2021 NBA Mock Draft 8.0: Warriors, Kings' first-round picks


We are in the home stretch. The 2021 NBA Draft is just weeks away and the prospects have already gone through the combine and team visits are just around the corner. 

Prospects are moving up and down the board, including some changes in the top 5. This is an incredibly strong draft, especially at the top, but there is depth and talent deep into the second round.

We are already seeing some climbers and there is a lot that can change between now and Draft night but here is a look at NBC Sports California’s 2021 Mock Draft 8.0. 

1. Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham, No. 1 option, Oklahoma State

Measurables: 6-foot-7, 220 pounds Age: 19

Team Needs

Detroit is a mess. They have a stable of athletic bigs, including the much improved Jerami Grant. Saddiq Bey looks like a long-term rotational player at the wing, but they need talent and an identity. A star at the top end of the draft could help jumpstart the rebuild. 

Why Cunningham?

There have been murmurs of the Pistons looking at more than just Cunningham at the top end of the draft, but that would be a huge mistake. This is the best player in a great class and Detroit shouldn’t overthink it.

Cunningham is a big, strong, physical guard/forward that has stardom written all over him. He can score at all three levels, including in the post where he has the size and strength to power through contact. He has the court vision to be an elite distributor and his overall basketball IQ is off the charts.

Detroit should be throwing a party in the streets. Cunningham is a starter on Day 1 and they will build this team around him. They have some solid pieces and they might be a destination location in the coming years for free agents looking to play with a young star.

2. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green, Shooting Guard, G League Ignite

Measurables: 6-foot-5, 180 pounds Age: 18

Team Needs

Life comes at you fast. After eight years of contending teams with superstar players, the Rockets hit the reset button. They didn’t exactly maximize their return for players like James Harden and Russell Westbrook, but this No. 2 overall pick could change the fortunes of the franchise. Christian Wood was a spectacular find and John Wall proved he still had some tread on his tires. The rest of the roster is a mixed bag of spare parts. 

Why Green?

Green’s draft stock is soaring and he’s moved into the running for the No. 2 overall pick. He showed major growth in the G League bubble and now has plenty of time to work on getting stronger and refining his skill set. He projects as an All-Star level two-way prospect without a ceiling. 

It might take Green longer to reach his potential than the rest of the players at the top of this draft, but when you’re selecting this high, you have to go with the player you believe can be a star. Green can play the two and the three and his upside is off the charts. 

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley, Center, USC

Measurables: 7-foot, 210 pounds Age: 19

Team Needs

Is Cleveland sold on the pairing of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland in the backcourt? Can Isaac Okoro take a leap as a scorer at the wing? Can the Cavs find an answer at the four? There are a lot of questions that Koby Altman has to answer, but this team was the worst scoring team in the league and they desperately need some upgrades at most positions. 

Why Mobley?

Mobley has an incredible basketball IQ and a high-level skill set. He can shoot from the outside, score over opponents at will with his 7-foot-5 wingspan, and he can put it on the deck and attack the rim with either hand. 

This is the next evolution of the NBA center. He can man the break, has tremendous court vision and he’s a game changer on the defensive end. 

A season ago the Cavs had too many bigs on their roster. They lucked out in the lottery and now have a shot to take the best center prospect in the draft. Rumors have Cleveland fielding trade offers for this selection, but that would be a huge mistake for a franchise that is still years away from competing.

4. Toronto Raptors: Jalen Suggs, Point Guard, Gonzaga

Measurables: 6-foot-5, 205 pounds Age: 19

Team Needs

The Raptors are in a tough spot. They aged quickly and the front line that helped carry them to the championship a few years back is gone. They still have some players to build around, like Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and OG Anunoby, and keeping Gary Trent Jr. makes a lot of sense as well. Overall, they need a player that can score and has upside as they transition to a new era of Raptors basketball north of the border.

Why Suggs?

If you had any questions about Suggs’ ability to come up big in the clutch, his game-winner against UCLA in the Final Four should answer that. This is a big-time point guard prospect that is built for the modern pace and space game of the NBA. His decision to go to Gonzaga has allowed him to play alongside top tier talent at the NCAA level, which will allow him to seamlessly take over a team at the next level. 

Suggs’s ability to be a difference maker on both ends of the court could help the Raptors jump back into relevance after a down year. He can play in a dual point guard set alongside VanVleet if Kyle Lowry decides to go chase a ring elsewhere. This is a true leader in the backcourt and a steal for the Raptors if he makes it all the way to No. 4. 

