With the draft just days away and teams all but finished with draft preparation, so, too, are the Big Board rankings now final. As usual, this list is 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 and 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 projections and draft intel here.
1. Cade Cunningham, G/F, Oklahoma State | Freshman
Height: 6' 8" | 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 instincts, Mobley rarely fouls and quickly covers ground and space to deter opposing shooters. While Mobley has always been an excellent ball-handler 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 develop physically and skill-wise, Mobley has the ability to be one of the best bigs in the league if all breaks correctly.
3. Jalen Green, SG, G League Ignite
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 180 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 3
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 shot-maker 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 it when he has it. But Green has also flashed some playmaking ability and capacity to initiate offense, and there’s a world where he evolves into an efficient, high-usage centerpiece. Green should be able to improve his handle and jumper, and if his shot selection can continue to improve he has the ability to be a legitimate No. 1 option, and the tools to be a good defender, as well. 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: 4
Suggs made the most of a great situation at Gonzaga and capably showcased a wide range of translatable strengths. Suggs brings exceptional strength and quickness to the backcourt, will play either guard spot, competes all the time, and can positively impact games on both ends of the floor. While he’s not quite as polished in the halfcourt as some of his peers, and can be a better jump shooter, he can get downhill quickly and put pressure on the basket, and play alongside a variety of guards to complement his weaknesses. 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 hyper-athletic utility guard than a high-volume 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' 9" | Weight: 225 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 5
Barnes’ 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. His presence will give his coaches a lot of schematic options. 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 question of fit will make him a tougher sell for some teams, but the intangibles will work strongly 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: 6
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
Ranking Bouknight this high is based primarily on what he showed in the early part of the season, before having elbow surgery, and expresses real optimism in his long-term potential as a scorer. He did enough to win a lot of people over when healthy, showcasing his finishing 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 tall for his position, he’s a terrific athlete and unafraid of physicality. Bouknight is also a better shooter than his percentages suggest. He’ll 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 legitimate 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: 8
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. He’s among the best passers in the draft.
9. Franz Wagner, F, Michigan | Sophomore
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 220 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 10
Wagner has the size and all-around skill set to fit in pretty much anywhere, making him an appealing option in the lottery. He’s not a flashy player, nor is he wired as a go-to scorer, but he’s smart, skilled, and was a driving force for a very good Michigan team. He’s a big, smart defender who should be a net positive guarding in a scheme in short order 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 has 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 high-level role player given all he does well.
10. Alperen Sengün, F/C, Besiktas (Turkey)
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 240 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 11
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 outlier stuff. Sengün 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 and surprises.
11. 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 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. Opinion varies as to how likely that outcome is, but the upside is certainly intriguing.
12. Keon Johnson, SG, Tennessee | Freshman
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 185 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 9
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 would be 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 ball-handling 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 back part of the lottery.
13. Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga | Senior
Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 220 | Age: 22 | Previous rank: 13
Teams by and large view Kispert as the most proven shooter in the draft, and while he doesn’t have star upside, 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 specialists, 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 lesser cost. Optimistically, he becomes a starting-caliber player and one of the better shooters in the league. He’s been reliable enough to do that. But if he ends up as more of a situational piece, he may not return lottery value.
14. Moses Moody, SG, Arkansas | Freshman
Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 205 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 17
Though not an overly dynamic player, Moody has the frame and skills to become a useful 3-and-D wing, with a projectable shooting stroke and plus length for his position. The hope is that he’ll develop into a reliable, low-maintenance scorer, with upside if he can make strides with his ball skills and playmaking. Moody isn’t particularly explosive and struggles to convert around the rim in traffic, which limits his upside, but he found ways to be effective in college by drawing fouls and only recently turned 19. He may never put much pressure on the basket, but if he can learn to attack closeouts and make plays in those situations, it’ll be a big help. Moody has an easy pathway to value if he keeps improving, and considering his youth and valuable skill set, he’s a solid option beginning in the late lottery.
15. 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. His range has leveled out in this part of the draft, and 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 of strong-hand drive. 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, and he could contribute immediately and continue to surprise.
