The Bucks are NBA champions (the result of series MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo going supernova with a 50-point explosion in Tuesday’s clinching Game 6), but we can’t live in the past. That was a whole 10 hours ago. It’s on to bigger and better things like the NBA Draft, which (checks calendar) is a mere eight days away.
Speaking of the draft, we’ve been mocking it up the past few days, partnering with our pals over at Locked On Podcast Network to bring you the Ultimate Mock Draft 2021, a five-part podcast series projecting every first-round pick with contributions and analysis from Audacy insiders Jimmy Patsos, former Phoenix Suns GM Ryan McDonough and Brian Scalabrine of Boston Celtics fame. Wednesday’s pod features picks 13-18 with plenty of big names from Power-5 schools, a couple of juicy trades to dissect and even a sampling of this year’s international talent. While the mid-first round may not be as sexy or glamorous as the early lottery, it should be noted that two of the top performers in this year’s Finals were drafted 13th (Devin Booker in 2015) and 15th overall (Giannis in 2013).
13. Indiana Pacers: Sharife Cooper, G, Auburn
Analysis: "The Pacers select Sharife Cooper, a six-foot guard out of Auburn University, where Cooper was excellent for the Tigers in his only season playing college basketball, scoring over 20 points per game and dishing out over eight assists per game, which really highlights his skills well. He’s excellent at getting by defenders and creating shots for both himself and others, an invaluable skill in the NBA. He can get into the teeth of the defense and make guys rotate around and shift to either get to his own spots to score or to set up his teammates for productive and efficient shots to score. In the current NBA, guys who are versatile on offense and multifaceted and can create shots are really valuable. Look at the Atlanta Hawks in the playoffs. They had tons of those guys. They were able to score a lot, score often and make it to the Conference Finals. Sharife Cooper can bring that to the Pacers, an invaluable skill that they need more of.” – Tony East, Locked On Pacers Podcast
14. Memphis Grizzlies (via Golden State): James Bouknight, G, UConn
Analysis: "So we have a trade here in the late lottery. Memphis trades up. They get James Bouknight, the talented scoring guard from UConn. Mychal Mulder, Alen Smailagic and Gary Payton II are also heading to Memphis in the deal. The Golden State Warriors, in more of a win-now move, get Kyle Anderson, who can play right away, and a 2022 first-round pick. That pick originally belonged to the Utah Jazz. I like Bouknight’s scoring ability. He’s a talented scorer. He’s wired to score. He aggressively looks to get downhill and attack the basket. He’s a pretty explosive athlete. I like his breakaway speed in transition as well as his ability to finish above the rim. This is a player that Danny Hurley and the guys at UConn threw some lobs to, and he knows how to create points. He averaged about 5.5 free-throw attempts per game and made 78 percent of them. So Memphis gets another talented young piece as they look to build around Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.” – Ryan McDonough, Audacy
15. Washington Wizards: Chris Duarte, G, Oregon
Analysis: "Swingman Chris Duarte from Oregon is exactly what Bradley Beal and Russell Westbrook need in this draft from the Washington Wizards. Duarte averaged 17 points a game. He shot 53 percent from the floor, 42 percent from three. I thought he showed tremendous leadership ability, leading the Oregon Ducks to the Pac-12 regular season title and a Sweet 16 run. Now Duarte is 24 years old. He’s moved around all his life, from different schools to different locations including international travel. Two established stars in Beal and Westbrook won’t be too much for him to handle. Because of his age and his maturity, he’ll be able to play and help you win right away. This team is lacking a three-and-D player with the skill set of Duarte. Nobody will be happier than Westbrook and Beal with this selection.” – Travis Thomas, The Team 980
16. New York Knicks (via Oklahoma City): Josh Giddey, Adelaide 36ers (Australia)
Analysis: "At No. 16, the Knicks have moved up. They have traded Kevin Knox and their 19th pick to move up just three spots, which I think is a good move because Josh Giddey is a really good player who has a lot of upside. He’s from Australia. He did as well as LaMelo Ball did over in Australia. He’s a big guard from Adelaide. He has great vision, he sees the floor, he can play a little bit of D. I don’t want to compare him to Luka Doncic because he’s not there yet, but he has really big upside and he plays the NBA style. You can fit him in. He’s that big guard who can do a lot and pass. He can switch on defense. He’s a little unknown commodity, but I don’t think that matters anymore because not everyone comes from college. Not everybody goes to the G League like Jalen Green. Not everybody is a one-year wonder like Jalen Suggs. Josh Giddey is a guy that at 16, the Knicks need another playmaker. They don’t really have a true point guard. They might take one—they have a few picks in the first round. They now have 16. They have 21. Tom Thibodeau and them are really doing a good job with [President] Leon Rose. Josh is a really good value pick. He’s a really good risk pick, but he’s also going to be a solid player. Can he turn into a starter? I think so. Can he be an impact starter, an All-Star? I’m not sure with that yet, but Thibodeau and the Knicks need a guy who can fit in, who’s not going to be scared of the pro style right away or be intimidated. And playing in the NBL, which is the Australian pro league, which has produced a lot of players including, like I said before, LaMelo Ball, I think Josh is a tremendous pick for the Knicks. I think he fits in and plays right away and he’s a really good passer and fills a lot of need for Tom Thibodeau and his Knicks as they try to make the next step and win a playoff series. – Jimmy Patsos, Audacy
17. Memphis Grizzlies: Keon Johnson, G, Tennessee
Analysis: "Johnson’s offensive numbers at Tennesse don’t wow you—11.3 points per game, 45-percent shooting overall, 13-of-48 from three on the season. But Memphis has a fairly established offensive pecking order already with Ja Morant, Dillon Brooks, Jonas Valanciunas and Jaren Jackson. So there won’t be any pressure for Johnson to come in and fill a significant scoring role right off the bat. That’s exactly the kind of situation he needs while he attempts to develop his shot and playmaking skills. I could easily see Johnson as part of some three-guard lineups with Morant and Brooks. Defensively, he and Brooks can help offset Morant’s defensive limitations, and it’s on that end of the floor where Johnson can help you immediately. I wasn’t much of a Johnson fan during his time at Tennessee, I’ll be honest, but I love the fit and value here for a Grizzlies team that’s on the way up and would be adding an athletic player who fits their style. If Johnson can develop a consistent three-point shot, watch out. The Grizzlies will have an absolute steal on their hands.” – Jason Smith, 92.9 ESPN
18. Oklahoma City Thunder: Alperen Sengun, C, Besiktas (Turkey)
Analysis: "Sengun may be one of the best scorers in this draft class. He has great post moves and the hope is that he can extend his range from beyond the arc offensively. He’s also a great rim runner who can help Shai [Gilgeous-Alexander] in the pick and roll. He can also pick and pop in the midrange if he can reach that shooting potential. Sengun might be an Enes Kanter type of player and if he can reach Enes Kanter’s level of offense, I think at 18, that’s incredible value. While some will view this as a boom or bust pick, the Thunder, with their plethora of picks, can afford to go that boom or bust route, and that's where Sengun comes in at pick 18.” – Rylan Stiles, Locked On Thunder