To me, this is one of the most fun prop articles to write each season. A few seasons back, we really nailed a lot of draft props. Last year wasn’t as successful, but still a smash overall. This season, the 2021 NBA Draft hasn’t been talked about very much. Normally, we’d have a few top prospects popping up in articles throughout the season, but this year was unusually quiet.
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Part of that is the timing of the NCAA Tournament in regards to the NBA Playoffs. Typically, we’d be through a good part of the season and draft chatter would serve as good conversation fodder for the lesser teams.
However, this season’s playoff structure probably contributed in taking away some attention from the franchises who were directly or indirectly tanking. Regardless, draft season is here and we have some insight as to where and how high some of these guys might be going.
ESPN story on the 20-player invite list for the NBA Draft Green Room next Thursday in Brooklyn. https://t.co/uodjlOaoca
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) July 20, 2021
The keys to hitting on NBA Draft props are staying grounded and applying common sense to picks. Some teams draft the best player available. Others draft for positional need and scheme fit. Many teams like to draft a project player if their team is already deep.
Occasionally, you’ll see the more established teams draft older, more developed players they feel can help the team win now. Distinguishing a team’s needs from their actual draft strategy can be very difficult, so we’ll try to make sense of each pick to ease your stress.
James Bouknight Under 9.5 Draft Pick -140
Part of determining how high a guy goes in a draft is finding more than one fit under the prop number. For James Bouknight, there are two teams that fit the criteria here. Just a few days ago, the publication “Blue Man Hoop” put out an article claiming Bouknight had a very strong workout for the Golden State Warriors (who own the #7 pick).
A day prior, Fansided published an article listing three reasons why Bouknight is the right pick for them at pick #6. With the addition of a few reliable sources chiming in about Bouknight’s rising stock, now may be the time for us to pounce on this prop before the line or juice shifts too much. Bouknight is very developed as a shooter and dynamic as a scorer. His size (6’5), age (20), and athleticism lead us to believe he should be a Top-9 pick in this draft.
Corey Kispert Under 13.5 Draft Pick +125
I don’t like pinning a player to a single team in an over/under position on a draft prop — as I previously mentioned — but Kispert just makes way too much sense for the Spurs at pick 12 or the Pacers at 13. When going down the draft order, I went team-by-team, trying to find suitors for Kispert around this line and the Spurs stood out like a sore thumb.
Coincidentally, SI.com published a mock draft just days ago with Kispert going to the Spurs as well. It’s kind of an obvious pick for them here. With the Spurs undergoing a real “youth and athleticism” renaissance the past few seasons, it hasn’t translated as well for them in the standings.
Greg Popovich uncharacteristically made some risky, high-upside choices over the past few drafts with the selections of Lonnie Walker, Devin Vassel, and Luka Samanic. It hasn’t turned out quite so well. Those players have shown flashes, but have yet to develop the outside shooting necessary to win consistently in the NBA. Last season, the Spurs slipped to 22nd in the league in three-point percentage, shooting just 35% from deep.
Insert Corey Kispert, who would be the only true Small Forward on this roster — as well as the Pacers roster — and the Spurs would get a polished outside shooter to help raise their potency outside. Kispert would also draw defenders closing out, as well as help to unclog the paint. The pick here makes a lot of sense.
Even at Kispert’s age (22), he has shown drastic improvement each season as a shooter, and his size (6’7) makes him more appealing as a player to make an immediate impact in the NBA. Just a few months ago, Kispert was being mocked inside the Top-8, so don’t let the hype of other guys push Kispert down the board much further. If he doesn’t go at 12, 13 is very feasible.
Tre Mann Over 23.5 Draft Pick -160
I’m not really a fan of Tre Mann as a prospect. Off the bat, Mann profiles as an undersized 2-guard. He’s not a decent playmaker or creator (he’s not good enough as a creator/distributor to play the point in the NBA). He can find his own shot and create some space off the dribble, but he isn’t polished enough as a shooter to be much of a threat in the NBA.
He also isn’t a great defender, though his athleticism may eventually aid in development there. With his limitations at point, Mann is also lacking in areas that would make him a good option as a two-guard. Mann is a bit of a project, as he would need a lot of work to be developed into a rotation player at the one or two. With how deep the talent at guard is in the draft, Mann will likely slip towards the end of the first.
1st to be Drafted: Alperen Sengun vs Josh Giddey -105
This is a battle of who is the top international player in the draft. To me, the better prospect is Josh Giddey, but the more NBA-ready player now may just be Alperen Sengun — albeit much more limited. Sengun has the quickness, strength and athleticism of a slightly younger Domantas Sabonis.
However, he lacks the defense, mid-range and perimeter shooting to be the type of young, dynamic asset teams covet. Giddey, on the other hand, is a point-forward with plenty of playmaking ability and a rapidly developing shooting game. He’s also improved greatly on the defensive side of the ball recently. Giddey has the advantage of recency bias when we are evaluating these two, since Lamelo Ball (similar size, position, playmaking, and offensive arsenal) captured the ROY award after a fantastic rookie campaign.
It also helps Giddey given the competition he faced in Australia was the same competition Lamelo faced the year prior to being drafted by the Hornets. The simple fact is, Giddey’s ceiling and positional versatility make him a much more appealing pick than Sengun. Sengun would be good in an old Grit and Grind style Grizzlies offense, but those are few and far between these days. I like Giddey here to get drafted first.