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NBA Draft 2021: Top 5 prospects to watch out for

Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham
Oklahoma State freshman Cade Cunningham
Kunal Sethi
ANALYST
Modified 31 Mar 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

The NBA announced the date for the 2021 NBA Draft a while ago.

Sixty players will be inducted into the league on July 29th, 2021. Several teams will look to add key pieces to their roster in the upcoming NBA Draft.

The Oklahoma City Thunder have 18 first-round draft picks and 16 second-round picks for the next seven years, giving GM Sam Presti and the front office a total of 34 NBA Draft picks till 2027. Needless to say, the OKC Thunder's future looks promising, as most of these Draft picks could end up playing in Oklahoma City.

On that note, let's have a look at five players to watch out for in the upcoming NBA Draft.

Five players to keep an eye out for in the 2021 NBA Draft

Figuring out the perfect draft choice isn't an exact science. Many general managers of teams and NBA front-office personnel know that drafting young prospects isn't an easy proposition.

The young prospects may excel in college basketball but may find the step up to the NBA a bridge too far. In this regard, there have been innumerable NBA Draft busts over the years.

However, there are also instances of promising players blossoming into stars under the right training and proper facilities at NBA teams. So with the 2021 NBA Draft only a few months away, let's take an early look at five top prospects to look forward to come July.

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#1 Cade Cunningham

Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State
Cade Cunningham of Oklahoma State

Point Guard - Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 220 lb | Wingspan: 7' 0" | Age: 19.

Cade Cunningham has wowed many with his savvy skills and is already regarded as 'NBA ready'.

His passing and turnover numbers are alarming, but given the right amount of reps and professional guidance, he is only going to improve. He is quite tall for a point guard; scouting reports have said he can bully smaller guards in the paint, and his short creation is awe-inspiring.

Cunningham is known for his incredible IQ. He reads defenses and delivers one-handed whip passes, which leaves opponents perplexed.

He has also impressed with his three-point shooting, averaging 44% on 83 attempts. Cade Cunningham reminds people of Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks. He could certainly play a combo-forward with a playmaking role in the NBA.

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#2 Evan Mobley

USC Freshman Evan Mobley taking a shot
USC Freshman Evan Mobley taking a shot

Center - Height: 7' 0" | Weight: 215 lb | Wingspan: 7' 4" | Age: 19.

Evan Mobley is quite possibly the best big man in the upcoming NBA Draft. The freshman has the lateral quickness and distance shooting for a modern-day NBA big.

Even though he is 7' tall and has a 7' 4" wingspan, scouters consider him a forward, as he does big man-type things with the fluidity and skillset of a wing.

Mobley's height terrorizes defenders; he is an immediate lob threat when on the floor and is an excellent finisher above the rim. His footwork and size make him ideal for an offensive rebounder role, and he is an elite rim-protector as well.

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For a rim-protector and rebounder, it is marvellous to see that Mobley commits very few fouls.

He has incredible handling and passing aptitude for his size, and he can be lethal in pick-and-rolls. He is often compared to Chris Bosh or a 'more mobile LaMarcus Aldridge'.

Evan Mobley has a strong case to be picked no. 1 in the 2021 NBA Draft. If a franchise is on the lookout for an exceptionally skilled big man, Mobley might just go 1st overall in the 2021 NBA Draft in July.


#3 Jalen Green

Jalen Green of the G League Ignite making a pass.
Jalen Green of the G League Ignite making a pass.

Shooting Guard - Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 180 lb | Wingspan: 6' 7" | Age: 19.

Often considered a scoring machine, Jalen Green could be a perfect guard for the current offensive-heavy era of NBA basketball.

He often hunts for shots and displays his versatility in scoring. Green reminds many of a young Kobe Bryant, an elite offensive talent who stops at nothing and is determined to get a bucket.

He has deep range and the ability to pull up off dribbles. Green also displays creativity when finishing near the rim and has a soft touch to boot.

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He was the MVP of the FIBA U-17 World Cup in 2018, leading his country in scoring, despite being the youngest player on the roster.

As a senior, Green averaged 31.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and five assists per game for Prolific Prep. Given his propensity to score, his defensive tendency is slightly lacking, but that could certainly improve once he is in the NBA.


#4 Jalen Suggs

Jalen Suggs of Gonzaga with the ball
Jalen Suggs of Gonzaga with the ball

Shooting Guard - Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 202 lb | Wingspan: 6' 5" | Age: 19.

Jalen Suggs is the point guard for the no. 1 offensive team in the USA. He is an unselfish playmaker whose assists are staggering.

Suggs takes care of the ball at a high level, reads cutters and makes the extra passes out to shooters. He is also a great scorer and has tremendous athleticism, physical toughness and an undeniable two-way impact.

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Jalen Suggs is a great finisher near the rim and has good body control when embracing contact. He reminds many of Chauncey Billups or Brandon Roy.

Suggs is known for his extreme competitiveness. He takes pride in defending the opposition's best player and has remarkable footwork, strength and quickness in defense.

Jalen Suggs is considered one of the best on-ball defenders in the 2021 NBA Draft class. He has the instincts and maturity to be an incredible off-ball defender as well. He anticipates and crowds passing lanes, often mixing things up for rebounds.


#5 Jonathan Kuminga

Jonathan Kuminga of the G League Ignite
Jonathan Kuminga of the G League Ignite

Small Forward - Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 217 lb | Wingspan: 7' 2" | Age: 18.

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Just like Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga also plays for the G League Ignite. He is considered strong, quick and fluid when moving in the open court.

Kuminga has the ideal profile for an NBA combo-forward; his frame and motion make him a two-way force. His impact at the defensive end of the floor is impressive; he is strong and able enough to defend bigs and has the agility and quickness to switch onto guards.

His decision-making requires some fine-tuning, but that can only improve when he comes to the NBA.

Even though Kuminga's jump shot is a work in progress, scouters have pointed out that his mechanics are smooth and solid; he shot 42 three-pointers in 19 Nike EYBL games.

He is explosive on the open floor and makes the most impact when the ball is in his hands. Jonathan Kuminga reminds people of Shawn Marion.

Notable Mentions:

Jared Butler, Ayo Dosunmu, Luka Garza, Corey Kispert, Quentin Grimes, Josh Giddey, Tre Mann, Keon Johnson, Scottie Barnes, James Bouknight, Greg Brown, Jalen Johnson, Davion Mitchell.

All these players hold notable attributes and incredible stat lines. They could very easily climb the NBA Draft prospect ladder in the coming months leading up to the 2021 NBA Draft.

Also Read: NBA Defensive Player of the Year: March 2021 Power Rankings.

Published 31 Mar 2021, 12:05 IST
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