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Home » The biggest questions to be answered in Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery

The biggest questions to be answered in Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery

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The 2021 NBA draft lottery drawing will be unveiled Tuesday night at 8:30 ET on ESPN. The ultimate prize is believed to be the right to select Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham at No. 1, but inclusion in what NBA evaluators believe could be a historically strong top-5 is a much-coveted circumstance for every team with their logo on a pingpong ball.

Here’s everything you need to know in advance of the lottery, including the odds for every team involved, the top prospects to watch, the latest intel from around the league, traded picks to track and what’s next.

MORE: Who every lottery team wants, and who they’ll most likely draft

How to watch

Tuesday’s lottery broadcast is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN App, immediately preceding Clippers-Suns Game 2.

The show will feature representatives from all 14 lottery teams, including announced or reported reps Hakeem Olajuwon (Rockets), Ben Wallace (Pistons), Jeff Weltman (Magic), Nazr Mohammed (Thunder), Koby Altman (Cavaliers), Anthony Edwards (Timberwolves), Fred Van Vleet (Raptors), Marc Eversley (Bulls), Monte McNair (Kings), Swin Cash (Pelicans), Miles Bridges (Hornets), Peter J. Holt (Spurs), Nancy Leonard (Pacers) and Rick Welts (Warriors).

The 2021 NBA Draft will be held July 29 on ESPN and ABC.



Cade Cunningham is the favorite to be the top pick in the NBA draft after showcasing his versatility at Oklahoma State.

This year’s lottery odds

Here’s a quick look at the odds for every team with a chance to win a top pick this year:

1. Houston Rockets

  • Average pick: 3.7

  • No. 1: 14.0%

  • Top four: 52.1%

Note: If Houston’s pick falls outside the top four it gets conveyed to Oklahoma City.

2. Detroit Pistons

  • Average pick: 3.9

  • No. 1: 14.0%

  • Top four: 52.1%

3. Orlando Magic

  • Average pick: 4.1

  • No. 1: 14.0%

  • Top four: 52.1%

4. Oklahoma City Thunder

  • Average pick: 4.6

  • No. 1: 11.5%

  • Top four: 45.1%

5. Cleveland Cavaliers

  • Average pick: 4.8

  • No. 1: 11.5%

  • Top four: 45.1%

6. Minnesota Timberwolves

  • Average pick: 5.5

  • No. 1: 9.0%

  • Top four: 27.6%

Note: If Minnesota’s pick is not one of the top three it gets conveyed to Golden State.

7. Toronto Raptors

  • Average pick: 6.2

  • No. 1: 7.5%

  • Top four: 31.9%

8. Chicago Bulls

  • Average pick: 7.5

  • No. 1: 4.5%

  • Top four: 20.2%

Note: If Chicago’s pick does not move up to the top four it gets conveyed to Orlando.

9. Sacramento Kings

  • Average pick: 8.1

  • No. 1: 4.5%

  • Top four: 20.2%

10. New Orleans Pelicans

  • Average pick: 8.7

  • No. 1: 4.5%

  • Top four: 20.2%

11. Charlotte Hornets

  • Average pick: 10.4

  • No. 1: 1.8%

  • Top four: 8.5%

12. San Antonio Spurs

  • Average pick: 11.3

  • No. 1: 1.7%

  • Top four: 8.1%

13. Indiana Pacers

  • Average pick: 12.5

  • No. 1: 1.0%

  • Top four: 4.7%

14. Golden State Warriors

  • Average pick: 13.7

  • No. 1: 0.5%

  • Top four: 2.4%



Check out USC big man Evan Mobley’s highlights that show how his physical skills and versatility make him a top prospect in the NBA draft.

The top prospects

There have been only six drafts with three or more All-Stars selected in the top five since 2000. With executives regularly saying this crop has multiple No. 1-caliber picks, the 2021 NBA draft has that type of firepower at the top.

Here’s a quick case for each player in the most likely top 5, via ESPN’s Mike Schmitz:

  • Cade Cunningham: Cunningham’s versatility is a big reason he’s the favorite to go No. 1 overall regardless of who ends up winning the lottery. … He’s the only player projected in the top five who could legitimately play four positions.

  • Evan Mobley: It’s no secret in NBA circles that Mobley could very well end up as the best player to come out of this draft once his body fills out. He could use a more physical big alongside him early on given his rebounding struggles and slight build.

  • Jalen Green: Green has no shortage of fans in NBA front offices, and there’s an argument that he has the most star potential in the draft. One NBA executive said Green has a chance to be a “10-time All-Star and 25 point-per-game scorer” once he settles into the NBA game.

  • Jalen Suggs: Suggs is a culture-changer who will instantly bring toughness and a winning mentality wherever he goes. … Coaches and staff who have been around him say he’s the most competitive player they’ve ever coached.

  • Jonathan Kuminga: Kuminga is the most physically ready of the top five, with ideal tools for a two-way wing in today’s NBA. Of the aforementioned prospects, Kuminga is the only one an NBA coach could comfortably ask to slow elite wing scorers such as Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and Tatum, even if his discipline and motor on that end are still evolving.

The rest of the first round should allow for a variety of possibilities. Get ESPN’s full top 100 rankings with scouting reports on the likely first-rounders here.


Mock draft and projections

Heading into the lottery drawing, here’s how ESPN’s Jonathan Givony is projecting the top five picks, based on the current order:

  1. Rockets: Cade Cunningham | PG | Oklahoma State

  2. Pistons: Evan Mobley | C | USC

  3. Magic: Jalen Green | SG | G League Ignite

  4. Thunder: Jalen Suggs | PG/SG | Gonzaga

  5. Cavaliers: Jonathan Kuminga | SF/PF | G League Ignite

Get the full mock draft from Givony here based on the latest inside information. He’ll have a new mock draft on Tuesday night following the drawing.

Before then, check out this team-by-team breakdown via Givony and Schmitz, including:

  • Lottery odds for every team

  • The top-5 prospects each team would covet

  • The most likely prospect for each team based on its draft range


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