With the NBA draft lottery and combine less than two weeks out, we can reflect on the biggest risers and fallers in this draft class so far.
Our aggregate mock drafts track where each draft prospect ranks across trusted mock drafts. As we face the calm before the storm, these rankings help us track all of the progress and regression each player faced during this past season.
Much like our ongoing free agency series at HoopsHype, we will continue to update with new posts about whose draft stock has gone up – and down – the most as we get closer to the big night.
Stock up: Davion Mitchell
Guard, 6-2, Baylor (Junior)
PRESEASON RANK: 56
CURRENT RANK: 8
Here is a certain way to improve your draft stock: win a national championship by defeating a team that was previously undefeated, and have your defensive grit and intensity play a crucial role in that victory.
That is how Davion Mitchell jumped from a fringe second-rounder to a projected Top 10 pick in the 2021 NBA draft. Sounds easy enough, right? At least, Mitchell made it look easy whenever he was on the floor last season. So much so, in fact, that Baylor outscored opponents by a rate of 29.7 points per 100 possessions whenever he was on the floor, per Pivot Analysis.
Mitchell, a former Auburn transfer who shot just 31.2 percent on his three-pointers during his first two years of college basketball, was 44.7 percent from beyond the arc in 2020-21. But he was a versatile scorer whose jumper ranked in the 91st percentile off the catch and in the 95th percentile off the dribble, according to Synergy.
Two-way play here from Davion. First, he has great interior positioning to cover the passing window of the trap and also read the passer to pick off the drift pass. Then on the other end, he runs a PnR, reads the commit and hits the roller. pic.twitter.com/qAYdGITl28
— Stewart Zahn (@szahn_bball) April 23, 2021
But he was also a playmaker on both sides of the ball, one of just three players last season to record an assist percentage above 28.0 percent with a steal percentage above 3.0 percent and a block percentage above 1.0 percent.
Perhaps he had increased success because he was older than his competition, playing the entirety of last season at 22 years old. He was born the same year as Jayson Tatum, who already has four years of professional experience.
Regardless, scouts that were at the NCAA tournament who have spoken to HoopsHype have told us that Mitchell was the most impressive player they saw. Decision-makers feel that he can either help a winning organization or help a rebuilding organization become one.
Stock down: Brandon Boston Jr.
Wing, 6-7, Kentucky (Freshman)
PRESEASON RANK: 8
CURRENT RANK: 34
Once regarded as one of the top prospects in this class, former Sierra Canyon standout BJ Boston had a nightmarish freshman campaign for the Kentucky Wildcats.
Despite taking more than three shots from beyond the arc per game during his first two months and fifteen games of college basketball, he shot just 18.0 percent on his three-pointers during this stretch.
But it wasn’t just his shooting from deep that raised red flags for scouts considering that he also struggled near the basket and from midrange. Among all high major players to take at least 100 shots from the midrange, only two shot worse than Boston did (28.8 percent) in this zone.
He played poorly on-ball, which hurts the view of him as a potential secondary playmaker at the next level. When including passes, he finished 30 possessions as the ball handler in pick and roll sets, per Synergy, just two of them ended with a field goal.
for all of bj boston's warts, he will always have his backwards space creation artistry pic.twitter.com/KcC0jTmtCz
— Ben Pfeifer (suns, hawks 1-0) (@Ben_Pfeifer_) June 2, 2021
There were a couple of games in which Boston showed off his potential, though, including a 21-point performance while shooting 6-for-10 from three in a victory over Auburn during his final regular-season appearance.
While that might not be enough to show first-round consideration, there could be suitors who can look past a disappointing season played amidst a pandemic and hope to find a more similar player to the one they saw when he was so highly touted out of high school.
Stock up: Josh Giddey
Guard, 6-8, Adelaide 36ers (Australia)
PRESEASON RANK: Not Ranked
CURRENT RANK: 12
When you take a second and think about what Josh Giddey accomplished at just 18 years old, it becomes hard not to wonder why he isn’t ranked even higher than where he is right now.
Giddey, who is 6-foot-8, has elite length for someone who has all of the court vision and the playmaking that he offers. He averaged 7.4 assists per game, which was the most of anyone in Australia’s NBL.
But he also finished with the sixth-most rebounds, which is also impressive considering that cleaning the glass is rarely discussed in his scouting reports.
If he can be a more consistent scorer, he will arguably be the biggest triple-double threat in this entire class besides Cade Cunningham. In fact, he was the only player in his entire league to record multiple triple-doubles this past season.
There is a reason he told our own Michael Scotto that he would call Ben Simmons his closest player comparison:
Projected lottery pick Josh Giddey compared his game to Ben Simmons on the @hoopshype podcast. @joshgiddey also discussed his plans for the Olympics, explained how the @NBL prepared him for the NBA, and much more.
👉 https://t.co/vqi6LN35O1 pic.twitter.com/sekQgAxCWR
— Michael Scotto (@MikeAScotto) April 28, 2021
At this point in his career, though, he still struggles to score efficiently, especially in transition.
When shooting off the catch and there is a man guarding him, the shot almost never went in. Thankfully, there were at least some games where his three-pointer was landing, including four makes against Perth on March 14.
Giddey is the kind of player worth a gamble considering how rare it is to come across a player who has the height and the passing that he brings to the table.
Stock down: Greg Brown III
Big, 6-9, Texas (Freshman)
PRESEASON RANK: 11
CURRENT RANK: 27
Texas freshman big man Greg Brown is one of the most athletic prospects in this class and his vertical pop is going to make any scout salivate.
