High School Hoops: Final 2021 Rankings

By Max Feldman

Rather quickly, the 2021 recruiting class and the 2022 NBA draft class has become one of my favorites to evaluate in recent years. A wing heavy group with high level athleticism, prominent defensive tools and extremely two-way versatility with a growing sense of polish for 17 year old prospects. Paolo Banchero defines versatility and could wind up as one of the most polarizing NBA prospects of the last decade with how well his skillset fits in the NBA in a wide range of roles. My take on leapfrogging NBA evaluation down an additional level from college and international play takes the spotlight with this class and my rankings, as there multiple increasingly appealing prospects floating outside the top 20 in national rankings. Much more content is to come breaking down this class.

  1. Paolo Banchero
  2. Jaden Hardy
  3. Hunter Sallis
  4. Jabari Smith
  5. Chet Holmgren
  6. Pat Baldwin JR
  7. Brandon Huntley-Hatfield
  8. Daimion Collins
  9. Kendall Brown
  10. Kennedy Chandler
  11. JD Davison
  12. Caleb Houston
  13. Peyton Watson
  14. Moussa Diabate
  15. Michael Foster
  16. Josh Minott
  17. Harrison Ingram
  18. Max Christie
  19. Nate Bittle
  20. AJ Griffin
  21. Ty Ty Washington
  22. Kowacie Reeves
  23. Nolan Hickman
  24. Langston Love
  25. Bryce McGowens

2021 NBA Draft: Checking In With JT Thor

By Max Feldman

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

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

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

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

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

How’s the draft process going?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sharife Cooper.

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

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

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

I am still 50/50.

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

2021 NBA Draft: Checking In With Vrenz Bleijenbergh

By Max Feldman

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

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

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

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

How’s the draft process going?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2021 NBA Draft: Updated Big Board Heading Into May

By Max Feldman

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

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

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

By Max Feldman

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

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

Jaden Ivey

Purdue Freshman || 6-4 200 pounds

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

Micah Peavy

Texas Tech Freshman || 6-7 215 pounds

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

Matthew Murrell

Ole Miss Freshman || 6-4 200 pounds

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

Josh Primo

Alabama Freshman || 6-6 190 pounds

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

Will Richardson

Oregon Junior || 6-5 180 pounds

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

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

Efe Abogidi

Washington State Freshman || 6-10 225 pounds

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

Jae’lyn Withers

Louisville Redshirt Freshman || 6-8 230 pounds

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

Jabri Abdur-Rahim

Virginia Freshman || 6-7 214 pounds

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

Additional Names To Keep An Eye On:

Dawson Garcia (Marquette)

Allen Flanigan (Auburn)

Mwani Wilkinson (LSU)

Adam Miller (Illinois)

Isiaih Mosley (Missouri State)

Santi Aldama (Loyola MA)

Antoine Davis (Detroit-Mercy)

NBA: Rookies Making Their Mark Pre-All Star Break

Contributed by Aditya Fuldeore

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

LaMelo Ball

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

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 1

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

Tyrese Haliburton

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

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 7

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

James Wiseman

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

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 3

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

Immanuel Quickley

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

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 34

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

Saddiq Bey

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

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 20

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

Desmond Bane

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

FOG Final Big Board Rank: 21

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

Other Rookies to Watch:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Max Feldman

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

Jonathan Kuminga

6-8 210 poundsG-League Ignite

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

FOG NBA Comparisons: Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Williams

Evan Mobley

7-0 215 poundsUSC Trojans

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

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

Cade Cunningham

6-8 220 poundsOklahoma State Cowboys

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

FOG NBA Comparisons: Grant Hill and Luka Doncic

Jalen Suggs

6-4 205 poundsGonzaga Bulldogs

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

FOG NBA Comparisons: Gilbert Arenas and Jrue Holiday

Jalen Green

6-5 180 poundsG-League Ignite

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

FOG NBA Comparisons: Zach LaVine and Jason Richardson

2021 NBA Draft: NBA Comparisons for 40 Prospects

By Max Feldman

The time has come. It is once again time to compare the next cycle of NBA Draft prospects to current or former NBA players. I have two NBA comparisons for each prospect, and while it might be difficult to digest what comparisons mean at times, I prefer to frame them as a reference to how the prospect will fit in at the next level in terms of style of play, in addition to a relative range of their long term potential. Following the layout of the comparisons is a detailed chart showing the NBA comparisons measurements and final collegiate or international statistics in order to provide a reference to their development at their respective age.

