The draft is just three weeks away and the NCAA withdrawal deadline passed at midnight, taking us into the home stretch of the process with the player pool all but finalized. The NBA’s deadline for players to withdraw is July 19, a date that applies primarily to international prospects. And after spending nine days in Chicago at the combine in May—and a whole lot of movement in the rankings—it’s an opportune time for another Big Board update.
As usual, these rankings are primarily based on my personal evaluations from live games and watching film. In the case of many players, that scouting process dates back several years across various settings. The Big Board also incorporates feedback and opinions I glean from NBA executives, scouts and others around the industry to try to fit players into their projected ranges and paint an instructive picture of the draft class.
Keep in mind that this is not a mock draft, and team fit is not factored in, but you can find my recent mock draft here. Those projections will be updated frequently as draft night approaches.
1. Cade Cunningham, G/F, Oklahoma State | Freshman
Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 220 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 1
As a malleable, versatile guard without a truly glaring weakness and several special qualities, Cunningham has held the No. 1 spot on this board all season. While his individual college stats weren’t as flashy as expected, opponents geared up to stop him every night, and he adjusted to win games. Cunningham’s size, playmaking acumen and remarkable intelligence and feel for decision-making are all strong selling points. He’s turned himself from an average shooter into a legitimately good one. He’s not a high-end NBA athlete and still struggles to finish more than you’d like, but a steady diet of spread pick-and-roll might maximize his gifts and minimize his weaknesses in the long run. Cunningham’s competitive makeup and leadership skills have always stood out, and he’s consistently shown a willingness to make plays and close out games. There may be some debate, but there shouldn’t be much doubt, and it ultimately would be tough to be the team that passes on him.
2. Evan Mobley, F/C, USC | Freshman
Height: 7' 0" | Weight: 215 | Age: 20 | Previous rank: 2
Mobley has a sneaky, if not popular, case as an alternative option at No. 1, as the type of mobile shot-blocker and space-eraser you can build a defense around. Possessing overwhelming length and exceptional defensive instincts, Mobley rarely fouls and covers ground and space effectively to deter opposing shooters. While Mobley has always been an excellent ballhandler and passer for his size, he falls short of being a true No. 1 option on offense. His long reach makes it difficult to alter his shot in the paint, and he’s a steady finisher, but quality touches often have to be manufactured for him. He can be a bit passive at times but will be comfortable playing next to ball-dominant teammates and should be able to space the floor, catch lobs and make plays for others as needed. Considering his native impact on the game and room to grow, Mobley has the ability to be one of the best bigs in the league if it all breaks correctly.
3. Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 180 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 4
There’s an argument to be made that Green’s upside is as high as any player in the draft, with a strong showing in the G League that affirmed his readiness for an NBA opportunity. He’s a terrific athlete and gifted shotmaker who has begun to translate his remarkable high school flashes into consistent production. He’s still learning how to impact the game without the ball in his hands and can be a bit sticky with the ball, but he’s also shown some playmaking ability and capacity to initiate offense. But Green should be able to improve his handle and jumper, and if his shot selection can progress toward optimal efficiency, he has the ability to be a legitimate No. 1 scoring option. He’s made encouraging progress over the past year, and he checks all the right boxes to be a top-flight perimeter scorer if he stays on course.
4. Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga | Freshman
Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 205 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 3
Suggs made the most of a great situation at Gonzaga and capably showcased a wide range of translatable strengths. Suggs has exceptional strength and quickness for his size, will play either guard spot, competes at a high level all the time, and has a range of ways to positively impact games as a defender, playmaker and scorer. While he’s not quite as polished in the half court as some of his peers in this draft, the NBA’s trend toward multiple-playmaker lineups helps mitigate those concerns. Suggs has the tools to be an excellent perimeter defender and shadow opposing scorers, and his level of composure and consistent focus always stands out. While he may wind up as more of a hyperathletic utility guard than a high-usage playmaker in the long run, that version of Suggs could still be a star. It’s hard to see a scenario where he’s not a viable long-term starter, at minimum.
5. Scottie Barnes, F, Florida State | Freshman
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 225 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 9
Barnes’s unique skill set may turn out to be a better fit for the NBA than college: He’s a terrific passer who’s at his best when accessorizing more talented teammates, has enough of a handle to foresee some upside as a playmaker, and pairs a defense-first mindset with exceptional length and versatility. On the flipside, Barnes is not extremely quick or explosive, his jumper has never been a strength, and he isn’t naturally wired to score. The matter of personnel fit will make him a tougher sell for some teams, but his intangibles will work in his favor. It may take Barnes some time to grow into a real factor on offense, but if his shot comes along, he can be more than just a solid starter. His floor is pretty high regardless, with skilled bigs who play both ends always in high demand.
6. Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 210 | Age: 18 | Previous rank: 5
From a physical perspective, Kuminga is one of the most gifted prospects in the draft, with the tools to excel as a slashing forward, defend his position and some untapped upside as a playmaker. While Kuminga certainly helped himself with G League Ignite, his play tailed off a bit toward the end of the shortened season, and he’s more of a project than the other top prospects in the draft. It’s easy to talk yourself into the upside here: If Kuminga improves his jumper, becomes a better decision-maker and steps up his effort on a more consistent basis, he has myriad pathways to making a positive impact on both ends of the floor. However, there’s also some thought that his development may have plateaued to an extent, and questions remain about his overall feel on both ends. Kuminga is likely to require patience, and there’s a bit more risk built in with him than other top prospects, but it’ll be hard to leave him on the board for too long on draft night.
7. James Bouknight, SG, UConn | Sophomore
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 190 | Age: 20 | Previous rank: 7
Placing Bouknight this high is based primarily on what he showed in the early part of the season, before having elbow surgery. He did enough to win a lot of people over in that window, showcasing his scoring instincts, acrobatic slashing and natural creativity getting his own shot. Bouknight has a deeper bag of tricks than most college scorers, and despite not being particularly big for his position, he’s a terrific athlete and unafraid of physicality. Bouknight is also a better shooter than his percentages suggest but will have to expand his depth as a playmaker to maximize his potential for high usage. He should defend enough to be passable. While the pathway to stardom here is somewhat narrow, there’s nobody quite like Bouknight in this draft, and his upside is worth an early selection. At worst, he should be a capable rotation piece.
8. Joshua Giddey, G/F, Adelaide 36ers (Australia)
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 205 | Age: 18 | Previous rank: 11
Giddey’s productive year in Australia proved an effective springboard for his draft stock, and he’s a lottery-level talent with outstanding passing skills and size. He doesn’t turn 19 until October, which makes the fact he led the NBL in assists all the more impressive. And while NBA teams differ on Giddey’s long-term projection—some view him as a full-time lead guard, others as more of a secondary wing playmaker—his feel is so advanced that at some point, you have to just bet he’ll figure it out. Giddey plays a bit upright, needs to add strength and is still developing a reliable jumper, and he’s unlikely to be a plus individual defender going up a level. But he’s tough, mature and has held his own against much older competition. There’s a lot of room for optimism here, and his innate versatility and feel are strong selling points.
9. Keon Johnson, SG, Tennessee | Freshman
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 185 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 6
Johnson’s remarkable speed and explosiveness, serious, defensive-minded approach, and flashes of scoring potential make him a fascinating upside bet after the draft’s biggest names are off the board. Drafting Johnson in the top 10 is a major bet on those traits coalescing into a high-level starter, and players in his mold tend to be risky. But he showed signs of progress when tasked with increased ballhandling responsibility at Tennessee, and his potential to be an on-ball stopper bolsters his floor to an extent. Johnson doesn’t have consistent range on his shot, has a rudimentary handle, and isn’t the most naturally creative player, and it’ll take him some time to realize his considerable potential. But as competitive and tough as he is, he’s worth placing a bet in the lottery.
10. Franz Wagner, F, Michigan | Sophomore
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 220 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 13
Wagner has the size and all-around skill set to fit in pretty much anywhere, making him an appealing option in the back half of the lottery. He’s not a flashy player, nor is he wired as a lead scorer, but he’s smart, skilled and was a driving force for a very good Michigan team. He’s a smart defender who should be a net positive guarding in a scheme relatively quickly, although he may not be quite as effective guarding on an island against better athletes. Wagner makes quick decisions with the ball and plays an unselfish style but needs to be more assertive at times, and will need to improve his three-point shooting to maximize his offensive impact. Still, there aren’t any glaring holes in his game, and he profiles as a useful complementary piece given all he does well.
11. Alperen Sengün, F/C, Besiktas (Turkey)
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 240 | Age: 18 | Previous rank: 17
While Sengün is one of the more polarizing prospects in the draft for good reason—he’s a low post-centric scorer entering a league where only the most efficient bigs receive meaningful usage—what he did in Turkey this season as an 18-year-old screams special. To average nearly 19 points per game on 63% shooting at any level, particularly at his age, is an outlier level of play. Sengün clearly has NBA-caliber talent. He relies on deep post catches soft hands and strong finishing skills to rack up points in the paint, and he’s an active rebounder who makes the most of average physical tools. His upside lies in his potential as a passer and jump shooter, given he doesn’t have great size or length for a center and may be a liability on defense, particularly in the playoffs. But there’s a pretty good chance he’s a productive NBA player in some capacity, and if a team can maximize his strengths, it’s not out of the question that Sengün continues on his unusual trajectory.
