This year’s NBA draft has been impacted in numerous ways due to COVID-19, with many players having far less exposure, with abbreviated schedules, and scouts being forced to do much of their workload from home instead of seeing every player numerous times in person. The freshman class was behind the eight ball, and the proof was the struggles of one-and-done reliant programs such as Duke and Kentucky, missing the NCAA tourney. This year, more than ever, It will be up to NBA teams to figure out which hidden gems are being undervalued due to lack of development and worth taking on as reclamation projects.
1. *Houston Cade Cunningham 6-8 220 PG/SF Oklahoma State Fr.
Cunningham came into the season as the prohibitive favorite to go number one overall. And his play did nothing to change that over the course of the season, as he was clearly the most impressive prospect from a consistency and production standpoint. A case could be made that he doesn’t have the highest ceiling among this year’s draft class, however he likely has the highest floor. He figures to be a “culture” changer and brings a level of confidence and maturity that should allow him to overcome a bad situation and thrive. Cunningham has a strong, calm demeanor and never seems to become rattled or thrown off his game. His focus and determination are keys to his success and should allow him to be an elite facilitator with size in the mold of Luka Doncic. While he doesn’t have quite the killer instinct or facilitating ability of Doncic, he’s a better shooter than Luka entering the league.
NBA Comparison: Jayson Tatum
2. *Detroit Evan Mobley 7-0 215 PF/C USC Fr.
Mobley is the first player since Anthony Davis to win Conference, Freshman, and Defensive Player of the Year awards. And Davis is a name that gets linked to Mobley as they’re both freak athletes with defensive and scoring ability. What seems to separate AD from Mobley is his consistency and focus. On top of everything, Mobley has intriguing ball handling skills. His defensive ability as both a rim protector and perimeter defender gives him a lot of potential, and makes him extremely intriguing. Based on pure upside, Mobley is probably the player with the highest ceiling in this year’s draft. So why is he projected to fall past 1? Mobley’s demeanor concerns some scouts due to his lack of consistency with regard to intensity and focus. Mobley does not always illustrate ideal body language and shows a tendency to defer at times instead of taking over. With an obvious talent like Mobley, perhaps that is nitpicking. But there is a fine line between being a high level NBA player and being a generational bigman that impacts a team’s ability to contend for titles.
NBA Comparison: Pau Gasol
3. Orlando Jalen Green 6-6 180 SG G-League Fr.
Green has some freakishness to his athleticism, and combines that with a very smooth and polished floor game. He certainly doesn’t lack for sizzle, with a sick repertoire of crossovers and the ability to mesmerize opponents and create offense for himself on the perimeter. He figures to go in the 3-5 range after a solid season playing for the Ignite in the G-League. Green, along with fellow G-leagers: Johnathan Kuminga, Daishon Nix and Isaiah Todd were the NBA’s guinea pigs, with players being recruited away from their college teams in some instances, and given the opportunity to play in the G-League before being drafted. The G-League “experiment” appears to be a success in the midst of the pandemic, paving the way for future players (Jaden Hardy for instance) to follow in their footsteps.
NBA Comparison: Larry Hughes
4. Oklahoma City Jalen Suggs 6-4 205 PG Gonzaga Fr.
Suggs hit arguably the biggest shot in NCAA history considering the stage, Final Four, degree of difficulty, and number of eyes on him. Suggs is sure to benefit financially from the brand name he’s cultivated at the college level. He has ideal leadership and toughness, having been a five star quarterback in Minnesota high school. He’s a dominant athlete with impressive size at the point guard position. He came into college as a borderline top 10 recruit, and quickly established himself as a player that could contend to be the top pick. He lacks Cade Cunningham’s skill level as a scorer, granted they were used in different roles in the freshman seasons. And it’s clear Cade is the superior shooter with more length. Where Suggs gets the edge is his speed and athleticism and defensive potential.
NBA Comparison: Jason Kidd
5. Cleveland Jonathan Kuminga 6-8 205 SF/PF G-League Fr.
Kuminga has as much raw talent as any player in this draft. He’s a freak athlete with an NBA frame at 19, great versatility, and possessing the ball skills to run the break as well as create offense for himself. He shut down his season a few games early coming off a minor injury, but showed flashes that should insure he’s a high lottery pick. He can still improve in a number of areas including shooting and defense, but his potential is considerable if he lands in the right situation and applies himself. Kuminga has a chance to be a standout at the next level and has a ceiling amongst the top 2-3 overall players in this year’s draft.
NBA Comparison: Jaylen Brown
6. Golden State Scottie Barnes 6-9 225 SF/PF Florida St. Fr.
Barnes is a tricky prospect to project since the NBA’s game has shifted so heavily to shooting, and it’s clearly Barnes biggest weakness. Barnes does a ton of things to help his team win. He’s a thoroughbred with a 7’2 wingspan and plays at times as a point forward with the ability to defend positions 1-through-4. He’s got some parallels to Draymond Green with his skill set and while very few can match Draymond’s passion for the game, Barnes is a high level competitor with intangibles in his own right.
