All-Star Analysts

Gabe's picks: NBA Draft gems to look out for

Published July 23, 2021, 2:00 PMGabe Norwood
Gabe Norwood

All-Star Analyst Gabe Norwood shares some of the 2021 NBA Draft prospects who might not be top picks but have the potential to instantly make an impact.

Filipinos are looking forward to see Fil-Am Jalen Green get drafted.

With the 2020-2021 NBA season wrapped up, teams have narrowed down which potential draftees could take their team to the next level.

Lottery selections have potential to be part of the core of a future playoff contender while being the face of the organization. Names like Cade Cunningham, Jalen Suggs, andevery Filipino's favorite prospectJalen Green have been the talk of this year’s class. 

Green has gone the more unconventional route to the NBA Draft, playing in the G League instead of the college ranks. This move has put Green out of the public eye more than many of the other applicants. 

But even with fewer opportunities to be seen on televised games, Green is a top three pick in almost every mock draft mostly due to his out-of-this-world athleticism, charismatic personality, and instinctual way of getting buckets.

As talented Green and many of these prospects are, however, they are not always in “win now” situations and have to endure lopsided losses and the possibility of landing right back in the lottery in the following year.

In many instances, the draft is an opportunity for the rich to get richer. Giving consistent playoff teams the chance to find the missing pieces to their title-search puzzle. 

Here are a few guys that have caught my eye and could possibly transform your team from an early playoff exit to Larry O’Brien lifter.

Jared Butler (Baylor)

Overshadowed at times during Baylor’s memorable NCAA title run by his backcourt running mate, Davion Mitchell (who many expect to be a late lottery pick), Butler proved to be a stabilizer and big shot-maker for the Bears. 

Like Mitchell, he is a physical guard who can be extremely disruptive on the defensive end. The big question for Butler is a possible heart issue, which has clearly hurt his draft stock. But, hopefully, everything checks out and he gets the go-signal to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA.

Ayo Dosunmu (Illinois)

Being a fan of guys who get after it on the defensive end, Dosunmu is a young player that I’ve enjoyed watching. 

Compared by some to Jrue Holiday, he’s a big physical guard who leads by action and energy. It will be interesting to see if Dosunmu can carry over his composure and pace to the next level, which could ultimately make him a long-time pro.

Trey Murphy III (Virginia)

You can never have too many floor spacers on a team, and Murphy fits that role perfectly. A knockdown shooter standing a little over 6’9”, he comes from a well-coached college program that has produced solid pros like De’Andre Hunter, Joe Harris, and Malcolm Brogdon. 

Murphy may not “wow” you with above-the-rim plays, but his ability to demand attention on the perimeter and being accepting of a role add to his value.

Sharife Cooper (Auburn)

Cooper has been seen on basketball-focused social media pages for years, from high school and AAU tournaments to his single season at Auburn. Measuring around 6’1”, he is undersized for an NBA guard but his speed and playmaking ability are hard to ignore. 

Seeing the impact of Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne makes me think Cooper could fill in a similar role on a contender. He can dictate tempo, create for others, and be able to lead the second group off the bench with his passion to win.

Others to keep an eye on:

  • Josh Christopher (Arizona State)Christopher’s playmaking ability, creativity, and confidence could shine at the NBA level.
  • Ziaire Williams (Stanford)Once projected as a lottery pick, his versatility and length make him an intriguing prospect.
  • Jeremiah Robinson-Earl (Villanova) ‘Nova seems to crank out productive pros every year. Expect Robinson-Earl to keep that streak going.

By next week, the future of many franchises will have new centerpieces, but often the biggest winners of the draft are the teams that have been able to find gems in the later rounds of the draft. These are the ones who can instantly contribute and successfully embrace their roles.

Catch the NBA Draft 2021 live on NBA TV Philippines and League Pass on Friday, July 30 at 8:00 AM. NBA Draft Pre-Show starts at 7:30 AM.


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All-Star Analyst Feature
Philippine basketball personalities offering their insights on relevant NBA topics specially tailored for Filipino fans.