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2021 NBA Draft: Top 20 Guards

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Taking a look at the best guards in this years draft class.

Baylor v West Virginia Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

The Denver Nuggets are in a position to add a shooting guard this offseason and with uncertainty surrounding Will Barton, one of the players listed below could be a target come draft night next week. Whether the Nuggets resign Barton or not, shooting guard is still a need for this team whether it’s in the starting lineup or off the bench.

Most of the players listed below are players we feel should be drafted or at least have a pretty decent shot at being selected when the draft takes place in just under two weeks. The players who we grade as mid-to-late first rounders obviously should have the most appeal to Nuggets fans considering they're currently slated to select at 26th overall.

If the Nuggets do end up taking a guard come draft night, hopefully it is one of these names listed below. The beauty of this years guard class is the depth is outstanding so no matter who the Nuggets potentially make it out of draft night with they should be getting an outstanding player regardless.


1. Cade Cunningham

Best player in the draft. Cunningham is a no brainer to go first overall and will have a long, successful NBA career right from the get go. Cunningham’s ability to score while also getting his teammates involved will be on full display from the moment he puts a Detroit Pistons jersey on. For a team that has struggled a ton over the last few seasons, hopefully Cunningham is the guy to reignite that franchise once again.

Draft Grade: Best overall player. Top-3 pick

PPG: 20.1

AST: 3.5

REB: 6.2

3P%: 40%

2P%: 46%

2. Jalen Green

Green is a phenomenal player who declined to play college basketball and instead chose the G-League route to get him ready for the NBA. It paid off as Green was electric in his 15 G-League games displaying an ability to be a phenomenal guard in the NBA. Green already has professional experience under his belt which should help him be an immediate contributor at the next level.

Draft Grade: Top-3 pick

PPG: 17.9

AST: 2.8

REB: 4.1

3P%: 36.5%

2P%: 52.9%

3. Jalen Suggs

If your team is looking for a guy to run the show look no further than Suggs. After a remarkable freshman season at Gonzaga, Suggs comes into the draft as an extremely polished player who can impact the game in a variety of ways. Not only can Suggs get a bucket when his team needs one, but he gets his teammates involved to get his team the best possible look offensively. Not only can Suggs impact the game offensively but his defense is pretty solid as well. Whichever team drafts this guy is going to be set at point guard for a long, long time.

Draft Grade: Top-5 pick

PPG: 14.4

AST: 4.5

REB: 5.3

3P%: 33.7%

2P%: 58.8%

4. Chris Duarte

The oldest player in this years class at 24 years old, but also one of the most ready players in this class. Not only is Duarte a deadly scorer and three-point shooter, but he's also a tremendous defender. Duarte will be an immediate 3-and-D contributor at the next level and should get extended playing time even as a rookie. Duarte could be a perfect fit to fill the Nuggets shooting guard position, it’s tough seeing him fall to 26th overall though.

Draft Grade: Top-20 player who can contribute right away

PPG: 17.1

AST: 2.7

REB: 4.6

3P%: 42.4%

2P%: 63.1%

5. Davion Mitchell

Mitchell came onto the scene late in the season with a tremendous NCAA Tournament that helped lead Baylor to a national championship. Heart is the greatest way to describe how Mitchell plays as he gives it his all on both ends of the floor. Mitchell is a tenacious defender and an explosive offensive player, which could make him a lottery pick come draft night.

Draft Grade: Lottery player (1-14)

PPG: 14.0

AST: 5.5

REB: 2.7

3P%: 44.7%

2P%: 56.5%

6. James Bouknight

Scorer. Scorer. Scorer. Bouknight can put the ball in the basket and whatever team drafts him is immediately going to upgrade their offense. Bouknight also possesses all the tools to be a solid defender at the next level, but still needs to improve on his three-point shot to elevate his game even more.

