League Alerts’ 2021 NBA Draft Big Board 1.0

  1. Cade Cunningham (PG, Oklahoma State, Freshman)
2021 NBA mock draft: Who gets Cade Cunningham at No. 1? Our writers predict  the top 5 – The Athletic
The Athletic

Out of all the fantastic talents in this draft, Cade Cunningham is the prospect with true franchise changing, tier one superstar potential. He is a 6’8″ point guard that has a fantastic feel for the game, can get others involved, and is a legit shot maker. He can score by utilizing his excelling patience, size, and body control to get around the rim, he can pull-up from mid range, and is an excellent 40% three point shooter and obtained had that level of efficiency from deep while shooting mainly off the dribble. Even though he is as complete of a prospect as we’ve seen, he does need to tighten his handle, which contributed massively to why he had more turnovers than assists this season. He also could be more efficient around the rim but that should come with NBA level spacing.

Comparison: Jayson Tatum/Luka Doncic

2. Jalen Green (SG, G-League Ignite, 19 years old)

2021 NBA Draft: Jalen Green scouting report, strengths, weaknesses and  player comparisons | NBA.com Canada | The official site of the NBA

Jalen Green is the best athlete and scorer in the draft. He takes advantage of his incredible explosion, shiftiness, and center of gravity around the rim as he can finish through you, around you, and especially over you. He also is a natural with the ball in his hands that can create separation off of the dribble as well as anybody in the class and has a pure stroke that allows him to score after creating separation. He has shown tools of eventually becoming a solid passer and great defender. Even though he has the tools to be great defensively, like many young players, that talent hasn’t been maximized yet due to his on and off engagement on that end. His shot selection could also use a little more polish, even though that isn’t a major question to me because that is fixable and he is able to hot tough shots, which is shown by him still shooting 46% from the field and 36.5% from deep despite his shot selection.

Comparison: Zach Lavine/Vince Carter

3. Evan Mobley (C/PF, USC, Freshman)

Scouting Evan Mobley

Evan Mobley is the best big in this draft by a galaxy. He is the best defender in the draft. At 7’0″, he has excellent fluidity and lateral quickness, which makes him suited to guard primary ball handlers in spurts, but he also is an elite rim protector as he averaged 3 BPG while remaining a constant presence inside. Offensively, he is also incredibly dynamic. Despite his thin frame, he has great touch and footwork which makes him is an excellent finisher around the rim, whether he scores in the post or in a straight line drive. What makes him especially special on that end is his potential guard skillset, he is a good ball handler and passer both in transition and out of the post. He also is ok enough of a shooter to keep a defense honest. What doesn’t make him a top two prospect to me has to do with his aggressiveness. He doesn’t look to beat his opponents with this offense, which is an important trait for a franchise big. This was proven when he shot ZERO times against Utah State and when he shot only 11 times against Gonzaga in March Madness when they needed him the most. Does he have that killer instinct offensively to be a true franchise player? I don’t know.

Comparison: Anthony Davis

4. Jalen Suggs (PG, Gonzaga, Freshman)

Gonzaga Star Jalen Suggs Declares For NBA Draft After One-And-Done Season
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Even though Jalen Suggs isn’t top three on this board, he would be in most years and is still more than worthy of being considered going in the top three in the NBA Draft. Suggs is a stout, 6’4″ guard with most intensity out of any prospect at the top of the draft. This trait has made him one of the best perimeter defenders in the draft. He has fantastic vision, especially in transition. He also has shown flashes of being a shot maker that elevates in the biggest moments, which was apparent against UCLA in the Final Four. There are questions about what Suggs’ true ceiling is, does he have enough high-end upside to be taken in the top three? That truly depends on how much he improves as a shooter and shot creator. If he improves in those ways, he has a chance to be a franchise point guard.

