2021 NBA draft primer: Looking ahead to potential Warriors picks

Peninsula Premier Admin

The Minnesota Timberwolves are among the teams the Warriors are monitoring most this season. Because they own their top-three protected pick in the 2021 draft, the Warriors have a vested interest in how Minnesota finishes in the league standings.

Currently, the Timberwolves (4-11) have the second-worst record in the NBA. That standing gives them a 40.1% chance of a top-three pick in the draft lottery. If the ping-pong balls deliver any pick 1 through 3, the Timberwolves keep it. If it falls outside that range, it goes to the Warriors.

The Warriors on Monday play the first of two-straight games against the Timberwolves. For Golden State, winning these games could further cement Minnesota as an early lottery team. Depending on how the lottery plays out, a top pick in a widely-heralded 2021 draft could pair James Wiseman with another high-end rookie who can help bridge the gap between Golden State’s present and future.

Now is as good a time as any to take a look at some of the top prospects in the 2021 draft.

Cade Cunningham, guard, Oklahoma State

As close to a consensus top pick as there is, Cunningham is considered the sort of player who can alter a franchise. The 6-foot-8 point guard is a skilled ball-handler who can score in the pick-and-roll, isolation and off the dribble. Defensively, his 220-pound frame combined with his intensity allows him to guard multiple positions. An improving shooter and natural passer, there is little Cunningham can’t do.

Evan Mobley, big man, USC

Mobley checks all the boxes for a modern NBA center. At 7-feet with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, Mobley can score at all three levels, protect the rim and slide on defense. His great hands, soft touch and smooth handle suggest substantial upside. Though questions remain about his physicality, Mobley has emerged as a lock for a top-three pick.

Jalen Green, guard, G League Ignite

There’s little doubt about Green’s talent. He’s explosive in the half-court and open floor, strong finisher and improving perimeter shooter. Though he’s only played in two scrimmages for the G League Ignite team in Walnut Creek, Green has flashed those tools that have many scouts believing he can become an elite offensive playmaker and scorer. The only concerns have to do with his size (6-foot-5, 172 pounds), shot selection and fluctuating defensive motor. Still, nothing that can’t be overcome in the right situation.

Jalen Suggs, guard, Gonzaga

A powerful driver, mature decision-maker and disruptive defender, Suggs is nearly complete as a two-way player. His perimeter shooting numbers (34.9% from 3-point range, 73.2% on free throws) need improving, but his mechanics are sound and suggest he could become a reliable shooter. Minnesota’s Mr. Football and Mr. Basketball last year, Suggs possesses the physical tools and leadership skills NBA teams will become infatuated with.

Jonathan Kuminga, forward, G League Ignite

Though Green was the headliner when Ignite formed last year as a professional developmental team for NBA prospects, Kuminga has garnered early raves as the Ignite’s top performer in the team’s first two scrimmages. At 6-foot-8, 225 pounds and a 7-foot wingspan, Kuminga has the ideal frame for a combo forward. While questions remain about his decision-making, emotional maturity and polish, his impressive combination of strength, quickness and defensive fluidity are rare.

Scottie Barnes, forward, Florida State

Barnes is one of the most unique players eligible for the 2021 draft. At 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan, Barnes has ideal size and length for a forward but plays point guard for the Seminoles because of his unselfishness and fluidity as a ball-handler. This versatility translates to the defensive end. A high-motor defender who can guard on the ball, play with physicality and slide across multiple positions — including small-ball center — Barnes can legitimately guard 1 through 5. He won’t lead an offense in scoring, but he’s a natural facilitator who can keep the offense moving.

Jalen Johnson, forward, Duke

It’s been an uneven season for Johnson, who went a month between games because of a foot injury and coronavirus-related postponements. In his first appearance for the Blue Devils, he put up 19 points and 19 rebounds, but then averaged 7.3 points and 3.5 rebounds over his next four games. In his second game back, he exploded for 24 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, four blocks and two steals. At 6-foot-9, 220 pounds, Johnson is a physically imposing freshman with the ability to score off the dribble, rebound at a high volume and defend multiple positions. The only question is whether or not he can put it all together consistently.

Contributed by local news sources

Next Post

Map: California is back on coronavirus tier restrictions, and here’s how those look

The lifting Monday of California’s regional stay-at-home orders returns the state to its system of coronavirus restrictions by tiers. The map above shows the most recent assignments, as of Jan. 19. All counties were in the purple tier (“widespread” risk) except Sierra (“moderate” risk) and Trinity, Alpine and Mariposa (“substantial”). Click […]