NBA Comparison: Draymond Green
7. Toronto James Bouknight 6-5 190 SG UConn So.
Bouknight was one of the breakout stars of the season, coming off a promising freshman year at Storrs. While he doesn’t have elite length, he has sneaky athleticism and had numerous highlight plays at the rim. He shows a lot of grit and determination with a crafty skill set that has shown excellent improvement. He showed just how lethal a scorer he can be with his 40 point performance in an OT loss to Creighton in December.
NBA Comparison: CJ McCollum
8. Orlando Moses Moody 6-6 205 SG Arkansas Fr.
Moody was one of the most productive freshmen in the country, displaying a very polished shooting stroke. And although his three point numbers dipped some over the course of the season, it’s clear he has high level shooting ability. Moody ended up hitting just 36% from three on the year, but developed the reputation as a quality outside shooter in high school and was comfortable in the role of go to scorer at Arkansas. While not the most explosive run jump athlete, he possesses a huge 7′ foot wingspan, which allows him to defend and get shots off more effectively than most players his height.
NBA Comparison: Glen Rice
9. Sacramento Keon Johnson 6-5 185 SG Tennessee Fr.
Despite struggling to score consistently in the early part of the year, Johnson improved as the season went along and found ways to contribute. He was probably the NCAA leader in highlight plays, and had what most considered the dunk of the year. He’s an above average athlete with excellent versatility and upside. While he’s a bit of a project, the fact that he’s such a talented athlete and hard worker gives his outlook a lot of promise. He’ll likely begin his career as somewhat of a project, and defensive specialist, but if his offensive game clicks, he’s got star potential.
NBA Comparison: Latrell Sprewell
10. New Orleans Davion Mitchell 6-2 205 PG Baylor Jr.
Mitchell was Baylor’s best player and is likely to benefit most from Baylor’s run to a National Title. He took the Bears on his back and carried them as their fearless, emotional leader. He also showed impressive ability to impact the game on both ends all season. Mitchell is a blur with the ball in his hands, and has the physicality to play through contact and impose his will against weaker opponents. He has a chance to be a lock down defender at the next level and despite his age, granted he may not be able to cover 2-guards with the same level of success on switches. Mitchell stands a good chance to find a spot in the late lottery area and be the first senior to hear his name called on draft night (with Kispert being his main competition).
NBA Comparison: Ty Lawson
11. Charlotte Jalen Johnson 6-9 220 SF/PF Duke Fr.
Jalen Johnson is one of the draft’s big wildcards. Johnson did himself no favors by quitting on the Duke team when things got difficult, and making the decision to “focus on training for the upcoming draft”. Johnson certainly won’t get high marks when teams inquire about him from his former head coach. But it’s unlikely that he will slide too far considering the upside and how highly rated he was entering college. He’s got an intriguing combination of athleticism and versatility to play some point forward and also slide over to the PF position as a modern face up 4. One of the real polarizing picks with some scouts seeing him closer to where he entered the season, around 5-6 range, while others see him falling out of the lottery and possibly even further.
NBA Comparison: Stephen Jackson
12. San Antonio Kai Jones 6-11 220 C Texas So.
Jones is from Nassau, Barbados and is in his fourth year in the US having come over prior to his junior year of high school. He’s obviously raw considering his usage rate and background, but shows a solid feel for the game, all things considered. The fact that he’s such a quality shooter and also such a fluid and bouncy athlete, at his size, gives him a great deal of intrigue. While there’s obviously a long road ahead with his development, and the floor and ceiling have tons of space between them, he’s likely to get plenty of looks at the end of the lottery and stands a good chance of being drafted in the 10-15 range.
NBA Comparison: Jaxson Hayes
13. Indiana Corey Kispert 6-7 220 SG/SF Gonzaga Sr.
Kispert had a breakout senior season and elevated his stock considerably to becoming a potential lottery pick. He obviously struggled shooting in the NCAA tournament and lost some ground, however he remains an intriguing prospect due to his elite level shooting ability. Kispert lacks great speed and is just average athletically. But his steady improvement throughout his college career and his dedication to strength and conditioning are obvious. He was very dependable as a clutch shooter throughout much of his college career, and he stepped up as Gonzaga’s main bucket-getter throughout their near perfect season.
