The college and international ranks are always filled with talented basketball players. But only 60 can be selected during the NBA draft. So, teams and scouts are constantly evaluating and looking for the future stars of the league in the buildup to the annual event.
This year's NBA draft class is no different. However, it's clear who some of the top selections will be based on various factors. One of those is athleticism, as some teams will want players who can easily make the transition to the next level. And while all professional basketball players are great athletes, having an extra step can go a long way.
After a mock for the first round of this year's draft, we'll take a look at three of the most exciting, athletic prospects in the class.
NBA Mock Draft, 1st Round
1. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
2. Cleveland Cavaliers: James Wiseman, C, Memphis
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: LaMelo Ball, PG, Illawarra Hawks
4. Atlanta Hawks: Onyeka Okongwu, PF/C, USC
5. Detroit Pistons: Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
6. New York Knicks: Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm
7. Chicago Bulls: Cole Anthony, PG, North Carolina
8. Charlotte Hornets: Deni Avdija, F, Maccabi Tel Aviv
9. Washington Wizards: Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
10. Phoenix Suns: Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
11. San Antonio Spurs: RJ Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers
12. Sacramento Kings: Tyrese Maxey, SG, Kentucky
13. New Orleans Pelicans: Nico Mannion, PG, Arizona
14. Portland Trail Blazers: Devin Vassell, SF, Florida State
15. Orlando Magic: Saddiq Bey, SF, Villanova
16. Minnesota (via Brooklyn Nets): Precious Achiuwa, PF/C, Memphis
17. Boston Celtics (via Memphis Grizzlies): Patrick Williams, PF, Florida State
18. Dallas Mavericks: Isaiah Stewart, C, Washington
19. Milwaukee Bucks (via Indiana Pacers): Theo Maledon, PG, ASVEL
20. Brooklyn (via Philadelphia 76ers): Jaden McDaniels, SF/PF, Washington
21. Denver Nuggets (via Houston Rockets): Josh Green, SG, Arizona
22. Philadelphia (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Jalen Smith, PF, Maryland
23. Miami Heat: Vernon Carey Jr., PF/C, Duke
24. Utah Jazz: Aaron Nesmith, SF, Vanderbilt
25. Oklahoma City (via Denver): Aleksej Pokusevski, PF, Olympiacos
26. Boston: Leandro Bolmaro, SF, FC Barcelona
27. New York (via Los Angeles Clippers): Tre Jones, PG, Duke
28. Toronto Raptors: Xavier Tillman, PF, Michigan State
29. Los Angeles Lakers: Kira Lewis Jr., PG, Alabama
30. Boston (via Milwaukee): Jahmi'us Ramsey, SG, Texas Tech
Most Athletic Prospects
Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
Although Anthony Edwards averaged 19.1 points per game during his lone season at Georgia, he's not really a shooter. Instead, the 18-year-old shooting guard has relied heavily on his driving ability and tremendous athleticism to create scoring opportunities. And his game definitely has the potential to play in the NBA.
Edwards is one of the favorites to be the No. 1 pick in this year's NBA draft, and there are numerous reasons for that. Perhaps none bigger than his athletic ability, which had Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman raving after his team took on Edwards' Bulldogs this season.
"He's got an NBA body right now. He can dribble-drive in traffic at the next level, take contact, finish through contact," Musselman said, according to NBA.com's Chris Dortch. "You watch a guy on film and he's really good and then you watch him live, just his explosiveness. He's got NBA athleticism and NBA strength."
Don't be surprised when Edwards' name is the first one called on draft night. And if it's the Warriors who have the No. 1 pick (they currently have the best odds to land it), Edwards should fit in nicely with Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson in a guard rotation that would feature numerous types of skill sets.
James Wiseman, C, Memphis
An NBA team won't be drafting James Wiseman based on his college stats (he played only three games at Memphis). Instead, the team will be banking on the fact that Wiseman's skill, athleticism and potential will lead to the 7'1" center having a successful career at the next level.
Wiseman may not have gotten much playing experience in college, but he remains an exciting potential future NBA star. The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor calls Wiseman an "athletic marvel" in his scouting report of the 19-year-old big man.
"Elite measurables with long arms and a strong frame," O'Connor wrote. "He runs the floor like a gazelle, and he explodes vertically when he has space to launch."
There will likely be numerous teams early in the draft with interest in Wiseman, including the Cavaliers, who should have an early selection as they currently have the second-best odds of landing the top pick. If they instead select around No. 2 or No. 3, then Wiseman could be their pick, as he'd provide them with a dominant post player for years to come who can learn under veterans Andre Drummond and Kevin Love.
Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
Obi Toppin's final season at Dayton may have been cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic, but he showcased all season why he's one of the most exciting and athletic players in this year's draft class.
After a solid freshman year, Toppin improved in his sophomore season, averaging 20.0 points and 7.5 rebounds in 31 games while shooting 63.3 percent from the field. He also received numerous accolades, including the Wooden Award and Naismith Trophy.
O'Connor calls Toppin a "pure athlete who runs the floor with grace and jumps with explosive power" in his scouting report of the 22-year-old power forward.
"Nimble ball-handler who can attack from the perimeter," O'Connor wrote. "He'll be a weapon in fake dribble handoffs since he can facilitate, shoot or get to the basket."
Toppin is likely to be an early pick in the draft, and one potential fit for him could be the Pistons. Detroit is missing the presence of a star player, and Toppin could develop into one in the years to come.