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The college basketball season is still going despite the COVID-19 pandemic. NBA scouts are not allowed at practices this year, and programs like Duke aren’t even allowing NBA personnel inside Cameron Indoor Stadium for games. The 2021 NBA draft class is one of the deepest and most talented classes in recent memory with a lot of star-power towards the top of the draft.
Here’s a look at Yahoo Sports’ projected first round for the 2021 NBA draft.
(Draft order is from Tankathon.)
Ht./Wt: 6-foot-8, 220 pounds
Oklahoma State: 19.1 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.7 apg
Cunningham dominated in high school due to his size and strength, but he’s finding other ways to score this season against bigger, stronger players. He’s a phenomenal passer, has a high basketball IQ and seamlessly does all the little things on the court really well. Cunningham might be the safest pick at No. 1, but scouts are going to be watching for more consistency against tougher opponents in Big 12 play and if he has the ability to take over games. He ranks in the 90th percentile in iso situations scoring 1.2 points per possession, according to Synergy Sports. Cunningham has the highest potential in this class to be a franchise-changing player.
2. Detroit Pistons: G Jalen Green
Ht./Wt: 6-6, 186
G League Ignite
Fans haven’t been able to see Green in action yet but will get a chance to see him play in February in the G League bubble season. The Ignite team has had two closed scrimmages that were made available for NBA scouts, and Green looked fluid in his shooting and was one of the most athletic players on the court. He struggled driving against bigger, older guards at times but these are the growing pains of playing in the G League at 18 years old. Green has the potential to be the best prospect out of this draft class and could easily be the No. 1 overall pick if his game continues to progress.
Ht./Wt: 6-4, 205
Gonzaga: 14.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 5.3 apg
Suggs was on scouts’ radar prior to the start of the season but no one expected him to be this good on such a deep and talented Gonzaga team. The McDonald’s All-American game and Nike’s Hoops Summit were canceled last year so NBA executives didn’t get an early first look at any of these players. What Suggs has managed to do in 11 games is impressive. He had 27 points — including seven 3-pointers — against No. 3 Iowa and is averaging nearly six assists per game for a Gonzaga team that could go undefeated this year.
4. Toronto Raptors: C Evan Mobley
Ht./Wt: 7-0, 210
USC: 15.4 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 2.7 bpg
No other player in this draft class can do what Mobley does on the court. He’s a 7-footer who can handle the ball and shoot 3-pointers (he’s made five so far this season). Defensively, he’s one of the best shot blockers in the country with his 7-foot-4 wingspan. Mobley has a huge upside and the only questions surrounding his game are strength and toughness.
Ht./Wt: 6-8, 185
Stanford: 11.2 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 3 apg
Williams became the second player in Stanford men’s basketball history to record a triple-double, and it came in a win over Washington. The 6-8 wing finished with 12 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Williams has all the tools to be a productive NBA wing and has one of the best work ethics scouts have seen in recent years. He’s struggled with consistency this season and needs to add some weight to his frame, but Williams won’t have to wait too long to hear his name called in the 2021 draft.
6. Chicago Bulls: F Jonathan Kuminga
Ht./Wt: 6-8, 220
G League Ignite
Kuminga was the best player on the court in the G League scrimmages where he averaged 23.5 points, five rebounds and 2.5 assists in two games. Kuminga reclassified last year and should only be a senior in high school this season. Instead, he’s playing against grown men in the G League and looks like he belongs there. He’s quick enough to take opponents off the dribble from the wing and strong enough to go down low in iso situations and get to the rim. Scouts will have at least 12 games in the G League bubble to evaluate Kuminga, and he could sneak inside the top five if he continues to dominate like he did in the scrimmages.
Ht./Wt: 6-9, 227
Florida State: 11.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.3 apg
Barnes has an NBA-ready body and is a fierce competitor. He is playing the point guard position at Florida State and can rotate around to different positions with ease and fluidity. Barnes is one of the best on-ball defenders in the country thanks to his length and speed and has 12 steals in just seven games. Head coach Leonard Hamilton had two lottery picks in last year’s draft in Patrick Williams and Devin Vassell and will no doubt keep the streak alive with Barnes in this draft class.
Ht./Wt: 6-9, 220
Duke: 11.5 ppg, 8.3 rpg
Johnson has only played four games at Duke after suffering a foot injury in early December. The team initially ruled him out indefinitely, but the coaching staff is now saying he will be reevaluated in 2-3 weeks. Johnson has great size at 6-9, and his game has been compared to Boston Celtics wing Jayson Tatum.
