This is my first mock draft, this takes into account best team fit as well as overall player rankings.
Bold and Italics indicates a strong stat category
- Orlando Magic – Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga | 7’1 Center | 20 years old
Chet Holmgren undoubtedly has the highest upside in this draft class. He is a 7-foot+ center with a great jump shot and one of the best rim protectors in college basketball in his one year at Gonzaga. The main concern is Holmgren’s frame, weighing in at a mere 195 lbs at his height could be a cause of some concern, but if he’s able to gain some mass in the way that Giannis Antetokounmpo did in his first few years in the league, Chet should be the best player in this year’s draft. Though many experts have Jabari Smith above Chet, I still see him going above Smith and reuniting with his high school teammate Jalen Suggs in Orlando. Holmgren will fit into the Orlando system and hopefully fill their need for a consistent center.
- College Stats: 14.1 PTS, 9.9 REB, 1.9 AST, 3.7 BPG
- Shooting Splits: 60.7 FG% – 39.0 3P% – 71.7 FT%
- Oklahoma City Thunder- Jabari Smith | Auburn | 6’10 Forward | 18 years old
Jabari Smith ended the regular season as the top prospect in college basketball, and in many people’s eyes he still holds that title. Smith is easily the best shooter at his size in the draft class, drawing quick comparisons to Kevin Durant. Outside of just shooting Smith has above average athleticism and a plus defender and rebounder. Smith’s lack of comfort while handling the ball is the main knock on his game, and often it was difficult for him to create his own shot down the stretch. Smith was also quite inefficient from 2 point range, but that is less concerning because they were not from a lack of shooting skill, but rather bad decision making which will improve with time. With some great improvement in handling the basketball, Smith also has potential to become the best player in this draft class with his unique size and shooting prowess. With the plethora of guards that Oklahoma City has, Smith could be the answer to their frontcourt problems.
- College Stats: 17.0 PTS, 7.4 REB, 1.1 BLK
- Shooting Splits: 42.9 FG% – 42.0 3P% – 79.9 FT%
- Houston Rockets – Paolo Banchero | Duke | 6’10 Forward | 19 years old
Paolo Banchero is by far the most polished player coming into this draft, hence I believe he has the highest floor, but with the potential of Chet and Jabari, he doesn’t have the highest ceiling. Playing on a stacked Duke team with 3+ players that are projected to go in the first round of the 2022 NBA draft, Paolo still showed out as their leading scorer and rebounder. Banchero even showed his playmaking ability with multiple games with five or more assists. Banchero fits this Rockets team quite well as he can be a secondary option to last year’s number two pick, Jalen Green, who began to show his real potential in the second half of the year. Paolo moves well without the ball, is a competent ball handler, and can score well from all three levels. With his Lebron-like frame, there is very little that Paolo cannot do. He is my pick for rookie of the year and is the safest pick for the Rockets at pick 3 especially with the imminent departure of their current PF/C Christian Wood.
- College Stats: 17.2 PTS, 7.8 REB, 3.2 AST
- Shooting Splits: 47.8 FG% – 33.8 3P% – 72.9 FT%
- Sacramento Kings – Shaedon Sharpe | Kentucky | 6’5 Guard |18 years old
Shaedon Sharpe is the most mysterious prospect of them all. Sharpe was the number one prospect in the class of 2022 before he committed and signed to Kentucky a semester early in January 2022. Despite being on the Kentucky roster, Sharpe struggled with injuries and was shut down for the entirety of the college basketball season to save his health for the draft. Since he has no college experience Sharpe is the biggest question mark, but his talent is undeniable. A lights out shooter with great athleticism and nearly a seven foot wingspan at 6’5. He has all the tools to be an NBA superstar, but is still somewhat unknown because of his lack of college experience. Though Jaden Ivey is a safer guard pick, Sharpe provides the shooting that the Kings are lacking in their lineup. I wouldn’t doubt the Kings even trading back because none of the highest tier picks fit their needs of an athletic scoring wing or defensively sound big man.