Comparison: Bigger Kyle Lowry/Chauncey Billups

5. Scottie Barnes (PF/SF, Florida State, Freshman)

Cleveland Cavaliers: 2021 prospect Scottie Barnes' potential fit with CLE

For most people, there are five top prospects in this class that are in their own tier. I technically agree but Scottie Barnes is in that group and not Jonathan Kuminga. Scottie Barnes is a high motor 6’9″ forward with a long 7’3″ wingspan. He is an amazing defender that has the potential to guard primary playmakers because of his length, quickness, and ability to recover, he also has the length that gives him promise as a rim protector. Offensively, he is an absolute nightmare in transition. His body balance, length, and athleticism makes him a very effective finisher in the fast break, he also has a great feel for finding teammates as he led Florida State in assists, which tremendously opens up the lane for him. If Barnes can improve his jumper( he shoots below 35% from deep and below 70% from the line), he could become a franchise caliber player.

Comparison: Giannis Antetokounmpo lite

6. Davion Mitchell (PG/SG, Baylor, Junior)

NY Knicks: 3 reasons Davion Mitchell would be an ideal fit in the NBA Draft  - Page 2

Davion Mitchell may be an older prospect as a 22 year old, but he still has legit star talent. Firstly, he is the best perimeter defender in this entire draft; his feel, physicality, and athleticism will make him a nightmare for guards in the NBA. Approximately 29% of the time in which he was guarding a ball handler resulted in a turnover, that is insane! He also has a very polished, NBA caliber scoring package that compliments his athleticism and ability to get to his spots from all three levels. He can really pass as he led Baylor in assists, even with Jared Butler as a facilitator. He also dramatically improved his shooting as he shot 45% from deep this year. The one question in his game still has to do with his shooting, even though he shot good from three, he shot significantly worse from three in other seasons and is still a 64% shooter from the line, he will need to prove that jumper is legitimate when he steps on an NBA court.

Comparison: Donovan Mitchell/Patrick Beverley

7. Jonathon Kuminga (SF, G-League Ignite, 18 years old)

WALK OF LIFE: Jonathan Kuminga Is Living Out His Hoop Dreams

Jonathon Kuminga is the biggest boom or bust prospect in the draft. His rawness is what has him outside of the top five for me, but he has one of the highest ceilings in the draft. At 18 years old, he has a big, NBA ready body with big time physical tools. Those tools give him the potential to be a force on the defensive end. He has a very strong feel for the game, he showed promise as a playmaker during his time in the G-League with his vision but also potential as a shot creator. Essentially all of his strengths are related to his potential, but that is because he is a ball of clay right now. He needs to improve his ball handling, scoring package, and efficiency. He shot well below 30% from deep and just over 60% from the line. Whoever takes Kuminga needs to be incredibly patient. He has a ton of room to grow with his youth and tools, but don’t ask him to be everything for an organization in the immediate future.

Comparison: Young Jaylen Brown

8. Tre Mann (PG, Florida, Sophomore)

2019-2020 Florida Gators Men's Basketball Profile Card: Tre Mann

Tre Mann was one of the most entertaining and pleasantly surprising prospects I scouted in this draft. He may not be considered a consensus lottery talent in the draft, but I would not be surprised if he eventually does get into that conversation. Mann is a 6’5″ point guard who’s one of the most talented shot creators in the draft. He has very good shiftiness and balance off the dribble with unbelievable range. He shot 41% from deep mainly from deep shots and off the bounce. He also has tremendous body control around the basket which he has utilized to overcome his slight frame and finish through contact. Even though he isn’t a tremendous passer, he has improved in his sophomore season and shows flashes of anticipatory passing, which suggests he has room to grow in that regard. He needs to improve his frame, which may also help his defense that also needs much improvement, but Mann has a chance to be one of the best three-level scorers and playmakers in the class.

Comparison: Bigger Darius Garland

9. Kai Jones (C, Texas, Sophomore)

Texas' Kai Jones entering NBA Draft, will sign with agent - The Athletic
The Athletic

Kai Jones in a lot of ways is similar to Patrick Williams. Undeniable talent… but not insanely productive in college, yet he feels like he could soon fly up draft board be someone that should contribute on an NBA court relatively early. Jones is a hyper athletic big that is super usable as a rim protector (he is better as a rim protector than his 1 BPG suggests), someone who can switch on the perimeter and be a lob threat offensively. He also has shown signs of versatility; despite only nailing 13 threes off the season, he has a natural stroke and can create off the dribble in ways very few centers can. He does need to get stronger, improve his body positioning in the post, and improve his rebounding, but the upside Kai Jones has is very much real.