Draft Grade: Lottery player (1-14)

PPG: 18.7

AST: 1.8

REB: 5.7

3P%: 29.3%

2P%: 52.8%

7. Keon Johnson

Johnson is an explosive athlete who is still developing and has yet to even scratch the surface of his potential. Even though he was an inconsistent scorer and shooter at Tennessee, all the tools are there for Johnson to become a go-to scorer at the next level. Not only does he project to be a solid scorer in the NBA, but Johnson should be a solid defender making him a reliable two-way guard for whatever team drafts him.

Draft Grade: Top-20 player with potential

PPG: 11.3

AST: 2.5

REB: 3.5

3P%: 27.1%

2P%: 49.2%

8. Jared Butler

One of the most polished players in this years class, Butler reminds me a lot of Monte Morris. Butler played three seasons at Baylor and got better as the years went on. Just a solid all around player who can score, get his teammates involved, and defend. A player that would be a seamless fit with the Nuggets whether he’s slotted in at point guard or shooting guard. Great player.

Draft Grade: Top-20 player who should be drafted mid to late first round

PPG: 16.7

AST: 4.8

REB: 3.3

3P%: 41.6%

2P%: 52.4%

9. Jaden Springer

A lot like his teammate Keon Johnson, Springer is an explosive athlete who has barely scratched the surface. A tenacious defender who plays with a high motor, Springer should make a defensive impact immediately at the next level. Springer also showed an ability to score at a high rate when he puts shots up and doesn’t hesitate. Even though his three-point percentage is high, Springer attempted just 46 threes but did find a way to make 20 of them. The hope is with more volume Springer still finds a way to make 40 percent of his shots from beyond the arc at the next level. If Springer can do that, the sky is the limit.

Draft Grade: Top-25 player

PPG: 12.5

AST: 2.9

REB: 3.5

3P%: 43.5%

2P%: 47.5%

10. Joel Ayayi

Ayayi is as close as they come to a perfect fit for the Nuggets in this draft class. Not only can Ayayi score the ball, he always does so in the flow of the offense and his scoring IQ is off the charts. Ayayi is a phenomenal cutter and would fit perfect next to Nikola Jokic and oh yeah, he's also a pretty solid defender.

Draft Grade: Extremely underrated, first round talent that may fall to the beginning of the second round because of the extreme amount of talent at the guard position

PPG: 12.0

AST: 2.7

REB: 6.9

3P%: 38.9%

2P%: 68.3%

11. Cameron Thomas

One of this year’s most prolific scorers, Thomas is a walking bucket. Thomas was named All-SEC First Team as a freshman and lost out on freshman of the year to Moses Moody. Thomas helped lead LSU to the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament and put up some big numbers during his time in a Tigers uniform. Thomas can get tunnel vision at times and still needs to improve as a defender, but has all the tools to be a dynamic scorer and contributor at the next level.

Draft Grade: Top-25 player

PPG: 23.0

AST: 1.4

REB: 3.4

3P%: 32.5%

2P%: 46.4%

12. Tre Mann

A lot like Thomas, Mann is a scorer that puts the ball in the hoop at will. Mann also lead his team — Florida — to a nice little run in the NCAA Tournament that ended in a loss to Cinderella squad, Oral Roberts. Mann ran the show for the Gators all season long and really shined with an increased opportunity that he did not have early in his career at Florida. There are still parts of Mann’s game that need to be cleaned up — defense mostly — but he should still be a first rounder and is a player Nuggets fans should keep an eye on.

Draft Grade: First Rounder to early second round player falling in the 20-35 range

PPG: 16.0

AST: 3.5

REB: 5.6

3P%: 40.2%

2P%: 49.4%

13. Miles McBride

Tenacious defender who plays with as high motor anytime he is on the court. After playing for a school like West Virginia that prides themselves on defense, McBride comes into the league as a solid two-way guard who can make a positive impact on both ends of the floor. McBride is a 3-level scorer who can score from anywhere on the court. The Nuggets are working McBride out today, so he is definitely a player to keep an eye on if he falls to Denver on draft night.

