All posts by Corey Chavous

2021 NBA Draft Recap: Picks 1-60

The 2021 NBA Draft offered up a number of prospects who were very productive in school, the NBA’s G League or overseas in other professional basketball leagues. Our NBA draft recap profiles each of the draft’s selections and we begin with a polished playmaker taken by the Detroit Pistons.

1st Round

1 (1) Detroit Pistons: Cade Cunningham 6’7 220 G/F-Oklahoma State
Cunningham comes from a lineage of athletes and his on-court skills link up with his smooth game. The Pistons needed someone to be an all-around star and Cunningham offers a multitude of skills. In the process, the former Cowboy became just the fourth Oklahoma State product to go in the draft’s Top 10 over the last 70 years and the first to go number one overall.

Jalen Green NBA G League Ignite 2021 NBA Draft recap
Green, pictured, was a standout for the AAU squad Team Why Not in the 2019 Nike EBYL circuit. His ability to score going to the basket ranks as one of his biggest assets.

2. Houston Rockets: Jalen Green 6’6 180 SG-NBA G League Ignite
As Green continues to grow into his frame, his game will expand. In terms of comparisons, the team hopes he has a similar run to former Rocket Tracy McGrady, who excelled for the squad after a productive five-year stint in Orlando.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers: Evan Mobley 7’0 215 PF-USC
Mobley’s quiet demeanor shouldn’t taken for granted on the court. He plays on both ends of the floor and is capable of guarding multiple spots. Mobley posted 12 double-doubles for the Trojans this past season.

4. Toronto Raptors: Scottie Barnes 6’8 225 SF-FSU
If Barnes can continue to improve his long distance shooting, there really isn’t much he doesn’t do on the floor. He can play the point forward, guard any position and rebound effectively. Barnes is the second consecutive Seminole to be drafted in the fourth overall spot as Leonard Hamilton continues to build on the team’s basketball tradition.

5. Orlando Magic: Jalen Suggs 6’4 205 PG-Freshman Gonzaga
Much like former Big 12 Freshman of the Year Trae Young, Suggs went fifth overall after being projected perhaps a pick or two higher. The second-team All-American’s physical nature provided plenty of big moments for a team that relied on him late in games. After being down by 12 points in the WCC Championship, no one stood bigger than Suggs in the game’s final moments. These performances became the norm for the former Zag.

6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Josh Giddey 6’7 205 PG-Adelaide NBL Australia
The team needed depth in the backcourt and on the wings, more specifically another playmaker. With three first-round picks they had flexibility. Giddey was the NBL (Austrialia) Rookie of the Year in 2020-21 after averaging nearly 11 points per game. His size and overall playmaking skill (7 RPG, 7 APG) could complement the recent addition of former Celtic Kemba Walker.

7. Golden State Warriors: Jonathan Kuminga 6’7 200 SG-NBA G League Ignite
The Warriors chose James Wiseman with the second overall pick in 2020 and the results were mixed. With the team’s health a question mark, a ready-made player would have seemed to be the focus. Kuminga’s athleticism gives the team flexibility on the defensive end and his scoring should improve over time. The former five-star recruit signed with the NBA G League Ignite and averaged nearly 16 points per game in 2020-21 (15.8 PPG).

8. Orlando Magic: Franz Wagner 6’7 220 SF-Michigan
Orlando uses its second Top 10 pick to take the scorer on the wing to complement the earlier selection of Suggs. This is another team that hasn’t been able to keep its core players healthy for the entirety of the year. Wagner finally puts an end to Michigan’s drought in the Top 10 of the NBA Draft.

9. Sacramento Kings: Davion Mitchell 6’1 202 G-Baylor
Who will be the big defensive stopper down low for the Kings? It is still in question, but the draft’s best defender helps seal up the perimeter. Even with that said, he also shot 45% from beyond the arc in 2020-21. His tenacity and play speed should help him overcome his relative lack of length at the next level. Mitchell was a big reason the Bears successfully disproved DraftNasty’s model for picking a national champion this past spring.

10. New Orleans Pelicans (traded to Memphis Grizzlies): Ziaire Williams 6’10 188 PF-Stanford
Despite a less than stellar collegiate stop, Williams – a former five-star recruit- still went in the range many scouts projected when he entered school. He showed off his athleticism during the 2021 NBA Combine with a 39 1/2” max vertical jump and a 10.69 time in the lane agility drill.

11. Charlotte Hornets: James Bouknight 6’5 190 SG-UConn
Bouknight missed time in 2021 due to an elbow injury, but he bounced back in time to still earn first-team All-Big East honors. The former LaSalle Academy (N.Y.) product shot 46% from the field in 2020-21 due to his combination of handle and floor speed.

12. San Antonio Spurs: Joshua Primo 6’5 189 SG-Alabama
Primo was just one of many big long range artists for the Crimson Tide’s arsenal this past season. He reclassified to the 2020 class and that’s one of the reasons he entered the draft as an 18-year old. He will combine with 2020 11th overall pick Devin Vassell to increase the team’s youth in the backcourt.

13. Indiana Pacers: Chris Duarte 6’6 190 SG-Oregon
The first-team All-Pac-12 performer becomes the oldest first-round pick since Melvin Ely in 2002. Duarte -the AP’s Pac-12 Player of the Year- shot over 42% from three-point range in 2020-21 for the Ducks.

14. Golden State Warriors: Moses Moody 6’6 211 SG-Arkansas
The SEC Freshman of the Year scores in a number of ways and rebounds with equal effectiveness. His length could combine with Kuminga’s to increase the team’s backcourt defensive capability.

15. Washington Wizards: Corey Kispert 6’7 223 SF-Gonzaga
The Wizards received Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to increase its backcourt scoring after the trade of Russell Westbrook (LA Lakers), but they still needed another shooter. Kispert has enough of a mid-range game to complement his catch-and-shoot ability (41% career three-point shooter).

16. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Boston picking for the Houston Rockets, whom they traded the pick to): Alperen Sengun 6’10 243/C-Besiktas (Turkey)
The Rockets get a skilled scorer who averaged 19 points per game in the Turkish League to earn MVP honors as an 18-year old. Will he be able to defend consistently to stay on the floor?

17. Memphis Grizzlies (picking for New Orleans-trade): Trey Murphy III 6’9 206 F-Virginia, Rice
Murphy is a strong catch-and-shoot player with enough range to complement Williamson and Ingram on the wing. Before arriving at Virginia, Murphy actually 42% from three-point land while at Rice back in 2018-19. The Durham native’s father, Kenneth, played for East Carolina in the late 1980s.

Tre Mann SG-Florida
Mann (pictured for the E1T1 AAU squad during the 2019 Nike EBYL) increased his averages in nearly every statistical category as a first-team All-SEC selection in 2020-21.

18. Oklahoma City Thunder: Tre Mann 6’4 178 SG-Florida
Mann’s ability to create off the dribble has never been in question, but his improved shooting depth expanded his game exponentially in 2020-21. After weighing in at 178 pounds at the 2021 NBA Combine, he still needs to put on more bulk. We explored the possibility of Mann ending the Gators’ infamous draft streak earlier this summer. Mission accomplished.

19. New York Knicks (traded to Charlotte Hornets): Kai Jones 6’11 1/2” 221 PF-Texas
Jones has nearly a 7’2” wingspan and he brings potential as a low post scorer. Despite just one double-double in 2020-21, he shot an impressive 75% from the free throw line. He has enough explosiveness to add a different element to the Hornets frontcourt.

20. Atlanta Hawks: Jalen Johnson 6’9 210 F-Duke
In the 13 games in which Johnson did play for the team, he averaged over 11 points per game and snagged six rebounds per contest. Turnovers, however were an issue, as he posted six games with at least three. The powerful 6-foot-9 forward has a diverse game that includes enough range, strength and open floor capability.

21. New York Knicks (traded to Los Angeles Clippers): Keon Johnson 6’5 185 SG-Tennessee
While Johnson did post a record vertical jump at the 2021 NBA Combine (48″), his lane agility time was only “OK” (11.45). His shooting needs to improve but he can guard and run the floor (3.0 seconds in 3/4 court sprint). One of the key positives is the ability to get to the free throw line, where he connected at a 70-percent clip.

Jackson (No. 23 seen tipping vs. former Memphis C Moussa Cisse in the 2019 Nike EBYL, is one of the draft’s top shot blockers.

22. Los Angeles Lakers (for Indiana Pacers via Washington): Isaiah Jackson 6’10 206 PF-Kentucky
Jackson (a Michigan native) is a shot-blocking maestro who led the SEC in that category (2.6 per game). Even with limited bulk, Jackson averaged 6.6 rebounds in 21 minutes per game for the Wildcats. He won’t be asked to do much more than follow shots and rebound initially, but he does have some potential as a scorer that has yet to be tapped.

23. Houston Rockets: Usman Garuba 6’8 229 PF-Real Madrid (Spain)
Garuba is a rim-runner who finishes in transition and can project in a role off the bench for the Rockets. In the open court, he flashes some ability to handle the ball. Garuba was named the ACB’s Best Young Player in 2021 after moving up to the Real Madrid’s senior squad 2019-20. He’s currently competing for the Spanish national team in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

24. Houston Rockets: Josh Christopher 6’4 214 SG-Arizona State
Christopher’s inconsistency may have cost him a few spots in the draft, but he gives the Rockets hope of developing into a viable secondary scoring option. Christopher contests versus drives to the basket in transition defense without fouling, even when giving up baskets in these instances (2nd half, Arizona ’21). Fouls, however, were an issue in his first 11 career contests, posting four or more in five games.

25. Los Angeles Clippers (For the NY Knicks, whom they traded pick to): Quentin Grimes 6’5 210 SG-Houston, Kansas The AAC Co-Player of the Year increased his scoring every year on campus, and much of it had to do with his ability to finish at the free throw line. Grimes improved nearly 12 percentage points in that category in 2020-21. For a 210-pound guard, he sped 3.07 seconds in the three-quarter court sprint at the 2021 NBA Combine, but more importantly he moved fluently without the ball and continued to thrive as a catch-and-shoot threat.

26. Denver Nuggets: Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland 6’3 169 SG-VCU
The A-10 Player of the Year also impressed during the 2021 NBA Combine with his range, but it was his nearly 10-point jump in one season that caught the attention of NBA scouts. Despite his slender frame, he created for himself and others through traffic during NBA Combine scrimmages. He manufactures room with his handle to get his shots off in isolation; either on the perimeter or when driving to the cup.

27. Brooklyn Nets: Cam Thomas 6’4 210 SG-LSU
The former Oak Hill Academy star brings a mid-range game, underrated strength to finish through contact and outstanding shooting from the stripe (88.2% FT in 2020-21). Of the Top 20 players nationally in terms of free throw percentage, Thomas led the group with 220 attempts (7.58 per game) in 29 contests. Becoming more efficient will be his task as he gets less shots at the next level.

28. Philadelphia 76ers: Jaden Springer 6’4 202 PG-Tennessee
The Tennessee native is following in the footsteps of his father, Gary, a former sixth-round pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. He never seems to be out of control on the court and relies on his rhythm as either a playmaker or shooter. His strength gives him the ability to finish through contact around the rim. If he gets to the stripe, his efficiency should not be underestimated. Springer missed just 19 free throw attempts this past season (81%).

29. Phoenix Suns (for the Brooklyn Nets via trade): Day’Ron Sharpe 6’11 265 C-UNC
Sharpe’s overall skill-set is impressive, and his ability to find open men as a passer -particularly versus double teams- should not be underestimated. Even in a league that is becoming increasingly perimeter-based, his strength to gain position down low stands out.

