Wendell Moore, Jr. took a circuitous route to the Twin Cities, first getting drafted by the Dallas Mavericks before being traded to the Houston Rockets. From there, he was involved in another draft night trade between the Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves.
Moore, Jr. has a versatile game that shines on the defensive end. The 2022 Julius Erving Award winner also earned All-ACC defensive honors this past season.
Former Arkansas center Jaylin Williams was an integral part of the team’s back-to-back Elite 8 runs. This past season, Williams finished second in the SEC with 16 double-doubles. His combination of size and length made him one of the SEC’s most active defenders.
The 2020 Arkansas Gatorade Player of the Year has all of the tools to become a presence for a Thunder squad that needed another athletic big man. Williams finished the 2021-22 campaign nearly averaging a double-double (10.9 PPG, 9.8 RPG). He was twice named the SEC Player of the Week and was a terror on the defensive end versus LSU in late February.
The third of three NBA G League Ignite 2022 draftees, he was taken in the second round of this year’s draft by the Sacramento Kings for the Dallas Mavericks, who gave up two future second round picks to acquire his services.
The Mavericks recently lost guard Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks in free agency, so the addition of Hardy along with injured guard Tim Hardaway, Jr. could help alleviate some of the pressure off of Luka Doncic.
Banchero’s skill at opening the floor for others and his frame suggest he’ll more than an able complement for current Magic youngsters Wendell Carter and Franz Wagner. The team has a young stable that could take incremental steps with his addition to the lineup.
2. Chet Holmgren
Oklahoma City Thunder
A player capable of defending multiple positions with a 7’6” wingspan, Holmgren can extend the floor with range. In addition, his confidence is on
His father played in the NBA for a brief period and Smith can stroke the ball from beyond the arc. As he continues to grow into his frame, he will be a tough matchup when defenses switch on
to him with smaller personnel.
4. Keegan Murray
A ready-made NBA prospect with scoring tools and a disciplined approach, Murray was one of the NCAA’s most consistent players this past season.
5. Jaden Ivey
His mother coached Ja Morant and currently coaches at Purdue (women’s head basketball coach). Ivey’s floor speed is in the same area code. Along with the skill to play off the ball, he can also give Cade Cunningham more opportunities to play off the ball.
The Pistons are slowly building a winner in Motown.
6. Benedict Mathurin
The Pac-12 Player of the Year can speak multiple languages and win cutting to the basket. His leaping
ability makes him a versatile wing who
The former No. 1 recruit in the ESPN100
reclassified after averaging nearly 23 points per game in the 2021 Nike EBYL circuit. He didn’t play at Kentucky while redshirting. Sharpe contains nearly a 7-foot wingspan and opens up the floor along while slashing effortlessly. He just never played in college.
8. Dyson Daniels
New Orleans Pelicans
He played with Josh Giddey before making making the G League his home. Daniels averaged 12 points per game and led the NBA G League Ignite in assists, but the rebounding may have been just as impressive. He finishes with a smooth approach but his defense is why he went in the Top 10. He is the third first round pick from the NBA G League Ignite, following Jalen Green and 2022 NBA Champion Jonathan Kuminga.
9. Jeremy Sochan
San Antonio Spurs
The 2021-22 Big 12’s Sixth Man of the Year averaged over six rebounds per game and the ninth overall pick also put up over nine points per game. Just the second Baylor freshman selected, the former Bear was long on the defensive end. He can even handle the ball and run an offense as a point forward if needed.
10. Johnny Davis
He didn’t come out of high school as a five-star recruit, but the 2021-22 Big Ten Player of the Year averaged nearly 20 points per game and eight rebounds this past season. His frame allowed him to win down on the block or when slashing to the basket with quick pull-up jumpers.
The long range shooting can stand to improve as he moves forward.
11. Ousmane Dieng
New York Knicks (Traded to Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for multiple first round picks)
F-France (Insep Academy)
The team needed a playmaking guard but they settled for another three-and-D prospect. He played for the New Zealand Breakers in the Australian NBL and averaged nearly nine points per game against older personnel. Over the second half of the season, he put up nine double digit games
12. Jalen Williams
Oklahoma City Thunder
Williams shot over 50-percent from the field and became the first Santa Clara selection in the first round since 1996. He routinely excels in the screen game and his length becomes an additional advantage when working through traffic.
