(Photo by Juan Ocampo/NBAE via Getty Images)
The 2020-2021 NCAA Basketball season is now over. Baylor won the National Championship in an exhilarating tournament filled with upsets and classic games and now we move onto draft season. The question is still in the air about the NBA Combine happening but there plenty of guys in this draft that have established themselves.
- Minnesota Timberwolves: Cade Cunningham, G/F – Oklahoma State
Player Comparison: Grant Hill
The race for the #1 pick in the 2021 draft is just the race to select Cade Cunningham. He is arguably the best prospect since Ben Simmons and there are similarities there aside from the fact that Cade shoots 3-pointers and hits them at a high rate. He proved this year the ability to take a team that doesn’t have much talent around him and turn them into a contender as the Cowboys were a 4-seed in the NCAA tournament. There is a plethora of talent on Minnesota and drafting a guy like Cunningham could finally put them over the edge of being a bottom barrel team to a contender in an instant.
- Houston Rockets: Jalen Suggs, G – Gonzaga
Player Comparison: Jason Kidd
Suggs got show on the big stage why he is such highly thought of draft prospect. He has the ability to run the offense, shoot the 3, drive to the basket and play some outstanding defense. He even had an UNREAL game-winner in the Final Four vs UCLA. He now goes to Houston who already has a Point Guard in John Wall but you have to look toward the future and Suggs gives you a bright one at the 1. Not to mention that Suggs can also play off the ball as well and fits perfectly with a player like Wall.
- Detroit Pistons: Jalen Green, SG – NBA G-League Ignite
Player Comparison: All-Star Victor Oladipo
Jalen Green decided to skip College and head to the G-League in order to get paid and prepare for the 2021 draft. In 15 games, Green go to show exactly why he is a Top-5 worthy pick by being an efficient scorer from inside and out, elite athleticism and the ability to get a bucket when you need it the most. Detroit gets a guy in Green to pair with Killian Hayes in the backcourt. Hayes has shown a lot of promise since returning from injury, especially his ability to pass the ball.
- Orlando Magic: Evan Mobley, C – USC
Player Comparison: Bam Adebayo
Death. Taxes. The Orlando Magic drafting a big man.
But this time around, it actually makes a lot of sense. They traded away Nikola Vucevic, just recently waived Khem Birch and Mo Bamba just had not worked out for them. As for Mobley, he provides a ton of upside along with a high-floor with his defensive ability and athleticism. Mobley is also a very good rim-runner and can handle the basketball as well. With Jonathan Isaac and Markelle Fultz returning from injury next year, the Magic could have a very formidable top 3 of Mobley, Isaac & Fultz.
- Cleveland Cavaliers: Jonathan Kuminga, F – NBA G-League Ignite
Player Comparison: Shawn Marion
Kuminga is another player who opted to play in the Pros over College. So far, it has not worked out as well as most thought. He has shown the elite athleticism and defensive ability that was coveted out of high school but his offensive ability leaves a lot to be desired. To be fair, Kuminga did re-classify and is very young and won’t turn 19 until October 6th of this year. The Cavs are in an interesting position with a lot of young talent but just can’t seem to put it together. There are also questions about Kevin Love and if he will ever see the floor for Cleveland again and not to mention, Larry Nance is a likely trade candidate this offseason. Kuminga comes into Cleveland to give the Cavs a very athletic starting 5 with a ton of upside.
- Washington Wizards: Keon Johnson, SG – Tennessee
Player Comparison: Jaylen Brown
Keon Johnson is a very explosive player who showed a ton of ability, especially on defense. The Wizards could use a lot of help but defense is one area that fits their biggest needs. Although he isn’t a good shooter, Johnson still has a ton to show for with his athleticism, drives to the basket and of course on defense. Also for Washington, they’re going to be at a crossroads this offseason. Head Coach Scott Brooks will likely be gone and although Bradley Beal has stated he wants to stay in Washington, that all could change after another bad season in Washington.
- Oklahoma City Thunder: Jalen Johnson, F – Duke
Player Comparison: Paul Pierce
There was a lot of negativity surrounding Johnson and his decision to opt-out of the season halfway through, but he had every right to do so. Uncertainty around the status of Duke’s season after a COVID-19 outbreak as well as another issue: not being paid to play due to being in College.
