NBA Draft Big Board: Updated Top 60 Prospects
After the NBA combine, workouts and more intel gathering, Bleacher Report's big board received an update and some noteworthy changes.
Moves were made as high as No. 5. Also, a number of prospects previously on our board decided to withdraw, including Arizona State's Marcus Bagley, Texas Tech's Terrence Shannon Jr. and St. John's' Julian Champagnie.
First-time names were added to the board in the 40s and 50s.
60. Sam Hauser (Virginia, SF, Senior)
59. McKinley Wright IV (Colorado, PG, Senior)
58. RaiQuan Gray (Florida State, SF/PF, Junior)
57. Matthew Hurt (Duke, PF, Sophomore)
56. Sandro Mamukelashvili (Seton Hall, PF/C, Senior)
55. Aaron Wiggins (Maryland, SG, Junior)
54. Jason Preston (Ohio, PG, Junior)
53. Austin Reaves (Oklahoma, SG, Senior)
52. Vrenz Bleijenbergh (Antwerp Giants, SG/SF, 2000)
51. Greg Brown (Texas, PF, Freshman)
Bleijenbergh wasn't invited to the combine, but he'll wind up with around 12 workouts before the draft as teams try to learn more about the 6'10" playmaker. With a unique mix of size, ball-handling and shot-making skills, he averaged 3.5 assists and 1.8 threes in between Belgium League play and Eurocup.
Brown has gradually slipped down the board, as scouts agree he's just too far away in terms of knowing how to apply his athleticism and skill set. He seems like an exhausting project to take on, though a patient team willing to buy Brown's shot-making and defensive versatility may be happy to buy low in the second round.
It sounds like Preston will go earlier than where I slotted him. Scouts have taken a strong liking to his maturity and feel for the game. I still have trouble picturing him creating separation, but the right fit alongside scorers and shooters, where he can play to his strengths as a good decision-maker, could help Preston carve out a role.
And Hauser, a career 43.9 percent shooter in 126 games, may be big (6'8") and lethal enough from deep for an NBA specialist role.
50. Luka Garza (Iowa, C, Senior)
49. Jericho Sims (Texas, C, Senior)
48. Isaiah Livers (Michigan, SF, Senior)
47. Rokas Jokubaitis (Zalgiris, PG/SG, 2000)
46. David Johnson (Louisville, PG/SG, Sophomore)
45. Filip Petrusev (Mega Basket, C, 2000)
44. Herbert Jones (Alabama, SF, Senior)
43. Isaiah Todd (G League Ignite, PF, 2002)
42. Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois, PG/SG, Junior)
41. Joel Ayayi (Gonzaga, PG/SG, Junior)
It's easier today to picture Garza playing regular NBA minutes today than it was during the season. He showed up to the combine over 20 pounds lighter and looked like a natural shooter during hours worth of drills.
He's rebranding himself, now looking more like a stretch 5 than a low-post bruiser.
Sims was a big winner at the combine after his wild 44 ½" max vertical, which he used for plenty of finish activity during scrimmages. He's big, strong and bouncy enough to earn a roster spot without any real skill.
Of prospects in the No. 41-50 range, David Johnson seems like a sleeper candidate whose skills may have been masked by transfer Carlik Jones at Louisville. Johnson had a 35.9 assist percentage as a freshman before Jones arrived. But Johnson was able to showcase his passing skills with more freedom during scrimmages at the combine. And he finished at 38.6 percent from three as a sophomore. Johnson, who measured 6'4 ¾" with a 6'10 ½" wingspan, has terrific tools and intriguing versatility for playmaking and shooting.