ProspectNBA ComparisonNBA Comparison
Jalen SuggsGilbert ArenasJrue Holiday
Cade CunninghamGrant HillLuka Doncic
Evan MobleyAnthony DavisRight-Handed Chris Bosh
Jalen GreenZach LaVineJason Richardson
Jonathan KumingaKawhi LeonardPatrick Williams
Sharife CooperChris PaulDarius Garland
Moses MoodyKhris MiddletonCJ McCollum
Corey KispertKlay ThompsonDuncan Robinson
Scottie BarnesScottie PippenRight-Handed Thaddeus Young
BJ BostonBrandon IngramTim Hardaway Jr
Franz WagnerAndrei KirilenkoKelly Olynyk
Kai JonesChristian WoodDwight Powell
Jalen JohnsonDeMar DeRozanJabari Parker
Keon JohnsonVictor OladipoKeldon Johnson
James BouknightCaris LeVertRight-Handed Kevin Porter Jr
Ziaire WilliamsMikal BridgesLouis King
Ayo DosunmuShai Gilgeous-AlexanderDelon Wright
Day’Ron SharpeAndre DrummoundRichaun Holmes
Josh GiddeyLaMelo BallJoe Ingles
Davion MitchellEric GordonDe’Anthony Melton
Usman GarubaBrandon ClarkeMarquese Chriss
Greg BrownJerami GrantRight-Handed Darius Bazley
Charles BasseyMyles TurnerThomas Bryant
Jared ButlerMalcolm BrogdonShake Milton
Josh ChristopherMalik BeasleyJosh Hart
Roko PrkacinCam JohnsonMaxi Kleber
Bones HylandImmanuel QuickleyTerry Rozier
Cam ThomasLou WilliamsE’Twuan Moore
Jaden SpringerMarcus SmartNorman Powell
Jeremiah Robinson-EarlBobby PortisPJ Washington
Iverson MolinarMonta EllisRodrigue Beaubois
David JohnsonJosh RichardsonMason Jones
Alperen SengunNikola VucevicGoga Bitadze
Terrence Shannon JrKelly OubreLeft-Handed Josh Okogie
Tre MannCoby WhiteCorey Joseph
Dalano BantonNic BatumKyle Anderson
Daishen NixRicky RubioElfrid Payton
Romeo WeemsRight-Handed Miles BridgesLeft-Handed Derrick Jones
Vrenz BleijenberghDavis BertansNicolo Melli
Marcus BagleyTobias HarrisJaMychal Green
ProspectHeight (in)Weight (lb)NBA COMPHeight (in)Weight (lb)FG%3P%FT%PPGRPGAPGSPGBPGTPGNBA COMPHeight (in)Weight (lb)FG%3P%FT%PPGRPGAPGSPGBPGTPG
Jalen Suggs76205Gilbert Arenas751910.4790.4160.72416.23.62.31.80.22.8Jrue Holiday751800.450.3070.7268.53.83.71.60.52.1
Cade Cunningham80220Luka Doncic (International 17-18)792300.450.310.78914.25.34.51.10.42.2Grant Hill802250.4620.390.70317.46.95.21.91.23
Evan Mobley84210Anthony Davis822200.6230.150.70914.210.41.31.44.71Chris Bosh – Righty822280.560.4780.7315.691.212.22.3
Jalen Green77180Zach LaVine771800.4410.3750.6919.42.51.80.90.21.1Jason Richardson782200.5030.4020.68914.75.92.21.20.81.3
Jonathan Kuminga80210Kawhi Leonard792250.4440.2910.75915.510.62.51.40.62.1Patrick Williams802250.4590.320.8389.241111.7
Sharife Cooper73180Chris Paul721750.4510.4740.83415.34.56.62.402.8Darius Garland741750.5370.4780.7516.23.82.60.80.43
Moses Moody78205Khris Middleton792170.4150.260.7513.252.310.32.2CJ McCollum751800.4950.5160.84923.952.91.40.32.7
Corey Kispert79220Klay Thompson782000.4360.3980.83821.65.23.71.60.93.4Duncan Robinson801900.440.3840.8919.22.41.10.70.40.6
Scottie Barnes81227Scottie Pippen8022823.6104.3Thaddeus Young – Righty802200.4780.4190.74314.44.921.30.42.2
BJ Boston79185Brandon Ingram811900.4420.410.68217.36.821.11.42Tim Hardaway Jr782050.4370.3740.69414.54.72.40.70.41.9
Franz Wagner81220Andrei Kirilenko (International 00-01)81235Kelly Olynyk842380.6290.30.77617.87.31.70.71.12.4
Kai Jones83218Christian Wood832200.4970.2840.73615.7101.30.32.72.4Dwight Powell822400.4620.2560.687146.93.11.30.82.9
Jalen Johnson81220DeMar DeRozan792200.5230.1670.64613.95.71.50.90.42.1Jabari Parker802350.4730.3580.74819.18.71.21.11.22.3
