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NBA Draft prospects 2021: Ranking the top 60 players overall on the SN big board

We shall call this "The Class That Couldn't Shoot Straight."

As the game of basketball continues to move inexorably in the direction of the elite long-distance shooter, the next group of prospects wishing to be evaluated, drafted and paid at the NBA level arrives with little accomplishment in the area of 3-point shooting, the skill that made Stephen Curry an All-NBA First Team pick for the fourth time this past season.

There is a truckload of highly regarded prospects for the 2021 NBA Draft who have elite athleticism, passing skill or positional size but haven't shown substantial proficiency as 3-point shooters. Sometimes, middling numbers at the pre-NBA level are corrected through the repetition that comes with basketball being a full-time job and with a decrease in the pressure attached to each attempt in games that contain about 30 percent more possessions per game. Sometimes, it's just that guys can't shoot.

NBA MOCK DRAFT: Is Cunningham or Green the No. 1 overall pick?

That'll be the trick for teams navigating the two rounds and 60 picks of this year's draft, to discern which players have a gift for this skill that supersedes all other aspects of their game, which can be trained to elevate themselves into dangerous if not elite shooters and which will be identified on opponents' scouting reports as a "non-shooter."

Sporting News, though, is tasked with providing you the Big Board of top 60 prospects now. So here it is, subject to revision in advance of the draft:

NBA Draft prospects 2021: Big board of top 60 players

1. Cade Cunningham, 6-8, PG, Oklahoma State

There was so much to love about what Cunningham put on display as a Cowboys freshman, and it starts with the skill that so many others in this draft have not yet mastered. Cunningham shot 40 percent from three on 62 makes for the Big 12 Tournament runners-up. He should have little trouble translating that ability to the NBA level. He is a winner who helped Oklahoma State advance from 18-14 to 21-9, from out of the NCAA Tournament to a No. 4 seed. He also was a gold medal winner with the U.S. at the 2019 FIBA U-19 World Cup.

He can play all three perimeter positions, though he always has been listed and almost exclusively deployed as a point guard. In that position, Cunningham is an effective passer but not elite; he does not have Penny Hardaway or Magic Johnson-level vision. And he struggles sometimes with his ball handling; his turnover average of 4.0 per game is disconcerting only because so many of those involved him simply losing his grip on the ball. He must improve in that discipline to prove himself worthy of the first overall selection.

2. Evan Mobley, 6-11 C, Southern California

It's possible Mobley could rise to the very top of this draft because he so beautifully fits the ideal of the modern NBA big man. He is exceptionally mobile and should become an elite pick-and-roll defender. He protects the rim to the tune of 2.9 blocks per game in his only college season. He finishes strong at the goal and shot 58 percent on 2-pointers. He attempted only 40 3-pointers but made 30 percent, suggesting there is a foundation for him as a jump shooter.

Mobley will have to grow stronger to survive along an NBA baseline, but he's got a fine frame for carrying more muscle.

3. Jalen Green, 6-6 SG, G League Ignite

Entering the G League bubble for an accelerated 15-game schedule turned out to be a much better proving ground for Green than the hodgepodge of G League and international exhibitions that had been proposed at the Ignite program's introduction. Green got to play legit competition for 32 minutes per game and averaged 17.9 points on 46.1 percent shooting. He hit 36.5 percent on threes from the NBA distance, making two per game.

Green has A-level NBA dynamism and could become an unstoppable scorer. The team that wins the lottery also will be tempted by Green's promise. Yes, he played in games that didn't matter much, but last year's No. 1 overall pick (Anthony Edwards) was on a bad college team and thus in much the same situation, and the No. 2 pick (James Wiseman) barely played any post-high school ball.

4. Jalen Suggs, 6-5 PG, Gonzaga

You want to know why Suggs is a fabulous prospect? Forget about the buzzer-beating shot that put the Zags into the NCAA championship game and put in the tape of the final 20 minutes of their West Coast Conference title game against BYU. Suggs put on an astonishing display of shot creation, shot-making and defensive insistence that allowed the Zags to recover from a double-digit halftime deficit and become the fourth team since 1980 to enter the NCAA Tournament undefeated.

Suggs averaged 4.5 assists functioning as the primary ball handler in Gonzaga's double point guard lineup. Has has considerable room to improve as a deep shooter.

5. Davion Mitchell, 6-2 PG, Baylor

Mitchell's respect level as a prospect progressed nicely as the Bears progressed toward the NCAA championship, but it soared when he flat wrecked every guard Gonzaga put in front of him in the title game. That included Suggs, who managed to score 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting while Mitchell denied him the opportunity to have any influence on actually winning the game. Mitchell's on-ball defense always had been respected and admired. He was second-team All-American largely for that reason. But to do it against elite opposition with so much on the line, while also scoring 15 points and passing for five assists, made it clear he was a big-time prospect.

Mitchell improved from a 28.8 percent deep shooter as a freshman at Auburn to 32.4 percent in his first season after transferring to Baylor, but then made a massive jump last season to 44.7 percent. He can be a long-term starting point at the NBA level.

6. Scottie Barnes, 6-9 PG, Florida State

Seminoles coach Leonard Hamilton has done a wonderful job with the many pro prospects he has recruited to Tallahassee over the past decade, but one wonders what might have been possible for Barnes if Hamilton's approach — spreading the minutes among 9-10 players, with no one averaging 30-plus — had been set aside. Barnes only played 24 minutes and averaged only eight shots per game. The Seminoles might have been his team but never really were.

He's a powerful talent, though, with absurd size for a playmaking guard. He is another player who did not show himself to be a proficient deep shooter. I had him lower on this list the first time around. I'm blaming Leonard for that. (Just kidding, coach.)

7. Jonathan Kuminga, 6-8 SF, G League Ignite

Kuminga's dynamism is at an A-plus level, perhaps not quite Andrew Wiggins-level, but not far from it. But Wiggins has been viewed as a disappointment to date, even as he has averaged 19.5 points over seven seasons, because his game has had so little variety. Kuminga is unlikely to be the first overall pick, so he won't have to carry that burden.

But can he grow into a complete offensive player? Kuminga can get by defenders, but he spent a lot of G League time trying to prove he's a deep shooter, with more than a third of his field-goal attempts coming from deep even though he hit only 24.6 percent. NBA opponents might just back off and dare him to show he can make the leap to competence.

8. Sharife Cooper, 6-1 PG, Auburn

You almost certainly will not find Cooper rated this highly on any other draft preview. So maybe I'm nuts. (I also had Saddiq Bey rated 14 spots higher than he eventually was chosen by the Pistons, and he wound up ranked No. 5 among rookies in scoring.) But Cooper is a dazzling creative force, the sort of playmaker that rarely develops. He has the ability to play at multiple speeds, which is so difficult for opponents to defend.

Cooper averaged 8.1 assists in 12 college games after being declared NCAA-eligible and before an injury ended his season. He also was good for more than 20 points per game; every Auburn possession with Cooper in charge was an opportunity to be dazzled. If only he were a legitimate shooter (he was just 13-of-57 from deep). Initially, I said I'd drop Cooper 10 spots if he measured, as I suspected, at shorter than 6-0 at the NBA Draft combine. Then it was published he'd measured taller than 6-3. It seemed an error, and it since has been removed from the NBA web site. So the teams know where he stands, but we don't.