40. Brandon Boston Jr. (Kentucky, SF, Freshman)
39. Joe Wieskamp (Iowa, SF, Junior)
38. Charles Bassey (Western Kentucky, C, Junior)
37. Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova, PF, Sophomore)
36. JT Thor (Auburn, PF, Freshman)
35. Joshua Primo (Alabama, SG, Freshman)
34. Kessler Edwards (Pepperdine, SF/PF, Junior)
33. Nah'Shon Hyland (VCU, SG, Sophomore)
32. Roko Prkacin (Cibona, PF, 2002)
31. Ziaire Williams (Stanford, SF, Freshman)
I've felt Robinson-Earl has been undervalued all season. As one scout put it: "If the goal was to just find a pro who'll last 10 years, regardless of ceiling, than sure, I'd want Robinson-Earl." He's fundamentally sound with a projectable shooting stroke and high IQ. And based on where you can get him, likely in the 30s or 40s, he seems like a steal for a team willing to accept drafting a best-case backup.
Wieskamp forced me to go back and rewatch film after the NBA combine, when he scored 26 points on Friday, measured a 6'11" wingspan and got up for a 42" max vertical. He's not as strong or effective as potential lottery pick Corey Kispert inside the arc, but Wieskamp shot better off the catch (44.4 percent to 40.8 percent). He's a potential specialist teams could get in the late-first to second round.
As Thor has generated more draft buzz, moving into the first-round picture, some scouts have asked why. From footage I've seen during workouts, his shooting looks awfully convincing, at least relatively speaking for a 6'10" forward. However, Thor's thin frame made finishing, rebounding and absorbing contact difficult at Auburn. And he didn't show much as a passer (23 assists, 27 games). Buying Thor means buying his jumper—for threes, pull-ups and speciality fallaways—because he'll need it to compensate for his lack of physicality.
30. Quentin Grimes (Houston, SG, Junior)
29. Usman Garuba (Real Madrid, PF/C, 2002)
28. Chris Duarte (Oregon, SG, Senior)
27. Josh Christopher (Arizona State, SG, Freshman)
26. Miles McBride (West Virginia, PG/SG, Sophomore)
25. Day'Ron Sharpe (North Carolina, C, Freshman)
24. Tre Mann (Florida, PG/SG, Sophomore)
23. Trey Murphy III (Virginia, SF/PF, Junior)
22. Jared Butler (Baylor, PG/SG, Junior)
21. Isaiah Jackson (Kentucky, PF/C, Freshman)
Scouts are anxiously waiting to hear what will happen with Butler's heart condition, and if they'll learn anything before the draft. It makes it difficult to assess risk. For now, we're going to pretend that all is well and the panel of physicians will clear him. We've given him a mid-first-round grade all season for his ability to fit in after improving his playmaking, spot-up shooting and defense.
Sharpe skipped the NBA combine, and I'm hearing it's been difficult to get him in for workouts. Signs are point to either some type of promise or assurance from a team he's happy going to, which could also be early in the second round.
I've wrote about Sharpe before as one of my sleepers, mostly due to translatable offensive rebounding and passing, plus the idea he's a better shooter and switch defender than he's given credit for.
McBride's 6'8 ¾" wingspan also caught scouts' attention. He's been in my top 30 for a few months, but now it's even easier to picture a defensive pest who can also rise into his pull-up jumper pretty effortlessly.
Grimes received a big jump up the board after combine scrimmages. Making 100 threes this season put him back on the radar, but after watching how comfortable and savvy he looked against projected second-rounders in Chicago, where he was arguably the most impactful player on the floor during both his games, it's become easier to picture a pro and versatile role player.
20. Aaron Henry (Michigan State, SG/SF, Junior)
19. Kai Jones (Texas, PF, Sophomore)
18. Corey Kispert (Gonzaga, SF, Senior)
17. Alperen Sengun (Besiktas, PF/C, 2002)
16. Davion Mitchell (Baylor, PG/SG, Junior)
15. Keon Johnson (Tennessee, SG/SF, Freshman)
14. Moses Moody (Arkansas, SG, Freshman)
13. James Bouknight (Connecticut, SG, Sophomore)
12. Cameron Thomas (LSU, SG, Freshman)
11. Sharife Cooper (Auburn, PG, Freshman)
After conversations with scouts, going back through film and rethinking Thomas' translatable strengths, projected role and potential of landing in a good situation, he's been moved up.
