2021 NBA Draft

Top prospects describe their games ahead of NBA Draft 2021

Several top prospects discuss their skill sets and which NBA players they most resemble heading into this week's NBA Draft.

Ben Baer, for NBA.com

Members of the 2021 Draft class talk about their basketball inspirations, role models, what they hope to bring to their future NBA teams and much more.

 


Josh Giddey

Players he looked up to and tried to model his game after

“There definitely were players when I was growing up that I loved to watch. Andrew Gaze is a legend in Australian basketball and he was definitely someone I looked up to and idolized. In the NBA, the guys I looked up to the most were guys like Luka Doncic, Ben Simmons, Joe Ingles. A lot of those bigger point guards that were pass-first guys and loved getting their teammates involved.”

What a team is getting when they draft him

“You’re getting an unselfish, versatile, taller guard that loves making plays for other people. I’m a willing passer that can score and can rebound. There’s definitely things I have to work on, but when you draft me that’s what you’re going to get from Day 1.”

 


Kai Jones

Who he models his game after

“It’s a mixture of two: Giannis and Kevin Durant. Those two guys are the mode I’m kind of going for and how I see myself as a player.”

On what kind of player he is

“All-around athlete. Can impact the game inside and out at with my size. I can spread the floor and bring a high motor and high energy to the game.”

“I think I fit all the qualities of the new-age big. Being somebody that can rebound and run the floor, but also score and shoot from the outside.”

 


Scottie Barnes

Players he patterns his game after

“I wouldn’t say I pattern my game after anyone to be honest. I really just try and play the game the right way when I’m on the floor … I try to win basketball games by being able to playmake on the floor.”

On what makes him unique

“Having long arms, having big hands, being able to move so well for my size. Being able to jump really high, being quick, having those God-given ability and intangibles that makes me an asset on the court. Being able to have energy and bring it on the court, being athletic and having that IQ on the court and having that vision just makes me so unique.”

 


Jonathan Kuminga

On which players he grew up watching and who motivated him

“I would say just growing up, I watched more of Kobe. I’m trying to model a lot of things that he does, like work ethic, mentality. He’s just the person I used to watch film of. I feel like I am my own favorite player though.”

 


Jalen Johnson

Which players he looks up to and tries to model his game after

“LeBron James for sure. Just with everything he does on the court, the way he communicates, the way he leads, his IQ. Ben Simmons, too, the bigger playmaking guards, that’s kind of how I envision myself, being that type of player.

“I started watching more film on guys, the Penny Hardaways, the Magic Johnsons, Ben Simmons, the bigger guards that can playmake at a very high level. I’ve been watching them, studying their games.”

 


Evan Mobley

On what makes him different than other big men in the NBA

“My agility, length and defensive presence makes me different. I can guard almost every position and move my feet really well. On the offensive end, I can shoot the ball really well and run the floor.”

On who his game most resembles

“There’s a lot of players I’ve been told I resemble, but everyone’s game is different. Everyone has different tendencies. I wouldn’t say I have a perfect comparison to anyone. My game is my game.”


Cade Cunningham

On which current or former NBA player he would compare his game to

“I don’t like comparing myself to players around my age. I hear a lot of Luka comparisons, which, I can see it, but next year we’re going to be playing against each other. Penny Hardaway, Magic, Jason Kidd are guys that came in with bigger bodies and still found ways to make plays. I try to take what I can from each one of those guys.”

 


Moses Moody

Who he grew up watching and who he patterned his game after

“Yeah I mean I was a tall, lanky kid when I was young so I feel like all tall, lanky kids look up to Kevin Durant at that young age. But, nowadays I take anything from a lot of different players, whether it’s my midrange game or creativity; get some of that from CJ McCollum, Bradley Beal and then I just take different things from different players.”


Cameron Thomas

The archetype of an NBA player he models his game

“Throughout the playoffs, I watched a lot of Devin Booker. Kyrie and James Harden too when they were in the playoffs. Bradley Beal as well. But really, with Kyrie and James Harden, I try to take a lot from them when I’ve watched.”

On what he sees in the similarities between himself and Devin Booker

“Really, his footwork. He can shoot threes, but it’s his game in the mid-range that makes him so good. I feel we play very much alike.”


Keon Johnson

The NBA player he models his game after

“One player I try and take bits and pieces from their game and implement into my game is Kawhi Leonard. Just because he’s a great defender that can guard multiple positions but also on the offensive end he can score the ball and get to his spots and knock down shots. I feel that I’ll eventually be able to elevate my game to that level and be more of an offensive threat.”

Describing his game to somebody who has never seen him play

“A guy who loves to defend. Can guard multiple positions on the defensive end. On the offensive end can create opportunities for his teammates and also get to my spots and elevate and knock down shots.”


Franz Wagner 

On fellow German Dirk Nowitzki’s influence on him as a player

“Dirk was like Michael Jordan for German kids. He made it seem possible to make it to the NBA. Not just make it but be a Hall Of Fame type player. To see him with a Championship I remember where I was…it was a huge deal for everybody. He made basketball in Germany a lot more important and relevant…and there’s a lot more German players who make it to the NBA…and I’m sure you can give him credit for that.”

On what separates his game from other players

“I think versatility is one of the most important things in the game today. I think I can shoot, I think I can dribble, I think I can play defense and defend really well at multiple positions… I know how to read the game too and play within a system, and I think that will help me in whatever team I am going to play at.”


Alperen Sengun

On centers he has watched play and looked up to

“Nikola Jokic, Domantas Sabonis, Tim Duncan, Shaquille O’Neal. I liked (Duncan’s) post-up moves and finishing.”

Who he watched during the Finals and the style of play for big men at the next level

“Deandre Ayton was very good during the Finals, offensively and defensively. He was a solid rebounder, very active. I couldn’t watch it all, because I had my own games in Turkey, but Ayton was the player that impressed me. Brook Lopez was also a good player.”

*assisted by translator


James Bouknight

Describing his game to someone else

“I can play for any coach, with any players in any system.”

On being close to his dream of being drafted

“Man, it’s crazy. I’m going to be the first person since Steph (Marbury) from Brooklyn to be drafted in the lottery. It’s a dream come true. When I got to New York on Sunday, I went back to the neighborhood I grew up in in the Chelsea area. I went to a park where I used to play at and the kids wouldn’t leave me alone. I was like man, I’m an inspiration now. It felt good, it hit me a little different that kids look up to me. Seeing that we came from the same neighborhood, they feel like he did it, I can do it to.”


Jalen Suggs

When compared to Trae Young and his floater game

“Really just getting reps in. It kind of starts with you having an elite floater for them to respect it to even play your floater instead of playing the lob… watching Trae Young, that’s who I was gonna mention.”

On a player he’s looked up to and is ready to see on the court

“I think the list is too long honestly, but one person who I’m really looking forward to playing against — and I hope he is too — is Damian Lillard. Someone that I’ve loved watching, love his game, the demeanor he plays with…”

Latest