2021 NBA Draft: 4 Notes on the Top 40 Prospects

By Max Feldman

The 2021 NBA Draft Big Board is nearing a debut, but there is still plenty of evaluation ahead. One and done’s busting onto the scene while collegiate veterans show improvement and international play gets going with film slowly but surely becoming available. Full breakdowns on a ton of prospects will be released throughout the pre-draft process similar to last year, but here are a few notes, or a brief stock report, on each of FOG’s top 40 prospects. The list below is not in cemented order.

Evan Mobley

  • The handle, assertiveness and wildly unique skillset continue to jump off the page
  • Knocking down shots from every level while blocking a high volume of shots, ultra valuable 1+ three and 1+ block per game
  • Frame remains narrow, but has not shown an area of glaring weakness
  • Less turnovers and a boost in FT% are key areas to watch

Cade Cunningham

  • Providing the all around impact that most expected but has plenty of work to do
  • In my eyes, it did not really matter what I see from Cade this year because his game screams NBA fit over NCAAB fit
  • Labeled as a playmaker, Cade’s assist to turnover ratio is barely over 1:1 has to take care of the ball no matter how high his volume shoots up
  • Shooting was my expected area of struggle, but 41% from three thus far is a great sign

BJ Boston

  • Started the season in the top two for FOG, shuffled up to one and now back to three
  • Still remains a future All-Star and the safest two way option
  • Kentucky’s lack of spacing and CBB overall is having a negative impact on Boston’s film and evaluation, he will learn valuable lessons and greatly improve from this year under Coach Cal, but he may have been drafted higher if he opted for the professional route
  • Not overly worried about his %’s because mechanics remain fantastic and the flashes are there, but UK’s lack of lead guard play is hurting Boston and Clarke’s efficiency

Jalen Suggs

  • Nearly the opposite case from Boston, fantastic decision to play CBB rather than professional route
  • Lead guard and high volume initiator for the best team in CBB bodes well for leadership and playmaking traits
  • Had personal concerns over whether he was a natural playmaker or better fit off ball, but he’s answered all those questions with a sky high assist to turnover ratio while playing alongside Ayayi much of the time
  • Nearly nothing to nit pick at this point, very safe bet to be a top 3-5 pick because of how special he appears on both ends

Jalen Green

  • Film coming from the G-League scrimmages make it appear that he is dominating much like he did at Prolific Prep
  • Very intrigued to see how he measures out whenever it might be, frame appears nearly identical to High School but I had hoped for some weight to be put on
  • We will never get to see how he impacts winning basketball prior to being an NBA player, which is essentially my one and only question concerning Jalen Green
  • All signs point towards Green being safe in the top 5 and making the right decision to skip CBB

Jonathan Kuminga

  • Scoring efficiency and shooting have been more impressive than I expected from the few scrimmage box scores released to the public
  • Will likely be the youngest player in the entire draft and is heading towards a 6-8 and 220 pound frame with elite athleticism
  • Scoring skillset needs polishing and looks like it is being smoothened out, mid-range face up game is a go-to
  • Far and away, Kuminga has the highest two-way potential; Already my favorite defender in the class

Scottie Barnes

  • Barnes has forced the issue a bit too much early on, resulting in a ton of fluctuation for FOG
  • Defensively, his intensity, motor, versatility and feet have been incredibly impressive
  • Shooting was my expected struggle and is clear, 22% from three and 42% from the line is unacceptable
  • Ball handling, vision and feeling have been elite, as expected

Keon Johnson

  • Both 5 star FR come off the bench for the Vols who have plenty of depth so Johnson’s volume remains low
  • Defensive win shares and steals are sky high; athleticism has immediately translated to that end of the floor
  • Unlikely to get a great feel on his offensive skillset because of shallow volume this entire year outside of flashes
  • Very intrigued by his offense, deadly in transition, but questions as a shooter still

