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NBA 2020-2021: Top Performing Rookie’s Early On

Contributed by Aditya Fuldeore

As the new and unique NBA season is underway, there are many rookies getting acclimated to the league on minimal training camp experience. While we are only a few weeks in, there are several rookies who have showed their worth for their teams. Using regular and advanced stats (such as Win Shares), as well as Opportunity Production Rating (OPR), we can evaluate these rookies to see which ones have performed the best thus far (through January 7th).

Tyrese Haliburton

Sacramento KINGS

Stats: 11.7 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 4.7 APG, 0.7 WS, 51% FG, 48% 3P, 87.5% FT, 18.17 OPR

Haliburton seemed like a steal at the time for Sacramento, and he has played like it. So far, he has been one of the Kings’ best shooters and has been an excellent playmaker behind De’Aaron Fox in the backcourt. Shooting 48% from 3, producing an above-average OPR, and dishing out a 7.0 assist-to-turnover ratio, Haliburton already has 0.7 Win Shares, ranking first among rookies, as well as a 142 Offensive Rating. Already one of the top shooters and passers of the draft class, Haliburton projects to be a big part of the Kings’ future.

James Wiseman

Golden State Warriors

Stats: 11.3 PPG, 6.0 RPG, 0.4 APG, 0.0 WS, 46.8% FG, 41.7% 3P, 61.9% FT, 11.16 OPR

The Warriors have not regretted their pick 2 selection of Wiseman. Settling into Golden State’s frontcourt well, Wiseman has produced as a rim protector and paint scorer. He ranks best among rookies in rebounds per game and ranks top 3 in the league in block %. While his mid-range and 3 point shooting could use some tinkering, he has flashed potential as a shooter, and should learn well under Draymond Green at Golden State. He looks to be a staple of the Warriors’ frontcourt for the foreseeable future and has the tools to develop into a star big man.

LaMelo Ball

Charlotte Hornets

Stats: 11.8 PPG, 5.1 RPG, 4.9 APG, 0.4 WS, 40.5% FG, 34.3% 3P, 73.7% FT, 15.63 OPR

Initially off to a slow start, Ball has ramped up his production in Charlotte. With the Hornets’ second unit, Ball has lived up to his label as a playmaker and scorer, producing an above-average 15.63 OPR. He has produced a positive box plus/minus coming off the bench, leads all rookies in assists per game, and also ranks top 5 in the league in steal %. As he continues to develop on a young Hornets team, Ball’s length and playmaking skills will allow him to progress into one of the draft class’ top guards.

Payton Pritchard

Boston Celtics

Stats: 8.3 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.2 APG, 0.3 WS, 50% FG, 34.8% 3P, 87.5% FT, 11.32 OPR

In the absence of Kemba Walker, Pritchard has been a pleasant surprise for Boston. So far, he has come off the bench for the Celtics, receiving the 5th most minutes on the team. Pritchard has been an efficient shooter in the Boston backcourt, especially from mid-range, and has a +10.1 On-Court plus/minus per 100 possessions, while playing squarely in the middle of the Celtics’ rotation. He has shown that he is ready to be part of an NBA contender, with a more immediate impact than most other rookies. Pritchard has produced on both sides of the ball and projects to be a potential long-term rotation piece for the Celtics.

Immanuel Quickley

New York Knicks

Stats: 7.5 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 1.5 APG, 0.3 WS, 53.3% FG, 42.9% 3P, 100% FT, 22.35 OPR

A late first round pick, Quickley has performed well in a limited capacity for a surprisingly decent Knicks team. Quickley has a smaller sample size than the other rookies here, but he has shown a lot of potential. He has shot the ball well and has flashed potential to be the Knicks’ primary ball handler long-term. He ranks among the top 7 of rookies in box plus/minus and has a +6.9 On-Court plus/minus per 100 possessions. It is a very small sample size, but his large 22.35 OPR shows that Quickley could be a long-term piece at guard for New York.

Anthony Edwards

Minnesota Timberwolves

Stats: 15.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.9 APG, -0.2 WS, 40.9% FG, 28.8% 3P, 73.7% FT, 11.55 OPR

Coming out of college as a scorer, #1 pick Edwards has produced in that capacity for Minnesota. Leading all rookies in points scored per game, Edwards has produced well for the middle of the Timberwolves’ lineup. He also ranks top 3 on the team in Usage Rate, taking on a slightly large offensive role in games Karl-Anthony Towns has missed. If Edwards can become more consistent shooting from outside for a struggling Timberwolves team, he could live up to his billing as top pick in the draft class.

Other Rookies to Watch:

Cole Anthony, MAGIC: 8.6 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.4 APG, 0.1 WS, 30.3% FG, 19% 3P, 95% FT, 12.02 OPR

Deni Avdija, WIZARDS: 6.4 PPG, 4 RPG, 2.1 APG, 0.3 WS, 47.4% FG, 45.8% 3P, 57.1% FT, 10.94 OPR

Patrick Williams, BULLS: 10.0 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.1 WS, 47.1% FG, 47.1% 3P, 84.2% FT, 9.09 OPR

Precious Achiuwa, HEAT: 7.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 0.9 APG, 0.2 WS, 57.1% FG, 52.4 FT%, 11.30 OPR

Saddiq Bey, PISTONS: 10.4 PPG, 5.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.2 WS, 36.1% FG, 46.3% 3P, 71.4% FT, 13.38 OPR

*Stats via Basketball Reference, as of January 7th, 2021

Below is a full breakdown of the top performing rookie’s in terms of OPR.

[Rookies playing in more than 3 games]              Player Pos  Tm  G   ScaledPTSper100       OPR
  Immanuel Quickley  PG NYK  4      26.5728099 22.348247888
  Tyrese Haliburton  PG SAC  6      13.8179539 18.174363152
        Jordan Nwora  SF MIL  6      23.6147333 17.651786622
        Daniel Oturu   C LAC  4      14.6617842 17.279427369
        LaMelo Ball  PG CHO  8      12.8688250 15.625060016
    Jaden McDaniels  PF MIN  5      15.5579154 15.046332299
    Facundo Campazzo  PG DEN  7      16.4601042 14.348083356
      Nathan Knight  PF ATL  4      31.1864407 14.309152542
          Saddiq Bey  SF DET  7      12.5916110 13.383288776
          CJ Elleby  SF POR  4      11.0734463 12.588757062
      Devin Vassell  SG SAS  7       8.2146769 12.431741512
        Cole Anthony  PG ORL  8       9.5955382 12.016430548
        Sam Merrill  SG MIL  5      10.5052731 11.794218479
        Tyrese Maxey  SG PHI  9      10.3222181 11.597774447
    Anthony Edwards  SG MIN  8      15.3394864 11.551589085
    Payton Pritchard  SG BOS  9      11.0735045 11.318803620
    Precious Achiuwa  PF MIA  7      14.1272491 11.301799295
      James Wiseman   C GSW  8      13.2932109 11.164568756
        Deni Avdija  SF WAS  8       7.7658029 10.942642286
        Tyrell Terry  PG DAL  4       1.4957265  9.946581197
    Patrick Williams  PF CHI  9      11.7826964  9.086157145
        Desmond Bane  SG MEM  8      10.3562278  8.374982230
      Lamar Stevens  PF CLE  5       7.9153622  7.852289755
      Isaiah Stewart   C DET  6       6.0791278  7.633302222
      Jae’Sean Tate  SF HOU  6       8.4587938  7.447035071
        Chuma Okeke  PF ORL  5       3.9680233  7.244418605
          Isaiah Joe  SG PHI  4       0.6308666  6.014693298
        Isaac Okoro  SG CLE  4       6.6650509  5.302040717
          Josh Green  SG DAL  6       6.7509482  4.770758534
        Théo Maledon  PG OKC  7       9.4573454  4.765876314
        Reggie Perry  PF BRK  4       7.4282297  4.592583732
      Malachi Flynn  PG TOR  4       0.0000000  3.200000000
  Aleksej Pokusevski  PF OKC  5       0.3844100  1.697528030
      Killian Hayes  PG DET  7       3.4615385 -0.630769231
        R.J. Hampton  PG DEN  5       7.0000000 -2.830000000
     

2021 NBA Draft: Debut Big Board Breakdown

By Max Feldman

For the very first full 50 man Big Board of the 2021 NBA Draft evaluation cycle, I’ll break down why each prospect fell where they did. As college basketball nears a peak, the Big Board is fluctuating on a near daily basis. For the prospects that have a larger range at this point, detail as to why is provided. Narrowing to 50 is extremely difficult this early on, as there are nearly 30 more prospects legitimately on my radar that are not listed. There is currently a strong first tier of 9, followed by another 9. The top 18 slots appear very sturdy.

1. Jalen Suggs

Why he’s here?

