2021 NBA Draft: A Novel Approach to Evaluation

By Max Feldman

Each prospect slotted on the Big Board receives a classification of either a SWING, STABILITY or HYBRID. While there are infinite big boards thrown around that rank the same group of 50-60 prospects, the primary variance for evaluators is the read on how each prospect develops over their career. The breakdown of each prospect using this classification is based on the see-saw balance of their upside versus their potential for imminent production. Each and every prospect has hints of both a swing, or high upside, as well as stability, traits that can translate immediately and are already shading towards their high end value, but their classification leans on which tern makes up the bulk of their stock based on my evaluation. At maximum, 10 prospects of the 50 listed are classified as a hybrid , where they bring forward a safe floor that can translate quickly, but their youth and tools provide sneaky, but strong upside. It is limited to just 20% of the complete board because every prospect has an argument for both, thus how this model can be applicable to for all evaluators based on their perception. In turn, it puts a classification on the type of selection that each prospect is and how they may fit the direction of their organization.

Moving into the Big Board, it becomes an illustration of how I value their stock as a swing – high upside but near equivalent downside – versus their stability – a scale of how strong their floor is and how close they already are to what their ceiling is. At an absolute maximum, each draft class produces 4 “Superstars” or generational talents. On average, it is closer 2 prominent stars per class. Thus, swinging for the fences by vaulting every high upside, or young prospect with enticing tools, towards the top of the board is relatively erroneous. Entering the 2021 NBA Draft for an example, how many organizations are in a complete rebuild? Being generous, I will say 5, in the Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and the Cleveland Cavaliers. Each have 1-2 young players already showing hints of being a cornerstone, but fair to say each is seeking more spark for the future. Following the top 5 picks, or the picks of these 5 teams, the value of a stable prospect, or one who carries a high floor as a high impact role player, should be equally or more valuable than a big swing. As a case study, the value of inserting Franz Wagner into a New Orleans Pelicans roster stronger than a high upside prospect like Jalen Johnson. Franz Wagner, classified as a stability pick, may not have a path to utter stardom, but he provides winning production from day one and projects, for me, to be high impact, long term role player on championship levels rosters. In simple, Franz Wagner lands 6th overall on my board, not because I am arguing he’s a future multi-time All-Star and has elite upside, but rather because I believe very strongly in his return and the investment in a high level role player in this range due to the sparse quantity of All-Star talent in each draft. In nearly every draft, the first 3 picks are nearly always swings, as those teams landed in the lottery for due reason – they lack direction. Swings come in different shapes and sizes, where their deviation from upside to downside do not necessarily mimic each other. Swing picks can dictate an incredibly positive direction, like Trae Young was for the Atlanta Hawks, Devin Booker was for the Suns or Donovan Mitchell for the Jazz. Yet, they are considered swing prospects because of players like Emmanuel Mudiay, Mario Hezonja, or Dante Exum, where their downside. On the other hand, prospects like Mikal Bridges, DeAndre Hunter, PJ Washington, Marcus Smart and even a guy like Cody Zeller fall into the category of stability picks, but return strong value compared to their draft slot and the rest of the field. Neither denomination carries a negative connotation, but more so a deeper dive into the context of my evaluation.

In no manner am I attempting to over-simplify a very complicated topic, evaluation as a whole. Each category has a plethora of nuances. With swing prospects, no “swing” is the exact same. As a non-obvious case study, I would compare Josh Primo to Keon Johnson. Both are rather similar physically and project to slot into a similar off-guard role, but when imagining Keon Johnson’s stock a see-saw, it is much more volatile. I currently have Johnson slotted higher, but his low-end is more severe in my eye than a Josh Primo. Consequently, Primo’s high-end is not as strong as a Keon Johnson. Both fall into the category of a swing, but their shape and size varies.

The vast amount of nuances correlate with hybrid prospects. As previously mentioned, every prospect in the field has a valid argument to slot in as a hybrid. While some defer the idea of utilizing “floors” and “ceilings” in evaluation, I believe there is legitimate, strong value in conceptualizing specific hinge points of future development. Frankly, many prospects are just much closer to their final product than others. Identifying these traits leads to a clearer sense of floor and ceiling. In terms of hybrid prospects, there are shades of both ends of the spectrum. As a case study, I compared Isaiah Jackson and Cam Thomas. For many, both would fall into the swing category. Jackson and Thomas are precise examples of a hybrid because each has displayed clear-cut signs of early impact NBA players, with Jackson’s rim protection and Thomas’ shot creation. On the other end, they both have concrete facets of necessary development. In Jackson’s case, it is the development of his feel for the game and processing speed. Becoming a floor spacer carries mass value, something I believe Jackson is somewhat capable of, but I do not feel comfortable projecting that with confidence, holding him back from multi-time All-Star territory, or a swing, for me. With Thomas, smoothing out his flaws as a team defender serve early priority. Flashes of a high-level on-ball defense would slide Thomas into the swing category, but his low moments of being lulled to sleep off-ball and getting back cut along with being beat off the dribble constantly make me more hesitant. In essence, hybrids are the middle ground – flashes of tools both long-term and short-term but limitations regarding traits they have yet to show sustained functionality of.

The concept can lend a hand to organizations to initially target a category – swing, stabilizer, or hybrid.

Teams opting for a SWING selection may fall in the following categories.

  • Seeking to rebuild due to a lack of direction and cornerstone players.
  • Well-structured with depth and minimal cap space, planning for the future beyond their cornerstones.

2021 Primary Examples

  • Houston Rockets
  • OKC Thunder
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Utah Jazz

Teams opting for a STABILIZER selection may fall in the following categories.

  • Contesting franchises looking to add instant impact production between and around their solidified stars.
  • Restructuring franchises comprised of a high percentage of youth, swing prospects still in development phases.

2021 Primary Examples

  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Boston Celtics
  • Atlanta Hawks
  • Orlando Magic

Teams opting for a HYBRID selection may fall in the following categories.

  • Teams in a gloomy area – not necessarily competing but their high level players are near or in their peak, making it difficult to enter a rebuild.

2021 Primary Examples

  • Toronto Raptors
  • Chicago Bulls
  • Indiana Pacers
  • San Antonio Spurs


Research by Aditya Fuldeore

Using data from the last 10 NBA draft first rounds via Basketball Reference.

Data key:

  • Y = Yes, they are a One and Done prospect: spent one year in college before declaring for the NBA draft
  • N = No, not a One and Done prospect, instead spent multiple years in college
  • H = A prospect that last played for a high school before the NBA
  • I = International prospects

From the 2011 to 2020 NBA drafts, 36% of first round selections were One and Done prospects. 48% were non-One and Done college players, 1% were high schoolers, 15% played internationally. In total, 108 One and Dones, 144 non-One and Dones, 3 high schoolers, 45 international prospects.


