50.) SG Quentin Grimes (Houston)
49.) SF Joe Wieskamp (Iowa)
48.) C Jericho Sims (Texas)
47.) C Luka Garza (Iowa)
46.) Joel Ayayi (Gonzaga)
Ayayi will be a plug-and-play energy guy from anywhere between SG to possibly some small ball PF, however with very limited upside and poor size give enough cause for concern to push him back to mid 2nd round. Luka Garza has always been working in the offseason to improve his body since his sophomore year and it has paid off for him. He doesn’t possess all the tools of a modern-day center, but his work ethic is admirable and he does possess skill as a legit stretch 5 who can take advantage of mismatches on the block. Jericho Sims is someone who was under the radar for the draft all year which made little sense. He was a huge part of why Texas’s defense was elite. They trusted him to guard 1-5 as a true center and didn’t disappoint. That along with his bounce for lobs, putbacks, and rim protection makes him worthy in this part of the draft. Joe Wieskamp is a long wing who will be able to fit within an offense as he shot the ball well his whole career and moves well without the ball. He also was showing hints of more dribble handoff type actions or coming off screens at the combine that we didn’t see at Iowa so there might be more to his offensive capabilities than expected. Quentin Grimes is a player who has overcome a lot as a 5 star Kansas recruit who didn’t exceed expectations and ended up transferring to Houston where he played hard and had more success. Now even though he’s talented and works hard, he’s not elite in any one area which does give doubt as to what his exact role will be.
45.) SF/PF Marcus Bagley (Arizona State)
44.) SF/PF Yves Pons (Tennessee)
43.) PF Trendon Watford (LSU)
42.) PG McKinley Wright IV (Colorado)
41.) SF Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine)
Kessler Edwards is a very good defender with an NBA body. He will be ready to be a plug-and-play guy early in moments on the defensive end while his offensive game grows. McKinley Wright is an intelligent passer who gets after people defensively. A big thing for him will be improving his jumper, especially since he’s undersized at 6’0”. Watford has some talent for a 2nd round prospect with his ball-handling, touch around the rim, and athleticism. Despite this, it’s hard to project what his exact role will be because he doesn’t offer much when he’s playing on the perimeter. Yves Pons is a phenomenal defender and will be a candidate for teams that play in switch-heavy schemes. Pons will bring toughness, rim protection, and versatility to guard 1-5 in situations. Bagley showed he can shoot the ball well as he’s got fluid mechanics, but he didn’t show much else at Arizona State partially due to his limited role so seeing him in workouts will give teams a better idea of what his whole package is.
40.) C Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky)
39.) SF/PF Roko Prkacin (KK Cibona)
38.) SG/SF A.J. Lawson (South Carolina)
37.) SG Nay’Shon Hyland (VCU)
36.) PF Greg Brown (Texas)
Roko is a versatile player but doesn’t have a defined skill right now that he can bring to a team, but there is role player upside because he’s capable of doing so many things. Hyland was an elite shot-maker at VCU and could be a real spark off a team’s bench. Greg Brown is a phenomenal athlete but is raw and there wasn’t a ton of improvement as the year went on. Despite this, his athleticism makes it easier to buy into the potential and versatility he brings. Bassey has shown promise as a finisher around the rim, potential of a jumper, and a very solid defender with good timing. He is a little undersized for a starting center at 235 lbs., and a 7’3” wingspan so his development as a shooter could be key. A.J. Lawson was a stand-out at the combine. He showed he was capable of more than just a spot-up shooter as he was initiating the offense, finding players out of the P&R, and created a couple of his own shots on a variety of moves. Lawson also brought that South Carolina toughness you see taking charges and has that team-first mindset. He’s become a riser on boards and looks the part of becoming a role player at the next level.
35.) PG/SG Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois)
34.) SG/SF Aaron Henry (Michigan State)
33.) SG Joshua Primo (Alabama)
32.) SF Isaiah Livers (Michigan)
31.) PF Isaiah Todd (G League Ignite)
Todd has a great fadeaway that can be a go-to move for him as he creates enough separation and hits at a decent clip. However, teams want their 4s on the 3 point line so he will need to continue to improve his jumper as it has pretty clean mechanics, but needs to continue getting repetitions further away from the hoop. Then he’s also a good enough athlete where you can trust him to hold his own on the defensive end. Livers is going to be a floor spacer who plays with a lot of confidence. Joshua Primo has been a late riser. He’s a 6’6 guard who’s very athletic with 3 and D capabilities as he ranked in the 93rd percentile on spot-up jumpers. Primo is also the youngest player in the draft which makes him a hot commodity for teams in the 1st round and bet on the upside. Henry will be a guy who can provide on both ends and offers a bit of versatility. Improving his jump shot has to be priority number 1, but he does enough things well right now to make him a player that can be trusted early on. Ayo will be a combo guard with good size off a team’s bench that can finish around the rim decently, but still has a ways to go in creating separation, passing, and defense.