Keon Johnson77186Victor Oladipo772140.5990.4410.74613.66.32.12.20.82.3Keldon Johnson782110.4610.3810.70313.55.91.60.80.21.6
James Bouknight77190Caris LeVert792000.5060.4460.79416.55.34.910.21.7Kevin Porter Jr – Righty782180.4710.4120.5229.541.40.80.51.9
Ziaire Williams80185Mikal Bridges791910.5140.4350.85117.75.31.91.51.11.4Louis King812050.4350.3860.78513.55.51.30.90.22.1
Ayo Dosunmu77200Shai Gilgeous-Alexander781800.4850.4040.81714.44.15.11.60.52.7Delon Wright771780.5090.3560.83614.54.95.12.111.9
Day’Ron Sharpe83265Andre Drummond822700.53800.295107.60.40.82.71.5Richaun Holmes802450.5630.4190.71214.780.80.72.71.9
Josh Giddey80205LaMelo Ball (International 19-20)791810.3890.2790.717.27.86.81.50.22.5Joe Ingles (International 13-14)802260.4520.3660.69762.92.70.80.11.2
Davion Mitchell74205Eric Gordon75220.4330.3370.83420.93.32.41.30.63.6De’Anthony Melton761900.4370.2840.7068.34.73.51.911.8
Usman Garuba80229Brandon Clarke802150.6870.2670.69416.98.61.91.23.21.5Marquese Chriss812250.530.350.68213.75.40.80.91.62
Greg Brown81205Jerami Grant802100.49600.67412.16.81.40.80.61.2Darius Bazley (HS)80208
Charles Bassey83235Myles Turner832400.4550.2740.83910.16.50.60.32.61.4Thomas Bryant822450.5190.3830.7312.66.61.50.81.52.3
Jared Butler75195Malcolm Brogdon772170.4570.3910.89718.24.13.10.90.21.4Shake Milton771950.4490.4340.847184.74.41.40.62.3
Josh Christopher77215Malik Beasley771900.4710.3870.81315.65.31.50.90.21.7Josh Hart772050.510.4040.74718.76.42.91.60.32
Roko Prkacin81210Cam Johnson762050.5760.4680.68318.24.51.91.101.7Maxi Kleber (International 16-17)822400.5060.3860.799.15.71.60.91.11.2
Bones Hyland75165Terry Rozier731900.4110.3060.7917.15.6320.22.2Immanuel Quickley751880.4170.4280.92316.14.21.90.90.11.6
Cam Thomas76210Lou Williams (HS)73175E’Twuan Moore761910.4470.40.709185.13.21.20.51.8
Jaden Springer76204Marcus Smart762200.4220.2990.728185.94.82.90.62.6Norman Powell762150.4560.3190.75116.44.72.11.80.42.2
Jeremiah Robinson-Earl81230Bobby Portis832420.5360.4670.73717.58.91.21.11.41.6PJ Washington802280.5220.4230.66315.27.51.80.81.22
Iverson Molinar75190Monta Ellis (HS)7518538.47.96.94.5Rodrigue Beaubois (International 08-09)731830.4730.3170.583102.52.31.10.41.9
David Johnson77210Josh Richardson782000.4610.3590.798164.53.62.10.52.7Mason Jones772000.4530.3510.826225.53.41.60.23.2
Alperen Sengun81240Nikola Vucevic822200.5050.3490.75517.110.31.60.51.41.7Goga Bitadze (International 18-19)832450.5710.40.67913.96.31.10.51.91.8
Terrence Shannon Jr78210Kelly Oubre792000.4440.3580.7189.350.81.10.41.2Josh Okogie – Lefty762070.4160.380.82118.26.32.51.812.5
Tre Mann77190Coby White771850.4230.3530.816.13.54.11.10.32.7Cory Joseph751850.4220.4130.69910.43.6310.31.5
Dalano Banton81204Nic Batum (International 07-08)802000.4990.3380.726114.43.41.30.72.3Kyle Anderson812300.480.4830.73714.68.86.51.80.83.1
Daishen Nix77205Ricky Rubio (International 10-11)751900.3160.2520.8075.33.23.81.60.11.8Elfrid Payton751800.5090.2590.60919.265.92.30.63.6
Romeo Weems79215Miles Bridges – Righty792300.4570.3640.85317.172.70.60.82Derrick Jones Jr – Righty791900.5890.2050.59411.54.50.80.91.31.2
Vrenz Bleijenbergh82170Davis Bertans (International 15-16)822250.4330.4260.8757.82.50.90.50.50.9Nicolo Melli (International 18-19)812350.4580.410.8048.74.41.90.80.41.1
Marcus Bagley80215Tobias Harris802260.460.3030.75315.37.31.30.70.91.8JaMychal Green802400.5460.20.69147.41.80.71.52.7
Contributed by Aditya Fuldeore

