Now that we’re into conference play, it’s time to unveil my first big board for the 2021 NBA Draft. It’s basically a mock draft, but since it’s still so early in the NBA season, I decided not to list a projected order of teams.
As you can see, the top is once again dominated by freshmen, but there’s another wrinkle this season with a couple of players appearing who chose to play in the new NBA G League program.
1. Jalen Suggs, 6-4, 205, G, Fr., Gonzaga – He’s emerged as a contender for the No. 1 overall pick — and he’s maybe the frontrunner — after a terrific start of the season in which he’s showcased a complete skillset. He’s a point guard with speed, athleticism, court vision and passing ability. Don’t forget his reliable perimeter shot and terrific anticipation on the defensive end of the floor. He’ll need to protect the ball more, but that’ll come with more reps.
2020-21 Stats: 13.9 ppg, 5.4 apg, 5.5 rpg, 44% 3-pointers
2. Cade Cunningham, 6-8, 220, PG, Fr., Oklahoma State – He’s a big and strong point guard who can get to the basket with a combination of strength and athleticism, and finish through contact. He also gets his teammates easy looks. He’ll need to work on his perimeter shot, but Cunningham has a great feel for the game and also has no shortage of intangibles.
2020-21 Stats: 18.4 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.8 apg, 36% 3-pointers
3. Jalen Green, 6-5, 180, SG, NBA G League Ignite – Green is a high-level athlete who was the first to go the G League pathway route. He thrives in transition and possesses an extra gear that allows him to get to the basket and finish, which results in no shortage of highlights above the rim. Green is a scoring wing that has improved his perimeter shot, but it’ll still need to be more consistent at the NBA level.
2020-21 Stats: N/A
4. Evan Mobley, 7-0, 210, PF, Fr., USC – Mobley is a long (7’4″ wingspan), athletic and skilled forward who does most of his work around the basket. He can stretch the defense, but he’s most effective within 15 feet. He rebounds at a high level, finishes around the basket and also makes an impact on the defensive end of the court with his ability to block and alter shots. Mobley has drawn comparisons to Chris Bosh due to his body frame and skill set.
2020-21 Stats: 15.0 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.9 bpg
5. Jonathan Kuminga, 6-8, 220, F, NBA G League Ignite – Kuminga, a native of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is a big, strong and athletic forward who has all the physical attributes. He can guard multiple positions and has shown the ability to make shots despite being a streaky outside shooter. Kuminga is still raw, and the hope is he’ll continue to learn the game so he’s prepared when he gets into the NBA.
2020-21 Stats: N/A
6. Ziaire Williams, 6-8, 185, SF, Fr., Stanford – Williams is a versatile forward who has the length and athleticism that will intrigue NBA execs. His perimeter shot will need to improve, but he’s one of those multi-dimensional forwards that can do a little bit of everything. Williams looks the part, can defend and is an underrated passer. Once he gets stronger, it’ll help him be able to finish around the basket through contact.
2020-21 Stats: 11.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 2.1 apg
7. Greg Brown, 6-9, 205, PF, Fr., Texas – Brown is a big-time athlete who can be an energy forward that runs the court, blocks shots and finishes. He’ll need to work on his face-up game and become a better shooter at the next level, but the length and athleticism should have him as a lock for the first round.
2020-21 Stats: 11.7 ppg, 7.2 rpg
8. James Bouknight, 6-5, 190, SG, Soph., UConn – Bouknight is a serious scorer. He can score from all three levels and is lethal getting to the basket. He’s terrific in transition and can really finish around the hoop with either hand. Bouknight has also shown the ability to take over games, but at the next level he’ll thrive as a wing who can put the ball in the basket.
2020-21 Stats: 23.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 33% 3-pointers
9. Scottie Barnes, 6-9, 225, F, Fr., Florida State – Barnes is a big, strong and long forward whose best asset might be his ability to make others better. Barnes’ perimeter shot is a major source of concern, but he does everything else well and can score around the basket due to his toughness and motor.