  • Using all drafts except for the 2019 and 20 drafts (too early) – Zion Williamson was the only one out of these two drafts to make an All-Star game
  • The average 1st round One and Done All-Star from 2011 to 2018 was selected at pick 4.8

From the 2011 to 2018 1st rounds, out of 85 One and Done’s, 16 were All-Stars.

[An 18.8% All-Star rate among One and Dones]

Chart, bar chart

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The above bar plot is from 2011 to 2020 first rounds. The “Y” group represents the One and Dones, and they are the group with the most All-Star appearances out of all the other prospect declaration groups.

Where are One and Dones selected?


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All 10 first rounds in the data had a One and Done player go #1 overall. The amount of One and Dones (Y) decreases into the mid-first, while the amount of multi-year college players (N) increases. However, there are more One and Dones taken with the last three picks of the first round, indicating contending teams may want to take chances on raw prospects that won’t have to play immediately at those picks. 

There also seem to be tiers of international player selections. The “best” international prospects are taken in the top 10, then a drop and the next bundle gets taken in the late teens, with the last tier going in the mid to late 20’s.

Chart, box and whisker chart

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Here, we can see that the amount of One and Done draftees in the first round has generally increased over the last decade.

Chart, box and whisker chart

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This boxplot demonstrates the distribution of where players with each declaration type have been taken. One and Dones (Y) have been selected with the most range, international prospects (I) with the most variability, while high schoolers (H), are packed in the 10-25 range, although they only have a 3-player sample size.

According to this boxplot, One and Dones are selected the highest on average, followed by international prospects, then non-One and Done college players. This shows that teams in the draft lottery often go for upside and potential rather than safe production.

Overall, One and Dones “bust” at a higher rate than non-One and Dones (yet less so than internationals), but also “hit” at a higher rate.

NBA Draft 2021: Tier Breakdown as June Approaches

By Max Feldman

As tier breakdowns and a variety of “pool” boards continue to circulate the NBA Draft evaluation world, the following is a tier breakdown heavily based off the June Edition Big Board set to drop on June 1st. Horizontal charts with differentiated archetypes bring about an interesting conversation that has built popularity, but I largely view this as an over-analyzation because a traditional big board should accurately portray how an evaluator weighs the value of a particular archetype. I’ve preached the difficulty of pegging a variety of prospects in the same territory, thus a tier breakdown should accurately portray my current take on the 2021 NBA Draft field.

    Cade Cunningham                 Evan Mobley
  JT THOR  JARED BUTLER  SHARIFE COOPER   bj boston   jalen johnson
       CAM THOMAS            GREG BROWN            JOEL AYAYI 

2021 NBA Draft: Risers Through May

By Max Feldman

As we inch towards June, about 2 months away from the 2021 NBA Draft, the top 5 continues to strengthen it’s margin above the rest of the field. The ranges of the prospects outside the top 5 continues to grow larger as prospects like Keon Johnson, Kai Jones, Moses Moody, Scottie Barnes and Jalen Johnson have arising counter arguments or worries that make their formerly unanimously agreed upon stock much more cloudy. As evaluation heats up, six 2021 prospects headline my group of risers as their longterm appeal has grown.

Tre Mann

Cornerstone Numbers

  • 6-5 and 190 pounds
  • 90th PCTL in overall defense and 2.8% steal rate
  • 58% true shooting
  • 88th Percentile as a Pick and Roll ball handler (0.97 PPP)

Tre Mann hovered around my 15-25 range for the duration of the draft evaluation period, but is on the verge of a massive bump. Whether it is his lack of vertical athleticism or him not being a one-and-done prospect which many uses to slide him down the board, his skillset, size, massive progression from his Freshman campaign and translatable traits make him one of the cleanest prospects in the field with an undervalued upside. In his Senior year of High School at The Villages, Mann measured in at 6-3 and 165 pounds. Mann came to Gainesville at 6-4 & 172 pounds. The physical progression on it’s own was most notable on the defensive end, where Mann was able to be a more prominent lateral defender, use his instincts to poke away more steals and guard more than just the opponents smallest backcourt weapon. The defense is not flawless, as he can take unnecessary risks and being out of positions at times. In no manner am I arguing that Mann is one of the best defenders in the class, but his analytics and film suggest he may be a plus defender in the NBA and if not, at least average. In my eyes, being a passable defender is enough to give Mann legitimate lottery looks, and he’ll slot in much higher for me in June. Offensively, besides burst around the rim, there is little to none to knit-pick with Mann. The Sophomore shot 40% from three point range, 83% from the line, got to the line 3.7 times per game, dished out 3.5 assists per game (0.7 as a Freshman) with a 22% assist rate and displayed clear-cut NBA tools as a creator landing in the 88th percentile as the pick and roll ball handler and the 70th percentile in overall offense (.95 PPP). Mann has elite level feel offensively and makes up for average athleticism with a deadly change of pace, a lightning quick first step and a versatile scoring ability from deep and in the mid-range. At 6-5, Mann has displayed the ability to rebound at a high volume from the backcourt, grabbing 5.6 rebounds per game. Tre Mann has long been a polished ball handler and a gifted scorer with impressive touch, but the development as a playmaker, progression as a defender and physical growth make him a legitimate top 8 prospect for me with high level upside as an all-around creator at the next level. In addition, Mann is just 3-4 months older than one-and-done prospects, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Scottie Barnes and Sharife Cooper.

The “Bargain Deals”

Entering June, JT Thor and Josh Primo are at the head of the snake when we talk risers. I’ve discussed the topic multiple times, but the conversation of “If he comes back, he will be a lottery pick next year” largely omits the logic of investing in the future of a franchise. For Thor, Primo and even Mathurin and Ivey to an extent, if executives see legitimate, foreseeable progress as potential lottery picks a year from now, the proactive investment would be to pour additional stock in selecting a prospect of this caliber in the 20-40 range, as it will be the lowest their stock lays. Outside of the top 10 range, the field remains extremely open to debate. Thor and Primo are prime prospects I’m willing to swing on higher than most project, as their ceiling is widely sought after and difficult to argue against. 

