2021 Draft Watch: Assessing Jalen Green, Isaiah Todd, and Nimari Burnett

August 10th, 2020

By Alan Lu

I decided to take the time to watch Jalen Green and Isaiah Todd play in a high school basketball game that took place between Prolific Prep and Word of God Christian Academy on January 3rd, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via The Grind Session.  Both players are a highly-touted first round prospects that could both wind up getting selected early in the 2021 draft, and both players will be headed to the G-League next season.  I wanted to assess Green and Todd’s skills further to see where they were at right now.  It also was an opportunity to watch Prolific Prep’s 6-3 guard, Nimari Burnett play. Here are my thoughts on how they fared, and what to expect out of them next year.

NBA G-League-bound guard, Jalen Green is a tremendously athletic swingman that could end up being a top 5 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
(Photo:
Rick Manahan/Prolific Prep, via Rivals)

Jalen Green is a very athletic swingman that excels at attacking the basket to score inside.  He excels at making plays above the rim, as he would score on thunderous, high-flying dunks on the break, and he also managed to score on a quick cut to the hoop another time.  Green also managed to use a spin move to his right to score on a tough, reverse layup off the dribble, and he would often draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  Every once in a while, he would try to force up a tough shot in traffic, as he would sometimes miss shots when he wouldn’t get foul calls.

On the other hand, he took a lot of outside shots, but he struggled to make them consistently in this game.  Green tended to hoist up a lot of threes, and while he showed the ability to make threes off the catch or dribble, he tended to miss too many spot-up threes from beyond the arc.  He did manage to draw three free throws when taking a pull-up three, and Green seemed to do a better job of making pull-up jumpers on offense.  He was able to make a long two off the dribble, but he struggled to make mid-range jumpers consistently.

As a playmaker, he looked to be pretty average.  Green will look for the open man, as he would find open shooters to keep the ball moving, and that helped him pick up his fair share of assists.  He also can throw accurate lob passes, as he can throw accurate passes on the break, and he can throw good passes off the dribble.  On the downside, he tended to be quite turnover prone on offense.  He tended to throw hasty passes into traffic that would get intercepted, and sometimes he wouldn’t throw the ball hard enough to reach his intended targets.  He was too careless with his passes at times, and that led him to commit too many turnovers in this game.

Green did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  He would often chase down balls to get boards on both ends of the floor due to possessing a good motor, and he would tend to push the ball up the court to create early offense for his team.

Defensively, he looked to be about average at best.  For the positives, he was able to jump on a dropped pass from an opponent to nearly get a steal, but he couldn’t keep the ball in bounds.  Green also managed to contest a three to force a miss early in this match.

On the downside, sometimes he would get caught ball watching, as he would lose track of his man, and sometimes he wouldn’t guard a man defensively, which would lead his team to allow opponents to score on jumpers and cuts.  He also committed a reach-in foul after getting his pass intercepted in the backcourt another time due to over-aggressiveness.

In general, Jalen Green is a very athletic, high-volume scorer that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he will also hoist up a lot of outside shots, even if he may not be particularly good at making shots from that range.  He seems to emulate a more modern playing style, as he will take a lot of threes, and he will go to the rim to draw a lot of free throws.  On the other hand, he will need to become a more efficient shooter from long-range and from the free-throw line.  If he can refine his skills and significantly improve his jump shot, he could end up being a superstar in the NBA.  It will be imperative to see how well he’ll play in the G-League, and also for that team to not simply cater to him but to try work with him to develop his overall skills. 

The track record for players drafted straight from the G-League to the NBA surprisingly hasn’t been very good, as numerous players there had short careers such as Glen Rice Jr., P.J. Hairston, and Mike Taylor, while Latavious Williams did not reach the NBA altogether.  Green and Todd are here to change the track record, so it will be important that the G-League teams help develop their skills so that they can fit into any team that they end up playing for.