Charlotte Hornets (pick made for Detroit Pistons) The Pistons sent their 2025 first found pick (picked up from Portland in the Jerami Grant trade) to Charlotte for the rights Duren. Art Vellum
Duren came into college with an NBA-ready frame and 7’5” wingspan. This despite reclassifying along the way. His game came along this past season as the year went along, posting four double-doubles in his last seven games.
The All-AAC Tournament performer earned 1st Team All-AAC honors and was named the AAC Freshman of the Year.
Both of his parents played at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and he finished this past year as the NCAA’s Final Four Most Outstanding Player. The former Jayhawk improved three percentage points every single season from beyond the arc. It resulted in him becoming the final lottery selection of the 2022 NBA Draft.
15. Mark Williams
It is all about shot blocking for the Williams family, as his sister, Elizabeth, plays for the Washington Mystics. His 9’9” standing reach resulted in nearly three blocks per game in 2021-22. Williams rebounds on the offensive end and shot both over 70-percent from the field and from the free throw line. Not bad for a 7-foot-2, 242- pounder.
16. AJ Griffin
Griffin averaged nearly 11 points per game this past season after initially being a five-star prospect. He exhibited accuracy from beyond the arc and his 27-point performance against North Carolina was arguably the best
game of his career.
The SEC’s Sixth Man of the Year averaged nearly 17 points per game in 2021-22. His 7-
foot-1-inch wingspan was particularly useful on the defensive end, as he averaged nearly two steals per game. The former Bearcat got the most out of his 24 minutes per game.
18. Dalen Terry
The 2021-22 All-
Pac-12 defender contributes in a number of ways and becomes the Wildcats second first round pick for the fifth time in the modern draft era.
19. Jake LaRavia
Minnesota Timberwolves (draft rights traded to Memphis Grizzlies)
F-Wake Forest, Indiana State
The former Indiana State transfer works well without the ball and can fill it up from beyond the three-point stripe. The second-team All-ACC forward’s versatility
extends to the defensive end.
20. Malaki Branham
San Antonio Spurs
The St. Vincent St. Mary’s product put up over 20 points per game late in the year over his last 10 games and shot nearly 60-percent from the field.
Braun was one of the key cogs in Kansas’ national championship run, but it came as little surprise to those that have followed his journey since his days playing for Mokan Elite AAU (Kansas). He will only have to hit
I-70-West to continue to play with the swag that made him a factor in Lawrence.
22. Walker Kessler
Memphis Grizzlies (picked for Minnesota Timberwolves)
Philadelphia 76ers (for Memphis Grizzlies) after trading for DeAnthony Melton
At 261 pounds, Roddy has the bulk to make up for just a 6-foot-6-inch frame. The MWC Player of the Year can stroke it for a big man who reminds many of an NFL defensive end. He can put it on the floor, post up or
shoot it from beyond the arc.
24. MarJon Beauchamp
G-NBA G League Ignite
He finished with three high-caliber games and averaged nearly 16 points and over six rebounds per game in the NBA G League. He played at three different high schools and went to a fourth high school in Arizona before ending up at Yakima Valley Community College. Then he signed on with the NBA’s G-League after being homeless for awhile. Big story for a player with big upside.
25. Blake Wesley
San Antonio Spurs
His deep shooting prowess has been inconsistent, but the movement is in place to be a productive slasher and open floor
After moving to Serbia from England, Jovic put up nearly 12 points per game with Mega Mozzart in the Adriatic League a year ago. His eight-inch growth
spurt may have him prevented the former water polo star from staying in the sport, but he shot 36-percent from beyond the arc at the FIBA
U-19 just a year ago.
Baldwin’s load of talent never fully materialized despite playing with his father, but he was one of the top prospects coming out in the 2021 class. Can he ever develop into the prospect that he was supposed to represent at the next level? A subpar athletic showing at the NBA Combine left more questions than answers.
Memphis Grizzlies (Proposed trade to Houston Rockets)
Washington’s first-step quickness is supplemented as a streaky shooter with open court ability. The 14th-ranked prospect in the 2021 ESPN100 class, and he was named a second-team All-SEC selection as a freshman this past season. The 6-foot-4 guard shot high percentages in the mid-range game but was highly up-and-down for stages. His assist-to-turnover ratio, however, led the SEC.
