2021 NBA Mock Draft Update - NBA Draft Room

2021 NBA Mock Draft Update

 

Update 7/28/21

With less than 24 hours to go until the draft we’re at the stage where rumors, reports and smokescreens are flooding the airwaves and internets. It’s nearly impossible to decipher which ones are based in truth and which ones are bogus.

Let’s start with the ones that seem to have a lot of truth to them:

The 76ers are looking to trade Ben Simmons – this one seems clear as day. It may or may not happen on draft day but all signs point to Simmons being on a different team by the end of the summer. The Heat and Raptors appear to be the hottest suitors.

The Warriors are looking to turn draft picks/players into a star – This one has been talked about for weeks and there’s every reason to believe this is true. But it remains to be seen if they can come to terms with a team. Possible trade targets include Lillard, Beal, Siakam, Myles Turner and more.

Giddy Up! – Josh Giddey and Franz Wagner getting top 10 buzz – When Memphis traded up to no.10 it was reported that they were targeting Josh Giddey but he might be gone by then. Likewise there is a lot of chatter around Franz Wagner being a target in the 7 to 10 range.

Older players rising – Some of the older players in the first round range are reportedly rising up draft boards including Chris Duarte and Trey Muphy III. Davion Mitchell is already considered a possible lottery pick and Corey Kispert is in that range as well. Drafting older players in the lottery has a dreadful track record but there seems to be a strong appetite for these more NBA ready guys. Will it work out this time around? I think teams will regret passing on the younger high upside players like Keon, Kai, Jalen Johnson, Cam Thomas, Springer etc.

Ziaire got his groove back – Ziaire Williams came into the season mocked in the top 5 of our mock but after a disappointing season he dropped to the late first round. But the latest buzz is that he could hear his name called in the lottery after impressing in pre draft workouts.

So many talented guards in the teens/twenties – One of the most interesting things to watch on draft night will be what order the talented shooting guards/combo guards come off the board. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there is a large group of players graded in the same range, namely: Jaden Springer, Jared Butler, Tre Mann, Bones Hyland, Keon Johnson, Deuce McBride, Cam Thomas, Ayo Dosunmu and Josh Primo. There are many fascinating story-lines in this draft but to me this is perhaps the most interesting. I have my personal favorites in this group but they are all so close that is just feels like a total crap-shoot, as to which players will be drafted highest and which players will pan out.

Stay tuned for more.

 

Update 7/25/21

With the 2021 NBA Draft just five days away the rumors, trade scenarios and smokescreens are flying wild. At this time of year it’s near impossible to know what scuttlebutt is real and what is false. Some of the rumors make so much sense that they seem likely to be true (like the Warriors looking to trade picks and assets for a win-now star), while some of the rumors seem to be flying out left field, put out there by agents or by team insiders looking to shape a narrative. Here’s a look at some of the supposed story-lines:

At the top of the draft the Pistons may have been flirting with the idea of trading down to no.2, letting the Rockets move up for Cade with Jalen Green going to Detroit. This one makes a lot of sense, as Jalen Green is right up there with Cade in terms of talent and superstar potential, but the recent rumors are that the Pistons will be standing pat at no.1 and taking Cade. Can’t blame them for exploring the trade down option but it also makes a ton of sense to just stay put at the top and get their guy.

The most widely believe rumor on the draft street is that The Golden State Warriors are looking to package one or both of their lottery picks along with some young talent like James Wiseman and Andrew Wiggins in return for another star player to help chase a championship. This one is almost certainly true, as it makes all the sense in the world for the Warriors to sell the farm system and go all-in right now. Steph, Klay and Draymond aren’t getting any younger and this could be the final year or two for them to be an elite team. Would a package of two lottery picks and Wiseman be enough to get Brad Beal from the Wizards or Damian Lillard from the Blazers? How about Pascal Siakam from the Raptors? Or would the Warriors settle for a lesser veteran player like Myles Turner from the Pacers? We’ll likely find out on Thursday! If the Warriors do hold on to the 14th pick they could be narrowing their list to a few seemingly NBA ready players like Chris Duarte, Trey Murphy III or Davion Mitchell.

Speaking of the Pacers, one of the lottery picks that is rumored to be up for grabs is the Pacers pick at no.13. This is an interesting range of the draft with a boatload of talent still available but not much separating the late lottery talents from the mid to late first rounders. Put another way, this draft is stacked with good players and some of the players drafted in the 20’s will end up better than players picked in the lottery. This could give the Pacers incentive to move down in the draft and pick up a valuable veteran in exchange for the no.13 pick.

The lottery pick that is perhaps most likely to be moved (besides one or both of the Warriors picks) is the no.10 pick, which belongs to the New Orleans Pelicans. The Pels need an upgrade at point guard to help maximize the talents of Zion and BI and could be willing to trade this valuable pick for a big time lead guard addition. One such rumor is them getting Kyle Lowry from the Raptors, a team that is looking for a quick rebuild and already has a few talented young point guards on the roster in Fred VanVleet and Malachi Flynn. I love this move for the Raptors who would then have the no.4 and no.10 picks in this loaded draft, plus a number of great pieces already in place. It would also open up room in the line up if they decide to draft Jalen Suggs at no.4. Eric Bledsoe and/or Steven Adams could be included to make the trade work.

But the Raptors are also rumored to be enamored with Scottie Barnes, which could lead them to exploring a trade-down with the Magic at no.5, with the Magic taking Suggs and the Raptors getting their guy Scottie at no.5. This will be one of the key points of the draft and will help determine what happens next.

With the Oklahoma City Thunder there are no specific rumors but plenty of chatter on the World Wide Web about possible trade scenarios. With the no.6 overall pick and two picks in the late teens (plus 648 future draft picks at their disposal) the Thunder could look to trade up into the top 3 or 4 to get Suggs or Mobley. The top 2 picks seem pretty much set but starting at no.3 all bets are off. Anything is possible. Expect to be surprised.