9. Keon Johnson, 6-5 SG, Tennessee

There are a lot of similarities between Kuminga and Johnson: coveted because of exceptional dynamism, questioned because of meager deep shooting numbers. The difference is that Kuminga is more explosive, whereas Johnson has elite-level ball skill that just hasn't yet translated to long-distance shooting. Watch his form on midrange shots, or even on some of his attack-the-rim finishes. His elbow is locked tight, the ball is held high, his eye never leaves the target.

With these qualities, Johnson likely can grow into a better deep shooter than the fellow who was 13-of-48 at Tennessee. He may not be a great rookie, but by Year 3, he could be an exceptional contributor.

10. James Bouknight, 6-2 G, Connecticut

Still another player whose value would soar if he were a more consistent shooter, Bouknight hit just 29.3 percent of his deep shots as a sophomore, down from 34.7 his first season. He's such an electric player, though, capable of getting to wherever he wants on the floor — and above it. He converted well more than 50 percent of his twos.

If he's going to operate as a smaller shooting guard, he'll have to improve his touch. If he's going to be a point guard, he'll need to improve his handle. But some guys are just players.

11. Alperun Sengun, 6-9 PF, Besiktas (Turkey)

You try moving him. If the best bigs in Turkey's Super League, one of the top pro leagues on the planet, cannot stop him from going where he wants to go, it's easy to imagine him maturing into someone who is even more of a baseline terror in his 20s.

At 18, he averaged 18.0 points and 8.9 rebounds. In a draft with many flawed players, he at least is a productive, physical, tenacious flawed player.

12. Kai Jones, 6-11 PF, Texas

Texas had so many dynamic big men it was not easy for Jones to make the impact he might have elsewhere. He started only four games and played 23 minutes on average, but there just aren't many big men who move like him and fly as high above the rim.

The trick now will be translating those gifts into basketball success. He improved steadily as last season advanced, producing four consecutive double-figure scoring games at the end, and seven blocks in that stretch.

13. Moses Moody, 6-6 SG, Arkansas

One of the surprises of the 2020 recruiting class, Moody was ranked only the 46th-best prospect but quickly asserted himself as one of the best freshmen in college basketball. Arkansas' light early schedule helped Moody to gain confidence — not only that he could excel, but also that he could feel comfortable as the Razorbacks' No. 1 option.

He took nearly two more shots per game than such veterans as Justin Smith and J.D. Notae, and that included 162 3-point attempts that were converted at a 35.8 percent rate.

14. Corey Kispert, 6-7 SG, Gonzaga

If the later rounds of his NCAA Tournament hadn't gone so poorly, it's possible he'd be ranked even higher in a class that struggles in his specialty: shooting the basketball. But he shouldn't be dismissed based on a single week in a season that was beyond brilliant.

Danny Green, Kyle Korver, Bryn Forbes and Buddy Hield have been important NBA players because they do this one valuable thing so incredibly well. Kispert converted 91 threes at a 44 percent rate for the national runner-up Zags. His shot is compact and his release is quick. He'll be a longtime NBA player.

15. Josh Giddey, 6-8 PG, Adelaide 36ers (NBL)

Giddey chose to play in Australia's NBL rather than accept one of his many Division I offers, and he was so successful in his first pro season he was named the league's Rookie of the Year. Giddey averaged 10.9 points and 7.6 assists. What he did not do well — and this will shock you — is shoot the ball from long distance. He was only 29-of-99 in 29 games for Adelaide.

He has excellent form that should produce a proficient deep shooter in time. He excels at finding gaps in opposing defenses and exploiting those. His first instinct is to get the ball to the lane, and though he does not explode past defenders, he is great at getting them off-balance and in difficult positions to recover.

16. Chris Duarte, 6-6 SG, Oregon

His 24th birthday passed a month ago, which will lead some to devalue his potential to improve, no matter how many times we see NBA players make enormous leaps in their mid-to-late 20s. Duarte made an enormous leap himself as a college senior, from 12.9 points to 17.1 and All-America candidacy. He shot 42.4 percent from deep and 63.1 percent on 2s, more significant advances.

Unlike many first-rounders who'll be chosen in this group, Duarte is someone who won't need to spend the next year or two in the G League to become worthwhile.

17. Franz Wagner, 6-9 SG, Michigan

Before he declared he was gone from college hoops for good, I suggested he could be a top-10 pick if he returned to college and made significant progress on his jumper. With so many others carrying the same affliction, he might be one, anyway. Wagner was an excellent defender for the Wolverines, has a great feel for rebounding and finishes well at the rim; there's a reason he shot 61 percent on 2-pointers.

Wagner had an opportunity to show he could handle stardom when teammate Isaiah Livers was injured prior to March Madness. With Livers and All-American big man Hunter Dickinson to handle the heavy business, Wagner was ideally suited to picking up whatever work they left undone. He was less successful as a focal point. But as ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla likes to say, the NBA is a league of a few dozen stars and several hundred role players. Wagner will fit comfortably into the latter category.

18. Jared Butler, 6-3 SG, Baylor

Butler has been enough of a playmaker that perhaps he could function as a point guard, but he has seemed best suited to playing on the wing. Good thing for him the NBA no longer dismisses smallish off-ball guards — so long as they can shoot, which Butler certainly can.

He made 254 3-pointers in three seasons for Baylor at a 38.4 percent conversion rate. He also has demonstrated himself to be a capable defender.

19. Jaden Springer, 6-4 SG, Tennessee

He does not have the dynamism of higher rated off-ball perimeter players, but he is a powerful guard who finishes through contact and shoots the ball beautifully, from long range (43.5 percent as a freshman) or in all manner of concocted attempts. It could be said he is ahead of Buddy Hield at the same stage; it also could be said that Hield stuck around college basketball until he mastered it.

Will Springer be able to get enough court time to take the steps he needs to become a significant pro, or will he need to be farmed out to the G League to continue working?

20. Usman Garuba, 6-8 PF, Real Madrid (Spain)

Currently playing for Spain in the Tokyo Olympics, Garuba is a power forward who plays physically but still is developing in various areas of skill, including long-range shooting. He has three years of experience in Spain's ACB but was used as a part-time player in that competition and the EuroLeague. He averaged 5.3 points in 19 minutes per game in his most recent domestic season. He is not an elite shot-blocker.

There may be value here for a team looking to allow Garuba to remain in Europe an extra year or two.

21. Isaiah Jackson, 6-10 PF, Kentucky
22. Tre Mann, 6-5 PG, Florida
23. Ayo Dosunmu, 6-5 SG, Illinois
24. Nah'Shon "Bones" Hyland, 6-3 SG, VCU
25. Miles McBride, 6-2 SG, West Virginia

26. Cameron Thomas, 6-4 SG, LSU
27. Trey Murphy, 6-9 SF, Virginia
28. Greg Brown, 6-9 PF, Texas
29. Rokas Jokubaitis, 6-4 SG, Zalgiris (Lithuania)
30. Joel Ayayi, 6-5 SG, Gonzaga

31. Aaron Henry, 6-6 SF, Michigan State
32. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, 6-9 PF, Villanova
33. Charles Bassey, 6-11 C, Western Kentucky
34. Ziaire Williams, 6-8 SF, Stanford
35. Kessler Edwards, 6-8 SF, Pepperdine

36. Jalen Johnson, 6-9 PF, Duke
37. Ariel Hukporti, 7-0 C, BC Nevezis (Lithuania)
38. Quentin Grimes, 6-6 SG, Houston
39. Jason Preston, 6-4 PG, Ohio
40. Joe Wieskamp, 6-6 SG, Iowa