- College Stats: N/A
- Shooting Splits: N/A
- Detroit Pistons – Jaden Ivey | Purdue | 6’4 Guard | 20 years old
Ivey showed throughout the season how he would dominate in the NBA. With his frame and athleticism drawing quick comparisons to Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant, Ivey has been towards the top of most mock drafts after announcing he was returning to Purdue at the end of his freshman year. Ivey is a shifty and athletic guard that is a great inside scorer, finisher, and ball handler. Ivey’s shooting is somewhat inconsistent, he has a tendency to play somewhat recklessly, and though he averaged three assists per game, his regular passing is somewhat subpar besides the few flashy assists he gets. With an improved jump shot and a little more poise in his play he could be a great secondary option to last year’s number one pick Cade Cunningham.
- College Stats: 17.3 PTS, 4.9 REB, 3.1 AST
- Shooting Splits: 46.0 FG% – 36.8 3P% – 74.4 FT%
- Indiana Pacers – Keegan Murray | Iowa | 6’8 Forward | 21 years old
Keegan Murray is one of the oldest projected lottery picks, but he’s high on draft boards for a reason. Murray was a walking bucket on one of the top offenses in all of college basketball. Murray had numerous 20 and 30 point games and only one game without scoring in double figures. Murray is a great defender as well averaging nearly two blocks and a steal per game. There are very few flaws in Murray’s game, the main weakness is his playmaking since he was the Hawkeyes’ first option and wasn’t required to pass the ball very often. Murray will be turning 22 before he debuts in the NBA which is another one of his downsides, but I doubt it makes any real difference. Other than the matching colors of Iowa and the Indiana Pacers, the rebuilding Pacers behind the playmaking of former Kings guard Tyrese Haliburton could really use a scoring forward to bolster their young and inexperienced lineup. Though they won’t be making any sort of noise in the playoffs yet, Murray could be the answer to their immediate scoring problems.
- College Stats: 23.5 PTS, 8.7 REB, 1.5 AST, 1.9 BLK
- Shooting Splits: 55.4 FG% – 39.8 3P% – 74.7 FT%
- Portland TrailBlazers – AJ Griffin | Duke | 6’6 Guard/Forward | 18 years old
AJ Griffin will most likely be the second Duke player following Paolo Banchero who will definitely be one of the top three picks. Griffin’s role for Duke was mostly just as a spot up shooter, and he was arguably one of the best shooters in all of college basketball, shooting an astounding 44.7% from three. Why would a spot up shooter be a lottery pick in the draft? Griffin is very well sized at 6’6 with nearly a 7 foot wingspan, he has shown decent ball handling and driving, and has above average athleticism. Griffin’s size and offensive potential give teams good reason to look at him as a great lottery pick. The main knock on Griffin is his inexperience driving the ball and his lack of general foot speed, but speed isn’t everything as shown by players such as Nikola Jokic and Luka Doncic, and I expect Griffin to blossom into a great two way player.
- College Stats: 10.4 PTS, 3.9 REB, 1.0 AST
- Shooting Splits: 49.3 FG% – 44.7 3P% – 79.2 FT%
- New Orleans Pelicans (From LA Lakers) – Dyson Daniels | G-League Ignite | 6’6 Combo Guard | 19 years old
Dyson Daniels is one of my favorite players in this draft, a well-sized combo guard who came out of Australia as a well-rounded player, and has consistently improved throughout his season at G-League Ignite. Daniels has been flying up draft boards since the combine from outside the top 15 to being the second or third guard selected. Daniels was a great driver and passer this season Ignite, but most impressively the Australian native was one of the best defenders in the G-League, helped by his nearly seven foot wingspan. The main flaw in his game throughout his season was the three-point shot, shooting under 30% on the year, something that needs improvement and he has definitely shown improvement in his shooting in his combine and pro day. Daniels fits in well with the Pelicans as they need to fill a guard spot to play with CJ McCollum, and since the Pelicans are the only playoff team to have a lottery pick, I expect Dyson Daniels will be that missing piece and I expect them to make some noise in the postseason in the next few years. Daniels is a great all around player and I expect him to be looking at a triple-double on a night to night basis. At worst I expect him to play similarly to his Australian compatriot Josh Giddey, but I expect Daniels to be better than Giddey in the long run.