NBA G-League-bound, 6-10 forward, Isaiah Todd is a very athletic, versatile player that could potentially end up going in the first round of the 2021 draft.
(Photo:
Fabian Radulescu/Raleigh News & Observer at newsobserver.com)

Isaiah Todd received a lot more playing time and offensive touches in this game, but he didn’t seem to play nearly as well as he did against Moravian Prep.  Todd did show a decent ability to finish plays around the basket, but he struggled to consistently knock down long-range jumpers.  He also didn’t seem to grab many rebounds, and he was fairly foul prone on the defensive end.

Todd excelled at scoring on hustle plays.  He did a good job of scoring off of offensive rebounds, and he would score on thunderous put back dunks to provide his team with second chance points.  He also drove up the court to score on a layup on the break.

He also did a decent job of scoring off the dribble.  He used a quick ball fake to score  on an acrobatic layup once, and he also would tend to draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the foul line.  However, Todd struggled to consistently knock down outside shots in this game.  He was able to make a corner three late in this contest, but he often would miss threes off the catch or dribble.  Todd showed a good ability to knock down pull-up jumpers from the mid-range, and he can use dribble moves to set up his scores.  He also struggled to score in the post, and sometimes he would hesitate or take tougher shots than needed, which would lead to misses.

Todd showed off some handles, but he looked to be about average as a playmaker.  He didn’t look to pass too often, but he did throw a nifty pass from the post once.  On that play, he threw a no-look, behind the back pass to a corner shooter to set up a scoring opportunity for his teammate.  He also would sometimes set screens for his teammates.  However, he also had the ball poked away from him a couple of times that led him to commit turnovers, as he had some trouble protecting the basketball in this game.

Todd didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, but he was able to get boards on both ends of the floor.  He had a tendency to miss out on balls in his area though, and he also committed a couple of fouls after missing out on rebounding attempts.

He also played average at best defense in this game.  For the positives, Todd would contest jumpers to force misses, and he would use his length to contest shots.  He also showed good footwork to press opposing ball handlers in the backcourt, and he was able to help force an opponent to commit a traveling violation once.  Todd also managed to get his hands on a hastily thrown pass to force a turnover another time.  However, he had a tendency to sag too far off his man, as he would allow opponents to frequently score on three-point shots.  Other times, he wouldn’t hustle back on defense or make much of an effort to stay in front of his man off the dribble, which would lead his team to allow scores on the break.  There was also another play where he didn’t show much resistance when defending in the post once, as he let his opponent to get deep in the paint to allow the basket.

Overall, Isaiah Todd is an athletic combo forward that can score the basketball in a variety of ways, but he will need to make outside shots more consistently, and he will need to improve his defense to increase his odds to succeed at the NBA level.  His ability to score may make him an intriguing prospect, but he will have to improve in the finer points of the game.  Right now, he may project to go in the late first to the second round range for 2021, as his ability to score off the dribble and potential to excel as a jump shooter will be things to watch for next season.

Texas Tech’s incoming 6-3 guard, Nimari Burnett had an excellent showing to help lead Prolific Prep to a win over Word of God Academy by putting forth his strong shooting, scoring, and defensive skills on display.
(Photo:
Rick Manahan/Prolific Prep, via San Francisco Chronicle)

Texas Tech’s 6-3 incoming freshman guard, Nimari Burnett played very well to lead Prolific Prep to a win over Word of God Academy.  Burnett is a skilled combo guard that shoots the ball well, and he is also a feisty defender that can rack up a plethora of steals.

Burnett showed a very good ability to knock down jumpers to provide ample floor spacing for his team on offense.  He showed a knack for making pull-up threes from well beyond the arc, and he also excelled at making spot-up threes off the catch.  He also drove up court to score on an emphatic jam on the break.  He also can draw fouls by going strong to the rim to get to the free throw line.  However, he struggled more when he looked to score more off the dribble, and he especially had trouble when he would attempt to score from the mid-range.

He also displayed adequate playmaking skills.  He can throw timely interior passes to find teammates on the move, as he can set up scores for his teammates both on rolls and in transition.  He also is an unselfish player that will move the ball quickly to find the open man.  However, sometimes he can throw inaccurate passes that can end up going astray, and he also can sometimes struggle to handle the ball in traffic, which can lead him to commit turnovers.

