The 2021 NBA rookie class is one of the most talented draft classes in years. If you’re drafting near the top of your league draft you’ll be getting a potential superstar player to build around. After the top 4 there are some elite upside players but they come with flaws and question marks. The talent in this class goes deep and you’ll have a shot at landing a valuable player, even if you’re drafting outside the top 10.
2021 NBA Dynasty Rookie Rankings
- Cade Cunningham – PG – Pistons – You can’t go wrong with either Cade or Jalen Green at the top of your fantasy draft. With Cade you get someone who fills up all areas of the stat sheet and should do so on efficient shooting and with good consistency from night to night. He’s obviously a great play-maker with special passing talent but he’s a much better shooter than he gets credit for and could be one of the better outside shooters from day 1. Cade might not be the flashiest player but he’s got a high floor, a high ceiling and is poised for a big rookie season and potentially a hall of fame career. He’s not a pure scorer like Jalen Green but his all around game and stat-stuffing ability should make him the top pick in dynasty drafts.
- Jalen Green – SG – Rockets – Green should go 1, 2 or 3 in dynasty drafts. He’s likely to be the highest scoring player from this draft class while giving you lots of 3’s and a decent number of assists. He probably won’t have as well rounded a stat line as Cade or Suggs but the elite scoring gives him a lot of value and his counting stats should be decent as well. Playing in the G League last year meant he didn’t get as much national attention and a become as much of a household name as a player like Suggs and so don’t be surprised if he falls to no.3 in some dynasty drafts.
- Jalen Suggs – PG/SG – Magic – Suggs was the no.5 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft but should be drafted in the top 3 (or at worst 4) in dynasty leagues. He’ll have the ball in his hands early and often for the Magic and will fill up the stat sheet on both ends of the floor. He has a chance to post some of the best defensive stats of any guard in the league and could lead all guards in blocks at some point of his career. His offensive game is strong as well. He hits the 3, scores in transition, has excellent passing vision and should put up good all around offensive numbers. He’s also a charismatic star player who will have enormous trade value, if you’re targeting a superstar vet.
- Evan Mobley – PF/C – Cavaliers – Evan Mobley might not be an elite fantasy player in year one but long term he’s got a chance to be a perennial top 30 player with upside that’s even higher than that. His defensive stats, rebounding and efficient scoring should give him instant value, which will only improve over his first few years in the league. He’ll get ample minutes in Cleveland and will be allowed to play through mistakes and get every chance to develop. Over the course of his career look for his 3pt shot to become one of his main weapons, though it might not be showcased much in year one.
- Scottie Barnes – SF/PF – Raptors – Barnes is one of the more risky top-end dynasty picks this year, in that he could be a great player on the court without being a great fantasy player. He’s not the most natural scorer, his percentages might not be a great and he won’t get you a ton of 3’s but he does have the chance to be elite in a few key categories: blocks, steals and assists. His fantasy value will be helped a lot if his rebounding comes around and his value will skyrocket if his scoring develops. If you’re willing to take on some risk and swing for the fences this would be a good draft range for Barnes.
- Josh Giddey – PG – Thunder – If everything works out for Giddey this will be too low of a ranking but there are enough question marks with his adjustment to the NBA plus there’s a ton of other talented rookies, so having Giddey fall in the 7-10 range makes sense. Giddey was limited in Summer League after injuring his ankle in game one so he didn’t get to show off his talents. This could work to your benefit, as it could cause him to slide a bit in dynasty drafts. He should get plenty of minutes as a rookie on a rebuilding Thunder team, although he’ll be playing alongside a young star primary ball handler in SGA. His longer term upside is extremely high, even if his rookie year production promises to be inconsistent. If you’re rebuilding or are willing to wait for him to develop then he’s a solid long term pick.