30. Utah Jazz (traded to Memphis Grizzlies): Santi Aldama 6’11 215 PF-Loyola (Md.)
Aldama impresses with his range out to around the 25-to-27-foot mark, and adequate bulk allowed him to rebound effectively in the Patriot League. The sophomore-entry is patient setting up low post moves and showcases solid hand-eye coordination. He improved his three-point percentage nearly 15 points in 2020-21.

2nd Round

Isaiah Todd PF-Washington 2021 NBA Draft Recap
Todd, pictured, averaged nearly 13 points and five rebounds per game for the NBA G League Ignite in 2020-21.

31. Milwaukee Bucks (traded to the Washington Wizards via Indiana Pacers): Isaiah Todd 6’10 219 PF-NBA G League Ignite
It would not have been a surprise to see Todd, who played with fourth overall pick Scottie Barnes on the Nightrydas Elite AAU squad back in 2019, also go in the first round of this year’s draft. He has an 8’11.5″ standing reach, runs the floor well and has potential as a long distance shooter. Despite just two starts for the NBA G League Ignite, he averaged over 12 points per game and shot an impressive 82.4% from the free throw line.

32. New York Knicks (traded to Oklahoma City Thunder): Jeremiah Robinson-Earl 6’9 242 PF-Villanova
The former McDonald’s All-American had offers from everyone coming out of high school, but settled on the Wildcats. He nearly entered the draft a season ago, which shouldn’t have been a surprise after averaging nearly a double-double (10.5 PPG, 9.4 RPG) as a freshman. At 242 pounds, he battles to gain position with a burly brand of basketball. Don’t be mistaken, however, as his sleek footwork around the hoop often baffled opponents.

33. Orlando Magic (traded to LA Clippers): Jason Preston 6’4 181 PG-Ohio
The kid who was simply going to UCF as a student but made a highlight tape (after agreeing to play in an AAU Tournament) he put on Twitter goes 33rd overall. He has enough size to play either on or off the ball, which wasn’t the case until his growth spurt from a few years back. Opponents have a tough time forcing him to go one way because he can dribble-drive to either the left or right.

34. Oklahoma City Thunder (traded to NY Knicks): Rokas Jokubaitis 6’4 194 PG-FC Barcelona
The 2020 Olympics qualifying rounds gave everyone a glimpse of what Jokubaitis was doing for Lithuania. The trick shot specialist benefits from changing speeds on the floor, and his left-handed game changes angles for opponents. Will the Lithuanian’s savvy approach translate to the NBA game?

Herbert Jones SG-SF-Alabama 2021 NBA Draft recapa
Jones (No. 10 pictured in the 2018 SEC Tournament) drew 23 charges on the defensive end as a freshman in 2017-18.

35. New Orleans Pelicans: Herbert Jones 6’7 206 SF-Alabama
The SEC Defensive Player of the Year uses his 7’0 wingspan to frustrate guards or forwards on the wings. His shooting improved dramatically from beyond the arc this past season, but if there is a question mark regarding the left-hander’s game, it starts and stops on the offensive end of the court.

36. Oklahoma City Thunder (traded to NY Knicks): Miles McBride 6’2 195 PG-West Virginia
McBride is solid in a number of facets, but his feel for the game shouldn’t come as a surprise. His father, Walt, played for Xavier. The second-team All-Big 12 point guard darts like a defensive back with anticipatory skill to steal passes defensively. Those instincts created a multitude of transition opportunities. McBride shot over 41% from three-point range for the Mountaineers.

37. Detroit Pistons (traded to Charlotte Hornets): JT Thor 6’9 203 PF-Auburn
Not many players come out of the state of Alaska, but Thor does after moving there at the age of five years old. He eventually made his way back inland to play at the prep level. In 27 starts this past season for Auburn, he averaged over one blocked shot per contest. The Hornets hope his 7’3” wingspan and 9’2” standing reach translate into more contested baskets at the next level. Even more so, the lefty’s quick release could expand his game if he gains consistency. He found a way to knock down nearly 30-percent of his 74 three-point attempts as a freshman.

38. Chicago Bulls (from New Orleans Pelicans): Ayo Donsunmu 6’5 194 PG-Illinois
Dosunmu, a Nigerian product, gets to stay at home after starring at Illinois. Aside from being clutch (see Michigan ’20), the Bob Cousy Award winner used his 6’10” wingspan to post six double-digit rebounding games in 2020-21. Along the way, he had three triple doubles and cleared the 30-point mark three times in the month of December (2020). Cutting down on the turnovers will be a focus as he ventures to the NBA scene, but his rebounding capability ranks as a plus .

39. Sacramento Kings: Neemias Queta 7’0 248 C-Utah State
Queta’s 7’4” wingspan may even pale in comparison to his 9’4.5” standing reach, which nearly is at the rim without leaping. As a result, the Portuguese native ranked third in the nation in blocked shots. Twice he was named the MWC Defensive Player of the Year. Queta averaged nearly a double-double for his career.

40. New Orleans Pelicans (traded to Utah via Memphis): Jared Butler 6’4 193 PG-Baylor
Butler’s strength and quick hands often contributed to the Bears ability to get out and run on change of possessions. In fact, he posted 11 games in 2020-21 with three or more steals. During the team’s national championship run, his timely shot-making capabilities often wore down opponents, as did his overall pace.

41. San Antonio Spurs: Joe Wieskamp 6’7 205 SF-Iowa
Wieskamp averaged nearly 15 points per game, but his ability to put the ball in the hoop stood out at the 2021 NBA Combine and resulted in a draft spot. This was not the first time the former Hawkeye decided to test the NBA waters, but this decision proved to be sound as he went 41st overall. His scoring capability dates back to his prep level days as one of the top scorers in the state of Iowa.

Isaiah Livers DraftNasty 2021 NBA Draft recap
Former Michigan forward Isaiah Livers (seen with the Meanstreets AAU squad back in 2016) may have gone even higher if he had not gone down to injury in the 2020-21 campaign.

42. Detroit Pistons: Isaiah Livers 6’7 231 SF-Michigan
Livers’ 2020-21 injury may have stopped what could have potentially been a Final Four run for the Wolverines. Down the stretch, his offensive game was missed all the way in the 2021 Big Ten Tournament loss to Illinois. He had a six-game stretch of games in January where he cleared double figures before slowing down considerably prior to going down.