12. Jalen Johnson, F, Duke | Freshman
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 220 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 8
Johnson’s brief stay at Duke and unceremonious exit from the program didn’t help his standing as a prospect, and his draft range is understandably wide. His development stalled a bit over the past couple of years, but his unusual blend of skill and size is still worthy of hard looks in the lottery: He’s a terrific passer and rebounder who can lead the fast break, switch defensively and is comfortable fitting in with better talent. On the flip side, Johnson needs polish to become a more effective half-court player, and has never been a particularly consistent jump shooter. He also has a reputation for intermittent competitive effort. Where he lands on draft night will depend to an extent on how teams choose to weigh the intel, and his range runs into the teens, but he has upside as a starting-caliber forward if he ever puts it all together.
13. Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga | Senior
Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 220 | Age: 22 | Previous rank: 12
Teams by and large view Kispert as the most proven shooter in the draft, and there are few questions surrounding the translatability of his role. He scored with otherworldly efficiency all season, particularly for a jump shooter, and projects neatly as a ball-moving, floor-spacing wing who shouldn’t be too much of a liability on defense. Noting the premium on high-level shooting, Kispert will be a viable option for some teams in the late lottery in spite of his age, although there’s also an argument to be made that you can find players with similar skill profiles later in the draft at a smaller cost, considering contractual slot value. Optimistically, he becomes a starting-caliber player and one of the better shooters in the league. But if he ends up as more of a situational specialist, the opportunity cost and price of taking him in the lottery could look bad in hindsight.
14. Kai Jones, F/C, Texas | Sophomore
Height: 6' 11" | Weight: 220 | Age: 20 | Previous rank: 10
While Jones is unlikely to help an NBA team much next season, it’s easy to see the upside tied to his unusual mobility, length and growth trajectory. He came off the bench for most of the season at Texas but was able to showcase his ability to block shots and sprint the floor, and flashed the makings of a viable jumper. By the end of the season, Jones had a better grasp on how to consistently impact games with activity. His slender frame is less an issue in today’s NBA, where few teams bother posting up on a regular basis and big men with similar body types like Chris Boucher are having success. Jones needs to become a more consistent rebounder, and can still be foul prone, but he’s fairly skilled and moves like a wing on the perimeter. If he can start to turn his flashes into production and has an opportunity to build confidence in the NBA, Jones could be a unique two-way big and a legit piece for a team. Opinion varies as to how likely that outcome is, but the upside is certainly intriguing.
15. Usman Garuba, F/C, Real Madrid (Spain)
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 230 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 15
Garuba’s athletic tools, defensive acumen and wealth of high-level experience at his age all suggest he finds a way to help an NBA team next season. While not a rim protector in the truest sense, he projects as a switchable, physical defender who can center small lineups or play the four next to another big. He has all the qualities to be an exceptional player on that end. The downside is that Garuba isn’t an exceptionally skilled scorer, with most of his looks created for him by others, and is a below-average jump shooter with poor numbers from the free throw line. His offensive role will likely be marginal at best in the early stages of his career, which places more stress on him being a high-caliber defender to compensate. Garuba’s advanced understanding of team basketball will help his adjustment, but the upside is primarily tied to how much better he shoots in the long run. But that’s a fine gamble in this part of the draft, particularly factoring in his youth and pedigree.
16. Davion Mitchell, G, Baylor | Junior
Height: 6' 1" | Weight: 205 | Age: 22 | Previous rank: 16
Mitchell entered the season as a curiosity and ended it as a household name, after playing a huge role in Baylor’s title run and working his way into a potential lottery selection. While taking him in the top 10 still feels a bit rich for some, his unique trajectory, work ethic and willingness to defend his position are all appealing. Mitchell is undersized but an excellent athlete, and took his offensive game to another level this season. There are still some questions about his jumper, and he plays a somewhat predictable style of offense, predicated mostly off strong-hand drives, but his quickness and improved playmaking skills feel translatable. It’s clear Mitchell can be more than a specialist, but even the best guard defenders in the NBA struggle to defend the best guards. There’s still a lot to like here, but he’s a better bet for a team that thinks he can contribute big minutes immediately.