The 2021 NBA Draft Class is one of the most stacked in years. There is a hot prospect in every position, and teams will be hungry to get a glimpse of each one of them before the draft arrives.
No. 1 ranked Baylor took care of business against #1 ranked Gonzaga in the NCAA Championship, and it was certainly a joy to watch the young prospects go to work. Here are the top prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft by determining the best players in college right now.
20. Moses Moody
Moses Moody stands 6'6" who is a natural shooter. His ability to catch and shoot and also create is a big plus, although he is very raw and needs time to develop playmaking and leadership abilities.
The freshman from Arizona averaged 16.8 PPG and 5.8 RPG while playing 33.8 MPG. His field goal percentage needs to improve, as he only shot 42.7% for the season. In his last game, the 81-72 loss to Baylor, he only shot 20% from the field en route to 11 points. But his potential is there to see and he will be drafted in the first round.
19. James Bouknight
Bouknight is a 6'5'' shooting guard who can score the ball with ease. He looks to be a guy who can fill it up off the bench since he lacks a bit of refinement with his consistency and ball-handling.
Bouknight had a strong season for the UConn Huskies, putting up 18.7 PPG and 5.7 RPG on 44.7% shooting as a sophomore. Bouknight took a big jump in his scoring from last season (13.0 PPG) and seems to be on an upwards trajectory as a fire-starting scorer.
18. Josh Giddey
Giddey is a 6'8" point guard with the exceptional length for his position. Giddey can score around the rim as a result, even if his quickness seems subpar. He plays similar to Shake Milton, although his height and length give him an advantage.
As one of the best international prospects in the draft, the Australian has a great competitive mentality on both ends of the floor. He always seems motivated and plays with an edge. His strength is finishing around the basket, and at his size, that will greatly convince teams to go after him.
17. Sharife Cooper
The Auburn Tigers freshman averaged 20.2 PPG and 8.1 APG this past season. Despite shooting a low percentage, 39.1%, he is a capable scorer and playmaker that does not have a consistent jumper yet. Cooper is extremely quick with the ball and is a great playmaker, but his lack of size and shooting could be an issue.
There are a ton of large point guards in the NBA right now, but Cooper could hold his own and develop the area of his game to make him an impact player. Cooper has a very high upside, and if teams can believe that Cooper can get a jumper, his size won’t be too much of an issue.
16. Kai Jones
Jones has the exceptional athletic ability and his defensive potential is there to grow. Teams will jump at the athletic big man because he has the ability to defend multiple positions and this kind of versatility is needed in today's NBA game.
The 6’11: forward only played 22.8 MPG for the Texas Longhorns, but he showed a lot when he was on the court. 8.8 PPG and 4.8 RPG on 58.0% shooting is decent, especially when the Longhorns finished 3rd in the Big 12 standings. Jones can play, he just needs more minutes and a coach that believes in him to flourish.
15. Tre Mann
The slender 6'5" point guard is extremely explosive and tough on both ends of the floor. Expect teams needing a backup point guard to go for Mann because he has what it takes to take up challenges and appease coaches' wishes.
Mann put up 16.0 PPG, 5.6 RPG, and 3.5 APG for the Florida Gators this season. Mann shot 40.2% from three this season and even drained 83.1% of his free throws. Mann seems NBA ready, and as a sophomore, he proved a lot. Mann will most likely be among the top-15 picks in the draft in 2021.
14. Alperen Sengun
One of the best international players in the draft, Sengun averaged 19.7 PPG and 9.1 RGP in only 28.7 minutes of play. The 6'9" center from Turkey is similar to Tyler Hansbrough in terms of his aggressiveness and style of play, and he doesn't mind banging in their paint.
Sengun can't be a part of small-ball lineups, but his size and strength will be a plus in the draft. Many scouts actually believe that Sengun will be drafted in the top-10 because his physical impact cannot be denied. In terms of NBA-ready bodies, Sengun has exactly that.
13. Cameron Thomas
Thomas is another scorer in the draft who can fill it up when feeling it. Expect teams who need more scoring to be interested, although Thomas needs more refinement in terms of his defensive tenacity and playmaking.
The freshman from LSU stands 6’4”, and weighs 210 lbs. Thomas averaged a nice 23.0 PPG for the Tigers this season, playing 34.0 MPG and even draining 88.2% of his free throws. In his most recent game, a 86-78 loss to the Michigan Tigers, he dropped 30 points in 40 minutes.
12. Davion Mitchell
Mitchell is only 6'2" but is a tough player who plays both ends of the floor. Mitchell has shown leadership for Baylor all season long and his playmaking is another reason he will be one of the top-3 point guards in the draft. If Mitchell improved his shooting, we might have a star in the making.
The NCAA champion averaged 14.0 PPG and 5.5 APG for the Bears this season and had a big game against Gonzaga in the Championship. Mitchell had 15 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in the biggest game of his career.
11. Corey Kispert
Kispert earned his draft status after averaging 18.6 PPG and 5.0 RPG for the Bulldogs this season, and his scoring proficiency was one of the main reasons his team made it to the Championship. His three-point stroke is pure, and he will be one of the hottest prospects as a result.