Simply put, there is no reason myself, or any evaluator, should have a single prospect higher than Suggs. He is the clear cut top prospect. The full breakdown on Suggs was recently published.

2. Evan Mobley

Why he’s here?

We haven’t seen as talented of a big man come through the draft evaluation process as Mobley in many years. Monstrous wingspan, phenomenal touch, production as a roll man, near 4 blocks per 40 minutes and highly intriguing flashes of an outside shot. Do-it-all two way big man headed for stardom.

Why is he not higher?

USC is not great. He can fade out of the game temporarily and still has work to do in terms of making his presence felt on every trip down. In most other drafts, Mobley is the top prospect.

3. Cade Cunningham

Why he’s here?

Scoring production has been strong. Getting to the line at a high rate, very assertive and carrying a load for the Pokes as one of the nation’s best players. Touch is better than expected. Live ball passing is natural and can be a game breaking trait.

Why is he not higher?

I had confidence Cade would be far and away the best playmaker in the class, but a near 1:1 assist to turnover ratio has disappointed. I remain bullish on his feel for the game and versatile passing ability, but he has not handled pressure great. A poor surrounding cast does not doing his playmaking justice. Turning the ball over a bit too much. Regardless, he’s a lock top three prospect. Each of the top three are essentially 1A, 1B and 1C.

4. BJ Boston

Why he’s here?

Boston was formally my top overall prospect. I am not blind, I have seen the struggles too. Nothing is falling right now, and while many question his outside shooting, I have seen far too much of Boston prior to Kentucky to doubt his three level scoring. Even if it is not this year, BJ will get his grasp on efficient two way production. Defensive analytics are great thus far, and only will improve.

Why is he not higher?

Kentucky’s spacing is as poor as any high major in the nation. First, the guard play for the Wildcats has been horrific. There is not a playmaker or guard slasher who collapses defenses consistently. Secondly, Coach Cal has rarely has had 5 star prospects with builds like Boston and Clarke. It is more of a Duke-one-and-done build. Kentucky’s system is not built to provide space for creation at this spot, as the scoring production usually comes from spot up shooting guards and primary ball handlers. Lastly, Boston has simply been cold. His shot is not falling, but I am not near quitting on him like most who’ve dropped him to the 20’s. His two way outlook remains premier. For the full breakdown, read more here. The talent did not go anywhere, so don’t get that twisted. His system fit is atrocious.

5. Jonathan Kuminga

Why he’s here?

Shooting numbers from minimal G-League scrimmages provide some extra optimism, but Kuminga is still the youngest prospect in the field and is relatively raw offensively. He is my top overall defender in the class and carries a mature frame for a freshly minted 18 year old. The isolation mid-post scoring package is advanced. Finishes through contact with ease.

Why is he not higher?

I would not count out Kuminga rising into my top four, but I would prefer to see more evidence that his ball handling and ability to produce out of a set rather than isolation has improved. There is some OG Anunoby similarities in terms of offensive projected translation, so further development would raise his ceiling. Similarly safe floor for a super young prospect as Pat Williams in 2020.

6. Jalen Green

Why he’s here?

Generational athletic ability with a pure shooting stroke and higher IQ than most give him credit for. He has appeared to be an NBA ready scorer for multiple years already. Numbers out of the Ignite can not be given too much consideration, but I’d hope he is working even harder in the weight room. Tools to be a clampdown defender, but it will take time.

Why is he not higher?

His wiry frame as a defender, tendency to turn the ball over and inefficiency are concerns, but my main reason for having Green lower than most is because I do not think his skillset carries massive value in winning basketball. Whether it is a Zach LaVine or Anthony Edwards comparison, both reasonable, I do not think either one is a cornerstone piece for a NBA championship contender at it’s peak.

7. MOSES MOODY

Why he’s here?

He has been incredibly efficient filling the holes left by Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones, shooting 46% from the field, 42% from three and scoring 17 points a game in over 30 minutes per game. Smooth, natural three level scorer with phenomenal touch. Carries high volume but does not turn the ball over much. Not a playmaker, but has elite feel scoring the ball. I see a lot of Brad Beal similarities.

Why is he not higher?

Not an overwhelming athlete, has room to grow defensively and questions regarding his impact on wins. In comparison to Jalen Green, I have less questions concerning Moody’s impact on winning basketball because his usage rate will very likely be lower. Moody does not over-dribble, as he thrives off pin downs and spot ups rather than pure isolation. Top 12 is my range, and has reached as high as 6.

8. ayo Dosunmu

Why he’s here?

There is not a better lead guard prospect after Suggs or Cunningham. Ayo is one of my most improved prospects in the nation. Has improved his feel for the game and become a strong decision maker. High volume scorer and playmaker who gets to his spots with ease and has a proven ability to stuff the stat sheet. Elite size, great touch, defensive versatility, improved passer and high level activity on the boards. So much to like and he legitimately is improving every game.

Why is he not higher?

Being a Junior does not cap his stock too much, but the appeal and ceiling of the prospects ahead keep him outside the top 5. His range for me varies from 6-14 but should settle in around the middle. Not scoring at a high level, but continuing to improve going to his left in addition to driving the Illini deep into March will help.

9. Scottie Barnes

Why he’s here?

Extremely unique skillset with cemented toughness and high feel. Stat sheet stuffer who can be a key piece of winning basketball. Potential 4-5 positional defender. High level ball handling at 6-9 and 230 pounds. Has all the tools you seek in terms of potential mismatch machine, but requires polish.

Why is he not higher?

Polish, touch and decision making are major questions. Shooting numbers from the line and from three are terrible thus far. He was locked in at the 7 spot for a long stretch, but he has not showed me much that I did not already know. He will be an acquired taste.

10. day’ron sharpe

Why he’s here?

I continue to rise on Sharpe. Physically, he is ready for the league. Brute strength in the paint, solid shot blocking, strong athleticism and developed touch. Sharpe dropped 25 points and 9 boards in just 29 minutes last game against Notre Dame. If Kessler, Bacot and Brooks were not all there, more boards would have Sharpe this high. The more opportunity he earns the higher he’ll rise.

Why is he not higher?

His touch does not extend far outside the paint, but that prerequisite for success for big man is less of a theme now. The need for elite rim runners is at an all time premium, but there are more premier needs. Sharpe has a carved out slot in my top 12. His style of play is coming back into style.

11. James Bouknight

Why he’s here?

Far and away, the most polished pure scorer in the field. High flyer who’s production level has been sky high. Can fill it up at all three levels and has showed some defensive intensity. Development from Freshman year is intriguing as he makes the jump to the NBA, but should have a clear cut role.

Why is he not higher?

Not a natural playmaker who can be loose with the ball. 19% of his possessions come in spot ups situations, where he is in the 37th percentile. In every other offensive situation, he is in at least the 70th percentile. Simply put, he requires the ball in his hands. High volume young scorers require specific situations, limiting the ceiling at this point.

12. kai jones

Why he’s here?

He is a fantastic NBA fit. People will remain lower on Jones throughout the season because he does not start for Texas and has a low volume, but expect a massive boost during the evaluation period after the season concludes. Massively improved from last year as a two way contributor to winning basketball. Elite motor, great length and pogo stick athlete.

Why is he not higher?

He serves a key rim running role with energy and defensive versatility, but is unlikely to ever be a high volume scorer. His skillset is better fit to serve mass value in the NBA rather than Big 12. A ton of Christian Wood-esque tools are here.

13. ziaire williams

Why he’s here?

Silky smooth pull up game. Great length. Jump shot stretches from mid-range to deep three. Phenomenal defensive tools and strong instincts. Has become more assertive over the last two years, working towards finding a consistent production level to go along with volume.

Why is he not higher?

Scorching hot start only lasted a few games, and has gone cold since. Struggles separating from defenders with quickness and has gotten stuck in a spot up role. Better fit in the NBA than CBB but should grow more assertive as a slasher because he has the length, IQ and footwork to do so.

14. corey kispert

Why he’s here?

I do not see his ceiling as low as others. His shooting prowess can not be doubted by anyone, but what keeps him lower on some boards is his age and potential. Rather than being Duncan Robinson, I can see Kispert being closer to Klay Thompson. Regardless of the trajectory, floor spacing is a hot commodity and carries extreme weight in the NBA market. Snagging an elite shot maker with size to defend on a rookie contract is a prime situation for a competing team to move future assets and add an immediate contributor.

Why is he not higher?

As previously mentioned, being a Senior does play a role. He’s a two way contributor but is likely not a cornerstone. He’s an elite level spacer for a star rather than the star.

15. keon johnson

Why he’s here?

Electric athlete who has really impressed me defensively. High steal rate, showing signals of being a lockdown backcourt defender. Flashes of a shooting stroke.

Why is he not higher?

Rick Barnes plays Johnson less than 20 minutes a game. Shooting has been bad, and free throw percentage is not a possibility here, shooting just 58% on 3 trips per game. Carrying a massive range at this point, and has been as high as the 7th spot.