9. Atlanta Hawks: G James Bouknight
Ht./Wt: 6-5, 190
Connecticut: 20.3 ppg, 5.3 rpg
There were flashes of Bouknight’s scoring potential after he dropped 40 points against Creighton on Dec. 20. His mid-range pull-up shooting is where he excels and Bouknight needs to work on creating for others after averaging just 1.7 assists per game. Off the ball, he’s excellent off the cut and is a solid defender who can keep players in front of him.
Ht./Wt: 6-4, 210
LSU: 24.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg
Thomas is leading the SEC is scoring and holds the high school scoring record at powerhouse Oak Hill Academy. He was snubbed as a McDonald’s All-American last year and entered his freshman season with something to prove. In his last four games, Thomas has put up 25 or more points and is shooting 44% from the field.
11. Brooklyn Nets: G Corey Kispert
Ht./Wt: 6-7, 220
Gonzaga: 21.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.2 apg
Kispert is the best shooter in college basketball with an impressive 50% from 3-point range and 63% from the field. His best game of the season came against No. 16 Virginia where he had nine 3-pointers (9 for 13) and finished with 32 points. The NBA values shooters and returning for his senior year could pay off in a big way.
12. Denver Nuggets: G Keon Johnson
Ht./Wt: 6-5, 186
Tennessee: 8.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg
Johnson is one of the fastest guards in this draft class and as the season goes on, he’s getting more confident on the court. In Tennessee’s last two games, Johnson has scored in double digits and did particularly well in iso situations. He might not be as refined as other guards in the lottery, but once the game slows down for him, he will start to surprise a lot of people. Johnson has great footwork and takes long strides in the open court. He could end up going inside the top 10 if he continues to improve this season.
13. Charlotte Hornets: F Greg Brown
Ht./Wt: 6-9, 205
Texas: 12 ppg, 7.3 rpg
Brown is one of the most athletic players in college basketball this year and has the potential to be a solid wing in the NBA. He struggled early on with the pace of the game but has since settled into the offense at Texas. He’s showed glimpses of extending his shot to the 3-point line but needs to get a little more consistent. Brown is visibly stronger and has added some weight to his frame since high school.
Ht./Wt: 6-6, 210
Texas Tech: 13.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg
Shannon Jr. returned for his sophomore season and has already improved in multiple areas of his game. He ranks in the 91st percentile in scoring when he’s the pick-and-roll ball handler and is rated ‘very good’ in iso situations, according to Synergy Sports. NBA scouts will be watching to see if he can assert himself more on offense and be the primary scorer for this Texas Tech team.
15. New York Knicks: G B.J. Boston
Ht./Wt: 6-7, 185
Kentucky: 12.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg
16. Cleveland Cavaliers: G Moses Moody
Ht./Wt: 6-6, 205
Arkansas: 15.9 ppg, 5.7 rpg
17. Houston Rockets: G Josh Christopher
Ht./Wt: 6-5, 215
Arizona State: 17.5 ppg, 5.4 rpg
Ht./Wt: 6-9, 230
Villanova: 16.2 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2 apg
19. Portland Trail Blazers: F Usman Garuba
Ht./Wt: 6-8, 229
Real Madrid Baloncesto (European League): 3.5 ppg, 3.7 rpg
20. San Antonio Spurs: F Kai Jones
Ht./Wt: 6-11, 218
Texas: 8.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg
21. New York Knicks: F Jalen Wilson
Ht./Wt: 6-8, 215
Class: Freshman (redshirt)
Kansas: 15.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg
22. Orlando Magic: G David Johnson
Ht./Wt: 6-5, 210
Louisville: 14.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 3.7 apg
23. Milwaukee Bucks: G Terrence Clarke
Ht./Wt: 6-7, 194
Kentucky: 10.7 ppg, 3 rpg
24. Utah Jazz: G David Duke
Ht./Wt: 6-5, 205
Providence: 19.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 4.3 apg
25. Los Angeles Clippers: G Ayo Dosunmu
Ht./Wt: 6-5, 200
Illinois: 22.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 5.1 apg
26. Indiana Pacers: G Chris Duarte
Ht./Wt: 6-6, 190
Oregon: 18.4 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 2.1 apg
27. Philadelphia 76ers: C Charles Bassey
Ht./Wt: 6-11, 235
Western Kentucky: 16.3 ppg, 11.1 rpg
28. Phoenix Suns: G Jared Butler
Ht./Wt: 6-3, 195
Baylor: 15.2 ppg, 5.5 apg
29. Los Angeles Lakers: C Isaiah Jackson
Ht./Wt: 6-10, 206
Kentucky: 5.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.7 bpg
30. Boston Celtics: G Tre Mann
Ht./Wt: 6-5, 190
Florida: 14.6 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 4.3 apg
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