Unlike years past, some of the best talent in this year’s NBA Draft will come from the G League. Several elite prospects elected to prepare themselves for the NBA by playing against vets and other aspiring NBA players in the G League, and a few of them are likely to be lottery picks in July. Casual fans might not be knowledgeable about the G League Ignite’s crop of incoming prospects, so we've identified a few that are worth keeping an eye on at the 2021 NBA Draft combine.
Jalen Green, guard
Green was the top recruit in the 2020 class before making the landmark decision to forgo the NCAA to help build a G League team composed of blue-chip talent and veterans to prepare for the 2021 NBA Draft. Green is probably the most athletic guard in the draft. He’s a highlight reel waiting to happen because of his explosive jumping. Green’s ability to make challenging shots off the dribble could help him become part of a special group at the next level. Defense and shooting off the catch could get better for Green, but his other skills are so rare that he should easily be at least a top-three pick in this year’s draft He averaged 17.9 points with a 61.3 TS% in his lone pro season.
Jonathan Kuminga, forward
Kuminga was the fourth-best prospect in Green’s class and was rated better than surefire lottery picks like Scottie Barnes and Jalen Suggs. Playing in the G League certainly hasn’t hurt the swingman’s draft stock, as he’s projected to be a top-5 pick. Kuminga has tremendous defensive potential with a 7-foot wingspan on a 6’8” frame. He’s quick enough to stay in front of guards and strong enough to stifle legitimate bigs. Kuminga has the potential to become one of the NBA’s best two-way players if he sorts out his often streaky shooting.
Daishen Nix, guard
Nix is not as highly rated as Green or Kuminga but might be a top-10 point guard in the 2021 draft class. He’s not spectacular in any area but is an excellent passer and led the G League Ignite with 5.3 assists per game. His 6’5” frame and excellent body control helped him tally 5.3 rebounds per game. Nix wasn’t an efficient shooter and will likely need to learn to play off the ball and knock down shots off the dribble consistently to thrive in the NBA. His foundation is strong enough to make him worthy of an early second-round pick. Still, maybe he can creep into higher in the second round or trickle into the end of the first round with a strong showing at the combine.
Isaiah Todd, forward
Todd might’ve hurt his draft stock by skipping college. The former 15th-ranked recruit was the G League Ignite’s third-leading scorer with 12.3 points per game, but his rebounding could’ve been much better. Part of his subpar rebounding has to do with his strength, but he’s tried to bulk up ahead of the draft. He’s a fluid athlete at 6’10” that’s capable of running the floor effectively and has loads of defensive potential. His offensive efficiency could be a lot better for a player, but his shot-making and defensive versatility make him a good fit for the modern NBA. He’ll likely come off the board in the back half of the second round if he doesn’t gain ground on the 4s ahead of him.