5. Orlando Magic: Scottie Barnes, Small Forward, Florida State

Measurables: 6-foot-8, 225 pounds Age: 19 

Team Needs

After years of trying to field a winner with miss-matched pieces, the Magic finally did the right thing and blew it up at the deadline. Gone are Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic and Evan Fournier. They have some nice young options at the point, including R.J. Hampton, Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz. The Magic even have some intriguing pieces in Mo Bamba, Jonathan Isaac and Wendell Carter. They are a young team in building mode and could use upgrades at almost every position.

Why Barnes?

Aggressive and athletic, Barnes plays with a fire and force that teams will fall in love with. The 19-year-old measured in at 6-foot-7 without shoes and posted a near 7-foot-3 wingspan. He projects as a plus defender with solid court vision and playmaking skills. 

There was a time when the top 5 was written in stone, but that no longer seems to be the case. Barnes impressed at the combine and his ability to defend all five positions has him rising. Jonathan Kuminga will still be in play here, as will Davion Mitchell, but Orlando is starting over and they could use a player that is ready to step in and lead a young team.

RELATED: How Scottie Barnes fits Warriors, Kings

6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Davion Mitchell, Guard, Baylor

Measurables: 6-foot-1.25, 202 Age: 22 

Team Needs

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a good start and Lu Dort is a nice versatile piece that fits in most rotations. The rest of this roster is replaceable, including players like Aleksej Pokusevski, Darius Bazley and Theo Maledon. This is a team that needs talent at every position. They have plenty of picks in the coming drafts, but they can’t miss with a top 6 selection in one of the best drafts in years. 

Why Mitchell?

A lockdown defender at the college level, Mitchell is jumping up the board with his play in the tournament. He brings an edge that translates to victories on the court and his development as a perimeter shooter has turned him into a pro prospect.  

Mitchell’s measurements at the combine were not all that impressive, but the eye test has him near the top of the draft. OKC added Kemba Walker in trade, but their focus should be on finding long term solutions, regardless of position. Kuminga and Barnes will get a long look here if either falls to this spot.

7. Golden State Warriors (via T-Wolves): Jonathan Kuminga, Small Forward, G League Ignite

Measurables: 6-foot-8, 210 pounds Age: 18

Team Needs

Stephen Curry’s performance this season has the Warriors believing that their championship window hasn’t closed. The Warriors likely will shop this pick hard, like they did with the No. 2 overall pick last year, with the hopes of bringing in a veteran that can help right away. The Warriors lucked out here, falling just one spot in the lottery and retaining this pick. It has value and Bob Myers is likely already on the phone trying to move it.

Why Kuminga?

One of the group of young prospects that have skipped the college game and headed straight to the G League, Kuminga played very well in the bubble. He’s a big, physical forward with elite athleticism and big-time two-way potential. 

This would be a dream come true for the Warriors. Whether they keep the pick or deal it at the last minute, Kuminga is a player with tremendous value. If he falls this far, he would give the Warriors an instant replacement for free agent forward Kelly Oubre and another young building block. He’ll need some time to develop, but Kuminga has an NBA body and a big-time motor.

RELATED: Ideal combination for Warriors at No. 7, 14

8. Orlando Magic (via Bulls): Keon Johnson, Shooting Guard, Tennessee

Measurables: 6-foot-4.75, 185 pounds Age: 18

Team Needs

The Magic have two picks in the top 10 of a great draft. They have to fit on both and then spend a lot of time developing their young core. They should be able to land a big-time player at No. 5, they can search for a player at a position of need with their second top pick.

Why Johnson?

This is another smooth athlete with top-end potential. He needs to stack on some weight and improve his stroke from the perimeter, but with time, Johnson could be a major piece to a team looking to build through the draft. 

Johnson’s Tennessee team crashed and burned in the tourney, but the 18-year-old showed a lot of heart and fire in the loss. He’s a basketball junkie and the Thunder need to gamble on potential above everything else. This is a kid with a tremendous ceiling and his 48 inch vertical at the combine has teams salivating. 

9. Sacramento Kings: Josh Giddey, Point Guard/Wing, Adelaide (Australia)

Measurables: 6-foot-8, 205 pounds Age: 18

Team Needs

Like a lot of teams at this point in the draft, the Kings have plenty of needs. They have their backcourt set with De’Aaron Fox and Tyrese Haliburton as starters and Buddy Hield, Delon Wright and Terence Davis coming off the bench. They also have Harrison Barnes, who is versatile enough to play both forward spots. They could use a long-term answer at center if Richaun Holmes leaves in free agency and Moe Harkless’ return is also in question. 