I was harsh on the freshman leading scorer most of the season. His wild shot selection, lack of passing and low-energy defense can be a turnoff. But his level of self-creation and shot-making are at a special level for a 19-year-old. Only 14 major-conference freshmen has ever averaged 23 points, and that group includes Thomas, Kevin Durant, Trae Young, Markelle Fultz and Michael Beasley. Thomas converted at least 25 field goals out of spot-ups, isolation, ball screens and off screens.
As one scout brought up, it's easy to have concerns if he goes to a bad team with a green light that could lead to bad habits. But if Thomas lands with a veteran team, where he's playing a defined microwave role with a shorter leash, he could quickly become a valuable weapon for a playoff group.
10. Jaden Springer (Tennessee, PG/SG, Freshman)
9. Josh Giddey (Adelaide 36ers, PG/SG, 2002)
8. Franz Wagner (Michigan, SF/PF, Sophomore)
7. Jonathan Kuminga (G League Ignite, SF/PF, 2002)
6. Jalen Johnson (Duke, PF, Freshman)
While Kuminga falling to No. 7 is more about the rise of our new No. 5 prospect, the intel on Kuminga hasn't been totally assuring. Teams have questions about his effort, professionalism and chances of maximizing his potential. If he's not scoring—and he'll need his jumper to improve quite a bit for him to score consistently—is he adding value anywhere else?
Still, there is tempting upside tied to his tools, athleticism, creation and shot-making skills.
I've also been hearing rave reviews about Springer's workouts and explosiveness that a tweaked ankle hid at Tennessee. Between Springer's age (18) and versatility to play in transition, pass, catch-and-shoot and defend, reaching high-end role player potential seems likely.
Jalen Johnson remains the biggest wild card in the No. 6-10 range. I talked to a scout who didn't have him first round based on findings during background checks and questions about his ability to beat defenders in the half court.
There is just too much talent and unique skill versatility for me to overlook. For a strong, athletic 6'9" forward with a 7'0" wingspan, his ability to grab and go off a defensive board, play-make and pass, score in the paint and guard different positions is too enticing once the top five or six name are gone.
5. Scottie Barnes (Florida State, SF/PF, 2002)
4. Jalen Suggs (Gonzaga, PG, Freshman)
3. Evan Mobley (USC, PF/C, Freshman)
2. Jalen Green (G League Ignite, SG, 2002)
1. Cade Cunningham (Oklahoma State, PG/SG, Freshman)
Barnes makes his first appearance in the top five, a move made based on conversations with scouts that revealed positive intel and fear over Kuminga. There is a sense he's a more capable shooter than the numbers suggest, and though he doesn't possess traditional upside fueled by scoring skills, his playmaking, finishing and defense create a different type of star potential.
Even if a team gets a worst-case outcome for Barnes, it's still adding a surefire asset to with winning intangibles and translatable passing and defensive versatility.
The biggest internal debate in the top five focuses on No. 2 versus No. 3, as Green and Mobley possess obvious star potential and different risks. Both players make sense for the Houston Rockets, as they could use a creator and scorer like Green or a defensive centerpiece like Mobley. The fear with Green stems from his shot selection and whether it's suited for winning team basketball. Mobley's concerns are mostly physical.
On the other hand, between Green's elite quickness/bounce, advanced separation skills and three-level shot-making, there is a path toward the top of the NBA scoring leaderboard. And despite Mobley's lack of strength, his size and length will still translate to shot-blocking, while heavier bigs figure to struggle against his budding perimeter game, which consists of ball-handling and coordination for face-up moves and touch to shoot, pull up or use a floater.
Meanwhile, Suggs may want to fall to No. 4 to avoid the Rockets' lengthy rebuild ahead and the Cleveland Cavaliers backcourt logjam. The ideal scenario for Suggs is going to the Toronto Raptors before they wind up letting Kyle Lowry walk in free agency.