2021 NBA Draft Lottery: Who should each team take with the No. 1 pick?

NBA Draft, NBA Draft Scouting Reports
NBA Mock Draft

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

We know the odds for tonight’s 2021 NBA Draft Lottery. But who should each team select if they pull off the miraculous and land the No. 1 pick?

Tonight’s 2021 NBA Draft Lottery has the chance to dramatically remake the next few years in the NBA, with a slew of promising rebuilding teams and fringe contenders hoping to get lucky. We know the odds and the wildest possible scenarios but it’s worth considering what actually is on the table for each team.

You’ll hear some talk of players like Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green but, in all likelihood, the team that wins the No. 1 pick will be deciding between two players — Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State and Evan Mobley of USC.

Cunningham is a versatile wing with terrific size, strength and skill, and the potential to be a two-way star. On offense, there’s really nothing he can’t do — he’s an elite passer, creator and pull-up shooter who’s also comfortable playing off the ball or taking a smaller defender down in the post. At 6-foot-7 and with strong defensive tools, instincts and motor he can handle a variety of matchups while filling the role of primary creator and initiator on offense. If there are any questions about his upside they’ll come down to a lack of athletic explosiveness but he more than makes up for it with his body control and skill level. A Luka Doncic comparison feels wild but that’s the kind of role he would play on offense, with potentially more defensive upside.

Mobley is a big man with great size (7-feet), skill and athletic tools who also has the potential to be a two-way star. On offense, he’s an elite finisher around the basket with the fluidity and handle to face-up and attack from well outside the paint, creating his own shot. He has a very reliable mid-range jumper making him a pick-and-pop threat. He’s not a 3-point shooter at this point — just 12-of-40 (30 percent) as a freshman — but he certainly looks like someone who could become an outside threat. On defense is where his upside really comes together, with special shot-blocking instincts and the ability to be highly disruptive in space. Questions for him will be about his lack of strength and how quickly he can extend his shooting range but his upside is tremendous.

Cunningham has held the No. 1 spot in most NBA Draft big boards for the majority of the season but there are definitely some teams who could prefer Mobley if they land the top spot.

Who should each team take if they win the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery?

Cade Cunningham

Wing, Golden State Warriors

The Golden State Warriors have a good chance of landing two lottery picks in the 2021 NBA Draft but — they will get the Minnesota Timberwolves’ first-round pick if it falls outside the top three. But their odds of landing the top pick are improbably slim, just 0.5 percent. However, if they were to land the top spot the choice would be fairly obvious.

Another talented big man like Evan Mobley would be nice but they may not be ready to cut bait with last year’s lottery pick, James Wiseman, just yet. Cunningham would be an ideal fit on the wing, with the size to defend opposing small forwards and the playmaking and shooting ability to play with and off Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. The Warriors are in win-now mode and if they don’t land the top pick, it’s likely they’ll be trying to make a trade. But if they win the lottery, they’ll get a star for the future and one who can help raise their ceiling right now.

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