- G-League Stats: 11.3 PTS, 5.9 REB, 4.4 AST
- Shooting Splits: 44.9 FG% – 25.5 3P% – 73.7 FT%
- Charlotte (via San Antonio Spurs) – Jalen Duren | Memphis | 6’10 Center | 18 years old
Duren was a young star for one of the highest recruited Memphis teams in the last 20 years. He is one of the most athletic bigs as well as one of the youngest players in this year’s draft. Jalen showed his athleticism and rim protection regularly for a surprising Memphis team, and has been at the top of most people’s draft boards since the end of his high school years. The main flaw in Duren’s game is his complete lack of a jump shot and having slightly below average post moves for a big. In the NBA, which is becoming more and more perimeter centered, Duren’s lack of a jumpshot may come to bite him. Duren is one of the most athletic prospects in this year’s draft and that will help him succeed especially defensively being able to easily switch onto guards, and being able to defend at the rim. Duren fits the Charlotte team better than anyone else in the draft. Charlotte had god-awful interior defense last year, leading them to lose a plethora of games. Charlotte is a borderline playoff time and Duren’s impact on the defensive end and as a lob threat for Lamelo Ball makes him a perfect fit for a blossoming Hornets team. Many experts don’t expect Duren to fall out of the top ten, thus I see Charlotte trading either their 13th or 15th pick and a player most likely Gordon Hayward and possibly Nick Richards for San Antonio’s number nine and another future pick.
- College Stats: 12.0 PTS, 8.1 REB, 1.3 AST, 2.1 BLK
- Shooting Splits: 59.7 FG% – 0.0 3P% – 62.5 FT%
- Washington Wizards – Jeremy Sochan | Baylor | 6’9 Forward | 20 years old
Jeremy Sochan is one of the best swiss-army type players in this year’s draft whether it’s because of his flamboyant hair or his defensive prowess, Sochan has been flying up draft boards since the end of the NCAA season. Sochan was not an offensive weapon at Baylor but rather one of their best defenders and a great glue guy. The 6’9 forward began to increase his scoring output towards the end of the year, but is mostly being drafted this high based on versatility defensively and some slight offensive upside. Sochan is the definition of a “positionless” player. Sochan played anywhere from small forward to center. There will be a place for Sochan on most team rosters, but the Wizards need him more than the plethora of scoring wings and centers available at pick 9. The main flaw in Sochan’s game is his offensive game, he is a subpar shooter, ball handler, and playmaker, but he is more being drafted as a defensive stud with a chance to improve his offensive game at the next level. Sochan is a safe pick, he won’t wow anyone with his offensive game, but he is solid defensively and well-sized, destined for some form of success in the NBA.
- College Stats: 9.2 PTS, 6.4 REB, 1.8 AST
- Shooting Splits: 47.4 FG% – 29.6 3P% – 58.9 FT%
- New York Knicks (possibly Utah Jazz) – Johnny Davis | Wisconsin | 6’5 Guard | 20 years old
Johnny Davis took the world by storm this year, going from an average role player to leading the major conferences in scoring for a period of time. Davis is the definition of a pure scorer, a great mid-range shooter, the ability to drive the ball and a type of strength that you wouldn’t expect from a player of his frame. Davis is also a great athlete and a surprisingly good rebounder for a guard of his size. Davis disappeared at the end of the year averaging just 13 points in their three most important games (regular season Big 10 title, Big 10 Tournament, NCAA tournament round of 32). Most of this was in part to his inconsistent shooting from outside the arc. Davis is outside of my top 15 best players in the draft, purely because of his lack of playmaking and inconsistent shooting. Nonetheless I feel like he would fit well in the Big Apple if this pick is not traded. This is one of the picks that I most expect to be traded along with Julius Randle for a player such as Donovan Mitchell, which is looking like more and more of a possibility. Either way, Davis does have the personality of a New York player with that sort of humble swagger to him, and if the Jazz do trade up to this spot I could see them picking Davis to fill Mitchell’s role.