JT Thor

Cornerstone Numbers

  • 18 years old
  • 7-1 wingspan
  • 30% from 3 and 74% FT
  • 5.9% block rate

Thor has long been a prospect I have highly touted within the class. While he told me just 3 weeks ago that he remains “50/50” on whether he’ll keep his name in the draft, it is becoming clear there is legitimate intrigue in the first round of 2021. The Alaska native has incredibly rare skillset at 6-10 and 212 pounds. An able ball handler, a threat from deep with a smooth southpaw stroke and prominent rim defending tools and instincts. As a driver off spot up situations, Thor landed in the 99th percentile offensively. When driving right, Thor, a natural lefty, landed in the 98th percentile. There is high upside for Thor as a roll man or as a guy who can run in transition and be highly productive in the dunkers spot, as he drew 4.5 fouls per 40 minutes. Defensively, rim defense and versatility are the name of the game. Thor had the 6th highest block rate in the SEC and used his length and athleticism to swat 2.4 shots per 40 minutes. Strong lateral movement and a base to add weight, Thor can provide Nic Claxton-esque switchability in the right scheme. As conversations about coming back to Auburn for one more season come up, getting Thor in an NBA strength program a year early and solidifying the perimeter shooting skillset seems worthwhile as a longterm investment. There are plenty of raw aspects to Thor’s current skillset but has one of the more obvious cases of upside. I had a chance to speak with Thor recently, here is more.

Josh Primo

Cornerstone Numbers

  • 6-6 and 190 pounds
  • 18.3 years old
  • 93rd percentile spot up offense
  • 82nd percentile overall defense

Primo has been gaining steam over the last month as a legitimate prospect in 2021 and is one I would project as the biggest riser from now until draft night. The Canadian-born 18 year old reclassified up a year to come to Tuscaloosa, so essentially should summing up his prep career right now. The premonition behind Primo coming back to Alabama was largely because he had been playing behind John Petty, Jahvon Quinerly and multiple other high volume offensive weapons in addition to missing some time due to injury. Yet, the Crimson Tide are reloading with JD Davison and Nimari Burnett, maintaining Quinerly and Shackelford and bringing in a variety of other premier talent. Primo carries all the traits of a high level 3-and-D prospect, but there is some evidence that he has some creation tools that Nate Oats was not able to put on display. Although the Freshman started 19 out of the 30 games and played 22 minutes per game, he had the 10th highest usage rate on the roster at just 17.6%. A fluid handle and low turnover rates suggest there is more to Primo’s game than knocking down perimeter shots and attacking closeouts. Primo produced a sky high output of 1.22 PPP in spot up situations and netted 38% of his long range opportunities, in addition to be a phenomenal, timely cutter off ball. Defensively, length, quickness and athleticism provide high level optimism for Primo as a wing defender. Adding muscle to his wiry frame will be an early, but as previously mentioned with JT Thor, there is no rush to get the youngest player available on the court in year one when he technically should just be beginning his collegiate career. I mentioned Primo as a breakout candidate in the 2022 NBA Draft, but he’s trending towards my top 20 in 2021 and should have plenty of interest this year.

Jared Butler

Cornerstone Numbers

  • 98th percentile spot up offense
  • 29% assist rate
  • 86th percentile pick and roll defense
  • 4.2% steal rate

Butler has been one I have been relatively late to the party with in terms of how his skillset will translate and how he compares to the rest of the class. In as simple terms as possible, Butler is extremely good at a high volume of traits that will be important to how he translates. A near 120 offensive rating in combination with just allowing .72 PPP on defense makes him one of the more complete prospects in the field, while maintaining a solid draft age. Butler’s progression as a playmaker through his college career was notable and has displayed the ability to play both on and off the ball at the next level while being able to defend both guard spots. The argument of trajectory and high ceiling prospects is always present, but I’ve joined the boat in the thinking that who Jared Butler is now and how he has developed through three years at Baylor wind up to be already at a higher level than many other prospects in the field. He’s a rotation player right away and should be a starting level backcourt piece for many years to come. Difficult to imagine he slips outside the top 16-20.

Jonathan Kuminga

For many, if there is anyone slipping outside the top 5 picture, it is Jonathan Kuminga. The 18 year old began the season atop my board and I remain extremely bullish on his outlook. The shooting outlook and efficiency are certainly reasonable concerns, but he remains one of the youngest prospects in the field and along with Josh Primo, should technically be finishing up his prep career right now. Kuminga’s season with Ignite came with mixed reviews after starting the campaign scorching hot. What stood out was Kuminga’s feel to make plays for others and how he has become far more versatile as a creator. Strong footwork, a mature 6-8 and 220 pound base, powerful athleticism and a developing feel on both ends provides enough optimism for me to push him up to the 3rd overall slot. Critics of Kuminga will mention how he his defensive IQ was disappointing and suffered from poor shot selection, but his physical tools and projected high end value outweighs all but Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley for me. I am buying his eventual defensive versatility, mid-post playmaking and wing creation skills.

Matthew Mayer

  • 40% from 3
  • 88th Percentile as a pick and roll ball handler
  • 6-9 and 225 pounds
  • 70th percentile isolation defense

Matthew Mayer may not wind up keeping his name in the 2021 NBA Draft, but I have growing optimism regarding his role at the next level as a high feel stretch wing. At 6-9 and 225 pounds, Mayer is a highly productive rebounder, grabbing 9.5 rebounds per 40 minutes as a Junior. The national championship winning Baylor Bears owned one of the best defensive units in the nation, namely with Davion Mitchell, Mark Vital and Jared Butler as well as a plethora of other strong defenders. Contrary to popular belief, Matt Mayer owned the best defensive rating on the roster at just 88.2. Mayer has a very strong feel for the game, constantly making the right pass with swing passes and playing effective help defense. A lack of playtime (Just 15 MPG) may not give Mayer enough juice to be a sure-fire first round guy, but his combination of ball handling, fluid shot making ability from deep and versatility make him one of the better bets to stick around in the 30-50 range.

2021 NBA Draft: Checking In With JT Thor

By Max Feldman

JT Thor, former Auburn Freshman, was touted as a 4 star prospect just one year ago by recruiting services, yet his NBA appeal has been crystal clear since he began his collegiate career. Thor will make his debut in the top 30 of my 2021 NBA Draft Big Board in just a few days, but has floated in the 30-40 range for about 4 months now.

In Thor’s Freshman campaign, he scored 9 points, grabbed 5 boards and blocked 1.4 shots per game. The Norcross, Georgia native had the 6th highest block percentage (6%) and 17th highest rebound percentage (17%) in the SEC. Thor played 23 minutes per game, starting all 27 he played in.

To me, the excitement about Thor’s game was far from just his numbers this season. At 6-10 and 212 pounds, the ability to defend multiple positions, switch in the pick and roll and defend the rim has an increasingly large importance with the growing prevalence of switch schemes and pick and roll sets around the league. Thor’s combination of rim protection and long term shooting promise is incredibly rare for any prospect, let alone an 18-year-old, one and done. There are raw aspects of Thor’s skillset, more than some others at his age, but he truly oozes upside with his quickness, better than advertised handle and projected fit in the modern NBA. A fluid athlete with a smooth southpaw stroke, a relentless motor, an improving handle, shot making upside and a sky high defensive ceiling. Thor has a clear cut case as a first rounder this year.

