Tiebreaker results for this year's NBA Draft went down recently, giving us clarity ahead of this month's lottery and nailing down the odds each team can win the No. 1 pick. The big winner was the Oklahoma City Thunder, which won a draw over the Cavaliers and enter lottery night with shared odds with Cleveland 11.5% to win this year's top pick. The Magic also came away as major winners in an 8-10 draw that included the Kings and Pelicans, making it a near-certainty they'll come away with two top-10 picks.
Nevertheless, the real winners -- at least entering the lottery -- are the trio of teams who posted the worst records last season in the NBA: The Houston Rockets, Detroit Pistons and Orlando Magic. Each share a 14.0% chance to win the No. 1 pick and, thus, the right to draft Cade Cunningham, who has separated himself among NBA evaluators as the clear-cut top talent in the draft.
In 5.0 of our mock draft projections, the winner in our lottery simulation is the Houston Rockets, the team with the worst record in basketball. We'll pick up there and run through our updated first-round projections in full below.
Let's get right to it.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Oklahoma State • Soph • 6'6" / 220 lbs
Houston had the worst record in the NBA this season in large part because it dealt away James Harden mid-season, but also because the talent level on the Rockets is lacking. Cade Cunningham is an instant boost on that front who profiles as a franchise cornerstone. The 6-foot-8 guard is a jumbo playmaker, and his game should come to life with NBA spacing.
Round 1 - Pick 2
USC • Soph • 6'11" / 215 lbs
Rookie point guard Killian Hayes and rookie big man Isaiah Stewart both look like strong pieces for the Pistons' future. Let's have some fun and add Evan Mobley to that mix here at No. 2. His shot-blocking, length, mobility and long-term potential have him as the top big in this draft with room to develop into an All-Star as his game grows, and I've talked with a few scouts who say the only player in this draft in the same tier talent-wise as Cunningham is Mobley.
Round 1- Pick 3
Jalen Suggs PG
Gonzaga • Soph • 6'5" / 205 lbs
The Magic seem to have found something with Cole Anthony and also have Markelle Fultz returning from injury next season, likely shoring up previous concerns for now about guard depth. But it's hard to imagine they look at Jalen Suggs and decide to pass if he's here at No. 3. He is a franchise-caliber point guard who, in a vacuum, you'd take over every other guard option on Orlando's roster. Take best talent available, and for Orlando it'd be Suggs.
Round 1 - Pick 4
The Thunder have a lead guard in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and a bulldog defender in Lu Dort, but another backcourt piece here with Jalen Green could give them a needed scoring threat. Simply: Green is the best pure scorer in the draft. He needs to improve as a passer and decision-maker, but that can come in time as he develops while giving value doing what he does best by putting the ball in the basket.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Cleveland gets the fifth prospect of the Big Five in this draft, landing 6-foot-8 wing Jonathan Kuminga out of the G League. He's a big-bodied wing who showed interesting flashes as a scorer and creator in the G League. If he meets his ceiling he could be an oversized wing playmaker in the league, though his shot still needs sharpening. The fit might feel a little clunky in Cleveland, but he's capable of sliding in and making room for himself as a building block next to Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro and Collin Sexton.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Connecticut • Soph • 6'4" / 190 lbs
The lack of shot-making and shot-creation on Golden State's roster was glaring by season's end, with Stephen Curry ultimately shouldering a massive workload on both fronts. And while Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins have their roles for the future, and Klay Thompson's return should help, Bouknight can give this team a nice scoring addition. He's a savvy creator with good size and length who can make plays anywhere on the court and profiles as a nice offensive weapon in any system.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Baylor • Soph • 6'0" / 202 lbs
Davion Mitchell was the star of the postseason for the title-winning Baylor Bears, serving as a lead initiator, defensive stopper and all-around star. It's hard to imagine he falls out of the top 10. A place like Toronto makes a ton of sense, too. Kyle Lowry is headed to free agency and in general, Masai Ujiri has always placed a priority on talent regardless of age. Mitchell turns 23 this year.