- College Stats: 19.7 PTS, 8.2 REB, 2.1 AST
- Shooting Splits: 42.7 FG% – 30.6 3P% – 79.1 FT%
- Oklahoma City Thunder (from LA Clippers) – Ousmane Dieng | France | 6’9 Forward | 19 years old
Ousmane Dieng is a high upside international prospect who spent his last year playing in the NBL for the New Zealand Breakers. His stats were not outstanding in the NBL, but he has great size and upside on both ends of the floor. Though he is not the most efficient scorer in the NBL, he will be drafted purely on potential to a young and rebuilding Thunder team that has a tendency to draft international prospects with potential like Dieng. He fits their system well, filling that missing wing spot. The Thunder aren’t really expected to win too many games with their extremely young team and Dieng will get more playing time in OKC for that reason.
- NBL (New Zealand Breakers) Stats: 8.9 PTS, 3.1 REB, 1.0 AST
- Shooting Splits: 39.8 FG% – 27.1 3P% – 66.7 FT%
- San Antonio Spurs (via Charlotte) – Bennedict Mathurin | Arizona | 6’6 Guard/Forward | 19 years old
Bennedict Mathurin I feel is one of the more underrated guards in this draft. Not nearly receiving as much attention as other prospects Jaden Ivey and Shaedon Sharpe while quietly he’s arguably had better season statistics. Whether it was because he played in the PAC-12 or because this is his second year at Arizona, Mathurin deserves more credit as a player. He is one of the most athletic players in the draft, and a great scorer on all three levels. The few flaws in his game are his average, not even subpar, defense, and streaky shooting from three. With an improvement in his three point consistency Mathurin could be a great guard for years to come. Mathurin will be one of San Antonio’s three first round picks, but he will make the most immediate impact, filling the role of a primary scorer that’s been left vacant since the departure of Kawhi Leonard.
- College Stats: 17.5 PTS, 5.6 REB, 2.5 AST
- Shooting Splits: 45.0 FG% – 36.9 3P% – 76.4 FT%
- Cleveland Cavaliers – Malaki Branham | Ohio State | 6’5 Combo Guard | 19 years old
Malaki Branham started the season off very slowly averaging under 10 points per game for the first 11 games of the season. Branham followed that with a 35 point explosion in an overtime win against Nebraska. From then on Branham averaged over 15 as the secondary option on a highly touted buckeyes team. Following his scoring outbreak, the 6’5 combo guard flew up draft boards from an early second round pick to a late lottery/mid-first round pick. I am not the highest on Branham, he is a bit of an inconsistent scorer, and not utterly dominant in any facet of the game. Nonetheless, I don’t see him falling too far outside of the top 10 based purely off of his high scoring potential. With Colin Sexton’s future with Cleveland in jeopardy after the breakout season of Darius Garland. The Cavaliers will be looking for another ball handling option behind Darius Garland and Branham fills that role very well. The Cavs young core will be looking to make a playoff run with the addition of Branham as that missing piece.
- College Stats: 13.7 PTS, 3.6 REB, 2.0 AST
- Shooting Splits: 49.8 FG% – 41.6 3P% – 83.3 FT%
- Charlotte Hornets (from New Orleans) – Tari Eason | LSU | 6’8 Forward | 21 years old
Tari Eason is one of my favorite players in the 2022 draft and his draft position doesn’t match his talent in my opinion. Eason was the 6th man for LSU, coming off the bench early in games and leading them in scoring. He is well sized at 6’8 with a 7’2 wingspan, which helped him to be one of the best defenders in all of college basketball averaging two steals and a block per game. Eason is also one of the most athletic players in the draft as shown through his highlight reel fastbreak dunks. The main flaw in Eason’s game is his maturity, he has a tendency to lack good body language and carelessly fouls and turns the ball over when frustrated. With an improvement in his attitude and maturity in his play, Tari will be at least a defensive menace if not one of the better two way players in the NBA. Similar to the pick of Jalen Duren, Eason will greatly improve the Hornet’s overall defense, and continue pushing Charlotte to be one of the more flashy and fun to watch teams in the NBA.