While many bring up how prospects such as Thor or Bennedict Mathurin may have stock to gain by coming back another year, forward-thinking executives and scouts should continue to push the idea that if one sees him at that caliber a year from now, take him when his value is lower and provide the prospect a year with NBA staffs with world class developers.

I had the chance to catch up with the potential first round pick who shared some news regarding physical development, current draft thoughts and much more.

How’s the draft process going?

The process has been really good. I’ve been improving since the off season started and have gained 10 pounds since then. I’m most excited to see how this experience unfolds in the next couple of weeks and months.

What NBA players do you like to model your game after? You have a very unique skillset, what are some things you’ve taken from current or former nba players?

I model my game after lanky forwards like Kevin Garnett, Kevin Durant. I try to take KD’s ability to attack close outs and shoot over defenders with his length. Garnett because of his motor and trying to create extra possessions.

Where do you believe you should be rated in this 2021 NBA Draft class?

I believe I’m a top 10 player in this draft class, but only time will tell.

What other player do you think would be a strong combination with your skillset at the next level?

Sharife Cooper.

What do you see as your best skill in terms of translating to the NBA?

Definitely using my speed to attack close outs in pick & pop situations or late rotations & catch and shoot. In addition, defensive versatility. Guarding multiple positions and having a motor will transfer and keep me on the court at this stage of my development.

What is current feeling on signing with an agent versus heading back to Auburn?

I am still 50/50.

While many bring up how prospects such as Thor or Bennedict Mathurin may have stock to gain by coming back another year, forward-thinking executives and scouts should continue to push the idea that if one sees him at that caliber a year from now, take him when his value is lower and provide the prospect a year with NBA staffs with world class developers.

2021 NBA Draft: Checking In With Vrenz Bleijenbergh

By Max Feldman

Vrenz Bleijenbergh, Belgian-born big man, has rapidly gained traction over the last month within the draft media world. I originally made contact and dialed in on the 6-11 and 210 pound 21 year old back in June of 2020. Vrenz is currently 10 games into his season with the Antwerp Giants and continues to open eyes with his unique skillset just like he did for me last Summer. Bleijenbergh is pegged as my 30th ranked prospect in the 2021 NBA Draft May Edition Big Board.

Bleijenbergh thrives in the pick and roll, but contrary to the standard tendency, Vrenz’s prominence is as the initiator rather than roll man. An eye catching skillset for a 6-11 youngster who has the handle of a wing but a wingspan equivalent to Bam Adebayo, at 7-1. A versatile and decisive playmaker, fluid shooter off the catch, an instinctual defender and a high feel, interchangeable piece that can take on a variety of roles depending on his environment. Bleijenbergh is currently shooting 38% on nearly 5 three point attempts per game. The 2021 NBA Draft entree has proved consistent in his ability to stuff the stat sheet and fill it up from deep.

In August of 2020, Vrenz told me, “Everyone is sleeping on me. I like it.”

I had the opportunity to talk once again with Vrenz Bleijenbergh, a potential first round selection in the 2021 NBA Draft. Our full discussion is included below.

How’s the draft process going?

“I am really focussing on the season with Antwerp so far. Besides that, I just watch and see. Lately my name is going around more and it gives me a good feeling. I worked really, really hard and it is finally paying off. I’m not done yet because i think i’m still far away from my potential. I really want to be drafted not just to be there but to win, develop and be a good teammate.”

What NBA players do you like to model your game after? You have a very unique skillset, what are some things you’ve taken from current or former nba players?

I don’t like to model my game after someone else because I really want to be a unique player. I watch a lot of Luka Doncic gameplay because i really like how he is a floor general and how he sees the court. I think I have the same skill.

Where do you believe you should be ranked in this 2021 NBA Draft class?

“I really believe in myself. Knowing what I can do I would definitely put myself as a first rounder. I would’ve never thought about this but I worked so hard to get better and achieve things like this. I really think I can do it.”

What prospects in the 2021 class do you think you’d like to play alongside?

“Alperen Sengun. I really like to play the pick and roll. I didn’t watch all the prospect from NCAA yet but i know Sengun is a really smart, skillfull big man. If I got a big alongside me who understands the game and sets good screen it could be really good.”

What do you see as your best skill in terms of translating to the NBA?

My pick and roll is my biggest strength. I have no problem playing off ball. I think with athletes in NBA I can really make some great plays.

What do you think of being a draft-and-stash? Are you ready to come over immediately?

 I don’t want to be a draft and stash player. I want to play in NBA and win with the team.

2021 NBA Draft: Updated Big Board Heading Into May

By Max Feldman

The full May Edition Big Board with measurements and further detail is available here.

1. Cade Cunningham 
2. Evan Mobley
3. Jalen Suggs
4. Jonathan Kuminga
5. Jalen Green
6. Josh Giddey
7. Franz Wagner
8. Moses Moody
9. Kai Jones
10. Keon Johnson
11. Tre Mann
12. Jalen Johnson
13. Usman Garuba
14. Ziaire Williams
15. Scottie Barnes
16. Davion Mitchell
17. Sharife Cooper
18. Isaiah Jackson
19. Corey Kispert
20. BJ Boston
21. James Bouknight
22. Day’Ron Sharpe 
23. Duece McBride
24. JT Thor
25. Chris Duarte
26. Jared Butler
27. Ayo Dosunmu
28. Vrenz Bleijenbergh
29. Jaden Springer
30. Alperen Sengun
31. Cam Thomas
32. Bones Hyland
33. Roko Prkacin
34. Greg Brown
35. Joel Ayayi
36. Josh Christopher
37. Isaiah Todd
38. Filip Petrusev
39. Marcus Bagley
40. Terrence Shannon Jr
41. Daishen Nix
42. Kessler Edwards
43. Gabriele Procida
44. Johnny Juzang
45. Aaron Henry
46. Ariel Hukporti
47. Charles Bassey
48. Quentin Grimes
49. Rokas Jokubaitis
50. Herb Jones

NBA Draft 2022: Long-Term NBA Prospects On The Brink of a Leap

By Max Feldman

The evaluation period of the 2021 NBA Draft is at it’s absolute peak right now as Selection Sunday is just around the corner. The G-League Ignite roster has concluded it’s debut campaign. International seasons vary in their current position in the season, but there is a strong sample size of close to 30 games for the top prospects on the radar. All signs point towards this class being a generational one, but the new breed is just around the corner. It’s never too early to skip ahead a few pages and peak at what’s to come. In the 2021 Draft class, we saw Chris Duarte, Charles Bassey, Corey Kispert and Ayo Dosunmu among many others, make a massive leap into the first round picture. I will breakdown 8 long-term NBA Draft prospects that I feel are on the brink of making a leap into the 2022 NBA Draft picture. All 8 are prospects who I see returning to their respective college programs next season.