16. Greg brown

Why he’s here?

If Jalen Green was not in this draft, Brown would be the headline athlete. Strong flashes of ball handling and shooting, but needs more consistency. Activity on the boards and slithery finishing ability in the paint. Dominant transition weapon and supreme vertical floor spacer.

Why is he not higher?

Struggles have been evident. Touch has been very on and off. Has made turnovers a habit. Gets lost on defense too often. He has star power but decision making has been a major sore spot. Very well could end up in my top 14.

17. usman garuba

Why he’s here?

Instinctual defense and finishing ability are a joy to watch. Deadly from the dunkers spot offensively. Defensively, will thrive in a switch defense with his lateral quickness and toughness. Fits very well in the NBA.

Why is he not higher?

Garuba is a strong complementary player and does not carry star tools. He is great at what he does; grab boards, defend multiple positions, block shots, finish in the paint and provides burst in transition.

18. jalen johnson

Why he’s here?

Elite frame, powerful inside and strong handle for his size. Can guard 3-4 positions at the next level. High motor, shown by high rebounding volume. Go-to mid-range jumpers appears natural. 

Why is he not higher?

Awkward scenario where he plays a wing role but has never been a reliable outside threat. When healthy, teams chose to leave him with room to shoot and rarely were forced to pay the price. I can not see him being a reliable shooter, thus making him a bit of an odd NBA fit due to his handle and scoring package. Very concerned with his lack of touch. 1:2 assist to turnover ratio makes it far different from a Scottie Barnes trajectory, as Johnson has notoriously been a ball stopper with tunnel vision. Has the range to slide back towards the top 12 if healthy, but has a lot to prove and could continue to fall for me.

19. roko prkacin

Why he’s here?

Smart, polished and versatile in the NBA. Producing at a high level for a very competitive team. Strong feel for the game and a more developed, consistent touch now after years on the radar.

Why is he not higher?

Average athlete. Can be loose with the ball and have tunnel vision in mid-range isolations. Heady slip man who has a role and plenty of room for growth.

20. Charles Bassey

Why he’s here?

Seen massive improvement in another year at WKU. Dominant interior presence, and signs of a solid mid-range shot. Great footwork, massive arms and shot blocking instincts. Motor has been an obvious area of focus.

Why is he not higher?

Competition level is a question mark. Star power is limited. Serves a clear role and has the tools for good production. Range can be as high as 16 and as low as 25.

21. jeremiah robinson-earl

Why he’s here?

Jay Wright products are always polished, and JRE just plays the right way. Has made a big jump and has fantastic footwork. Heady decision maker as a role man. Will be a more efficient shooter at the next level with spacing.

Why is he not higher?

Interior defense is not great and high end potential is a question. He is reliable, but not consistently dominant. He has been on the fringe of my top 14, but there are more exciting prospects. A competing roster with a rotational hole will love him.

22. JOSH CHRISTOPHER

Why he’s here?

Strong athlete, proven three level scorer and progressing as a defender. Gets to his spots with ease. Has been inefficient, but that is his game. High volume scorer who can fill it up with opportunity.

Why is he not higher?

Ball stopper. Constantly battling for volume with Martin and Verge. Can shoot a team out of a game. Has not been locked in defensively at all times. Candidate for a boost if he matures as a defender. Has the tools to be a useful two way scoring boost on a winning team. Defensive improvement could provide top 14 appeal for me.

23. franz wagner

Why he’s here?

Always had touch and natural offensive feel, but defensive improvement has boosted him from my 40 range. Young 19 year old as a Sophomore. Contributes to winning basketball, phenomenal feet in PnR coverages, active on boards. Takes care of the ball, efficient in every category. IQ is off the charts.

Why is he not higher?

Still wiry, but plays stronger than the scale shows. Slumped from deep to open the season but found other areas to contribute. Has room for another boost if assist numbers and defense continue to rise. Regardless of shooting numbers, the touch is there and should be accounted for. Should become more of a slashing threat due great length and heightened attention. Has the room to be a bonafide, two way stud if aggression improves. He’s on the brink of a top 15 rise.

24. cam thomas

Why he’s here?

Has been one of the nation’s storyline as a surprise, but I always been about 10-15 slots higher on Cam than most evaluations. Pro-ready scorer with elite, extended touch. Legit 50-40-90 trajectory.

Why is he not higher?

Defense is a question mark. Low steal and block rate. Not consistently active. Non-playmaker, but should open up with more attention in SEC play. Bucket getter, but if no two way tools are shown he is capping his stock to top 16 at best.

25. terrence shannon jr

Why he’s here?

Far more confident and efficient in year two. Locked in defender who can guard multiple positions. Long arms, explosive athlete, lateral quickness and hard-nosed.

Why is he not higher?

Touch needs improvement. Not a playmaker for others. Handle could use some improvement. Must see more urgency and feel to get to his spots. Has the tools to be a dominant slasher.

26. Romeo Weems

Why he’s here?

Sample size is small but 5/6 from three in Sophomore debut provides mass optimism. Elite athlete who can guard multiple spots. Should take on a higher volume. Mature frame with potential to be a high level rebounder.

Why is he not higher?

Polish needs more proof. Mediocre free throw shooter. Does not take care of the ball well and not a natural playmaker. Has room to shoot up into top 14 throughout the season.

27. Vrenz Bleijenbergh

Why he’s here?

Incredibly unique skillset for a 6-11 big. Too many people are unaware his game still. Taking on a larger role with Antwerp and shooting numbers are sky high. Fantastic feel and instincts as PnR handler and role man. Incredibly versatile.

Why is he not higher?

Narrow frame and just not recognized enough in Belgian League. Interior presence needs work. Motor can be a question mark. Evaluators will eventually get a grasp on him, but FOG remains the only platform with Vrenz on the radar.

28. jaden springer

Why he’s here?

Hard-nosed defender with a mature frame and good athletic ability. Strong mid-range game and is stunting high shooting numbers thus far in minimal volume.

Why is he not higher?

Better fit off ball at the next level from my perspective. Not a natural playmaker and is unlikely to consistently stretch the floor. I have had him as high as top 15 but his NBA role is unclear to me. Requires a fit alongside playmakers.

29. Tre mann

Why he’s here?

Has massively benefited from boosted volume. Fantastic at finding his own shot with great size. Strong, polished handle. Attacks the boards illustrating a high motor. More active defensively. Versatile contributor who elevates team basketball. Untapped potential as an all around creator.

Why is he not higher?

Major candidate for a massive boost into top 20. Has proved a lot, but could improve as a defender. Turns the ball over too much and fouls too much.

30. DAVID JOHNSON

Why he’s here?

High floor two way contributor who’s produced as volume increases. Fantastic frame and can play both guard roles. Efficient three level scorer. Defensive ratings are phenomenal.

Why is he not higher?

Would love to see him get to the line more and be more assertive. Has the tools to be a top 15 guy. Should be an immediate producer in the NBA because of the two-way polish.

31. joel ayayi

Why he’s here?

Elite feel and natural floor general who can shift on or off ball. Extremely polished on both ends. Come a long way defensively. NBA-ready, super high floor. Undervalued on a deep roster but brings winning value. Volume rebounder. Stat sheet stuffer. Sky high IQ.

Why is he not higher?

Does not have an elite ceiling. Wiry frame. Does not get to the line often, avoids contact. Takes great shots but volume is low. Safe decision maker but does not provide a ton of excitement, rather just super steady.

32. scottie lewis

Why he’s here?

Incredible athlete who is potent in transition. Has developed a solid pull up game and grown in confidence. Great length. Shines defensively as a lock down wing and backcourt defender. Hard-nosed, high IQ defender. Becoming a strong 3 and D candidate with great shooting numbers. Showing what I hoped we’d see in year one.

Why is he not higher?

Has all the tools to be a deadly slasher, but still tends to avoid contact in the lane. Needs more strength. Improvement of his ball handling is a massive swing skill for his stock. Signs are there, and that arrow might keep moving up.

33. Jared Butler

Why he’s here?

High IQ, productive lead guard who can slide off ball. Takes great shots, steady contributor who is a 50-40-90 candidate. Should have a long career at the next level. Defensive toughness, fantastic instincts, slides feet and use frame well. Natural floor general. High level shooter, playmaker and defender.

Why is he not higher?

Simply does not do much wrong, but ceiling does not appear incredibly high. If he can portray more as an off ball threat and athletically as a slasher, he will deserve a boost.

34. Daishen Nix

Why he’s here?

Pass first, dynamic playmaker who thrives in transition. NBA ready frame. Phenomenal feel for the game. Can dictate tempo with ease. Great touch inside the arc.

Why is he not higher?

