Dribble Handoff: Picking the best senior college basketball players in the 2021 NBA Draft class

The NBA Draft is arising subsequent week, and as at all times, the occasion will consequence within the extraction of some elite younger expertise from school basketball as a recent crop of one-and-done stars like Cade Cunningham and Jalen Suggs hear their names known as by NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Nonetheless, there is perhaps a number of school gamers chosen who will truly be capable of (legally) increase a glass of champagne in celebration.

It is uncommon that gamers with 4 years of faculty expertise sneak into the lottery, however there are often a handful of seniors who find yourself getting drafted and making an influence within the NBA. A type of latest influence seniors has been showcasing his sport this month with Suns ahead Cam Johnson taking part in a key function for Phoenix throughout its run to the NBA Finals in simply his second 12 months as a professional after a five-year school profession. 

Extra not too long ago, Desmond Bane of the Grizzlies and Payton Pritchard of the Celtics turned in stable rookie seasons this 12 months after taking part in 4 seasons of faculty ball. So who’s the four-year (or extra) school participant from this season’s draft class who could have the most effective NBA profession? Our writers weighed in on the subject for this week’s version of the dribble handoff.

Chris Duarte, Oregon

I am not sure the place Duarte might be chosen subsequent week — perhaps the late lottery, maybe simply outdoors of that, probably within the 20s. However here is my prediction: he’ll be one of many 10 greatest rookies subsequent season and, sure, he’ll have the most effective profession of any four-year school participant from the 2021 NBA Draft. The 6-6 guard was the Nationwide Junior Faculty Participant of the 12 months earlier than enrolling at Oregon, the place he led Dana Altman’s program to back-to-back outright Pac-12 titles. As a senior, Duarte averaged 17.1 factors, 4.6 rebounds and a couple of.7 assists whereas capturing 53.2% from the sector, 42.4% from 3 and 81.0% from the free throw line. I do know some entrance workplaces is perhaps bothered by the truth that he is already 24 years previous, which is greater than 4 years older than presumed No. 1 general decide Cade Cunningham, however I am genuinely not as a result of all that implies is that Duarte is able to plug-and-play from the soar. If I am a contender in search of a chunk who can assist instantly, that is any individual I am focusing on and blissful so as to add to my franchise. Gary Parrish

Corey Kispert, Gonzaga

Our Dribble Handoff usually has us offering 4 totally different solutions for the query at hand, however as you will see on this version, we needed to double up. Kispert appears clearly best-positioned to have essentially the most profitable and long-lasting NBA profession of any senior coming into the draft. He improved as a basketball participant with every season whereas at Gonzaga — , the best way this type of factor used to occur 25 years in the past — and was a part of a program that posted a 127-12 document throughout his time there. His profession numbers: 82.4% foul shooter, 58.5% from 2-point vary, 40.8% past the arc on a collective 1,399 makes an attempt. 

We’ve got ample proof to recommend that the 6-6 Kispert is nice sufficient to stay within the league as a spot-up shooter. He has the dimensions, the shape, is nice off the catch and could have the vary. His flooring is among the many best possible of any prospect on this draft, and I count on him to play not less than 10 years within the NBA. Matt Norlander

Corey Kispert, Gonzaga

I scanned the listing of seniors within the draft and could not stop from echoing Norlander’s response. Kispert’s an NBA-ready shooter primed for a protracted profession. He made 43.8% of his 3s two seasons in the past at Gonzaga on 178 then backed up the surface capturing prowess once more by making 44% of his 3s on 207 makes an attempt as a senior on a Gonzaga workforce that misplaced as soon as all season. 

His skill to take a excessive quantity of out of doors pictures and make them at an elite clip makes him one of the crucial coveted seniors on this draft class, and he’s the one I really feel most assured projecting to have the most effective profession among the many friends in his similar classification. — Kyle Boone

M.J. Walker, Florida State

After a promising second season within the NBA, former four-year Florida State guard Terance Mann seems like a stable constructing block for the Clippers, however you may not have predicted that consequence when he was drafted forty eighth general in 2019. Mann shot simply 32.7% from 3-point vary for his profession at FSU, and though he raised that mark to 39% as a senior, he flew underneath the radar partially due to the system from which he got here.

Florida State not often produces flashy superstars with gaudy statistics or over-the-top personalities. As an alternative, the Seminoles have turn out to be considered one of school basketball’s high packages underneath Leonard Hamilton by prioritizing protection, hustle and unselfishness on the offensive finish. That is why M.J. Walker has endurance within the NBA, regardless of touchdown at simply No. 56 on the newest CBS Sports NBA Draft Big Board. At 6-foot-5, he aligns with Mann each by way of body and sport.

Whereas his offensive sport contained in the arc is much less environment friendly than Mann’s, Walker shot it higher from the surface (42.3% in 2020-21) at FSU and has a greater wingspan. Like Mann, Walker is defensively indoctrinated by Hamilton and has a excessive flooring on that finish. Mann has managed to turn out to be a stable 3-and-D wing on the subsequent degree, and Walker seems like he might do it simply as nicely, if not higher. David Cobb

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