He was the only high-major freshman to have a defensive rebound percentage above 23.0 percent while also attempting at least 7.0 three-pointers per 100 possessions, per Bart Torvik, which could make him an ideal floor-spacing big man in the NBA. But there are grave concerns with his feel for the game that will give anyone with a first-round pick pause.
Since 2008, Brown is the only D-I player to ever record a usage rate above 25.0 percent to have a turnover percentage above 24.0 percent and an assist percentage below 4.0 percent. He had, quite literally just one assist to thirty turnovers during his first two months in the NCAA.
Watch what Brown does when he is playing with an open floor. He finished a total of ten possessions as the ball handler in transition, per Synergy, and only one ended with a basket. The other nine included an assorted comedy of errors, including four costly turnovers occasionally caused by unforced falling to the floor and missed dunks that could have easily been avoided with a simple layup.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) February 3, 2021
There are flashes that make you want to believe in Brown, who could throw down some of the most thunderous dunks that you will ever see from a college basketball player. But even those moments led to frustration in the process, earning a technical foul against Baylor for admiring his work and taunting his defender.
It is that kind of decision-making that eventually led Shaka Smart to not only remove Brown from the starting lineup but entirely out of the rotation during both the conference tournament and the NCAA tournament.
If he wasn’t ready for that, it is hard to imagine an NBA coach feeling that he will be ready for NBA minutes any time soon, which makes him a G League prospect until farther along in his development.
Stock up: Tre Mann
Guard, 6-5, Florida (Sophomore)
PRESEASON RANK: Not Ranked
CURRENT RANK: 20
It is impossible to talk about players who improved their draft stock without talking about Tre Mann, who not only got better on the court but also got significantly bigger.
That’s right, since his freshman season, Mann grew nearly two inches and put on around 15 pounds. He also got better at virtually everything else, showing year-over-year progress in his scoring (5.3 ppg to 16.0 ppg), shooting (27.5 3P% to 40.2 3P%), rebounding (1.9 rpg to 5.6 rpg), playmaking (0.7 apg to 3.5 apg) and defense (0.6 spg to 1.4 spg).
Overall, when you look at his statistics as a freshman compared to when he was a sophomore, you see two entirely different players.
10+ games, all the space creation I’ve seen from Tre Mann. Elite handles and he’s incredible at finishing his moves with great footwork on the perimeter. This is easily his best trait. He’s unguardable at times with his change of speed, handle, and shot pic.twitter.com/I4EbeNkpxv
— Mavs / Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) April 8, 2021
These days, Mann is an excellent self-creator, needing assists on just 17.4 percent of his field goals at the rim. He also attempted three times as many jump shots off the dribble (107) than off of the catch (31), which is a higher degree of difficulty. On his pull-ups, he averaged 1.06 points per possession, which ranked in the 90th percentile among all D-I players, per Synergy.
Mann is a guard with an excellent handle and dribble package who can drive and create space, using screens with confidence. Considering all of the natural talents that you can see when you watch him play even in a single highlight, he projects as a solid pick in the first round.
Stock down: Ibou Badji
Big, 7-2, FC Barcelona (Spain)
PRESEASON RANK: 23
CURRENT RANK: 81
Despite coming into the season with a first-round grade, Senegal’s Ibou Badji was not able to capitalize on some of the momentum and hype that surrounded him this time last year.
Physically, you are not going to find someone more intriguing than Badji, who was measured with a 7-foot-8 wingspan and 9-foot-10 standing reach at U18 NBA Global Camp in 2018. He showed some real promise at the U19 World Cup in 2019, averaging 11.0 points as well as 8.3 rebounds and a tournament-best 5.0 blocks (!) per 36 minutes during his seven games.
But he shot less than 47.0 percent from the field without even taking a three-pointer during any of the appearances. Unfortunately, his struggles to score have since continued, averaging 5.4 points per game while shooting a putrid 42.9 percent from the free-throw line for Barcelona’s junior team in 2019-20.
He wasn’t much better this season, averaging just 7.1 points while once again shooting less than 50.0 percent from the field and less than 60.0 percent from the charity stripe. His jumper was virtually a non-factor, which is forgivable for someone his size, but his ability to create his own offense even through a post-up or by cutting to the basket has been demonstrably poor.
Badji has looked better in a two-man game when rolling to the basket and pairing him with an NBA pick-and-roll ball-handler could make that even better. During the rare times that it all comes together, the product can look magnificent.
2002 born Ibou Dianko Badji played his best game this season. Scored 19 points but more importantly, hit one 3-point shot and fadeaway. He was struggling to show his tremendous strength in tight spaces but this game is a plus for him. pic.twitter.com/nSaYcfvqAH
— Kuzey Kılıç (@Kuzeykg) February 28, 2021
But his defense will always be the calling card for Badji, whose block percentage (13.2 percent) outpaced projected No. 2 pick Evan Mobley when the two players were on the FIBA circuit.
That remained consistent in 2019-20, recording a block percentage (12.7 percent) led Spain’s second division. This season, despite playing in the same league and never getting a legitimate role for Barcelona’s top-tier team, that rate dropped to just 8.5 percent.
He offers enough physical advantages to take a chance on Badji as a potential draft-and-stash flier. However, the idea of him as a projected first-rounder (at least if he remains in this class) is far from realistic.