43. New Orleans Pelicans (traded to Portland): Greg Brown III 6’8 1/2″ 206 SF/PF-Texas
Brown actually has some wing capability and his movement complements rare explosiveness and bounce off the floor. His leaping prowess goes back to his days playing for the Texas Titans AAU squad, where he was a teammate of number one overall pick Cade Cunningham. The former Texas Gatorade Player of the Year went under 11 seconds (10.98) in the lane agility and posted a 33 1/2″ standing vertical jump at the 2021 NBA Combine.

44. Brooklyn Nets: Kessler Edwards 6’8 203 SF-Pepperdine
Edwards’ shooting touch has never been in question (career 39% three-point shooter), but he also blocks shots and rebounds. In fact, his 60 blocks in 2019-20 represent one of the school’s Top 10 all-time totals. He will have to improve in finding secondary options, and sometimes he is content passing up shots (see 2021 CBI Championship Game).

45. Boston Celtics: Juhann Begarin 6’5 214 Paris Basketball (France)
Begarin’s creativity at the cup after getting a step on the opposition was noteworthy, going either left or right. There were occasions when he was even more impressively defending the opposition, due to his 8’9” standing reach. The Celtics are betting on the 18-year old’s development as one of the younger draft picks in this year’s class. His performance at the NBA G-League’s Elite Camp helped his draft stock.

46. Toronto Raptors: Dalano Banton 6’9 204 PG-Nebraska, WKU
Banton’s long strides allowed him to often out-pace the competition in transition. The Toronto, Ontario (Canada) product re-classified back in 2018 and actually started 12 games for WKU in 2018-19. While he’s been a stat sheet filler, he will need to speed up his release from long range to further threaten NBA personnel.

47. Toronto Raptors: David Johnson 6’5 203 SG/SF-Louisville
Johnson’s trek from Trinity HS (Ky.) to Louisville didn’t start off on a high note, as he was forced to recover from injury as a freshman. He played in a heavy ball screen offense in school and his range (up to at least 25 feet) helped him excel on occasion. He changes speeds well as a ball handler, which allows him to stay under control when finding perimeter scorers.

48. Atlanta Hawks: Sharife Cooper 6’2 185 PG-Auburn
Cooper did not workout at the NBA Combine and the prevailing thought was that he’d go much higher in the draft after averaging 20 points and eight assists per game in 2020-21. The former McEachern High School (Ga.) product gets an opportunity to return home, where he was named Georgia’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2019.

49. Brooklyn Nets: Marcus Zegarowski 6’2 180 PG-Creighton
Injuries have been somewhat of an issue for Zegarowski during his collegiate stay, but his quick trigger release in catch-and-shoot situations helped lead the team to wins in the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

50. Philadelphia 76ers: Filip Petrusev 6’11 235 PF/C-Mega Soccerbet/Gonzaga
The Belgrade native withdrew from the 2020 NBA Draft to improve his game with the Mega Soccerbet squad in Serbia. He was named the ABA’s League MVP after averaging 17.5 points and 7.9 rebounds during his last season with the Zags (2019-20).

51. Memphis Grizzlies (through Portland): Brandon Boston, Jr. 6’7 188 SF-Kentucky
The former five-star recruit averaged 11.5 points per game in his lone season at Kentucky, but his poor shooting from the field (35.5%) contributed to a draft day slide. With that said, his jab step to create separation remains in place and his potential on the wing could shine in the right situation.

52. Detroit Pistons: Luka Garza 6’11 242 C-Iowa
Two-time consensus All-Americans are normally not available at this point in the draft, but Garza -whose Hawkeyes jersey has already been retired- was on the board. The Pistons are getting a prolific college scorer with athletic bloodlines who has both range and low post skills. He did not impress in testing at the NBA Combine and questions about his athleticism continue to persist.

53. Philadelphia 76ers: Charles Bassey 6’10 230 PF-Western Kentucky
Bassey is a shot-blocking maestro who is still developing on the offensive end. The 2021 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year runs the floor well and was extremely impressive on the foul line (77%) in a Hilltoppers career where he averaged a double-double (16 PPG, 10.5 RPG). He had one of the largest wingspans in this year’s draft (7’3″).

54. Indiana Pacers (traded to Milwaukee): Sandro Mamukelashvili 6’10 240 PF-Seton Hall
Yet another Montverde Academy product to get drafted, Mamukelashvili has an 8’10.5” standing reach and 7’1” wingspan. Aside from posting seven double-doubles in 2020-21, Mamukelashvili overcomes just average agility with an ability to put the ball on the floor to get to the hoop. He is also a legitimate factor in pick-and-pop situations.

55. Oklahoma City Thunder: Aaron Wiggins SG-SF 6’5 190 Maryland
Wiggins has nearly a 6’10” wingspan and used it to impress during the G-League Elite Camp on the offensive end. Following that performance, he earned an NBA Combine invite, where he was just okay. Following a career as a potent bench producer for the Terrapins, he got his chance to start in 2020-21 and didn’t disappoint, averaging just under 15 points per game and rebounding at a high clip for a wing (5.8 RPG).

56. Charlotte Hornets: Scottie Lewis 6’5 188 SG-Florida
The selection of Mann in the first round ended the Gators draft futility, and now the team gets two players drafted for the first time since 2011. The sophomore Bronx native averaged just eight points per game in his career, but he has just four percent body fat, a 7-foot wingspan and a max vertical jump of 42 inches. In addition, he went 2.98 seconds in the 3/4 court sprint at the 2021 NBA Combine.

57. Charlotte Hornets (traded to Detroit): Balsa Koprivica 7’1 240 C-FSU
Koprivica comes from professional bloodlines as his father, Slaivisa, played for Paritzan in the EuroLeague. Prior to becoming a four-star recruit, Koprivica actually won gold in the 2017 FIBA Europe Under-18 Championships. He averaged 1.4 blocks per game for the Seminoles in 2020-21 and continued to improve his overall movement skills on the floor.

