2021 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Pistons get bold, Warriors make blockbuster trade

Davion Mitchell of Baylor (left); Jalen Suggs of GonzagaNBA Mock DraftBaygonzSyndication: The Indianapolis Star
Davion Mitchell of Baylor (left); Jalen Suggs of GonzagaNBA Mock DraftBaygonzSyndication: The Indianapolis Star /
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Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

We published our first 2021 NBA Mock Draft last month, right after the lottery results were confirmed. Now, with under a month until the big event, new storylines and juicy narratives are already blossoming. No one knows for certain what will happen on July 29, but we can look ahead — and even have a little fun with it.

In this edition of our mock draft, we will execute some interesting trades that fall in line with speculation around the NBA. Not every mock trade is an endorsement, but more so a what if.

So, to get the fun started: with the first pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets select…

PG. Houston Rockets. Cade Cunningham. 1. player. 169.

2021 NBA Mock Draft — 1. Cade Cunningham, Houston Rockets

It has been widely speculated that Detroit is not 100 percent sold on Cade Cunningham. Jalen Green and Evan Mobley have been both mentioned, and Pistons GM Troy Weaver is notoriously anti-groupthink. So, what if the Pistons truly prefer Jalen Green, or view him as a comparable prospect to Cade Cunningham? Might Houston take advantage?

Look — Cade Cunningham is the clear favorite to go No. 1, and in this writer’s opinion, any other pick would be a mistake. The Pistons should take Cunningham. That said, Kevin Porter Jr. opened some eyes late last season, and two extra first-round picks could tempt an irresolute Detroit.

For the Rockets, this is a golden opportunity to add a franchise cornerstone in James Harden’s stead. Cunningham has genuine top-10 upside — he’s the consensus No. 1 for good reason, and the Rockets need a lighthouse to guide them ashore in the forthcoming rebuild. Cunningham puts them back on the map sooner than later.

At 6-foot-9, Cunningham has the size and defensive versatility of a wing, with the passing and shot-making chops of a lead guard. He’s not perfect — he won’t explode past defenders, and he relied somewhat heavily on tough, contested shots at OSU — but he’s as close to it as any prospect in this class. Expect big things right away.