Revisiting the 2021 NBA Draft: One-and-Dones
If you’re an avid Ridiculous Upside reader, you probably know what the 247Sports Composite Rankings are and how they’ve been more or less reliable in predicting where players are picked in the various NBA Drafts and how they’ve performed. during their career.
As no player in this year’s draft has yet played their first game, we can only look at where they’ve been ranked and what position they’ve been drafted to.
First of all. Each season, there are typically over 400 players that make up the 247 composite ranks of this class. For the HS class of 2020, there were 508 entries. Here are the top 25 players in the class:
I have highlighted in green those selected in this year’s project, including the team that picked them in light gray next to their position in the composite ranks (the late Terrence Clark, hopeful # 8 soon passed away, so keep that in mind as you read the rest of This article). Out of 25 prospects, 17 were selected, which gives an astonishing 68% success rate.
Looking at the people selected, the positions they occupy are hardly surprising and could have been expected to some extent. After all, the top-ranked rookies should be the ones selected at the top of the draft. This is especially the case here, because the seven best players have all been selected and that would have been up to the first nine if Clarke had been available. Only one top 10 player was not drafted (he stayed in college though).
If we dig deeper, however, here are the full results combining the kids’ rank and their draft position:
There is this summer 21 picks in the 2020 HS class draft of hoops. As already presented, 17 were in the Top-25 of the class, while the other four did not reach the cream of the crop-but not by much. As usually happens with these things, the graphic looks like a shotgun wildly pulled towards a few axes.
If the scouts were fully reliable, the trendline would run from the upper left corner to the lower right corner. Turns out they aren’t. But it’s not that things can’t look better given the volatile nature of Scouting.
Of the 21 choices, only five heard their name in the second round of the draft, with only one player (BJ Boston) falling below the top 50 caps in the 2021 event. That’s an absolutely mind-blowing success rate, especially since 16 freshmen were drafted in the first round– with the 17th kick-off of the second round as well.
The colleges – or not – that provided the most drafted freshmen to the project are perhaps the hallmark of the 2021 rookie class. You see it right in the picture, folks: The G-League, a fully formed professional league made up of borderline NBA players, pumped out three kids who were drafted with the second, seventh and 31st picks overall in late July. These selections and players obviously cannot be considered as true cases of preparation for the pros, but they are the closest we’ve got so far – with the exception of international talent – and now a tried and tested way to reach the Association without going to college.
It’s also interesting to see people like Tennessee and Auburn battling perennial powers like Kentucky or the 2021 loser Duke at the top of the table. Tennessee fed off selected players in the 1920s, with Auburn having a few second-round players. Kentucky, by the way, could only get a draft first and second round in that final draft.
Finally, we can take a quick look at the 21 freshman picks in the 2021 Draft to compare their position in the 2020 HS class versus where they were selected. Although it is not perfect, it’s a quick indicator of the value these players can bring to the teams that have chosen them, assuming the high-ranking prospects picked late in the draft are ready to turn into steals.
In order to get a number of goals, I divided the player’s 247th athletic rank by his draft slot. I called it simply “Rk / Pk” or “Risk”, and the lower its value, the greater the assumed “theft”. Here’s how things went this year:
The top three picks in this latest draft presented no risk to their new teams. They were all drafted in the position the high school kids had them in a year ago, and it’s kind of surprising to find a hole, especially since two of those three players went down the middle lane (NCAA) while the other chose to turn pro (G League).
Biggest âstealâ of draft, combining prospect rankings and draft picks, should be freshest Memphis Grizzly rookie Brandon “BJ” Boston. He was the no. 5 prospects who graduated in 2020 and spent a year in Kentucky, no less. Greg Brown (New Orleans Pelicans) follows him for second, with Josh Christopher and Sharife Cooper (both top 25 rookies) tied for third.
On the other side of the coin, everyone seemed to agree that San Antonio Spurs achieved a lot in Josh Primo’s writing with their top 12, lottery picks. Primo was “only” the 58th best prospect in the 2020 class, but he was drafted ahead of 13 of his classmates. Apart from Moses Moody, who this quick math sees as just another bet, no one has even gone close to those “attainable” ranges, and the third biggest “bet” Jalen Suggs falls short of that and has even been considered a pick stolen by the Orlando Magic given its drop to fifth place on draft day.
And with all that, the 2021 draft saw 21 one-and-done make history books by being selected by an NBA franchise. That’s an increase from the 2020 draft, which included 17 NCAA freshmen and two more if you factor in both LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton – they played overseas in Australia respectively. and New Zealand for a year.
How all of these kids will fare in the NBA is still unclear. The good thing for us, and for them, is that the Summer League is already underway so they won’t have to wait long to face their first professional basketball test.