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Top forwards in the 2021 NBA Draft, according to YODA

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NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-NC-Greensboro at Florida State
Florida State’s Scottie Barnes is the top forward in the draft, according to YODA.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Leading up to Thursday’s NBA Draft, I’ve so far pointed Ye Olde Draft Analyzer (YODA for short) at guards and players mock drafts say will be available when/if the Wizards go on the clock with the 15th pick. I also talked draft with Matt Modderno on his Bleav in Wizards Podcast. Today: forwards.

For those just jumping into the draft coverage, YODA is the stat-based draft analysis tool I’ve developed over the past 10-12 years. It began as an effort to use objective, publicly available information to “beat” Ernie Grunfeld at picking players. Low bar, I know, but I cleared it.

YODA analyzes production while accounting for age, level of competition, physical tools, athleticism, and intangibles. The goal is to forecast future NBA success (or failure). Like any draft tool, including old-fashioned eyeball scouting, it’s a crude tool that can’t capture everything. These results should totally be used for placing wagers.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The results should be not be used for gambling.

To the forwards. By forwards, I’m including swingmen, small forwards, and forwards. In NBA positional parlance, that’s two/threes, threes, and three/fours. The “guard” group included point guards, shooting guards and combo guards. The “bigs” list will include PF, C and F/C types.

Here’s the top 10:

  1. Scottie Barnes, SF, Florida State — Barnes has remarkable physical tools — PF length and SG-level athleticism. He’s a disruptive defender who produced a superb 6.6 assists per 40 minutes. The drawbacks: 27.5% shooting from three, 62.1% from the free throw line, and 4.0 turnovers per 40.
  2. Corey Kispert, SF, Gonzaga — Excellent shooter who can attack closeouts and finish at the rim. Not much playmaking or defense, and as a senior, it’s fair to wonder how much upside he has in those areas — especially since there are some questions about his athleticism. On balance, he still rates as being worth a top 10 pick in most drafts.
  3. Moses Moody, G/F, Arkansas — Moody’s overall score is identical to Kispert’s. He’s not an impressive athlete, but he’s big and rebounds decently for a swingman type.
  4. Franz Wagner, F, Michigan — Solid player who reminded me of grainy 60s highlights when I reviewed some of his games. Good shooter and decent rebounder who attacks closeouts with confidence and passes well on the move.
  5. Jonathan Kuminga, F, G League Ignite — One of the much ballyhooed kids who went to the G League instead of college. Unlike Jalen Green, Kuminga didn’t impress — 43.0% effective field goal percentage, 24.6% from three, and 62.5% from the free throw line. His rebounding wasn’t bad, but he had as many turnovers as assists. His overall offensive rating: 83 points produced per 100 individual possessions — nearly 30 points below league average. The athleticism makes him an intriguing prospect.
  6. Joe Wieskamp, G/F, Iowa — The mock drafts have him as a second round pick, which would make a Wieskamp a potential bargain. He’s an eye-popping athlete who shot 46.2% from three-point range this season and grabbed 9.1 rebounds per 40. Concerns: low two-point percentage suggests he may trouble inside against NBA competition, and sub-70% free throw shooting raises an eyebrow about his shooting.
  7. Jalen Johnson, F, Duke — One of the more befuddling players in the draft, Johnson has great talent and some outstanding numbers in several areas, and...he quit his team to prepare for the draft and produced downright crappy numbers in other areas. The good: 44.4% shooting from three, 11.4 rebounds per 40, 4.2 assists, 2.2 steals, 2.3 blocks. The bad: 53.8% on twos (low for someone of his size, skill and athleticism), 63.2% free throw percentage, more turnovers than assists.
  8. Chris Duarte, G/F, Oregon — Excellent shooting and finishing. Effective attacking closeouts with some playmaking ability. Skilled defender who had 2.2 steals per 40. Why isn’t he higher? He’s already 24, and while his numbers are solid they’re not the kind of domination to be expected of a 23-year-old going against 18-20 year olds.
  9. Justin Champagnie, SF, Pitt — Strong kid lacking athletic burst with iffy shooting but rebounding and defense. If he can hit shots, he could be a second round 3&D value.
  10. Jordan Schakel, G/F, San Diego State — He may not have the athletic tools to play in the NBA, but his shooting is definitely NBA level...46.1% from three (on 8.8 attempts per 40 minutes) and 90.8% from the free throw line. Question everything else: rebounding, finishing inside, defense, playmaking, age (he turned 23 in June). But in the second round or as an undrafted free agent, the shooting is worth checking out. For entertainment, google up some Schakel highlights — his form, lightning quick release, and arsenal of step-backs and fades will remind of Stephen Curry.

Other forwards with second round grades:

  • Isaiah Livers, Michigan
  • Trey Murphy, Virginia
  • Herb Jones, Alabama
  • Kessler Edwards, Pepperdine
  • Ziaire Williams, Stanford

Tomorrow: The Bigs.