2020-21 Stats: 11.1 ppg, 4.3 apg, 3.9 rpg, 28% 3-pointers
10. Keon Johnson, 6-5, 185, SG, Fr., Tennessee – He won’t put up huge numbers on a loaded Vols team this season, but there’s so much potential. Johnson is a terrific athlete who can explode with his first step and finish above the rim. He’ll also be a big-time defender in the NBA due to his athleticism, instincts and willingness to guard. Johnson will need to work on his perimeter shot, but that should improve in time.
2020-21 Stats: 8.0 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.0 apg
11. Jalen Johnson, 6-9, 220, F, Fr., Duke – He’s a strong forward who is difficult to stop in transition due to his power and explosiveness. Johnson is also an underrated passer, but the key for him is whether he’ll be able to make shots from the perimeter.
2020-21 Stats: 11.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 33% 3-pointers
12. Moses Moody, 6-6, 205, SG, Fr., Arkansas – He’s a 3-and-D guy who can really shoot it and lock down opponents. He’s got good length, but is an average athlete who will need to become more well-rounded on the offensive end of the floor. But if you have size and can shoot, there will be a spot for you in the league.
2020-21 Stats: 16.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 42% 3-pointers
13. Josh Christopher, 6-5, 215, SG, Fr., Arizona State – Christopher came into Tempe with a ton of hype, and he’s been solid — but inconsistent. He has good size for a shooting guard, but he’s more of a scorer than a shooter. He’ll need to improve his shot selection and perimeter shot, but Christopher has high upside as a two-way player.
2020-21 Stats: 16.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 23% 3-pointers
14. Ayo Dosunmu, 6-5, 200, PG, Jr., Illinois – He’s a big, strong and athletic point guard who can take over games thanks to his extra gear and ability to get by defenders and finish with authority. The questions surrounding him have been regarding his decision-making and whether he can make shots from long distance on a consistent basis, but thus far he’s shooting it well from 3 and has improved on getting his teammates open shots.
2020-21 Stats: 23.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 5.0 apg, 42% 3-pointers
15. Brandon Boston Jr., 6-7, 185, SG, Fr., Kentucky – The Atlanta native looks the part, but he has struggled mightily out of the gates, and he can’t make shots, whether it’s from close range, mid-range or long range. But Boston has upside and potential, and that’s what still intrigues coaches about him. He’s got that combo of skill and size, but he’ll ultimately need to match it with a level of production or else he won’t go anywhere near this high.
2020-21 Stats: 13.6 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 15% 3-pointers
16. Corey Kispert, 6-7, 220, F, Sr., Gonzaga – Kispert has the size and can shoot the hell out of the ball — two traits that every NBA team is looking for these days. The athletic Kispert is also arguably the best player on the best team in the country right now. When it comes to shooters, Joe Harris has gotten paid, Duncan Robinson will get paid and Kispert could join them one day.
2020-21 Stats: 21.6 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.2 apg, 50% 3-pointers
17. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, 6-9, 230, PF, Soph., Villanova – He’s not going to blow you away with his athleticism, but he’s going to be a 12-year pro who can help a team immediately. He is very skilled, can score all over the court and possesses a high IQ. He’ll be a really good role guy in the NBA like many past ‘Nova products.
2020-21 Stats: 16.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg
18. David Johnson, 6-5, 210, G, Soph., Louisville – NBA execs are torn on Johnson due to his inconsistency. He’s got the size, court vision and passing ability, but he’s inconsistent with his shot and also tends to disappear. Johnson is one of those players that could thrive in the right situation when he gets to the NBA.
2020-21 Stats: 14.4 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.0 apg, 45% 3-pointers
19. Marcus Bagley, 6-8, 215, SF, Fr., Arizona State – He’s different than his older brother, Marvin, in that he’s a big, strong and skilled wing who can really shoot it from the perimeter. He’s struggled early from long distance, but he’s a guy who can make shots from deep. Bagley has the NBA buzzing because of his size and ability to shoot.