41. Day'Ron Sharpe, 6-11 C, North Carolina
42. Joshua Primo, 6-6 SG, Alabama
43. Brandon Boston, 6-7 SF, Kentucky
44. David Duke, 6-5 PG, Providence
45. JT Thor, 6-10 PF, Auburn

46. Josh Christopher, 6-5 SG, Arizona State
47. Isaiah Todd, 6-10 PF, G League Ignite
48. RaiQuan Gray, 6-8 PF, Florida State
49. Isaiah Livers, 6-7 F, Michigan
50. Herbert Jones, 6-8 SF, Alabama

51. Trendon Watford, 6-9 PF, LSU
52. Matthew Hurt, 6-9 PF, Duke
53. David Johnson, 6-5 PG, Louisville
54. Filip Petrusev, 6-11 C, KK Mega Soccerbet (Serbia)
55. Luka Garza, 6-11 C, Iowa

56. Sandro Mamukaleshvili, 6-11 C, Seton Hall
57. Derrick Alston Jr., 6-9 SF, Boise State
58. Justin Champagnie, 6-6 SF, Pitt
59. Aaron Wiggins, 6-5 SG, Maryland
60. Daishen Nix, 6-5 PG, G League Ignite

Sours: https://www.sportingnews.com/us/nba/news/nba-draft-prospects-2021-players-big-board/118cb88px8h3c1ahyf5vzkpn9h

Welcome to The Ringer’s 2021 NBA Draft Guide. From now through the event, this will be the hub for everything you need to know. It features Kevin O’Connor’s Big Board, in which he extensively breaks down each of the top prospects’ strengths, weaknesses, and closest NBA comparisons. It includes a mock draft with buzz and insight from around the league. And it has a section in which Matt Dollinger analyzes every team’s biggest roster needs. If you’re curious about any aspect of this class, we have it covered.

Who will define this draft? Which players could surge into the lottery? And how could this year’s draft impact the future of the league? Find out by returning here often.

Having skills outside of what might be expected can make the difference between a good draftee and a great one. That’s why this year, State Farm is sponsoring surprisingly great skills that give these players their competitive advantage. With State Farm, you can get the personalized service of a local agent, all for a surprisingly great rate. Like a good neighbor, State Farm is there.®

Sours: https://nbadraft.theringer.com/
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Top 50 NBA Draft prospects of 2021

Looking at the top-25 NBA Draft prospects of 2021, we’ve come to one conclusion. It’s an absolutely stacked class at the guard and wings positions. There’s four consensus top players and a bunch of other elite options who could make immediate impacts. Without further ado, we break down these prospects below.

Top NBA Draft prospects of 2021

Rankings start with a core four that could very well shake up the foundation of struggling organizations around the Association. This is a consensus four, led by three wings and a talented young big man from Southern California.

Top NBA Draft prospects: The consensus top four

1. Cade Cunningham, guard, Oklahoma State

top nba draft prospects: cade cunningham

As far as 2021 NBA Draft prospects go, Cunningham is the cream of the crop. He’s the consensus No. 1 player in the draft, and it’s not close. The 6-foot-8 Cunningham averaged 20.1 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.5 assists while shooting 40% from distance for Oklahoma State last season. He’s an elite prospect and a future NBA All-Star at either guard position. Think Ben Simmons with an actual shooting ability. NBA comparison: Luka Doncic

2. Jalen Green, guard, NBA G-League

The 6-foot-5 Green was absolutely brilliant for the Ignite during the NBA G-League season, averaging 17.9 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals on 37% shooting from distance. He’s explosive with a great ability to finish inside. Improved perimeter shooting has Green looking like a legit NBA prospect heading into draft season. NBA comparison: James Harden

3. Evan Mobley, center USC

Top NBA Draft prospects: Evan Mobley

A top-three recruit in 2020, the 7-foot Mobley more than lived up to that with USC. He averaged 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds and 2.9 blocks on 58% shooting as a freshman. Those around the Association leading up to the NBA Draft view Mobley as a more-skilled version of 2020 No. 2 pick James Wiseman. Just let that sink in for a second. NBA comparison: Chris Bosh

4. Jalen Suggs, guard, Gonzaga

top nba draft prospects jalen suggs

There’s now talk that Suggs could go No. 1 in the 2021 NBA Draft after leading Gonzaga to the National Championship Game. There’s good reason for this. The 6-foot-4 combo guard is seen as a great two-way player. As a freshman for the Bulldogs, he averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals on 50% shooting. What makes Suggs potentially special, however, is his maturity and decision-making on the court. He’s going to be an immediate impact performer. NBA comparison: Jamal Murray

Top NBA Draft prospects: Rest of the top 10

5. Jonathan Kuminga, forward, NBA G-League

Kuminga just recently made his NBA G-League debut after deciding to opt out of playing college basketball. He averaged 15.8 points and 7.2 rebounds while showing great two-way ability. This is just the latest example of the 6-foot-6 wing proving himself to be an elite-level youngster. Comparisons to Kevin Durant might be overblown, but the skillset is here for the youngster to carve out an All-Star caliber career. NBA comparison: Andrew Wiggins

6. Josh Giddey, guard, Australia

Among the top NBA prospects from overseas in some time, Giddey has an absolutely amazing skillset on the offensive end of the court. At 6-foot-8 and manning the point guard position for the NBL’s Adelaide 36ers, Giddey is a mismatch waiting to happen. He’s similar to Ben Simmons in that he can play point forward. The biggest issue here is range. Giddey shot just 29% from distance in the NBL last season. He must improve in this area to be seen as one of the elite NBA Draft prospects of 2021. NBA comparison: Ben Simmons

7. Scottie Barnes, forward, Florida State

Top NBA Draft prospects: Scottie Barnes

A top-five recruit in 2020, Barnes was super impressive as a freshman for the Seminoles. He averaged north of 10 points and four rebounds on 50% shooting from the field. Add in 4.1 assists and 1.5 steals, and he looks like a true all-around player. What makes Barnes intriguing to teams like the Orlando Magic is the fact that he’s already an elite defensive player. That will go a long way in the former Florida State standout being selected higher than first imagined. NBA comparison: Draymond Green

8. Davion Mitchell, guard, Baylor

Top NBA Draft prospects: Davion Mitchell

Mitchell was absolutely brilliant during Baylor’s shocking run to the national championship last season, and could be a surprise come draft night with the Golden State Warriors being an option at seven. The 6-foot-2 guard was the Naismith Defensive Player of the year, continually guarding the opposing team’s best player. He has elite initial burst and quickness on offense and has shown an ability to shoot from the outside (45% three-point shooter in 2020-21). The dude is going to be special. NBA comparison: Donovan Mitchell

9. Moses Moody, guard, Arkansas

Top NBA Draft prospects 2021: Moses Moody

This former Arkansas star was tremendous during his brief career with the Razorbacks, averaging 16.8 points and 5.8 rebounds on 37% shooting from distance. As with others outside of the elite in this class, the question here is upside. Is Moody going to be an average three-and-D wing or will he accelerate his career path by becoming a lesser version of someone like Devin Booker? NBA comparison: C.J. McCollum

10. Keon Johnson, guard, Tennessee

top nba draft prospects 2021: keon johnson, tennessee

Johnson averaged 11.3 points on 45% shooting from the field as a freshman last season. The dude boasts a ton of untapped potential, too. We especially like his athleticism and explosiveness in the open court. With that said, Johnson is among the most-raw top NBA Draft prospects of 2021, which should impact his status when the annual event takes place in late July. A true rebuilding team like the aforementioned Magic would be the best type of fit here. NBA comparison: Norman Powell