Despite all of that there is no denying Jalen’s ability to play basketball. He can drive it, bring the ball up the floor, shoot the 3 and rebound the ball. OKC is in a really good position as a franchise with a lot of young talent and a TON of draft picks over the next several years. It’ll be interesting to see the direction they go in after this year with multiple 1st-Rounders.
- Toronto Raptors: Davion Mitchell, G – Baylor
Player Comparison: Marcus Smart
Nobody raised their draft stock more than Davion Mitchell. From being a fringe 1st-Round player to a for-sure lottery pick, Mitchell is a guy who can do it all and showed it during Baylor’s championship run. A lockdown defender, great shooter and ability to pass the ball and run the offense, Mitchell can come in play major minutes for the Raptors right away. He could even start depending on what the Raptors do with pending free-agent Kyle Lowry.
- Sacramento Kings: Isaiah Jackson, C – Kentucky
Player Comparison: Nerlens Noel
Jackson is another high-riser in this draft after a really good last month to end his season. He has really good length (7’5 Wingspan) and is an elite athlete who shows a ton of promise on the defensive end. The Kings need someone who can replace pending free agents Richaun Holmes and Hassan Whiteside and Jackson is a very similar player to both guys that can come in and play real minutes right away.
- Orlando Magic (via Chicago Bulls): Franz Wagner, F – Michigan
Player Comparison: Less athletic Andre Iguodala
The Magic got this pick from the Bulls after trading away Vucevic. They went with Evan Mobley with the 4th pick and now go with Franz Wagner to pair with Jonathan Isaac on the wing. Wagner is one of the better defenders in the nation with the ability to guard 1-4 and is very good at driving to the rim. He is a really streaky shooter and can improve in that area to really reach his potential but with him, Isaac, and Mobley the Magic would arguably have the best defensive front-court in the NBA.
- New Orleans Pelicans: Josh Giddey, PG – Australia
Giddey is the first international player off the draft board going to the Pelicans. He is someone who can do it all and is similar to pending free agent Lonzo Ball in terms of length and his ability to pass, rebound, defend, etc.
- Indiana Pacers: Corey Kispert, F – Gonzaga
You can never have enough 3-and-D players and Kispert has plenty of that to go around. He is almost automatic from 3-point range and is a perfect replacement for Doug McDermott, who is set to be a free agent after this season.
- Golden State Warriors: Scottie Barnes, F – Florida State
A 5-star recruit out of high school, Scottie Barnes was one of the most sought-after players in the country. After a somewhat lackluster season with the Seminoles, he still goes in the lottery to the Warriors. A ton of upside and a great defender, Barnes replaces pending free agent Kelly Oubre.
- San Antonio Spurs: Alperen Sengun, C – Turkey
Nobody loves foreign players more than the Spurs and they get one here who dominated the Turkish season at just 18. Sengun has a very polished game for his age and has even drawn comparisons to Pau Gasol.
- New York Knicks: Cam Thomas, G – LSU
Thomas has the ability to light up the box score as an elite scorer who can do it all on offense. He will fit well in Madison Square Garden as he can go off and catch fire at any given moment.
- Boston Celtics: Kai Jones, C – Texas
A high upside player who didn’t start many games for the Longhorns, Jones can defend, be a rim-runner and hit the open 3 when he gets the opportunity. Boston desperately needs a big-man and Jones is the guy for them at 16.
- Charlotte Hornets: Charles Bassey, C – Western Kentucky
Cody Zeller and Bismack Biyombo are both pending free agents so the Hornets go with Bassey who is a ferocious rebounder and rim protector. Bassey can also hit the occasional 3 although he can definitely improve in that aspect.
- Oklahoma City Thunder (via Miami Heat): Usman Garuba, F/C – Spain
The Thunder can go a lot of different ways here but go with Garuba who is most assuredly a developmental player. He’s been playing pro ball in Spain for the past 3 months and just turned 19 this past March. It’ll be interesting to see what OKC does with him but he has a lot of upside.