- Davion Mitchell – PG – Kings – Mitchell is likely to fill up the stat sheet from day one, even while sharing time with Fox and Hali. He’ll have the ball in his hands a lot, either with the first team or running the second unit. Mitchell has become a deadly 3pt shooter to go along with his truly elite defense. He’ll give you 3’s steals and even some blocks, although don’t expect too much from a 6-1 player. There are a lot of good passers in this rookie class so Mitchell probably won’t lead rookies in assists but he’s a good set-up man who will get you good assist numbers. Plus he can score the ball. Over the longer term he projects as a player who will take full control of an offense and could put up monster fantasy numbers once that happens. So with Mitchell you get the best of both worlds, instant production plus a high upside future.
- Alperin Sengun – C – Rockets – Sengun somehow fell to the no.16 pick in the NBA Draft but he should go higher than that in your dynasty draft. The young Turk will have a chance to play a lot early in his career and he’s proven that he can be hugely productive with his minutes (winning MVP of the Turkish league last year and having some big Summer League games this year). He might not be a top 5 dynasty draft pick but he shouldn’t fall out of the top 10. Sengun is a great rebounder, especially on the offensive end, has underrated passing ability and a scorers mentality. He even contributes in blocks, even though he’s not an elite above the rim player and should get some steals as well. As a bonus, he’s a great FT shooter for a young big.
- James Bouknight – SG – Hornets – While I’m not totally sold on how Bouknight will adjust to the NBA there’s a good chance his scoring will translate and provide a good fantasy floor, even if his other counting stats don’t provide much value. Playing next to LaMelo should open up a lot of scoring chances for Bouk and he promises to have some big games. The questions will be around his efficiency, consistency and if he can round out his stat line. I’d hesitate to take Bouknight in the top 8 but anything in the 10-15 range seems worth the gamble.
- Cam Thomas – SG – Nets – If buckets are what you need, then Cam Thomas is who you draft. As a rookie Cam projects as a microwave scorer off the bench who will have some big games and some games where he disappears. He’s in a situation in Brooklyn where he won’t have to carry the team and will get to do what he does best. But there area also a lot of other scorers on the roster so there will be games when he doesn’t get the shots you’d hope for. But looking ahead to his career he’s got very intriguing upside. If things go right and he ends up as a first option on a team he could be a fantasy monster and could even lead the league in scoring some day. The more likely outcome is something less than that but I’d be surprised if he’s not a 20+ ppg scorer a few years from now. Cam is a shoot first player so don’t expect a lot of assists. He also focuses his energy on the offensive end and isn’t likely to provide many steals, blocks or rebounds.
- Jonathan Kuminga – SF/PF – Warriors – This is a longer-term play. Kuminga is immensely talented but will likely be inefficient as a rookie and have somewhat of a limited role on a loaded Warriors team. He’ll show flashes but will certainly lack consistent production early on. But if you’re patient enough to wait a few years the payoff could be big. Kuminga has a chance to be a 20+ per game scorer, solid rebounder and decent stocks guy. His ultimate ceiling is through the roof, if his shooting comes along and he becomes a knock down 3pt and FT shooter. He’s also a player who should have good trade value thanks in part to his athletic upside and highlight reel dunking ability. He’s potentially a boom or bust type of player so if you want to swing for the fences he’s your guy.
- Chris Duarte – SG – Pacers – If you want instant production from your draft pick then Duarte would be a good way to go. It’s looking like he’ll step right in and play meaningful minutes for the Pacers this year and will contribute a well rounded fantasy performance. He’s a great 3pt shooter who should put up a high volume of shots and he’s got a chance to be a 40/50/90 guy, shooting great percentages across the board. Duarte is also a standout defender who will get you a lot of steals and some blocks as well. He’s not the most exciting pick you could make at this point in a rookie draft but he could pay off big.
- Josh Primo – SG – Spurs – Primo (18) was the youngest player in the draft and won’t turn 20 years old until midway through his second season in the league. He was a surprise pick at no.12 by the Spurs but in Summer League he showed why the franchise is so excited about him, showing off his shot making, athleticism and high basketball IQ. If you’re in win-now mode then draft a player like Duarte or Murphy but if you want the highest upside pick and are willing to be patient then Primo is a primo option.