Top NBA Draft prospects: The best of the rest

11. Alperen Sengün, center, Turkey

Sengun averaged 19.2 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, 1.7 blocks and 1.3 steals in 28 minutes per game for Besiktas in the Turkish league. He shot 65% from the field and 81% from the free throw line. One of the biggest things keeping Sengun from being a top-10 prospect in our books is that he remains a liability on defense. It’s something the big man will have to address if he wants to make an immediate impact. NBA comparison: Pau Gasol

12. James Bouknight, guard, Connecticut

top nba draft prospects 2021: james bouknight

As for analyzing top NBA Draft prospects, Bouknight is an interesting case-study. He was among the best scorers in college basketball a season ago. He averaged 18.7 points on 45% shooting from the field for the Huskies. The only question here is whether an early blazing hot start from distance last season was an outlier. That streakiness combined with issues on defense pushes the two-guard down in our most-recent NBA prospect rankings. NBA comparison: Tyler Herro

13. Corey Kispert, forward, Gonzaga

top nba draft prospects: corey kispert

he’s a dynamic offensive threat. The 6-foot-7 forward averaged 18.6 points and 5.0 rebounds on 44% shooting from distance for the Bulldogs this past season. He’s a tremendous fit for a team like the Sacramento Kings who need to find a wing that is a capable spot-up three-point shooter. That is Kispert’s game right now. If he has those who can distribute on offense, he’ll be amazing early on. NBA comparison: Bojan Bogdanovic

14. Jalen Johnson, forward, Duke

nba draft 2021 prospects: jalen johnson

A former top recruit, Johnson averaged 11.2 points and 6.1 rebounds on 53% shooting as a freshman before opting out 13 games in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It led to some criticism being levied in the direction of the 6-foot-9 wing. But make no mistake about it, he is among the top NBA Draft prospects of 2021. Johnson boasts elite athleticism, can get to the rim in transition and is as versatile as any defender in the entire class. The dude has a promising career ahead of himself. NBA comparison: Rudy Gay

15. Chris Duarte, guard, Oregon

Top NBA Draft prospects: Chris Duarte

The 6-foot-6 Duarte was absolutely tremendous for Oregon last season, averaging 17.1 points and 4.6 rebounds on 42% shooting from distance. With that said, there’s certainly some questions about his upside given that the guard is 24-years-old. Realistically, this will impact Duarte’s draft stock. Perhaps, a contending team like the Atlanta Hawks might make sense here. NBA comparison: Derrick White

16. Cameron Thomas, guard, LSU

nba draft prospect rankings: cameron thomas

 Thomas is a score-first two-guard (averaged 23.0 points as a freshman for LSU). Thomas also averaged a whopping 28.5 points on 50% shooting from the field during the NCAA Tournament. He can put up points in bunches and has sky-high confidence in his scoring ability. So, why do we have Thomas so low? He struggles big time on defense and boasts questionable decision-making from a shooting perspective. That must change if Thomas wants to carve out a long career in the Association. NBA comparison: Gary Harris

17. Sharife Cooper, guard, Auburn

top nba draft prospects: sharife cooper

The former Auburn star averaged north of 20 points and 8.1 assists per game as a freshman, so Cooper had a huge part to play as a scorer and in setting up his teammates. While he has limited range, great ball distribution skills and a good mid-range game makes up for that. Cooper is among the most-underrated NBA Draft prospects of the cycle. NBA comparison: Dejounte Murray

18. Isaiah Jackson, forward/center, Kentucky

top nba draft prospects: isaiah jackson

Jackson (6-foot-10 and 206 pounds) would be a great fit. A top-26 recruit in 2020, Jackson excelled as a freshman with Kentucky last season. He averaged 8.4 points and 6.6 rebounds on 54% shooting. While still raw, the Michigan native could very well carve out a great career in the NBA. It’s just going to take some time. NBA comparison: Marvin Bagley III

19. Franz Wagner, forward, Michigan

top-10 nba draft prospect

He’s been ascending the rankings since finishing out a two-year run with Michigan that saw him average 12.0 points and 6.1 rebounds on 47% shooting from the field. The biggest question here is upside. Wagner boasts limited athleticism and was an inconsistent shooter from the outside for the Wolverines last season. If he doesn’t improve in this area, a bench role seems to be Wagner’s ceiling in the pros. NBA comparison: Danilo Gallinari

20. Usman Garuba, forward, Spain

Garuba, 19, was named the 2020-2021 EuroLeague Rising Star, an award just recently won by Luka Doncic. That’s a pretty amazing accomplishment given that he was competing in the highest-quality league in the world outside of the NBA. He also showed promise with perimeter shooter, defensive capability and passing ability. Right now, Garuba is seen as a boom-or-bust prospect with a ton of upside. Look for him to go much higher than his ranking suggests here. He should be a lottery selection. NBA comparison: Pascal Siakam

21. Kai Jones, forward/center, Texas

top 2021 nba draft prospects: kai jones

After just recently declaring for the 2021 NBA Draft, Jones is ascending the rankings. The 6-foot-11 forward averaged 8.8 points and 4.8 rebounds on a resounding 58% shooting last season, and could compete for a big role right away. That’s especially true given improved perimeter shooting. The only issue here is a lack of experience. It could stunt Jones’ growth early on. NBA comparison: Jarrett Allen

22. Jared Butler, guard, Baylor

Top NBA Draft prospects: Jared Butler

One of the cornerstones of the Bears’ national championship team last season, Butler averaged 16.7 points, 3.3 rebounds and 4.8 assists on 47% shooting from the field. Lesser known than Davion Mitchell, Butler will sneak into the bottom half of the first round and should be a steal for a contending team after earning the NCAA Tournament’s top individual player award. NBA comparison: Avery Bradley

23. Ziaire Williams, forward, Stanford

top nba draft prospects: ziaire williams

While Williams struggled in his only season with the Cardinal, he still has loads of potential. The 6-foot-8 forward was a top-six recruit from Sierra Canyon in Southern California last year. He didn’t lose that potential during a COVID-centric college basketball season. The athleticism and traits are there for Williams to be a starter-caliber player in the NBA. He just needs to fine tune a bunch of things, which leads us to believe a limited role early on is in the cards. NBA comparison: Harrison Barnes

24. Tre Mann, guard, Florida

Top NBA Draft prospects: Tre Mann

Mann is among the most-intriguing NBA prospects of this cycle. The 6-foot-5 guard was brilliant as a sophomore for the Gators last season, averaging 16.0 points, 5.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists on 40% shooting from distance. Being a shoot-first point guard doesn’t hurt here, either. A team like the Houston Rockets would make a ton of sense for Mann. NBA comparison: D’Angelo Russell

25. Josh Christopher, guard, Arizona State

top nba draft prospects: josh christopher

The 6-foot-5 Christopher has been compared by some to San Antonio Spurs star wing DeMar DeRozan. For good reason. He’s boasts a tremendous two-way skillset. Last season saw Christopher average 14.3 points and 4.7 rebounds while playing great defense. NBA comparison: DeMar DeRozan

NBA prospects 2021: 5 underrated later options

1. Jaden Springer, guard, Tennessee

NBA Mock Draft: Jaden Springer, Tennessee

As 2021 NBA Draft prospects go, Springer might be among the most underrated. The former top-13 recruit averaged 12.5 points and 3.5 rebounds on a stellar 47% shooting from the field in his only season with the Volunteers. He’s a prime target for a contending team late in Round 1.