Why Giddey?

This is another riser in this year’s draft. Giddey is a crafty passer with great court vision and a flair for the spectacular. He’s solid in the pick-and-roll and he’s just now starting to grow into his frame. He’s likely a secondary ball handler and playmaker at the NBA level, but he’s developing quickly and has the ability to sling passes all over the court with either hand.

The Kings will have plenty of options at No. 9, but Giddey should be in the conversation. He has the size to play the one, two or three and his ability to create for others is elite. There is a chance that Giddey outplays his draft position and while he doesn’t have the length and defensive acumen the Kings are looking for, he’s a player that makes his teammates better. 

10. New Orleans Pelicans: Moses Moody, Small Forward, Arkansas

Measurables: 6-foot-6, 211 pounds Age: 18

Team Needs

Shooters. Shooters. Shooters. The Pelicans have plenty of talent, but so far, they haven’t been able to make it all fit together. They overloaded on size last offseason and then traded away their best shooter in JJ Redick at the deadline. Someone needs to play the role of floor spacer for this team or opponents are going to continue to pack the lane.

Why Moody?

Like Barnes, Moody didn’t have the type of NCAA tournament that he hoped for, but that won’t completely damage his draft stock. He’s a solid all around 3-and-D wing with good size for an NBA wing and he measured in with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. Moody has a good motor, solid basketball IQ and he might have more skills in his bag than what he’s shown so far at Arkansas. 

Moody will need some time to acclimate to the NBA, but he has a nice frame and the ability to play a couple of different positions. New Orleans is in a weird place. They are still looking for a head coach and a style of play that fits their roster. Moody’s ability to shoot and defend should get him on the floor sooner than some of the other prospects in this year’s draft, which will come in handy for a team like the Pelicans who have plenty of free agents heading into the summer.

RELATED: How Moses Moody fits with Warriors, Kings

11. Charlotte Hornets: Kai Jones, Power Forward/Center, Texas

Measurables: 6-foot-11.5, 221 pounds Age: 20

Team Needs

Has Michael Jordan built a winner? The Hornets are fun to watch with high fliers, solid veterans and LaMelo Ball running the show. They hunted for size at the trade deadline and they’ll do so again in free agency and the draft. They could use a few more shooters as well, but this is a nice team on the rise. 

Why Jones? 

Super long. Super athletic. Super raw. Jones is fun to watch, but he’s going to need a lot of time and development. Built like Wenyen Gabriel or Jonathan Isaac, Jones can block shots, rebound and run the floor. He plays with energy and is extremely active. He’s shown a lot of improvement over a short period of time, but at the NBA level he’ll struggle between getting pushed around and picking up too many fouls early in his career. 

Charlotte needs a starting center for the present and the future. Jones has the right tool set, but he’ll need time to develop. If they can bring him along as a reserve, this could be a very nice player to pair with Ball in the two-man game. His height and wingspan (7-foot-1.75) measurements at the combine will only help his cause. We’ve left Jones here for a while, because this is his range and the Hornets have a major need for a player like this.

12. San Antonio Spurs: James Bouknight, Shooting Guard, Connecticut

Measurables: 6-foot-4.75, 190 pounds Age: 20

Team Needs

Is this finally the end of the Spurs? After a quick exit from the play-in tournament, the Spurs are facing a difficult reality. LaMarcus Aldridge left mid-season and now DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay and Patty Mills are all free agents coming off the books. San Antonio has a lot of money tied up in the backcourt of Derrick White and Dejounte Murray, but the rest of the roster is in flux. They need a lot of everything and they need it quickly.

Why Bouknight?

Bouknight is a crafty scoring guard with big time handles and nice range. He’s developing as a defender, which could move him from a super-sub to starting shooting guard at the next level. He has great balance, finishes in traffic and has a nice first step. 

San Antonio has plenty of needs heading into the offseason, but the most glaring is that they need to find a scorer in case DeRozan leaves. Bouknight will take time to reach his ceiling but this is a player with major upside as a shot creator. He has to work on other aspects of his game, but the Spurs are usually pretty solid at player development.