Shooting has always been a question mark. Will benefit from taking the G-League route, as he struggles to separate from defenders and CBB would not have helped his case. Likely carrying a bit too much weight but does a good job curling off screens and getting to his floater game. He’s a long term case, as physical sharpening and shot repetition will take ironing out.

35. IVERSON MOLINAR

Why he’s here?

Stop sleeping. This should help explain more in-depth: Iverson Molinar Should Be a Household Name

Why is he not higher?

Polishing his passing skills would vault him into my top 20. Turns the ball over a bit too much and could likely carry more weight. Another rise candidate if he can continue to manufacture wins on a poor MSU team. Under valued talent who’s trending towards my top 20.

36. dalano banton

Why he’s here?

Elite feel for the game. Stat sheet stuffer who can rebound at a high rate and be a strong playmaker on the wing. Versatility is dynamic.

Why is he not higher?

Could use more strength on his frame. Shooting needs improvement. Many view his versatility as a negative as he does not fit a certain position in the NBA, but I am in the boat that Banton’s tools are the exact direction the league is moving. He’s floated around from 25-45, and showing improvement could garner another move up.

37. David Duke

Why he’s here?

Become a star as a Junior. Great size and legitimate scorer at all three levels. Carries a very high volume and has been dominant doing so. Sneaky playmaker who makes plays for others in transition. Heady scorer who senses defenses weakness, great feel.

Why is he not higher?

Steal rates are low and has to be more active consistently. Draft age does not help but the majority of concerns are defense related. Could see another boost into the top 30 if he capitalizes on a broad frame defensively.

38. Chris Duarte

Why he’s here?

Elite two way fit at the next level. Has a nose to pick passing lanes. Strong shooter who uses his length to attack closeouts and finish at the rim. Fluid shot stroke who can catch fire quickly. Can defend multiple positions. Constant two way energy. Legitimate 3 and D prospect with toughness.

Why is he not higher?

As quickly as he can catch fire, he can go cold. Draft age is poor. Duarte is not a playmaker for others.

39. terrence clarke

Why he’s here?

Long, athletic wing who has impressed defensively. Can be a smooth creator at times. Has shown flashes as a two way wing but needs more offensive polish. Very young. Has the tools to be a dynamic wing defender.

Why is he not higher?

Ball stopper, dribbles too much often. Has struggled with the poor spacing for the Wildcats. Narrow frame. Avoids contact when slashing, low free throw rate. Poor free throw shooter. Poor deep shooter. Plenty of tools but little to no proof in the pudding. Always been relatively low on Clarke because of his IQ, and the UK situation has not helped. Talent does not jump off the screen, numbers do not help.

40. alperen sengun

Why he’s here?

Dominating a league of grown men with efficiency. Active glass cleaner who has strong footwork. Good length and instinctual defender.

Why is he not higher?

I do not project a massive ceiling. He should be a productive two way big but does not excite athletically and can be somewhat slow in rotation. Knows how to play and produce in his role and I am not confident he could take on a higher volume. Not a floor spacer. Could see a boost in coming months if production remains.

41. Sandro Mamuklashvili

Why he’s here?

Phenomenal feel for the game. Extremely smart. Versatile skillset for the college game. Smart playmaker and great ball handler for his size. Strong shot out to the perimeter.

Why is he not higher?

Lateral quickness and covering NBA guards is the concern. Underwhelming athlete but Jokic-like skillset is difficult to ignore.

42. Juhann begarin

Why he’s here?

Dynamic athlete who can defend with intensity. Transition weapon who seeks contact and gets to the rim. Great size and physical tools.

Why is he not higher?

No signs of significant polish as of yet. Plenty of tools and room to grow but requires a ton of patience. Shooting does not appear close to reliable yet, but will be worth the risk for someone.

43. Marcus Bagley

Why he’s here?

When healthy, showed plenty of flashes as a versatile stretch shooter with athleticism. Stroke is fluid and thrives off pin downs, but shot choice needs maturation. Has tools to guard multiple spots and be a nice fit at the next level.

Why is he not higher?

Just need to see more and provide more proof. Thrives in a high tempo offense and can produce highlights but might just be a utility, offensive boost in the NBA.

44. Caleb Love

Why he’s here?

Speedy lead guard with a good handle and strong size. Gets to the line and has a good touch in the intermediate level. Solid passing instincts and can rack up steals.

Why is he not higher?

Has mightily struggled with spacing and shot is not falling. Been a poor game manager and has not taken care of the ball. Having four non-floor stretching, yet talented big men has consistently stuffed the lane. Could see a boost if UNC wings make a step forward and Tar Heels cement a more versatile rotation, but I do see how another year filled with new tools would help him come into his own

45. Mojave king

Why he’s here?

Fluid shooter with good size and an overall smooth offensive game. Natural feel for the game and gets to his spots. Extremely young.

Why is he not higher?

Defensive fit and motor are concerns. Might require another year in the NBL but has undeniable off ball scoring tools.

46. Isaiah Jackson

Why he’s here?

Active rim runner with explosive athletic ability. Volume rebounder and strong rim defender. Vertical floor spacer.

Why is he not higher?

Touch is a question mark, inside finishing has been inconsistent. Fouls too much. Feel for the game needs ironing. Low volume offensive threat. Poor free throwing shooting lends little optimism offensively.

47. jalen wilson

Why he’s here?

Great size and has displayed all the tools of a wing scorer. Seeks contact on slashes and swallowing up available volume. Gets to the lane often. Shooting has been streaky but can get to his shot off the bounce and on spot ups. Strong rebounding presence.

Why is he not higher?

Shooting has been inconsistent. Not a playmaker for others. Has a bit of a tweener skillset but has a relatively high floor for a Redshirt Freshman.

48. aaron henry

Why he’s here?

Elite defender with long arms. Great athlete. Hard-nosed, gritty and active. Transition weapon. Productive rebounder. High IQ on both ends. NBA ready defender.

Why is he not higher?

Scoring and shooting punch have always been the concerns. Ball handling needs work, does not create space with ease. Outside stroke is inconsistent. Draft age.

49. ron harper jr

Why he’s here?

Electric perimeter threat. Efficient against closeouts and struts phenomenal competitiveness. Gamer. Consistent floor spacer who can catches heat quickly. Highly instinctual with good feel.

Why is he not higher?

Needs to put the ball on the floor and attack the rim. Poor free throw shooter. Slow, clunky feet who fits better as a college defender than he will in the NBA.

50. Feron Hunt

Why he’s here?

Aggressive, powerful athlete with an incredible motor. Good length and great activity. Shaping into a fantastic NBA fit defensively. Active rebounder who does the little things. Vertical and at times, a horizontal floor spacer.

Why is he not higher?

Shooting is improved but not anything to write home about yet. Can fade out of a game and take a backseat. Ball handling needs improvement. Confidence and assertiveness would provide further optimism.

2021 NBA Draft: Iverson Molinar Should Be a Household Name

By Max Feldman

The net that is casted by NBA scouts and the media world that surrounds it is absolutely massive. With the wealth of platforms and databases that cover not just high profile prospects, but boards that track 100-200 prospects, you rarely ever will find a prospect that simply is not getting the media they deserve. FOG has prided itself on digging in and getting a good feel for many of the prospects that people do not have a strong feel for yet, but this one is a unique case. I have not seen anyone put this prospect on the radar, but at this point, there is no reason Iverson Molinar shouldn’t be floated around as a draft prospect and even a potential first round name.

Molinar, 6-3 and 190 pounds, moved to the United States from Panama at the age of 14. He was touted as a 4 star prospect and chose Mississippi State over the likes of Arizona, ASU, VCU and Kansas State. He started the first eight games of his career in Starkville, but his Freshman campaign amounted to just 6 points, 1 assist and 1 rebound in 15 minutes per game. The SEC has been stockpiled with NBA prospects over the last few seasons, and the majority of the production for the Bulldogs last season was swallowed up by FOG favorite, Robert Woodard III, as well as Reggie Perry, Nick Weatherspoon and Tyson Carter. With the four statistical leaders out of the fold for Ben Howland, Iverson Molinar has become the most unknown star in college basketball in the early part of the season.

To preface, Iverson’s analytics and efficiency are sky high to this point, but the Sophomore has played just 6 games thus far. He’s a prospect to keep an eye on, but I want to put a clear emphasis on the fact that Molinar is absolutely an NBA prospect.

Through 6 games, Molinar is playing 30 minutes, putting up 18.7 points, 4 rebounds, 3.7 assists with just 1.8 turnovers per game on 51.9% from the field, 51.9% from three and 77.8% from the line. Volume is not low either, as he’s taken 81 shots, 27 of which from beyond the arc while carrying a 28% usage rate for the Bulldogs. Defensively, Molinar has racked up 2.7 steals per 40 minutes.

Below are Molinar’s analytics via Synery Sports.