2. Ayo Dosunmu, guard, Illinois

top nba draft prospects: ayo dosunmu

Here’s a dude who averaged 20.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists while shooting 39% from distance for the Illini last season. He’s a tremendous all-around player. What might be keeping Dosunmu from being a first-round pick is the fact that he’s seen as having an average skillset without a tremendous ability to create shots and handle the ball.

3. Charles Bassey, center, Western Kentucky

top nba draft prospects: charles bassey

Our NBA prospect rankings couldn’t be complete without this big man. We’re higher on Bassey in this NBA mock draft than others. Having just recently declared for the 2021 NBA Draft, the 6-foot-11 center averaged 17.6 points and 11.6 rebounds on 59% shooting for Western Kentucky last season.

4. Terrence Shannon Jr., guard, Texas Tech

top nba draft prospects: terrence shannon

The 6-foot-6 Shannon Jr. might be an absolute steal among second-round NBA Draft prospects in 2021. A two-way player for the Red Raiders, he averaged 12.9 points and 4.0 rebounds on a reasonable 45% shooting from distance. An ability to play both the two-guard and small-forward position should help his draft stock.

5.  Day’Ron Sharpe, center, North Carolina

Feb 20, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels forward Day'Ron Sharpe (11) scores as Louisville Cardinals guard Charles Minlend (21) defends in the second half at Dean E. Smith Center. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

He averaged 9.5 points and 7.6 rebounds on 52% shooting from the field for the Tar Heels last season. Sharpe has untapped potential following a one-year college career. A bit raw, Sharpe is below other big men we listed above. But he could carve out a nice role within two or three years.

Top 2021 NBA Draft prospects by position

Point guard

  1. Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
  2. Davion Mitchell, Baylor
  3. Sharife Cooper, Auburn
  4. Jared Butler, Baylor
  5. Tre Mann, Florida
  6. Jaden Springer, Tennessee
  7. Daishen Nix, NBA G-League
  8. David Johnson, Louisville
  9. Nah’Shon Hyland, Virginia Commonwealth
  10. Miles McBride, West Virginia

Shooting guard

  1. Jalen Green, NBA G-League
  2. Jalen Suggs, Gonzaga
  3. Josh Giddey, Australia
  4. Keon Johnson, Tennessee
  5. Moses Moody, Arkansas
  6. Chris Duarte, Oregon
  7. Cameron Thomas, LSU
  8. James Bouknight, Connecticut
  9. Josh Christopher, Arizona State
  10. Ayo Dosunmu, Illinois

Small forward/wing

  1. Jonathan Kuminga, NBA G-League
  2. Scottie Barnes, Florida State
  3. Corey Kisper, Gonzaga
  4. Jalen Johnson, Duke
  5. Franz Wagner, Michigan
  6. Ziaire Williams, Stanford
  7. Terrence Shannon Jr., Texas Tech
  8. Kessler Edwards, Pepperdine
  9. Herbert Jones, Alabama
  10. Justin Champagnie, Pittsburgh

Power forward

  1. Usman Garuba, Spain
  2. Isaiah Jackson, Kentucky
  3. Kai Jones, Texas
  4. Matthew Hurt, Duke
  5. Isaiah Todd, NBA G-League
  6. Filip Petrušev, Serbia
  7. Greg Brown, Texas
  8. J.T. Thor, Auburn
  9. Isaiah Livers, Michigan
  10. Jericho Sims, Texas

Center

  1. Evan Mobley, USC
  2. Alperen Sengün, Turkey
  3. Charles Bassey, Western Kentucky
  4. Day’Ron Sharpe, North Carolina
  5. Luka Garza, Iowa
  6. Neemias Queta, Utah State
  7. Jay Huff, Virginia
  8. EJ Onu, Shawnee State
  9. Sandro Mamukelashvili, Seton Hall
  10. Ariel Hukporti, Germany
Sours: https://sportsnaut.com/nba-draft-prospects/
The Best Players Drafted At Each Spot In The NBA Draft

Early 2022 NBA Draft Big Board: Top 30 Prospects to Watch

If it feels like the 2021 draft just happened, and it’s way too soon to start thinking about next year, well … you’re not totally wrong. But here we go again. NBA teams have already begun preparing for the season ahead and familiarizing themselves with the upcoming draft class, and with that in mind, so have we.

Two prospects are at the forefront of the NBA’s discussion as potential No. 1 picks: Duke’s Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren. The top pick is a toss-up between them right now. I loosely canvassed a range of front-office personnel over the past few weeks and heard arguments for both players—suffice it to say there’s not a whole lot separating them yet, and it will be an ongoing story line to monitor throughout the season. Banchero is viewed as an unusually bankable, low-risk prospect, whereas Holmgren comes with a bit more risk but perhaps more upside. Both are oversize playmaking forwards who fill similar roles in concept, but their styles of play are extremely different, creating some fascinating contrast. Conveniently, Duke and Gonzaga meet in Las Vegas on Nov. 26, which promises to be one of the more consequential games in this draft cycle.

I can’t emphasize enough that it’s still quite early in the process. A lot will change, as it always does, so consider this initial Big Board more of a watch list than a concrete ranking of players. As always, I rely on conversations with executives and scouts around the NBA in addition to my own personal scouting work—which in the case of many prospects, dates back several years—to form these lists. With that in mind, here’s how the 2022 draft class has started to shape up.

1. Paolo Banchero, F, Duke

Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 235 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Banchero should be the centerpiece of this year’s Duke team and brings an exceptionally well-rounded skill set to the table, with an aptitude for scoring and facilitating, an improved jumper and handle, and the ability to face up defenders or play on the block. He’s worked on his frame over the past couple of years, which has made him a matchup problem: Banchero can overpower smaller players with his strength, take on bigger defenders with finesse, and make plays for teammates out of those opportunities. He’s developed legitimate perimeter skills as well, capable of creating his own shot off the bounce, and improved his range. He also moves well defensively and is an excellent rebounder, with wing-like coordination in a jumbo package.

NBA teams don’t view him as a flashy or outside-the-box No. 1–pick candidate, but Banchero is reliably solid, with a high floor as a likely starting-level player and a chance to be more than that as his game continues to expand. Teams already feel comfortable with what they’d be getting, and that may give him the inside track for the top spot at this early juncture. He is versatile and productive with a translatable skill set to today’s NBA game. It’s hard to find bigs this complete and polished at such a young age.

2. Chet Holmgren, F/C, Gonzaga

Height: 7' 0" | Weight: 190 | Age: 19 | Freshman

Holmgren may have the highest ceiling in the draft, as a megaskilled 7-footer with a legit perimeter game and an appealing level of toughness. The most unique prospect in this draft class, he is an exceptional ballhandler for his size and moves like a wing, with real passing acumen that allows him to make plays for teammates and take advantage of defensive mistakes. He’s also an efficient scorer, a natural jump shooter and a stellar shot blocker.

The whole package here is certainly No. 1 pick worthy in a vacuum, but there’s also a perception of added downside, primarily tied to Holmgren’s slight build, lack of physical strength and the durability struggles that skill-oriented, slender 7-footers tend to have in the NBA. He’ll have a huge platform to put those questions to rest at Gonzaga, where he should be highly productive. But the perceived risk attached to Holmgren likely isn’t changing—he simply will have to convince whoever has the top pick that his long-term potential is well worth it.

