With the 2021 NBA Draft set to kick off in mere hours, we decided it would be advantageous to look at some potentially undervalued prospects set to start their journey in the League. There are players on this list currently climbing draft boards and projected to get drafted in the lottery—so technically not every prospect actually classifies as a “sleeper.” However, the bigger emphasis is on these players who fall outside the top six picks. Beyond the main grouping (Cunningham, Suggs, Mobley, Green, Kuminga, Barnes), teams should be eyeing the following players…
6’10 Isaiah Todd (G-League Ignite)
Outside of the aforementioned collection of top-tier talent, arguably no one in the entire draft possesses tools and star potential like Isaiah Todd. We’ve written extensively about what should make him enticing as a potential lottery selection, but the appeal should be fairly obvious with a skilled, athletic, 6-foot-10 modern forward with a complete skillset. Especially for teams drafting in no-man’s land (spots eight through twelve), swing for the fences and hedge hard on Todd’s continued development. Letting him slide outside of the first-round would be a mistake, as there is something potentially special waiting to be unveiled.
6’3 Cam Thomas (LSU)
There is little to no discrepancy about what Cam Thomas will be in the NBA: a dynamic scorer with unique shot-creation skills. His ability to hit shots (both off the catch and bounce) with an extreme degree of difficulty naturally allows people to draw comparisons to noteworthy sixth men like Lou Williams or Jamal Crawford. Thomas is a proven bucket-getter at every level, and has been firmly in the “best scorer in the country” conversation since his freshman year of high school. One could argue that the value in having reliable scorers off the bench has become somewhat of a secret weapon, which should only make Thomas more enticing to NBA teams.
6’2 Devontae Shuler (Ole Miss)
Given the minimal amount of buzz surrounding Devontae Shuler as a draftable prospect, it’s confusing to try and understand why more NBA teams aren’t vying for his services. Since his freshman year, he’s always played at least 18.8 MPG and yielded positive results. Between what he’s shown as a creator, shot-maker, and absolutely electric defender (and after seeing the success of someone like Matisse Thybulle), there is a definite role for Shuler to fill. It’s also unclear if the masses realize or appreciate his motor and sheer energy level at all times. Though likely to be overlooked tonight, Shuler should be the type of guy to quickly snatch a roster spot through summer play.
6’10 Isaiah Jackson (Kentucky)
Remember when a highly touted Nerlens Noel was nearly taken with the first selection in the 2012 NBA Draft? Well, fast-forward nine years, remove the baggage, and turn your head to an angle, and Isaiah Jackson could represent the new-and-improved version of Noel. Though somewhat different, their respective games are predicated on the same traits: size, energy, rebounding, and defensive prowess. Jackson’s numbers aren’t necessarily going to pop-off the page, but there is obvious value for someone with his blend of physical tools and overall mentality. He could easily break out within the right context, but Jackson should be a useful rotation piece either way.