30.) PG/SG Jared Butler (Baylor)
29.) PF/C Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova)
28.) PF Trey Murphy III (Virginia)
27.) PG Miles McBride (West Virginia)
26.) PG Tre Mann (Florida)
Florida’s Tre Mann had an excellent sophomore season and his jumper came alive. He showed great balance on stepbacks, but was more than just a scorer. Tre ranked in the 92nd percentile on P&R with a pass meaning he did a very good job distributing out of the pick and roll. He has limitations though and not projecting him to be the type of scorer that defenses focus on game in and game out which is why he is projected late in the first round. Then McBride is coming out after multiple seasons under his belt from a good program. He is a very good on-ball defender, takes charges, and showed that he’s a shot-maker this past season as he carried a lot of WVU’s offense. Trey Murphy is long with a 7’0” wingspan and had terrific shooting splits this last year that should make him a valuable contributor for a team as a floor spacer. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is a player who is being slept on. He has done a great job of expanding his range to being a reliable 3 point shooter. He also has a high IQ along with decent versatility to guard out on the perimeter. He is pretty limited as just a PF most likely, but he does enough things well to crack a rotation early on. Jared Butler is a very smart player who shot the ball incredibly well this past year. Butler is also a very solid defender with his strong frame, but he will struggle to create his own at times and will more likely need someone else to be the lead ball-handler which hurts being only 6’3.”
25.) SG Josh Christopher (Arizona State)
24.) PF Usman Garuba (Real Madrid)
23.) PF/C Isaiah Jackson (Kentucky)
22.) C Alperen Sengun (Besiktas)
21.) SG/SF Brandon Boston Jr. (Kentucky)
Brandon Boston didn’t show enough as a scorer for me to buy into the full package. He’s a very finesse finisher and avoids contact when driving, which makes him very inefficient. This along with poor shooting mechanics make him a project. He needs to be a scorer at the next level to carve out a role but has some work to do. Sengun is a very skilled offensive player that does a lot of things well. Depending on if his jump shot expands could open up a huge element to his game, but he doesn’t have the ideal length nor the lateral quickness so he will struggle as a P&R defender at times. Isaiah Jackson is probably one of the easier players to project as he is going to be a rim running, shot blocking type of big. He is only 6’10” though, has very little of a post game, and didn’t shoot outside of 6 feet very often. Usman Garuba is a modern-day forward/big that can switch defensively, rebound, and be a threat around the rim, but due to a lack of height/length, he is projected more as a PF. He hasn’t shown he can run the pick and roll and as ball handler nor will that ever be his game. His jump shot needs work. Some inconsistent lower body mechanics along with a floppy wrist on his jump shot indicate he’s going to need time to get that part of his game down. Josh Christopher is a combo guard that can score the ball well in transition. Once again, Christopher is a player that needs to improve his jumper, but he has a very good handle and an ability to create his own look. He wasn’t very efficient though, doesn’t appear to have the highest IQ, and is very thin, giving enough cause for concern that he should be picked in the latter part of the first round.
20.) SF Ziaire Williams (Stanford)
19.) SG/SF Chris Duarte (Oregon)
18.) PG/SG Jaden Springer (Tennessee)
17.) SF Corey Kispert (Gonzaga)
16.) SG Cam Thomas (LSU)
Cam Thomas is being overlooked right now as people don’t realize how advanced he is as a scorer and how much farther along he is than the players after the top 5. He has excellent footwork, balance, and does a great job of driving through contact on drives, and can finish in a variety of ways. While all of this is great, he still is an extremely high usage player, small, and isn’t a great passer or defender. This limits him to that 6th man scoring punch type of role. Kispert and Duarte are both very good shooters. Kispert has a little better size, IQ, and range while Duarte is a far better defender. Jaden Springer out of Tennessee offers the potential to play either guard position. He’s a very disciplined, fundamentally sound player. The questions lie in the upside as he doesn’t have the lateral quickness to give him the upside to defend elite guards nor the burst to blow by his man. He still does plenty of things well with his size, smarts, and ability to impact the game in multiple ways. Ziaire Williams has been one of the bigger fallers as he shot a poor 29.1% from 3 and ranked in the 14th percentile on unguarded jump shots. He was a decent defender though especially when defending the P&R ball handler ranking in the 83rd percentile. He also offers some upside as a playmaker so despite the jump shot not falling in the season, if he can impress in workouts, he might be able to help his stock as it’s easy to buy many of the other tools.