3. Jaden Hardy, G, G League Ignite

Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 185 | Age: 19

While more of a score-first combo guard than a traditional fit at either guard spot, Hardy has been tracking for some time as one of the most offensively gifted players in this class. He has serious upside as a shotmaker, with the ability to make plays for teammates in a pinch. He’s also shown the anticipation and competitive nature that could make him a plus defender using his length.

Hardy has struggled in the past with heavy ball pressure and beating opponents downhill, making him occasionally mistake-prone and a bit more jumper-reliant than some of his peers. He’ll have to improve his handle and shot selection to succeed in the G League, and learn to add value without the ball in his hands. Hardy enters the season as a highly appealing talent, and quite likely the top guard in this draft class. A huge season could conceivably vault him into the discussion with Banchero and Holmgren.

4. Yannick Nzosa, F/C, Unicaja Malaga (Democratic Republic of Congo)

Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 175 | Age: 17

The consensus top international prospect in this year’s class, Nzosa is one of the best all-around athletes in the draft, and a potential game-changing defender with off-the-charts length and mobility and active hands. He runs and covers ground exceptionally well, and has the quickness to gamble, recover and contest pretty much any opponent at the rim.

Nzosa plays hard and has benefited from seasoning in Spain’s ACB, and while he needs to add strength, there’s a very real chance he becomes an All-NBA-type defender who can protect the basket and switch situationally. The question here is how long that process takes, and exactly what he’ll be able to give a team on offense. Nzosa is explosive at the rim and can attack the basket on a straight line but has yet to develop a reliable jumper—if he ends up as a Clint Capela–type rim-runner on offense, that’ll be a great outcome, but if his skill level greatly accelerates, there’s some room for him to be more than that. He’s a good bet to come off the board early in the draft, and his upside may be as high as any of his peers listed here.

5. Caleb Houstan, F, Michigan

Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 205 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Over the course of an impressive high school career at Montverde Academy, Houstan developed into a consistent, well-rounded player who adds value with his size, mature approach and excellent perimeter shooting. While not an elite run-jump athlete, he projects as an extremely high-floor role player, with the NBA trending heavily toward taller, skilled players who shoot the ball and defend.

The Canadian forward makes good decisions, can pass effectively and doesn’t require heavy touches to impact a game. He’s also made strides as a scorer, and become more comfortable shooting from deep off the bounce. NBA teams will want to see Houstan’s individual offense continue to trend up at Michigan—he’s not extremely creative, nor is he an explosive finisher—but if he can flash more than just a catch-and-shoot game, it could really raise his perceived ceiling. Houstan is polished for his age and should be one of the better freshmen in the country regardless. He’s tracking as a likely lottery pick.

6. Jabari Smith Jr., F, Auburn

Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 210 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Smith is a gifted scorer with a fascinating combination of size, skill and significant upside, particularly considering he’s one of the younger freshmen in this class. He’s a natural jump shooter with an advanced midrange game and a projectable stroke. He also has a developing handle that enables him to create looks for himself.

Smith needs to add muscle to consistently use his mismatch at the next level, and will have to answer some questions about shot selection, playmaking and defensive consistency in college. He’s more smooth and coordinated than explosive but fits the mold of where the NBA is headed as a tall combo forward who can play on the move and make tough shots. The idea of Smith as an offensive focal point has always been obvious and appealing, and if he proves he can be an efficient, go-to scorer, he should be an early selection. The actual range of outcomes is a bit wider as he adjusts to SEC play, but his upside should be appealing in the lottery regardless.

7. Patrick Baldwin Jr., F, Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 220 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Baldwin boasts one of the more safely translatable playstyles in this class: He’s huge, he’s a terrific jump shooter and his feel for the game is strong. While he’ll be operating outside the spotlight playing for his father at a lower level in the Horizon League, Baldwin shouldn’t be an overly complicated eval for front offices. Playing as the presumptive focal point of the offense should give him an opportunity to expand his own shot creation and playmaking skills, and while he’s not an elite run-jump athlete, he’s big enough to shoot over defenders without needing a ton of separation.

Baldwin profiles better defensively as a four than as a true wing, but as long as he continues to shoot it, his positional fit won’t be an issue. After missing most of his senior season with an ankle injury, he’ll have plenty of opportunity to get back on track. He’s an impressive prospect with starting-caliber upside and comes with a high floor as a useful role player.

8. Jalen Duren, F/C, Memphis

Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 235 | Age: 17 | Freshman

The hype around Duren, Emoni Bates and Memphis will be significant going into the fall, and the former projects easily as one of the first bigs off the board in next year’s draft. Duren possesses advanced physical tools and a mature frame, and he’s a quality passer for his position who has tried to moonlight as more of a versatile forward than true center over the past 18 months or so. His strength, instincts and skill potential are highly intriguing.

Duren is still most effective within five feet of the basket than anywhere else, however, and should be functionally more of a traditional big—which begs the question of how to value him relative to the changing nature of the NBA game. He has potential to stretch the floor, and will need to show progress in that area to maximize his value in the draft. There’s plenty to like here, but Duren is already an acquired taste for some scouts, and he doesn’t always play hard. To be fair, bigs tend to take longer on that front, but in a draft class full of versatile wings and forwards, Duren has work to do and more to show to maximize his stock.

9. A.J. Griffin, SF, Duke

Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 220 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Griffin missed significant time with minor injuries during his high school career, but has been a stellar player when healthy, with a big, muscular frame and the ability to score at all three levels from the wing. The son of longtime NBA forward and coach Adrian Griffin is expected to be a key piece for Duke, and should have a strong chance at the lottery if all goes well.

Griffin is more reliant on his strength and size in lieu of elite quick-twitch explosiveness, but he’s a quality jump shooter who can take advantage of mismatches and has good overall awareness of the floor. Defensively, he has the length and smarts to be a positive, as well. He was physically mature at a young age, and his skill level is still catching up to his frame, but Griffin should be able to get back on track as long as he’s available. The hope is that the injury concerns are minimal moving forward, and that he emerges as a versatile contributor at Duke right away.

10. Jaden Ivey, SG, Purdue

Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 200 | Age: 19 | Sophomore

Ivey has been on a stellar trajectory since the end of last season, and his breakout continued into a strong showing for USA Basketball at the Under-19 world championships. Although he was a four-star recruit (and his mother is Niele Ivey, the head coach of the Notre Dame women’s team), Ivey was relatively unheralded upon landing at Purdue. But he’s gotten stronger, quicker and more explosive since then. He has become a disruptive perimeter defender and puts pressure on the rim going downhill.

NBA teams will be closely monitoring the progress of Ivey’s jump shot, which will be a major determinant in his path to the draft. He’s such a terrific athlete and defensive presence that his floor as a role player feels fairly high. Considering how much room he has to grow on offense, Ivey could come off the board pretty early.

11. J.D. Davison, G, Alabama

Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 175 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Davison will step in immediately as a key playmaker for the Crimson Tide, with elite explosiveness and open-court speed pointing to obvious NBA upside. The range of outcomes with Davison is a bit wide—he’s not a good jump shooter yet, and he’s headed for a big step up in level after dominating lesser high school competition in Alabama. But his physical tools are excellent, he’s an underrated passer with lead guard potential, and he should be a strong fit in Nate Oats’s uptempo system. He’ll need to show progress as a shooter to make the best possible case—and it’s a glaring hole for a ball-dominant guard to have—but the pieces are in place for Davison to have a strong freshman year. He’ll share ballhandling duties with Jahvon Quinerly, and a good showing could vault him into the upper part of the draft.

