The 2021 Shooting guard class is robust and talent laden one with perhaps the most talented player in the entire draft, or at least the one with the most upside in Jalen Green. The class consists of two other mid lotto level talents in slick shot creator James Boutnight and uber-athlete Keon Johnson, and another three with a shot at the end of the lottery in freshman Moses Moody, and seniors Corey Kispert and Chris Duarte. With four other first round possibilities, this is clearly one of the draft’s strongest positions with star power as well as depth.
1. Jalen Green, 6-5 180 G League Ignite, 19.5
The former five-star phenom was extremely impressive as the leading scorer of the G League Ignite. Despite being just 19 years old and playing more experienced professionals, Green was able to showcase his diverse scoring ability, insane hops, offensive instincts, and defensive ability. The best shooting guard in this year’s class, Green is a lock to go in the top three and could lead all rookies in points per game. With his 6’5 frame, speed and bounce, Green can blow by defenders with ease, and either finish with a highlight reel slam, or a wide array of layup moves to beat taller defenders. With his scoring arsenal, he could be an all-star caliber player within his first few seasons. Especially considering Green is a fierce defender as well, averaging 1.5 steals per game last season, he could immediately start and play well for whichever team nabs the dynamic guard.
2. James Bouknight, 6-5 190 UConn, 20.8
A tremendous shot-maker, Bouknight displayed an impressive ability to create his own look. He has a knack for getting by defenders, and creating excellent looks, with an elite 65.8 FG% at the rim. That should quickly translate to the NBA and help a team by getting and converting more looks inside. Bouknight is also a dependable mid-range shooter and is able to shake opponents and get to his spot. He struggled this season from three, hitting just under 30% of hit attempts. That number should climb at the next level as Bouknight won’t have to take as difficult of shots while being surrounded by other offensive-minded players. With his athleticism and scoring, Bouknight has both a high floor and ceiling. He needs to limit his turnovers to be effective with the ball in his hands.
3. Keon Johnson, 6-5 185 Tennessee, 19.4
Some players get drafted for collegiate production, while others get drafted for their athletic profile and potential. Few players fit better into the second category than former Volunteer Johnson. Despite scoring just over 11 points per game and shooting 27% behind the arc, Johnson’s record-breaking athleticism has scouts salivating. He broke the combine record for both max vertical leap and standing vertical leap, posting scores of 48 and 41.5 inches, respectively. Those gaudy numbers helped reinforce that while he may not yet have a polished offensive game, he can quickly be an effective, multi-positional defender. His vertical, size and youth point to a player who could be well worth a top-ten selection if given the time to work on his outside shooting.
4. Moses Moody, 6-6 210 Arkansas, 19.1
A smooth and natural scorer, Moody helped bring the Razorbacks to the Elite 8 this season. He poured in 16.8 points per game, while hitting 36% from behind the arc. With a 7-foot wingspan, the 6-6, 205-pound guard has ideal size to play either guard spot or small forward on defense and his long arms add to his defensive impact. He isn’t the best athlete but can still finish well and through contact. Moody also rebounds very well for his position, pulling down almost six boards per game. He may not initiate offense as well as some of the other 2-guards in this draft, but his scoring, shooting, size, and versatility along with his youth provide serious optimism about his potential to be a two-way star.
5. Corey Kispert, 6-7 225 Gonzaga, 22.4
As the NBA continues to evolve, teams eye one skill more than any other: three-point shooting. As that search continues, Kispert is certainly a player that can contribute from deep. He drained 91 threes on 207 attempts, good for a blistering 44% from behind the arc. With a beautiful motion and a quick, high release, Kispert has the percentage and form to solidify his status as one of the draft’s premier shooters. He isn’t just a threat from deep, as he also shot 52.9% from inside the arc. He isn’t a high-flying athlete, but his 6-7, 200-pound frame should allow him to guard positions 2-4 in the NBA. Similarly to Duarte, his age and athleticism may limit him from an all-star ceiling, but he can immediately become a team’s best shooter, and a capable defender, rebounder, and passer.