- College Stats: 16.9 PTS, 6.6 REB, 1.0 AST
- Shooting Splits: 52.1 FG% – 35.9 3P% – 80.3 FT%
- Atlanta Hawks – Ochai Agbaji | Kansas | 6’6 Guard/Forward | 22 years old
Ochai Agbaji is one of the few exceptions to the average age of first round picks. Agbaji is one of the only players in the first round of this year’s draft that is over the age of 21. But there is a reason he is projected this high in the draft. Agbaji won almost everything that could be won in college basketball, including a National Title, All-American First Team, and Big 12 scoring title and more. Agbaji is well sized, a great defender, a knockdown shooter, and an improving ball handler. An 18 or 19 year old with Agbaji’s traits would be a guaranteed top five, but his age at 22 defers a lot of young rebuilding teams. The main flaw in Agbaji’s game besides his age is his tendency to disappear in some games because of his lack of ball handling, though he won player of the tournament in March Madness, there were plenty of games where it didn’t seem like he was on the court. Nonetheless, Agbaji would have a place on many borderline playoff teams, but I think his best fit is on the Hawks side-by-side with Trae Young who is desperately in need of a secondary scorer. Agbaji would be an immediate replacement for De’Andre Hunter who has not lived up to expectations, and the Hawks are looking to offload this offseason.
- College Stats: 18.8 PTS, 5.1 REB, 1.6 AST
- Shooting Splits: 47.5 FG% – 40.7 3P% – 74.3 FT%
- Houston Rockets (from Brooklyn) – Mark Williams | Duke | 7’1 Center | 20 years old
Mark Williams was a force this year for Duke, he was one of the elite shot blockers in college basketball as well as a great and uber-efficient (70+% from the field) inside scorer rounding out one of the most stacked Duke teams in many years. Williams will be the third Duke player to go off the board, with Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin going in the top 5-10 picks. Averaging over two blocks per game, Williams won ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Though he didn’t take many jumpers during the season, he shot well from the free throw line, and has shown his jump shot from time to time taking both midrange and threes in the combine and pro day. Williams will fill the role of center while the Rockets look to get rid of Christian Wood in the last year of his contract. Williams will be a great defender at the NBA level and has a fair bit of offensive upside as well.
- College Stats: 11.2 PTS, 7.4 REB, 0.9 AST, 2.8 BLK
- Shooting Splits: 72.1 FG% – 0.0 3P% – 73.3 FT%
- Chicago Bulls – EJ Liddell | Ohio State | 6’7 Forward/Center | 21 years old
EJ Liddell came into his junior year at Ohio State already as one of the top players in college basketball, yet he still continued to beat the odds and improve significantly from his sophomore to junior year. Even though he stands at just 6’7 Liddell played center for the buckeyes and absolutely dominated. Liddell has gone under the radar for the majority of the drafting process, but has registered the highest vertical at the combine. Liddell is an athletic specimen and could be the answer to all of Chicago’s problems. He is a great defender, and though he isn’t the tallest he still is able to guard 1-5. He has offensive upside as well, because of his athleticism he can drive by slower bigs and can create his own shot in the post, he can definitely improve as a shooter because his three point shot is somewhat inconsistent, but overall he fits the Bulls team very well and could be that missing piece.
- College Stats: 19.4 PTS, 7.9 REB, 2.0 AST, 2.6 BLK
- Shooting Splits: 49.0 FG% – 37.4 3P% – 76.5 FT%
- Minnesota Timberwolves – Jaden Hardy | G-League Ignite | 6’4 Guard | 19 years old
Jaden Hardy was the number four prospect following high school and declined offers from top tier college basketball such as Kentucky and Arizona to play for the G-League Ignite, following in the footsteps of now Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green. Hardy has a very similar playstyle to Green as he is a very athletic slashing guard with great scoring upside. Hardy has fallen in the draft since the beginning of the season because of his subpar shooting and some great play from his Ignite teammates (Dyson Daniels and Marjon Beauchamp), but outside of that I think he is a steal if falls out of the top-15. Hardy could be the answer to Minnesota’s point guard problems as they are planning on offloading an inconsistent and expensive D’Angelo Russell. Hardy needs to improve his shooting after shooting below 30% from behind the arc. He also struggled with overall scoring efficiency, shooting under 40% from the field, which is slightly concerning, and hopefully when maturing as a player in the NBA his efficiency will improve. Hardy is uber-athletic and an above average interior scorer and playmaker. Experts from the beginning of the year predicted that Hardy could end up being one of the best players in this draft class, and even after falling this much in the draft I still wouldn’t doubt it.
