: 20210119_gma_al8_085.jpg
Johnson didn’t overly impress at Duke but he still got a chance to develop under arguably the greatest coach of all-time and has the skillset to grow into an All-Star.
13. Indiana Pacers
Kai Jones • Texas • Sophomore • Power Forward • 6-11 • 220
Jones’ stat line (8.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg) at Texas won’t raise eyebrows, but he’s a gamble-type pick based on huge upside.
14. Golden State Warriors
Franz Wagner • Michigan • Sophomore • 6-9 • 220
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 30: Franz Wagner #21 of the Michigan Wolverines dribbles against David Singleton #34 of the UCLA Bruins during the first half in the Elite Eight round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 30, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775630332 ORIG FILE ID: 1310022272
Wagner has size and handle around the perimeter, can knock down threes accurately and play great team defense. His game will parlay much better at the pro level than at Michigan where he was only starting to blossom.
15. Washington Wizards
Josh Giddey • Australia • Forward • 6-8 • 205
WOLLONGONG, AUSTRALIA – MAY 11: (EDITORS NOTE: Image has been converted to black and white.) Josh Giddey of the 36ers competes for the ball with Justin Simon and AJ Ogilvy of the Hawks during the round 18 NBL match between the Illawarra Hawks and Adelaide 36ers at WIN Entertainment Centre, on May 11, 2021, in Wollongong, Australia. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775644797 ORIG FILE ID: 1317432450
Giddey’s best asset is his court vision, passing and playmaking. His offense outweighs his mediocre defense — which needs help. But at 18 with pro experience already in Australia, he’s got time to hone his craft and adjust to the league’s style.
16. Boston Celtics
Jaden Springer • Tennessee • Freshman • Point Guard • 6-4 • 204
NASHVILLE, TN – MARCH 13: Jaden Springer #11 of the Tennessee Volunteers drives to the basket against the Alabama Crimson Tide during the first half of their semifinal game in the SEC Men’s Basketball Tournament at Bridgestone Arena on March 13, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775629790 ORIG FILE ID: 1231692453
Springer (12.5 ppg, 44% three-point shooting) has the ability to progress into a starting point guard, illustrated by his strong outside shooting at the NCAA level.
17. Memphis Grizzlies
Ziaire Williams • Stanford • Freshman • 6-8 • 185
Feb 27, 2021; Stanford, California, USA; Stanford Cardinal forward Ziaire Williams (3) warms up before the game against the Oregon State Beavers at Maples Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-444540 ORIG FILE ID: 20210302_ter_yl1_103.jpg
Williams was on the trajectory of a lottery pick but wasn’t very impressive in his lone NCAA season at Stanford. But teams like his ceiling once he gets some reps in the league.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder
Ayo Dosunmu • Illinois • Junior • 6-5 • 200
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 19: Ayo Dosunmu #11 of the Illinois Fighting Illini attempts a free throw against the Drexel Dragons in the second half of the first round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Indiana Farmers Coliseum on March 19, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775630343 ORIG FILE ID: 1307968710
The USA TODAY Sports national college basketball player of the year 2021-22, Dosunmu was a triple-double machine who helped the Fighting Illini land a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He’s reminiscent of John Wall and Russell Westbrook with his do-everything ability.
19. New York Knicks
Cameron Thomas • LSU • Freshman • Guard • 6-4 • 210
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 22: Cameron Thomas #24 of the LSU Tigers handles the ball against Mike Smith #12 of the Michigan Wolverines in the second round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 22, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775630329 ORIG FILE ID: 1308515733
An explosive scorer, Thomas averaged 23 points a game for the Tigers and erupted for a bundle of 30-plus scoring nights. He had the ball in his hands a lot at LSU but he’ll have to find a way to make an impact when he’s not scoring at will at the pro level.
20. Atlanta Hawks
Isaiah Jackson • Kentucky • Freshman • 6-10 • 205
Mar 6, 2021; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats forward Isaiah Jackson (23) runs down the court during the second half of the game against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Rupp Arena at Central Bank Center. Mandatory Credit: Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-449387 ORIG FILE ID: 20210306_neb_kt3_147.JPG
Jackson’s best attribute is his motor in the open court. His athleticism skills around the rim will make him a contributor to any team that selects him in this draft. Kentucky Coach John Calipari helped fine-tune his craft in one season in Lexington but there’s still a long way to go to reach his full potential.
21. New York Knicks
Tre Mann • Florida • Sophomore • Point Guard • 6-5 • 190
Mar 19, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Florida Gators guard Tre Mann (1) controls the ball against the Virginia Tech Hokies during the first round of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-450055 ORIG FILE ID: 20210319_jla_lb1_034.jpg
Mann is the type of of point guard who can play on and off the ball, which could be a nice fit in New York. He shot 40% from beyond the arc at Florida and is used to a physical style.