He also did a good job of rebounding the basketball.  Burnett would actively go up to get defensive rebounds, and every once in a while he would look to push the ball up the floor.

Plus, Burnett also played solid defense.  He did a tremendous job of collecting steals, as he would often poke balls away and intercept passes to force turnovers, and he also was able to get numerous deflections in this game due to playing pesky defense upon his opponents.  He also would actively contest shots to force misses, and he also showed the ability to guard taller opponents off the dribble.  On the downside, sometimes he would get beat in transition, as he would try a lazy swipe before allowing his man to go by him on the break.  He also would sometimes commit blocking and reach-in fouls when defending opponents off the dribble.  There was another play where he was late to close out on a shooter, as this led his man to score on a three-point shot.

Overall, Nimari Burnett is an athletic, skilled combo guard whose strong shooting ability, combined with having versatile scoring and solid defensive skills could enable him to be a potential first round prospect in the 2021 draft.  He will need to cut down on the number of turnovers he may commit in games, but he could be an impact player right away in college basketball, and he has the skills to project into being a solid role player in the NBA.

Other Notes:

Illinois’ 6-9 incoming freshman big man, Coleman Hawkins also had a stellar showing to help lift Prolific Prep to a win in this game.  He is a versatile scorer that has plenty of range on his shot, and he also looked to be an above average defender that plays with verticality.

Hawkins shot the ball well, and he was able to make an open, deep three-point shot off the catch early on.  He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He was able to score on an acrobatic reverse layup while getting an extra free throw on the break, and he also scored on a powerful dunk another time after catching a long outlet pass.  Plus, he also managed to score on a put back as well as on a roll to the rim.  He is a good finisher around the basket, and he has good hands to catch passes.  He also can draw fouls when he goes strong to the rim.  However, he can occasionally struggle to score off the dribble, as even though he can get past defenders, he doesn’t seem to change directions well when taking the ball to the basket.

He also displayed fairly average playmaking skills.  Hawkins is a fairly skilled ball handler that can lead the break when called upon to do so, and he can kick balls out to shooters to set up scoring chances for them.  He is an unselfish player that will keep the ball moving, as he will look to find the open man.  However, there was one play where he had a ball knocked off of himself out of bounds, and he also threw a lazy inbounds pass that got intercepted another time.

Also, Hawkins was able to get his fair share of boards in this game.  He was able to leap up to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and he was able to push the ball up the court off of a defensive rebound once.

Plus, he also played solid defense.   Hawkins was able to rotate to block a shot off of a put back, and he would also run in to poke and jump on loose balls to nearly get steals for his team.  He also was active in contesting shots to force misses.  Sometimes though, he would struggle to defend drives or in transition, as he would either not get back or cut off the penetration, which can lead his team to commit fouls and allow scores.  Other times, he may not communicate to teammates on how they should defend the screens, which can lead his team to allow opponents to score on jumpers.  He also committed a technical foul for taunting late in the third quarter.

Overall, Coleman Hawkins is a skilled big man that can shoot and score the basketball, and he also is an active help defender that will look to get blocks and steals for his team.  He will need to be more assertive in taking jumpers in games, and he will need to be a more focused position defender when he is on the court.  It may be uncertain as to how well he will play right away in college, but he has the skills to succeed at that level.  If he can continue to develop and hone his game, over time he could perhaps develop into an effective role player in the NBA.

Word of God Academy’s 6-2 high school senior guard, Chase Forte showed off versatile scoring skills, and he also played solid defense in his team’s loss to Prolific Prep.  Forte showed significant promise as a defender, as he played tough, pesky defense in this game.  He would frequently intercept passes to get steals, and he excelled at contesting jumpers to force misses.  He has quick feet to defend out on the perimeter, and he would look to defend his man aggressively.  Sometimes though, he would commit blocking or touch fouls due to over-aggressiveness.  There was another play where he lost track of his man on a cut, which caused him to allow a score that time.

