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In today's NBA, acquiring great wing play is both the hardest and most important aspect of team building aside from getting superstars to play for you.
This reality makes it a priority for front offices to identify the best wings in each draft class and figure out which players can become good two-way contributors, and maybe a few who can become even more than that. As the 2021 NBA Draft approaches, here are the five best wings in the class. You won't have to wait very long to see them selected on draft night.
2020/21 stats: 15 G, 17.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.8 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.3 bpg, 46.1 FG% (6.3/13.6), 36.5 3PT% (2.1/5.7), 82.9 FT%
Green is on the smaller side of the wing position, but he's primarily an off-ball offensive threat who will likely be asked to guard across the perimeter at the NBA level.
The 19-year-old rounded out his game in the G-League last season and already scores at a high level. There are clear shades of Bradley Beal's game in Green's. He's an explosive secondary playmaker who thrives when attacking the rim, which also sets him up for space as a jump shooter. The only element missing from Green's offensive repertoire right now is a consistent mid-range jumper.
Jalen Green will go down as the first player from the G-League to be drafted straight into the NBA and may very well be the best player in his class not named Cade Cunningham.
Age: 18 (turns 19 in Oct.)
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%
Kuminga is very athletic with speed, strength and the ability to play above the rim. Though he's relatively raw, he has a well-rounded skill set 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.
The team who drafts Kuminga won't necessarily be picking the player he is now, but rather the player he can become. If he can put it all together, Kuminga could become one of the best two-way players in the league. It's still an "if," though.
2020/21 stats: 24 G, 10.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 50.3 FG% (4.1/8.1), 27.5 3PT% (0.5/1.7), 62.1 FT%
Barnes still has some work to do in developing his jump shot to open up his offensive game, but defensively, he's as NBA-ready as it gets. He can definitely guard four positions with the potential to guard all five at a high level.
Shooting will be the swing skill for Barnes, and it's the reason he's firmly behind Green and Kuminga right now. If the shot comes along and allows teams to utilize his passing and dribble penetration, watch out.
2020/21 stats: 27 G, 11.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.4 bpg, 44.9 FG% (4.1/9.1), 27.1 3PT% (0.5/1.8), 70.3 FT%
Johnson is a special athlete, has an explosive first step, serious bounce off the dribble and can finish in a multitude of ways around the rim. He has a smaller frame at 6-5, 184 pounds, but he's stronger than he looks and could become an imposing force if he adds more muscle in the pros.
There's still work to be done with the jumper so he won't have to rely solely on his athleticism to score, but his defensive potential and flashes as a secondary playmaker make Johnson an intriguing young prospect.
2020/21 stats: 32 G, 16.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.6 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.7 bpg, 42.7 FG% (5.2/12.1), 35.8 3PT% (1.8/5.1), 81.2 FT%
Moody doesn't have the immense ceiling the four players above him do, but he's an NBA-ready prospect right now and just turned 19 at the end of May. He's a knockdown shooter, solid defender with versatility and could add layers to his game as an off-the-dribble shooter coming off of pindowns and handoffs.
Saddiq Bey didn't get a ton of buzz pre-draft last year as a low-upside prospect and he ended up earning a first-team All-Rookie selection. The teams that passed on Bey last year shouldn't make the same mistake with Moody this time around.
Just missed the cut:
Jalen Johnson (Duke)
Corey Kispert (Gonzaga)
Franz Wagner (Michigan)
Ziaire Williams (Stanford)