A few notable prospects who have a much more difficult decision about returning to school and already are capturing the attention of scouts are JT Thor, Bennedict Mathurin, Terrence Clarke and Caleb Love. They will not be included as they are clear-cut NBA prospects because of their Prep body of work and flashes in their Freshman campaigns. Justin and Julian Champagnie have already broken out and are on the radar, and while I do think their return to their respective schools, they have the associations attention.

Jaden Ivey

Purdue Freshman || 6-4 200 pounds

Jaden Ivey was slept on at the Prep level, ranking as a fringe top 100 prospect on platforms. Though, hindsight is 20:20, and about a year later after High School rankings were final, Ivey appears to be a top 30 player out of the 2020 recruiting cycle. A deadly 3-level scorer who can truly take over a game on the offensive end. His long-term fit is clearly as an off-ball guard, doing what he does best, stretching a defense out on the perimeter, getting to his spots in the mid-range and attacking the rack with a mature frame. It’s a similar story for many of the following prospects that will be discussed, but Ivey has had his bumps in his Freshman season. He has had cold streaks, inefficient outing that hurt the Boilermakers and repetitive defensive faults. On the season, Ivey is scoring 10 points per game in 22.5 minutes on 39% from the field, 22% from 3 and 74% from the free throw line. Over the last 7, he’s scoring over 14 points per game and has really pushed Purdue to the next level in the Big Ten. Keep an eye on Ivey in March Madness, as a big run could open some eyes towards eligibility in 2021, but his rather inefficient offensive outputs in addition to placing 28th percentile in overall defense more closely points to the Indiana native approaching stardom as a Sophomore. Purdue should be one of the countries top teams next season and Ivey already looks like a potential top 20 prospect if he can improve his decision making, defense and consistency.

Micah Peavy

Texas Tech Freshman || 6-7 215 pounds

It is beginning to seem like every draft cycle now that Texas Tech and Chris Beard bring forward an ultra-impressive two-way prospect who catches my eye in terms of fitting many of my key traits in evaluation. Those who kept up from the last cycle know my love for Jahmi’us Ramsey as a prospect and collegiate player. In 2021, Terrence Shannon Jr has quietly become one of the more slept on prospects, but has massively improved in the sought after swing areas of his game from his Freshman year and should wind up in my top 30 come draft night. Micah Peavy, former teammate of Ramsey, is next in line for the Red Raiders to expand their NBA alumnus. Peavy left Duncanville High School weighing just 172 pounds at 6-7. The Freshman weighed in at 215 when the season opened. In terms of physical development, that is as much as you could ask for in the transition from prep to college ball. While we’re talking physical traits, Peavy is a top tier prospect. An absolute pogo stick athlete who’s a legitimate vertical floor spacer each time down in transition. He has started nearly every game for Texas Tech and has played just over 20 minutes per game. Defensively, Peavy has the tools and has even shown the capability to guard 3-5 spots on the floor with his size, strength, jumping ability, lateral quickness and instincts. He places in the 95th percentile in overall defense, an absolutely ridiculously good output for a starting Freshman in the top 20 nationally while playing in the Big 12. Offensively, in addition to an athletic slashing ability, Peavy has a smooth go-to mid-range pull up off the dribble and off a spin. The bumps in the road all relate to a worrisome shooting stroke and touch, in addition to a handle that could use improvement. Peavy is 0-3 from 3 on the season, and usually free throw output provides optimism, but he is 44% from the line with limited volume. Shooting development is the clear-cut swing trait moving forward, as he already projects a highly versatile defender with a roaring motor and elite athleticism. I love his skillset already and with the way he has improved over the last few years, I wouldn’t count him out as a top 20 guy in 2022.

Matthew Murrell

Ole Miss Freshman || 6-4 200 pounds

I will expose myself on this one, I saw Murrell as a one-and-done guy who was going to surprise plenty of folks in Oxford and on the NBA Draft front. The IMG product entered college with fantastic size at 6-4 and 200 pounds with a natural scoring ability off the hop and as a strong spot up threat. He has played just 16 minutes per game while starting 2 of the 25 games he has played in. Taking just 4 attempts from the field per game, I think Murrell’s success will come with opportunity. While both’s main strengths are 3-level off ball scoring, different than Ivey who can serve as a microwave scorer off the bench in more limited minutes, Murrell is more of a rhythm scorer who can stack up quiet high scoring outings by knocking down open perimeter shots, making timely cuts and creating his own shot while attacking closeouts. With Devontae Shuler on the brink of graduation and an extremely talented creator coming in, in Daeshun Ruffin to handle the ball, I expect a big jump from Murrell in terms of overall production. He has been better than I presumed defensively in his Freshman season, placing in the 86th percentile in overall defense. Ole Miss rarely attracts the eyes of NBA evaluators, but I think Murrell will provide top 30-level appeal as a Sophomore in Oxford.

Josh Primo

Alabama Freshman || 6-6 190 pounds

As a former contributor to a Canadian basketball platform based in Toronto, I have had my eyes on Josh Primo since he began his high school career. After making the jump up a class and reclassifying into the 2020 class, Primo saw a massive jump in his stock, winding up near 5 star status. Many, including myself, touted Primo as a potential sleeper in the first round of 2021, and while that seems unlikely at this point, the departure of John Petty and Herb Jones opens up close to 20 field goal attempts per game. With an incredibly pure shooting stroke at 6-6, Primo fits the bill as an NBA off-guard to a tee. In SEC play, Primo’s role grew in minutes, and from there, he shot 41% from three on 4 attempts per game and 89% from the line. Defensively, Primo has taken his bumps mentally and certainly will improve with reps in addition to time working on his frame in the offseason. However, he did finish his Freshman regular season in the 78th percentile defensively. Expect Primo to swallow up over 10 attempts per game next season and become one of the more efficient scorers in the SEC. Maintaining premier efficiency with a heightened volume in his Sophomore season will be the key between Primo being a top 40 prospect or a lottery type of guy. My bets are laying closer to the ladder.