The 76ers are widely believed to be shopping their jumbo point guard Ben Simmons. The Warriors (of course) are one rumored destination but Philly is searching for a star player in return, which would require a third team to partner with. The rumors are all over the place, with about 5+ different teams rumored to be interested in Simmons but right now it’s anybody’s guess. My guess is that Simmons does get traded, either on draft day or shortly after but where he ends up… I have no idea.

In truth, we all have no idea until it plays out on draft day and the days before and after the draft. This one promises to be a wild one with lots of trades, surprises in the draft and plenty of drama. Buckle up and hold on!

Update 7/6/21

The NCAA deadline to withdraw from the NBA draft and retain college eligibility is Wednesday night (July 7) at 11:59 ET and we’ve already seen a number of high profile (and not so high profile) players make a decision to return to school.

Over the past few days there have been a few players who were likely second round picks returning to school to try to improve their draft stock. This includes:

Julian Champagnie will return to St. John’s for his junior season, giving the Red Storm a big boost in the Big East. The 6-8 small forward may have been a second rounder this year but wasn’t a sure thing to get drafted, despite having a monster season this past year. If he can add some play-making and keep up his hot shooting next season he’ll lock in his status as a draft pick and should get some first round consideration. His brother Justin has not yet announced a decision on whether to return to Pittsburgh or stay in the draft.

Kansas has been the big winner this week with both Jalen Wilson and Ochai Agbaji returning to school, giving Kansas one of the most talented line-ups in the country next season. The decision by Jalen Wilson was expected. He was a breakout star early last season but faded somewhat as the season progressed. He’ll have a chance to regain that momentum and perhaps work his way into the first round conversation for 2022. Ochai may have been a second rounder in 2021 but has decided to return to Kansas for his senior season. I like this decision a lot. Ochai is a sensational athlete who still has work to do developing his handles and ability to create offense for himself and for others. Look for him to take his game to a new level this coming season and solidify himself as a draft pick in 2022 (with first round upside).

LSU power forward Darius Days is returning to school for his senior season. This is a good decision, as Days wasn’t likely to be drafted this year and will have a chance to develop his game and possibly put his name in the second round conversation in 2022.

Jordan Hall is a name to track this coming season after pulling his name out of the 2021 draft. The St Joe’s star forward had entered the draft and the transfer portal, decided to transfer to Texas A&M and then made the decision to return to the Hawks for his sophomore season. Hall is a unique talent who is a big time passer for a 6-8 forward. With another year in school he’ll solidify himself as a draft pick and could leap into the first round conversation with another solid season in school.

Kofi Cockburn, the behemoth center from Illinois has just announced his return to school (either back to Illinois or transfer). I’m a bit surprised he didn’t get more draft love this year but he should be in line for a monster junior season in college and will only improve his draft standing. One area of improvement for Kofi is to get into tip top shape and increase his mobility. He’s always going to be a power player and guarding in space won’t be a strength but he’ll have to increase his foot-speed and agility a bit to hold his own at the next level. Becoming a better FT shooter and perhaps adding a jumper will be on the workout agenda as well.

No surprise here, Hunter Dickinson is returning to Michigan for his sophomore season. Dickinson was on the outside looking in for the 2021 draft but will have a chance to improve his stock next season. His return makes Michigan an absolutely loaded squad that should contend for a national title.

On the other side of the ledger, here are a few players who have announced that they are keeping their names in the 2021 NBA draft:

Aaron Wiggins of Maryland, who had a strong pre-draft process so far and is gaining momentum as a possible second round pick. Wiggins has all the athletic ability to make it in the league and shows promise as a 3pt sniper.

Nebraska point-forward Dalano Banton is keeping his name in the draft. Banton appears to have some fans in NBA circles and could be a second rounder, or at the very least get a chance to fight for a roster spot as an undrafted player. This decision must hurt a bit for Cornhusker fans, who would have had their most talented team in years if Banton had stayed and joined incoming star freshman Bryce McGowens.

Chris Smith of UCLA is staying in the draft. The senior forward (who is very young for his class) is a borderline second rounder. He passes on rejoining a loaded UCLA squad and will instead take his talents to the pros, whether NBA, G League or overseas.

Iowas sharp-shooter Joe Wieskamp is staying in the draft after a great showing at the draft combine where he shot the ball well, as expected, posted great measurements and better than expected athletic testing numbers. Wieskamp could get some late first round consideration but is more likely an early to mid second rounder.

Josh Primo is staying in the 2021 draft and gaining momentum as a first round pick. The youngest player in the draft has big upside and had a strong showing at the draft combine, more than holding his own against the other, older prospects. Alabama will still field a strong team next season but they would’ve been absolutely stacked if Primo had returned for a second season.

There are still about a dozen or more players who have a tough decision to make in the next day. We’ll add updates to this post as news breaks ahead of the July 7 deadline.

 

Update 6/22/21

The 2021 combine measurements are in! Here’s a look at which players measured up and helped their draft stock and which players came up a bit short. All measurements listed below are in shoes.

Standing Tall

RaiQuan Gray – His measurements weren’t too surprising but solid across the board and only go to solidify his late first to early second round grade. He’s such a unique player with his great handles and special burst at 6-7 3/4 and almost 270 pounds with a really solid 6-10 ¾ wingspan. His 17.3% body fat was the highest of anyone measured, but that’s just part of the package with a player like RaiQuan. It wouldn’t be a surprise to hear the buzz around Gray start to grow louder over the next month.

Kai Jones – The Texas forward measured 6-11 ½, which makes his elite mobility all the more impressive. He also came in at a solid 221 pounds, which should put to rest some of the worries about his slight frame. There just aren’t a lot of humans in the world who can do what he does at his size. Sure, his game is still raw and developing but you can’t deny the upside.

Mile McBride – The West Virginia point guard really helped himself with solid measurements, especially his 6-8 ¾ wingspan. He’s not the biggest guard in the world at 6-2 ½ in shoes but his length, physicality and toughness will help him hold his own against almost any NBA pg.

Isaiah Mobley – His height (6-9 ¾) came in as expected but he’s bulked up to 238 pounds and posted an awesome 7-3 wingspan. The added weight is great to see and is length, combined with his nice shooting touch really add to the intrigue (although the 12.9% body fat isn’t ideal). These measurements get him more solidly into the second round.

