2021 NBA Draft: Jonathan Kuminga among prospects with highest upside

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2021 NBA Draft: Kuminga has very high upside originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Washington Wizards are picking squarely in the middle of the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. Whether Washington trades up, down or stays firm at No. 15, here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who the Wizards could consider selecting.

2021 NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Jonathan Kuminga

School/team: G-League Ignite

Position: Forward

Age: 18 (turns 19 in Oct.)

Height: 6-7

Weight: 220

Wingspan: 7-0

2020/21 stats: 13 G, 15.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.8 bpg, 38.7 FG% (5.5/14.3), 24.6 3PT% (1.2/5.0), 62.5 FT%

Player comparison: Jaylen Brown, T.J. Warren

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 5th, Sports Illustrated 5th, Ringer 5th, NBADraft.net 5th, Bleacher Report 5th

5 things to know:

-Kuminga is the highest-rated wing on most draft boards, seen as part of an unusually deep top tier of prospects this year that also includes Cade Cunningham (OSU), Evan Mobley (USC), Jalen Green (G-League) and Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga). In another year with less talent at the top, Kuminga might go higher, but he's considered by most evaluators to fall somewhere in the back-end of the top-5.

-He is very athletic with speed, strength and the ability to play above the rim. And though relatively raw, he has a well-rounded skillset for a team to develop. He shows potential off the dribble, with his shot mechanics, as a passer and on defense. It may take some time, however, for some of those traits to emerge at the NBA level. Early on, he may be more reliant on his athleticism to score and because of that may have more success in transition than in the midrange.

-Kuminga was a top-5 recruit coming out of high school, but opted to play in the G-League instead of college. He's said in previous interviews that he saw it as a better opportunity to improve his game by working on it more consistently against higher competition and not having to worry about school. He along with Green were among the first players to take this path, but may be just the start of something, depending on how it works for them.

-His biggest weakness would be shooting. Kuminga shot just 38.7% from the field and 24.6% from three in the G-League, and his 62.5% free throw percentage doesn't give confidence it was a fluke. That said, it was a small sample size (13 games) and some players can improve their shooting significantly at the next level. One of his better player comparisons, Brown, didn't shoot well in college but has become an efficient player for the Celtics. 

-Kuminga's cousin is NBA point guard Emmanuel Mudiay, who was drafted seventh overall back in 2015. He now plays for the Utah Jazz. 

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Fit in NBA:

Because he's a wing and does a variety of things, Kuminga would fit with any team picking near the top of the board. He's an ideal athlete for positionless basketball, with the ability to switch on defense to guard different types of players. His size and explosiveness suggest high upside, which many teams will be intrigued by, even if it could take some years before he realizes it.

Cleveland, in particular, seems like a good landing spot. They are picking fifth overall and have some talent at other positions, namely in their backcourt with Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. They have Isaac Okoro on the wing, but he and Kuminga would be a tough duo for other teams to match up with at forward. Okoro could carry the load on defense, while Kuminga could be the standout on offense.

The Raptors have the seventh-best odds in the lottery, so they may not be in a position to take Kuminga. But if they move up, or he falls, that could make sense as well. Kuminga is a raw, but versatile wing with high upside, just as Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby were when they entered the draft. Some have even compared Kuminga to Siakam.

Regardless of where he goes, expect Kuminga to be a top draft pick. He may not make the instant impact others will, but he has the potential to be one of the very best players in this draft in the long-term.