The NBA Finals may have just ended last week with the Milwaukee Bucks winnings their first Larry O’Brien Trophy in 50 years, but the NBA calendar never stops and this week it continues with the NBA Draft.
The top of the 2021 NBA Draft is viewed as one of the highest ceilings drafts’ in recent years with headliners Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Green and Jalen Suggs all being viewed as potential All-Stars on an annual basis. But the lottery also includes the likes of Jonathan Kuminga who is viewed as having one of the highest ceilings in the Draft. Florida State’s Scottie Barnes is viewed as being a freak athlete that can excel in certain situations.
While the Draft appears to be top-heavy, some college prospects like Jared Butler, Tre Mann, and Ayo Dosunmu are all viewed as safe picks in the top-40 on most team’s big boards. That’s something that makes this Draft deeper than many of the previous Drafts.
Here is a preview of the top-five forwards in the 2021 NBA Draft and where you can expect them to be taken on Thursday Night’s NBA Draft.
NBA Draft Top 5 Forwards
Evan Mobley, Forward/Center, USC
Evan Mobley is a 7-foot, 215-pound post player who is uber skilled on each end of the court with extreme length and natural athleticism. Mobley was a consensus All-American in his freshman season at USC while averaging 16.4 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.9 blocks a game.
The one knock on Mobley’s games right now is his lack of proven shooting away from the rim. Mobley has the skillset to make him a good perimeter shooter in his NBA career, but only 11 percent of his shots in college were from behind the arc and he made just 25.7 percent of his attempts.
Still, Mobley has legitimate star potential and if he continues to refine his offensive game at the next level, Mobley has the potential to be one of the best players in the NBA at some point in his professional career and that’s why he is going to be a top-five pick.
Scottie Barnes, Forward, Florida State
Scottie Barnes is set to become the sixth first-round pick from Florida State in the last six years on Thursday night and he’s likely to hear Adam Silver call his name before the conclusion of the top-7.
Barnes is viewed as one of the best athletes in this Draft, along with G-Leauge prospect Jalen Green. Barnes is expected to go fifth overall to the Orlando Magic, according to Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo.
Barnes isn’t a great scorer and that’s a real reason that Barnes isn’t universally loved by every evaluator. Barnes averaged 10.3 points a game as a freshman at Florida State and shot just 56 percent from the field and 27.5 percent from three, so those concerns have some real merit.
However, Barnes is viewed as having great passing skills and proven ability on the defensive end, especially because he has impressive length and an ability to guard three or four positions.
Jonathan Kuminga, Forward, G-League Ignite
Before the 2020-21 season, Kuminga was viewed as a likely top-5 pick in many mock drafts, and the likelihood of him falling outside of the top-five has started to grow in recent weeks, and he could even see himself fall out of the top-10.
Kuminga has one of the highest upsides in the draft with elite athletic traits and great coordination for someone at his size, but there are concerns about how ball-dominant style, jump shot and potentially how ready his game is for the NBA.
The Warriors possess the seventh overall pick in the Draft, and that could be a potential landing spot for Kuminga, but the Warriors could also use that pick as leverage in a trade package for a super-star to pair with Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green.
Franz Wagner, Small Forward, Michigan
Franz Wagner might not have the super-star potential that the top-three players on this list have, but Wagner likely has a higher floor than both Barnes and Kuminga do in the NBA.
Wagner spent two seasons at Michigan and averaged 12.5 points a game as a sophomore with 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists while shooting 47 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three last season. Wagner’s viewed as being a really good passer because of how strong his feel for the game is on the offensive end, but it’s his defense that has Wagner viewed as a sure-fire top-10 pick by most evaluators on Thursday.
Wagner had a 5.3 defensive box plus-minus last season at Michigan, which was among the highest in college basketball last season. His length and feel on the defensive end will make him one of the best defensive players in this draft class.
Alperen Sengün, Forward/Center, Besiktas (Turkey)
Alperen Sengün and Franz Wagner are viewed as very similar players. Both players are at least 6-foot-9 and weigh more than 220 pounds. Sengün is bigger and more physically developed than Wagner is, but outside of their physical traits, they have similar games too.
One of the big questions around Sengün’s game is his lack of skill in some areas on offense he doesn’t fit the offensive scheme that some teams play today, but he is still an NBA Lottery talent. Sengün does have some star potential, but if he doesn’t reach that it’s fair to wonder what his value is to many NBA teams across the league.