James Bouknight

  • The highest ranked non-one-and-done and is likely to stay there for the long run
  • Deadly scorer, elite athlete and an extremely polished scoring package
  • High volume shooter, but questions as a playmaker and impact on winning
  • A 1:2 assist to turnover ratio is a glaring issue for a high volume ball handler

Ziaire Williams

  • Started off with a bang in an efficient scoring manner, but has really cooled off
  • Off the bounce scoring has translated and has been effective with his length but is struggling in essentially every numerical area
  • Ball handling, shot selection, playmaking are glaring areas of weakness
  • Struggling to separate and not getting to the FT line, starting to have a clear trajectory as a high level role player or secondary scorer rather than go-to option

Jalen Johnson

  • Duke looked it’s best with Johnson off the floor due to injury, which has him out indefinitely
  • Ability to clean the glass and lead the break with a strong handle are exciting but he is not taking care of the ball at 5 turnover per 36 minutes
  • 33% from 3pt is not horrible, but teams have been choosing to give him open looks because he is not a consistent threat from there
  • Athleticism, motor, defensive versatility, mid-range and finishing scoring are all standout strengths thus far

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

  • Debatably the most polished and NBA ready prospect in the field
  • Has some work to do defensively, but strong footwork provides evidence for versatility at the next level
  • Extremely technical and disciplined, shows through shot selection but turns the ball over a bit too much
  • Efficient as a scorer, strong rebounder and potentially has the highest IQ of any prospect with a subtle athleticism

Day’Ron Sharpe

  • Slowly becoming VERY intriguing
  • UNC’s depth in the front court will never give me evaluators the full look at Sharpe that is wanted, but his appeal oozes more and more each time I see him
  • His motor is absolutely off the charts, prominent athlete with an NBA ready frame
  • A 19 year old with his size rarely has the instincts, athleticism and overall toughness

Ayo Dosunmu

  • Has wildly improved from his last two seasons at Illinois
  • IQ, playmaking, feel and defense are proving to be strong points
  • Up to 206 pounds, seeking contact at the rim, touch in the mid-range should translate from day one
  • Will be key to see how Dosunmu deals with double teams and defensive attention in B10 play; Assist to turnover ratio has improved and if it does from here on out, Ayo will continue to rise

Kai Jones

  • Unexpected, but Jones is Texas’ top NBA prospect
  • Efficiency has been phenomenal, knows his spots and gets to them
  • Elite athlete with defensive instincts and quick feet, should be extremely versatile as a switcher
  • Shooting volume is low, and likely always will be relatively low, but impacts the game in nearly every key category, showing massive improvement

Charles Bassey

  • Has shown massive improvement, centerpiece on both ends for WKU
  • Two way producer, footwork as a screener is great, physically imposing
  • Tangible traits have always been fantastic but has slowly learned how to dominate by developing his motor and extending his touch
  • Sky high usage rate as a big man won’t translate but will be a key piece of his evolution, fearless defender as well

Greg Brown

  • Struggled in the expected areas: shooting, efficiency, playmaking and physicality of the game
  • Atrocious 0:4 assist to turnover ratio per 36
  • Extremely sped up and forcing the issue, has a role at the next level as a pogo stick athlete with flashes of touch and a transition weapon but remains raw
  • Shaka Smart will not be able to solve these issues and smoothen out Greg Brown’s game in one year, and he should not come back to college, but wherever he falls to should expect 2-4 years of purely development and polishing

Moses Moody

  • Beginning to absolutely love Moody’s floor as a scoring wing with good size
  • Most fellow highly touted FR have failed to slow the game down but Moody has played to his own pace from day one, phenomenal at changing speeds and getting to his spots
  • Shooting efficiently from the field, from three and from the line, extremely natural, fluid and smooth scorer

Corey Kispert

  • Would have been a top 30 prospect for me last year, and has improved a ton in his SR year
  • Spot up shooting has been the standout trait for years but continues to improve as a shot creator off the bounce, volume is shooting up which will bode well for long term evaluation
  • Defensive efficiency has not been as high, but physical development and advanced impact in combination with measurements give him an elite level role player trajectory
  • More in depth break down of Kispert…