NBA Comparison: Joe Harris
14. Golden State Ziaire Williams 6-8 185 SG/SF Stanford Fr.
Like most of the freshman class, Williams had an an up and down season and how much of that is attributed to COVID-19 and the lack of development for younger players depends on who’s making that judgement. Williams had quite possibly the most challenging situation of anyone on this list considering the team was playing in a county with the most stringent COVID-19 regulations and it kept the team from practicing as well as having to stay in a hotel off campus. Not an ideal set of circumstances. Williams has good shooting ability, but struggled to show it, and was seen by some as a potential top 10 pick coming into the season. He’s got solid length and fluidity, and could easily be undervalued on draft night due to aforementioned circumstances. The talent is clear, but adding strength and consistency, plus better shooting, will be key for him.
NBA Comparison: Rashard Lewis
15. Washington Franz Wagner 6-9 220 SF/PF Michigan So.
Wagner struggled in March. And depending on how much importance you put into tourney performance, may have hurt his stock as much as any prospect with his lackluster play. He has tremendous passing and vision for a 6-9 forward, and his feel for the game and basketball IQ are real selling points. He’s got solid quickness, and while he’s not going to blow anyone away with his athleticism, his dexterity and composed game makes him intriguing to scouts. He didn’t light it up as a scorer in his sophomore year, but after Isaiah Livers went down towards the end of the season, he rose to the challenge, and helped lead Michigan to their first Elite Eight in years.
NBA Comparison: Nemanja Bjelica
16. Boston Josh Giddey 6-8 205 PG Australia Intl.
Similar to Scottie Barnes, Giddey is able to impact the game in a number of ways despite shooting limitations. Giddey is a legit point guard at 6-8, and has the ability to elevate those around him with his great vision and passing skills. He’s not the most explosive athlete, but he’s got solid foot speed and understands how to set up defenders with fakes and hesitation moves. He benefits from the outstanding rookie season from LaMelo Ball, as it further legitimizes the Australian league, in terms of level of competition to gauge a player’s ability.
NBA Comparison: Joe Inglis
17. Memphis Josh Christopher 6-5 215 SG Arizona St. Fr.
Christopher was another highly rated freshman that showed flashes but struggled with consistency. He’s a high motor, high intensity player and has excellent explosiveness and scoring ability. The biggest concern with Christopher is not whether he has enough confidence but whether he has too much confidence. He is in the “Swaggy P”, Nick Young class of colorful personalities, so the challenge will be to get him to focus all the “creativity” and swagger into the right avenues. Christopher has incredibly thick legs and is super explosive. He’s got the added benefit of having professional basketball brother Patrick to lean on for guidance.
NBA Comparison: Norman Powell
18. Houston Ayo Dosunmu 6-5 200 PG/SG Illinois Jr.
Dosunmu is one of the draft’s most polarizing prospects with a wide range of views surrounding his talent and in turn, where he will land. He’s a big lead guard and had an extremely productive season, ending up among the nation’s top scorers at over 20 points per game. He’s really polished his ability to score in the ISO game and has solid decision making leading the break. There are concerns that he may be peaking to some degree as he’s not the most athletic guard, but based on productivity and positional size, there’s a lot to like.
NBA Comparison: Delon Wright
19. New York Jaden Springer 6-4 205 SG Tennessee Fr.
Springer doesn’t fit the mold of a traditional guard at either position. But he should find a role as a combo, and continue to improve on his weaknesses. While he lacks elite athleticism and offensive skills, he plays with a great deal of determination. He has a very scrappy style of game, attacking the basket and playing a high level of intensity on both ends. He’s an extremely hard worker and will look to fill a role similar to Marcus Smart for Boston for a team as a defensive stalwart with toughness and physicality.
NBA Comparison: Jerryd Bayless
20. Atlanta Cameron Thomas 6-4 210 SG LSU Fr.
Thomas lit up the SEC in his freshman season and is a natural born scorer. He was the fourth leading scorer in the country at 23 points per game, and the leading freshman scorer by nearly three a game. While there are some obvious limitations to his game, being an undersized and unathletic 2-guard, the fact that he is so proficient on the perimeter in a shooter’s era helps his cause. He has a solid wingspan in the 6-7 neighborhood, making up for being potentially an inch or so shorter than listed.
NBA Comparison: E’Twaun Moore
21. *New York Miles McBride 6-2 200 PG West Virginia So.
McBride is a player that for much of the season was not expected to be in this year’s draft and may still ultimately opt to return to West Virginia. But he had a breakout season including strong showings in his two match up with projected number one pick Cade Cunningham. McBride has above average size and athleticism, as witnessed by his above the rim finishes on the break. And he’s also a promising shooter from the perimeter. He’s got to work on his point guard skills and nuances of the position, but he’s clearly learned solid defensive fundamentals after two seasons under Bob Huggins.