58. New York Knicks: Jericho Sims 6’10 250 C-Texas
The son of former dentist and Minnesota Golden Gophers Charles Sims put on a clinic during the 2021 NBA Combine, posting a 44 1/2″ vertical jump while also showing off his 7’3″ wingspan. His dunking prowess went viral, but the former Longhorn’s shot blocking and rebounding skills were ultimately what attracted the Knicks to his skill-set. Sims’ quick bounce allows him to rise quickly around the bucket.

59. Brooklyn Nets: RaiQuan Gray 6’8 269 PF-FSU
Gray still needs to get in optimal condition for the NBA but the former Dillard High School (Fla.) product developed nicely after being a top prospect coming out of the prep level. His footwork is above average and the Seminoles team captain flashed defensively by garnering over a steal per game in 2020-21. In addition, he was solid from the free throw line and extended his range this past season.

60. Indiana Pacers (traded to Milwaukee): Georgios Kalaitzakis 6’8 191 SF-Panathinaikos (Greece)
After initially declaring for the NBA Draft back in 2020, the four-time Greek League Champion signed back with Panathinaikos of the Euroleague for another year. It was during his time with Nevezis in the LBL (2019-20), where Kalaitzakis’ quick release and ability to run the floor caught the attention of NBA scouts, as he averaged over 12 points per game.

Jalen Johnson F-Duke: 2021 NBA Draft Preview (video)

Johnson, despite playing in just 13 games for the Blue Devils in 2020-21, remains a viable Top 15 prospect in the 2021 NBA Draft. The powerful 6-foot-9 forward has a diverse game that includes enough range, strength and open floor capability. The former Phenom U AAU

Jalen Johnson F-Duke, 2021 NBA Draft Preview
Former Duke forward Jalen Johnson (pictured in 2019 with the Phenom U AAU squad) put up 24 points, 16 rebounds, seven assists, four blocked shots and two steals versus Pittsburgh on January 19, 2021.

product made stops at three different high schools before settling at the IMG Academy, where he never actually played. Nevertheless, Johnson -a former five-star recruit, earned a Jordan Brand Classic invitation.

DraftNasty’s Troy Jefferson discussed in detail about the struggles of programs like Duke in late February, and Johnson’s decision to leave the program in mid-February ranked near the top of the list for the Blue Devils.

In the 13 games in which Johnson did play for the team, he averaged over 11 points per game and snagged six rebounds per contest. Turnovers, however were an issue, as he posted six games with at least three.

His midseason departure has left many NBA scouts in disagreement on his final draft status. Will he continue the Blue Devils’ recent tradition of forwards going high in the first round or fall out of it altogether? We take a look back at Johnson during his AAU prep level playing days.

Cam Thomas SG-LSU: 2021 NBA Draft Preview (video)

LSU’s Cam Thomas ended this past season as the nation’s fourth-leading scorer at 23 points per game. He has a game that combines savvy and footwork, which often ended up with him at the free throw line. Thomas shot 88-percent from the line in 2020-21 for the Tigers and that total ranked 19th nationally. Of the Top 20 players nationally in terms of free throw percentage, Thomas led the group with 220 attempts (7.58 per game) in 29 contests.

The former Oak Hill Academy (Va.) star transferred from Oscar F. Smith HS (Va.) and played for the Boo Williams AAU squad in the Nike EBYL. During his 2019 Offensive Player of the Year performance in the EBYL, he averaged nearly 30 points per game.

Cam Thomas vs. Jonathan Kuminga-2021 NBA Draft Preview
Cam Thomas (pictured vs. NY Renaissance SF Jonathan Kuminga) led the 2019 Nike EBYL in points per game (29.5).

We go inside his matchup with potential lottery selection Jonathan Kuminga in our spotlight on the first-team All-SEC guard.

Isaiah Todd PF-NBA G League Ignite: Washington Wizards (traded by Milwaukee via Indiana), 2021 NBA Draft, 2nd Round, 31st overall

If you’re looking for someone to pull for in the 2021 NBA Draft, please stop at former NBA G League Ignite forward Isaiah Todd. His story is not one of redemption but it very well could be. Following a mother, Marlene Venable, who remarkably turned her life around, Todd has displayed a maturity well beyond his years.

Take this past season for instance, where despite starting just two games in the NBA’s G League (for the Ignite), he still managed to average over 12 points per game. The 6-foot-10-inch forward has a chance to develop into a legitimate contributor for the team and he will begin his journey this summer.

Isaiah Todd PF-Washington 2021 NBA Draft Recap
Todd, pictured, averaged nearly 13 points and five rebounds per game for the NBA G League Ignite in 2020-21. He became the first pick of the second round in the 2021 NBA Draft and was subsequently traded to the Washington Wizards (through Milwaukee via Indiana).

It would not have been a surprise to see Todd, who played with fourth overall pick Scottie Barnes on the Nightrydas Elite AAU squad back in 2019, also go in the first round of this year’s draft. He has an 8’11.5″ standing reach, runs the floor well and has potential as a long distance shooter. Despite just two starts for the NBA G League Ignite, he averaged over 12 points per game and shot an impressive 82.4% from the free throw line.

Greg Brown III F-Texas: Portland Trail Blazers (via New Orleans), 2021 NBA Draft, 2nd Round, 43rd overall

Texas forward Greg Brown III, once a five-star recruit from the same state, earned his keep during a one-year run at the school. A 24-game starter in 2020-21, Brown averaged over nine points and grabbed six rebounds per game. His high-flying antics date back to his time playing with Detroit Pistons 2021 number one overall draft pick Cade Cunningham as a member of the Texas Titans AAU squad in 2019.

Brown actually comes from a football background and his father, Greg, was a former honorable all-conference safety for the Longhorns. In fact, during his 25-game run as a starter, Brown II picked off six passes and took two of them to the house. He went on to snag three interceptions in NFL Europe while playing for the Rhein Fire.