RELATED: How Bouknight fits Warriors' offense

13. Indiana Pacers: Corey Kispert, Small Forward, Gonzaga

Measurables: 6-foot-7.25, 224 pounds Age: 21

Team Needs

How much different would this team have looked with T.J. Warren, Myles Turner, Jeremy Lamb and Caris LaVert in the postseason? There is quality depth all over this roster, but they need to find some sort of identity. After dumping Nate Bjorkgren, the Pacers hit a home run with the addition of Rick Carlisle as the team’s new head coach. 

Why Kispert?

Kispert is a winner and the best pure shooter in the 2021 draft. He has a compact, quick release that resembles something Klay Thompson would throw up. This is an elite floor spacer that understands the game and is coming from a system that teaches the fundamentals. He might not be an elite athlete, but he is a max effort player with tremendous awareness. 

With Doug McDermott set to hit the free agent market and Warren coming off a major injury, there is need for depth at the wing. Kispert is an elite floor spacer and maximum effort player. Whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, he looks like a player that can instantly fit into an NBA rotation and stick around for a while as a high-end role player.

14. Golden State Warriors: Ziaire Williams, Small Forward, Stanford

Measurables: 6-foot-9.75, 188 pounds Age: 19

Team Needs

It’s possible that the Warriors have two top 20 picks, although it would be a surprise to see them make both selections. Kelly Oubre’s free agency is a concern, which means the Warriors should be looking for help at the wing. They could also use depth at the four and five.

Why Williams?  

The 2021 draft is packed with long, athletic wings. Adding muscle to play the small forward position is a must for Williams, but he’s wiry like Tayshaun Prince and might be stronger than he looks. He struggled with his overall shooting percentages at Stanford, but he has a clean jumper both inside and outside the arc and he can fly up and down the court. He also grew since his last measurements and comes into the draft as a near 6-foot-10 wing with his shoes on.

Golden State is leaving every option open with both the No. 7 and No. 14 pick. If they stick around and make the pick, Williams is one of those players that can fill a variety of roles and there is a good chance he looks better in the pro game with better talent and spacing around him. This is a gamble on potential, but one that could pay off in a huge way down the road.

15. Washington Wizards: Franz Wagner, Small Forward, Michigan

Measurables: 6-foot-8, 205 pounds Age: 19

Team Needs

Washington needs more size, although Daniel Gafford seems to have been a nice find and Thomas Bryant is set to return next season. They could also use some scoring punch off the bench and a player to learn behind Russell Westbrook. Washington is also still searching for a new head coach after mutually parting ways with Scott Brooks. It should be a busy summer of change in D.C.

Why Wagner?

Wagner can score, rebound and he’s developing as a secondary distributor. He has a quick release and a clean stroke from long range, although his numbers don’t jump off the page. A high basketball IQ player, Wagner moves well without the ball and isn’t afraid to take the big shot. He has good size for an NBA wing, although he is an average athlete at best.

Washington has plenty of needs and Wagner’s versatility would come in handy. It’s possible that he goes a few picks higher than this on draft night, but if he’s still on the board, it’s unlikely he drops below this range.

RELATED: Kings drafting Wagner an "inevitability," Chad Ford believes

16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Celtics): Alperen Sengun, Power Forward, Beskitas

Measurables: 6-foot-9, 240 pounds Age: 18

Team Needs

OKC added Kemba Walker in a swap with the Boston Celtics, which is why they are drafting here at No. 16. Walker fills a role as a high-end scoring options and backcourt partner for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander for the next few seasons. This team needs talent improvements at almost every position, but there doesn't seem to be any rush in building a winner.

Why Sengun?

Sengun is putting up huge numbers in the Turkish Super League, which is bound to get an NBA team to bite. The 18-year-old has a big body, plays extremely well in the pick-and-roll and has shown some ability to play defense. He needs plenty of work, especially on his body, but he has a soft touch around the rim. 

Someone will take a chance with Sengun. The numbers he’s posting overseas are crazy for a kid his age. The Thunder could use a big man for the future, especially with Al Horford being sent to Boston in the Walker trade. Sam Presti has a war chest to work with and can swing for the fences in every draft for the next half decade. 

17. Memphis Grizzlies: Usman Garuba, Power Forward/Center, Real Madrid 

Measurables: 6-foot-8, 230 pounds Age: 18

Team Needs

The biggest thing this team needs is just a fast forward button. A year or two down the road, they are going to be a contender, especially if they can get Jaren Jackson Jr. healthy. Memphis already has 14 players under contract for next season. They could use more shooters, like every team, and maybe a long-term solution at the three. 

