Matt Babcock has updated his mock 2021 NBA Draft board for BasketballNews and now has the Golden State Warriors picking Isaiah Jackson (Kentucky) with the 14th pick. Last month, Jackson was 24th on Babcock’s board and is currently 19th on Jonathan Givony’s DraftExpress/ESPN, and 37th on Aran Smith’s NBADraft.net boards.
Babcock also has Jonathan Kuminga dropping past the Dubs to 8th for the Orlando Magic. We also examined why Kuminga’s stock seems to be dropping of late, but we do feel he’s still the no-brainer pick at 7 should Kuminga drop that far.
Jackson is a 6’10” lanky big man who excelled on the defensive end for head coach John Calipari at Kentucky this year. He is probably the best shot blocker in the Draft and showed some signs of “switchability” on the perimeter as well. He is a bouncy athlete who can rise for lobs off pick-and-rolls, and was effective as an offensive rebounder.
However, he hasn’t shown much offensive game outside of being a rolling lob threat, finishing on the break and/or at the rim on put-backs. Jackson would need to hit the weight room to play the 5 in the NBA and better control the defensive glass.
“Late-Lottery or mid-first round is his range,” Babcock told LetsGoWarriors in an exclusive interview. “He is an extremely athletic big man that can play the 4 or 5. I think he’d fit in well with the Warriors long-term.
Another rumor that is swirling is that the Knicks are interested in Jackson, which leads me to think that the Warriors could potentially be a trade partner for them. Anyways, there are a lot of moving parts right now.”
On the one hand and assuming James Wiseman is not traded, Jackson feels like an odd fit for DubNation’s squad, as he duplicates a lot of what Wiseman brings, but without as much upside.
On the other hand, with his wingspan and excellent close-out abilities, Jackson might pass as a 3-4 “tweener” wing who can shift to the 5 on a small-ball lineup as a Poor Man’s Giannis Antetokounmpo, whereby Wiseman’s trajectory is more in line with a modern 5 such as Deandre Ayton. Comps like that might justify picking Jackson at 14, especially if the slightly more-talented and slightly taller Kai Jones has already been taken (around the 11th spot on most major mock Draft boards).
As for Kuminga dropping and Mitchell remaining on his board at 7, Babcock told us, “If they stay put without making any trades, the word is that they have their eyes on Mitchell and Josh Giddey.
However, with recent developments, it’s looking like there is a real possibility that Kuminga could be there for them at No. 7. This could lead to some interesting internal conversations for them, as Kuminga would be the most talented player available, in my opinion.”
Aside from our aforementioned doubts about Mitchell, the mention of Giddey seems odd as well, as Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has repeatedly stated the need for wings on pregame, postgame and after-practice Zoom calls with Warriors beatwriters throughout the 2020-21 season. Bob Myers has also stated the importance of having in-person workouts, and Giddey does not plan to work out with any NBA teams, which has led to the speculation that he’s received a first-round guarantee.
In support of the Mitchell-Giddey speculation, the Warriors may also have some veteran free agent targets that overlap with picks such as Kuminga and Jackson, but we probably won’t have any indications until the picks are made or when free agency happens. We may never know how the process developed.
Kuminga said today on a Zoom call with media after his workout with the Orlando Magic — the video interview should be on our YouTube channel by tomorrow morning — that he’ll meet the Dubs’ brass back in Miami where he’s doing pre-Draft training (not the same pre-Draft Miami trainers that Wiseman worked out with last year).
(Video: Babcock and Wiseman’s Miami-based trainer, David Alexander,were among the various guests on our 2020 Draft Night livestream)
Finally, Jackson is one of twenty Draftees who have been invited by the NBA to the Green Room at Barclays Center on Draft night, with the expectation that they’ll get picked in the first round.
Babcock isn’t the only Draft analyst who has Kuminga dropping. Jeremy Woo of SportsIllustrated has, for the first time, penciled James Bouknight into the Top Six, as has Babcock.
There’s been an increasing amount of chatter among rival teams connecting Bouknight to the Thunder at No. 6, and in any scenario, it appears unlikely he falls past No. 8…While Kuminga remains one of the highest-upside prospects in the draft his range is now more comfortably assumed to be 6-8, and there’s a real chance he’s available to the Warriors here at No. 7. While league sources have pegged Davion Mitchell and James Bouknight as fits for Golden State here, in this scenario, it’s Kuminga who falls.
“I’m finding it challenging to accurately project what Golden State is going to do on draft night,” Babcock added in his interview with us. “For one, rumors have been flying that they’ve been very active on their phones, seeing what trades might be available to them. Also, the fact that they have two Lottery picks makes it challenging as well…We’ll likely be making some adjustments to our mock draft between now and draft night.”