30. Peyton Watson
Oklahoma City Thunder (acquired from Denver Nuggets)
The 6-foot-8 forward has plenty of length and a sneaky glide on the floor. He has upside as a defender. Will he ever become a knock down shooter at the next level? The final pick of the first round averaged
three points per game in 2021-22.
31. Andrew Nembhard
The Ontario native can run the floor and shows excellent vision in the open court. He anticipates potential screens and finds players in transition as a floor general. There was a chance he could have been selected a couple of picks earlier.
32. Caleb Houston
The second of back-to-back- Ontario native selections, his shooting skills are the positive in his game. Does the first step translate to the next level and -if not- is there enough to win on
the defensive end?
33. Christian Koloko
The Cameroon native became the Pac-12’s Defensive Player of the Year after averaging nearly three blocks per game this past season. He guards multiple positions and should be able to slide in effortlessly within the team’s rotation as a rookie, mainly due to his skill at switching on the defensive end.
The school’s first McDonald’s All-American since Jaren Jackson, Christie has the potential to get better as a shooter, but his upside makes this a value pick for the future. Perhaps he finds his way into the rotation as a surprise contributor
in Year 1.
36. Gabriele Procida
Portland Trailblazers (picking for Detroit Pistons)
At 6-foot-8, 190 pounds, Procida shows plenty of open court ability and gives the team a versatile player worth developing for a couple of more years overseas. This is a second-round pick that could pay dividends years down the road.
There aren’t many players with more quickness, foot speed and overall elusiveness than Chandler. He picks up the pace whenever he’s on the floor and does so on both ends of the floor.
39. Khalifa Diop
He has more than just an NBA body, it also translates to timing on the defensive end.
Diop’s NBA frame makes him more than capable of making an impact early in his career, but will he even be available in 2022-23?
40. Bryce McGowens
The 6-foot-6-inch guard earned third-team All-Big Ten honors and scored in a number of ways for the Cornhuskers.
Once he gets to the foul line, he was nearly automatic. He is the second consecutive Cornhusker to get drafted in back-to-back seasons.
41. EJ Liddell
New Orleans Pelicans
There is an element of aggression that comes with the 2021-22 3rd Team All-American. With a 7-foot wingspan, Liddell offers a bigger frame than his 6-foot-7-inch frame would suggest. Liddell improved markedly from behind the arc in his third season on campus, shooting 37.4% from three-point range.
42. Trevor Keels
New York Knicks
Keels didn’t necessarily build on his hot start, which included a 25-point debut against Kentucky. The biggest improvements have to start at the free throw line and beyond the arc, but he’s a strong guard with an NBA body. His physicality translates to the NBA game.
43. Moussa Diabate
Los Angeles Clippers
Diabate runs the floor and was one of the better athletes in this year’s class. At the NBA Combine, Diabate posted a 2.9-second NBA shuttle, which ranked as one of the Top 5 times at the event. A possible rim runner with shot blocking upside, the former Wolverine could become a keeper in LA.
44. Ryan Rollins
Rollins averaged nearly 19 points per game in 2021-22 and earned 1st Team All-MAC honors. He put up 35 points vs.
Coastal Carolina in late November and that was one of 18 20-point games this past season. The long range shooting is still developing, but he is nearly automatic from the free throw line (80%).
45. Josh Minott
The 2022 All-AAC
Freshman fouled out of two of his first three games, but settled down to average six points per game with just over four rebounds per game. Can the range develop at the next level for the 6-foot-8 forward? If not, the ability to follow shots and become an energy player must be his forte’.
46. Ishmael Kamagate
Detroit Pistons (traded to
In the French LNB, he averaged over six rebounds per game and may make his hay a couple of years from now. The former soccer player made a name for himself following at the rim. At 6-foot-11, 227 pounds, his body still has even more room to fill out.
47. Vince Williams
A left-handed shooter who can block shots (32 in 2021-22), Williams also averaged nearly two steals per game this past season. Over the last two seasons, he shot 40-percent from beyond the
48. Kendall Brown
The 6-foot-7-inch freshman flashes shooting into passing lanes and runs the floor with ease. Blessed with a 41-inch max vertical jump, Brown has an opportunity to develop over the course of the next few seasons.