Will Richardson

Oregon Junior || 6-5 180 pounds

If Will Richardson did not suffer a brutal thumb injury just 4 days prior to Oregon 2020-2021 season opener, I am confident he’d be in the first round picture in the 2021 NBA Draft. However, he made his return February 4th and has played in 12 games in his Junior campaign with the Ducks. A silky smooth lefty with great size was tasked with filling the void of Payton Pritchard, a four year started with a loaded trophy case of accolades in the PAC-12, and while Oregon is a wildly different team than the previous two, the wiry ball handler continues to solidify his role as a high IQ floor general. With Pritchard by his side last year, Richardson had one of the better individual shooting seasons in the nation, making 47% of his threes while scoring 11 points per game. A year later, Richardson is still ironing his playmaking tendencies, up to 3 assists per game thus far. His 39% from 3 remains one of the top outputs in the PAC-12 and continues to score with efficiency, shown by a 50% EFG rate and 53.4% true shooting percentage. Defensively, Richardson has always had a knack to grab steals since his days at Oak Hill Academy and relies heavily on instincts as well as a high IQ. At 6-5, Richardson should have an acute focus on adding to his 180 pound frame to grow into more of a primary on ball role as a facilitator and go-to threat. Oregon graduates three wings who lead them in production, but bring in one of the nation’s top recruiting class and a strong group of returners including the two mentioned in the following blurb. Richardson has faded off the radar a bit, but a full season next year should provide the opportunity to hop back into the first round picture in 2022.

Keep an eye on Oregon big men, N’Faly Dante and Franck Kepnang for the 2021 Draft. Both skilled, athletic big men with fantastic size. Dante, the former 5 star recruit, suffered a torn ACL and played just 6 games in Sophomore season after showing massive improvement just a 12 game Freshman season. Kepnang enrolled early at Oregon from Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania and has played just 13 games.

Efe Abogidi

Washington State Freshman || 6-10 225 pounds

Abogidi flew on to the scene after being relatively unknown through the recruiting process as part of the NBA Global Academy. The Nigerian-born, Australian native, arrived in Pullman with an NBA ready frame and a subtle, impressive ability to shoot the ball and score with power or touch. Abogidi should be an All-PAC 12 performer as a Sophomore after starting every game as a Freshman, leading in rebounding and blocks while scoring 8.9 points per game. Impressive footwork, explosive athleticism and a massive wingspan make him a versatile rim-runner with what appears to be room for much more. A 4.7% block rate was one of the tops in the PAC-12, illustrating a prominent rim protecting instincts as just a Freshman. An 82% rate at the free throw line in addition to making 15 threes provide extreme optimism as a horizontal floor stretcher. 2021 is a bit too early for Abogidi, but he should be a top 20 prospect in 2022 from the minute my board debuts.

Jae’lyn Withers

Louisville Redshirt Freshman || 6-8 230 pounds

Withers, out of Cleveland, Ohio, went relatively under the radar as well as a high school prospect, falling around the 120 range, but after a Redshirt campaign with the Cards, has burst on to the scene in the ACC. The 6-8 and 230 forward has started every game for Louisville this season, playing a supporting role, where he makes his presence felt on the glass and scoring around the basket. IQ and feel can be hard to come by at times for young forwards but Withers is a phenomenal decision maker who attacks lanes with purpose, carrying an EFG percentage of 59.1% and a 60.8% true shooting rate. Both his offensive (13.5%) and defensive (22.8%) rebounding rates are among the top 6 in the ACC, lending plenty of evidence towards his rampant two-way motor. Withers places in the 91st percentile in overall offense and leads Louisville in offensive rating at 119.6. The Cardinals are led by 3 wing scorers and 2 of which will be gone after this season, meaning Withers should take on a heavier load as a Redshirt Sophomore. His supplemental production has been incredibly impressive, but what will determine how high his stock rises is whether he can improve defensively (currently in the 41st PCTL), laterally and in the PnR in addition to pumping up the offensive production with more opportunity. Withers, the cousin of All-Pro CB Jaire Alexander, very well might be on the same trajectory to being a first round selection out of Louisville.

Jabri Abdur-Rahim

Virginia Freshman || 6-7 214 pounds

Of the 8 prospects listed, Abdur-Rahim might be the deepest dive in terms of projecting a leap. The 6-7 wing missed the majority of his Senior campaign at Blair Academy and has played in just 8 games in his Freshman season at UVA. Rather than analyzing how his numbers shape up thus far, balancing strong and weak points in addition to evaluating roster status, my projection more closely relies on Tony Bennett’s body of work with prospects of similar builds in addition to Abdur-Rahim’s skillset from the Prep level. Jabri departed High School at 185 pounds and is now listed at 214 pounds. A talented driver with natural touch, a heady playmaking ability and a solid perimeter game. Jabri’s defensive versatility and focus bring together his two-way skillset on the wing, potentially the most sought after build by NBA rosters. Mikal Bridges arrived at Virginia with wildly similar tendencies and measurements, and Abdur-Rahim might even be more skilled as a ball handler. Whether it is in 2022 or 2023, it is just a matter of time before Jabri Abdur-Rahim progresses into a top 40 NBA Draft pick.

Additional Names To Keep An Eye On:

Dawson Garcia (Marquette)

Allen Flanigan (Auburn)

Mwani Wilkinson (LSU)

Adam Miller (Illinois)

Isiaih Mosley (Missouri State)

Santi Aldama (Loyola MA)

Antoine Davis (Detroit-Mercy)

NBA: Rookies Making Their Mark Pre-All Star Break

Contributed by Aditya Fuldeore

As the NBA season enters the All-Star Break, several rookies have emerged as top producers for their team. LaMelo Ball, James Wiseman, Immanuel Quickley, and more have piled up numbers, prevailing through sparse training camps and a quick turnaround between the draft and opening day. In this piece, we look at the top performing rookies at the halfway point of the season using regular and advanced stats (such as Win Shares), as well as Opportunity Production Rating (OPR) and FOG’s final big board rank of each prospect. 

LaMelo Ball

Stats: 15.8 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 6.3 APG, 2.6 WS, 44.9 FG% / 37.8 3P% / 80.2 FT%, 19.71 OPR

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 1

LaMelo Ball is the clear frontrunner for Rookie of the Year so far, and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down as the one of the most productive rookies this year (19.71 OPR)1. Recently named February Rookie of the Month, Ball leads all rookies in points and assists per game. He also ranks among the top ten in the NBA in Steal % and leads the Hornets in Defensive Box Plus/Minus. It’s no surprise that Ball has been a positive defensive metric. He has used his length to his advantage on defense when matched up on guards and has been an active defender. Offensively, his vision has been among the best of the rookie class, and his scoring ability has translated well from Australia to the NBA. Ball is a rising star who has Charlotte battling in the playoff picture.