Comparison: Jaren Jackson Jr.

10. James Bouknight (SG, UConn, Sophomore)

The Day - UConn's goal is to beat Georgetown ... and keep Bouknight fresh -  News from southeastern Connecticut
AP Photo/Matt Slocum

James Bouknight is one of the most natural scorers in the draft. He is a fluid, springy athlete who’s a gifted finisher around the rim. He has a true three level scoring talent as he can pull up from anywhere and sink it with confidence, he also has moves to create separation. When Bouknight is on, he is capable of dropping 40 any given night, which was shown against Creighton. He does need to improve his shooting, he shot below 30% from three and was not very consistent in that regard this season. Although his vision has shown flashes of being pretty solid, he needs to be more aware of his teammates when he is in his scoring mindset. Lastly, he does have a solid scoring package, but he needs to execute some of his crossovers and step backs quicker to consistently create separation against NBA caliber defenders. Bouknight will be a scorer from the moment he steps on an NBA court.

Comparison: Zach Lavine lite

11. Moses Moody (SG, Arkansas, Freshman)

Moses Moody: A Mix of Todd Day, Joe Johnson and Scotty Thurman - Arkansas  Fight
Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

Moses Moody is the best 3 and D prospect in the draft. He didn’t have a great March Madness, but being a premier player on a very good Arkansas team is impressive by itself. His length and defensive potential to go along with his shooting and flashes of shot creation are difficult to pass on in the top 12. 36% from three isn’t bad at all, but if he can shoot much better from there, he has a chance to be one of the best 3 and D players in the game with the potential to become even more.

Comparison: De’Andre Hunter

12. Alperen Sengun (C, Turkey, 18 years old)

Alperen Sengun, No. 14 basketball prospect in ESPN Top 100, to enter NBA  draft

Alperen Sengun is the best international prospect in this draft. The level of production he has had in the Super League (Turkish League) as a 19-year-old kid is very rare. His body control, footwork, and touch around the post is easily the best in the entire draft. He is very physical and can make players around him better with his vision. He does need to drastically improve his shooting, he shot below 20% from three and has an interesting stroke to go along with it. His size and defensive ability also need to improve for him to have an immediate impact. Sengun has clear holes in his game, put his upside is so appealing, he will likely be a lottery lock.

Comparison: Domantas Sabonis

13. Keon Johnson (SG, Tennessee, Freshman)

Vols phenom Keon Johnson declares for the NBA Draft | WATE 6 On Your Side
AP Photo/Mark Humphrey

There are some scouts that think Keon Johnson should be a top seven pick and when you look at his motor, defense, and freak athleticism, it is understandable to have that belief. He has also shown the ability so pull-up, fadeaway and create from the mid range which has given people glimpses of a Jimmy Butler type player that can one day score at a high level. His underrated ability to find teammates also gives him long-term potential as a high usage player down the road. The reason why I am not quite as high on him as others is I don’t buy into his ability to be a shot creator early on, because he is not a great shooter and he doesn’t pace well with the ball yet. That being said, he has the motor and tools to become a fantastic player if he goes to the right situation.

Comparison: Young Jimmy Butler

14. Ayo Dosunmu (PG, Illinois, Junior)

Ayo Dosunmu Honors Kobe Bryant After Big 10 Tournament Win | PEOPLE.com
Zach Bolinger/Icon Sportswire VIA Getty

Ayo Dosunmu decided to not declare for the draft last year and that decision has made him a first round lock. He is a big, talented, score first guard with great touch around the basket with an improving jumper off the bounce. He is a very strong rebounder as he averaged over six boards a game last year and is a passer. He will need to get better off the ball in the NBA since he won’t be a focal point of an offense early on. He also can get out of control at times and as a point guard, but will need to play with more consistent control. Dosunmu’s size and playmaking ability should give him some lottery consideration.

