When draft night comes along there will be plenty of needs that teams look to address with their selections, but many teams will be looking for one important translatable skill - scoring.
Teams can never have enough shot creation and point production on their roster and with scorers warranting the highest value in terms of contracts and trade equity, it makes sense why these types of players are targeted so heavily in the draft.
2021 NBA DRAFT SUPERLATIVES: Best passers | Best shooters
Here are the best scorers in the draft you need to be aware of.
Cade Cunningham, Oklahoma State
Guard, 6-foot-8, 220 lbs.
Cade Cunningham is the consensus number one player in the draft this year and there's a good reason why.
6-foot-8 shotmakers who can handle the ball and create are the most sought-after player archetype in modern NBA basketball and Cunningham doesn't just fit this role, he thrives in it. Cunningham is a true bucket-getter because it doesn't matter where you get him the ball - he's going to find a way to convert.
In transition, it's a pull-up from 30 feet out or the embarrassment of a backpedalling defender with a change of pace crossover. On ball reversals, it's a jab followed by a first step that's quick as a blink. On the block, it's a fadeaway or a drop step that has him finishing over smaller defenders.
Those are all ways he found over 20 points per game at Oklahoma State last season but they were all complimentary to his most NBA-ready skill - ball screen usage. His handle is so refined for someone his size and he processes information rapidly, reading defences and instantly finding the easiest way to the hoop for an easy look. There is a reason Cunningham is expected to go first overall and he looks like someone who is going to score a whole lot of points from Day 1 in the league.
Jalen Green, G League Ignite
Guard, 6-foot-6, 175 lbs.
Everything about Jalen Green is electric. The way he changes speeds, the way he tantalizes with dribble moves, and the way he explodes towards the rim when getting into the paint.
Ever since he was a high school freshman, people knew Green had NBA athleticism and in the G League Ignite program he showed he also has an NBA offensive game. Green is everything you want out of a shooting guard from a solid three-point stroke (37 percent in the G League bubble), slashing ability, and the skill to create offence on the second side of the floor when the ball gets reversed.
What makes Green a projectable NBA scorer is the fact that he can play off the ball and use his athleticism to score off cuts or knock down 3s, or get a bucket on his own with a straight-line drive or a step-back jumper. Some refinement still needs to take place but he checks every box for a draft prospect when it comes to future NBA scorer.
James Bouknight, Connecticut
Guard, 6-foot-5, 190 lbs.
One of the biggest risers in the draft this past year was UConn's James Bouknight and he's a shooting guard whose number one skill is the ability to score.
Bouknight is pure craftiness, the kind of player who seems to thrive when plays break down and defences scramble. With his brilliant handle and vision, Bouknight is always keeping his dribble alive even when chaos is unfolding around him and as soon as there is daylight, he gets to the rim and converts.
Bouknight's craftiness inside was evidenced by the 62.7 percent he shot at the rim and 53.8 percent he shot on floaters (via Synergy), both of which were some of the best marks in the country. Most of his points come in the paint off of those layups and floaters, as he's yet to prove himself as a 3-point shooter. He hit just 29 percent of those attempts last season.
That 3-point mark can be looked at as a negative, but the way he was still able to continually get into the paint despite the fact teams didn't respect the jumper shows just how good a scorer he is and if the 3-point shot does ever come around, watch out.
Alperen Sengun, Besiktas (Turkey)
Center, 6-foot-9, 240 lbs.
When you think of scorers, you often think of perimeter players, but there are a growing number of centers tasked with coming into the game and putting up points.
The next big man in that mould could be Sengun.
Sengun had been on NBA radars for a while now, but he solidified his status as a first-round pick over the last year by averaging 19.2 points per game on 64.6 percent shooting in the Turkish Super League. The Turkish Super League is one of the top leagues in the world that has produced a number of NBA picks and currently has a handful of NBA-calibre players in it, so his points and efficiency were no joke.
There is a bit of Jonas Valanciunas or Enes Kanter to Sengun's game - the physicality to push around opponents and carve out space, but the soft hands to receive tough passes and finish around shot blockers. Whether it's designed post-ups or dump-off passes from driving guards, whatever way Sengun gets the ball near the hoop, it's going to be trouble for defences and that's what makes him an instant-offence option on the block.
While scoring around the rim will likely remain his focus there will be some teams who see some stretch potential as he has always been a good free throw shooter, hitting 81 percent from the stripe last season.
Cameron Thomas, LSU
Guard, 6-foot-4, 210 lbs.
Thomas might have just finished his freshman season in college, but he already scores the ball like a professional. NBA basketball is about consistency, but scorers can often run hot and cold. Not Thomas, though.
The 19-year-old scored over 20 points in 22 of 29 games last season, including ten straight games of 20-plus points in conference play in a difficult SEC. Overall, he averaged 23 points per game, which is unmatched by any other player in this draft when accounting for quality of competition.
There aren't many draft prospects that can be pencilled in for that kind of production in a high-major conference, but Thomas was just that. A big reason why Thomas was so consistent was that he lived in the paint, constantly getting high-percentage looks near the rim.
Instead of being reliant on making jump shots, Thomas got a steady diet of layups, which is why his game wasn't prone to hot and cold stretches, he just continued to score a boatload of points no matter the opponent or the defensive scheme he was facing.
Thomas is best used out of ball screens where he can get going downhill. There, he can use an array of dribble moves or rely on his athleticism to change pace, get the defender off balance, and burst towards the rim. Of course, if there is any resistance, he has no problem using his stout frame to initiate contact and create the space he needs to get to his finishing moves.
Thomas' jump shot is below-average right now (32.5 percent) but his form isn't broken by any means and with his ability to score inside the arc already, any improvement on his jumper will just be gravy.
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