- G-League Ignite Stats: 17.7 PTS, 4.6 REB, 3.2 AST
- Shooting Splits: 35.1 FG% – 26.9 3P% – 88.2 FT%
- San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto) – Nikola Jovic | Serbia | 6’10 Forward | 18 years old
Not to be confused with back-to-back NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, Nikola Jovic is a 6’10 forward coming out of Serbia with all kinds of talent. Jovic is a well rounded forward who has the ability to play like a guard at his size. Jovic is arguably the best international prospect along with Ousmane Dieng and Leonard Miller. Jovic holds some major two-way upside with his size and sneaky athleticism, he is a great ball handler at 6’10 and an above average shooter. Jovic fits well with the Spurs system and will most likely end up being another successful international prospect from San Antonio. He fills one of many missing pieces in a rebuilding Spurs franchise.
- Liga ABA (International): 12.0 PTS, 4.8 REB, 3.6 AST
- Shooting Splits: 41.4 FG% – 31.5 3P% – 71.8 FT%
- Denver Nuggets – Jalen Williams | Santa Clara | 6’6 Guard/Forward | 21 years old
Jalen Williams has increased his draft stock the most during the drafting and combine process. The 6’5 Santa Clara guard pre-combine was seen as a mid to late second round pick but has since jumped into the first and into many people’s top 20s. He is a great ball handler, passer, and great off the catch and shoot, but the most interesting aspect about him is his size. Williams measures at 6’5 with a 7’2 wingspan, the biggest wingspan differential in the draft class at a mind boggling plus nine inches. That is a game changer on both ends of the floor, when Williams gets drafted he will automatically have one of the highest wingspan differentials in NBA history. There are a few flaws in Williams’s game, he isn’t the fastest, but players like Luka Doncic and Nikola Jokic have shown that speed really isn’t everything. The 6’5 guard is also not the best isolation scorer and lacks a “bag” when it comes to dribble moves and isolation scoring. Nonetheless, his defensive upside with his great wingspan and his offensive upside with his great playmaking and catch and shoot ability make him easily worth a first round pick. Denver seems like a great place for him to play alongside Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic as Williams is a great passer from the pick and roll, and could be a great third option scoring for Denver or could be a leader of their second unit.
- College Stats: 18.0 PTS, 4.4 REB, 4.2 AST
- Shooting Splits: 51.3 FG% – 39.6 3P% – 80.9 FT%
- Memphis Grizzlies (from Utah) – Kendall Brown | Baylor | 6’7 Forward | 19 years old
Kendall Brown has been one of the biggest droppers in the draft for what seems to be little to no reason. Brown is a very athletic forward who’s a great defender with some solid offensive upside. Players like him are being taken earlier and earlier in drafts because of the defensive impact they can make on the defensive end immediately. Brown registered one of the highest verticals in the entire combine, yet his draft stock has stayed the same. Brown will most likely be the second Baylor player to go in this year’s draft behind Jeremy Sochan, another forward with a similar playstyle. Brown is uber athletic and a great playmaker on the ball, but is prone to turnover and is an average shooter and overall scorer. Memphis will have one of the steals of the draft if they’re able to take Brown at the 22nd pick, he will be able to defend at a high level off the bat and with an improvement in his handle and shooting he will be a great two-way player.
- College Stats: 9.7 PTS, 4.9 REB, 1.9 AST
- Shooting Splits: 58.4 FG% – 34.1 3P% – 68.9 FT%
- Philadelphia 76ers – Marjon Beauchamp | G-League Ignite | 6’6 Guard | 21 years old
Marjon Beauchamp is an interesting prospect in that he came from G-League Ignite, but he is one of the older players in this draft, after spending a year attending a junior college following his high school career even though he was a four star recruit. Beauchamp averaged over 30 points per game in JUCO and received multiple Division-1 offers before choosing to join the G-League Ignite. Beauchamp is first and foremost a great defender, arguably one of the best in the class, paired with him being an above average athlete, he looks to make an immediate defensive impact where he ends up. Beauchamp, unlike Kendall Brown or Jeremy Sochan, has an above average handle and is a great playmaker and considered a slasher with an improving jumpshot. The main fault in Beauchamp’s game is his lack of a consistent jumper, but with improvement in that he will also be a steal for a team that is already contending in the 76ers especially to fill the hole that may be left with James Harden’s future in jeopardy.
