2021 NBA Draft Big Board: Cade Cunningham finishes No. 1 in final top 100 consensus prospect rankings

Only two days stand between us and the 2021 NBA Draft. So after months of breaking down tape, talking with talent evaluators and keeping our finger on the pulse of how this class is viewed, we’re now ready to make final conclusions on how we view the 2021 class.

Today we’re releasing the final CBS Sports Big Board of the 2021 class, which for the first time this draft cycle is a consensus comprised of the personal rankings of Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, Colin Ward-Henninger and yours truly. The goal here is to get a birds-eye view of how our team views the class (and to smooth out some outliers along the way).

For instance: Scottie Barnes is No. 3 on Norlander’s board but sixth on Parrish’s. He comes in at No. 5 on our final board. Jonathan Kuminga is fifth on Parrish’s but ninth on Ward-Henninger’s. He’s at No. 7 in our final rankings.

There’s other differences of opinion throughout, as well, so this final top 100 accounts for that by averaging out all all of our rankings. Below our team has also shared thoughts in detail on specific big-name prospects in the class. The full rankings can be found here.

Breakdown: I, like most others, believe Cade Cunningham should be the first player selected in the 2021 Draft — and that the Rockets should choose between Jalen Green, Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs. I’ve gone back and forth on those three prospects. I like them all. But in my final evaluation, I just think, of the group, Green has the best chance at superstardom, and when you’re picking second in a draft, you should be trying to add the prospect with the best chance to be a superstar. Again, in my opinion, that’s Green — just barely over the other two. I’m not predicting he’ll be a scoring champion someday, but I could definitely see him being a scoring champion someday. — Parrish

Breakdown: I remain high on Barnes, who I think projects as an All Star-level player within his first five years. The biggest question is if he can develop not just a consistent jump shot, but the ability to create that shot on his own. There have been much worse shooters who have done that in the past 15 years in the NBA. The league’s ability to develop just-OK shooters coming out of college should assuage those concerns. Barnes has great IQ on the court, and he’s got a lot of innate toughness and confidence to his game. One thing I keep going back to is his natural understanding of the flow of a possession, of anticipating how a defense will react both in transition or half court. It was nearly at an elite level in college. I wonder if he’s a player where the fit is going to matter significantly. I’m not sure that will be the case, but if you can really defend, your fit doesn’t mean as much. Barnes can do that. He won’t be a top-three rookie next season, but he can be a top-three player in this class by the end of his first contract. — Norlander

Breakdown: I understand the hype for Kuminga — he certainly passes the traditional eye test in what you look for in an 18-year-old prospect — but to me he lacks a standout NBA skill. One scout told me he wouldn’t even take Kuminga in the lottery, and while I wouldn’t go that far, it’s hard for me to put a finger on exactly how he’s going to contribute to winning at the NBA level. Simply being athletic and aggressive isn’t going to cut it. Obviously at his age he has plenty of room to improve, but there are other prospects that are more appealing to me in the top-eight. — Ward-Henninger

Breakdown: I have enjoyed being the high guy on Miles McBride throughout the draft process — I ranked him in the early 20s on my board during the college season, even when it wasn’t clear he was leaving school early — so I’ll stick to my guns here. McBride’s my ride or die. A 6-foot-2 point guard, he’s a blur of a prospect who can get downhill in a hurry off the bounce, shoots it at a high level and can really get into you defensively, using both smarts and length to his advantage. Helping his case: He measured with a wingspan of nearly 6-foot-9 at the NBA Draft Combine. I see him as more of a combo guard than a true lead guard in the NBA but his diverse offensive skill set — particularly as a spot-up shooter and launching off hand-offs — suggests he’ll be plenty comfortable at the next level playing on or off the ball. — Boone

Top 10 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings

Check out the full top 100 NBA Draft prospect rankings here

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