2021 NBA Draft: FOG’s Favorites as Evaluation Heats Up

By Max Feldman

As we inch towards the postseason of a college basketball season like no other, it is time to fully stake my claim on prospects that are building the most enticing stock to this point. The top end of this draft class is extremely special, but the middle tiers all the way down to the early 40’s are what I see pushing this class to the next level. In the 2020 Draft, FOG put an early stamp on LaMelo Ball, Jahmi’us Ramsey, Deni Avdija, Tyrese Haliburton and a few others. An extremely different class, but nonetheless, these are FOG’s favorite prospects in the 2021 NBA Draft class with more likely to come into the fold.

Within the top five group of Suggs, Mobley, Cunningham, Green and Kuminga, there is plenty to love about each of them. None will be included because they are unanimously recognized as top ten picks. Of the bunch, Suggs, Mobley and Kuminga are the three who most closely fit the style prospect I seek out.

Stay tuned on Twitter ( @MaxFeldman6 ) for daily coverage on these prospects and many, more.

Moses Moody

I have not been shy about my fandom for Moses Moody’s game. After seeing the majority of Montverde’s outings last season before the closure of the season to COVID, Moses Moody was the more under the radar prospect on one of the best high school rosters of all time. Home to Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes, Day’Ron Sharpe along with multiple elite 2021 recruits, Moody primarily showed flashes as a prep player. I was intrigued to see how he’d fill the massive shot creating void left by Mason Jones and Isaiah Joe, but I did not expect this. At 6-6 and 205, Moody has become the go-to scorer putting up nearly 17 points a game. Scoring Freshman come and go, but here are the two factors that have Moses Moody squarely in my top 6 picture. Of my top 12 prospects on the updated February Big Board, Moses Moody has the lowest usage rate at just 22.1%, yet he still is eclipsing 20 points per 40 minutes on a fantastic 52% EFG. Second point being, he is contributing to winning basketball although he is not a dominant playmaker. The 2.1 offensive win shares is the second highest in my top 50 listed prospects (Ayo Dosunmu – 2.4 Off WS), while the total of 3.0 win shares is the second highest of any Freshman prospect on my board (Evan Mobley – 3.4 WS). Arkansas lost a lot, but remain at the #26 slot in the KenPom rankings because of how Moses Moody has fit into Eric Musselman’s system in Fayetteville.