Terrence Clarke

  • Length and athleticism have translated defensively better than I expected, extremely versatile and pesky in passing lanes
  • Spacing has hurt all of Kentucky’s prospects and Clarke’s efficiency has really struggled
  • Touch at each level still has questions but is displaying a wealth of scoring, rebounding tools
  • Volume is extremely high and Cal continues to put the ball in his hands, will be interesting to see if Clarke improves as the Wildcats do when Cal gels this team

Juhann Begarin

  • Only played 4 games this season and shooting numbers thus far hint towards no major improvement yet
  • Elite athlete with length, NBA ready body
  • Still raw with plenty of polishing to do, different skillset and swing traits than most previous highly touted International prospects
  • A lot to like here, but would love some hints of shooting potential before pegging him in the top 15 prospects

Josh Christopher

  • A lot of what I expected, flashes of high level scoring but his impact on winning basketball is still a question
  • Hard nosed defender with a good motor and good length
  • Physically mature and loves displaying his athleticism, good feel for rising up over defenders in the mid-range, gets to his shot with ease
  • Battling for volume with Martin and Verge but should provide enough film and output to be labeled a premier scorer, non-playmaker

Joel Ayayi

  • Another Gonzaga guy I would have put in my top 30 in the 2020 Draft if he stayed in
  • Role has changed a bit playing with Suggs but continues to display an ultra-smooth game as a combo guard
  • Extremely heady with a high IQ as a playmaker
  • Great length and very active on the boards, excels in nearly every area I preach as important for a CG

Cam Thomas

  • Scoring has translated faster than anyone expected, immediately become one of the nation’s most talented three level scorers straight out of Oak Hill
  • Winning impact – playmaking and defense – are question marks but the 6-5 guard can absolutely fill it up, fantastic at getting to his spots
  • Incredibly smooth and polished handle + shooting stroke
  • Will be challenged defensively in the SEC but as long as the 15+ shot per game volume remains, he’s a first round guy

Jaden Springer

  • Coming off the bench for an elite Tennessee team, providing athletic burst, mid-range game and defense
  • Had been fairly low on him as a shot maker from the perimeter, has only shot 4 threes in 4 games but made 3 of them
  • Bouncy at 6-4 with sturdy frame, should be an immediate impact backcourt defender, awesome motor
  • Just about as much evaluation required as anyone due to just 18 minutes per game and fairly low usage rate, will be one of the harder prospects to get a great feel for

Vrenz Bleijenbergh

  • Far too many people still do not know this name, getting pretty solid minutes with Antwerp through 12 games
  • Slowly but surely being linked to NBA teams and his rare skillset at 6-11 and 215 should provide plenty of appeal
  • Reliable ball handler with a smooth stroke beyond the 3, attacks of PnR, mismatch machine
  • Belgian league does not get the most publicity but it’s only a matter of time before scouts start floating his name around, will not exit my top 30

N’Faly Dante

  • Lot of folks forgot about Dante, 7-0 with 240 pound frame
  • Missed most of his FR season due to injury and ineligibility, has struggled a bit to settle into tempo early on but coming into his own as of late, just suffered a foot injury
  • Natural shot blocker with an improved feel offensively, great feet and developed hands
  • Ceiling is decently limited but the need for rim runners is always there, athletic ability, mobility, measurables and development make him an under the radar top 40 guy, health and motor are questions

Daishen Nix

  • Reports from G-League practices and scrimmages are positive, has a veteran-like demeanor
  • No major signs of shot making improvement or ability to separate
  • Extremely natural playmaker, loves running in transition, plenty of fun to watch, has great length
  • I have always been high on Nix but his potential is not incredibly high, should be more of an instant contributor than a lot of other one-and-done’s

Jared Butler

  • Taking care of the ball and scoring, playmaking efficiently through just a few games
  • Volume will increase as B12 play gets underway, has little to no weaknesses within his game
  • Extremely solid prospect, will contribute right away, Derrick White type of impact player in a rotation
  • In a class with so many young, raw prospects, Butler should carve a nice niche as a polished combo guard