Comparison: Bigger Dennis Schroader

15. Josh Giddey (PG, Australia, 18 years old)

2021 NBA Draft: Josh Giddey scouting report, strengths, weaknesses and  player comparisons | NBA.com Australia | The official site of the NBA
NBA Getty Images

Josh Giddey’s stock has recently started to really rise. At 6’8 (and possibly still growing), Giddey has a very unique feel for the game, he is the best floor general and passer in the draft. He utilizes his size on the glass and is arguably the best rebounding guard in the entire draft. He also has really good natural touch around the rim which could open up his ability to facilitate. The pros of Giddey are fantastic, but the cons are as concerning as the pros are great. He is not a super natural shooter, he has a slow stroke that comes up awkwardly when he shoots off the dribble. His handle, especially when he is trying to execute a behind the back or cross over, needs to get much crisper so he can improve his ability to create space and get the ball to his teammates faster. He also is not a good defender that lacks length and general quickness. Giddey’s lack of shot creation ability may limit his ceiling as an offensive player, but his size and feel are not far off from what we saw from a fellow former NBL player Lamelo Ball.

Comparison: Bigger Ricky Rubio

16. Franz Wagner (SG/SF, Michigan, Sophomore)

Michigan Wolverines' Franz Wagner enters 2021 NBA draft

The best object comparison for Franz Wagner is a Swiss Army knife. At 6’9″, he has very good size which makes him a threat when he is handling the ball, finding teammates, and looking to score. His jump shot was also very reliable in Michigan as he shot 37% from three. The questions about him come down to… what is he really great at? He does a lot of things well, but nothing spectacular. He also isn’t a super quick footed athlete, which could make it hard for him to consistently guard wings. Wagner will be a very solid piece for whoever drafts him.

Comparison: Mike Dunleavy Jr.

17. Usman Garuba (PF, Spain, 19 years old)

2021 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Latest updates before March Madness | For The Win

Usman Garuba is one of the most decorated prospects in the draft. He won the Euro League Rising Star award this year, the only other Real Madrid players to do that were Luka Doncic and Bogdan Bogdonivic. He also was a U16 tournament MVP. Garuba is an athletic, long forward with fantastic defensive versatility and motor. His versatility on that end alone will give him a role in the NBA. He also is a very strong and aggressive finisher around the rim that can also handle the ball and occasionally find open shooters. Garuba will need to work on his shooting and patience, he often gets out of control on offense and make poor decisions with the ball in his hands, but his physical tools and resume should translate to the NBA well.

Comparison: Jared Vanderbilt +

18. Jalen Johnson (PF, Duke, Freshman)

Duke freshman Jalen Johnson has played his final game for the Blue Devils
Reagan Lunn/Duke Athletics

Jalen Johnson had a very up and down season at Duke and that ultimately may drop his stock after bing considered a top eight talent in high school. Johnson is a 6’9” forward with an NBA caliber frame and level of athleticism already. He also has a very good handle for a forward and has the ability to find open teammates in transition. The questions around Johnson revolve around his intangibles, mainly because he quit on Duke for unclear reasons. He also has a relatively stiff stroke that make his three point percentage (44%) perhaps deceiving.

Comparison: Deni Avdija

19. Miles McBride (PG/SG, WVU, Sophomore)

Deuce McBride Leads WVU to First-Round NCAA Victory Over Morehead State |  WV Sports Now
Photo by Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images

Miles McBride is an intriguing, athletic guard with really good two-way ability. His athleticism is a huge asset in the fast break, where he plays with awesome aggression and violence around the rim. He also compliments that athletic talent with a fantastic motor on the defensive end, which makes him one of the best perimeter defenders in the draft. Offensively, he shot north of 40% from three, he can shoot off the bounce, and was incredibly efficient in catch and shoot situations. He is also capable of making the correct read when he hasn’t set his mind to try to score on a defender. He will really need to slow down and increase his patience with the ball in his hands, he has a tendency to take bad shots early in the shot clock and isn’t great at controlling the game like a true point guard. If his pacing improves, he has a chance to be a top 10 talent in this class.

