The NBA talent produced by the college crop last season was a disappointment. There's no way to sugarcoat that.
A year after college products Zion Williamson, Ja Morant and RJ Barrett all starred at the NCAA level before being top picks in 2019, the 2020 NBA Draft,, could instead feature three international players in the top five -- including potential No. 1 pick LaMelo Ball.
But college production of pro players isn't dead. Not by a long shot. 2020 looks like it will simply be a bridge year to lead to a major showcase of college talent again in 2021.
The scouting process for next year is still in its preliminary stages, so this will change as more intel is gathered and as basketball is played, but early projections for 2021 show the entirety of the top-10 could comprise of college players (with the exception of G League-bound Jalen Green).
Today we're releasing our first crack at how we think the 2021 NBA Draft could take shape.
1. Cade Cunningham | 6-6, 215 | PG | Oklahoma State
Thrice has the No. 1 recruit in the 247Sports Composite rankings gone on to become the No. 1 pick the last decade, but it hasn't happened since Ben Simmons pulled the feat off in five years ago. And early money is on Cunningham to end the streak. He's an elite two-way guard who can score at a high level, facilitate at a high level, and defend at a high level -- the holy trinity of boxes to check as an NBA lead guard.
2. Jalen Green | 6-5, 170 | SG | G League
Green chose to pursue a professional career with the G League instead of taking the college route. Some loved it, some hated it. But the truth is: it won't impact his stock a bit. He's a No. 1 pick contender because of his elite athleticism, defensive versatility and sheer bounce, giving him the advantage to impact the game in every way.
3. Jonathan Kuminga | 6-8, 205 | SF | TBD
It's still unclear whether Kuminga will even make himself eligible for the 2021 NBA Draft. He's currently in the 2021 class, making him eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft. But if he reclassifies or pursues another professional avenue this year -- as many expect he might -- he'll be considered a top-5 prospect because of his positional size and physical abilities.
4. Evan Mobley | 6-11, 205 | C | USC
USC's gone and done it again by grabbing an elite big man to fill the shoes of another elite big man in Onyeka Okongwu. And Mobley has a chance to be even more impactful. He's 6-foot-11 who moves like he's 5-11 but plays like he's 7-11, with length and size that should allow him to dominate the paint on both ends of the floor at the NBA level.
5. B.J. Boston | 6-6, 175 | SG | Kentucky
The NBA's never been more fond of players like Boston: long wings who can create their own shot and have a good frame. Boston should be a high-level scorer at Kentucky and in the NBA with his skill set and frame, though he'll need to add muscle and physically mature quite a bit over the next year. The concerns surrounding him and his prospects relate almost entirely to how he'll grow into his long, lanky frame.
6. Caleb Love | 6-3, 170 | PG | North Carolina
I'm pushing my chips to the center of the table for Love here. He's an incredible scorer who can make shots in myriad ways, and he's going to be the focal point of a UNC team that could be a bona fide title contender. If he can develop as a playmaker and facilitator he'll warrant consideration in the lottery because of how thin the point guard position projects to be at the top of next year's draft.
7. Ziaire Williams | 6-7, 175 | SF | Stanford
Physically, Williams is one of the most polarizing prospects eligible in next year's draft. He's 6-7 and listed at just 175 (!) pounds. He needs muscle. But skill-wise, he passes the eye test with a perimeter game fit to play on the wing with scoring and creation abilities rare for his position and size. Whoever takes him will need to invest heavily in his physical development and think long-term about what he can be in a few years.
How Johnson fares at Duke alongside a more traditional point guard -- and how Duke uses him -- will be a fascinating development. The 6-8 combo forward is a good playmaker for his size and has been used as a secondary initiator in the past. That versatility should be one of his most enticing traits to NBA teams.
9. Jalen Suggs | 6-5, 200 | PG | Gonzaga
Teams will love Suggs' innate toughness and competitiveness. In high school he was a dual-sport athlete who thrived as a guard in basketball and as a quarterback in football, winning Minnesota's Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball. His always-attacking mentality and scoring ability should garner him serious consideration for teams looking to add a lead guard who can drive, dish and create.
A shoulder injury last season forced Johnson to miss part of the early season slate for Louisville, and it took him time to get acclimated once he was back in the lineup. But once he got going he looked like an NBA-caliber lead guard in big spots, with good size (6-foot-5), playmaking and scoring ability. Entering year two he needs to improve as a shooter and play more consistently like the David Johnson that dropped 19 points, seven assists and four boards last season in a road win over then-No. 3 Duke.
11. Usman Garuba | 6-8, 229 | PF | Real Madrid
A 6-8 big man from Real Madrid in the ACB League, Usman Garuba is widely expected to be the first international player taken in next year's draft. The 18-year-old Spaniard is active on both ends of the floor and displays a high level of feel for the game with anticipation and energy to affect every facet of the game. Per RealGM stats, he also showed off an improved outside touch, too, hitting 31.6% of his 19 3-point attempts last season.
12. Greg Brown | 6-9, 195 | PF | Texas
Texas is a talent factory for producing NBA-caliber bigs, and Brown's called dibs on next. The high-flying athletic forward should leave his mark on one of Shaka Smart's best Longhorns teams as a lob finisher and shot-swatter, using his length to upgrade UT's frontcourt with athleticism. As he develops as a shooter, that should be a solid skill baseline on which his NBA career will grow.
13. Joshua Christopher | 6-5, 215 | SG | Arizona State
A playmaking guard who wins, Christopher can attack off the dribble and finish through contact, create his shot off pull-ups, and create via penetration off the bounce. He's crafty once he cracks inside the arc and has really good touch around the rim to boot. Teams looking for a physically gifted shooting guard won't find many in next year's draft with more promise than him.
14. Bryce Thompson | 6-5, 175 | SG | Kansas
A five-star talent headed to Kansas, Thompson is a crafty scorer who thrives in the midrange but can score it at every level. Needs to improve his outside shot to really stand out at the next level but has the work ethic and hoops IQ to be a difference-making scoring guard.
|15||Terrence Shannon Jr.||Texas Tech||G||Soph.||6-6||210|
|18||Scottie Barnes||Florida State||F||Fr.||6-8||210|
|27||Aaron Henry||Michigan State||F||Jr.||6-6||210|
|30||A.J. Lawson||South Carolina||G||Jr.||6-6||178|