16. Jared Butler, PG, Baylor | Junior
Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 190 | Age: 20 | Previous rank: 18
Leading Baylor to a title cemented Butler’s case as a first-rounder, and while ongoing health concerns have placed his availability in question, the NBA has cleared him to play. That places his fate in the hands of individual team doctors, but if he’s approved to play somewhere, he’s one of the more bankable guard prospects in the draft, in a vacuum. He’s proven himself on both ends as a quality player with a good understanding of his own capabilities. He’s dangerous with or without the ball, can facilitate with a ball screen and score inside and out. Butler’s change of pace off the dribble is solid, and while not a spectacular athlete, he’s a multiple-effort defender and crafty ballhandler who’s been highly consistent. Teams regularly rave about Butler’s personality and intangibles, and the only thing holding him back in the draft will be his medical.
17. Trey Murphy, F, Virginia | Junior
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 205 | Age: 21 | Previous rank: 20
Murphy’s stock skyrocketed over the past few months as teams keyed in on his shooting skills, above-average athleticism and projectable role as a floor-spacing four-man. He’s proven to be a consistent floor-spacing threat and posted impressive 50/40/90 shooting splits this season, albeit in a low-volume role. The primary drawback is that his offensive game is somewhat limited, as he lacks creative instincts and struggles to play off the dribble, which caps his upside a bit. But some scouts feel strongly about Murphy’s ability to play a valuable role in the NBA—he’s been compared to Phoenix’s Cam Johnson—and his range now starts in the teens. He profiles as a reliable role player, with added upside as a potentially versatile defender and explosive leaper.
18. Chris Duarte, SG, Oregon | Senior
Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 190 | Age: 24 | Previous rank: 19
Duarte will be one of the oldest first-round picks in recent memory, but he has a plug-and-play skill set and should be able to help fill out a team’s rotation in short order. He was exceptional this season and plays with a maturity befitting his age, as a reliable catch-and-shoot player and smart defender who should fit neatly into a supporting role. Duarte was superbly efficient for Oregon, and his strengths are translatable, making this a fairly uncomplicated evaluation other than the fact he’s 24.
He’ll be more appealing to teams that think he can help right away, but landing a reliable shooter on a reasonable contract outside the lottery is a pretty good deal if you can get it.
19. Jalen Johnson, F, Duke | Freshman
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 220 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 12
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 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 flipside, Johnson needs polish to become a more effective halfcourt 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 weight the intel, but he has upside as a starting-caliber forward if he ever puts it all together.
20. Ziaire Williams, SF, Stanford | Freshman
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 185 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 22
It was a forgettable year of college for Williams, who remains a worthwhile first-round gamble but has lost some of his shine as a prospect over the past couple years. His blend of size, feel, and shooting ability has always held strong theoretical appeal dating back to high school, but the actual results have often been inconsistent. Williams’ lack of physical strength continues to be a major impediment to his ability to play downhill and create for himself, and he prefers to settle for jumpers rather than attack the paint. That lack of physicality also makes it difficult to see him as a high-impact defender. Due to the strange nature of this season, he should be afforded a bit of slack, but Williams has a steep adjustment ahead of him. His size and ability to create his shot are still intriguing, but whoever makes the pick will have to be comfortable with the risk.
21. Day’Ron Sharpe, C, North Carolina | Freshman
Height: 6' 11" | Weight: 265 | Age: 19 | Previous rank: 24
Sharpe is more of a throwback big, which can come with a bit of a stigma, but he’s well-equipped to be a long-term NBA contributor. Sharpe was foul-prone this season, but plays extremely hard, and he’s slimmed down since the season ended. Improving his conditioning should go a long way. Sharpe was one of the best per-minute rebounders in college basketball, with soft hands and good instincts in pursuit of the ball. He’s also a smart passer and makes quick decisions, adding upside and room for creative usage on offense. He may not be much of a scorer at the highest level and stands to hone his finishing skills, but teams have gained optimism he’ll be a competent jump shooter, adding upside if he can space the floor in addition to his other strengths. Sharpe has enough mobility to survive on defense and the toughness to battle guys his size. The overall package is pretty appealing.