2021 NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Who would the Houston Rockets take No. 1?

Houston Rockets, NBA Draft

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In our third 2021 NBA Mock Draft, the Houston Rockets land the No. 1 pick and a chance to grab a future star to build around.

Since our last NBA Mock Draft, both the NBA and NCAA seasons have concluded locking in the non-lottery draft order and giving us one final look at some top prospects before pre-draft workouts start. Our third NBA Mock Draft uses a simulation from Tankathon to establish the order.

Who is rising and falling in our latest NBA Mock Draft?

The analysis of each individual player here relies heavily on the insights of draft experts like Trevor Magnotti, Ben Pfiefer and Jackson Frank. Each pick is not necessarily a guess at who each team will or even should take, just a hopefully insightful match between prospect skill and upside and each team’s need.

And if you’re looking at any of these picks wondering what the heck I was thinking, just remember that mock drafts are made to be mocked.

Greg Brown Jr.

Forward, Utah Jazz

Brown is a hyper-athletic hybrid forward with a raw but intriguing set of skills, particularly at the defensive end of the floor. He’ll need seasoning but the Jazz have the depth to let him develop and grow into a contributor.

Cameron Thomas

Guard, Phoenix Suns

Cameron Thomas gets buckets, shooting with confidence, attacking off the dribble and pulling up in the mid-range. It’s not clear if he’ll be able to manufacture the same level of efficiency against NBA defenders but his ceiling as microwave bench scorer could be useful as the Suns keep developing their young core.

Roko Prkačin

Forward, Philadelphia 76ers

Prkacin is an athletic combo forward with potential upside as a shooter and creator off the dribble. His outside jumper needs to get more reliable and he’ll have to prove his creation upside holds up against NBA athletes. But even his floor as a lane-filler and high-energy slasher could be useful for the 76ers.

Terrence Shannon Jr.

Wing, Brooklyn Nets

Shannon Jr. is an athletic wing with plenty of defensive upside. He’s shaky as a shooter but he’ll look much better playing off three of the greatest offensive creators in the league and the Nets will continue to need defensive upgrades.

Davion Mitchell

Guard, Denver Nuggets

Mitchell raised his profile with Baylor’s title run but his draft potential isn’t just a mirage. He’s a strong defender, although his size means he’ll mostly need to guard 1s. On offense, he’ll have to prove his 3-point shooting bump last year is real but he can also offer value as a secondary creator.

Isaiah Jackson

Big, Los Angeles Clippers

Isaiah Jackson is a throw-back big, a rim protector and vertical floor-spacer who wins with strength, quickness and athleticism. He could give the Clippers another look in the frontcourt and benefit from the gravity of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

Forward, Houston Rockets

Robinson-Earl isn’t an exceptional athlete and doesn’t have that one definable skill that drives his NBA potential. But he has decent size and mobility, plays with awareness and within his role and should be a reliable and versatile team defender.

Jared Butler

Guard, Los Angeles Lakers

Butler helped lead Baylor to a national championship with his blend of efficient scoring and savvy facilitation. He competes at the defensive end too and could contribute right away on a Lakers’ team that is always looking for shooting and complementary creation in the backcourt.

Chris Duarte

Wing, Houston Rockets

Duarte is a solid defender who shined as a three-level scorer at Oregon. He’s probably not good enough to fill that role at the NBA level but if he can adjust to a 3-and-D-plus role he has plenty of value as a complementary piece.

Zaire Williams

Wing, New York Knicks

Williams had an incredibly rough freshman season — shooting under 40 percent from the field and 30 percent on 3s. Despite the inefficiency, his combination of size, athleticism and creation potential will convince someone to take a chance on him.

Josh Giddey

Guard, Atlanta Hawks

The next step for the Hawks is continuing to add supplemental creators around Trae Young. Giddey is unique in this class as a point guard at 6-foot-8, with the defensive versatility to handle a variety of larger players. He’d be an interesting fit next to the other young players the Hawks have assembled.

Alperen Sengun

Big, New York Knicks

Sengun is a relatively mobile big with great touch around the basket, a high basketball IQ and decent upside as a passer. He won’t be an elite defender or add much stretch but he can definitely raise the floor for a team like the Knicks.

Usman Garuba

Big, Oklahoma City Thunder

Garuba has terrific size, athleticism and mobility and should be excellent as a rim-protector, rebounder and defending in space. On offense, he’ll be mostly a screener and lob threat but has the potential to add a bit more diversity to his game.

Dashien Nix

Guard, Golden State Warriors

Dashien Nix didn’t finish or shoot the ball particularly well with the G League Ignite team but he’s a point guard with great strength, size (6-foot-5) and vision who knows how to make use of what he does well — averaging 6.0 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Nix would give the Warriors a diversity of skill in the backcourt and be able to help right away.

Sharife Cooper

Guard, Boston Celtics

Off-the-dribble creation isn’t pretty far down the Celtics’ list of priorities, but Cooper is too good for Boston to let him fall any farther. He has incredible handle and is the most creative passer in the class. He’ll need to prove he can make shots off the dribble but he’s a lottery-level talent and could give the Celtics flexibility to look for different solutions for other roster holes.

Kai Jones

Big, Washington Wizards

Jones has fantastic size, mobility and shot-blocking potential. His offensive game is still very raw but he’s made 18-of-50 3-point shots across two seasons and there is potential for him to grow into a more versatile player. Even if he’s just a rim-protector and vertical floor-spacer he would plenty of utility for a young team like the Wizards with their loaded backcourt.

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