Overall Offense
Offensive Situations
Overall Defense

We are just 6 games in, but Mississippi State is in the top 100 in terms of Strength of Schedule.

FOG will keep on an eye on how these numbers play out throughout the year. In terms of play style, Molinar shows signs of being a fantastic two-way fit in the modern NBA.

Through years of evaluation, I have locked down four fundamental keys for NBA translation for a collegiate guard. Pull up shooting, PnR ball handling efficiency, at least a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio and a sub .700 PPP when defending.

These points can be read in different manners and certain skills can absolutely be projected depending on physical tools and IQ development.

Similar to Cole Anthony in the 2020 process, Molinar finds his shot with absolute ease. He is a shoot first lead guard with high level athleticism, a deadly first step and a strong hesitation move on the perimeter. The Panamanian-born guard is a joy to watch attacking high PnR’s using hop steps, head fakes and a massively improved handle to knife through defenses. He has a natural floater game in the intermediate level and is quietly proving to be an elite three level scorer. His shot is extremely fluid with strong elevation, rising over bigger defenders to knock down spot ups and pull ups, a massive signal that he can play on and off ball at the next level. Molinar is active on the boards, putting up over 5 boards per 40, and loves to start the break. His patience has developed and has obviously become more trusted with the ball in his hands. His usage rate has shot up nearly 9%, and he still turns the ball over just 1.8 times a game. The 21 year old is extremely active, getting to the rim with ease and seeking contact, resulting in 3 free throw attempts per game, an area that has the potential to rise over 5 attempts per game. The former Team WhyNot guard looks for his shot as a first instinct, and while there is work to do in terms of shot IQ, his efficiency as a shot maker speaks for itself. He creates his own space on what is not an overly impressive Mississippi State roster. End to end, Molinar has deadly speed but has mastered the ability to change speed, draw contact and finish around the rim. Mississippi State runs a very high number of PnR sets to up Molinar, DJ Stewart Jr and Tolu Smith, but overall on offense, they place in just the 48th percentile in points per possession, making Molinar’s efficiency and production even more impressive early on. The high flying Sophomore guard will not make the Bulldogs a competitor in the SEC on his own, but I have no doubt he is one of the most under valued stars in the country and is putting together a well-rounded NBA portfolio.

Defensively, Molinar lands in the 95th percentile in overall defense, 96th percentile defending the PnR ball handler and the 93rd percentile guarding spot ups. He is extremely hard-nosed and pesky using his long arms to disrupt ball handler’s rhythm. There are plenty of under the radar prospects to stamp my name on, but Molinar’s on and off ball defense provide me with plenty of confidence. His wingspan is currently unknown, but it is certainly pushing 6’10 from the eye test. He is a strong bet to be able to guard both backcourt spots at the next level, and excel on that end due to toughness, physicality and instincts. Mississippi State took on Georgia and Molinar was tasked with guarding Sahvir Wheeler, an ultra shifty ball handler guard who breaks down defenses, constantly brings draws help defenses and gets to the line often. Molinar put on a defensive exhibition against the Georgia guard, displaying phenomenal lateral quickness, a relentless motor and defended without fouling too much. Wheeler shot just 2-10 from the field and had 5 turnovers. Against Dayton in a loss, Molinar matched up often with one of the nation’s elite guards, Jalen Crutcher. Crutcher was mostly great, but did finish with 8 turnovers. Taking on Tre Mann, Cam Thomas, Scottie Pippen Jr, Devontae Shuler, Xavier Pinson, Jaden Springer and Keon Johnson will be a great test for Molinar all season long, and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for how he handles the grueling task of guarding SEC guards.

In terms of comparisons to how Molinar will fit at the next level, there are plenty of players with similar build’s and tools. Defensively, Molinar should make a similar impact to De’Anthony Melton and ranges all the way up to Kris Dunn. With his off the bounce scoring ability, Molinar is displaying similar traits to Cole Anthony, a right handed Kendrick Nunn and Anfernee Simons.

With any prospect, production will fluctuate. To this point, Molinar’s numbers are difficult to ignore. Diving deeper, the Panamian guard is beginning to display prominent, advanced and polished tools on both ends of the floor. It is extremely rare to see an elite prospect essentially laying in plain sight as a high major guard, but Molinar is exactly that.

Why are no NBA Draft evaluators talking about Iverson Molinar? A massively improved ball handler with athleticism, scoring polish and an improved decision making ability. The 2021 NBA Draft class appears incredibly deep, but Molinar’s development thus far has him riding the sleeper status. Remember this name, folks.

NBA Draft 2021: Jalen Suggs Report

By Max Feldman

Standout Analytics

  • 15 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists per game
  • 3.8 steals per 40 minutes
  • 2.6 turnovers on 24.1% usage rate
  • 48% from 3, 64% eFG

Strengths

  • Hard-nosed, high motor, relentless on both ends, impressive early defensively, can handily guard the 1 and 2
  • NBA ready frame at 6-4 and 205, has room for more muscle
  • Polished scorer with range, can get to his spots with ease, knifes through lane to finish with athleticism and premier touch
  • Elite playmaking, high IQ handler who passed his teammates open, flourishes as a passer when dealing with more attention

Weaknesses

  • Free throw percentage
  • Freakish motor has lead him to foul a bit too much
  • Not necessarily weak, but has development to do with his middle game, elite shooting + finishing will force him to be a threat in the intermediate level

Overview

I have said it before and I will say it again, Jalen Suggs should be atop every single Big Board. Jalen Suggs has proved to not just have minimal weaknesses within his game, but he has shown a prominence in every major category as a future NBA lead guard. Thus far, he has dwarfed what I thought he’d be coming out of Minnehaha, with questions concerning his playmaking and overall impact on winning basketball. I have a hard time poking any holes in his game.

An uber athletic lead guard with advanced ball handling, a high IQ, a flamethrower from deep when given the space and a deadly first step that collapses a defense with ease. Suggs has natural touch that extends, countering his impressive IQ as just a Freshman. Skip passes, drop offs and live ball swing passes have led to high assist numbers. Defensively, he’s a fighter and has phenomenal instincts. Long arms and quick feet have allowed Suggs to rack up steals.

Trajectory

NBA spacing and tempo should only serve to benefit Jalen Suggs from the jump. He will be an instant impact playmaker, scorer and defender. The 19 year old provides organizational direction with an All-Star level ceiling. In a PnR heavy league, Suggs should touch near 20 point and 8 assist per game marks while using his energy and athleticism to lockdown opposing guards. Feel for the game for young players not only bodes well for their instant impact, but Suggs will be polished at a younger age than most. He should approach stardom within just a few seasons and only improve as a decision maker. He is the cream of the crop within the 2021 field.

2021 NBA Draft: Six Favorite Traits

By Max Feldman

Dalano Banton’s Versatility

If it is not obvious yet, I am higher on Dalano Banton than just about anyone. Banton, a native Canadian, is the absolute premium example of how to impact winning basketball as a prospect. Over the last few draft results, the public is now opening their eyes to the idea that the top overall picks are not always those who put up the biggest numbers at the college level. Banton’s scoring does not make him an NBA player, but the vast amount of categories in which Banton brings production in an efficient manner should surely open eyes. At 6-9 and 205 pounds, Banton lands in the 85th percentile as a PnR ball handler. Yes, ball handler. The Cornhusker swiss army knife already has one triple-double on the season and comes pretty close to one a nightly basis. His shot still has some ironing out to do, but his massive improvement from the free throw line, heightened volume from beyond the arc and natural intermediate game lend plenty of optimism for his shooting outlook. For a wiry wing, you might think he’d struggle on the defensive end especially against B10 opponents. Yet, here are just a few major statistics to show Banton’s defensive versatility: 2 steals, 1.5 blocks and 10.6 rebounds per 40 minutes, 75th percentile guarding spot ups and 71st percentile guarding PnR ball handlers. Banton showed flashes as a Hilltopper and has now become a star with Nebraska. Simply put, Banton excels in essentially every category. As he puts on weight and gets up to near 220 pounds as expected early in his NBA career, and raises his shooting percentage to near 38% from three, currently 33%, Banton’s provides the two way impact every organization seeks on the wing with an even more unique skillset as a playmaker. You will rarely ever see a 6-9 wing averaging 5.5 assists on over a 2:1 assist to turnover ratio.

Moses Moody’s Quick Trigger

Filling the holes left by Isaiah Joe and Mason Jones is no easy task. Moses Moody has done that and so more, leading the Razorbacks to a quick 8-0 start. I do not think I have ever seen a player expand his role from high school to a Freshman year in high major college basketball, but that’s what playing with Montverde Academy will do. Moody is shooting a healthy 10 field goal attempts per game while getting to the line 5 times per game, an area I thought he could have low volume in. Moody does not hesitate to let it go when given space, connecting on 42% of his deep balls which account for nearly half his shot attempts. The Little Rock native uses a natural pump fake and a fluid hesitation move to get to his spots with ease. He is not an overwhelming athlete, but the manner in which he scores the ball with ease from all three levels relying on touch and a slithery ability to separate is nearly reminiscent Bradley Beal, though Moody has three inches on the former 3rd overall pick in 2012. It’s still early, but landing in the 88th percentile off of spot up opportunities bodes extremely well for his stock. In addition, Moody has been better defensively than advertised, using instincts and overall IQ producing a heightened defensive win share and PnR ball handling defense efficiency. The level of polish from an 18 year old is beyond impressive, and he is just getting started.