JT Thor – The Auburn freshman forward came in at 6-9 ¼ with an outstanding 7-3 ¼ wingspan. Thor has a great looking 3pt shot, excellent agility and mobility and that massive wingspan, which should get teams excited in the late lottery to mid first round.

Joe Wieskamp – We had been holding out some hope that Wieskamp would return to Iowa and dominate the Big Ten next season but his great measurements at the combine will likely give him reason to stay in the 2021 draft. Joe came in at 6-7 ¼ with an impressive 6-11 wingspan and a solid 204 pounds. He’s an elite shooter with size and decent mobility who could start getting some late first round buzz. Even if he lands in the second round he should be able to use that lethal 3pt shot to find minutes early in his career.

Zaire Williams – There have been rumors that Zaire has been growing taller since the season ended and those were confirmed today with his height measured at a shade under 6-10 (6-9 ¾) in shoes. He’s not a super long player, with a 6-10 ¼ wingspan and he’s still very thin in the frame, coming in at just 188 pounds, but shot-makers at his size have value.

Coming Up Short

Max Abmas – The Oral Roberts point guard had been listed at 6-1 but measured just 5-11 3/4 with shoes on. His shot making is really special and would be a useful addition to any NBA team but coming in under 6-feet will give teams pause and could keep him in the second half of round 2.

Matthew Hurt – His height was as expected but his wingspan only matched his height, at 6-9 ½ and his body fat came in at 15.2%. His lack of mobility, below average length and defensive concerns could push him out of the second round and could land him overseas instead of in the NBA. He’s one of the best shot makers in the draft class but that might not be enough, given his other concerns.

Keon Johnson – I’m as high on Keon as anybody but his measurements came in slightly below expectations and could give teams pause in the mid lottery. His 6-4 ¾ height is solid for a 2 guard but Keon seems more suited for playing the 3 or even some small ball 4. His 6-7 ¼ wingspan also left a little to be desired.

Tre Mann – This past season Mann got some buzz for reportedly growing to 6-5, which would give him good SG size. He measured a bit less than that at 6-4 ½ in shoes with only a 6-4 wingspan. He’s got a pure shooting stroke and a nice feel for the game but his lack of ideal size could push him to the second round.

You can find all of the measurements here

 

Update 6/20/21

The NBA draft is all about upside and the youngest players are perceived to have the most upside. In our latest blog post we examine some of the youngest players in the 2021 NBA draft and their potential draft scenarios: Read more

Update 6/18/21

Five days before the draft lottery we have our first big draft trade: The OKC Thunder have acquired the no.16 overall pick from the Boston Celtics in a trade that sends Kemba Walker, the 16th pick in 2021 and a 2025 second rounder to the Thunder in exchange for 35 year old Al Horford, up-and-coming center Moses Brown and a 2023 second rounder. The Thunder continue to stockpile assets (although giving up Moses Brown hurts a little), while the Celtics bring Al Horford back to try to compete now. The Thunder will be in position to add a nice young piece to their roster with the 16th pick.

In our latest mock draft we have Turkish center Alperen Sengün going to the Thunder with the 16th pick. Whether it’s Sengün or some other young talent, the Celtics might regret giving up the 16th pick in a draft that has some really solid talent through the mid first round.

Update 5/30/21

With the draft lottery about three weeks away and the deadline to declare for the draft tonight at midnight the 2021 NBA Draft is starting to come into focus. There’s always a ton of attention paid to the top of the draft but today I’d like to look at some of the later lottery to mid first round prospects and some possible fits on NBA teams.

My favorite fit is Jared Butler to the Spurs. Guard isn’t a huge need for San Antonio but Butler just seems like a Spur player. He’s a local kid, having played college ball a few hours away in Waco, TX but more importantly it’s his style of play and professional demeanor that would make him an ideal Spur. The Spurs pick at no.12 (unless the lottery gods smile upon them), which is right in Butler’s draft range. I also think Butler would be a great fit for the Warriors at no.14.

The Warriors have a real chance of having two lottery picks, if the Minnesota pick falls outside of the top 3, and will be well positioned to reload the franchise with young talent. If the Minny pick stays at no.6 then Scottie Barnes or Jonathan Kuminga would be great additions to the Warriors lineup. Barnes is often compared to a young Draymond Green and would give the Warriors a ton of flexibility and versatility, while Kuminga could potentially provide the secondary scoring punch the team has been missing since KD left (not that KD is a secondary scorer). I also think Keon Johnson would be a great fit on the team, bringing exceptional athleticism and defense to a team in need of some fresh legs.

The Warriors barely missed the playoffs this year and are now slated to pick at no.14. As mentioned above I think Jared Butler would be a nice fit next to Steph and Klay and he’s used to playing in 3 guard line-ups. James Bouknight would be an interesting addition as well and could become a go-to scorer off the bench, alongside the emerging Jordan Poole.

The Grizzlies are a franchise heading in the right direction and should be a perennial contender in the Western Conference. Picking at no.17 they’ll be in position to add a nice piece to the roster, either going with a high upside player like Kai Jones, Zaire Williams or Alperen Sengun or with a more pro-ready veteran like Corey Kispert or Chris Duarte. I like the Kai Jones fit in Memphis. He might be a bit redundant with Jaren Jackson Jr. but given JJJ’s propensity to commit fouls and that he’s missed time with injury having depth at the position would be a plus. Jones is more of a developmental player who might take a few years to come into his own but getting a high upside guy at this point in the draft would make a lot of sense for this young franchise.

2021 has been a strange year so far and seeing the Knicks in the playoffs only adds to the weirdness. They have a solid young core in Randle and Barrett along with some other promising pieces. And they’ll have two picks in the mid first round thanks to the Kristaps trade to the Mavs. At no.19 and no.21 they should simply go best player available. This is a team in win-now mode with coach Thibs running the show and I could see them targeting pro-ready players like Chris Duarte or Corey Kispert with one of the picks and perhaps going with a high upside player like Sengun or Isaiah Jackson with the second pick. It also wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Knicks trade for a veteran here, using at least one of the picks as trade bait.

