NBA Draft 2021: Updated Prospect Big Board Heading into Scouting Combine

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IJune 23, 2021

Kansas forward David McCormack (33) guards USC forward Evan Mobley (4) during the first half of a men's college basketball game in the second round of the NCAA tournament at Hinkle Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Monday, March 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Paul Sancya/Associated Press

On Tuesday night, the Detroit Pistons landed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NBA draft via the draft lottery. And there shouldn't be much suspense regarding who they're going to take with that selection.

Cade Cunningham, a 6'8" guard who excelled in his lone season at Oklahoma State, has long been expected to be the first player taken in this year's draft, and there's a good chance he'll soon be heading to Detroit. In fact, Cunningham's plan is to visit with only the Pistons ahead of the July 29 draft, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Although the first pick may not be a surprise selection, it's far less clear how the rest of the draft may unfold. While Cunningham is the consensus top prospect, the rest of the players in this year's class have been ranked in various ways by the analysts and pundits.

With the order set and the draft a little more than a month away, here's a look at rankings for the top players in the 2021 class.


Top 30 Big Board

1. Cade Cunningham, PG/SG, Oklahoma State

2. Evan Mobley, PF/C, USC

3. Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite

4. Jalen Suggs, PG, Gonzaga

5. Jonathan Kuminga, SF/PF, G League Ignite

6. Scottie Barnes, PF, Florida State

7. Keon Johnson, SG/SF, Tennessee

8. Jalen Johnson, PF, Duke

9. Franz Wagner, SF/PF, Michigan

10. Davion Mitchell, PG/SG, Baylor

11. Josh Giddey, PG/SG, Adelaide 36ers

12. Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga

13. Moses Moody, SG/SF, Arkansas

14. Isaiah Jackson, PF/C, Kentucky

15. James Bouknight, SG, UConn

16. Alperen Sengun, C, Turkey

17. Kai Jones, PF, Texas

18. Sharife Cooper, PG, Auburn

19. Jared Butler, PG/SG, Baylor

20. Tre Mann, PG, Florida

21. Ziaire Williams, SG/SF, Stanford

22. Cameron Thomas, SG, LSU

23. Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon

24. Jaden Springer, PG/SG, Tennessee

25. Aaron Henry, SG/SF, Michigan State

26. Usman Garuba, PF/C, Real Madrid

27. Ayo Dosunmu, PG/SG, Illinois

28. Greg Brown, PF, Texas

29. Day'Ron Sharpe, C, North Carolina

30. Josh Christopher, SG/SF, Arizona State


There are several prospects who could be worthy of the No. 2 spot behind Cunningham. But the most deserving is Mobley, who is the clear top big man in this year's class.

Once Cunningham gets drafted by the Pistons, the Houston Rockets will be on the clock and have several players to consider. In addition to Mobley, Green and Suggs could be strong options for the Rockets, especially if they'd rather draft a guard.

Although Houston has Christian Wood in the frontcourt and has lost a pair of top guards (James Harden and Russell Westbrook) in the past year, The Athletic's Sam Vecenie believes it may still be wise for the team to draft Mobley. And that's because of the former USC standout's all-around talent.

"Mobley is the highest-upside player on the board outside of Cunningham, a do-everything center who would be a tremendous centerpiece to build around," Vecenie wrote.

If the Rockets don't feel the same way and opt to draft Green, Suggs or another player, it's unlikely that Mobley would fall lower than No. 3. The Cleveland Cavaliers own that pick and could use another young post player to build around down low.

Green, Suggs and Kuminga will likely be the other three players to round out the top five. There's always the potential for surprise selections, but the top handful of prospects in this class appear to be a notch above the rest.

Green and Kuminga were teammates on the G League Ignite, as both opted not to play college ball and instead take an alternate route to the NBA draft. After playing that competition, they'll both look to maintain their high draft stock when they participate in the draft combine, which is taking place this week in Chicago.

The combine will feature 69 players, including many of the top prospects. And while there may not be a major shakeup to the big board at the end of it, it's an opportunity for these players to showcase their skills as others look to improve their stock.

If Green has a strong showing, perhaps Houston could opt to take him over Mobley at No. 2. ESPN's Jonathan Givony already believes the Rockets will take the 19-year-old guard.

"Green is the most explosive player in the draft who also possesses elite scoring instincts and has the type of superstar upside the franchise lacks, making him an exciting prospect to build around long term," Givony wrote.

While analysts will continue to rank these draft prospects and predict where they'll begin their NBA careers, things will change leading up to the draft. And there will surely be plenty of surprises once that night arrives.