Keon Johnson’s Burst

It was always going to be a bit difficult to get a full grasp on what Keon Johnson would be at the next level in one year at Tennessee with the amount of talent they have, but the 6-5 guard’s athleticism and motor jump off the screen. Johnson comes off the bench to play just 18 minutes per game, but immediately speeds up the tempo of the game with the build to guard multiple positions and a knack to find the ball. Per 40 minutes, Johnson is averaging 3.3 steals, 6.5 boards and 1.5 steals. He has struggled shooting the rock and taking care of the ball, but the polishing of his game will likely be a longterm project. But for now, his burst remains constantly portrayed on the defensive end with an impressive +/- on that end and thus far is placed in the 99th percentile as a spot up defender and the 90th percentile as an overall defender. More highlights are surely to come with transition flushes and acrobatic finishes, but come draft time the excitement will stem from Johnson’s athletic burst and activity on the defensive end.

Day’Ron Sharpe’s Motor

Armando Bacot, Garrison Brooks and Walker Kessler are keeping Sharpe, the most talented of the bunch, from stacking up more than 18 minutes per game. When Sharpe is on the court, he does not hesitate to make his presence felt. Per 40 minutes, Sharpe puts up 16 boards and 3 blocks per game. Another Montverde alumni, Sharpe entered his collegiate career at a mature 6-11 and 265 pounds. For a massive big, he can move extremely well on both ends and uses his broad shoulders to carve out space in the paint. He is also active in the passing lanes, putting up 3.1 steals per game. The numbers are strong in a broader perspective, but just watching UNC when Sharpe is on the floor makes them look like a different team. The amount of activity put forth on the glass can swing a game in the Tar Heels direction and the energy is undoubtedly contagious to his teammates. Brooks and Bacot both have pretty polished post games with their back to the basket, whereas Sharpe is primarily a rim runner with flashes of a post game due to advanced footwork. Energy translates, and I quickly have fell in love with Sharpe’s outlook as a two way big. Think a more athletic Wendell Carter or a less versatile Bam Adebayo.

Justin Powell’s Confidence

By now, Powell should be everyone’s radar. A few weeks ago? Probably no one’s. The 6-6 Auburn Freshman carries an incredibly fluid scoring package with an undeniable confidence that jumps off the screen. Not only is Powell a shot creator, at 9 attempts from the field and 3 from the line each game, but he is a shot maker, shooting 51% from three (19/37 through 8 games), 49% from the field and 76% from the free throw line. He currently slots in at the 99th percentile against a zone defense, 96th percentile as a spot up scorer and 92nd percentile overall offensively. The analytics are sky high. There is a certain sort of swagger that oozes off the Goshen, Kentucky native on the offensive end. Powell is hard-nosed, gritty and shows an obvious pride in playing winning basketball. He was ranked outside the top 150 nationally as a recruit, and if there is such thing as better than advertised, that is Justin Powell. The entire nation including myself slept on Powell and he continues to prove himself game in and game out. Powell leads the Auburn Tigers in points, rebounds and assists per game. He remains a fringe top 30 prospect for me, because I want to see him compete against SEC competition on a relatively weak Auburn team, but at this point, I refuse to count out a potential leap. Think a right handed Luke Kennard with dare I say it, some hints of Tyler Herro as a versatile shot creator.

Jalen Sugg’s IQ & Feel for the Game

My love for BJ Boston is obvious. It was laid out in depth in my spotlight piece on the Kentucky Freshman. I bring that up because Jalen Suggs will now be atop my debut 2021 Big Board, because there is absolutely no reason anyone can be placed above him. Not only has Suggs not shown weakness in any specific area, he has shown a prominent strength in every aspect of the lead guard position. Suggs is averaged 8.6 assists and 8.4 rebounds per 40 minutes while hitting 50% of his 3’s and placing in the 81st percentile in overall defense. I had no doubt Suggs’ scoring would translate and he’d be a deadly transition weapon because of his athleticism, but I simply did not expect near this level of playmaking with Nembhard and Ayayi in the same backcourt. They are in extremely different situations, but the way that Suggs is elevating his team on both ends and setting up teammates in positions to thrive is what I expected from Cade Cunningham, who’s carrying a miserable 1:1 assist to turnover ratio. Cunningham will be special as a ball dominant creator with size, feel and a unique playmaking ability. I have a hard time keeping Evan Mobley out of the top spot simply due to the prominence of big men in the current NBA along with his special two way ability as a rim protector and all around scorer. As previously mentioned, I remain higher on BJ Boston than just about anyone because I am confident he will click sooner than later as he is far too talented. With all that, Jalen Suggs two way dominance and stardom game in and game out on the nation’s most talented roster is too difficult to ignore. The manner in which Suggs has grasped college basketball so quickly and not only had the ability to fill up the box score, but make his team much better when he is on the floor and dominate the opposition is the most impressive transition from High School to College that I have witnessed. We have yet to see a moment where Suggs does not look in control of the game. FOG loves to provide a unique lens and perspective on all prospects, especially at the top of the board, but there is absolutely no reason that Jalen Suggs shouldn’t be the top prospect on every 2021 NBA Draft Big Board.

Introducing OPR: Measuring Player Production Using Efficiency, Volume and Risk

Contributed by Aditya Fuldeore

How can a player’s production be measured based on opportunities and risks taken? There are many metrics adjusted and created to account for NBA player metrics. The one I created and am about to introduce is called Opportunity Production Rating (OPR). The goal of this statistic is to take into account player roles and shooting opportunities taken and see if they are making the most of them. In other words, it is a rating that shows a player’s pure production to the team per 100 possessions, adjusted to show scoring efficiency given the opportunities and risks a player takes when shooting.

For this statistic, I used per 100 possession statistics from the 2019-2020 NBA season from Basketball Reference. In order to help calculate player production, I used accessible stats in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, turnovers, and personal fouls, as well as shooting attempts stats and Box plus/minus. In order to see how efficient players are with the shot opportunities they take, I scaled their points in this according way: 

Scaled Points

(Points)        *                                 (Field Goals + Free Throws)

(2Pt Attempts + 0.673Pt Attempts + 0.67Free Throw Attempts)

Scaled Points rewards the player for taking more threes and drawing more fouls (shown via free throw attempts). Multiplying points by a combined and adjusted field goal and free throw percentage gives scaled points, adjusted to reward players for more taking more risks with more threes and drawing more fouls with free throws. 

Next, I got the formula for Opportunity Production Rating by first performing a model regression (in R programming) on Box plus/minus using points, assists, rebounds, steals, blocks, turnovers, and personal fouls. Box plus/minus (BPM)1 is a rate stat on Basketball Reference that estimates a player’s contribution in points above league average per 100 possessions played. I used it because it is a close indicator of what OPR is trying to find and would be useful in finding a balance of how much of each stat I used would contribute to a player’s production. To perform the regression, I used the per 100 possessions stats of players who played in more than 40 games for the 2019-2020 NBA season. As a result of this linear regression model, I got 0.32(PTS), 0.3(REB), 0.6(AST), 0.7(BLK), 1.2(STL), -1.6(TOV), -0.2(Fouls) as coefficients, meaning this is approximately how much each stat contributes to BPM for each player (not including any advanced calculations or additions that BPM may consider).  So, I used all of these coefficients in my formula for OPR, except for points, where I multiplied that coefficient by 2.5 (0.32 * 2.5 = 0.8) in order reinforce rewarding players for riskier shots and shot opportunities taken as I used Scaled Points, not just points. The ultimate formula for OPR I found is:

Opportunity Production Rating

0.8ScaledPoints + 0.3Rebounds+ 0.6Assists+ 1.2Steals+ 0.7Blocks – 1.6Turnovers – 0.2PersonalFouls

Based on this formula, here are player averages I found for listed positions for each player in the 2019-2020 NBA season: 

Position Group (as listed on Basketball Reference)Average OPR (> 40 games played)
PG14.36
SG12.85
SF12.56
PF13.80
C15.18
Totals13.74

Additionally, here are the top players in OPR (>40 games played) from the 2019-2020 NBA season:

PlayerTeamScaled PTSOPR
Giannis AntetokounmpoBucks30.6228.86
James HardenRockets33.4828.54
Luka DoncicMavericks28.7226.17
Kawhi LeonardClippers27.0426.06
Anthony DavisLakers26.0925.94

Here are lowest players (> 40 games played) in OPR from the 2019-20 NBA season:

PlayerTeamScaled PTSOPR
Terrance FergusonThunder4.444.19
Anthony TolliverTrail Blazers/Kings/Grizzlies5.996.48
Treveon GrahamTimberwolves/Hawks6.316.90
Rodney McGruderClippers5.256.94
Grant WilliamsCeltics6.437.15

It was generally found that an OPR above 22 is superstar level production, while an OPR from 11-15 is about average production, and an OPR below 8 was inefficient and underperforming player production. Most players were in the 8-15 OPR range.