- G-League Stats: 15.1 PTS, 7.3 REB, 2.0 AST
- Shooting Splits: 57.1 FG% – 24.2 3P% – 65.0 FT%
- Milwaukee Bucks – Leonard Miller | Canada | 6’10 Forward | 18 years old
Leonard Miller is considered one of the question marks in this year’s draft. First of all because he is the youngest player in the draft, and because he still has the option to attend Division-1 programs such as Arizona or Kentucky. At this point it looks like the 6’9 Canadian forward will be committing to the NBA, but as of now it is still in the NBA. Miller is the textbook definition of point forward, he is comfortable handling the ball, driving and making plays off the dribble. His size, and his guard-like skills are the most intriguing thing, but the majority of his game is unpolished, that’s his main downfall. Miller is an average to below average shooter and defender especially for his size, yet those are improvable. He also has a tendency to play immaturely at times, something that will improve with age and experience. All of Miller’s main flaws can be improved through playing experience.The Bucks picking up the project makes the most sense to me, after they developed one of the greatest point forwards ever in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Miller is a chance for them to recreate that success, and a chance for him to be mentored by one of the few players similar to him. The Bucks are a very well rounded team, with few needs. A project player like Miller should be able to grow and develop on an already successful team with a history of good player development.
- College Stats: N/A
- Shooting Splits: N/A
- San Antonio Spurs (from Boston) – Walker Kessler | 7’1 Center | Auburn | 20 years old
Walker Kessler was one of the most talked about transfers in college basketball to start the year after receiving little to no playing time at North Carolina, the former top 25 recruit took his talents to Auburn, and Bruce Pearl and the Tigers were glad they had him. The 7’1 center averaged almost five blocks per game and was arguably one of the best rim protectors in college basketball. Though his offensive game definitely needs work, Kessler is first and foremost an amazing interior defender, whether it’s changing shots, or blocking them, Kessler will make a defensive impact where he ends up. There is some form of offensive upside as he did average over 11 points per game, most of his scoring was done off the pick and roll, something that will be utilized at the next level. A major step that Kessler is beginning to take is with the three point shot, though he was not at all efficient from behind the arc, when open Kessler was not afraid to shoot the open three. Though San Antonio does have Jakob Poeltl manning the middle, there is a decent chance that he will be dealt in a deal to help them move one of their three first round picks up the board. Even if this pick is the one to be moved up, I would expect San Antonio to move up to attempt to take a center, possibly Mark Williams or Jalen Duren if not Kessler.
- College Stats: 11.4 PTS, 8.1 REB, 0.9 AST, 4.6 BLK
- Shooting Splits: 60.8 FG% – 20.0 3P% – 59.6 FT%
- Dallas Mavericks – Ismael Kamagate | France | 6’11 Center | 21 years old
Ismael Kamagate is an international prospect out of France who has impressed scouts with his interior scoring and defense. Kamagate is one of the older international prospects, but could be the answer to a lot of interior questions for teams with late first round or early second round picks. He has shown a plethora of post moves and the ability to make an open mid range jump shot from time to time, he is also very athletic for his size and could become an elite rim protector. Kamagate, though more experienced than other international prospects, will still need a lot of work to be successful in the NBA. Dallas has good experience with international prospects and I expect them to do the same and end up as a good landing spot for Kamagate.
- Miami Heat – Kennedy Chandler | 6’1 Guard | Tennessee | 19 years old
Kennedy Chandler is arguably the best pure playmaker in this draft class. The Tennessee guard measured in below 6 feet tall at the combine, but that didn’t stop him from being one of the best point guards not just in the SEC but all of college basketball. Chandler has a well rounded game centered around his ability to make plays for his teammates. Chandler and his guard counterpart Zakai Ziegler were the heart and soul of an otherwise subpar Tennessee squad. As I mentioned, Chandler is a great passer, but outside of that he is a great finisher around the rim which is very important for an undersized guard. He can improve on his shooting, especially from the free throw line, but personally Kennedy Chandler was one of my favorite players to watch in college basketball last year, he is smooth on the ball and makes good decisions with the ball in his hands. He is also an underrated defender, with quick hands averaging over 2 steals per game. I could see Chandler fitting in very well with a Miami team that plans to contend for the next few years especially to replace Kyle Lowry who is clearly regressing and could be a great mentor to Chandler as he takes over the starting role in Miami.