Isaiah Jackson

  • Very limited offensively but doing all the right things to provide evidence as a high level rim runner
  • High shot blocking and rebound volume
  • Hard-nosed competitor, heavily reliant on motor, quick jumper who has a knack for finding the ball, vertical floor spacer
  • Expect much of the same all season, elite athlete who can dominate the paint in high tempo games where Sarr can not be a go-to scorer

Moussa Cisse

  • Extremely high motor with fantastic measurements and athleticism, super young due to reclassification up
  • Struggles at the FT line and is strictly a finisher offensively
  • Mobile PnR defender with versatility due to lateral quickness & wingspan
  • 8 rebounds and 2 blocks in just 18 minutes per game, swallowing up Achiuwa role, hard to keep off the floor in high tempo games

Scottie Lewis

  • Has made 5-8 3PA, signs of improvement
  • High level perimeter defender who has a knock for blocking shots, extremely active
  • Premier athlete with touch at all levels as the main question, immediate impact defender
  • Polishing takes time but appears more confident finding his shot, assuming a larger role and can stuff the stat sheet

Marcus Bagley

  • Out with an injury after just 4 games but was extremely impressive in those games
  • Spot up shooting ability is better than most backcourt one-and-done prospects, extremely fluid and natural coming off pin downs
  • Defensive impact is a slight question but has the tools and athleticism to guard two positions in the NBA
  • The level of offensive polish made him appear an upperclassmen, teams will love his feel and scoring ability at 6-8

Caleb Love

  • Has really, really struggled with efficiency and settling into game flow
  • UNC is very interior oriented, his fit within the offense is strong because Roy Williams love his guards to run but shots just are not falling
  • Love his speed, toughness and handle but needs to provide more scoring punch, too sped up and turning the ball at a high volume, higher on his skillset than most but evaluation drop is fair thus far
  • Could consider another year at UNC

Usman Garuba

  • Fairly lower on the Real Madrid big than most, has a Brandon Clarke type trajectory but has been pretty inefficient
  • FT and 3 point %’s provide little to no evidence of touch
  • Extremely versatile defender with strong frame, bounce and feel, competes at the rim
  • Has been on the Professional stage since he was 16, transition to the NBA will be intriguing, limited volume with RM senior team

Terrence Shannon Jr

  • TSJr’s focus on shooting is obvious, shooting with more efficiency and elevating into a larger role, seeking his own shot
  • Defenses are not sagging off anymore, one dribble pull up looks fantastic, slashing ability should flourish from here
  • Elite defender who can guard 3-4 positions, explosive athlete at 6-6 and 210 pounds
  • Two way production is off the charts, taken advantage of another year under Chris Beard, one of the most improved prospects

Roko Prkacin

  • Feel is phenomenal, very heady as a roller, finds his spots and makes the right play
  • Very smooth, class European prospect with a great touch
  • Shooting numbers could use a boost and turns the ball over a bit too much
  • Signs of development and carving out a role with KK Cibona’s senior team, will provide a ton of appeal as a high feel four man

Jalen Wilson

  • Potentially the nation’s surprise player thus far, hot start to the season after a rare Redshirt FR season
  • Scoring at a high rate with a strong wing skillset, contributing on the glass with 8 boards per game
  • Athletic, fluid slasher who excels in transition, high motor and becoming the head of the snake for Kansas
  • Intriguing to see if he continues to produce at a high volume or plateau’s a bit, attempts have flattened a bit in last few games

Justin Powell

  • If Jalen Wilson is not NCAAB’s surprise, it’s Justin Powell
  • Taking advantage of Sharife Cooper’s absence, shooting numbers are sky high, minutes have taken a jump over the last three and is assuming a go-to role under Bruce Pearl
  • High feel as a PnR ball handler, smooth spot up and pull up shooter, flying up the board
  • Proving very high rebounding share and makes the right play, leads Auburn in every major category

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