The NBA draft is one of the most exciting events for true NBA junkies. Teams have a chance to change the future of their franchise with a single pick. Like any draft, there are good draft classes and bad draft classes, as well as an abundance of analysis like I will provide here in my 2021 NBA Draft Preview.
Last year was certainly not a great one. Even though no one has yet to play from that class, most scouts agree that it was pretty weak overall.
In contrast to that, the 2021 NBA Draft class looks absolutely LOADED!
Cade Cunningham and Jalen Suggs are just a few from this freshman class that have already been dominating in their short college careers.
Players like Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga, who chose to play in the G-League, are also looked at as potential franchise-changing talents. These are only a few of the players in a draft class that many big NBA names are already calling historically good.
Cade Cunnigham – PG – Freshman, Oklahoma State
It's wayyy too early to be thinking about the 2021 NBA Draft, but we take a look at the top 30 prospects anyways. https://t.co/dDSJKeWWfM
— NBCSports Washington (@NBCSWashington) December 4, 2020
In a stacked class, Cade Cunningham is already the consensus number one pick in most scouts’ eyes, and it’s well deserved. Standing at 6’8 and 220 pounds, Cunningham already has the body of an NBA vet. The fact Cunningham is also really good at basketball probably helps too.
In his first three games at Oklahoma State, Cunningham has averaged 18.7 points, three assists, and 6.7 rebounds per game, all while shooting at a 51 percent clip. Cunningham is the most complete player that you will find in this class. Even though he hasn’t shown it in college yet, he has some elite playmaking skills.
Some scouts have even called Cunnigham the American Luka Doncic. The moniker is definitely high praise, and so far, Cunnigham is living up to it. If you were to try and poke a hole in his game, it would be his shooting.
The crazy thing is, he’s not even bad at it, just not elite.
At least not yet anyway. Yet, he is shooting 37 percent from three this season, so maybe he is already improving. Three games don’t make for the greatest of sample sizes, so I wouldn’t read too much into it yet.
One thing is clear, though – Cade Cunnigham is a stud, and the more he plays, the better he’ll get. I will be shocked come June if he’s not the first pick in the draft.
Jalen Green – SG – G-League
— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) December 7, 2020
A few months ago, Jalen Green shocked the world when he became the first elite-level prospect to choose the G-League path rather than college. He isn’t the first player to forego college to go pro, but he’s certainly the most talented.
Watching Green, you realize pretty quickly he’s an absolute freak athlete. Green possesses great speed and can jump out of the gym. Most of his mixtapes consist of him just baptizing helpless high schoolers.
There have been plenty of kids that could dunk, and that’s it. Green is clearly much more than a dunker; he’s a pure scorer. He does most of his work around the rim, using his athleticism to slash and create opportunities for himself.
His mid-range game is solid as well, but his jump shot could use some work. He has some playmaking skills, in addition to his scoring prowess. Green’s 6’5” frame mixed with his athleticism gives scouts optimism that he could develop into a good defender.
There is currently some speculation as to whether a G-League season will even happen, so we might not see Green in action for a while. Despite this, Green has already put enough on tape to make him a likely top-five pick in next year’s draft.
Jalen Suggs – PG – Freshman, Gonzaga
Already so much to like about Jalen Suggs’ film on both ends of the floor. Unselfish hit-a heads, great poise and patience in PnR, hard-nosed defender. Going to be a fun player to break down over the course of the season. pic.twitter.com/SRWFZZXZaa
— Mike Schmitz (@Mike_Schmitz) December 3, 2020
Jalen Suggs is the highest-rated recruit Gonzaga has ever had, and he has made his presence known in his short time there. You wouldn’t think a freshman would manage to stand out on such a deep and talented squad, but Suggs is a star in the making.
Looking at his 6’4”, 205 lbs. build, it’s not surprising to learn Suggs was also a top high school quarterback. He uses his natural athleticism to dazzle around the rim. His ability to contour and bend his body to make unreal finishes around the rim is almost Derrick Rose or Kyrie Irving-esque.
His jump shot isn’t his strength, but it doesn’t hinder his offense too much overall. Suggs is certainly not just a scorer either; he has elite vision and playmaking skills. Furthermore, Suggs just has a great feel for the game, and he always seems to find someone open.
