basketball Edit

McDonald's Nuggets: Top NBA draft picks, Commit of the Week, more

Jalen Suggs
Jalen Suggs (AP Images)

In this week’s edition of McDonald’s Nuggets, Dan McDonald discusses his draft board for the upcoming NBA Draft plus the top commitments of the week.

*****

MORE: Five commits who have boosted their stock

2021 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2022 Rankings: Rivals150 | Team | Position

2023 Rankings: Top 30

*****


STARTING FIVE: Top five NBA Draft picks, plus a sleeper pick

Cade Cunningham
Cade Cunningham (AP Images)

We’re just six days away from the 2021 NBA Draft and it’s mostly been settled for quite some time with who the top five prospects in this year’s class are. In some order, you’ll mostly see Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs, Evan Mobley and probably Jonathan Kuminga, although some might slip Scottie Barnes into the group. My draft board, however, might look a little different than most in ranking those five.

I’ve been on this for quite some time, but I really think I’d be a slight lean in favor of Suggs (1) if I had the Detroit pick. It’s no knock on Cunningham (2), but I love everything about Suggs. He’s a terrific scorer, passer, defender and people around the Gonzaga program rave about his character and leadership traits. He’s built to be an NBA star and the face of an NBA franchise. Cunningham is a terrific prospect as well with his playmaking ability at 6-foot-8. I’d run to the podium to get that pick at No. 2.

Again, if Green (3) is available with the No. 3 overall pick, I’m running to Adam Silver to get the pick in. The upside for Green is really high to the point where I think he could be an elite scorer for a long time if he stays on his current trajectory.

Assuming whoever makes the No. 4 pick, which right now belongs to the Toronto Raptors, doesn’t have a logjam in the frontcourt, this is the easiest pick of the draft. Mobley (4) has star potential as another unique forward at 7-foot that has some playmaking to his game and the ability to protect the rim.

Kuminga (5) is just as talented, if not more, than everyone in my top five. He’s just not quite as ready to contribute next season, but his upside is really high. He averaged 16 points per game with the G-League Ignite this season and still has plenty of room to polish up his offensive game. Defensively, his 7-foot wingspan in his 6-foot-8 frame with his athleticism could make him a potential lockdown defender.

Once the lottery picks are settled, who is someone I’d keep an eye on to be a great late first-round pick? Let’s go with Oregon’s Chris Duarte. Yes, he’s 24 years old, but I love his potential as a 3-and-D guy. He shot 42.4% from 3-point range this season for the Ducks and 53.2% from the field. He has NBA size for a wing at 6-foot-6 and is a very good defender. I’m excited to see where he ends up because I think he’d be a great pick for a playoff team looking for a specialist in the late first round.

*****

TRANSFER OF THE WEEK: Kofi Cockburn (back) to Illinois

Kofi Cockburn
Kofi Cockburn (AP Images)

When Kofi Cockburn pulled out of the NBA Draft and remained in the transfer portal, most assumed that he was likely headed to Kentucky with the two assistant coaches that left the Illini for Big Blue. However, Brad Underwood and his new staff were able to convince the potential First Team All-American to stay right where he’s been for one last go-round. It absolutely changes the fortunes of what Illinois could do this season as he would’ve been really hard to replace. Look for the Illini to be right there at the top of Big Ten once again with his return.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH ILLINOIS FANS AT ORANGEANDBLUENEWS.COM

*****

2022 COMMIT OF THE WEEK: Arterio Morris to Texas

Chris Beard is going to be a problem on the recruiting trail for schools trying to beat out the Longhorns going forward. Right after securing Marcus Carr in the transfer portal last week (which could’ve been the transfer of the week), Beard also locked down one of the top point guards in the class in Arterio Morris. He’s an elite playmaker with great size at 6-foot-4 that will make an immediate impact in Austin. The next question for the new Texas staff is whether it can secure a commitment from five-star guard Keyonte George, who has all the top schools in the country on him and will also have the option of going pro.

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH TEXAS FANS AT ORANGEBLOODS.COM