Top 5 international players in 2021 NBA draft class
The Nets used all three second-round selections in Thursday’s NBA Draft to make for a five-man draft class. Here’s an early scouting report and fit with their final three draft picks.
Pepperdine’s Kessler Edwards at No. 44
Great size and length at 6-foot-8 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan. Not a crazy vertical athlete but has enough pop off two feet to finish above the rim. He’s good laterally for his size, with strong fluidity.
Very legitimate 3-point shooter off the catch. Made 39.5 percent of his nearly 400 3-point attempts over his career at Pepperdine. Strange looking mechanics with the ball out in front of his face. Almost looks like a push shot at times but everything is balanced and in rhythm, and he is effective at high speed with quickness. Plus, the mechanics at the top are pretty simple in a good way. Shoots off the hop regularly but can also step into one. Has a pretty significant ball dip, however when he needs to, can speed the release up and get it off quickly. Turns on the follow through. Great off movement too. One of the best movement shooters off screens in the class. Great at getting his feet down and into balance and rhythm.
He’s pretty good around the basket, too. Aggressive, and takes the driving lines that are available to him. Some of Pepperdine’s sets were designed to get him isolated on the elbow where he could drive and try to finish. Does a good job of attacking closeouts in a straight line. Can spin back with a counter if his initial line is cut off, but not going to cross over or do anything wild. He’s also a really sharp cutter and finisher, timing his runs well from the corner, which will be directly applicable to his NBA role. Good with either hand and does a sneaky good job of playing through contact despite being skinny. At the WCC level, he even tried to absorb contact at times with success.
Top 5 international players in 2021 NBA draft class
The Washington Wizards hold the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Here is a look at the five best international prospects in this year’s class with analysis from NBC Sports Washington’s Chase Hughes, Tyler Byrum and Mike DePrisco.
1. Jonathan Kuminga, F, G-League Ignite (Democratic Republic of the Congo)
Age: 18 (turns 19 in Oct.) Height: 6-7 Weight: 220 Wingspan: 7-0
2020/21 stats: 13 G, 15.8 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.8 bpg, 38.7 FG% (5.5/14.3), 24.6 3PT% (1.2/5.0), 62.5 FT%
Player comparison: Jaylen Brown, T.J. Warren
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 7th, Ringer 8th, NBADraft.net 7th, Bleacher Report 5th
Analysis: He is very athletic with speed, strength and the ability to play above the rim. And though relatively raw, he has a well-rounded skillset for a team to develop. He shows potential off the dribble, with his shot mechanics, as a passer and on defense. It may take some time, however, for some of those traits to emerge at the NBA level. Early on, he may be more reliant on his athleticism to score and because of that may have more success in transition than in the midrange. – Hughes
2. Franz Wagner, F, Michigan (Germany)
Age: 19 (turns 20 in Aug.) Height: 6-9 Weight: 220 Wingspan: N/A
2020/21 stats: 28 G, 12.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.0 apg, 1.3 spg, 1.0 bpg, 47.7 FG% (4.4/9.3), 34.3 3PT% (1.3/3.6), 83.5 FT%
Player comparison: Kyle Kuzma, Deni Avdija
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 9th, Ringer 7th, NBADraft.net 9th, Bleacher Report 7th
Analysis: He is 6-foot-9 with some positional versatility. While Wagner likely profiles as a four at the NBA level, he has the potential to play some three and maybe even some five in small-ball lineups. He’s a fluid athlete who can run the floor, pass and has flashed some potential to create off the dribble. Wagner is good at moving the ball in the halfcourt with quick passes… While Wagner shoots fairly well for his size, he topped out at 34.3% from three as a sophomore. For him to reach his potential offensively, that number will have to go up in the NBA. His brother had a similar profile entering the league and he has struggled to establish a consistent role in part because he hasn’t made his threes consistently. – Hughes
3. Josh Giddey, G, Australia
Age: 18 Height: 6-8 Weight: 205 Wingspan: 6-8
2020/21 stats: 28 G, 10.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 7.5 apg, 1.1 spg, 0.5 bpg, 42.7 FG% (4.1/9.5), 29.3 3PT% (1.0/3.5), 69.1 FT%
Player comparison: Joe Ingles, Deni Avdija
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 10th, Ringer 10th, NBADraft.net 10th, Bleacher Report 12th
Analysis: Giddey’s greatest strength is his passing. He’s advanced in that area of the game for an 18-year-old and has a great feel for the game. A lot of players can make simple reads based on what look a defense throws at them in pick and roll, but Giddey has an ability to think one step ahead and create open looks for his teammates. If the rest of his game comes around, the passing will separate him from other prospects in his class. – DePrisco
4. Kai Jones, F/C, Texas (Bahamas)
Age: 20 Height: 6-11 Weight: 221 Wingspan: 7-2
2020/21 stats: 26 G, 8.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.9 bpg, 58.0 FG% (3.2/5.5), 38.2 3PT% (0.5/1.3), 68.9 FT%
Player comparison: Christian Wood, Jaren Jackson Jr.
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 11th, Ringer 21st, NBADraft.net 12th, Bleacher Report 16th
Analysis: It’s rare to see a lottery prospect regulated to the bench in the year before he declares. Jones was not a starter at Texas and played behind another potential first-round pick Greg Brown. So for all of his statistics, realize those are his marks in a limited capacity. His per-40 averages are 15.5 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game. Even in his bench role, the forward was named the Big 12’s Sixth Man of the Year. And drafting a bench prospect in the lottery is not an anomaly. Drafting Patrick Williams from Florida State worked out pretty well for Chicago. – Byrum
5. Chris Duarte, G, Oregon (Dominican Republic)
Height: 6-6 Weight: 190 Wingspan: 6-8
2020/21 stats: 26 G, 17.1 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.9 spg, 0.8 bpg, 53.2 FG% (6.2/11.6), 42.4 3PT% (2.3/5.5), 81.0 FT%
Player comparison: Gary Trent Jr.
Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, Ringer 14th, NBADraft.net 15th, Bleacher Report 19th
Analysis: Duarte is one of the best shooters in this draft and he’s comfortable getting his shot off in a multitude of ways. He can hit triples spotting up, in pick and roll and coming around screens. Duarte shot over 40% from three on 5.5 3-point attempts per game while hitting 81% from the free-throw line. Shooting is the premium skill in the NBA and Duarte should be able to provide plenty of it to his next team… The Oregon wing isn’t just a shooter, however. Duarte is one of the more polished offensive prospects in this class. His ability to hit jumpers from all over the floor certainly helps, but he’s a confident ball-handler in pick-and-roll when looking for his shot and is a solid finisher at the rim. Duarte shot 53% from the floor last season with the Ducks and it was no considering the depth of his offensive skill set. – DePrisco