One player with a surprisingly high OPR was Christian Wood with a 20.99. Wood was an efficient shooter and scorer, while he was a force around the rim as a rebounder and blocker, which likely led to amplified stats per 100 possessions, giving him a high OPR. Other surprising players with high OPR were guard Shaquille Harrison with a 17.3 OPR, and Boban Marjanovic with a 21.18. Both had roles with limited minutes coming off the bench for their teams and were highly efficient when on the court. Harrison was a great defender and efficient in other aspects of the game when on the court, leading to his high OPR. Marjanovic was an extremely productive rebounder, and a solid 2-point shooter and defender, leading to his high OPR. One player with surprisingly low OPR was Cleveland Cavaliers guard Darius Garland, with a 7.32 OPR. Garland was an O.K. shooter, but struggled defensively and did not get to the free throw line as much, likely leading to the low OPR.

In general, Opportunity Production Rating gives a rating for player production throughout the season per 100 possessions. OPR is similar to the Game Score stat from John Hollinger2 in that it attempts to calculate a player’s pure production, but is different in that it calculates production per 100 possessions and adjusts for risks and opportunities taken. As more information is gathered from player production in the NBA, OPR could be adjusted further to incorporate mid-range shots, layups, contested shots, and more all separately. More advanced stats could also be used in the OPR formula to get a more holistic rating. As the 2020-2021 NBA season gets underway, it will be interesting to see how accurate OPR may be in showing which players are most productive for their teams, and it can be adjusted according to accuracy and new situations that may be beneficial to account for in the stat. For now, OPR uses accessible stats on Basketball Reference to calculate player production adjusted for risks and opportunities taken. It can best be used to see how productive and how efficient with risks and opportunities taken a player is.

The following image is the top performers in terms of OPR from the 2019-20 season.

*This stat is per 100 possessions with stats and player information from the 2019-2020 NBA season from Basketball Reference, calculations made in RStudio

1BPM details: https://www.basketball-reference.com/about/bpm2.html

2Game Score in Basketball Reference glossary: https://www.basketball-reference.com/about/glossary.html

2021 NBA Draft: 4 Notes on the Top 40 Prospects

By Max Feldman

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

Evan Mobley

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

Cade Cunningham

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

BJ Boston

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

Jalen Suggs

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

Jalen Green

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

Jonathan Kuminga

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

Scottie Barnes

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

Keon Johnson

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

James Bouknight

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

Ziaire Williams

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

Jalen Johnson

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

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

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

Day’Ron Sharpe

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

Ayo Dosunmu

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

Kai Jones

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

Charles Bassey

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

Greg Brown

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

Moses Moody

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

Corey Kispert

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

Terrence Clarke

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

Juhann Begarin

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

Josh Christopher

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

Joel Ayayi

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

Cam Thomas

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

Jaden Springer

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

Vrenz Bleijenbergh

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

N’Faly Dante

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

Daishen Nix

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

Jared Butler

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

Isaiah Jackson

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

Moussa Cisse

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

Scottie Lewis

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

Marcus Bagley

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

Caleb Love

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

Usman Garuba

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

Terrence Shannon Jr

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

Roko Prkacin

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

Jalen Wilson

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

Justin Powell

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

High School Basketball: 2021 McDonald’s All American Game Roster Predictions

By Max Feldman

Current events surrounding COVID-19 are trending in the right direction for the 2021 McDonald’s All American Game, usually scheduled for late March. The 2020 MCDAAG was cancelled due to the pandemic, although the selections retained their All-American status. The annual All-American game gives evaluators an initial opportunity to analyze the nation’s top high school talent competing against one another through the practices, televised scrimmage and game. A year ago, FOG only missed on three selections in the 2020 MCDAAG Predictions.

Rather than the East vs. West breakdown from a year ago, the projected 24 players are listed and where they rank in the class due to MCDAAG’s odd system of breaking up the team disregarding geographic location.

Following last years trend, a few highly regarded prospects will likely take the professional route. Doing so makes the prospect ineligible for the MCDAAG. The projected will be listed with an asterisk below.

Prospect College CommitmentFOG Ranking
Chet HolmgrenUncommitted2
Jaden HardyUncommitted1
Paolo BancheroDuke3
Hunter SallisUncommitted5
Patrick Baldwin JrUncommitted4
JD DavisonAlabama7
AJ GriffinDuke10
Caleb HoustanMichigan9
Langston LoveBaylor14
Kendall BrownBaylor13
Kennedy ChandlerTennessee11
Max ChristieMichigan State15
Peyton WatsonUCLA16
Bryce McGowensNebraska17
Jabari SmithAuburn8
Moussa DiabateMichigan23
Harrison IngramStanford18
Aminu MohammedUncommitted22
Trevor KeelsUncommitted25
Jalen WarleyFlorida State21
Daimion CollinsKentucky20
Nathan BittleOregon12
Manny ObasekiTexas A&M19
Matthew ClevelandFlorida State24

*FOG’s 6th ranked prospect in the 2021 Class, Michael Foster, is likely G-League bound.

NBA Draft 2021: Breaking Down the Top Defenders

By Max Feldman

In the eyes of FOG, the top defenders in the modern NBA are the most versatile, hard-nosed and intelligent defenders. The influx of hard-nosed athletes into the NBA in recent drafts continues to impress. Some major factors that I seek when evaluating potential switch-ability in the PnR heavy modern NBA are lateral quickness, hip flexibility, anticipation/instincts, wingspan, physical maturity, footwork and quick hands. Those who follow FOG analysis closely know, defensive versatility along with feel for the game and the natural ability to produce as well as effect winning basketball on both ends carry extremely heavy weight in Big Board ranking. Below are six 2021 NBA Draft prospects who have high upside trajectories as versatile defenders.

Jonathan Kuminga

A ton of what I loved about Chicago Bulls rookie, Patrick Williams, aligns with my appeal to Kuminga in the 2021 class. Kuminga will be one of the youngest prospects in the field upon draft night, as he was reclassified up to join the G-League Ignite program. With his youth, Kuminga’s frame is NBA ready at 6-8 and close to 220 pounds. Powerful athletes with this level size should produce defensively very early on in their careers. Kuminga has quick feet and massive arms, with the tools to guard the 1-4 handily. Motor has not been a concern in the past, which can be a theme in such a young, talented prospect. He has flashed the ability to block shots in solid volume and should continue to add to his frame while maintaining athleticism. Kuminga was not included in the recent piece covering the top athletes in the 2021 Draft because he is the headliner in this one, but he is certainly among that group as well. We likely will not see an wink of meaningful competition out of Kuminga prior to his NBA debut, but his defensive versatility makes me more than confident enough to keep him in my top seven while his offense develops.

Scottie Barnes

Barnes has flashed a ton through just a few games with the Seminoles. Not only does Leonard Hamilton produce NBA wings (Malik Beasley, Dwayne Bacon, Devin Vassell, Patrick Williams) but he produces high level defenders very early on. Barnes is next in line and has stunted incredibly quick hands with more advanced instincts than any of the FSU alumni previously listed. Defense is just a portion of what makes him a top ten prospect for me, but his build at 6-9 and 230 pounds with subtle athleticism and guard-like feet will allow him to make impact on that end early on. He’s feel for the game oozes on good and bad nights, a rare trait for a Freshman this early on. Fellow Montverde alumni, Ben Simmons, is a better athlete than Barnes, but I do think they can have a similar defensive impact at their best. The Noles have pegged Barnes as their lead guard and do keep the ball in his hands a ton offensively, putting him in the situation to guard either the opponents best player or a guard who is quicker than him. He has impressed early and will only get better. The sequences of isolated full court pressure provide strong insight to his motor, intensity and toughness. Scottie Barnes is quickly creating quite the resume of intangibles.

Marcus Garrett

Garrett is likely the most talented and impressive perimeter defender in the entire country. This season has been his opportunity to take on more volume offensively, but has essentially taken on the opponents best offensive player since he cracked the Jayhawk rotation Freshman year. Long arms, quick feet, elite instincts, strong athleticism and a relentless motor will make an NBA organization very happy a year from now. He is not a liability offensively, but his production potential is limited, yet he will be difficult to keep out of a rotation because of his defensive value.

