Scottie Barnes leads top 5 defenders in 2021 draft


The Washington Wizards hold the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft. Here is a look at the five best defenders prospects in this year's class with analysis from NBC Sports Washington's Chase Hughes, Tyler Byrum and Mike DePrisco.

1. Scottie Barnes: PF/SF, Florida State

Age: 19 Height: 6-9 Weight: 225 Wingspan: 7-2

2020/21 stats: 24 G, 10.3 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 4.1 apg, 1.5 spg, 0.5 bpg, 50.3 FG% (4.1/8.1), 27.5 3PT% (0.5/1.7), 62.1 FT%

Player comparison: Draymond Green

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 5th, Sports Illustrated 6th, Ringer 6th, NBADraft.net 6th, Bleacher Report 7th

Analysis: Barnes is already a good, versatile defender and should be able to contribute at that end of the floor right away. He has great size and length at 6-9 with a 7-2 wingspan, and he certainly knows how to use it. Barnes' combination of natural instincts and elite physical tools should give him a high floor as a defender with the potential to become a perennial All-Defense type of player.  - DePrisco


2. Evan Mobley: C, USC

Age: 19 Height: 7-0 Weight: 215 Wingspan: 7-4


2020/21 stats: 33 G, 16.4 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.4 apg, 0.8 spg, 2.9 bpg, 57.8 FG% (6.0/10.3), 30.0 3PT% (0.4/1.2), 69.4 FT%

Player comparison: Clint Capela, Jonathan Isaac

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 3rd, Sports Illustrated 2nd, Ringer 2nd, NBADraft.net 2nd, Bleacher Report 3rd

Mobley is unique in part because of his versatility, but his standout skill is definitely shot-blocking. He averaged 2.9 blocks per game in college. His career-high was six blocks, which he had in three different games. He's got long arms plus the instincts and hand-eye coordination to match. Whether he becomes an All-Star will probably depend on his development as a scorer, but he seems like a safe bet to be a disruptor on defense. He can protect the rim, plus has the quickness and smarts to switch onto smaller players. He could be especially good at defending the pick-and-roll, a very valuable trait in today's NBA. - Hughes


3. Usman Garuba: SF/PF, Spain

Age: 19 Height: 6-8 Weight: 229 Wingspan: N/A

2020/21 stats: 38 G, 4.0 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 0.8 apg, 0.6 spg, 0.7 bpg, 50.4 FG% (1.6/3.1), 27.5 3PT% (0.3/1.1), 59.5 FT%

Player comparison: Robert Covington, Khem Birch

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, Sports Illustrated 15th, Ringer 14th, NBADraft.net 19th, Bleacher Report 18th

Analysis: He's 6-foot-8, strong and aggressive on defense, able to block shots or step out to the perimeter to harrass guards. While it isn't easy for young players to figure defense out quickly, Garuba has an NBA-ready body and has experience guarding professionals in the EuroLeague, which is the second-best league in the world. - Hughes


4. Davion Mitchell: PG/SG, Baylor

Age: 22 Height: 6-1 Weight: 202 Wingspan: 6-4

2020/21 stats: 30 G, 11.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 5.5 apg, 1.9 spg, 0.4 bpg, 51.1 FG% (5.3/10.3), 44.7 3PT% (2.1/4.7), 64.1 FT%

Player comparison: Marcus Smart, Lu Dort

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 7th, Sports Illustrated 16th, Ringer 7th, NBADraft.net 10th, Bleacher Report 9th

Analysis: Mitchell is known for his physical defense on the perimeter. He was a driving force for the national champion Baylor Bears, winning Big 12 defensive player of the year. He averaged 1.9 steals per game. Mitchell is very quick and was able to stay in front of some of the best guards in the nation as a college player. He will have to do that against even faster and much bigger guards in the NBA. But he's got a strong upper body and does a good job of initiating contact to make opponents uncomfortable. - Hughes



5. Trey Murphy III: SF/PF, Virginia

Age: 21 Height: 6-9 Weight: 206 Wingspan: 7-1

2020/21 stats: 25 G, 11.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.4 bpg, 50.3 FG% (3.8/7.6), 43.3 3PT% (2.1/4.8), 92.7 FT%

Player comparison: Jae Crowder, Danny Green

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 25th, Sports Illustrated N/A, Ringer N/A, NBADraft.net N/A, Bleacher Report 35th

Analysis: Murphy's feet are quick enough to shut off the penetration by guards and his length makes him a force against bigs. When it comes to 3-and-D prospects, there isn't a player that fits the definition for that role more than Murphy. The lengthy small forward played his NBA role to a tee in his lone season at Virginia. - Byrum