2020-21 Stats: 13.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 40% 3-pointers
20. Isaiah Jackson, 6-10, 210, PF, Fr., Kentucky – Jackson is raw and still a major work in progress, but he’s shown glimpses of someone who can be a big-time defender and rim runner at the next level. It’ll just take time. Jackson needs to put on weight, but he’s long and athletic, can run the court well and is able to impact the game with his ability to alter and block shots.
2020-21 Stats: 5.5 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.8 bpg
21. Daishen Nix, 6-5, 220, PG, NBA G League Ignite – The Alaska native is an elite passer. He was all set to go to UCLA before he decided to take the G League route instead. Nix has the size and court vision, and can really make life easy for his teammates. Athleticism and his perimeter shot are both a concern, but Nix is a rarity these days as a big, strong point guard who looks to get his teammates involved first.
2020-21 Stats: N/A
22. Usman Garuba, 6-8, 230, PF, Real Madrid (Spain) – The Spanish-Nigerian big man is a tough, physical and versatile player who can defend multiple positions and has the ability to protect the rim. He’s a good athlete — not a great one — whose perimeter shot is his biggest obstacle to becoming a lottery pick. But he’s played at a high level overseas for Real Madrid and that’ll help his transition.
2020-21 Stats: N/A
23. Kai Jones, 6-11, 220, PF, Soph., Texas – It’s all about potential for the native of the Bahamas because he’s still raw after picking up the game just a few years ago. He’s shown the ability to step out and make shots from beyond the arc, and the combination of his upside, length and skill is what will have NBA executives oozing about his potential.
2020-21 Stats: 9.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 50% 3-pointers
24. Cameron Thomas, 6-4, 210, SG, Fr., LSU – He can just get buckets. Thomas is able to put points on the board in a hurry and is most effective getting to the basket with a quick first step. He’ll have to become a more reliable 3-point shooter, but he’s more of a scorer than a shooter.
2020-21 Stats: 24.6 ppg, 35% 3-pointers
25. Scottie Lewis, 6-5, 190, SG, Soph., Florida – He’s a long, athletic wing who is an elite defender and is terrific in space. The key for Lewis is whether he can make perimeter shots on a consistent basis.
2020-21 Stats: 14.0 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 46% 3-pointers
26. Charles Bassey, 6-11, 235, PF, Jr., Western Kentucky – Bassey is a big, strong and athletic big man from Nigeria who missed most of his sophomore campaign after suffering a broken tibia. Bassey plays hard, can score in the paint, rebounds at a high level and is a guy who can protect the rim.
2020-21 Stats: 16.3 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 3.2 bpg
27. Jason Preston, 6-4, 185, PG, Jr., Ohio – Preston was at one time enrolled at UCF as a regular student. Now he’s one of the best point guards in the country. Preston is a terrific passer with great court vision and has shown the ability to shoot it from deep.
2020-21 Stats: 18.9 ppg, 7.4 apg, 6.1 rpg, 48% 3-pointers
28. Jaden Springer, 6-4, 205, SG, Fr., Tennessee – He’s a strong wing with size who is athletic, quick and developing a shot from beyond the arc. Won’t put up big numbers on a talented Vols squad, but he has huge upside.
2020-21 Stats: 10.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 70% 3-pointers
29. Day’Ron Sharpe, 6-11, 265, C, Fr., North Carolina – Sharpe is a hard-playing big man who can score around the basket and rebound at a high level. He’ll need to continue to work on his decision-making and expand his shooting range, but he has a high motor and can impact the game on the defensive end.
2020-21 Stats: 9.6 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.0 bpg
30. Terrence Clarke, 6-7, 195, G, Fr., Kentucky – He’s a long and athletic forward who — much like most of his teammates — has struggled early on in his career. Clarke is a streaky 3-point shooter who needs to work on his decision-making and defensive skills.
2020-21 Stats: 10.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 23% 3-pointers
MORE: Jeff Goodman’s 2020-21 College Basketball Preseason Awards