The level of polish from not just a Freshman, but my second youngest prospect listed outside of Jonathan Kuminga, has created one of the more appealing draft stocks I have ever evaluated. I can not foresee Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley or Cade Cunningham sliding out of my top 3, and I am very bullish on Jonathan Kuminga and Jalen Green as most others are, but if these trends remain steady or improve, I will have a hard time keeping Moses Moody out of my top 5 prospects in the long run.

Bones Hyland

Another prospect I have been all over recently, Nah’Shon “Bones” Hyland will be in my top 30 moving forward. The 20 year old has taken a big jump after returning to VCU for a Sophomore campaign, more than doubling his point and steal per game output while seeing his usage rate boost to a monstrous 31%. He carries the load for a top 60 team in the nation, taking 26% of their total field goals. Although he remains a pure scorer with non-natural playmaking skills, his offensive analytics are sky high. Bones leads VCU in offensive, defensive and total win shares and has a strong 4.8 offensive box plus/minus.

The Immanuel Quickley comparison has spread rather quickly, and in the past mainstream comparisons often lead draft media consumers in the wrong directions, but this one makes sense. Bones is heavily reliant on his elite level touch from the rim all the way to 30 feet. A 55% EFG and 58% true shooting rate is extremely impressive in addition to a worldly 92nd percentile in spot up offensive situations, via Synergy Sports. Simply put, Bones is one of the more impressive offensive prospects in the 2021 class with a clear cut role as an off ball scorer at the next level. Fitting into a Terry Rozier role offensively seems like a strong bet as well. Quickley has been awesome early on and entered the NBA at the same age that Bones will, so the blueprint of defending with a high motor and long arms should provide additional optimism. Bones’ defense has been an issue at times because of his mighty narrow frame at just over 170 pounds. He’s currently in 35th percentile in overall defense, but there are two points that relieve my nerves about his defensive outlook, which have been the catalyst for Bones moving into my top 25. Bones Hyland’s wingspan has not been measured, but it is certainly plus ‘4, and those tools have accounted for a strong 4.0% steal rate and 2.8 steals per 40 minutes. Secondly, he’s in the 79th percentile in guarding Pick & Roll ball handlers. He understands how to guard, but has work to do in growing his motor, maturing his body and defending with more consistency.

Josh Giddey

I have had some ups and downs in evaluating this international class in 2021 with Usman Garuba, Ariel Hukporti and Roko Prkacin fluctuating from my top 20 down to 45. As international slowly gets going, prospects will move on to and off the radar as playing time is hard to come by in a lot of these leagues for 18 and 19 year olds.

While I do see those three in addition to Alperen Sengun fitting into the final 35 come draft night, Josh Giddey’s early performances with the Adelaide 36er’s have my eyes far closer on the NBL. Giddey is an Australian guard, who just recently turned 18 years old. At 6-8 and 205 pounds, Giddey carries that rare feel for the game that we’ve seen from two of the most appealing prospects of the last few drafts. Whether if it is his natural style of play in combination with his size or just a developmental coincidence, Giddey shows a ton of the same raw tools and traits as LaMelo Ball and Luka Doncic. NBL Rising Star’s rarely provide notable statistics due to a high level of mature competition, but Giddey’s 9 points, 5 assists (with a 1.92 assist to turnover ratio) and 8 boards are very impressive. Through 5 games, Giddey is placing in the 72nd percentile in overall defense, another impressive statistic for a wiry 18 year old. As the evaluation period heats up post-NCAA season, expect a massive boost from the mainstream draft media on Josh Giddey as heads turn towards international play. The manner in which the youngster digests the PnR, makes the right pass to keep the ball moving and contributes in a variety of winning basketball areas is beyond his years. As of today, Josh Giddey is my 15th ranked prospect. Doncic and Ball were anomalies of talents, but I have not been shy about my enthusiasm for both, and Giddey is showing a ton of the same early signals.