- Trey Murphy – SF – Pelicans – Murphy could have sneaky fantasy value thanks to his potential to put up defensive stats, hit the 3 pointer and hit a high percentage from the field and from the foul line. He might not be the most exciting name on draft day but once he starts putting up top 100 value as a rookie people will take notice.
- Moses Moody – SG – Warriors – Moody could have a limited role as a rookie as a 3 and D guy, especially with Klay coming back, and so it might take some patience. He’s one of the youngest players in the draft class and one of the better 3pt shooters and so his future is bright. He has some Kris Middleton type upside but early his career he’ll be more of a 3pt specialist with a somewhat limited role.
- Jalen Johnson – SF/PF – Hawks – Johnson is a lottery talent who fell a bit in a deep draft. He’s immediately one of the most athletic big wing/forwards in the NBA and has a versatile offensive game and the ability to score in bunches. He’s a great rebounder and has steals/blocks potential, making him an intriguing fantasy option. The 3 ball could be a big bonus as he gets more consistent from downtown.
- Ziaire Williams – SF – Grizzlies – Zaire was drafted earlier than most expected but lands in a great situation where he’ll get every opportunity to earn minutes as a rookie and do what he does best, make shots from the wing. Zaire has some boom/bust potential and if things go well for him this ranking will be way too low. If you’re looking to draft upside he’d be a great pick in this range.
- Jared Butler – SG – Jazz – Butler would likely have been a top 20 pick if it wasn’t for the health concerns. He’s a major talent who could be the steal of the draft.
- Franz Wanger – SF/PF – Magic – Wanger is a really solid role player who might have a better NBA career then fantasy value. He plays a solid all around game and should have a chance for minutes early in his career but don’t expect him to light the world on fire. In college he showed that he can be a very efficient scorer and if that translates to the NBA it will give his value a big boost.
- Bones Hyland – SG – Nuggets – Bones is a big time shot maker who could see a sizable role in the Nuggets offense. He’ll hit a lot of 3’s and has upside as a play-maker.
- Corey Kispert – SF – Wizards – Kispert might be a specialist but he’s a damn good one. He should be one of the better 3pt shooters in the league from day 1.
- Kai Jones – PF/C – Hornets – This is a swing for the fences pick. Kai has truly elite physical tools, almost in the same league as Giannis, but he’s also very raw and will take some time. His ceiling is through the roof but his floor is in the basement. He’ll be a great rim runner and dunker and has shown flashes of being able to create his own offense and hit the outside shot. It’s a gamble but Kai has the type of upside I’d want to bet on, especially for a rebuilding team that can wait a few years for production. In smaller leagues there’s a good chance he’ll be on the waiver wire…just don’t miss your chance to grab him once the production starts to come around.
- Usman Garuba – PF/C – Rockets – I’m tempted to have Garuba higher than this but until he shows something on a NBA court his value is hard to determine. He promises to be one of the better defenders in the league and could put up monster stocks and rebounds, even as a rookie. His offensive game is limited but he does show some occasional nice passing ability and the makings of a 3pt shot. If his offense catches up to his defense he could be a fantasy monster.
- Deuce McBride – PG – Knicks
- Isaiah Jackson – PF/C – Pacers
- Josh Christopher – SG – Rockets
- Quentin Grimes – PG/SG – Knicks
- Tre Mann – PG/SG – Thunder
- Luka Garza – C – Pistons
- Austin Reaves – SG – Lakers
- Keon Johnson – SG – Clippers
- Brandon Boston Jr. – SG – Clippers
- Sharife Cooper – PG – Hawks
- Herb Jones – SF – Pelicans
- Santi Aldama – PF – Grizzlies
- Sandro Mamukelashvili – PF/C – Bucks
- Jaden Springer – SG – 76ers
- Dalano Banton – SF – Raptors
- Isaiah Todd – PF – Wizards
- Day-Ron Sharpe – C – Nets
- Jeremiah Robinson-Earl – PF – Thunder
- Ayo Dosunmu – PG/SG – Bulls
- JT Thor – PF – Hornets
- Neemias Queta – C – Kings
- Kessler Edwards – PF – Nets
Here’s our final 2021 mock draft
And a look ahead to 2022