NBA Comparison: Derrick White
22. LA Lakers Usman Garuba 6-8 230 PF/C Spain Intl.
Garuba played a solid season showing some real progress in the Spanish League. He’s an athletic big with great length and the ability to be disruptive on the defensive end. He has also shown the ability to knock down threes at times, but still needs work to become a real threat from the outside. While short in stature at 6-8, his huge 7-2 wingspan and solid physical strength makes him effective on the glass. Another important aspect is his lateral speed and ability to defend on the perimeter, adding some intrigue to his potential.
NBA Comparison: Amir Johnson
23. *Houston Johnny Juzang 6-6 210 SF UCLA So.
Juzang lacks great athleticism, but he’s got solid size and is a gifted scorer. The fact that today’s NBA puts such a premium on shooting helps his cause, and he showed that he can not only knock down big shots but also create shots for himself with a polished handle and ISO game. Juzang arguably had the biggest stock boost of any prospect with his tournament play in UCLA’s surprise 5 game win streak to the Final Four. Juzang has left the option open to return to UCLA, however after such a tremendous showing in March, it would seem to be in his best interest to strike while the iron is hot and capitalize on his phenomenal Tournament performance.
NBA Comparison: Duncan Robinson
24. *Houston Tre Mann 6-5 190 PG Florida So.
Mann was a highly rated prospect coming out of high school and while he may not have busted out as a star in college, he slowly emerged as a key player and had a clutch shooting performance in the tournament. He’s viewed as a combo, but has solid ball skills. He’s got excellent size if he evolves at the point guard position and shows very good ability to create shots for himself in ISO situations. He fits the mold of the instant offense sixth man.
NBA Comparison: Jordan Poole
25. LA Clippers Nah'Shon Hyland 6-3 175 VCU So.
Most scouts see “Bones” in the 25-40 range and is shaping up to be one of the draft’s more interesting sleepers. He showed nice potential with his ability to create offense for not only himself but teammates. Hyland has an impressive repertoire of offensive skills with a tremendous handle and polished shooting/scoring ability. Despite a lack of size and strength, Bones could offer an instant offense for a team off the bench, at least early in his career. With a playground flare to his game, Hyland is ultra quick and athletic and makes a lot of highlight plays.
NBA Comparison: Jordan Clarkson
26. Denver Greg Brown 6-9 205 SF/PF Texas Fr.
Brown is considered by most as a bit of a project as he lacks a polizhed skill level. The fact that he registered so few assists is a real analytics red flag against him. But he is one of the most explosive and athletic players in this year’s draft and showcased that ability on a number of occasions with highlight reel dunks. He has the potential to be a forward that can defend and play both forward positions, but initially he figures to struggle due to lack of fundamentals and strength. In the late first, Brown makes a lot of sense as a player who can be developed into a standout defender with the hope that he can improve upon his shooting and scoring ability.
NBA Comparison: Matt Barnes
27. Brooklyn Charles Bassey 6-11 235 PF/C Western Kentucky Jr.
Bassey bounced back surprisingly well, looking quicker, and even more mobile and athletic than he had in his freshman season when he sustained what looked like a devastating (even possibly career ending) leg injury. While today’s NBA game has moved away from the “traditional” bigman, Bassey shows some new age attributes. He displayed the ability to move his feet laterally on the perimeter as well as face up and hit extended range shots, so that bodes well for him. Bassey is one of the draft’s few quality bigmen. The question of how much the NBA has downgraded the center position is a potential obstacle for Bassey.
NBA Comparison: Gorgui Dieng
28. Philadelphia Chris Duarte 6-5 195 SG Oregon Sr.
Despite being one of the oldest players in the draft, Chris Duarte has a lot of first round intrigue due to his breakout senior season and impressive combination of athleticism and skill level. His shooting became a real strength and he took over as Oregon’s number one option offensively and team leader as a senior. His athleticism really stood out and he improved his three point shooting from 33% to 42%.
NBA Comparison: John Starks
29. Phoenix Jared Butler 6-3 195 SG/PG Baylor Jr.
Butler figures to add some value to a team in the late first round as a big time shooter with a championship pedigree. He Is a hard nosed combo and really more of a shooting guard than a point at 6-3, which decreases his value some. Add in the fact that his athleticism is well below standard at the next level and it’s hard to see him climbing too high, but end of first round seems realistic. He gets a boost due to the fact that he has a good deal of experience at the highest level and has proven to be a clutch performer and defender.
NBA Comparison: Bryn Forbes
30. Utah Roko Prkacin 6-9 210 SF/PF Latvia Intl.
The Latvian forward has been among the top prospects of his generation in Europe for a few years. He’s a long, bouncy athlete with fluidity and has a promising jumpshot. He lacks great speed, and may be a bit of a tweener in today’s NBA, but in some cases that has shown to be an advantage for players. While he didn’t have the breakout season some may have hoped for, he played solid and is still in the mix to be drafted towards the end of the first round.
NBA Comparison: Bojan Bogdanovic