Preamble by Poor Man’s Commish:
James Bouknight has been steadily rising up the mock 2021 NBA Draft boards. It’s gotten to a point where the elite veteran soothsayers of the Draft are hearing that the OKC Thunder would consider taking him with the No. 6 pick, even if Jonathan Kuminga — incidentally, we recently profiled this scenario — is still on the board. This is, of course, assuming the rumors are true that the Orlando Magic are leaning towards Scottie Barnes at No. 5 as their pick before OKC’s.
We have been talking for months, practically, on our YouTube livestreams (such as the one with Draft war room veteran Doc Martin of BabcockHoops) that the Top 5 was set with Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, and Kuminga, plus Barnes knocking on the door, hurt only by his lack of shooting.
Then Bouknight had a breakthrough “Pro Day” workout at the Combine where, according to ESPN DraftExpress’ Jonathan Givony, he was raining threes, and then followed that up with impressive private workout video on Instagram as well as that of NBA teams.
Take empty-gym results with a grain of salt and there were probably other aspects gleaned from Bouknight as well as Kuminga behind closed doors, but suddenly Bouknight has leap-frogged Kuminga, as has Barnes due to similar success in in-person interviews and workouts, and the following is why, in roundtable format with our resident Draft erudites Dulow Twist and Gabe Johnson (with a few thoughts from myself, Poor Man’s Commish).
Bouknight spoke with reporters within the last two days by Zoom and Anthony Slater asked him about his potential fit with the Golden State Warriors.
“Being someone that can play off the ball and maybe relieve some tension off those two (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) while they’re in the game and then coming in as a reserve, me and Jordan Poole being more dominant,” Bouknight said, “we can be a great one-two punch off the bench. We can be a great scoring combo.”
Btw, Bouknight wasn’t the only one to shout out Poole. Bob Myers also did so yesterday and it’s good to see JP finally get his due.
Combine measurements: 6’4.75” and 190 lbs with a wingspan of 6’8.25” (good size for his position)
2020-21 stats in college: 18.7 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 1.8 APG l.0, 1.1 SPG
College career shooting splits: 45.6 FGP, 32.0 3PP, 80.2 FTP
Gabe: Pure “bucket-getter”. Bouknight is arguably the best or second-best pure scoring prospect in the 2021 class. He shouldered a huge offensive load at UConn and demonstrated the ability to score at all three levels, with a variety of dribble moves and layup packages. He is a big-time athlete and used that athleticism to shoot with a high release and finish. There is little doubt that he will be able to score in the NBA.
Dulow: Best in isolation situations. Has an advanced handle and good first step. Should be able to get by most defenders with his acceleration. Solid size at 6’4” with 6’8” wingspan, perfectly acceptable for a 2-guard. Took a big jump between freshman and sophomore seasons. Streaky player who can score in bunches primarily using a “hesi”. Can get to his mid-range pull-up very easily. When he gets to the rim, he has some crafty finishes. Is wired to score and determined to get his numbers. Displays continual aggression throughout the game and is mentally tough. Can power through poor shooting performances and get to the rim when the jumper is cold.
Gabe: Shot selection and play-making for others.
Dulow: Jumper has good form but is inconsistent at this point of his development. High-usage player who will have to adapt to not being the “go-to” unlimited-green-light guy. 29% three-point shooter, but especially poor in catch-and-shoot situations. Over-dribbling and tunnel vision could cause conflict with other ball-dominant NBA players. Defensively, NBA coaches will target him although he has physical tools to hold his own.
Gabe: While not consistently locked in defensively, Bouknight profiles as a “plus” defender, especially considering he was so overworked offensively in a role he won’t have, if drafted by the Dubs.
Dulow: The Warriors need legit bench scoring and from the 2-guard position. Bouknight projects strictly as a microwave scorer. Provided he can lock in and hold up defensively for 12-20 minutes, he should have no issues working his way into Steve Kerr‘s rotation, as Bouknight certainly fills it up.
The challenge will be scoring in the flow of the offense as opposed to going iso to break his man down. His strength versus the strictness of the system would be an interesting experiment, as other young iso-favoring players have found out, such as Poole, Eric Paschall and James Wiseman. Has the upside of Jordan Clarkson, a taller Lou Williams, or younger Nick Young.
If you believe that comp (I can see it), then you must pick Bouknight if he’s available at 7 — unless Kuminga, a 6’8” wing who can defend and run the floor and is therefore a higher priority with a higher ceiling than a shooting guard, is also available as alluded to earlier.