Best 2021 NBA Draft Prospects
There’s a clear group at the top of the best 2021 NBA Draft prospects. While there’s movement further down NBA Draft big boards, the five leading prospects have set themselves apart from the rest.
It would be a shock to see any of these five fall on draft night. The upcoming NBA draft lottery is a big night for many franchises. Teams like the Pistons, Thunder, Rockets and Cavaliers will be particularly desperate to land one of these prospects.
Five NBA prospects to go at top of draft
Cade Cunningham is the consensus number one pick. He’s top of a stacked class of 2021 NBA Draft prospects. While others have franchise-changing potential, Cunningham’s ceiling is the highest of the bunch.
Whispers of Ben Simmons with a jumper are around NBA Draft circles. A playmaker at 6’8 who can defend multiple position, who can hit the outside shot, the sky really is the limit for Cunningham. Of course, there’s always a risk with even the best NBA prospects, but it’s hard not to get swept up in what Cunningham could be.
While Zion Williamson has been a subpar defender so far, Cunningham will arrive in the NBA as a plus defensive player. Expectations are incredibly high.
The only big man in the top five, Evan Mobley should enter the NBA as an above-average defender. His presence inside as a scorer was obvious in college ball. The athleticism should carry over to the Association, but it could take some time for Mobley to develop into the dominant two-way force that so many believe he can become.
Where Mobley lands could determine his impact as a rookie. Many analysts believe he will need to start at the four, particularly when facing the league’s bruising interior big men. He’s also not an old-school on the block big. Mobley is a pick-and-roll threat, and a good passer, but the numbers could be ugly if he’s forced to hunt post ups.
Any team would be lucky to have Mobley. Perhaps even more than his peers in this class, though, the fit on his new team will be decisive.
Where others are ready to contribute in the 2021/22 NBA season, Jonathan Kuminga is more of a project player. Don’t get it wrong, though, the 6’8 18-year-old is an elite athlete who has already demonstrated an ability to compete against full-grown men in the G-League bubble earlier this year.
The raw physical attributes put Kuminga’s ceiling high. Unfortunately, raw is also the best word for other parts of his game. The shot is probably several years from being reliable, and while he can do a bit off the bounce, he’s not a go-to guy on offense yet.
Given the time needed to develop, Detroit or Oklahoma City could be a good spot.
Jalen Green has already been the author of viral clip upon viral clip during his time with Ignite in the G-League. The decision to play alongside adults rather than college ball in 2021 has not had adverse impact on his draft stock.
As it stands, Green projects to be an electric two-guard. At 6’5, he’s a decent size to matchup with other wings, though he needs to fill out a bit to be able to feasibly guard multiple positions. Even at his current height, stronger wings will be able to bully him at times.
He will be able to get to the rim at will from day one. The shot still needs some work, but he’s adept as a paint finisher and there are signs of improvement in his passing game.
It’s all about the Jalens at the top of the 2021 NBA Draft. There’s good reason, too, with Jalen Suggs and Jalen Green both possessing All-Star upside.
Suggs already has the makings of a complete lead guard. The playmaking is legit. He’s got that killer knack for scoring. Guarding the opposition’s best guard is well within reach for the former Gonzaga star.
Like many prospects, how his perimeter shooting progresses could well decide his role in the NBA. There’s certainly a world where Suggs is something close to Jamal Murray.