From Chicago Bulls
Round 1 - Pick 8
Kentucky • Soph • 6'9" / 205 lbs
Isaiah Jackson is a freakish athlete with huge hops and rim-running chops to boot, all custom-fit to thrive in the modern NBA thanks to his skills around the rim. At just 19 years old, he's someone I'd love to pair with Suggs as an inside-out combo because of his ability to run the floor and play above the rim.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Moses Moody SG
Arkansas • Soph • 6'5" / 211 lbs
Sacramento's depth at the wing spot is in desperate need of an upgrade and Moody fits the mold here. He's a prototypical 3-and-D talent with good shot-making ability, good size and enough skill to do more than just make shots off spot-up looks. But the fact that he's an ace in spot-up situations makes him a nice fit to contribute early in his career, which the Kings, given their current plight at the position, may see as a huge plus.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Gonzaga • Soph • 6'6" / 224 lbs
New Orleans needs to continue to surround Zion Williamson with shooters so they can space the floor and give him room to operate. So why not get the best shooter in the draft? Kispert hit 44% from 3 last season for Gonzaga and has a quick release that makes him one of the most lethal spot-up shooters in this draft, and he's also got some wiggle to him as well that should free him up to knock shots down off the dribble. Fit is pretty good in NOLA.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Florida State • Soph • 6'7" / 225 lbs
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 Charlotte 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.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Keon Johnson SG
Tennessee • Soph • 6'4" / 185 lbs
The Spurs are at a crossroads organizationally and betting big on young talents is a move that'd make a ton of sense. Keon Johnson is a player who would fit the vision of a team with a long-term view, as he's got the physical gifts of a top-five pick but is at a point developmentally where he still needs to sharpen up offensively to really reach his potential. No better franchise to gamble on those physical tools than one that helped mold Kawhi Leonard into an All-Star.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Franz Wagner SF
Michigan • Soph • 6'10" / 220 lbs
The Pacers have scorers in Caris LeVert and T.J. Warren, but what they lack most on the roster is depth at wing. Wagner can be an instant impact addition at that position, as he thrived for Michigan as a defensive specialist who can knock down 3s and provide support for the team's top dogs.
Round 1 - Pick 14
We added shot-making for the Warriors earlier in the draft with Bouknight, now we'll add shot-creation here with Josh Giddey, one of the most creative passers in the draft. Giddey is a big-bodied guard who has created as the No. 1 option and profiles as a big wing who can generate offense with his crisp passing and elite vision. Whether that's enough to make him a starter on this Warriors roster is unclear, but what he can bring as an offensive player is enough to make a difference on a team that likely has realistic goals of contending in 2021-22.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Alperen Sengun is dominating in the Turkish BSL. He's averaging nearly 20 points and 10 boards per game as an 18-year-old and was just crowned the league's MVP. That type of production has him as a potential lottery pick. He finds a fit here in Washington on a team that needs depth at center.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Tennessee • Soph • 6'4" / 202 lbs
The future of the Celtics' point guard position is a mystery. Kemba Walker's best days appear behind him and Marcus Smart could be an interesting trade piece if Boston wants to shuffle the deck this offseason. Jaden Springer is a young, high-upside talent who could help them reset. He's a talented scorer who showed enough as a live-dribble passer at Tennessee to bet on him developing into a starting-caliber lead guard in time.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Jared Butler PG
Baylor • Soph • 6'3" / 193 lbs
Butler averaged a career-high 4.8 assists and made 41.7% of his 3s last season for Baylor, proving his worth both as a combo creator and as a scorer. He could fit with the Grizzlies in a similar role either as an off-ball threat with Ja Morant or as a second-unit creator and scorer. He rated in the 98th percentile spot-up shooter last season with a team-leading 28.0% assist rate, ahead of teammate Davion Mitchell, so his versatility will help him make an impact in the NBA.
From Miami Heat
Round 1 - Pick 18
Kai Jones PF
Texas • Soph • 6'11" / 221 lbs
An elite athlete with tons of physical tools, Jones is one of the X-factors of the draft as a true boom-or-bust talent. His ceiling is limitless but his floor is virtually nonexistent. He needs time to develop physically and to learn and feel the game. OKC can afford to be patient and invest on upside.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Yes, for a second consecutive year, the Knicks take a big man in the first round. Garuba is the antithesis of 2020 first-round pick Obi Toppin, though. He's a defensive monster who has good mobility and can defend out onto the perimeter. The 6-foot-8 frame and raw skill set on offense are the only concerns keeping him from the lottery in this mock.
