NBA Combine Results 2021: Saturday Pro Day Highlights and Top Prospects

Adam WellsJune 26, 2021

Auburn guard Sharife Cooper (2) plays against Vanderbilt during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2021, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Zaleski)
AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

The penultimate day of action from the 2021 NBA combine was highlighted by pro days for several of the top players.     

Among the notable prospects in action were projected lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Sharife Cooper.   

Based on the amount of upside Kuminga still possesses at such a young age, it's not a surprise that ESPN's Jonathan Givony noted there was a "big turnout of NBA decision makers" to watch his workout Saturday. 

Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress

Jonathan Kuminga pro day at the NBA Combine. Big turnout of NBA decision makers in attendance. <a href="https://t.co/T5qaG7XfOV">pic.twitter.com/T5qaG7XfOV</a>

Kuminga has a lot at stake this week coming off a disappointing showing with the G League Ignite. The 18-year-old has tremendous physical upside, but he shot just 38.7 percent overall in 13 starts with the developmental team in 2020-21. 

B/R's Jonathan Wasserman has Kuminga ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the 2021 class, though he noted the versatile forward could move down because his "shooting and awareness are worrisome."

Coming out of Huntington Prep School two years ago, Kuminga was the No. 4 overall player in the 2020 college recruiting class by 247Sports composite rankings

Cooper is in a similar position as Kuminga as far as 2020-21 performance goes. He was named to the All-SEC freshman team and averaged 20.2 points per game at Auburn last season, but he did it while shooting just 39.1 percent from the field and averaged 4.2 turnovers per contest. 

Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress

Sharife was awesome. Big time workout. Collecting all the footage and posting later today. <a href="https://t.co/T3sCFLKC5t">https://t.co/T3sCFLKC5t</a>

Wasserman had Cooper ranked as the 13th-best prospect in this class, with praise for his passing skills while raising serious questions about his shooting touch: 

"But despite averaging 20.2 points, he shot 47.9 percent at the rim and 22.8 percent from three. Aside from lacking explosion at the basket, he made poor rim reads, often going up for contested layups. Too frequently, he chose to elevate off two feet, hurting his ability to separate. As for his jumper, his release is slow and he gets little elevation from his legs."

If Saturday's result is any indication, there are reasons to be optimistic about Cooper's potential heading into the NBA. 

Mike Schmitz @Mike_Schmitz

While clearly not the same caliber of shooter, Trae Young's success at his size has helped open the door for guards like Sharife Cooper, who is as talented of a ball handler/playmaker as you'll find in this class. Confident off hand passer who is really clean with his pick-ups. <a href="https://t.co/odjAOj1CDK">pic.twitter.com/odjAOj1CDK</a>

JT Thor, who played with Cooper for the Tigers last season, also looks to have done himself some favors in front of scouts and team executives:

Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress

Auburn's JT Thor showing his impressive size, length, athleticism, shooting touch and upside at his NBA Combine Pro Day. One of the youngest players in the draft. <a href="https://t.co/JJJ0teEXMN">pic.twitter.com/JJJ0teEXMN</a>

Thor, who won't turn 19 until Aug. 26, had an inconsistent freshman season at Auburn. He averaged 9.4 points, 5.0 rebounds and made 44.0 percent of his field-goal attempts but was only successful on 29.7 percent of his threes. 

Earlier this week, Brandon Simberg of The Daily Illini posted video of Thor's three-point shot at the combine that suggested he could get better in that area going forward. 

Brandon Simberg @BrandonSimberg

A look at the shooting mechanics of Auburn’s JT Thor. <br><br>Hit just 29.7% of his threes last season, but there’s reason to be optimistic about his shot going forward. <a href="https://t.co/PDv9cj6jEc">pic.twitter.com/PDv9cj6jEc</a>

A 6'10" forward, Thor has the potential to be a versatile wing player in the NBA. He told Andy Katz of NCAA.com his best asset is being able to defend multiple positions. 

"Being able to guard [positions] 2-through-5, 1-though-5 off pick-and-roll scenarios, just stuff like that," Thor said. "On the offensive end, just keeping the game simple—catch-and-shoot opportunities, attacking closeouts, getting to the rim, finding open guys. Stuff like that. I feel like with my height and my ability to do those things, I'm going to be something."

One player who might have gone from a fringe second-round prospect to a likely draft pick is Jimma Gatwech. He was eligible for the 2020 draft before pulling his name out of consideration. 

Evan Daniels @EvanDaniels

Jimma Gatwech, one of the best athletes and dunkers in the 2020 class, had his name pulled from the NBA Draft, and is planning to pursue one of the professional paths out of high school, a source tells <a href="https://twitter.com/247Sports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@247Sports</a>.

Givony was full of praise for what Gatwech showed during his pro day Saturday. 

Jonathan Givony @DraftExpress

Jimma Gatwech showed out at his NBA Combine Pro Day. No question helped himself showcasing his 44 inch vertical leap and improved shooting stroke in front of high-level representatives from all 30 NBA front offices. <a href="https://t.co/FoYm4bc1UI">pic.twitter.com/FoYm4bc1UI</a>

Wasserman didn't include Gatwech among the top 50 players on his big board, though he did note "there isn't a big difference between the late 40s and Nos. 50-70 range."

It's unclear if Gatwech fell in that 51-70 range, but the arrow on his stock appears to be pointing up based on what happened Saturday. 

The 2021 NBA draft will be held on July 29 from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.