Biggest Potential Reaches in the 2021 NBA Draft
Every year, teams misevaluate and overestimate a prospect's upside during the NBA draft.
These five prospects are candidates to go earlier than they should for various reasons.
We aren't saying they're destined to bust out of the NBA, but based on where they're projected to go, they could have trouble meeting the value of their draft spot.
Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois, PG/SG, Junior)
Projected range: No. 15-35
A third-year jump earned Ayo Dosunmu first-team All-American honors. But scouts and executives shouldn't necessarily expect his college success to seamlessly carry over to the NBA.
It's tough to pinpoint Dosunmu's most translatable skill. He lacks a tight handle, quickness off the dribble and a traditional point guard feel for facilitating offense.
How well will he be able to separate? Dosunmu's lack of explosiveness could make it difficult for him to blow by and finish. His touch on floaters was off, with his 23.8 percent mark on runners (42 attempts) ranking as one of the worst among draft prospects.
He also attempted only 3.3 three-pointers per 40 minutes, although he knocked them down at a 39.0 percent clip. Between the lack of volume, inconsistent fluidity and weak elevation on his shot, his shooting is still a question mark.
Illinois gave Dosunmu the freedom to dominate the ball. But off the ball, where he'll spend more time in the NBA, he graded in the 33rd percentile as a spot-up player and 20th percentile as a cutter.
I wouldn't bet against Dosunmu eventually cracking a rotation. But without any distinguishable qualities, it wouldn't be surprising if he becomes a replaceable guard who struggles to secure long-term deals.
Jonathan Kuminga (G League Ignite, SF/PF, 2002)
Projected draft range: Top six
Jonathan Kuminga's strength, athleticism and three-level scoring skills for a 6'6" combo forward create an enticing archetype. But teams should think about whether it's realistic to expect him to reach his ceiling.
Drafting him means using a top-six pick on a forward who shot 24.6 percent from three and 62.5 percent on free throws in the G League bubble. His 49.7 true shooting percentage ranked as the second-lowest of any projected first-rounder in our latest mock draft.
Kuminga's 35 assists to 34 turnovers also highlighted his limited passing IQ. The tape dating back to high school doesn't show him to be a trustworthy playmaker.
Given how early he's expected to come off the board, Kuminga needs to develop into a star scorer since he lacks clear ancillary strengths. But based on his touch issues and questionable feel for picking his spots to attack or move the ball, it's tough to feel confident in him developing into a star who consistently impacts games with his scoring.
Davion Mitchell (Baylor, PG, Junior)
Projected draft range: Top 10
Davion Mitchell's worst-case outcome is still a useful NBA player. But taking him in the top 10, where we currently project him to go, could look like a reach when we revisit the 2021 draft.
His reputation as a stopper fuels a lot of the hype. But skeptics question if Mitchell's defensive potential is overrated by the persuasive flashes of quickness and aggressiveness. There is no doubt he can cause problems for ball-handlers with pressure when locked in. But how high is the defensive ceiling of a guard who measured 6'0" in socks with a 6'4¼" wingspan?
Mitchell's strength and length are nowhere near Marcus Smart's, who's 220 pounds and five inches longer. Putting a lot of stock into his defensive outlook means expecting another Patrick Beverley, whose impact is beyond rare for a player Mitchell's size.
But even a Beverley type isn't a top-10 pick. Teams in that range should want more offense.
The first red flag questions Mitchell's shooting for a 22-year-old who'll turn 23 before his rookie season. He shot 64.1 percent from the free-throw line this past season (career 65.7 percent), which raises concern about the legitimacy of his 44.7 three-point percentage, especially since he shot 31.2 percent from deep combined during his first two college seasons.
A limited floater game (5-of-16 all season) for a small guard could also be problematic when projecting his scoring.
And despite his signature explosiveness, Mitchell didn't show the best feel for how to use it, considering he attempted only 2.1 free throws in 33.0 minutes per game. Auburn's Sharife Cooper got to the stripe 39 more times in 594 fewer minutes (12 games).
Alperen Sengun (Besiktas, C, 2002)
Projected range: No. 8-16
There are enough questions about how Alperen Sengun's game will translate to the NBA for lottery teams to hesitate.
Despite putting up historic production overseas, the MVP of the Turkish BSL was mostly a post player, roller and finisher. Those back-to-the-basket spins, over-the-shoulder moves and timely dives should continue to work, but it's tough to see a clear path to upside for a 6'9" center with his archetype.
Though he's capable of handling in the open floor or attacking an open lane, his face-up delivery is relatively slow for NBA standards. This season, he combined to shoot 7-of-35 (20.0 percent) from three.
Sengun's feet defending in space looked choppy and heavy. His future team won't want him guarding forwards or frequently being switched around the perimeter. And he wasn't a regular shot-blocking presence in Turkey (5.7 block percentage).
How much value is tied to a post big who doesn't stretch the floor, add plus rim protection or offer defensive switchability?
Sengun figures to still be useful at his worst-case floor, but passing on guards and wings for him in the early teens seems risky.
Ziaire Williams (Stanford, SF/PF, Freshman)
Projected range: First round
The idea of Ziaire Williams has been enticing since midway through high school. But is he capable of executing the skills to make that idea come alive?
He wasn't close this season.
The eye test on Williams' jumper looked more convincing than the results. Shooting was supposed to separate him from other forwards his size, but his 29.1 three-point percentage has made it difficult to confidently buy him as a three-and-D wing.
Williams, who'll be used mostly off the ball at the next level, graded in the 15th percentile out of spot-ups and the 6th percentile off screens.
Thinking about overall scoring potential, his incredibly skinny frame is another concern. Of the 28 players at the NBA combine to measure at least 6'6" in socks, Williams (188.4 pounds) was the lightest by 14.6 pounds. That lack of strength combined with minimal explosiveness led to a 42.7 two-point percentage and only 14 half-court field goals at the rim in 20 games.
Williams struggled with contact and didn't look to attack much, often predetermining a pull-up or step-back, rather than attempting to seek out a driving opportunity. Of his 85 pick-and-roll ball-handling possessions, only once did he score on a take to the basket.
A limited threat to blow by or shake defenders north-south, Williams will have little margin for error as a perimeter shooter.