Comparison: Kyle Lowry lite

20. Corey Kisbert (SF, Gonzaga, Senior)

Corey Kispert - Men's Basketball - Gonzaga University Athletics

Corey Kisbert is the best shooter in the draft. He is elite at getting his shot off the catch and off screens, he also has shown the ability to pull up with range. Kisbert also has good size and feel for the game, which makes him more than a solid defender despite not being a freak athlete. The questions with Kisbert are centered around his ceiling because he is older and not the most creative with the ball in his hands. He also did not play great in the Final Four, which isn’t a major red flag, but that could raise some questions about his ability to elevate in big moments.

Comparison: Doug McDermott

21. Roko Prkarcin (SF/PF, Croatia, 18 years old)

David Hein on Twitter: "2002-born Roko Prkacin added 10 points, seven  rebounds, four steals, three assists and three blocks for @CbfHks in a  97-75 win over Philippines at the #FIBAU17… https://t.co/iPAAjue8az"
@heinnews (Twitter )

Roko Prkarcin is not one of the more well known prospects in the class but the intrigue is undeniable. He is a 6’8” combo forward that is very good with the ball in his hands. He is mainly looking to score inside, but he can shoot from the outside, and he can get to his spots. His feel has really been impressive, very high basketball IQ, which is showing as his passing also is showing flashes as well, especially when it comes to finding open shooters in the post. He will need to shoot better from the free throw line and get bigger, but the upside is certainly there with Prkacin.

Comparison: Playmaking Juancho Hernangomez

22. Sharife Cooper (PG, Auburn, Freshman)

Auburn basketball: Sharife Cooper declares for NBA draft, to hire agent

Sharife Cooler may have been the toughest evaluation in this entire draft. If you only look at his strengths, as an absolute special passer with a tight handle and elite understanding of how to control an offense, it’s hard not to compare him to Chris Paul and consider him a top six prospect in the draft, but his weaknesses are pretty major. He only shot 46.5% from two and really struggled to finish around the basket, he also was a very bad shooter from deep as he shot 22.2% from three. He has a pretty awkward looking stroke to go along with the poor shooting as well. If you are only around six feet tall as an NBA point guard, not being able to be shoot efficiently from any level of the court can really marginalize your impact as a playmaker since defenses just need to be right on you as you can’t just look over the defender to get the ball out of your hand. Encouragingly, he shot 82.5% from the line, the natural touch is there. If Cooper can figure out his scoring efficiency, that could make him an easy top 10 player from this draft.

Comparison: Chris Paul without the shooting

23. Jaden Springer (PG, Tennessee, Freshman)

Jaden Springer Scouting Report - The Stepien

Jaden Springer is a very confusing player to scouts. Some think he’s a top 10 talent, some think he is much lower, which is the side I am on. He is a very high floor prospect; he has good size, length and his motor to go along with his physical tools makes him a good defender. He also is a solid passer that can finish in transition and hit an open three. What makes him low though is I don’t buy into his ability as a scorer at the next level. He doesn’t have the shiftiness or ability to create a separation off the dribble that you would want from a really good starting point guard. Considering he is solid but not great in every other department on the offensive end, there isn’t enough there for me to envision him being more than a high-end role player in this league. His floor is very high, not too sure about his ceiling.

Comparison: Malcolm Brogdon lite

24. Isaiah Jackson (PF/C, Kentucky, Freshman)

Isaiah Jackson - Men's Basketball - University of Kentucky Athletics

Very few people expected Isaiah Jackson to be the first Kentucky player taken in this class, but that’s looking more likely. Isaiah Jackson is a terrific energy player with freak length and fantastic athleticism that he uses to be able to switch on the defensive end, he is also one of the best rim protectors in the draft as he averaged a ridiculous five blocks a game per 40 minutes. Offensively, he is a very good threat around the rim because of his athleticism and length, but that’s about it. He isn’t much of a passer and didn’t hit a three this year. He may not be as dynamic offensively as some would want, but a player with his level of motor and defense is worthy of going in the first round.

