NBA

NBA Draft 2022: Yannick Nzosa in the running for first overall pick

The Unicaja center has attracted the attention of Chad Ford and several scouts believe he could be installed as first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

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NBA Draft 2022: Yannick Nzosa in the running for first overall pick

The NBA pre-season is around the corner but there are some players who are waiting for the 2022 Draft to make their mark. The search is on for a successor to Cade Cunningham, this year’s first overall pick by the Detroit Pistons. In the running for 2022 are several non-American players, raising the profile of international stars among the potential top draft picks following a drop-off after the arrival of Real Madrid academy product Luka Doncic in 2018, when he was selected as third overall pick by the Hawks before being traded to the Mavs.

Jean Montero and Paolo Banchero are two names that have been doing the rounds as potentially the highest non-American picks in the 2022 Draft. The former, a Dominican who was at Gran Canaria last season and is in the frame to be the most important prospect in the Overtime Elite in its inaugural year having been the first international signing for the new US pro league. Banchero is a genuine contender for the first pick. An Italian national who will represent Italy on the global stage but was born in Seattle and plays college basketball at Duke, he was a consensus five-star recruit and one of the top players in the 2021 class.

Nzosa exciting NBA scouts

Another name exciting observers is that of Yannick Nzosa, who is being tipped as a potential number one pick with an even more promising trajectory than his closest rivals. The 17-year-old will spend this season with Unicaja Málaga in the Liga ACB and will have the chance to play in the EuroCup. Named to the 2021 ACB All-Young Players Team, the center has come to the attention of Chad Ford, a noted analyst who has compared Nzosa to Doncic and said there are scouts who believe he can become the number one overall pick.

Although the mocks currently have Gonzaga Bulldogs center Chet Holmgren in pole position, Nzosa is in the conversation. An athletic left-handed center, he is quick on the counter and able to defend against opponents with more experience, unafraid of playing above the hoop and, although he has a few things to work on, maturity when it comes to understanding and reading plays. Ford highlighted his vertical court speed and, perhaps a little exaggeratedly, said he can defend up to three positions due to imposing 2.08-meter height. His release clause at Unicaja stands at just $1 million.

Although he was born in Kinshasa, DR Congo, Nzosa is in the process of obtaining Spanish nationality and is aiming to follow in the footsteps of the Clippers’ Serge Ibaka.

In the meantime, Nzosa is striving to do something no Spanish player has ever achieved and only one European player, Andrea Bargnani, has done this century by becoming the number one draft pick, in doing so beating Pau Gasol (3), Ricky Rubio (5) and Fran Vázquez (11).