Forte also excelled at scoring on quick drives in transition, and he would frequently draw fouls upon his defenders to get to the free throw line.  He also was able to make a pull-up three on the break.  Plus, he also managed to kick a ball out to a shooter to notch an assist.  However, he had some trouble in trying to make jumpers consistently from the field.

Overall, Chase Forte is an athletic combo guard that could project to be a solid defensive specialist at higher levels of basketball.  He will likely need to improve his jump shot and show that he can effectively run the point, but he is a skilled basketball player that has the talent to play division 1 in college basketball.  If he ends up making his way to the NBA, he could end up being a defensive-minded point guard that could be asked to lock down his opponents, as he could potentially develop into being a shutdown defender over time.

Word of God Academy’s 6-4 high school senior guard, Quandre Bullock excelled as a scorer and defender in this game.  He did a good job of scoring on hustle plays.  Bullock was able to score on a put back, and he also excelled at driving on the break to draw free throws.  He also managed to throw down an emphatic dunk to score on a drive in transition.  He also made an open corner three.  Plus, he would jump passes to get steals.  Overall, Bullock is an athletic basketball player that could project into a 3 and D type of role if he ends up making it to the NBA, and he has the skills to be a Division 1 player in college basketball.

Word of God Academy’s 6-7 high school junior forward, Saiquone Harris played very well in this game, and he was able to thrust himself into the spotlight by showing off versatile scoring skills and by showing his defensive prowess when he was on the floor.  He consistently made strong plays on both ends of the floor, and he arguably may have even had the best game out of any player on his team on this day.

Harris showed an adequate ability to score off the dribble, as he would take the ball strong to the hoop to draw fouls and score on straight-line drives.  He also would actively score on put backs after getting offensive rebounds to provide second chance points for his team.  Plus, he showed a penchant for making open, spot-up threes, as he also excelled as a floor spacer on offense.

He also played good defense in this game.  He is a rangy defender that would often force turnovers to help his team on the defensive end.  Harris would often intercept passes to get steals, and he also poked a ball away before diving for a loose ball on the ground to get a steal due to possessing solid athleticism, motor, reach, and instincts.  He also managed to rotate to block a shot off of a drive, and he also contested a pull-up three to force a miss another time.  Sometimes though, he would hang out in a zone rather than guard a person, and he would occasionally not even contest shots, which would lead him to allow opponents to score on three-point shots.  He also committed a foul when defending a drive, as he was defending too physically that time due to having his hands on the opponent.

Overall, Saiquone Harris is an athletic, skilled swingman that may be one of the more underrated players in high school basketball.  He is a good defender that has the potential to be an elite defensive player at higher levels, and he has shown that he can consistently score against top high school teams.  Harris has the talent to play in a high-major conference in Division 1 college basketball, and he could be a definite player to watch for the 2022 draft.

Word of God Academy’s 6-1 high school sophomore point guard, Khalil Marshall excelled as a shooter and facilitator in his team’s loss to Prolific Prep.  He showed that he can make threes off the catch or dribble, and he showed a prolific ability to make pull-up jumpers from beyond the arc.  He also excelled at throwing passes off the dribble to notch assists.  On the downside, he struggled to score off the dribble when he would look to take the ball to the rim to try to score, though.  Overall, Marshall is an athletic, skilled playmaker that can make shots and effectively run the team, and he has the skills to end up playing for a high-major conference, Division I college basketball team.  If he ends up making his way to the NBA, he could perhaps end up being a reliable backup point guard in the association.

Prolific Prep’s 6-0 high school sophomore guard, Jordan Pope excelled at making open, spot-up threes from beyond the arc, and he is also an unselfish player that will look to move the basketball.  Sometimes though, he may be prone to throwing hasty passes that may end up going astray.  Overall, he is a skilled shot maker that shoots the ball well, and he is a player that has the skills to end up on a Division 1 college basketball team sometime in the future.  If he ends up making his way to the NBA, he could perhaps end up being a reliable backup point guard in the league.

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