Tyrese Haliburton

Stats: 13.2 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 5.4 APG, 2.2 WS, 49.4 FG% / 43.3 3P% / 83.3 FT%, 16.42 OPR

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 7

As the other February Rookie of the Month, Haliburton has shown why he was a steal for the Kings. He came out of college as one of the best shooters in the draft and has carried over his skillset into the NBA, with a 43.3 3P% and an Effective FG% in the top fifteen in the league. Playing a chunk of his minutes on the wing, Haliburton has defended both wings and guards well, ranking top twenty in the NBA in Steal%. Offensively, he has been Sacramento’s secondary playmaker, ranking second on the team behind De’Aaron Fox in Assist%. Haliburton has been a good secondary ball handler in the Kings’ backcourt and has been a solid defender despite a smaller frame. Ranking second to only LaMelo Ball in Win Shares among rookies, Haliburton projects as an efficient scoring guard with playmaking ability and two-way potential.

James Wiseman

Stats: 11.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 0.7 APG, 0.6 WS, 51 FG% / 37 3P% / 62.9 FT%, 14.77 OPR

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 3

When selected, James Wiseman was thought to be a cornerstone for Golden State, and he has shown the potential to develop into a top option for the team. Despite missing some time due to injury, Wiseman has been an efficient bucket-getter when on the court. Averaging 11.8 points in 20.8 minutes per game with a 51 FG%, he has a top three Usage Rate on the Warriors. Defensively, Wiseman has started developing as a rim protector, with a Defensive Rebound% and Block% that rank best on the team. His length has provided balance to the Warriors lineup and he should continue to boost the team’s interior play. Surrounded by veteran champions, Wiseman is on a trajectory for success.

Immanuel Quickley

Stats: 12.2 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.4 APG, 1.9 WS, 38.9 FG% / 38.1 3P% / 94.2 FT%, 20.01 OPR

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 34

For the surprisingly hyper-competitive Knicks, Immanuel Quickley has been a highly productive shot in the arm in the backcourt. Coming off the bench, Quickley has shot the ball well from three-point range and has shown the ability to knock down mid-range jump shots as well. He is also an excellent free-throw shooter (94.2 FT%) and has been a focal point of the Knicks’ offense when on the court, with the highest Usage Rate on the team. Defensively, Quickley has room for improvement, but has been an active defender under Tom Thibodeau’s scheme and has shown plenty of defensive upside. One of the late first-round surprises of the draft, Quickley has the tools to be a three-level scorer in New York with a role that can only continue to expand.

Saddiq Bey

Stats: 9.9 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.5 WS, 40.9 FG% / 39.3 3P% / 85.7 FT%, 12.92 OPR

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 20

Amidst a struggling Pistons team, Saddiq Bey is one of the lone bright spots for Detroit’s future. The forward has been an outside shooter, with 69.3% of his field goal attempts from three and his average field goal attempt distance at 19.6 feet. In addition to the volume, Bey has been efficient, making just under 40% of his threes. Defensively, he could use more development, but his size helps him defend wings and get physical as a rebounder. Bey’s maturity as a scorer combined with his size on the wing give him the potential to grow into a scrappy Harrison Barnes-type player who could be a glue guy for Detroit going forward.

Desmond Bane

Stats: 9.6 PPG, 2.9 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.1 WS, 47.8 FG% / 44.3 3P% / 87.5 FT%, 10.98 OPR

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 21

Another late first-round surprise, Desmond Bane has been a pleasant producer for Memphis on the wing. Arguably the best three-point shooter out of the 2020 draft so far, Bane has a 50.7% 3P Attempt Rate (top three on the Grizzlies), making 44.3% of them (top 15 in the NBA). Additionally, Bane ranks top two on the Grizzlies for both Effective FG% and True Shooting% and has flashed the skills to be a mid-range shot-maker as well. While he isn’t the flashiest defender, Bane has the IQ and versatility (has spent minutes everywhere except the five) to quietly limit opposing scorers. Bane’s shooting coming off the bench will play a key role for a Memphis team squarely in the hunt for the postseason.

Other Rookies to Watch:

Tyrese Maxey, 76ERS: 8.0 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.8 APG, 0.6 WS, 45 FG% / 27.3 3P% / 88 FT%, 13.03 OPR

Cole Anthony, MAGIC: 11 PPG, 4.4 RPG, 3.8 APG, -0.1 WS, 37.5 FG% / 32.5 3P% / 83.6 FT%, 12.42 OPR

Anthony Edwards, TIMBERWOLVES: 14.9 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 2.5 APG, -0.9 WS, 37.1 FG% / 30.2 3P% / 80.5 FT%, 11.99 OPR

Jae’Sean Tate, ROCKETS: 9.9 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 1.7 APG, 2.2 WS, 53.6 FG% / 31.9 3P% / 75.4 FT%, 11.74 OPR

Payton Pritchard, CELTICS: 7.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 2.3 APG, 1.1 WS, 45.7 FG% / 40.2 3P% / 94.4 FT%, 10.74 OPR

Patrick Williams, BULLS: 10.2 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.0 WS, 47 FG% / 39 3P% / 78.8 FT%, 10.08 OPR

Theo Maledon, THUNDER: 7.8 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 3.3 APG, 0.4 WS, 39.4 FG% / 35.4 3P% / 75 FT %, 9.02 OPR

*Stats via Basketball Reference, as of March 4th, 2021

1Opportunity Production Rating (OPR) derived using player per 100 possessions stats: A 10-16 OPR is “normal” production, a 25+ OPR is “superstar” production, and a below 7 OPR is greatly underperforming production.

2021 NBA Draft: Breaking Down the Generational Talent in the Top 5

By Max Feldman

As much as I have preached on the wildly impressive depth in the 2021 Draft class, there is no denying that the top 5 prospects in the class have the signs of being a generational group. The 2017 Draft class is aging extremely well with high level depth while the top of the 2019 class carries special level star power. 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2020 all have 2-3 star level talents at the top but none jump off the page as generational at the moment. The 2021 Draft will be the most impressive class of the last decade because of the talent at the top. This group of 5 has stood strong for months now, and there is absolutely no reason that will change from now until Draft night. There are 5 legitimate top overall prospects in the same class.