12. Bennedict Mathurin, SG, Arizona

Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 195 | Age: 19 | Sophomore

After opting to stay in school and bypass a likely top 40 selection in the 2021 draft, Mathurin returns to Arizona ticketed as a primary scoring option. He put together a good freshman year in a secondary role, making 52% of twos, 41% of threes and 84% of his free throws, as an athletic, scoring-minded wing with a developing handle and consistent catch-and-shoot skills. Mathurin isn’t much of a playmaker for others yet, while playing a bit upright physically, nor is he much of a defender, but he’s been trending in the right direction overall in the past year. He has improved his overall floor game significantly from his time in the NBA’s global academy program. The Canadian wing was a bit of a mixed bag over the summer at the Under-19 World Cup but flashed the scoring potential that could land him in the lottery next year.

13. Peyton Watson, F, UCLA

Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 200 | Age: 18 | Freshman

UCLA should strongly benefit from adding Watson, a long, versatile, high-upside recruit, to a group that pulled off an improbable Final Four run. Watson is a capable jump shooter and smooth athlete who continues to expand his offensive game, relying more on coordination and skill than explosiveness. He’s also an above-average passer who can make plays for others, enabling him to play on and off the ball with some effectiveness.

As Watson’s frame matures, there’s intriguing upside as a perimeter scorer and switchable defender. He has the type of frame and basic strengths that are always tantalizing to NBA teams. The Bruins are returning enough talent that Watson won’t be overtaxed with carrying the load, which should ultimately be beneficial to his development. The lottery is well within reach if he can be productive in whatever role he’s ultimately tasked with. It’s worth keeping in mind that Watson was a late-bloomer and is still at a relatively early stage of his development relative to his peers. He could get a bump based on how much room he has left to improve in all facets.

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14. Jean Montero, PG, Overtime Elite (Dominican Republic)

Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 170 | Age: 18

After leaving Gran Canaria’s development system to join the fledgling Overtime Elite program, Montero will likely be the first OTE player to hear his name called on draft night. He’s a decorated international prospect, having posted quality numbers as a teenager at lower levels in Spain, and he was a standout at the Basketball Without Borders camp in Chicago in 2020.

Montero is exceptionally tough, quick, and difficult to contain off the dribble—he is able to attack downhill, shift gears and get to the basket effectively at his size. His lack of ideal size and physical heft will pose questions, but Montero can be a stellar, pesky defender when engaged and is willing to play physically. He can fall into stretches where he shoots too much, and profiles as more of a scorer than a traditional point guard, but he doesn’t have any overly troublesome holes in his skill set. This is not an especially deep point guard class, and Montero is tracking as one of the top options.

15. Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite (Australia)

Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 180 | Age: 18

Daniels is expected to be one of the primary point guards for Ignite this season after signing on from the NBA’s Global Academy program and starring for Australia at the Under-19 World Cup. He’s a highly versatile and smart player, capable of handling both guard spots and defending all over the perimeter at his size. While he needs to sufficiently improve his handle and jump shot, Daniels is widely considered one of Australia’s top up-and-coming prospects, with high-end athletic ability and an even-keeled approach.

There’s a lot to like overall here, and he projects as a high-floor prospect with a starter-caliber ceiling if his individual skills keep expanding. This is stating the obvious, but growing to 6' 6" massively shifted Daniels’s trajectory for the better. He’ll be properly tested in the G League.

16. Jaime Jaquez, SF, UCLA

Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 220 | Age: 20 | Junior

Jaquez had an impressive late-season run and was instrumental in the Bruins’ surprise Final Four trip. He’s big, crafty and skilled with an extremely impressive feel for the game, and he’ll have a big platform to play his way into the first round as UCLA faces higher expectations. Jaquez has historically been a streaky shooter, making 39% on threes at low volume last season, and just 65% of free throws. He’s not an all-world athlete. But there were times last season where it looked like he was on the verge of a real leap.

Jaquez’s noted work ethic and basketball IQ point to the possibility of a significant leap. He’s an extremely decisive scorer who reads defenders quickly and has a deep bag of moves both going downhill and creating space for his jumper. With continued improvement as a shotmaker, Jaquez’s stock could skyrocket, and the whispers out of Westwood right now are that he’s emerged as the Bruins’ go-to guy.

17. Ousmane Dieng, G/F, New Zealand Breakers (France)

Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 185 | Age: 18

Dieng will leave his native France for the NBL this season, where teams will track his evolution as a perimeter creator closely. He has terrific size and burgeoning guard skills but is generally described by scouts as more of a project, noting his underdeveloped frame and overall inefficient offensive game. But it’s easy to see the idea: He’s a creative passer and has some innate shake and change-of-direction off the dribble that’s hard to defend at his size.

Dieng will presumably see plenty of opportunities to run possessions with the Breakers, and if he refines his pull-up shooting and can convince scouts of his potential as a playmaker, he should be able to solidify an early selection. But this is a situation that could go either way, as Dieng has yet to prove he can put everything together, and he’s not a freakish athlete or consistent defender.

18. Kendall Brown, SF, Baylor

Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 190 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Boasting a long frame, explosive leaping ability and rangy lateral quickness, Brown is a first-round caliber talent who should be able to step in and help Baylor immediately. He passes the eye test as an athletic slasher who can make plays in the open floor, moves well without the ball, and guards several positions at his size. The league is always hunting for malleable wing prospects.

Brown has terrific instincts on defense and is highly disruptive in the passing lanes with his physical strength and good closing speed. The primary drawback here is that Brown has never been a very good three-point shooter, nor is he a very creative ballhandler, which will relegate him to an off-ball role on offense and place even more emphasis on becoming a respectable shooter to earn big minutes. His progress in that area will be a big factor in his pathway to the draft.

19. Nikola Jovic, F, Mega Basket (Serbia)

Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 210 | Age: 18

Jovic stood out at the Under-19 World Cup, showcasing his point-forward skill set and impressive handle while finishing as the event’s third-leading scorer. He’s a well-rounded, mature player, though not an elite athlete, relying on his feel and craft to impact the game. Jovic is an excellent passer who can play in transition or initiate plays in half-court settings. He can operate on either end of a ball screen and has the instinctual ability to play out of a range of spots on the floor. Jovic’s jump shot is still somewhat inconsistent, and he will need to become a better defender over time, but prospects with his size and ball skills are tough to find. With power forward becoming an increasingly skill-focused position in the NBA, Jovic should arrive at a convenient time, and if he can refine his jumper and prove himself defensively, he’ll have real appeal as a rotation player who can do a bit of everything.

20. Daimion Collins, C, Kentucky

Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 200 | Age: 18 | Freshman

With impressive physical tools and some developing ball skills, Collins will be a person of interest out of the gate at Kentucky but profiles as more of a long-term project whenever he lands in the NBA. He is a remarkable athlete, can handle the ball functionally and shoot from the perimeter, and has the ability to protect the rim at a high level. There’s likely going to be a major learning curve for him in college, however, as he arrives from a small Texas high school and will face a huge leap up in competition and physicality.