- College Stats: 13.9 PTS, 3.2 REB, 4.7 AST, 2.2 STL
- Shooting Splits: 46.4 FG% – 38.3 3P% – 60.6 FT%
- Golden State Warriors – Christian Braun | Kansas | 6’5 Guard/Forward | 21 years old
Christian Braun (pronounced Brown) is one of the best all around players in the 2022 NBA draft, and has quickly been moving up draft boards as he continues to impress at the NBA combine and pro days. Braun was a reliable second option at a national championship winning Kansas team. He was very efficient scoring, a great rebounder for his size, and an above average ball handler and playmaker. Though looks may be deceiving, Braun registered one of the highest standing and max vertical leaps in the NBA combine, just showing how much of an do-it-all player he really is. Braun will fit the Warriors system very well, because of how many tools he has. He will be a great bench piece beside Jordan Poole with his ability to do everything, especially his above average playmaking. With a fair bit of work, Braun has potential to be a triple-double threat nightly.
- College Stats: 14.1 PTS, 6.5 REB, 2.8 AST
- Shooting Splits: 49.5 FG% – 38.6 3P% -73.3 FT%
- Memphis Grizzlies – Patrick Baldwin Jr. | Milwaukee-Wisconsin | 6’9 Forward | 19 years old
Patrick Baldwin Jr. has had the biggest drop in this year’s draft, starting the year as a guaranteed top-10 pick to now many experts wanting him to return to school to prove himself at a college level. Baldwin, the number eight recruit in his class, chose to attend University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where his father was the head coach, instead of other high-major Division-1 schools such as Duke and Michigan. Baldwin was expected to dominate in a low division, but instead he dealt with intermittent injuries and extreme regression in shooting which was seen as his strongest skill coming into college. Baldwin could not help save his father’s job either as he was fired at the end of the Baldwin duo’s disappointing season. Baldwin’s name is still in the transfer portal even though he has continued with the draft process, many think that going back to school and dominating at a great Division-1 program will lead to him being a top ten pick in next year’s draft. Baldwin Jr. is very well sized and came into college as one of the better shooters in the draft, and I could see him picking his shooting back up if drafted. Baldwin could fit in most systems if he ends up reaching his potential as a 6’8+ shooter, but he is quite the risk after measuring the lowest vertical in the entire combine, and after his disappointing season at Milwaukee-Wisconsin.
- College Stats: 12.1 PTS, 5.8 REB, 1.5 AST
- Shooting Splits: 34.4 FG% – 26.6 3P% – 74.3 FT%
- Oklahoma City Thunder (from Phoenix) – Jake LaRavia | Wake Forest | 6’8 Forward | 20 years old
Jake LaRavia is the perfect example of the modern power forward. LaRavia was overshadowed by his Wake Forest teammate and ACC Player of the Year Alondes Williams, but LaRavia is one of the most talented and underrated players in this draft. To start, he is a great passer out of the post and an extremely efficient scorer. He isn’t the most athletic, but LaRavia has shown the ability to guard the 1-4 with relative ease, a skill that is becoming more and more important for modern big men. LaRavia’s real upside lies on the offensive side of the ball whether it’s playmaking out of the posts, using his plethora of post moves, or knocking down an open three, LaRavia has a chance to be a game changer for any team that drafts him. This Thunder team fits LaRavia quite well because of their lack of backcourt depth and overall playmaking outside of Josh Giddey. He will also get plenty of time to continue to develop his scoring touch at the NBA level on a young rebuilding team like the Thunder
- College Stats: 14.6 PTS, 6.6 REB, 3.7 AST
- Shooting Splits: 55.9 FG% – 38.4 3P% – 77.7 FT%