Jonathan Kuminga

6-8 210 poundsG-League Ignite

Jonathan Kuminga kicked off my initial 2021 NBA Draft Big Board as the top overall prospect after he reclassified up into the 2020 recruiting class. Since then, he dipped down to the 5th slot, but since making his Ignite debut, he is squarely in my top overall prospect picture and currently carries a strong margin. As I previously mentioned, any of the 5 prospects could be considered the top overall, and when the time comes, it will come down to pure organizational preference as it is difficult to imagine any of the 5 truly setting themselves apart. For me, Kuminga is the preference. The Congolese wing is the youngest player in the entire draft field, as he just recently turned 18 years old. At 6-8 and closer to 220 pounds, he is physically mature and ready to contribute at the next level. The primary purpose of the Pat Williams comparison stems from the same ideals, as he was the 2nd youngest prospect in the 2020 Draft while carrying one of the most mature frames and high level athleticism. Kuminga is the essence of versatility in my eyes, as I can not poke a hole in a single area on either end of the floor in terms of his long term trajectory. Shot selection has been an early weakness, but the entire format and fit of the Ignite roster is obviously odd, as it is unprecedented to combine 18 year old future Lottery picks alongside NBA veterans. He has shown a far more impressive basketball IQ as a playmaker than I expected from his Prep film. Growing his feel for the game, finding great, not good, shots as well as finding more consistency with his long range shots will be the keys in early development, but he has shown enough progress in those areas for me to be extremely confident. Back in December, I pegged Kuminga as the top overall defender in the class and two-way stardom is extraordinarily rare, but when present, is usually is the formula for an NBA superstar. I will be on the lookout for higher levels of efficiency over this historic G-League season, but the 6-8 wing with a guard skillset and a 7-2 wingspan in addition to explosive athleticism is my favorite prospect in the class.

FOG NBA Comparisons: Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Williams

Evan Mobley

7-0 215 poundsUSC Trojans

Evan Mobley could very well end up as a First Team All-American in his lone collegiate season, and has been the head of the snake for a USC squad that has opened eyes as a top 15 team in the country. No Freshman in the country brings more production to winning basketball than the Murietta, California native, with 4.8 total win shares per outing. Entering the season, I expected Mobley to show plenty of flashes as a dominant two way prospect, but I did not expect this level of consistent dominance. A wiry 7 foot, 215 pound frame with legitimate, elite level touch extending out to the arc where he’s shooting 33%, but with an effective field goal percentage of 62% and a true shooting percentage of 65%. He has a very strong feel for the game, as the common struggle among players at this size are their ability to find space and get to their spots, but Mobley does with ease. He is in the 93rd percentile in overall offense, scoring nearly 1.1 PPP. His attack is extremely versatile, coming off high motor putbacks, high level footwork as a roll man or in isolation/spot up situations. A sky high 3.7 blocks per 40 minutes in addition to a 10% block rate makes him the most polished big man to come through the draft process in the last decade.

FOG NBA Comparisons: Anthony Davis and a Right-Handed Chris Bosh

Cade Cunningham

6-8 220 poundsOklahoma State Cowboys

Cade Cunningham has impressed in his lone NCAA basketball season, but it has not been exactly what many expected. Regardless of how this season went, it was Cade Cunningham that was the most difficult to imagine falling out of the top 5 among this bunch. The level of safety that Cunningham provides as a 6-8 lead guard makes him the top overall prospect for many, and a lock top 3 prospect for me. While the low assist output and rate are a minor concern for me, the shooting numbers actually give me more of an assurance than anything else he has done in 18 games. I originally broke down the idea in a Cole Anthony spotlight piece, but the reasoning applies here, as I did have some fear prior to the season about Cade’s ability to create for himself with consistency against athletic, well-built defenders. Ball handlers can not create for others (be high level playmakers), if they can not create for themselves. Drawing defenders, collapsing the lane, spacing the floor and being a threat to score everytime you touch the ball is a mainstay for the premier playmakers in the NBA today, so Cade’s shooting numbers of 45% from 3 and 84% from the line, both on high clips, give me the upmost confidence. No one should be worried about Cade Cunningham’s ability to make plays for others, and he has the most clear-cut resume for a first overall pick at the moment. I do think he can be a premier defender down the line, an area of development I will be watching for.

FOG NBA Comparisons: Grant Hill and Luka Doncic

Jalen Suggs

6-4 205 poundsGonzaga Bulldogs

Jalen Suggs has forced his way into this conversation as a top overall prospect because of his impact on winning basketball on the nation’s best team through 18 games. Although I do not have the data to put it to a test, I would be beyond surprised if there was a Freshman guard in the last decade or two who placed in the 77th percentile or better on offense AND defense (86th currently) while starting every game and playing at least 25 MPG. Compared to the other four prospects, Suggs might have one of the lower star level trajectories, but once again, this group is special, and Suggs would be the top pick in the majority of NBA Drafts over the last decade. A lock up defender with a sturdy build, high level IQ, elite lateral quickness and head-above-the-rim athleticism. An impressive 3.2 steals per game displays how strong of an on-ball backcourt defender and team defender he will be at the next level. Offensively, just 10.1 field goal attempts per game is the lowest of the bunch, but his three level scoring instincts and talent has been shown relatively clearly. He is shooting 59% from 2 point range, 37% from 3 and 75% from the line while making plays for others with high production and efficiency. Suggs is putting up 6.5 assists per 40 compared to 3.9 turnovers on a 24% assist rate. Mark Few has had plenty of special teams, but this is undeniably one of, if not the most talented, so handing Jalen Suggs a 27% usage rate straight out of High School shows an extreme level of confidence that should rub off on NBA execs. He will be in my top 4 for the long run.

FOG NBA Comparisons: Gilbert Arenas and Jrue Holiday

Jalen Green

6-5 180 poundsG-League Ignite

Jalen Green is beginning to come into this own with Ignite, scoring 18 PPG in 30 MPG over the first 5 games. I had the pleasure of evaluating Jalen Green at the Prep Level at the Chambana Classic in November of 2019, and since then I have come away with a differing opinion than most others. Green is undeniably the most athletic prospect in the class and one of the most athletic prospects to enter the NBA in recent years, but he is already more than that, a special combination for a 19 year old. Being one of the best athletes in the country allows most prospects to rely on dominating with speed, verticality and strength, but Jalen Green is more polished than any scorer in this class. Those who followed close in 2020 are aware of how I was marginally lower on Anthony Edwards than any other evaluator, so moving on to Green this year is somewhat difficult, as his role of shifting from a black-hole scorer into a system fit at the Prep level, into a score first off-ball weapon at the professional level deserves a buffering time. Jalen Green’s IQ is the reason I will be higher on him than Edwards, although the Timberwolves guard has an edge physically. I do not feel confident projecting Jalen Green to ever be a prominent playmaker, as he more closely projects as a negative assist to turnover ratio guy. On the defensive end is where I think Green has real tools to be a strong on ball defender due to his IQ and feel. Long strides, quick feet and a plus wingspan provide him the tools, but being in the right spot, knowing his personnel and continuing to focus on his motor, which has shown signs of improvement early on with Ignite, are what would boost his value in my eyes as a two-way prospect. With all of the generational level scoring ability off of pull ups, in transition and as a deadly deep range shooter, he will fall at the bottom end of this top 5 for the duration of the evaluation period because I believe he has the lowest impact on Championship-level, winning basketball. However, I would not hesitate to project Jalen Green as a near 30 point per game scorer at his peak.

FOG NBA Comparisons: Zach LaVine and Jason Richardson