22. Los Angeles Lakers
Jared Butler • Baylor • Junior • Guard • 6-3 • 195
Apr 5, 2021; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Baylor Bears guard Jared Butler (12) attempts t shoot the ball against the Gonzaga Bulldogs in the second half during the national championship game in the Final Four of the 2021 NCAA Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-446986 ORIG FILE ID: 20210409_kkt_st3_210.jpg
Butler, the leading scorer of a national champion Baylor squad, improved his assists and playmaking this past season as a first-team All-American. But he’s still not a natural point guard and as a combo guard he’s undersized.
23. Houston Rockets
Josh Christopher • Arizona State • Freshman • Guard • 6-5 • 215
Jan 30, 2021; Tempe, Arizona, USA; ASU’s Josh Christopher (13) dunks against Stanford during the first half at ASU. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Breen-Arizona Republic ORG XMIT: AZR-446680 (Via OlyDrop)
Christopher didn’t have a major national spotlight last season as the Sun Devils underachieved, but he made great strides as a freshman and is a natural scorer who can slash to the rim with ease.
24. Houston Rockets
Usman Garuba • Spain • Power Forward • 6-8 • 229
The big man has international experience playing for Real Madrid but he’ll need to develop more because his offense is too raw, while his defense will be of use right off the bat.
25. Los Angeles Clippers
Johnny Juzang • UCLA • Sophomore • Shooting guard • 6-6 • 210
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – APRIL 03: Johnny Juzang #3 of the UCLA Bruins reacts in the first half against the Gonzaga Bulldogs during the 2021 NCAA Final Four semifinal at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 03, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775630334 ORIG FILE ID: 1310684551
The crafty scorer for a surprise Final Four UCLA team this past March Madness, Juzang has length on defense and a hard-nosed knack for playmaking on offense.
26. Denver Nuggets
Miles McBride • West Virginia • Sophomore • Point Guard • 6-2 • 200
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 19: Miles McBride #4 of the West Virginia Mountaineers shoots free throws after a flagrant 1 call against the Morehead State Eagles in the first round game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 19, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775630324 ORIG FILE ID: 1308034165
McBride averaged 15.8 points and 4.9 assists for the Mountaineers in 2020-21, and has a high basketball IQ that would make him a great asset off the bench for a contender team.
27. Brooklyn Nets
Charles Bassey • Western Kentucky • Junior • Power Forward • 6-11• 235
Mar 12, 2021; Frisco, Texas, USA; Western Kentucky Hilltoppers center Charles Bassey (23) is guarded by UAB Blazers forward Simeon Kirkland (10) during the second half at Ford Center at The Star. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-447011 ORIG FILE ID: 20210312_neb_sh2_045.JPG
Bassey would likely be higher on this board (and he could vault up following the combine) because of playing for a mid-major in college basketball. He’s excellent on both sides of the ball and can be a menace on the glass. Expect him to become a key role player right away for a team in need of a paint presence.
28. Philadelphia 76ers
Sharife Cooper • Auburn • Freshman • Point Guard • 6-1 • 180 pounds
Jan 26, 2021; Auburn, Alabama, USA; Auburn Tigers guard Sharife Cooper (2) drives to the basket against Missouri Tigers guard Xavier Pinson (1) during the first half at Auburn Arena. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports ORG XMIT: IMAGN-439428 ORIG FILE ID: 20210126_gma_sr5_324.jpg
Cooper’s numbers speak volumes, averaging 20.2 points and 8.1 assists per game with the Tigers. He’s a multidimensional passer and can create for himself, while making open shots. That’s a recipe to boost just about any playoff team. His sign will get knocked, but so did Fred VanVleet’s stature.
29. Phoenix Suns
Nah’shon Hyland • Virginia Commonwealth • Sophomore • Point guard • 6-3 • 175
DAYTON, OHIO – MARCH 14: Nah’Shon Hyland #5 of the Virginia Commonwealth Rams puts up a shot against Jalen Adaway #33 of the St. Bonaventure Bonnies in the second half during the championship game of the Atlantic 10 Men’s Basketball Tournament at UD Arena on March 14, 2021 in Dayton, Ohio. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775629817 ORIG FILE ID: 1307074528
Hyland could be the steal of this draft, as he possesses Steph Curry and Damian Lillard mid-major-to-NBA-star potential. He averaged 19.5 points for the Rams in a breakout season.
30. Utah Jazz
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl • Villanova • Sophomore • Forward • 6-9 •230 pounds
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – MARCH 27: Jeremiah Robinson-Earl #24 of the Villanova Wildcats drives with the ball against Davion Mitchell #45 of the Baylor Bears in the second half of their Sweet Sixteen game of the 2021 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse on March 27, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) ORG XMIT: 775630341 ORIG FILE ID: 1309483711
A proven winner playing for a blue-blood program under coach Jay Wright, Robinson-Earl could pivot into being a great utility player at the next level. He was the co-Big East player of the year and helped guide ‘Nova to the Sweet 16 in spite of key injuries.
Follow college basketball reporter Scott Gleeson on Twitter @ScottMGleeson.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA Mock Draft: Cade Cunningham is easily top choice in loaded class