Terrence Clarke

Clarke is more raw defensively than the others, but at 6-7 and close to 200 pounds, he has displayed the flashes and has the tools to be a strong, versatile wing defender. Calipari is going to push him to improve his motor and really compete defensively. Kentucky is challenged in pretty much every area, but their three standout Freshman have all shown strong defensive flashes. Isaiah Jackson is an elite rim defender and Boston is highly instinctual, long defender with work to do on his frame. Clarke might end up being the best of the bunch defensively because of his wingspan, lateral quickness, athleticism and motor.

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl

Jeremiah Robinson-Earl is a more impressive and all-around prospect than Saddiq Bey from a year ago. Bey was pegged by many as an elite defender at Villanova, but showed more signs of being a product of an elite defensive scheme rather than a talented individual defender. JRE is both for me, as he is a longer prospect at 6-9 and 235 pounds and is a better athlete. Bey had slow feet at times and tighter hips, whereas JRE has thrived switching on screens and guarding multiple positions. At the next level, I think he will be able to compete with many pure big men but also be able to matchup against the pogo stick 4/5 athletes who are becoming more and more prevalent. Long strides, highly advanced instincts that are natural for any Jay Wright product and a fluid athletic ability make Robinson-Earl a fantastic two-way prospect that I continue to rise on the more I watch.

Terrence Shannon jr

Shannon is a powerful athlete with a mature frame and is a product of the Chris Beard defensive scheme. Most know my affinity for Jahmi’us Ramsey last go around. Jarrett Culver’s defense the draft prior was an incredibly sought after skillset, and Nimari Burnett will likely be the same in 2022. The Chicago native has an NBA ready frame at 6-6 and 210 pounds but his feet move much quicker than you’d expect. Different than others listed, I would not peg him as a guy who can guard 4-5 positions at the next level, but I do think he can be an elite wing defender pretty early on. Beard teaches wings how to defend with physicality, anticipation and footwork largely depending on lateral quickness to keep the ball out of the paint. Ice coverages continue to become more popular in NBA schemes, a trend that should serve Shannon well.

NBA Draft 2021: Breaking Down the Top Athletes

By Max Feldman

FOG has consistently preached the heightened value of highly skilled, high IQ prospects in the Pre-Draft evaluation system, but there will always be a place in the NBA for premier athletes who make their presence felt because of their speed, vertical ability and power. At the wing spots, athleticism is extremely sought after because of how it can quickly translate on the defensive end and how productive shooting coaches continue to prove to be with young players. Essentially, shooting can be taught later, whereas athleticism can not. For big men, the value of rim runners continues to increase. Vertical floor spacers and strong, physical screen setters who can dive to the rim provide a safety net for easy dump offs. In a space and pace modern NBA, rim defense is a pre-requisite for any competing roster. The following group of six is the next influx of elite athletes on the wing and the front court.

Jalen Green

Jalen Green is a generational athlete and potentially one of the most talented prospects to enter the NBA in recent years. Green opted for the G-League route, and we will likely never see him play in a minute of competitive action prior to his NBA debut. The 6-5 and 180 pound scorer is a consensus top five prospect and if he does choose to participate in the combine next off-season, he will be a competitor for the 46 inch record. Green is the most impressive high school prospect I have seen in the person outside of Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram largely due to due his extraordinarily unique combination of skill and athleticism. He thrives as a slasher, rising up and slithering around big men to finish with elite touch. Green’s body control and ability to hit a launch pad when attacking the rim bode well for his long term scoring outlook. Long arms, strong lateral quickness and massive strides provide optimism for Green’s defensive potential, but he still has plenty of work to do there. Jalen Green’s athletic ability is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of his skillset for FOG. He will be one of the premier athletes in the entire NBA from the minute he steps on the court.

Keon Johnson

Far too many people still do not know who Keon Johnson is, but they will. The Freshman has an abrupt, powerful athletic ability that does not stand out as much as others because of his tendency to lean on his craftiness. At 6-5 and 190 pounds, Johnson uses massive strides to finish with his head above the rim in transition. A major swing trait that I am watching for all season long is Johnson’s ability to hit perimeter shots simply due to the uncapped potential he has a closeout attacker. A smooth, fluid athlete who uses his power when needed creates the necessary blend for NBA execs to trust his development as a starting level, two-way combo guard. His explosive ability off drives and potential defensive versatility make him a top 10 prospect for FOG.

Juhann Begarin

The 6-5 and 185 Frenchman is more raw than the previously mentioned combo guards, but might be the most hard-nosed of the bunch. At this point, Begarin is essentially a non-shooter, but remains in the top 15 for FOG because of his body of work as a versatile, athletic defender and powerful slashing ability. Begarin is the prime example of how execs will trust his athletic ability and consequently trust their developmental staff to figure out the shot later on. There are hints of Emmanuel Mudiay, but it is a gamble that plenty of execs will be willing to take in the top 20 because of the rare athletic ability. Teams with flexibility and patience will find a ton of appeal in Begarin’s athleticism.

Greg Brown

There is no hiding that Greg Brown has struggled thus far. Texas appears to be deeper and more talented than any roster yet under Shaka Smart, and while Greg Brown has had strong volume and remains a key piece, he has a long ways to go become a productive, two-way piece. Shooting 33% from the field through 5 games is woeful, but Brown remains one of the most explosive athletes in the 2021 Draft by a fair margin. Poster slams, high rising rebounds and flair in transition should be staples throughout the season giving him enough juice to be an eventual first round pick. The transition from high school ball to high major NCAA competition is a large obstacle for a wiry, 6-9 and 205 pound Freshman who relies heavily on his athletic ability. His speed, verticality and motor made him a 5 star prospect in the class of 2020, but when he’s on the court with other elite athletes, he does not stick out nearly as much. He’s not the first case of this scenario, and will not be the last. Nassir Little, Andrew Wiggins, Ben McLemore and Kahlil Whitney all stick out as similar stories in the previous few seasons. The key developmental points for Greg Brown are obvious, and it might take a few years of polishing before he becomes more than just an athletic, vertical threat.

Feron Hunt

Hunt is a FOG favorite. I absolutely love this kids athletic ability, body control, defensive versatility, pogo stick jumping ability and overall grit on both ends. At 6-8 and 200 pounds, Hunt would have been in FOG’s Top 50 on the 2020 Big Board had he kept his name in the field. 2021 is a far stronger field, and he will likely be a part of the top 40. The SMU Mustang is Derrick Jones Jr with solid touch out to the arc to me. He is a prototypical four man in the modern NBA because his ability to guard all five positions and bring rebounding production due to his relentless motor. As a Junior now, Hunt is a high IQ cutter who makes defenses pay for collapsing too aggressively on ball handlers with a high volume of back door lob finishes. He could use more strength and more proof of development as a shooter, but is one of the AAC’s best players and one of the most slept on prospects in the 2021 Draft.

Kai Jones

Jones has made a massive jump in year two under Shaka Smart. When evaluating Texas as a whole thus far, two things stand out. Kai Jones might just be the strongest NBA prospect on the roster at this point. Kai Jones does not play like a 6-11 big man. Quick feet, improved touch and a thickened frame making Jones a strong bet to land in the first round in 2021. A ridiculous 94% from the field and 3 for 3 from deep has brought some rapid attention to the Bahamian big man. Jarrett Allen and Jaxson Hayes stayed pretty under the radar and had limited production during their collegiate careers, but ended up as top 25 selections. Hayes was a more impressive athlete and Allen had more impressive measurements, but Kai Jones might be the most collectively talented prospect of the three.

Isaiah Jackson

Since his days at Spire Academy, Isaiah Jackson has always been an eye catching talent with his athleticism. When talking rim runners, Jackson’s skillset and physicality as a rim defending presence and vertical floor spacer, or lob finisher, make him an interesting prospect in the 2021 Draft. At this point, he heavily leans on his athletic ability on both ends, and that is about it. Is that enough? Potentially, because he will debut in the top 50 of the 2021 Big Board. At 6-10 and 206 pounds, he plays much bigger than he is and is extremely mobile on PnR coverages. Wrapping his head around defensive schemes and putting himself in the right place to clean up misses offensively will be the keys to making him a one and done, because no one doubts his extreme athletic ability.

Scottie Lewis

The Florida Sophomore opted to return for another year because evaluators saw him as purely an athlete, rather than collective wing talent. He has work to do as a shot maker and ball handler, but his gargantuan wingspan and explosive athletic ability have been and will be the mainstays of his NBA Draft stock. There are a ton of players alike Lewis in the NBA who have been drafted because of their athleticism like Terrence Ferguson, Hamidou Diallo and Cassius Stanley, but what will elevate him into the first round is an improved jumper and proven scoring ability. With all that, it is impossible to keep an athlete like Scottie Lewis off this list regardless of his skillset flaws.