2021 Draft Stocks: Buy, Sell, or Wait?
December 2nd, 2020
by Alan Lu
The 2021 draft class came in with a lot of hype, and some of the top prospects put forth sterling performances early, but now as the dust is settling, it’s been harder for the top prospects to sustain their success over time. It was thought that maybe this class was loaded and could be significantly better than the 2020 draft class, now maybe it’s no longer looking that way. This could be the time to sell some stock on top draft prospects, just as we’re ready to buy stock on Kai Jones after his strong performance in his team’s win over North Carolina.
Draft Stock: Buy Low Alert!
Jalen Suggs, G, Gonzaga
He had a tremendous season debut in his team’s win over Kansas, and he is an explosively athletic guard that can score at will, but he also showed off solid playmaking and defensive skills. Suggs can get into the lane whenever he wants, and he is a strong finisher around the basket. He easily could be the best player in the 2021 draft. It’s egregious that he is slotted in only at 18 in ESPN’s latest mock draft, and they currently have Caleb Love over him at 10. There is no way Love is a better prospect than Suggs. Some people rightfully have Suggs projected in the top 5, and he has shown signs that he could be potentially develop into being a superstar in the NBA.
Kai Jones, C, Texas
He’s a very athletic big man that excelled as a finisher, rebounder, and interior defender, but he also showed off some solid perimeter skills, too. He passed the ball well, and he also showed a silky smooth jump shot, which made it very difficult for his opponents to guard him. Jones may not have been on some people’s draft radars prior to the Maui Invitational, but he should be on a lot of people’s lists as a bonafide first round candidate by tomorrow.
Aaron Henry, G-F, Michigan State
If there’s one prospect that I wasn’t previously high on before but now am sold on, it may be Henry. It appears that he made a good decision by coming back, and he had a terrific impact on his team in their Champions Classic win over Duke. Henry played terrific defense, as he pestered opponents with his athleticism, length, and instincts, he also was able to get many steals and blocks in this game.
He also excelled as a playmaker, and he also was a vocal presence on the sidelines to help his team, as he showed leadership skills. Henry is an athletic point forward that may be one of the best defensive players in the 2021 draft, and he has demonstrated that he is a player that you should have on your basketball team.
Draft Stock: Sell High Alert?
B.J. Boston and Terrence Clarke both came in projected to be surefire lottery picks for 2021, and Boston played at a high school powerhouse at Sierra Canyon. Boston projected to be a skilled all-around player with a smooth jump shot and vastly underrated playmaking and defensive skills. Clarke projected to be a very athletic shooter and scorer that can distribute the ball and grab rebounds, and both were expected to be impact players right away.
However, neither of the two have made a three-point shot this season in 3 games, and both of them are a combined 0 for 19 from beyond the arc. While Kentucky has force-fed them the basketball to have them score in volume, neither Clarke nor Boston have been very efficient as scorers so far. Both of the players have committed more turnovers than assists, and they have been much worse than expected offensively.
Of the two, Boston has been the much better rebounder, but it’s clear that their inability to make jump shots or decisions well at the collegiate level may mean that they may not be nearly as ready for the NBA as they initially seemed. Their team, Kentucky is off to a bad start, as they dropped a surprising loss to Richmond, and they also lost to Kansas. Right now, Clarke and Boston’s range probably should be in the late first to the second round range rather than the lottery right now.
Caleb Love, G, North Carolina
The highly touted, Saint Louis-born playmaker came in projected to be a mid-first round prospect, and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony currently rated Love higher than than Gonzaga’s rising star, freshman Jalen Suggs on his latest mock draft, which is shocking considering Suggs dominated the Jayhawks by scoring 24 points and had 8 assists in his team’s win over Kansas.
Love was thought to bring in at least solid shooting and scoring prowess, and for a time, he showed off strong defensive skills, as he played very good defense in his team’s win over Stanford. However, after 4 games, Love has made just 27% from the field on 14 of 51 field goals, has made just 3 of 19 of his 3s (16%), is averaging a meager 0.86 Points per shot, and he now has a 0.77 Assist to Turnover ratio, as he is averaging just 2.5 assists per game, but has committed 3.3 turnovers per game.
On the plus, defense looks to be his strong suit. He had a terrific late game block against Stanford, and he also raced back to foul an opponent on the break to prevent an opponent from scoring on a breakaway dunk, as his opponent then just made 1 of 2 free throws at the foul line. Love is averaging 1 block per game, which is especially good for a player his size, but his woeful offensive production and meager efficiency output does not bode well for someone who is currently projected to be a first round pick. Love has not shown that he can consistently shoot or score, or run the point even at the collegiate level, but his athleticism and defensive ability could still enable him to go in the second round if he were to not improve that much at all this season.
Moussa Cisse and Memphis’ Team
After Moussa Cisse signed on to join Penny Hardaway’s team, it was thought that Memphis would be a formidable college basketball team this season. When I watched tape on Cisse, he looked to be a very athletic shot blocker that could be a game changer defensively, as I saw shades of Onyeka Okongwu in him. Before the season, I had rated him as a first round prospect due to his potential to develop into being an elite rim protector. However, it has been a very bumpy ride for the Tigers. After barely escaping with a win over Saint Mary’s, Memphis has lost to Charles Bassey’s Western Kentucky team, and also one to VCU.
Cisse was dominated by Bassey in his matchup, as Bassey had 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks in the Hilltoppers’ win over Memphis, but Cisse scored just 6 points on 6 shots, and had just 3 rebounds in the loss. He also has averaged just 19 minutes per game, and has not really been the formidable shot blocking or defensive force as advertised. Right now, he’s looking more like an unpolished second round prospect that may need to stay in school another season in college basketball.
Draft Stock: Jury’s Out On This One
Ziaire Williams, F, Stanford
Stanford’s 6-8 freshman forward, Ziare Williams had an impressive debut, as he showed off strong shooting and scoring skills, and he also defended well in the first two games in wins over Alabama and North Carolina. He had to deal with some pretty questionable officiating, as they had whistled him for numerous traveling violations, ticky-tack foul calls, and an unfortunate technical foul in which he was called for hanging on the rim for a bit too long. Still, he came away relatively unscathed, as his sterling jump shot had carried the day for him in his first two games.
However, the bottom fell out for him in his team’s morning game and eventual loss to Indiana. He scored just 4 points on 1 of 10 shooting, and even though he minimized turnovers early, he couldn’t get most of his shots to fall, and he then ended up fouling out. I didn’t see this game, but it seemed like Williams may have played in too many games or minutes here, and could have used some rest. His poor showing against Indiana really has hurt his shooting percentages, and he will need to get back to what was working for him in the first two games. I have faith and confidence in him that he can get back to playing well, but after having a very good first game, it’s no longer clear if he should be a top 5 pick for the 2021 draft.