 

Update 4/4/21

Competition is heating up for who will be the no.1 overall selection in the 2021 draft. Cade is still in lead but Evan Mobley, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs are all in the mix. Read the full blog post here.

 

Update 3/13/21

The G League season is over and I think it’s fair to say that all four of the prospects showed well for themselves. The first year of this experiment was a success and I could see more top recruits going the G League route in the coming years.

Jalen Green is the real deal. When he dunks the ball he punches it through the basket like a young Kobe and his elite first step opens up his perimeter game. He’s gone from a good 3pt shooter to a 3pt sniper and his outside shot is almost un-guardable, when combined with his great to the basket game. He’s still slight of frame but he can finish through contact well and his body control in the air is unrivaled. He’s a top 3 guy for me with Cade and Mobley.

Jonathan Kuminga had some ups and downs but the overall picture remains about the same as before the season started. He’s a likely top 5 pick with a small chance he slips out of the top 5 if a player like Scottie Barnes continues to emerge (see below). Kuminga has the ideal frame and fluid athleticism that you want in a wing prospect. The big question is if you buy the outside shot. I doubt he’ll ever be a great 3pt shooter but there’s enough promise there to suggest that he’ll steadily improve over the course of his career.

Daishon Nix is such a unique player. He’s built kind of like P.J. Tucker but he’s a pure point guard that seems to see the play before it happens and be one step ahead of the game. His wide frame helps him get to his spots with the dribble and he’s always looking to set his teammates up for success. The outside shot wasn’t falling during his G League stint but it’s not broken. I think he’s better than the numbers suggest.

Isaiah Todd had some early struggles but finished strong, shooting the ball with a ton of confidence and showing a lot of activity on defense. He might be a year or two away from impacting the NBA game but he’s a player that shows a lot of promise. His draft range seems pretty solid between the late first and mid second round.

Meanwhile, in the NCAA, Evan Mobley is playing out of his mind right now, dominating on both ends of the floor. His mobility and coordination at 7-0 is truly special, like Giannis level special. He’s a talented scorer and even more talented decision maker with the ball. His understanding of the game and instincts separate him from other lotto bigs we’ve seen over the past few years. Basketball definitely runs in the family. With all that said Mobley is currently mocked no.3 in our latest update. This has everything to do with Cade and Jalen Green and nothing against Mobley, who is a legit tier 1 prospect.

Sort of burying the headline here but Scottie Barnes is soaring up the mock draft and I’m convinced he’s got a shot to break into the top 5 – and is a near lock for top 6. His talents are just that special. I know it’s a bit sacrilegious but he reminds me of a mix of Magic Johnson and Draymond Green. We still have him listed for now as a SF but he’s really a 6-9 point guard who is a nightmare to defend when he brings the ball up and looks to penetrate. He’s also elite on the defensive end and can guard 1-5. The way he moves his feet and stays in front of opposing point guards on the perimeter is a thing of beauty. Barnes hasn’t gotten any top 5 buzz but look for that to change, if he keeps up this level of play.

 

Update 2/27/21

The top of the draft remains about the same with the top 8 or 9 prospects starting to separate themselves from the pack. Cade is the clear number one and the rest of the top half of the lottery is absolutely loaded.

Jaden Springer has continued his outstanding play and is making a steady move up the draft board. He lands at no.7 in the most recent mock, just ahead of teammate Keon Johnson. Springer plays with great balance and control of the pace and can get to his spot in the lane whenever he wants. He’s showing off improved passing vision and settling into a play-making role.

Keon Johnson has such elite tools that it’s hard to imagine him failing at the next level, especially as an elite defender. He’s got incredibly quick hands and feet and special defensive awareness and intensity. His offensive game is coming along and shows plenty of promise.

The two prospects from Illinois (Ayo and Kofi) have looked terrific over the past few weeks, although Ayo just suffered a broken nose and will miss at least the next few games. Ayo is a borderline lottery pick and seems like a lock for the first round while Kofi is making a strong case to be a first rounder as well. He’s somewhat of an old-school big and doesn’t have an outside shot but he’s an absolute force in the paint who will be one of the most powerful players in the NBA from the moment he steps on the court. Centers are out of vogue but Udoka going in the first round last year shows there’s still a need for burly bigs.

Another Big Ten duo, Michigan’s Franz Wagner and Isaiah Livers are also moving up the draft board. Wagner is a heady and talented big wing who makes great decisions with the ball and is an efficient shooter. In his second season for the Wolverines he’s hitting over 52% from the field, 37% from 3 and 81% from the line. If he returns for a third season he can lock in a first round grade in 2022 but we currently project him in the late first, early second round area in 2021. Isaiah Livers continues to show off his all around game and could find a role as a glue guy at the next level. Teammate Hunter Dickinson has had a great season as well but at this point we have him in the 2022 mock.

A lot has been made of the Jalen Johnson saga (he left the Duke team a few weeks ago to focus on the draft) and it’s unclear how NBA teams view this latest development. I’m in the camp that it’s fine for a player to choose the path that’s best for them and their family but that quitting so close the end of the season is a bad look. Jalen also missed his senior year of high school and so, even if you don’t see this as a big red flag, it’s at least an orange flag, or something to pay attention to. His pre-draft interviews will be more important than ever. He’s an elite talent with scary upside but comes with questions.

The rest of the Duke team is lacking in talent and doesn’t have any other first round talents, at least not in 2021. Mathew Hurt is a really nice college player but will just be a 3pt specialist at the next level, if he gets there. Mark Williams obviously has the size but is kind of stiff as an athlete and has a long way to go before he’s NBA ready. He should stay a few years. Roach and Stewart are nice but are probably two or three year players as well.

 

Update 1/3/21

The 2021 draft class has long been seen as an elite class with franchise changing talents at the top but it’s fair to say that not all of the top names have lived up to the hype. This class is still loaded, especially at the top, but it might not have the depth of talent we had originally projected.