Franz Wagner

Wagner has been a riser for most evaluators as Michigan has stormed to a 13-1 record and a top 3 ranking in the nation. No player in country has impressed me more defensively than Franz Wagner, as he’s taken a massive jump in his Sophomore season on that end. Gaining mass has certainly helped, now at 6-9 and 220 pounds. In debatably the toughest conference in college basketball, Franz Wagner leads the B10 in defensive rating at 87.0, in defensive win shares at 1.1 and defensive box plus/minus (by a very large margin) at 7.1. Wagner fits in at the next level as a four or five man becuase of his defensive versatility while being a decent shot blocker with a 2.4 block per 40 minute clip and a 4.1% block percentage. In addition, he is in the 80th percentile in overall defense, 86th percentile defending the PnR and 73rd percentile defending spot up shooters. Wagner makes up for a shorter wingspan with the quickest feet on a big in the country and elite, unprecedented defensive instincts.

Offensively, Wagner has always had the tools. He has become more aggressive as a driver, shooting 1.8 2PT FG per game while getting to the line more often, a key swing trait that many fans were hungry to see. He is a phenomenal passer considering his size and low usage rate, with an 18% assist rate and 4.2 assists per 40 minutes on a 19.5% usage rate. The standout offensive skill has always been as a shooter, and that has not changed. He is lights out from the free throw line at 86% and while the 3 PT percentage is just 32% to this point, it should only rise as Hunter Dickinson draws more attention inside. Wagner is squarely in the top 12 picture for the 2021 NBA Draft, with numerous intangibles that do not come along much.

Kai Jones

Kai Jones, Texas Sophomore, comes off the bench for one of the best teams in the nation. At 6-11 and 220, the former Brewster Academy stud has been a late riser but is certainly opening eyes of NBA scouts as a 20 year old. There is no official wingspan measurements, but reports rumor it to be near 7-5 and that passes the eye test. He plays just 22.5 minutes per game, but when he’s in, Texas is a better team. Jones leads the Longhorns in offensive rating at 125.4 with a gargantuan 65% EFG and 66% true shooting percentage. Jones should see a smooth transition to the NBA and while his top end stardom might not be as promising as others in his territory, his athleticism, energy and overall motor, toughness and unique touch make him the prototypical big man in the modern NBA. A lights out 42% from 3 point range make him the ultra-rare vertical and horizontal floor spacer. The Bahamanian-born high flyer will not leave my top 15 in the long run.

I’ve outlined his sky high analytics time after time, listed below in my recent tweet.

Sharife Cooper

Heads are beginning to turn on the Sharife Cooper front just 8 games into his collegiate career at Auburn after a turbulent start. To be completely transparent, I was not bullish on Cooper’s NBA Draft stock prior to the season, as he simply is not my type of prospect to stamp my name on. Yet, a few weeks later, I believe I currently have Cooper pegged the highest of any 2021 NBA Draft Big Board currently available. Not only is Auburn a completely different team with Cooper in the fold, Sharife is proving to be even better than many believed after an esteemed career at McEachern in Powder Springs, Georgia. Cooper has been lights out as a playmaker with a 52.4% assist rate, currently on pace to break Ja Morant’s record for assist percentage in a season which was 51.7%. Playing in one of the more physical, athletic conferences in the country, Cooper’s aggression and tendency to get to the line 10 times per game certainly shows the attitude he is bringing in addition to how much he’s grown in the offseason. Each and every there has come around a player where one idea jumps off the screen to me, this guy has just played far more basketball in his life than anyone else on the court. In 2018, it was Trae Young. In 2019, it was Darius Garland, while he was healthy. And last year, it was LaMelo Ball. Sharife Cooper is that guy for me this year. His ability to make plays for others is heads and shoulders above any other prospect in this class. As I preached on with Cole Anthony last season, I trust playmakers who can make plays for themselves with ease over those who rack up high assist numbers on high usage with low scoring outputs. Cooper creates space naturally using a polished ball handling skillset, a phenomenal ability to change speeds and a lightning quick first step attacking closeouts. Shooting has been a low point thus far, at just 20% from 3 point range, yet I do not have any long-term concerns due to a strong 81% from the free throw line in addition to and even more importantly, a standout floater game from all throughout the mid-range area. I can not foresee Sharife Cooper falling lower than 8th spot on my board.