Greg Brown III F-Texas, 2021 NBA Draft
Former Texas forward Greg Brown III is looking to make an impact for the Portland Trailblazers/

Brown III actually has some wing capability and his movement complements rare explosiveness and bounce off the floor. The former Texas Gatorade Player of the Year went under 11 seconds (10.98) in the lane agility and posted a 33 1/2″ standing vertical jump at the 2021 NBA Combine.

Herbert Jones G/F-Alabama: 2021 NBA Draft, New Orleans Pelicans, 2nd Round, 35th overall

Herbert Jones, a four-year contributor for the Crimson Tide, was one of the better defenders in the SEC over that time period. Jones slides his feet defensively, works through ball screens and consistently drew offensive fouls in school. The New Orleans Pelicans drafted him with hopes that he will continue to develop into at least a viable contributor offensively.

Along with first-round pick Trey Murphy III, the Pelicans upgraded its versatility on the defensive end by drafting two wing defenders with seven-foot wingspans.

Herbert Jones SG-SF-Alabama 2021 NBA Draft recapa
Jones (No. 10 pictured in the 2018 SEC Tournament) drew 23 charges on the defensive end as a freshman in 2017-18.


The SEC Player and Defensive Player of the Year uses his frame to frustrate guards or forwards on the wings. His shooting improved dramatically from beyond the arc this past season, but if there is a question mark regarding the left-hander’s game, it starts and stops on the offensive end of the court.

2021 MLB Draft: 1st Round/Comp Round A recap

The first night of the 2021 MLB Draft included two teammates going in the first 10 picks, 18 prep level stars, another Max Muncy and a host of middle infielders hearing their names called. Teams were not shy about high school arms or catchers projecting to the next level.

1st Round

1. Pittsburgh Pirates: Henry Davis C-Louisville
Davis, much like former Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman (Baltimore Orioles), becomes the first overall pick in the draft. Prior to Rutschman, former Minnesota Twins star Joe Mauer was the last true catcher to go first overall. Over the last two seasons, Davis’ bat stood out, and he posted an OPS of 1.145 in 2021.

2. Texas Rangers: Jack Leiter RHP-Vanderbilt
Leiter becomes the first pick out of Vandy over teammate Kumar Rocker. Part of it was due to a season that included 179 strikeouts. Even with a limited number of starts (13-4, 2.13 ERA) at the collegiate level, there is a prevailing thought that the former Commodore may be ready for the major leagues sooner rather than later.

Jack Leiter RHP-Vanderbilt 2021 MLB Draft Preview
Leiter posted an 11-4 record with a 2.13 ERA in 2021 on his way to SEC Newcomer of the Year honors. He projects as a Top Five pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.

3. Detroit Tigers: Jackson Jobe RHP-Heritage HS (Okla.)
Jobe ranks as one of the better high schoolers to come of the prep ranks due to his spin rate, mid-90s fastball and overall frame. He becomes the second straight pick to come from athletic lineage, as his father, Brandt, has been a professional golfer since 1988. Jobe led the Heritage High School football team to an OSSAA Class 3A state championship as a starting sophomore signal-caller in football. He runs sub-seven seconds in the 60-yard dash.

4. Boston Red Sox: Marcelo Mayer SS-Eastlake HS (Calif.)
Mayer contains the frame and overall package to stay at shortstop and the second high schooler at the position to be taken by the Red Sox in the last decade. The last one, Michael Chavis, hit a career-high 18 home runs for the Red Sox in 2019, no longer plays the position and was recently called back up to the majors. All-Star shortstop Xander Bogaerts does and was recently selected for this year’s midsummer classic. Will he opt out of his current contract?

5. Baltimore Orioles: Colton Cowser CF-Sam Houston State
The 2021 Southland Conference Player of the Year had a .490 OBP and led the conference in runs. It really wasn’t a surprise that the former Freshman All-American shone the way he did over a three-year period, but it should be noted that he was not selected in the 2018 MLB Draft after playing at Cypress High School (Tex.). Will he and last year’s first-round pick, Heston Kjerstad, prove the Orioles drafting strategy was correct years from now?

6. Arizona Diamondbacks: Jordan Lawlar SS-Jesuit HS (Tex.)
The team’s outfielders have ranked near the bottom of the league in home runs over the last couple of years, so power down the road could be a focus within the farm system. Lawler’s speed (6.45 in the 60-yard dash) and fielding capability should prevent him from ever stepping on the field for Vanderbilt, where he is currently committed. His bat speed made him one of the better prospects in the draft and the second shortstop taken by the Diamondbacks associated with Vanderbilt, as Dansby Swanson was taken first overall in the 2015 MLB Draft before being traded to Atlanta.

7. Kansas City Royals: Frank Mozzicato LHP East Catholic HS (Conn.)
The Royals took former Texas A&M pitcher Asa Lacy in last year’s draft fourth overall, but this year decide to go with the high school arm out of Connecticut. Mozzicato’s stock went on a meteoric rise due to an increase in velocity over a three-year period, but few projected he would become a Top Ten pick in the 2021 MLB Draft.

8. Colorado Rockies: Benny Montgomery CF-Red Lands HS (Pa.)
Montgomery committed to play with Virginia, but at 6-foot-4, 200 pounds with blazing speed (6.32 in the 60-yd dash) and a strong arm, don’t be surprised to see him develop into a minor league outfielder. In fact, the aforementioned arm has gone 97 MPH with his fastball.

9. Los Angeles Angels: Sam Bachman RHP-Miami (OH)
Bachman (6’1 235) brings one of the best sliders in the draft to the table and it ranks as his best swing-and-miss pitch. Unlike some of this draft’s other pitchers, the first-team All-MAC selection gave up just one home run in 2021. The Angels took a right-handed pitcher from Louisville a pick later (10th overall) in 2020, Reid Detmers.