One of the biggest stories of the season has been the disappointing play of the Kentucky team, most notably the 5star freshman. Brandon Boston Jr. and Terrence Clarke have fallen on every draft board and are no longer locks for the top half of the first round. There’s still some time for them to put it all together but from what we’ve seen so far they both look like long shots for the lottery. We have Boston all the way down at no.28 in this current mock and Clarke falling to the second round. Could they be two-year players instead of one and dones?

The Gonzaga team continues to roll along thanks in part of Jalen Suggs and also the emergence of Corey Kispert as a deadly weapon on the wing. Kispert is shooting the lights out from 3, showing more of a to-the-basket game and really knows how to operate within the flow of the offense. He’s gone from a mid second rounder to a mid first rounder with a small chance to slip into the lottery discussion. Shooting is at a premium and we’ll likely see some 3pt assassins get drafted ahead of some of the run/jump athletes that were en vogue a few years back. Joel Ayayi and Drew Timme have also been playing at a high level and look to be destined for the NBA. At this point we have Timme mocked in 2022 but that could change in the future.

One bit of unfortunate news is that UCLA forward Chris Smith has torn his ACL and is done for the season. Smith is a special athlete and super young for his class but could have used a big senior season to work his way up the second round. With this injury his status as a second rounder is in doubt.

Another story that developed this week is Oscar Tshiebwe leaving the West Virginia program for undisclosed personal reasons. Oscar came in as a highly rated recruit and at one point looked like a possible first rounder. His game never really developed and even seemed to go backwards. Even before this news broke he wasn’t likely to get drafted and now he’s no longer on the 2021 draft radar.

Finally, some good news: Keyontate Johnson seems to be doing well and is back with the Florida team. He’s not cleared to play at this point but considering the scary situation last month, just having him rejoin the team and be at practice and around the guys is hugely encouraging to see.

 

Update 12/20/20

Keyontae Johnson released a video update this week and seems to be doing well, after collapsing on the court last week. We wish him all the best health and a quick recovery!

The biggest prospect news continues to be the meteoric rise of Jalen Suggs into a sure-fire top 5 pick and likely top 3 selection. It’s not unheard of for a prospect to go from late lottery discussion to top 3 in the first month of the season (Zion) but Suggs’ rise to the top has been impressive. As a 6-4+ combo guard who plays both ends of the floor Suggs is the complete package with a ton of pro-ready skills and not a lot of weaknesses. He’s destined to be running an NBA offense in the very near future. And he’s firmly in the conversation for no.1 overall.

Cade Cunningham has played a couple of mediocre games this week, with a total of 27 points and 6 assists in those two games. But he still looks as impressive as every in most aspects of the game and his shooting slump isn’t a concern. It would be good to see him play with a little more fire, especially after watching a lot of Jalen Suggs recently. Bringing more intensity is maybe the one area of growth Cade needs to address as he prepares to enter the NBA. He’s still the likely top choice in the draft but it’s not as certain as before and he’ll have to finish the season strong to hold on to no.1.

Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga both seemed to have played well during their first G League action but all we have are the highlights and the box score. Kuminga shot 11-15 for 26 points and 8 rebounds, while Jalen Green shot 8-15 for 22 points and 7 rebounds. Both players seem to be about what we expected, which is top 5 pick material.

A bunch of freshman shooting guards have started the season hot including Jaden Springer, Josh Christopher, Cam Thomas, Keon Johnson and Moses Moody. All are in the mix from late lottery to late first round.

A few players who are moving up the mock: Kofi Cockburn, Sandro Mamukelashvili, Ron Harper Jr. and Javonte Perkins

Update 12/13/20

The first few weeks of the college basketball season has done nothing to change the narrative that this is an elite draft class. Yes, some of the freshman have struggled early on but for the most part the young stars have lived up to the high expectations.
 
Cade is still clearly the no.1 guy but Evan Mobley has looked terrific and has all the tools, skills and feel for the game you look for in a franchise altering talent. Mobley has truly elite mobility for his size (right up there with Giannis) and has also shown a really advanced feel for the game, good decision making and passing instincts and a nice 3pt shot. He plays a mature game and looks far more polished as a player than he did his senior year of high school. He should be able to contribute right away at the NBA level.
 
Scottie Barnes has looked really good for Florida State. He’s a big play-making forward with nice handles and passing ability and a great feel for the game. He’s like a coach on the floor, even as a freshman, and looks the part of a modern day versatile forward who can do a bit of everything on the court. Barnes feels like a solid top 10 pick at this point.
 
Scottie Lewis has shown some nice improvements over his freshman season and seems to be rounding into form. He’s obviously a world-class athlete and  defender but is starting to be more comfortable with the ball in his hands and more capable of hitting the open 3pt shot. This skill will go a long ways in determining if he’s a high level starter in the league or more of a role player. With his type of athleticism and natural ability an NBA team might bet on the upside and make him a first round pick (he’s currently ranked no.28 in our 2021 mock draft). And while we’re talking Florida basketball, our prayers are with Keyontae Johnson who collapsed on the court yesterday and is in critical but stable condition. Get well soon Keyontae!
 
Illinois guard Ayo Dosunmu is off to a great start to his junior season. He’s a long, wiry athlete with nice handles and ability to penetrate the lane. He’s also a big time shot maker who steps up in the big moments of a game. He’s got NBA size and all the tools to be a high level starter in the league. Ayo moves into the first round of our mock, landing at no.26.
 
Landers Nolley II is lighting it up for his new team, Memphis. The 6-7 SG/SF has a pretty stroke and shoots with a ton of confidence. He’s not an elite athlete but he’s got the most coveted NBA skill with his 3pt shooting ability. If he keeps this up he’ll start getting some first round mentions. Right now Landers is no.37 in our mock.
 
Iowa big man Luka Garza has been destroying college basketball so far this season (as expected). While not being an elite NBA prospect because of his lack of foot speed and old school type of game Garza has shown enough floor-spacing ability and just overall dominance to jump up the mock draft (no.41). He’ll be a polarizing prospect throughout this season but if he keeps up this level of play his stock will keep rising.
 