Why Garuba?

Garuba is an intriguing prospect playing in Europe. At 6-foot-8, 230-pounds with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, he looks like a clone of former NBA defender Luc Mbah a Moute. In the modern NBA, he’s likely a combo forward or maybe a stretch four prospect. He has a solid release from the perimeter and he has good movement without the ball, but he doesn’t jump off the page. 

Memphis has a specific player type. They love physicality and versatility and Garuba fits that mold. He’s also played professionally overseas for a while and despite his age, he’s close to ready to compete for minutes. The Grizzlies are on the cusp of being a dangerous team. They have a ton of young players, but they clearly have some more tinkering to do if they are going to take another leap forward.

18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Heat): Jalen Johnson, Small Forward, Duke

Measurables: 6-foot-9.25, 210 pounds Age: 18

Team Needs

OKC needs a lot of everything. They should be able to fill a major void with their top pick, but they need to find value here as well. They have some young pieces, but nothing that would limit them from choosing the best player available here in the mid-first.

Why Johnson?

Talent is a four-letter word. There will be a team that takes Johnson just on potential alone, but maybe not. He has the body and an elite skill set, but there is something missing. His motor is questionable and so is his awareness. Coach K was hard on the 18-year-old, so he bailed. His entire journey to the NBA leads you to wonder what will happen when things get difficult at the next level. 

OKC now has three first-round selections in the top 18. They can gamble on a talent like Johnson with the hopes that they can pull something out of him where others have not succeeded. This might be the perfect landing spot for a young man in need of guidance.

19. New York Knicks: Isaiah Jackson, Center, Kentucky

Measurables: 6-foot-10, 205 pounds Age: 19

A season ago the Knicks needed everything. That list is shrinking. Scott Perry has done a very nice job of building out the talent base and finding brawlers that fit Tom Thibodeau’s system. They can use more depth and length in the post and they are still in search of their long-term floor general. 

Why Jackson?

Sign me up. There are very few things that are unteachable in the game of basketball. Blocking shots is one of them. Jackson has a natural ability to hunt and divert shots. In the right situation, this could be a Dennis Rodman-type player. He’s a hot mess on offense, but what Jackson can do on a court is pure instincts. If you can teach him some basic pick-and-roll sets and get him in the weight room, this could be a game-changing steal. 

New York is finally building something. They need more versatility in the backcourt and more shooters, but Jackson is one of those players that brings a defensive mindset to the table and would instantly fit into Thibs' system. There are questions as to whether he’ll return to Kentucky, but if he stays in the draft, he could go anywhere from 10-20. 

20. Atlanta Hawks: Jared Butler, Point Guard, Baylor

Measurables: 6-foot-3.75, 193 pounds Age: 21

Team Needs

The Hawks tried to bolster their roster last offseason with players like Kris Dunn and Rajon Rondo. Neither worked out well, although the team did find value with Bogdan Bogdanovic and Danilo Gallinari. This team has talent at every position, but they could use a little more athleticism, especially if John Collins sneaks away in free agency.

Why Butler?

3-pointer? Check. Ability to distribute? Check. NBA body? Check. Butler is one of those veteran college players that makes an impact at the next level. He knows who he is and he has a game that translates. He’s also a big-time winner and that helped Baylor take home a National Championship.

A month ago the Hawks were a team on the rise. After making it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, their priorities have to shift. Butler is a mature college player that can step in and play minutes in Year 1. He has a nice skill set and could be a long-term backup to Trae Young. 

21. New York Knicks (via Mavericks): Jaden Springer, Point Guard, Tennessee

Measurables: 6-foot-4.25, 202 pounds Age: 18

Team Needs

The Knicks have a stack of point guards on their roster, all of which enter the summer as free agents. They have to find the long-term answer at this position. They’ll likely try to address the position with a veteran, but they’ll still need depth at this position.

Why Springer?

Early in the season Springer looked a little lost on a deep squad, but he found his place as the season developed. Powerful, fearless and maybe a little angry, Springer loves to get fancy with the dribble, the pass and the dunk. He’s shot the ball well with the Vols and he’s made solid decisions with the ball as a distributor. Springer has a nice feel for the game and an NBA ready body, although he could use some seasoning.

If Derrick Rose comes back for another tour of duty, Springer could work as an understudy for a season or two and he might even be able to eat some minutes in his rookie season. This is a bit of a gamble, but Springer has a ton of potential.