10. New York Mets: Kumar Rocker RHP-Vanderbilt
The first-team All-American stands 6’5, 245 pounds and follows in the footsteps of his father, a former Outland Trophy Award winner. He posted a sparkling 28-10 career record for the ‘Dores and was named the 2019 College World Series’ Most Outstanding Player. Can he find his way into the New York Mets rotation quickly after spending time in the minors? The last two pitchers taken by the Mets in the first round are currently starting for another team (Seattle’s Justin Dunn) or struggling with the team.

Kumar Rocker 2021 MLB Draft recap
New York Mets first-round draft pick Kumar Rocker won 28 games for the Commodores over a three-year period. Rocker was the fifth pitcher selected in the 2021 MLB Draft.

11. Washington Nationals: Brady House SS-Winder-Barrow HS (Ga.)
The 6’4 215-pounder committed to Tennessee but it is highly likely that he’ll start off in the Nationals farm system. It is the second first round shortstop taken by the team in the last six years. The other, Carter Kieboom, also came from the state of Georgia (Walton High School) and went 28th overall in the 2016 MLB Draft.

12. Seattle Mariners: Harry Ford C-North Cobb HS (Ga.)
The Georgia Tech commit will have to overcome questions about whether or not he can stay behind the plate but the 5-foot-10, 210-pounder gives the team options with his power and foot speed (6.5, 60-yard dash). He can snap out of his position and fire the ball, which could lead to time at another position in the minor leagues.

13. Philadelphia Phillies: Andrew Painter RHP-Calvary Christian HS (Fla.)
Florida fans were hoping that Painter could develop into the program’s next version of Tommy Mace, and his pitch location for a taller pitcher was impressive at the prep level. His delivery leaves some teams believing the 6-foot-7, 230-pounder can create even more power in his fastball with tweaks in mechanics. The Phillies also took a tall right-handed pitcher in the first round a year ago from the state of Oregon in Mick Abel, who has been at least stable at the Single A level in 2021.

14. San Francisco Giants: Will Bednar RHP-Mississippi State
Bednar’s meteoric rise ended with him being named the 2021 College World Series Most Outstanding Player. The Pennsylvania product did not get selected in the 2019 MLB Draft, but his brother, David, a current major league pitcher, has already exposed him to the big leagues.

15. Milwaukee Brewers: Sal Frelick CF Boston College
Frelick played number of different sports growing up and it could be a big reason he developed into a star for the Eagles. In fact, he was named the 2017 Gatorade Massachusetts Player of the Year as a quarterback.

16. Miami Marlins: Kahlil Watson SS-Wake Forest HS (N.C.)
The NC State Wolfpack commit experienced somewhat of a slide, as he very easily could have going in the draft’s Top Five picks. Despite going 16th overall, Watson feels as though he will be able to make it to the major leagues on a relatively quick trek. The Wake Forest High School star batted over .500 in 2021 and led the team in runs and hits..

17. Cincinnati Reds: Matt McLain SS-UCLA
McLain actually went 25th overall in the 2018 MLB Draft (Diamondbacks), but decided to head to UCLA instead. McLain stood out at shortstop in the wood bat Cape Cod Baseball League in 2019 and used that momentum to bat a sizzling .397 for the Bruins in a truncated 2020 campaign

18. St. Louis Cardinals: Michael McGreevy RHP-UC Santa Barbara
McGreevy posted 115 strikeouts in 102 innings this past season with nearly an 11:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio. In his three years on campus, McGreevy lost just three starts.

19. Toronto Blue Jays: Gunnar Hoglund RHP-Ole Miss
If not for injury, where would Hoglund have gone in this draft? Prior to getting injured in 2021, Hoglund was averaging nearly two strikeouts per inning. The Tommy John surgery by no means dims the light for his future prospectus, as he could become one of the keepers of this draft class. Hoglund will not be the only Ole Miss pitcher to get drafted this spring.

20. New York Yankees: Trey Sweeney SS-Eastern Illinois
Sweeney dominated the OVC with nearly a .400 batting average for the season (.382) and a sparkling OPS (1.234). Sweeney nearly drew twice as many walks than strikeouts in 2021 and that was a theme that changed over the course of his career.

21. Chicago Cubs: Jordan Wicks LHP-Kansas State
Wicks’ 2019 and 2021 campaigns sandwiched a shortened 2020 season in which he posted a 0.35 ERA. The Arkansas native and former Big 12 Freshman of the Year was once a high school all-conference kicker at Conway High School.

22. Chicago White Sox: Colson Montgomery SS-Southridge HS (Ind.)
14 players on the current White Sox team were acquired through the draft. Montgomery, a hoops star at the prep level, committed to Indiana as a basketball and baseball recruit. The 6-foot-4 left-handed swinger stood out at the recent MLB Draft Combine and it ultimately landed him in the first round. The basketball background contributes to his lateral movement at the shortstop position.

23. Cleveland Indians: Gavin Williams RHP-East Carolina
The former 30th-round pick by the Tampa Bay Rays becomes the second consecutive collegiate pitcher (Tanner Burns) to get selected by the Indians in the first round and definitely the biggest at 6-foot-6, 255 pounds. Williams overcame durability concerns in school to solidify himself as a first-round pick with a strong 2021 campaign. Since 2015, he is the seventh first-round pitcher taken by the organization.

24. Atlanta Braves: Ryan Cusick RHP-Wake Forest
Is there a pitcher with more heat on the sauce? His four-seam fastball can generate up into the high 90s range, but control has been an issue. His fastball is supplemented with an off-speed curveball that may serve as a a secondary pitch. The draft is no longer 40 rounds, so Cusick will have a notch in his belt as a former 40th-round pick back in the 2018 MLB Draft (Reds).

25. Oakland Athletics: Max Muncy SS-Thousand Oak HS (Calif.)
At 6’1, 180 pounds, the A’s get the “other” Max Muncy, the one who actually hit four grand slams as a senior at the prep level. He was committed to Arkansas and has a chance to still play there but expect the Athletics to get him in the fold. The A’s took former Clemson product SS/3B Logan Davidson in the first round (29th overall) back in 2019.