Update 12/5/20

We knew this freshman class was going to be special and so far they have not let us down and have even surpassed our expectations (with a few exceptions). Cade has been everything we expected and is still the odds on favorite to be the no.1 pick in the 2021 draft. Jalen Suggs has burst onto the scene, going from a late lottery projection to a possible top 3 pick. He’s a dominant force at the college level and has all the makings of a star NBA combo guard. The ankle injury against West Virginia gave us all a scare but he was able to come back into the game and looks to be healthy going forward.
 
The highly touted Kentucky freshman have had some mixed results but the season is young and we shouldn’t jump to any dramatic conclusions. Brandon Boston Jr. has gotten off to a slow start but I fully expect him to turn it on soon and remind us all why he’s a possible top 5 draft pick. Devin Askew has had some struggles as well and might be a two year guy for coach Cal (although I still think he’s one of the more underrated players in the country). Isaiah Jackson has impressed with his ferocious rebounding and shot blocking. His offensive game is a work in progress but he has a clear NBA role and is looking like a one and done first rounder. Terrence Clarke has shown flashes as well and is still in the mid first round conversation. He hasn’t lit the world on fire so far but his supreme athleticism is obvious and his upside is very intriguing.
 
Duke forward Jalen Johnson has performed as expected. He’s a dominant physical force who overpowers and outmatches other college players but has some limits on the offensive end with his mechanical outside shot. The more he can become a point guard (or point forward) the more his value will rise but he’ll have to develop his 3pt shot to reach his NBA potential.
 
Moses Moody has shown his elite offensive package, putting up big numbers and looking the part of an NBA shooting guard. He’s a likely one and done for Arkansas.
 
As for the upperclassmen, James Bouknight and Jared Butler have looked like the most promising NBA prospects, both having late lottery to mid first round potential. Bouknight has a filthy pull up game and all around scoring package and Butler is as polished as they come and looks ready to contribute to an NBA team.
 
Big man Luka Garza has been the most dominant player in all of college basketball, scoring in bunches while hardly missing a shot. He’s a truly elite college player but it’s a bit hard to imagine his game translating to the NBA level. It’s encouraging to see him shooting more from deep but his old school back to the basket game and lack of foot-speed limit his draft-ability.
 
Jeremiah RobinsonEarl has impressed as well. He’s taken the next step from his freshman season and looks way more comfortable with the ball in his hands, making plays in the lane and shooting the rock from deep. He’s not a huge upside guy but he’s got that Villanova pedigree, meaning he’s always making the right play and playing an efficient game.
 
Another upperclassman who has impressed is Gonzaga wing Corey Kispert. He’s always been a great shooter but has shown improved athleticism, more energy on defense and a more advance to the basket game. He fits the mold of a high volume NBA 3pt shooter and is getting serious fist round buzz.
 
One sleeper to keep an eye on his Alabama freshman Josh Primo who is one of the youngest and one of the most athletic players in college basketball. He’s dynamic in the open court and also has a deadly 3pt shot. Look for him to get more buzz as the season progresses.
 

Update 10/12/20

The College basketball season is just about a month and a half away (November 25th opening day) and it’s time to start getting excited to watch this elite class of talent, led by the clear no.1 prospect Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State. At this point Cade is no.1 on everyone’s board and it would be a major surprise if he falls from that top spot.

The 2021 draft class is really strong overall and especially strong at the forward position. The weakest position is center (even if you count Evan Mobley as a center), with potentially just 2 or 3 centers likely to be drafted in the first round. Mobley and Ibou Dianko Badji lead the way here but there’s not much depth.

It’ll be interesting to see how Kai Sotto develops this year with the G League Unite team. He’s an intriguing center prospect with a really nice skill level and an improving frame/agility. At this point we see him as an early second rounder but there’s plenty of upside there.

Another story-line we’ll be watching is the development of Makur Maker of Howard University. At 7-0 Maker can play some center but often operates more as a point guard and his coach confirmed that he’ll get plenty of minutes at the point guard position this season.

It will also be interesting to monitor the progress of the players who opted out of the 2020 draft to return to school, including: Jared Butler, Scottie Lewis, James Bouknight, Keyontae Johnson, Chris Smith, Trendon Watford, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and plenty more. Which of these players will emerge this season and solidify themselves as first rounders? We’ll start to find out next month!

 

Update 7/25/20

A few developments to note for the 2021 draft class:

  • Cade Cunningham is sticking with his commitment to Oklahoma State, despite the post season ban.
  • Jonathan Kuminga has officially reclassified and signed with the G League pro pathway team. Kuminga is pretty much a top 5 lock with top 2 potential.
  • Moussa Cisse also reclassified and signed with Memphis. The 6-10 center is not only the best shot blocker in his class but shows flashes of big time potential on the offensive end including a rapidly improving 3pt shot.
  • Makur Maker is likely to withdraw from the 2020 draft and has signed with Howard University – the first 5-star prospect in the modern era to sign with an Historically Black College and University (HBCU). Maker is a potential first rounder in 2021.
  • Arizona added to an already strong recruiting class with Lithuanian big man Azuolas Tubelis, a big time prospect and potential draft pick in 2021 or soon thereafter.
  • The addition of these prospects, especially Kuminga, help to make the 2021 draft class even stronger. This will be an historic draft and the talent pool is getting deeper and deeper.

Update 6/8/20

The latest 2021 draft related news involves two of the top prospects in the class. Cade Cunningham, the early favorite to go no.1 overall will have a big decision to make. Cade turned down G League money to sign with Oklahoma State (where his brother is an assistant coach) but now the NCAA has banned OK. State from postseason play due to violations. Will this cause Cade to go another route like sign with the G League or perhaps switch his commitment to Kentucky? My bet is he’ll stick with his commitment to the Cowboys and his brother. Cade doesn’t need postseason play to showcase his skills and, as we’ve seen from other top prospects over the years, me might actually prefer to end his college career early to avoid injury and focus on the draft. We should find out soon what his decision will be.