Spagnolo shot 44- percent from three-point range and excels as a pick-and-roll artist. The ball handling skills are in place and his age (19) ranks as a factor down the road. He went on to play at Vanoli Cremona after leaving Red Madrid B, and his efficiency improved despite playing less minutes per game.
51. Tyrese Martin
Golden State Warriors (for Atlanta Hawks)
SG-UConn, Rhode Island
The 6-foot-6 guard shot 43% from three-point range this past season and averaged almost 14 points per game. Prior to arriving at UConn, Martin started 49 games for the Rams. The former Pennsylvania high school standout continued to get better.
52. Karlo Matkovic
New Orleans Pelicans
Yet another prospect from the Mega Mozzart (Serbia) squad, Matkovic averaged nearly 12 points per game. At 6-foot-11, he possesses impressive hand-eye coordination
53. JD Davidson
If Davidson can improve his outside shooting then the athleticism (37” max vertical jump) could begin to fully be activated. In 2021-22, Davidson started just six games, but was named to the All-SEC Freshman Team after leading
the team in assists.
54. Yannick Nzosa
This is a player who hasn’t played much in terms of extended minutes. At Liga ACB, he was a shot blocker but lost some of his thunder this past season due to a lower body injury.
As a result, his NBA Draft stock fell during the course of the year.
55. Gui Santos
Golden State Warriors
Santos has a 7-foot wingspan and both of his parents played basketball. Santos entered the 2021 NBA Draft, and was also a member of the Brazilian senior national team during that same year. He’s not at all adverse to handling the ball in transition.
56. Luke Travers
He only averaged seven points per game this season, but Travers has experience at both small and power forward.
Getting stronger has been a focus and he may be a year or two away from starting his NBA journey.
57. Jabari Walker
The first-team All-Pac-12 player comes from NBA bloodlines (Samaki Walker) and led the conference in rebounding this past season. Walker also shot the ball better than expected from beyond the arc.
58. Hugo Besson
At 180 pounds, Besson still needs to add weight but his vision is above average. The French native has a number of coaches and players in his family. He nearly entered the 2021 NBA Draft but decided to play with
the New Zealand Breakers.
Draft Night trades/transactions/notes:
• Oklahoma City Thunder has gathered up to 27 first round picks through the next five years.
• The Oklahoma City Thunder traded the draft rights of Ousmane Dieng (11th overall pick) to the New York Knicks for multiple future first round picks.
• The Minnesota Timberwolves traded the draft rights of Jake LaRavis (19th overall pick) and a future second-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for the 22nd and 29th overall picks in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft.
• Philadelphia 76ers traded the 23rd overall pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for the rights to DeAnthony Melton.
• The Charlotte Hornets trade the 13th overall pick (Jalen Duren) to the New York Knicks for a future first round pick and four conditional second round picks.
• The Philadelphia 76ers traded the draft rights to the No. 23 selection in the 2022 NBA Draft (David Roddy) and Danny Green in exchange for De'Anthony Melton in a trade with the Memphis Grizzlies.
• The Houston Rockets receive the 2022 1st Round pick (29th overall via Minnesota) and also Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss and Sterling Brown
• The Dallas Mavericks receive Christian Wood and the Timberwolves receive the draft rights to the 26th overall pick, Wendell Moore, Jr.
• On June 14, Oklahoma City received JaMychal Green and a 2027 1st round pick from Denver Nuggets for the draft rights to 2022 1st round pick (30th overall) Peyton Watson and two future second-round picks.
• On Wednesday, June 22, the Portland Trail Blazers received Detroit Pistons F Jerami Grant and a 2022 2nd round pick (46th overall) in exchange for a 2022 second round pick (36th overall), a 2025 first-round pick via Milwaukee (Top 4 protected), two future second-round picks and they freed up $43 million in cap space.
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.
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.
5. Orlando Magic: Jalen Suggs6’4 205 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-AdelaideNBL 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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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” Hyland6’3 169 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.
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.
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?
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.
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 Petrusev6’11 235 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 Mamukelashvili6’10 240 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.