Round 1 - Pick 20
LSU • Soph • 6'3" / 210 lbs
Cameron Thomas as a freshman for LSU last season led the SEC in scoring, averaging 22.8 points per game. He was a scorer at the prep level, a scorer at the college level, and he'll be a scorer in the NBA. It's his NBA skill. The Hawks clearly value that type of talent, too, having traded for Lou Williams earlier this year.
From Dallas Mavericks
Round 1 - Pick 21
Tre Mann PG
Florida • Soph • 6'3" / 178 lbs
The Knicks were a great story this season. They made the playoffs when no one expected they would, playing a physical style in the mold of their tough-nosed coach. But the playoffs proved their offense is ... not great. Tre Mann at No. 21 feels like good value as a potential add to help on that front. He made 40.2% from 3 at Florida last season and has the offensive versatility to add a little on and off the ball.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Chris Duarte SG
Oregon • Soph • 6'5" / 190 lbs
Flashing some playmaking and impressive overall polish on both ends, Duarte worked his way from a fringe second-rounder to likely first-rounder. The way he defends at a high level and shoots should be appealing to a Lakers team that really lacks depth at shooting guard. Instant impact-type player.
Round 1 - Pick 23
Duke • Soph • 6'8" / 219 lbs
That sound you just heard was Houston taking a huge swing of the bat. Johnson struggled at Duke. He didn't play up to his five-star billing. But he's a 6-foot-9 forward with good handles and passing ability. The Rockets need as many pieces as possible to expedite a rebuild and this would be huge if he hits.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 1 - Pick 24
Auburn • Fr • 6'1" / 180 lbs
Yes, yes, I know, Houston took Cade Cunningham already. Why take another lead guard? Well, why not? Cunningham's good enough to play on and off the ball, and Cooper's the best pure passer in this draft. Take the high IQ talents and put them together, and the combo of Cooper and Cunningham would be exactly that.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Aaron Henry SG
Michigan State • 6'5" / 210 lbs
As good as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are -- and they are very, very good! -- the Clippers' depth at the wing spot beyond them is a problem. The gamble on Luke Kennard hasn't totally paid off -- he's barely played this postseason. And young gun Terance Mann still has lots of room to grow. Henry gives the team another body at the position as a college vet with good size who has high-level role-playing potential and a smooth floater.
Round 1 - Pick 26
Ayo Dosunmu SG
Illinois • Soph • 6'5" / 200 lbs
One of the most improved upperclassmen prospects in the class, Ayo Dosunmu improved his 3-point percentage from 29.6% to 38.6% while serving as the top option on a team that earned a No. 1 seed. He made significant developmental strides the last year. His scoring, playmaking and selfless style fit on a Denver team that needs backcourt depth and offensive firepower.
Round 1 - Pick 27
Stanford • Soph • 6'9" / 185 lbs
Even in Brooklyn's situation, where it is in win-now mode, this team should be thinking high-upside because this is its only first-round pick. Ziaire Williams is a big swing but one worth taking. He was at one point considered a potential lottery talent in this draft but he underwhelmed at Stanford. And while his skinny frame and raw potential make him a longshot to play early, he could be the best value add of the draft if the Nets scoop him at No. 27.
Round 1 - Pick 28
Villanova • Soph • 6'8" / 242 lbs
Robinson-Earl cut his teeth at Villanova in PA. If he slides this far in the draft, Philly would be wise to keep him in the state. He's a do-it-all forward with a high IQ who is a tenacious rebounder and fights like hell on both ends. I like his chances to be a plus-outside shooter as well, and NBA spacing should really unlock what was sometimes missing from his game in college.
Round 1 - Pick 29
Joel Ayayi SG
Gonzaga • Fr • 6'4" / 180 lbs
Joel Ayayi was a major factor in Gonzaga's 31-1 season, serving as a role player who shot it well and worked his butt off defensively. There's also some untapped NBA potential here from what I've seen on tape as a creator, and his length and shooting ability would give a team like Phoenix a combo guard who can do all the little things on both ends.
Round 1 - Pick 30
Western Kentucky • Soph • 6'10" / 230 lbs
After a significant injury as a sophomore, Bassey as a junior last season dominated for Western Kentucky. He ranked fifth nationally in defensive rebounding rate and 13th in block rate. He knows his role and plays it. Utah could be a destination that offers him a role behind Rudy Gobert where he can maximize his size and strengths as a big man who does a little of everything around the paint and is still improving.