22. Los Angeles Lakers: Chris Duarte, Shooting Guard, Oregon

Measurables: 6-foot-6, 190 pounds Age: 23

Team Needs

The Lakers have just five players under guaranteed contract for next season and they are already well over the cap. They need to find a way to retain players like Dennis Schroeder, Andre Drummond and Montrezl Harrell or LeBron James will play out his final years with Anthony Davis and a mixed bag of low-level vets.

Why Duarte?

Oregon was a lot of fun to watch in the tournament and Duarte was a big reason. Long, athletic and under control, Duarte looks a lot like another former Duck in Dillon Brooks. He can hit the 3-ball, pass and he averaged nearly two steals per game.

Duarte is a climber and he might even make his way higher than this on draft night. Teams in this range are looking for mature players that can fit in and play early in their careers. LA has plenty of roster issues heading into this summer. If they keep this pick, they will look for someone who can help right away.

23. Houston Rockets (via Trail Blazers): Cam Thomas, Shooting Guard, LSU

Measurables: 6-foot-3, 185 pounds Age: 18

Team Needs

New ownership? Is that a possibility? Probably not. So the answer is a lot of everything. Houston should be able to add a budding young star at the top of the draft, but with the way their roster is currently constructed, they’ll need more help with each of their picks in the 20s. 

Why Thomas?

Every team needs a scorer. While Thomas doesn’t move the needle as a passer or rebounder and he goes through the motions on the defensive end, he can fill it up with the best of them. He’s one of the few freshmen that is living up to his potential. This is a player that lacks a conscience as a shooter, which is both a blessing and a curse. 

The Rockets are rebooting their squad on the fly. They’ll likely continue to shed bloated veteran contracts and they need players with potential above everything else. Thomas needs to work on his overall game, but he’s a bucket. He’ll walk in and find a way to score in season one and he has a chance to outplay his draft position by a lot if he figures out how to improve other aspects of his game.

24. Houston Rockets (via Bucks): Sharife Cooper, Point Guard, Auburn

Measurables: 6-foot-1, 180 pounds Age: 19

Team Needs

Giving away veterans for late first-round picks doesn’t usually work out as planned. Houston would be better served trying to move off of one of these two picks in the 20s. If they do stick around and make both selections, they can swing for the fences and hope they land at least one player for the future.

Why Cooper?

Cooper is a flashy point guard that loves to create for himself and others off the dribble. He’s dangerous with the ball in his hands and he’s averaging nearly nine assists a game in his freshman season at Auburn. He’s a work in progress when it comes to perimeter shooting and he turns the ball over at a high clip, but this is a highlight reel player waiting to happen. 

Houston needs help all over the court and there is a good chance it will take a few years to climb out of the hole they’ve dug. If you’re going to be bad, you might as well be fun to watch and Cooper brings a ton of energy and excitement.

25. Los Angeles Clippers: Day’Ron Sharpe, Center, North Carolina

Measurables: 6-foot-11, 265 pounds Age: 19

Team Needs

This is an important offseason in LA. Kawhi Leonard has a player option for next season and can walk away. Serge Ibaka can do the same. They could quickly go from a contender to a team with a lot of bloated veteran contracts and no real chance for a ring. Either way, they could use depth in the backcourt and at the center position, where DeMarcus Cousins has earned minutes in the second half of the season.

Why Sharpe?

Sharpe is one of the few big-bodied centers in this year’s draft and even he has done some really nice work on his physique. He’ll need a professional training staff to keep him in top shape, but there is a lot to like about the Tar Heel big. He has soft hands, works close to the basket and knows how to hit the glass hard. He turns the ball over too much and needs to be more efficient as a scorer, but with a draft void of true bigs, he may have a shot to make it. 

The Clippers are in a weird spot. They spent a massive amount of money to build a championship-quality team. They made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals, but still can’t figure out how to get over the hump. Sharpe is loaded with potential, but needs direction. This late in the draft, that is about the best you can ask for.

26. Denver Nuggets: Ayo Dosunmu, Shooting Guard, Illinois

Measurables: 6-foot-5, 194 pounds Age: 21

Team Needs

Denver has made a ton of savvy moves over the last few seasons. Their ability to find talent late in the draft has been overlooked. They have an immediate need in the backcourt with Jamal Murray out for a while and Gary Harris now a member of the Orlando Magic. 

