Who are the top 2022 NBA Draft prospects? Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith Jr...
AS takes a look at the 10 outstanding prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft, which is to be held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on Thursday 23 June.
1. Chet Holmgren (power forward, Gonzaga)
The unicorn among the latest crop of players; the prospect with the greatest potential of all. His physique appears to be his only Achilles heel (he weighs just 190lbs, despite being 7ft tall), but his ability is unquestionable. Thanks to his mobility, intelligence and competitive edge, not to mention his tremendous arm length, he is a Defensive Player of the Year in the making. In offence, he’s a good shooter from range, he has the ability to find colleagues in advantageous positions and is a team player; he isn’t only in it to make himself look good. A talent who is capable of anything.
2. Jabari Smith Jr (small forward/power forward, Auburn)
The only prospect capable of challenging Holmgren for the number-one pick. A player about which there are no physical doubts, and who is the most complete scorer in the Draft. He has a range of shots in his locker: escaping from defensive pressure, counter-attacking at pace, using the step-back, on the half turn… No kind of shot seems difficult for the 19-year-old. His intensity and versatility in defence also work in his favour.
3. Paolo Banchero (power forward/center, Duke)
Born in Seattle, the Italian-American is the stand-out ‘European’ in the Draft (he has already said he wants to play for Italy). Probably the most polished player in offence, capable of dribbling, passing and shooting effectively. He has so far shown an ability to perform at either power forward or center, although at 6ft 10in he looks likelier to play at 4.
4. Jaden Ivey (point guard/shooting guard, Purdue)
The outstanding pure backcourt player in a Draft dominated by big men. His ability to dictate the play means he has caught the eye as a point guard, although he still has to improve his decision-making and doesn’t come across as a player who will hit the ground running in the NBA. If he can make the most of it, his knack for creating shots looks like a tool that will serve him well in the long run.
5. Dyson Daniels (point guard, shooting guard, G League Ignite)
The Australian, the top foreign-born Draft prospect, is a highly versatile player. At 6ft 8in, he can operate in any position from 1 to 4, depending on the situation and what his team needs from him. A fine player without ball in hand and an excellent rebounder, his shooting has improved noticeably. And in defence, he can tackle anything from point guards to the tallest small forwards.
6. Shaedon Sharpe (shooting guard, Kentucky)
One of the most talented shooting guards in this Draft. Explosive, dynamic and with a killer scoring instinct, he has the makings of a top player. While still at high school, he even came to be viewed as the most exciting prospect in the nation.
7. Bennedict Mathurin (small forward, Arizona)
One of the most productive players in college basketball, thanks chiefly to his enormous talent and scoring instinct. He’s only 19 and has plenty of room for improvement in his ball handling, passing and defending, but has the clear potential to become a terrific NBA player. Right now, his counter-attacking and capacity for using screens to his advantage are his strengths.
8. AJ Griffin (small forward/power forward, Duke)
At 6ft 6in, Griffin is a short small forward, but is a hugely physical operator capable of playing at 4 in some situations. His defensive abilities are boosted by a 7ft arm length. He is a fine passer and is excellent at creating himself shooting opportunities.
9. Keegan Murray (power forward/center, Iowa)
Another big man with good shooting ability from range and a knack for keeping the scoreboard ticking over. He’s a couple of inches shorter than Holmgren, but appears to be perfectly physically suited to being a center in smaller fives. Not least because of what he has demonstrated in college basketball, where he has acted as the anchor of the defence at center, and has also proved effective when it comes to stepping out to guard opponents.
10. Jalen Duren (center, Memphis)
The youngest player in the Draft and, therefore, the prospect that should theoretically have the greatest room for growth. The best-equipped center of the lot in physical terms, his prowess for finishing off plays is impressive, as is his potential as a protector of the rim and a pick and roll defender.