15.) PG Sharife Cooper (Auburn)
14.) PF/C Kai Jones (Texas)
13.) SG James Bouknight (UConn)
12.) PF Jalen Johnson (Duke)
11.) SG/SF Moses Moody (Arkansas)
Cooper sneaks into the top 15 as he showed tremendous IQ as a passer with good touch around the rim and besides his lack of size, all of his flaws are evident but fixable. Kai Jones and Jalen Johnson both bring versatility on both ends of the floor, but especially Jalen with his ability to handle the ball. Unfortunately, though he forced a lot of passes and struggled to beat his man in isolation without a jump shot so that is why he’s only 12th despite the obvious physical talent. For Kai, it’ll be big for him to show that his jumper can stay consistent in workouts as he shot the 3 ball at a 38.2% clip, but his struggles from the free-throw line suggest it could be a fluke and need work. James Bouknight, like Jalen, would be higher if this was strictly talent, but I don’t think he can have any impact on a game if the ball is not in his hands. He’s a poor defender, spot-up shooter, and doesn’t move without the basketball. Then he’s also not a good enough passer at this point to be a true PG. Where he will make a living is killing teams in transition with his rare blend of speed, leaping ability, and finishing at the rim. Then Moses Moody has the highest floor among these 5 prospects as to how he played at Arkansas will be similar to how he plays at the next level where it will be a 3 and D role as he ranked in the 78th percentile as a spot-up shooter with the potential to be a ball-handler in the P&R as he was in the 98th percentile, however, it’s worth noting that it was on a smaller sample size. He showed his maturity throughout the season as he gained trust from Eric Musselman where he pulled everyone in the starting lineup except Moody (Even though his shot wasn’t falling) in the first half of a game when the team was struggling, but that spoke volumes to how he viewed him. Moody is mature beyond his years and is ready mentally to be a pro and accept any role given to him.
10.) PG Josh Giddey (Adelaide 36ers)
9.) SF/PF Franz Wagner (Michigan)
8.) SF Scottie Barnes (Florida State)
7.) PG/SG Davion Mitchell (Baylor)
6.) SF Keon Johnson (Tennessee)
This is a weaker class than normal for prospects 6-10. They almost all have serious flaws, but you just have to bet on the upside. Keon and Mitchell are easier to buy into. Keon is a guy that can play 2-4 potentially and be a great versatile defender for a team as he takes the time to continue to work on his perimeter skills that look promising, especially the jump shot. Just needs more reps and familiarity to take those shots in a game. Davion has shown all year, and not just in the tournament, that he competes. He is a playmaker on both ends of the floor, has a quick first step, and is a strong shooter with his feet set. Again I’m not huge on comparisons, but everyone thought Donovan Mitchell’s upside was limited when you could name 8 strengths to every 1 weakness, and that’s similar to how I feel towards Davion. He has shown a lot of promise that makes it hard for me to see him flopping. Barnes and Giddey are both intriguing because of their abnormal point guard skills for someone of their stature. Barnes has a little more upside on the defensive end and Giddey has shown more promise as a true PG. Then Wagner is a very steady, smart player. He is a phenomenal defender right now as he possesses great lateral quickness and discipline. He’s a team-first guy but will need to find a way to make his presence felt more as a scorer if he’s going to validate his draft stock.
5.) SF/PF Jonathon Kuminga (G League Ignite)
4.) SG/SF Jalen Green (G League Ignite)
3.) PG Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga)
2.) PF/C Evan Mobley (USC)
1.) PG Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma St)
The top 5 are locked in and while the order might change, these 5 players will be the first 5 picks taken. Kuminga’s inefficiency in the bubble leads him on the outside looking in, but the talents there. Jalen Suggs showed his ability to take over games, but his 3 point shot is a real flaw. His mechanics were poor off the bounce, and that is why Evan Mobley is ranked higher. I’m not in the comparison game, but James Wiseman had the physical tools and talent. Mobley has both of those along with smarts too as he is miles ahead of Wiseman in terms of IQ and ability to play on the perimeter. I’m not sure if Mobley will play some PF in the early stages of his career because of struggles against physicality at times, but he is too talented of a player. Then Cade has been the consensus #1 pick all year, however, there were doubts on why he was taking over games and only taking control in the second half, which hurt his team at times that he wasn’t more aggressive. However, you saw he has that winner’s mentality and will do what’s best for the team when they were in tournament play. The top 4 of this draft are incredibly strong.
Article Written by Bradley Patten
Photo Credit to Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports (https://www.orlandopinstripedpost.com/2021/7/5/22547941/nba-draft-2021-jalen-suggs-scouting-report)
Generic Stats found on Basketball Reference (https://www.basketball-reference.com)
In Depth Stats found on Synergy Sports Tech(https://synergysports.com)