Collins needs to add a ton of strength and may be playing conceptual catch-up for much of this season, but he compares favorably to Isaiah Jackson, who left Kentucky last season and heard his name called in the 20s. It’s hard to know exactly what to expect from Collins right away, but he’s capable of freaky, highlight-level plays, and it’s easy to envision him showing enough of that upside to land somewhere in the first round. A strong freshman year could see him go much higher than this.

21. Tristan Vukcevic, C, Real Madrid (Serbia)

Height: 6' 11" | Weight: 200 | Age: 18

Vukcevic is on course to be the next teenage prospect to make the leap from Real Madrid to the NBA, after breaking in with the senior team last season and holding his own in very limited playing time. The appeal with him is fairly clear: He has a terrific, projectable frame, he’s mobile and fluid for his size, and he’s an advanced catch-and-shoot player who should be able to space the floor at center. His overall feel is impressive, manifesting in sharp passing skills, screen-setting and energy plays.

He’ll need to improve as a rebounder and continue adding strength, but he is on the fast track right now and has started earning trust as a rotation player at a huge European club. With more progress, he looks like a first-round talent, offering some real versatility and good physical traits for a modern center.

22. Keegan Murray, PF, Iowa

Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 215 | Age: 21 | Sophomore

Although Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp carried Iowa last season, Murray quietly emerged as the Hawkeyes’ top long-term prospect. He brings terrific size, length and defensive instincts, and should be a high-caliber team defender in short order. Murray covers ground with ease, has impressive floor awareness and takes away passing lanes. There’s room for him to develop into a useful supporting player on offense, too: Murray is a smooth athlete and smart off-ball cutter and screener, and the ball rarely sticks too long in his hands.

The NBA will closely monitor his offensive development—right now, he lacks an elite skill on that end—but he has potential to be a good set shooter, and we still haven’t seen exactly what he can do as a scorer. Murray already made a big impact for Iowa in sporadic minutes, and without needing his number called. He should be a person of interest for teams all season.

23. Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee

Height: 6' 0" | Weight: 170 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Chandler should be an impactful floor leader out of the gate for Tennessee, with impressive speed and playmaking chops and the ability to make teammates better. He’s relied on his feel and change of pace to control games in lieu of ideal size for his position, which may wind up a major drawback when it comes to his draft stock. It helps that Chandler is a good shooter and willing defender, but his lack of physical tools and below-the-rim tendencies makes it a bit tough to project him confidently as a starting-caliber NBA guard at this stage. Still, he’s a first-round talent with a history of winning and strong intangibles and decision-making skills, and he could certainly wind up as a high-quality backup, at worst. Expect Chandler to be a difference-maker in college, regardless, but he’ll need a strong freshman year to assuage some of the concerns.

24. TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky

Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 185 | Age: 19 | Freshman

Washington was a late riser in the recruiting cycle who initially committed to Creighton, and is expected to be a big piece of Kentucky’s puzzle as the team’s most natural backcourt scorer. Often praised for his floor leadership, Washington is a heady, competitive guard who relies on craft, changing speeds, and a good-looking jump shot in lieu of elite explosiveness and strength. He can be a bit of an overdribbler at times, which generally leads to mistakes against better competition, and at this point it’s a bit unclear whether he profiles best as a point guard or combo in the long run. Washington left a positive impression on scouts during his senior season and looks to have a shot at the first round, particularly if he emerges as a go-to player for Kentucky.

25. Roko Prkacin, F/C, Cibona Zagreb (Croatia)

Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 210 | Age: 18

Prkacin was searching for a first-round promise during the 2021 draft process but was unable to find a suitable guarantee in the 20s and ultimately withdrew. He has yet to turn 19 and should have a better shot next year if he can build on last season, which included promising flashes but ultimately wasn’t enough to build his first-round case. He’s not extremely explosive or quick but has strong passing ability and a solid overall skill level to build on. Prkacin needs to convince scouts he can shoot the ball consistently, as it’s unlikely he evolves into a heavy-usage worthy player in the NBA. His ability to adjust into more of a stretch big will be crucial.

26. Jabari Walker, PF, Colorado

Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 200 | Age: 19 | Sophomore

The son of longtime NBA forward Samaki Walker is a popular breakout candidate after showing some impressive flashes in a small role as a freshman. Walker was somewhat inconsistent in that context, and it’s worth noting that he didn’t make the final cut for USA Basketball’s Under-19 team over the summer. He was a late bloomer in high school who was somewhat underrecruited, so what he accomplished last season with limited minutes should be encouraging enough.

Walker has impressive physical tools and rebounding skills, and made 23 of his 44 threes as a freshman while shooting 77% from the foul line. He lacks an elite skill right now, but the hope is that Walker emerges as a viable face-up player and floor-spacer who can switch ball screens on defense, and that his eye-test ability turns into real production.

27. Allen Flanigan, SG, Auburn

Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 215 | Age: 20 | Junior

After a forgettable freshman season, Flanigan took a nice step forward as a sophomore, starting every game and showcasing his potential as a perimeter scorer, but also struggling heavily with turnovers and decision-making. He’s a good athlete who did well drawing fouls and getting to the line, but his shot selection and individual defense often left something to be desired. He has deep range on his left-handed stroke and plays a very strong-hand dominant style, relying a bit too much on taking and making tough attempts to be effective. Flanigan hasn’t shown a great grasp of how to play with teammates, and will need to make a big leap in terms of feel and processing. But he has moments where he looks like a talented shooter, and he’s athletic and theoretically versatile enough to draw first-round interest.

28. Walker Kessler, C, Auburn

Height: 7' 1" | Weight: 245 | Age: 20 | Sophomore

Kessler lands at Auburn ticketed for a large role, after spending his freshman year mostly buried on North Carolina’s center-heavy roster. A pair of noteworthy performances against Florida State and Notre Dame illustrated his obvious NBA potential: Kessler is huge, pretty mobile and skilled around the basket, with plus shot-blocking skills. There’s some potential for him to eventually space the floor, which would help his case in the pros (although he attempted just four threes and made just 53% of free throws as a freshman). Kessler profiles as a bit more of a traditional center and won’t be a fit for every team, but it’s tough to find athletic bigs with his sheer size and length, and a strong season could help him work into the first-round discussion.

29. Josiah-Jordan James, G/F, Tennessee

Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 205 | Age: 20 | Junior

A former McDonald’s All-American who has yet to fully turn the corner at the college level, James should be asked to do a bit more with the ball in his hands on the offensive end this season. He was one of the more impactful defenders in college basketball, utilizing his large frame, strength and explosiveness to make plays, and is an excellent rebounder for his position. He’s also a capable secondary playmaker who can push in transition. James is just an average three-point shooter, however, and has been inconsistent finishing in the paint in his first two college seasons. There’s some innate versatility to his skill set and obvious role player potential, but his offensive production will need to turn a corner for him to make a first-round case.

30. Mark Williams, C, Duke

Height: 7' 0" | Weight: 245 | Age: 19 | Sophomore

Williams started to figure out the college game in a real way over the final six games of his freshman year, putting up impressive numbers and becoming a bright spot in an otherwise forgettable Duke season. Considering he was a late-blooming high school prospect, there’s still a ton of room left for him to improve. With legit size and a huge wingspan, he continues to emerge as a valuable shot blocker and rim protector, and can impact the glass heavily on both ends. He isn’t a stiff athletically, either, and moves his feet well for his size. His overall skill level isn’t great, as he’s primarily a catch-and-finish player with limited function beyond five feet of the rim. But if he can produce at the rate he’s capable of all season, Williams should have a good case to turn pro.

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