6. Chris Duarte, 6-6 190 Oregon, 24.1
By far the oldest prospect of this group, Duarte comes into the draft most ready to immediately contribute to any NBA team. Shooting an excellent 52% from the field, 42% from deep and 71% at the rim, while scoring more than 17 points per game, the senior is a true three-level scorer. With his solid frame, quick hands and attention to detail, Duarte can also be a wrecking-ball defensively. After grabbing just under two steals per game, he is also pro-ready on the less glamorous end of the court. The draw back to Duarte is his advanced age for a prospect and lack of high-end athleticism. However, with his combination of scoring, efficiency, versatility, and defense, he will be a very productive player from the second he steps on an NBA court. Has he become slightly overrated due to being 24 and having shown the type of efficiency just one season? Time will tell.
7. Josh Christopher, 6-4 215 Arizona State, 19.6
Christopher, much like Johnson, will be drafted on what he will do in the future rather than the present. Already a strong, physical defender, the former Sun Devil has work to do on the offensive end of the court. He did finish his freshman year with over 14 points per game, but did not shoot efficiently, and had a 31% mark from behind the arc. His strong free throw percentage at 80% hints toward potential to improve his numbers. Christopher is an explosive, fluid athlete and is already comfortable creating his own shot. He is certainly a boom or bust prospect, but his youth, build and scoring ability help sell the idea that he could be a hidden gem. One key for Christopher’s development will be slowing the game down with the ball in his hands. The young guard was unable to have any real impact generating good chances for others, with 1.4 assists per game to 1.7 turnovers.
8. Ayo Dosunmu,6-5 195 Illinois, 21.5
No other shooting guard in this class stuffs the stat sheet like Ayo Dosunmu. The junior averaged over 20 points, six rebounds, five assists, and one steal per game while hitting 39% from deep. The blazing quick guard is great at beating defenders with his handle, burst and change of pace. He is also by far the best passer of the group, and often played point guard for Illinois. Dosunmu runs the pick and roll very well and can be a nightmare to stop in transition. The Chicago native is a terrific rebounder for the position, and garnered a reputation this season as one of the best closers. Questions about his lack of off-ball movement, poor shot selection, and defensive limitations are real concerns, and will need to improve for him to become more than an offensive initiator off the bench.
9. Joshua Primo, 6-5 190 Alabama, 18.6
The youngest player in the draft pool, Primo rarely had a chance to showcase his abilities for the Crimson Tide. Due to his limited minutes, Primo only scored 8.1 points per game, but had moments in which he drew real interest. The potential for an athletic, tall, versatile defender that can also create his own offense is something teams covet. With the ability to penetrate, shoot from deep, defend multiple positions well, all while growing stronger and learning more moves offensively, Primo can blossom into a star. Of course, the 18-year-old may never become a competent scorer at the NBA level with better, faster and stronger defenders. The freshman has intriguing potential. Teams who are willing to give him time to learn and grow as a player could yield serious benefits in the future.
10. Cameron Thomas, 6-3 200 LSU, 19.8
After finishing fourth in Division 1 in scoring last season with 23 points per game as a freshman, it’s clear that Thomas is a walking bucket. He can attack the paint, shoot from all levels and finish through contact while being unafraid of any shot. Conversely, Thomas often forced his own looks, at the expense of his teammates and finished with just 1.4 assists per game and hit just 41% of his shot attempts. He also is not a strong defender and is slightly undersized for the shooting guard spot at 6’3, limiting his versatility. Thomas opted to not show up for measurements at the combine. His last prep measurement was in at the 2019 Nike Skills Academy where he measured 6’1.5′ with a 6’6″ wingspan and 189.6 lbs. Regardless, the energetic guard is an offensive engine by himself and can pour in the points at will. If he can share the ball well, playing as a true point guard would increase his defensive ability, while helping generate looks for others. If not, his ceiling is likely a bench scorer who does score but does so mostly in isolated looks.