- Memphis Grizzlies: Moses Moody, G – Arkansas
Moody had a really bad tournament and saw his stock take quite a tumble. Still, he showed a ton of ability and is great fit as a shooter and slasher next to Ja Morant. He definitely needs work on his ability off the dribble and adding some strength to his slight frame.
- Atlanta Hawks: James Bouknight, G – UConn
Atlanta has been on fire since the hiring of Nate McMillan as he has been utilizing their depth much better. The Hawks have a lot of depth so adding Bouknight gives them a 6th man replacement for Lou Williams.
- New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks): Tre Mann, PG – Florida
The Knicks will have 0 Point Guards under contract after this season and go with Tre Mann who can run an offense and shoot the ball lights out from 3. Mann has a ton of upside and can be the Point Guard the Knicks have been looking for in quite a long time.
- Houston Rockets (Portland Trail Blazers): Ziaire Williams, F – Stanford
Williams just has too much talent for a team like Houston to pass up here at 22. He can play the 2-4 but will need to improve his shooting. Other than that, Williams is an elite defender and athlete with an ability to drive to the basket with ease and is also an underrated passer from the Wing spot.
- Houston Rockets (via Milwaukee Bucks): Greg Brown, C – Texas
The Rockets cannot pass up the chance of getting Greg Brown and having potentially the most athletic rotation in basketball with Brown, Ziaire Williams, Christian Wood and Jalen Suggs. Brown has shown promise this past season as an athletic rim-runner and defender with tons of potential.
- Los Angeles Lakers: Jared Butler, G – Baylor
Butler was the MOP (Most Outstanding Player) of the NCAA Tournament while helping lead Baylor to the National Championship. Butler does not have a lot places he needs to improve at but is a high-floor player that can help a contender out right away. He can play both Guard spots and shoot the 3 really and is a lights-out defender as displayed throughout his college career.
- Denver Nuggets: Chris Duarte, G – Oregon
Duarte is a steal at 25 for Denver and can fit in easily to their rotation. He’s a really good 3 and D player but doesn’t have a ton of room to grow as a player. Duarte gives the Nuggets some insurance at the Wing spot with Aaron Gordon set to be a free agent after the 2021-2022 season.
- Los Angeles Clippers: Sharife Cooper, PG – Auburn
The Clippers got the facilitator they badly needed in Rajon Rondo at the Trade Deadline but he is older and they don’t have anyone else who can be that guy consistently. In comes Cooper who averaged 21 & 8 at Point Guard for Auburn. He isn’t the greatest shooter but learning under Rondo at other aspects of his game for a year can’t hurt.
- Philadelphia 76ers: Marcus Bagley, F – Arizona State
Philly has a lot of depth so they add more Wing depth in Marcus Bagley who recently declared for the draft. He may not be ready but luckily for him, Bagley isn’t needed right away for the 76ers as they can just sit him and allow him to learn under a guy like Tobias Harris as well as getting some playing time in the G-League.
- Brooklyn Nets: Filip Petrusev, C – Serbia
Petrusev played at Gonzaga for 2 seasons before leaving to play Pro Ball in Serbia. He didn’t play all that well overseas but in his second season with Gonzaga, he showed out by putting up 17 & 8. Petrusev possesses a very polished post game and can hold his own on defense.
- Phoenix Suns: Ayo Dosunmu, G – Illinois
It’s a mystery to me why Dosunmu doesn’t get more buzz around the league but the Suns getting him at 29 is a steal. He can do it all. Literally. He is a great defender and athlete, he improved dramatically as a 3-point shooter, and is a good passer who can run an offense. Chris Paul will be in the last year of his deal so being a mentor for Dosumnu could be a huge help for the Suns’ future.
- Utah Jazz: Max Abmas, PG – Oral Roberts
Abmas continued his great season on the national stage in the NCAA Tournament by leading Oral Roberts to the Sweet Sixteen. He shot 43% from 3 this season and averaged 24.6 PPG. Unfortunately, Abmas seems to be more of an undersized 2-Guard (6’1) than a traditional Point Guard so it will be interesting to see if Utah can turn him into one.