26. Minnesota Twins: Chase Petty RHP-Mainland Regional HS (N.J.)
If you can bring 100 mile-per-hour smoke, then you will get attention from major league scouts. In the minor leagues, it will be imperative for him to develop solid secondary pitches. He becomes the second Florida pitching commit to go in the first round of this draft, dealing another blow to the Gators.

27. San Diego Padres: Jackson Merrill SS-Severna Park HS (Md.)
Merrill, much like his size listings, has been all over the place on prospect lists. If he matures into his frame physically, then he could become a prospect on either of the infield’s corners.

28. Tampa Bay Rays: Carson Williams SS-RHP-Torrey Pines HS (Calif.)
Williams, a California commit, was projected to be the best incoming freshman for the Bears, but the allure of a first round signing bonus should keep him off-campus.

29. Los Angeles Dodgers: Maddux Bruns LHP-UMS-Wright Preparatory
Can he find his control? The Mississippi State Bulldogs already got a commitment from Bruns and it is not a foregone conclusion that the Alabama native won’t spend three years in Starkville for the national champions.

Compensation Picks

30. Cincinnati Reds: Jay Allen CF-John Carroll Catholic HS (Fla.)
Allen, a former Elite 11 finals participant as a quarterback, had a number of offers in the sport. Eventually, he committed to Florida to play for Kevin O’Sullivan. He probably won’t end up playing for the Gators and robs them potentially of a prospect who could have helped fill the void left by Jud Fabian.

Competitive Balance Round A

31. Miami Marlins: Joe Mack C-Williamsville East HS (N.Y.)
The Marlins take a left-handed bat behind the plate to complement the earlier selection of Watson. Mack’s showcase game in 2021 was against pitcher Evan Chaffee. In that game, Mack reached base four times.

32. Detroit Tigers: Ty Madden RHP-Texas
Madden probably could have stood to cut down on his walks (72 in three seasons), but his 137 strikeouts in 2021 lay credence to his upside as a potential starter. The last Longhorn pitcher to go in the first round was nearly a decade ago in 2011.

33. Milwaukee Brewers: Tyler Black 2B-Wright State
The Ontario native made a meteoric jump from his shortened 2020 production and was especially adept at taking pitches. Aside from hitting .383 with 13 home runs and 59 RBIs, Black delivered 82 assists and helped turn 16 double plays this past season.

34. Tampa Bay Rays: Cooper Kinney 2B-Baylor HS (Tenn.)
It will be of interest to South Carolina Gamecock fans if Kinney decides to make his way to Columbia to improve his game over the next three seasons. The 6-foot-2 infielder is a good contact hitter with the frame to grow into a stronger player over time, and it would not be a shock to see him end up on the hot corner.

35. Cincinnati Reds: Matheu Nelson C-FSU
The ACC Player of the Year smashed a nation-leading 23 home runs in 2021 after tallying just seven in his first two seasons on campus. His .773 slugging percentage represented nearly a 400-point leap from his 17-game 2020 campaign.

36. Minnesota Twins: Noah Miller SS-Ozaukee HS (Wisc.)
The Crimson Tide were counting on Miller to perhaps fill a void left by 2021 MLB Draft prospect 2B Peyton Wilson. If he moves to the shortstop position full-time, he has a number of athletic qualities that point to him becoming a solid middle infielder.

Note: The Houston Astros forfeited their first round pick in the 2021 MLB Draft due to the team’s sign-stealing scandal.

Los Angeles Angels 2021 3rd Round pick, 80th overall: Landon Marceaux RHP-LSU

After initially having some issues with pitch selection early in his career, LSU’s Landon Marceaux took his game to the next level over the last two seasons. Part of it was increased attention to detail, as his added proficiency on secondary pitches resulted in 116 strikeouts in 102 innings this past season. The 2021 second-team All-SEC selection developed into one of the conference’s best pitchers with the increased command. We go inside Marceaux’s diverse skill-set in our video breakdown.

Landon Marceaux 2021 MLB Draft Preview
LSU’s Landon Marceaux struck out 116 batters in 102 innings this past season.

Josh Christopher SG-Arizona State: Houston Rockets, 2021 NBA Draft, 1st Rd, 24th overall (video)

Josh Christopher’s NBA-ready frame complements a tough work ethic and competitive drive. After starring at Mayfair High School (Calif.), Christopher took his talents to Arizona State. While at the prep level, he earned McDonald’s All-American honors and was ranked as high as the nation’s eighth overall recruit by 247Sports.

Josh Christopher SG-Houston Rockets
Christopher (pictured for Vegas Elite AAU in 2019) has shot 81.3% from the free throw line for Arizona State in 2020-21 (as of 1/22/21).

He went on to average over 14 points and nearly five rebounds per game for the Sun Devils in 2020-21. We go inside the talented Houston Rockets first-round pick’s game while playing for Vegas Elite AAU in the 2019 Nike EBYL.

Can Mann end Florida’s NBA Draft hiatus (video)?

Mann, a former four-star recruit, took a huge leap from his freshman to sophomore season and earned first-team All-SEC honors from the league’s coaches. He improved his field goal percentage by nearly 10 percentage points (.356-to-.459), his three-point percentage by nearly 13 percentage points (.275-to-.402) and averaged nearly 15 more minutes per contest.

Not everyone was on board with his increased production, and the fact that the Gators have not had a player drafted since 2013, when the Chicago Bulls selected Erik Murphy in the second round, leaves some to wonder if Mann will sneak into the first round.

After measuring in at 6’4 (w/shoes) and 177 pounds during the 2021 NBA Combine, has Florida guard Tre Mann’s stock begun to fall?

The extra muscle he added during the 2020 offseason resulted in an increase of 2.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore. After the untimely loss of Keyontae Johnson early in the 2020-21 campaign due to a medical ailment, Mann stepped up to fill the scoring load with similar efficiency.

Mann has an outside chance of hearing his name called in the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft, but should definitely go at some point during the draft’s proceedings in late July.