Why Dosunmu?

Dosunmu is a big, strong, active combo-guard that fills up the stat sheet. He has an active body with really nice length (6-foot-10.25 wingspan) and the ability to play both guard positions. He’s part of the big turnaround in Illinois basketball and there’s a good chance his game will translate to the next level as a rotational player. 

Denver needs depth and Dosunmu brings a little of everything to the table. He isn’t afraid to play defense, which Michael Malone will like and he should be a solid addition this late in the draft, especially for a team looking for NBA ready talent to eat minutes.

27. Brooklyn Nets: David Johnson, Guard, Louisville

Measurables: 6-foot-4.75, 203 pounds Age: 20

Team Needs

What does a team with superstars at every position really need? The answer might be rotational depth for when the stars take turns sitting for months at a time. This late in the draft, you try to find a prospect that can do one or two specific things, regardless of position.

Why Johnson?

The only thing separating Johnson from being an NBA prospect following his freshmen year was his 3-point shooting percentage. After knocking down just 21.7 percent last season, he’s doubled that percentage in his sophomore campaign. This is a solid, big guard with nice scoring potential and a smooth game. He plays through contact, can back smaller guards down in the post and he’s a quality rebounder as well. He also posted a 6-foot-10.5 wingspan at the combine, which is likely to turn heads.

Brooklyn values their roster spots as much as any team in the NBA, so this pick could be on the move. If not, Johnson is physical and not afraid to battle. He might not be a star-level prospect, but he’s built for the grind of a long season and might be closer to being able to step on the floor than a lot of other players around this range. 

28. Philadelphia 76ers: Trey Murphy III, Wing, Virginia

Measurables: 6-foot-9.25, 206 pounds Age: 21

Team Needs

Philly has struggled to balance out their roster for a few years. They have a top heavy rotation with massive contracts for Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons eating up a combined $100 million next season. They need depth all over the court, but they have yet to reach that point where veterans lineup to take the minimum to play for a ring. They also have the issue of Simmons struggling in the postseason, so a major shakeup might be on the horizon.

RELATED: Warriors might not have ideal assets to get Simmons

Why Murphy?

Murphy is a work in progress on the defensive end, but he’s long, athletic and knocked down 43.3 percent from 3-point range this season. He’s climbing up draft boards and he might make it higher than this before it’s all said and done.

Philly needs to surround Embiid with shooters and Murphy’s ability to play both the two and the three is intriguing. If they can get him to improve on the defensive end, they could have a late first round steal. 

29. Phoenix Suns: Tre Mann, Point Guard, Florida

Measurables: 6-foot-4.25, 178 pounds Age: 19

Team Needs

The Suns burst onto the scene this season, skipping two or three steps on their way to a stunning 51-21 record and a run to the NBA Finals. Most of their core is under contract for next season, but they’ll need to fill out the bench and could use depth at every position.

Why Mann?

Mann is a former McDonald’s All-American who had a quiet freshman season at Florida. While he’s not on every draft board as of now, he should be. The sophomore point guard has grown, both physically and as a player. He’s knocking down 41 percent from 3-point range and he’s a tremendous creator with the ball in his hands. 

Mann is a low-risk, high-reward pick this late and his size and skill set are very intriguing. The Suns need to find an understudy for Chris Paul, especially if Cameron Payne leaves in free agency after an impressive run in the playoffs. This could be a nice last first-round find.

RELATED: Tre Mann has studied Steph Curry

30. Utah Jazz: Greg Brown, Combo-Forward, Texas

Measurables: 6-foot-8.5, 206 pounds Age: 19

Team Needs

This is the most complete team in the league. They have a major decision with Mike Conley playing out the final year of his contract. Can they retain the All-Star? He’ll have to take a major pay cut to make it happen. Outside of the Conley situation, this team is mostly intact for next season. This late in the draft, the Jazz will likely find another strong veteran college player that can step in and help out. 

Why Brown?

A super athletic combo-forward, Brown came into the season very highly regarded. He’s had a solid freshman season, but consistency is an issue. He can shoot from behind the arc, run the floor like a gazelle and he has the potential to be an elite rim protector with his 7-foot wingspan. Like his teammate Kai Jones, Brown is a gamble on potential, but there is a lot to work with. 

Utah needs a big man that can stretch the floor and defend on the perimeter. They may look for that player type in free agency, but Brown is packed with potential for a team willing to teach him how to play the game.

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