San Antonio Spurs Draft

Mock Draft 2.0: Final mock before Thursday's 2021 NBA Draft

Jalen Suggs, Jared Butler - Baylor v Gonzaga
Jalen Suggs, Jared Butler - Baylor v Gonzaga / Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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NBA Draft
Jalen Johnson - Duke v Miami / Mark Brown/Getty Images

Point Forward. Jalen Johnson. 11. . . 170. Duke. player

As of late, I've seen several mock drafts that have the Charlotte Hornets selecting Kai Jones at 11th overall, but I'm not convinced he's the right move for the team. The team doesn't necessarily need to take a huge swing on a raw player like Jones now that they have a cornerstone piece in LaMelo Ball, and I think they'd value someone that's a little more put together on defense.

With the 11th pick in the draft, I have the Hornets selecting Duke's Jalen Johnson. While I'm not particularly high on him for reasons that have nothing to do with his departure from Duke, I think Johnson could pair very nicely next to Ball. Kind of like with Kai Jones, Johnson is a bit of a "swing for the fences" pick, but I think he's more of a sure bet as a rim protector at this point.

If there are any qualities about Johnson that I do like, they are his ability to rebound and his potential as a defender. With both Bismack Biyombo and Cody Zeller coming off the books for Charlotte this offseason, the team will need to find more size and rebounding through the draft and free agency. Johnson will be able to defend the 3 and 4 (and possibly some small-ball 5s) and rebound the ball particularly well for his size.

While his half-court offense is concerning, he found a lot of success as a cutter with Duke and I think he could find similar success with having a playmaking guard like Ball on the team with him. In the absence of guard depth on the current Hornets team, his guard skills should also be very attractive to the team, particularly in transition where the team already does a lot of their damage on offense.