It also helps that his passes are sometimes more entertaining to watch than most dunks. Suggs’ 13.3 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.7 rebounds per game don’t exactly jump off the page, but if you actually watch him, you know he’s capable of much more than that.
His stats aren’t exactly helped by the fact that Gonzaga has talent everywhere you look. If you get the chance to watch Suggs and his Gonzaga squad, you’ll know they have something special brewing in Spokane.
Brandon Boston Jr. – SG/SF – Freshman, Kentucky
Most people will look at Brandon Boston and immediately want to compare him to Brandon Ingram. Standing at 6’7”, 185 pounds, with a wingspan of 6’10 is mostly why he gets the Ingram comparison. When it comes to basketball, there isn’t nearly as much in common.
In college, Ingram was a great shooter. Boston certainly isn’t. Through three games, he has yet to make a three. In his defense, however, Boston has only shot three of them. His jumper isn’t broken, but it’s something he needs to put a lot of work into.
Brandon Boston Jr. finally gets his first 3 of the season to fall after starting the season in a shooting slump pic.twitter.com/vEZSBRB4KH
— Zach Milner (@ZachMilner13) December 6, 2020
When it comes to scoring, Boston feasts around the rim, using his unique length to make shots despite great defense. Much like other players with his length, he creates space that leaves most regular-sized guards unable to put up a good contest.
Boston’s rebounding is also a strength of his game. His length has helped him average 7.7 rebounds despite only weighing 185 lbs. Besides his jumper, the next biggest concern with Boston is fairly obvious – his weight.
He’s definitely going to get bigger over the next few years with professional training programs, but the question is how much bigger. He’s never going to look like Zion, but if he can just get a little more weight on, he could be great. Boston’s length gives him the chance to be an effective defender, but his lack of strength could be a problem early in his career at the next level.
Overall it’s easy to see why so many people fall in love with his potential, but Boston has the highest bust potential of anyone I’ve talked about so far. With that said, I look forward to watching him prove me wrong because he’s still pretty damn good at basketball.
Jonathan Kuminga – SF/PF – G-League
Meet Jonathan Kuminga, one of the top basketball prospects in the world https://t.co/6l0uPWjbW3
— BIG SHOTS BASKETBALL (@BigShotsMedia) December 6, 2020
When Jonathan Kuminga reclassified to follow Jalen Green to the G-League, he made a stacked class even better. Kuminga is the modern NBA fan’s dream player. He is 6’8” with a 7’4” wingspan and can guard multiple positions at a high level.
It most certainly doesn’t hurt he is a knockdown shooter from range as well. Since he reclassified, he is one of the younger players in this class, which also happens to mean that he has one of the highest ceilings.
It’s only the beginning for Kuminga in many scouts’ eyes, with it being vital for him to continue improving his game. Much like Green, the potential lack of a G-League season means it could be a while before he’s playing on a national stage again.
Looks the part, but … idk. This draft is loaded with stud wings and would rather take my chances after the Cade/Jalen tier with Jonathan Kuminga or Brandon Boston. Maybe Ziaire Williams, too. https://t.co/ztYDPvkZfQ
— Kyle Boone (@Kyle__Boone) December 1, 2020
Unlike Green, though, Kuminga doesn’t have nearly as much tape. This gives scouts some pause on how good he truly is, but I suspect that once pre-draft workouts roll around, he will be a quick riser on draft boards.
Other Big Names to Watch in the 2021 NBA Draft
Evan Mobley – C/PF – Freshman, USC
Jalen Johnson – PF/SF – Freshman, Duke
Zaire Williams – SF – Freshman, Stanford
Scottie Barnes – PF/SF – Freshman, Florida State
Josh Christopher – SG – Freshman, Arizona State
Overall, this draft class is something NBA fans should be excited about.
We’re only about a week into the college basketball season, and we’ve already seen how good some of these players can be. The most exciting part is that every draft class has players that rise throughout the season.
So, some of the players that might not be getting the top looks right now can still change that. With COVID-19, the college and NBA seasons will be different this year, but the thing we can look forward to is to watch these young stars rise when it’s all over.