Listed by Auburn at 6-1 and 180 pounds, Cooper has impressed me with his defense, an area I feared would hold him out of lottery discussions. There is plenty of room to grow mentally and physically on the defensive end, but placing in the 78th percentile in spot up defense is a good sign.

Ayo Dosunmu

I was on the Ayo Dosunmu NBA Draft-boat last season, and since announcing his return to Champaign, he has been on my top 20 radar for the 2021 NBA Draft. For many returnees, scouts may just be seeking higher levels of production to provide more evidence to hold stock, but for Dosunmu there a few specifics area of needed improvement. 17 games in, Dosunmu has proved to be one of the most improved players in the entire country in my eyes. Formerly, Dosunmu was largely regarded by evaluators as an off ball guard at the next level, but he has taken big steps as a distributor. A 27% assist rate with 5.4 helpers per 40 minutes should answer plenty of those questions. A dominant driver off of the PnR, using change of pace to find lanes with ease. A smooth mid-range jumper has been a go-to throughout his career, where he makes a living rising over defenders in soft spots to catch heat quickly. Questions regarding his jump shot release have been answered by strong numbers, shooting 41% from 3 and 83% from the line, as well as the eye test, as he spent the offseason working on mechanics to elevate his release.

In addition, a major standout development has been Ayo’s defense. Dosunmu arrived to Illinois at 6-5 and 170 pounds and told media, that he could barely dunk. Now, Dosunmu is 6-5 and close to 210 pounds while relying on his verticality on finishes somewhat heavily. Long arms, a broader frame and consistently improving defensive instincts have made him not just a passable defender, but a legitimately strong defensive piece with the versatility to guard the 1-3. While he is not a huge steal guy, at just 0.8 per game, he uses a 6-9 wingspan to guard bigger wings due to the Illini playing 4 guards at the same time. Dosunmu is currently in the 82nd percentile in overall defense, 73rd percentile in spot up defense and 68th percentile in PnR ball handler defense. Now as a 21 year old, Ayo Dosunmu has put together the puzzle pieces to be tagged as a top 20 prospect. The growing trend of taking prospects who are already good, rather than trusting that they will get there down the line, will only help Dosunmu. All-around two way versatility with toughness and cemented maturation, physically & mentally.

BJ Boston

BJ Boston was my top overall prospect in the preseason and while I will take the heat on his struggles, I still love the Kentucky Freshman’s skillset and talent. At 6-7 and 190 pounds, Boston has shown flashes of being a go-to offensive option, but thus far it’s only been flashes. Kentucky’s spacing issues and overall lack of talent has hurt Boston’s stock, and as I’ve mentioned earlier this season, Calipari has not had a wing or player like BJ Boston in his 12 years at Kentucky. Among all the 5 stars he’s brought in and put in the NBA, the large majority are backcourt scorers, big men and lead guards. Wiry, scoring wings with less quickness is more of a 5 star build that opts for Duke or North Carolina, so while there are no excuses for Boston’s clear struggles, he would have been better fit in draft stock terms at a different program or even in the G-League.

In terms of talent, Boston’s skillset can not just be discounted because of one turbulent season on one of the worst teams in major conference college basketball. He has taken a step in the last few games and the improvement is fantastic see, although I do see Olivier Sarr’s minutes being scaled back and Terrence Clarke’s sidelining being major reasons. Kentucky, and Boston in specific, have been worse with Sarr and Clarke on the court. Moving forward, I expect Boston to turn a lot of those flashes into tendencies. I have seen BJ Boston have too many dominant offensive performances with a fluid jumper and a deep finishing package as well as legitimate defensive moments using his long arms to cut passing lanes and guard multiple positions, prior to his days at Kentucky to all the sudden drop him into the 20-30 range. No matter where Boston is pegged in my eventual Mock Drafts, Boston should be a staple in my top 15.