The other big news involves Jonathan Kuminga reclassifying to join the 2020 recruiting class, making him eligible for the 2021 draft. This news was expected for many months and now it’s official. The 6-8 forward from the Congo has narrowing his list down to Auburn, Kentucky, Duke, Texas Tech and the G League. Whoever lands Kuminga will be getting a world-class athlete with an elite physical profile, who is still developing his feel for game. This will be an important training year for Kuminga, as he looks to turn his raw talents into a more finished product before the 2021 draft roles around.

Update 4/19/20

The 2021 draft class has always been a strong one but with some talented freshman returning for a second college season this class gains even more talent and depth. Scottie Lewis headlines the group. He’s an all-world athlete with elite defensive attributes but an inconsistent offensive game. A second season at Florida will do him well and he will likely take the next steps in his development and solidify a place in the first round of the 2021 draft. Keyontae Johnson is also returning for another year at Florida – and the Gators will be loaded with talent and high expectations next season.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl also made a good decision to return to school and should have a breakout year for Villanova next season. He would have been drafted this year but has a chance to work his way into the first round in 2021.

There’s been a few major announcements over the past few days, with Jalen Green opting to skip college and go the G League route. He’ll be joined by Isaiah Todd, who had committed to Michigan but instead choose to join Green in the G League. But don’t expect this to be part of a trend, since it is likely that players will be allowed to go straight from high school to the League, starting with the 2022 draft.

Stud small forward Ziaire Williams made his college decision, choosing to go to Stanford. The Cardinal don’t normally get a lot of one-and-done players but Williams could be just that, as we project him to be a lottery pick in 2021.

We’re still waiting on Jon Kuminga and Greg Brown to announce where they’ll be playing next year. Stay tuned.

Update 1/13/20

The 2021 draft class has been hotly anticipated for years and it seems to only be getting stronger. The top guys in the class (Cade, Jalen Green) have continued to play at an elite level, showing superstar potential, while the next tier of prospects has emerged as potential stars as well. The two Sierra Canyon wings, Brandon Boston Jr. and Ziaire Williams have blossomed in their senior high school season and Greg Brown and Terrence Clarke both flash elite upside.

One interesting development is that Duke-bound Jalen Johnson, an elite prospect in his own right, has left IMG academy and might not play his senior year. Could he be considering overseas options?

Gonzaga has been on a great run this past decade and their recruiting has really benefitted. The Zags recently signed 5-star combo guard Jalen Suggs, their highest-ranking recruit ever. Their recruiting class is loaded with Dominick Harris, Julian Strawther and now Suggs (although Suggs has expressed some interest in taking the professional route and playing overseas in preparation for the 2021 draft).

There are still a few major recruits who have yet to sign, namely Greg Brown, Ziaire Williams, Jalen Green and Josh Christopher. Stay tuned.

Evan Mobley has held onto the no.1 ranking in a lot of recruiting services but his NBA projection isn’t totally clear. He’s a special athlete with elite mobility for size but remains very light in the pants and doesn’t project as a good interior defender at the NBA level. He’s got a lot of work to do to put on the weight, add the strength and/or develop his wing skills to have a shot at the no.1 spot in June of 2021. His brother Isaiah has some of the same limitations and hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire in his first season at USC, scoring in single digits in 8 of his last 9 games.

We currently project that Saddiq Bey of Villanova will stay for his junior season and enter the 2021 draft instead but the way he’s playing he could well declare for 2020. At 6-8 with a solid build he’s one of the better outside shooters in college ball, hitting 44.6% from 3 on the season. He’s the type of floor spacer and versatile defender that has a ton of value on draft day.

Oscar Tshiebwe has been a monster on the boards all season long and clearly has an NBA frame. He’s another guy who could test the 2020 draft waters but might be wise to stay a second season under Bob Huggins and potentially work his way into the lottery next year. At this point Tshiebwe is a work in progress on the offensive end but his shot isn’t broken and it’s likely that he’ll develop into a decent scoring option down the road. But his real value comes as a rebounder and defender who uses his enormous wingspan and great leaping ability to control the paint. He’s currently mocked at no.12 in our 2021 mock.

Update 12/5/19

The biggest mover up the list is Terrence Shannon Jr. of Texas Tech, rising from early second round

to the lottery. He’s displayed a much more advanced game than we gave him credit for including showing primary initiator skills and a very respectable outside shot. He’s an exceptional athlete, has board shoulders and can handle a lot of contact on his way to the rim. He’s a possible one and done but could stay in school for a second year and make a run at being a lottery selection in 2021.

Greg Brown got bumped up a few spots in the mock thanks to his continued development of his all around offensive game. He’s always been a freak athlete who can play at the top of the backboard and jump quicker and higher than anyone else. But now he’s added a lot to his face up game including a much-improved 3pt shot, making him more of a modern day 4 who can also play on the wing. The 2021 draft class is loaded and the competition for those top 5 spots will be fierce but if Greg Brown keeps doing what he’s doing he’ll be right there in the mix.

Devin Askew joins the 2021 draft class after officially reclassifying. He could be a one and done for a Kentucky squad that will be stacked next season thanks to a great recruiting class (Boston, Jackson, Askew) and the likely return of a few current freshman including Whitney and Juzang. Askew isn’t the type of prospect that has fans jumping out of their seats but he’s a consummate floor general who controls the pace of the game, can penetrate and use his strength to score in the paint and is just a playmaker. In some ways he reminds of Cade Cunningham but without the elite positional size.

Landers Nolley II has burst onto the national scene early in the season as one of the elite shooting/scoring freshman in the country. He’s got an NBA build with broad shoulders and good strength and he excels at today’s most valuable skill, hitting the 3pt shot. He’s another player who could be a one and done or a two year college player.

Update 11/08/19

Big news this week with projected no.1 overall pick Cade Cunningham committing to Oklahoma

State (where his brother is an assistant coach). And the Cowboys could just be getting started, with 5-star Bryce Thompson on deck to make his college decision, with Oklahoma State among his final schools.

Jalen Green is currently mocked no.2 overall but he’s looking stronger, more polished on offense and even more athletic (if that’s possible) than he looked over the summer. He’s very much in contention for that top spot. Auburn and Memphis seem to be in the lead in his recruiting.