Draft Grade: Late riser who is making a solid case to be a first rounder in that 17-30 range

PPG: 15.9

AST: 4.8

REB: 3.9

3P%: 41.4%

2P%: 43.9%

14. Ayo Dosunmu

An incredibly solid combo guard who should have no trouble translating his game to the next level. Dosunmu does everything well and is an extremely versatile player on both ends of the floor. Even though he averaged over 20 points per game, Dosunmu has a low release point jumper that could affect his shot more at the next level. That’s the only real down fall in his game though as he is one of the more polished players in this class, his ceiling is just not as high as some of the other guard prospects which is why he could fall to the end of the first or early second round.

Draft Grade: First to early second round player that falls in the 25-35 range

PPG: 20.1

AST: 5.3

REB: 6.3

3P%: 39%

2P%: 51.1%

15. Sharife Cooper

Cooper is an incredibly smooth player and is one of the best passers in this years class. Even though he averaged over 20 points per game, Cooper still struggled to score from beyond the three-point line which is evident in his 22.8 percentage from deep. If Cooper can perfect his three-point shot and improve his play defensively his ceiling is incredibly high as he is still just 19 years old.

Draft Grade: Mid-to-late first rounder (15-30)

PPG: 20.2

AST: 8.1

REB: 4.3

3P%: 22.8%

2P%: 46.5%

16. Josh Christopher

Christopher is an athletic combo guard who is a great finisher near the rim, but still needs to perfect other parts of his offensive game to become a complete player on that end of the floor. If he can improve the looks he's getting it will help his shooting numbers a lot as he didn't always give himself the best of looks at Arizona State. Christopher did work out for the Nuggets last week so he is another player they could have on their radar at 26 overall.

Draft Grade: Late first rounder/early second rounder

PPG: 14.3

AST: 1.4

REB: 4.7

3P%: 30.5%

2P%: 49.6%

17. Ziaire Williams

A solid ball handler who possesses the ability to put the ball in the basket, Williams can be a dynamic scorer at the next level if he can fix his shooting mechanics. Williams doesn't have the most fluid jump shot, which is evident in his shooting percentages. The one thing Williams does consistently though is contribute defensively, so if he can just figure out his game offensively he has potential to be a solid two-way player at the next level.

Draft Grade: Late first rounder to early second rounder sitting 23-40 range

PPG: 10.7

AST: 2.2

REB: 4.6

3P%: 29.1%

2P%: 42.7%

18. Josh Primo

The upside on Primo is what really stands out as he won't turn 19 till the middle of December. As young as Primo is he still found a way to contribute at Alabama showcasing an ability to score the ball effectively when given a chance. There aren't many players in this draft with more upside than Primo, he probably won't be ready to contribute right away but his ceiling is higher than a lot of the other guards in this years draft class.

Draft Grade: Second Rounder in that 35-45 range

PPG: 8.1

AST: 0.8

REB: 3.4

3P%: 38.1%

2P%: 50%

19. Jason Preston

What’s not to like about Preston? He’s a do it all guard who put his skills on full display in the NCAA Tournament this past season leading Ohio to a big time upset victory over Virginia in the first round. Preston really came on the scene these past few years at Ohio and seems to be rising up draft boards. The Nuggets worked out Preston last week so he’s another guy to keep on the radar. Not sure the Nuggets would use a first round pick on Preston, but a second rounder they could absolutely use if they trade back into the draft.

Draft Grade: Second round player that should hopefully be given a chance come draft night. If not, he will be a coveted two-way player

PPG: 15.7

AST: 7.3

REB: 7.3

3P%: 39%

2P%: 57.6%

20. McKinley Wright IV

A local favorite who was an absolute star under Tad Boyle at the University of Colorado. Wright can affect the game in a variety of ways even though he's one of the smaller guards in this class at 6’0’’ 196 pounds. Still, Wright has the heart of a lion and plays tenacious on both ends of the floor. Wright — like Preston — also seems to be rising up draft boards which could be a good sign he will hear his name called on draft night.

Draft Grade: Second round player that should hopefully be given a chance come draft night. If not, he will be a coveted two-way player

PPG: 15.2

AST: 5.7

REB: 4.3

3P%: 30.1%

2P%: 54%