Analytics via Synergy Sports & Sports Reference

OPR Updates – Top Producers 24 and Under

Contributed by Aditya Fuldeore

As the 2020-2021 NBA season progresses, adjustments have been made to further improve the Opportunity Production Rating statistic. Here are the new formulas for the stat:

Scaled Points

(Points)        *      (Field Goals + Free Throws)   /

(2pt Attempts + 0.733pt Attempts + 0.41Free Throw Attempts)

Opportunity Production Rating

(1.4ScaledPoints + 0.79Rebounds+ 1.5Assists+ 0.96Steals+ 1.01Blocks – 1.59Turnovers – 0.45PersonalFouls – 1.37) / 2

These new formulas help take into account the volume production that comes from taking threes and free throws in a better way, as well as provide a more accurate way of calculating production of each individual player stat (rebounds, assists, steals, etc.).

For reference, a 10-16 OPR is “normal” production, a 25+ OPR is “superstar” production, and a below 7 OPR is greatly underperforming production.

There are many young players 24 and younger that have made impacts on the NBA already, from superstar Luka Doncic to rookie Immanuel Quickley. Here is a look at the top 50 qualifying players 24 and younger in terms of OPR this season (Age as of 2/1/21):

[Qualifying players: played in at least 7 games and more than 80 total minutes as of 1/26/21]

PlayerAgeTeamGames PlayedOPR
Luka Doncic21Mavericks1629.96
Trae Young22Hawks1627.22
Bam Adebayo23Heat1426.04
Jaylen Brown24Celtics1623.62
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander22Thunder1622.67
Michael Porter Jr.22Nuggets722.43
Jayson Tatum22Celtics1121.78
Jarrett Allen22Nets/Cavaliers1620.96
Zion Williamson20Pelicans1420.96
Domantas Sabonis24Pacers1720.95
Brandon Ingram23Pelicans1520.39
De’Aaron Fox23Kings1620.12
Ivica Zubac23Clippers1819.94
Collin Sexton22Cavaliers1219.93
Donovan Mitchell24Jazz1718.89
Ben Simmons2476ers1618.69
Robert Williams23Celtics1118.63
Deandre Ayton22Suns1518.52
Mason Jones22Rockets917.85
Immanuel Quickley21Knicks1517.83
LaMelo Ball19Hornets1717.81
Hamidou Diallo22Thunder1617.78
De’Andre Hunter23Hawks1617.57
Jalen Brunson24Mavericks1317.52
D’Angelo Russell24Timberwolves1417.45
Dejounte Murray24Spurs1717.43
John Collins23Hawks1717.42
Shake Milton2476ers1517.09
Lauri Markkanen23Bulls1016.87
Thomas Bryant23Wizards1016.86
Jarred Vanderbilt21Timberwolves1416.84
Wendell Carter Jr.21Bulls1416.76
Myles Turner24Pacers1516.73
Eric Paschall24Warriors1616.71
Devin Booker24Suns1416.64
Naz Reid21Timberwolves1616.61
Mikal Bridges24Suns1516.46
Malik Beasley24Timberwolves1616.09
Isaiah Hartenstein22Nuggets1215.90
Jamal Murray23Nuggets1615.69
Tyrese Haliburton20Kings1415.51
Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk23Pistons1715.37
Precious Achiuwa21Heat1615.36
Tyler Herro21Heat1015.30
Isaiah Roby22Thunder1315.22
Jordan McLaughlin24Timberwolves915.13
Rui Hachimura22Wizards714.99
Keldon Johnson21Spurs1714.97
James Wiseman19Warriors1714.79
Garrison Mathews24Wizards714.74

*Data via Basketball Reference, as of 1/26/21, Age as of 2/1/21