Spanish power forward Usman Garuba is showing well for Real Madrid. He’s a rebounding force and efficient on the offensive end. We’ve moved him up from the 2022 mock to 2021, projecting him as a top 10 pick. He reminds of mix between Tristan Thompson and Al Horford.

Isaiah Mobley got off to a nice start in his USC career. He’s a potential one and done player but we have him mocked in 2021, thinking he’ll stay for a second season so he can play with his brother Evan next year. Isaiah is just so smooth for a big man and seems like a great fit for today’s NBA, with his 3pt shooting ability and switchability on D.

Jahmi’us Ramsey is off to a nice start for Texas Tech and is looking like a potential first rounder, sooner or later.

Good news out of Villanova as Bryon Antoine is cleared to practice again after a lingering shoulder issue. He’s probably not a one and done but could be a 2021 first rounder.

Duke scored another recruiting win with the commitment of 7-0 center Mark Williams. He’s currently projected in the early second round of our 2021 mock but could move up with a big senior year of high school.

Update 10/11/19

Tre Mann moves up to the mid first round. There’s a chance he’ll enter the 2020 draft with a strong freshman season at Florida but for now we’re predicting that he’ll return for a second season. He’s got a game that is tailor-made for today’s NBA, with a lightening quick release on his jumper and great 3pt accuracy. He also knows how to keep the ball moving and doesn’t get caught up playing hero-ball.

News out of Villanova is that Bryan Antoine is still out with a shoulder injury and isn’t set to return any time soon. There’s a chance Antoine red-shirts this year, in which case he’ll almost certainly forgo the 2020 draft and return to Nova next season. He’s an interesting prospect, a dynamic athlete and tenacious defender, but he’s got a ways to go before he’s NBA ready and missing this season won’t help. Hopefully he gets back on the court soon.

Update 10/3/19

The top prospects for the 2021 draft have been making their official college visits and announcing

 

their commitments. UNC scored a big win with the addition of smooth center Walker Kessler. The 6-11 big man is currently mocked as a late first round pick and possible one-and-done player for the tar heels.

Auburn is getting a lot of buzz as a possible landing spot for stud shooting guard Jalen Green. The Tigers recently landing 5-star point guard Sharife Cooper, a guy who other players want to play with. And Auburn is also going hard after Jaemyn Brakefield and human pogo stick Greg Brown. As for Jalen Green, he seems like a candidate to play overseas, perhaps following R.J. and Melo to the NBL.

Elite shooting guard Jaden Springer is down to Memphis, Michigan and Tennessee.

Not much movement in the mock this time of year but we’ve moved Michigan State wing Aaron Henry up to the mid first round of 2021. He could declare for the 2020 draft, with a strong second season for the Spartans, or push for the lottery in 2021. Henry isn’t a guy who will get a lot of press but he’s got the frame, athleticism and defensive tenacity to be an impact player in the League.

Update 8/24/19

We’ve moved Terrence Clarke up to the 2021 mock, projected that he’ll reclassify to the 2020

 

recruiting class. Clarke is an elite prospect with no.1 overall type of talent. He’ll join a loaded draft class, making it even stronger at the top. Clarke starts out at no.5 in the 2021 mock.

Addison Patterson recently classed-up to join the 2019 recruiting class and signed with the Oregon Ducks. He’s probably not a one and done player but should be on the radar for 2021. He joins a loaded Oregon recruiting class so it’ll be interesting to see how the minutes shake out and which of these players emerge as the best of the bunch.

Update 7/27/19

Not much movement this time of year. Jalen Green regains a spot in the top 2 after his Peach Jam performance. And Jalen Johnson moves up to no.3.

Big, bad, Ibou Dianko Badji moves into the lottery. He’s one of the most intriguing prospects in this class, possessing insane measurables and guard-like agility in a monster frame. He’s got a long ways to go but his ceiling is in the stratosphere. We’ll be tracking his progress closely.

Jalen Suggs moves up a few spots into the mid first round, while Kai Jones moves down a few spots.

Update 7/03/19

Another superstar prospect and future lottery pick is headed to Duke: Jalen Johnson of Glendale, Wisconsin is a 6-8 forward who handles the ball and runs the break like a point guard, showing next level court vision and an advanced feel for the game. Johnson is a plus athlete, even by NBA standards and is a sure-fire one & done lottery pick, who could be in the conversation for no.1 overall. Coach K does it again. And again and again and again.


Update 6/15/19

Major movement for Makur Maker after a strong spring. Maker is a big-bodied guard/center with an intriguing skill set. He fits the mold of modern big who can stretch the floor, pass the ball and he shows impressive open court ball handling ability and the ability to rip and run. Maker is up to no.4 overall in our 2021 mock and is in the conversation for no.1 overall.

Lok Wur is a new comer to the mock, landing at no.30 overall. Wur is far from a finished product but based on athleticism and upside alone he gets consideration as a potential first round pick.  Not saying he’s the next Giannis but he shows the same type of flashes as Giannis showed as an 18 year old in Greece. Wur is a blur in the open court, gliding past defenders with long strides, and exploding to the rim with ease. Keep an eye on him over the next year or two.

Update 5/28/19

Probably the hottest name right now is Cade Cunningham. The big point guard has elevated his stock to the point of being in the conversation for no.1 in his class. At this point we have him listed no.4 overall in our 2021 mock behind Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and Jalen Johnson.

Adam Miller is another riser (and another big point guard). AceWolf is a crafty ball handler who finds angles well when driving the ball and is a creative finisher in the lane. He’s got the size to shoot over defenders and can really get buckets. He’s moved up our list to no.22 in the 2021 mock.

Jaden Springer is currently ranked no.16 in the mock but after a great end to the HS season and a good showing this spring, he’s looking like a potential lottery pick.

And of course we’re all waiting for/anticipating the end of the one-and-done rule, which could mean the top prospects from the 2021 recruiting class could be in this draft as well. Better get to know the name Terrance Clarke!

by NBA Draft Room