Comparison: Nicolas Claxton

25. Na’Shon Hyland (PG, VCU, Sophomore)

Nah'Shon Hyland - 2020-21 - Men's Basketball - Virginia Commonwealth  University

Da’Shon Hyland is one of the better shooters and is easily one of the best shot maker in the draft, period. He has half court range, he can pull up from anywhere, and he is able to hit very difficult shots with defenders up his throat. He can create off the dribble, but he is also spectacular off of the ball which will allow him to fit on many different teams in the NBA. He will need to improve his strength and consistency on the defensive end, he also isn’t the best passer for a point guard which makes him someone you wouldn’t want to consistently run an offense through, but his shot making and shooting talent is beyond intriguing.

Comparison: Immanuel Quickley

26. Jared Butler (PG, Auburn, Junior)

Jared Butler Scouting Report - The Stepien

Jared Butler is one of the more complete point guards in the draft. He was a huge part of Baylor being such a nightmare on the defensive end. Offensively, he has very good touch from all three levels, whether he trying to get a layup, floater, or nail a three, which he is also elite at. He also has a very good feel for finding open teammates. The question around Butler is revolved around his ceiling, he doesn’t have freakish physical tools, he isn’t a crazy athlete, he isn’t going to be a primary shot creator. He is a very steady floor general with a very strong IQ that should be able to contribute to an NBA team early and for a long time.

Comparison: Monte Morris

27. Chris Duarte (SG, Oregon, Senior)

Oregon Basketball: Chris Duarte is the best shooting guard in America

Chris Duarte is going to miss the NBA draft combine this year, many speculate it’s because he may have gotten a promise from a team later in the first round, which makes total sense with his skillset. He is the oldest projected 1st round pick at 24 years old, but his ability to shoot the lights out from three, defend, and make the right decisions offensively is very good. His age does have some red flags, he certainty doesn’t have as much room to grow as others in the draft, but his ability to shoot and contribute as a solid defender gives him a super high floor. He can help a contender right away.

Comparison: Landry Shamet

28. Day’Ron Sharpe (C, UNC, Freshman)

UNC Basketball: Day'Ron Sharpe's stock falling in latest mock draft?

Day’Ron Sharpe is an athletic big with an NBA frame and has a lot of promise. He is a threat on the offensive end because he has the athleticism and soft hands that make him very good around the basket, he also has a solid handle in transition. He also has very good awareness for a center as he is fully capable of making reads to find open teammates. Defensively, he can switch on the perimeter and irritate guards for stints, but he can also protect the rim at a pretty good level as well. The big issue with him is he is a very poor shooter, he didn’t hit a three all season and shot 51% from the line. He will need the rest of his versatile game to really pop or it could be hard to play him.

Comparison: Robert Williams

29. Zhaire Williams (SF, Stanford, Freshman)

2021 NBA Draft: Stanford forward Ziaire Williams declares after freshman  season as potential lottery pick - CBSSports.com

Zhare Williams is not this high for his actual performance this year, it’s because of upside. He had a poor season at Stanford, he shot in the mid 30’s from the field, couldn’t hit threes, and really wasn’t an offensive threat in general. Part of that is certainly because of injuries. But those injuries could become more apparent if he doesn’t add muscle to his frame in the future. Adding muscle could also help his ability to finish around the rim, which he didn’t show much of this year. But like I said earlier, the upside with him is absolutely legit. It’s hard to find two-way, fluid 6’8” wings who can handle in the perimeter and nail jumpers off the bounce the way Williams can.

Comparison: Cam Reddish

30. Cam Thomas (SG, LSU, Freshman)

Cameron Thomas, LSU, Shooting Guard

Cameron Thomas had one if the best scoring seasons for a freshman in college history as he averaged over 23 PPG. He is a pure scorer with a solid scoring package and great length, which allows him to shoot over defenders. Even though he only shot 32.5% from three, he has shown a lot of flashes of being someone who can get hot in a hurry from the perimeter. His 88.2% from the line also suggest he has upside as a shooter. He has pretty nice touch, which makes him a threat with his floater around the basket. Even though he has shown the ability to be a bucket getter, he is not efficient as a scorer yet, he will need to improve his shot selection greatly. He also isn’t a great passer or defender. If Thomas doesn’t score in bunches, he isn’t able to positively influence a game. Unless he becomes more efficient as a scorer and/or improves his all around game, he will struggle having a positive impact in the league.

Comparison: Lou Williams lite

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