The battle of the league’s premier franchises recently came to a close with Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Milwaukee Bucks triumphing to their first Larry O’Brien trophy in five decades in a six-game thriller over the Phoenix Suns.
Concerns now switch to those ball clubs at the opposite end of the NBA standings, who hope to reverse their fortunes next term by sweeping up some of 2021’s best draft talent.
Best 2021 NBA Draft prospects
An electrifying 6-foot-8 guard out of Oklahoma State in Cade Cunningham leads the headlines as this year’s most eye-catching prospect, but the star-studded class of ‘21 will have teams clamouring for the chance to recruit a franchise-altering player.
Here are the top five players to watch out for in the NBA Draft, which commences this Friday July 30, 1am BST.
Barnes might just be one of the biggest sleepers in the 2021 Draft class in terms of lack of attention given to the young talent. He possesses an exciting defensive upside, with a 7-foot-2 wingspan enabling the size necessary to guard one through five. Despite his imposing frame, the 6-foot-8 forward is agile enough to switch to guards from bigs and pick the ball, making him a coveted asset in today’s league.
The Florida State freshman is perhaps not the complete package in terms of racking up the scoring numbers, but recording four assists a game in his time in the ‘Sunshine State’ shows that his offensive threat is far from being neglected.
The youngster might just keep it local and stay in Florida, with the Magic lingering with their fifth pick but Oklahoma City remains omnipresent also, being next in line in sixth. Other talent such as Jonathan Kuminga may catch the eye of Magic GM John Hammond, leaving the notorious Sam Presti likely to swoop in on Barnes and all his defensive acumen.
Arriving into the league from Gonzaga, this robust guard boasts a sensational varied skill set that will have the likes of the Cavaliers and Raptors desperate for his services.
While his shooting, in particular his jumper, can at times leave something to be desired (he shot 34% from 3 and 75% from the line last season), Suggs is a pacey ball handler that can create avenues to the basket and facilitate teammates in equal measure.
With a presence in the back court and ability to space the floor, the athletic 19-year-old would fit well in Nick Nurse’s system in Toronto, who have the fourth pick.
Being a strong perimeter defender is a notable quality that sets him apart from many in the class also, employing his noteworthy transitional speed to anticipate opponents’ passing channels.
Green’s scoring puts him on a pedestal of one of the finest young offensive players in recent draft classes, with his potential in years to come somewhat outweighing a solid enough first campaign in the G-League.
Plying his trade with G-League Ignite, Green slowly built into the season where he eventually uncovered his box-office verticality. This in particular sets him apart and makes him a dominant scoring force in the paint, paired with his cultured pull-up game that makes any budding suitor a very fortunate franchise to take on his talents.
Cleveland Cavaliers, with the third pick in the 2021 Draft, could pair Green with the likes of Darius Garland and Collin Sexton in the backcourt and form a potent threat for the Ohio outfit for a few years to come.
“I had one scout tell me the other night that Mobley is Chris Bosh on offense and Anthony Davis on defense. That’s an NBA superstar. That’s crazy,” stated NBA Insider Chad Ford per Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com..
The 7-foot centre has many strings to his bow, with his notable physical presence in and around the rim combined with agility makes him an astute pickup for those seeking to increase their defensive rating in future campaigns.
While perhaps not an instant fix, Mobley’s advantage in the modern NBA in his hands specifically, as his talents with the ball could stand him in good stead settling into his new surroundings. While at USC, he was sometimes utilised as the main handler in pick-and-roll scenarios on the court, such was his confidence as a play initiator.
Another budding star tipped for big things, teams like the Rockets could do a lot worse than adding Mobley to their roster alongside fellow USC alumni Kevin Porter Jr.
The Houston Rockets have their eyes on moving up in the draft, with a particular focus on one man. Cade Cunningham. Although, with Detroit equally unlikely to waver in their desire for Cunningham, the Oklahoma State talent looks to be headed for Motown.
The 19-year-old freshman playmaker will arrive as his next suitor’s go-to facilitator. This ability as a passer, combined with his 20 points per game contribution last season, will take the ball out of Jerami Grant’s hands and share the load at Little Caesars Arena should Pistons GM Troy Weaver decide to pull the trigger and select Cunningham.
Cunningham’s renowned offensive backcourt capabilities also extend into his defensive positional versatility, with the obvious caveat being whether that can be translated from college ball to the NBA.