The 6'7" marksman from Gonzaga will have his suitors in the NBA Draft. Kispert is very similar to Joe Harris in terms of his body movement and stroke, and he will be an attractive draft option for teams without a top-10 draft pick.
10. Isaiah Jackson
Isaiah Jackson is as raw as they come. The young power forward/center needs to add significant muscle to be an effective NBA big, but his potential is there. Jackson is a special athlete with hops and speed and can be a dominant defender.
The 6’10” freshman averaged 8.4 PPG and 6.6 RPG in only 20.7 MPG for the Kentucky Wildcats, so he is the type of a big man to fill up the stat sheet in a limited time. Jackson can play in the modern NBA system thanks to his athleticism, so it is expected he will go top-10 in the draft.
9. Franz Wagner
Wagner, a German international, had a strong sophomore season for the Michigan Wolverines. He averaged 12.5 PPG and 6.5 RPG this season, a slight improvement from last year. He is capable of nailing shots from the perimeter and will continue to get bigger as he adds mass to his body.
Franz already has a family member in the NBA, his brother Mortiz plays for the Celtics, and can be a solid contributor in the NBA. Wagner has a nice shot from deep, and as a 6'9" big man, that means he will be drafted in the top-10.
8. Scottie Barnes
The small forward from Florida State looks like a prototypical point forward. Barnes is a natural at handling the ball, and at his height (6'9"), that will come even easier to him. Barnes still needs a jumper, but he will generate interest from teams needing size and depth at the guard position.
Barnes put up 10.3 PPG, 4.0 RPG, and 4.1 APG as a freshman, clearly showing that he has a solid all-around game as of right now. Barnes has great size and has a solid basketball IQ to his playing style, making him one of the top prospects in 2021.
7. Jalen Johnson
The best small forward in the draft, Jalen Johnson is 6'9" and weighs 220 lbs. He is a solid defender already and is particularly effective at running on the break to finish thanks to his athleticism. Johnson still needs an efficient jumper but that can come later when he's in the pros.
The Blue Devil averaged 11.2 PPG and 6.1 RPG while adding 1.2 BPG and 1.2 SPG. Johnson does a lot on the court, and his versatility is what makes him the best in his position. Jalen put up solid all-around numbers in his freshman year, so his improvement in the NBA will be exciting to watch.
6. Keon Johnson
The shooting guard from Tennessee is one of the better athletes in the draft. Johnson has the right mentality to be an effective two-way wing, but he is still very raw. If he can't convince teams he can be polished into a starter, he might fall in the draft although he is a solid player.
Johnson averaged 11.3 PPG and 3.5 RPG as a freshman, despite playing 25.5 MPG. Keon Johnson is 6’5”, meaning he has decent size at the guard position, and the right coach can possibly turn him into a starter someday.
5. Jalen Suggs
Jalen Suggs game-winner for Gonzaga will only boost his profile. Beyond his massive highlight-reel play, Suggs is a franchise point guard. He stands 6'4" which is solid and is very mature for his age. Suggs is tough, plays defense, and is an excellent playmaker. He will be one of the hottest prospects for sure, and teams are already itching for a chance to draft him.
After all, Suggs is talented enough to get drafted #1. He averaged 14.4 PPG, 5.3 RPG, and 4.5 APG while shooting 50.3% from the field. The Gonzaga freshman is very likely to be a star in the NBA, so he will be drafted in the top 5.
4. Jonathan Kuminga
Kuminga is very raw but has star potential as a two-way forward. He is explosive, can hit the outside shot, and can be dominant defensively. If Kuminga can showcase some shooting in the tryouts, he might be a top-3 pick in the NBA Draft.
The 6’7” forward played 13 games in the G-League averaging 15.8 PPG and 7.2 RPG, and he will be drafted in the top 5 easily. Kuminga has a great game already at only 18 years old, so he has star potential.
3. Jalen Green
Jalen Green can be a solid combo guard in the NBA because he has an improving scoring game at the rim and from the perimeter. Green can create his own offense which is always a plus, but his lack of size might be an issue (6'5"). Still, Green should go top-5 in the NBA Draft.
Green played 15 games in the G-League, averaging 17.9 PPG and 4.1 RPG while adding 1.5 SPG. Jalen Green is easily one of the best players in the draft, and he also has a shot to go #1 because his talent is clear to the naked eye.
2. Evan Mobley
The 7'0" center from USC is the definition of a modern NBA center. He is quick, agile, and can defend the rim thanks to his explosiveness. As he ages, he will only get better. Mobley can be a franchise player because his athleticism is his biggest strength.
Evan Mobley, a freshman for the USC Trojans, averaged 16.4 PPG and 8.7 RPG. He is capable of putting any player on a poster, grabbing double-doubles, and swatting shots away. Mobley has All-Star potential and it is very likely to be drafted in the top-3.
1. Cade Cunningham
The 6'8" guard is the best player in the draft. Cunningham is capable of creating his own shot, has natural playmaking ability, and has the defensive tools to be a dominant defender. If he improves his lateral quickness, he will be an All-Star in the NBA.
Cunningham averaged 20.1 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 3.5 APG and has the best NBA-ready game right now. The Cowboys freshman has it all, and he should go #1. Many scouts believe Cunningham will end up with the Houston Rockets in 2021, but whichever team gets the No. 1 pick should grab this young star.