The 2022 NBA Draft Lottery took place on May 17, awarding the Orlando Magic with the first overall selection, and with the NBA Draft Combine underway, there is no better time to start getting familiar with the 2022 NBA Draft!
Prospects from around the country have gathered at this year’s combine to showcase their skills in front of hundreds of league executives and scouts in hopes of improving their stock ahead of June’s draft.
While plenty of prospects improve their outlook, there are a select few who do not partake in the NBA Draft Combine exercises because they are widely regarded as the top options at the top of every team’s draft boards.
This year, there really is no clear-cut No. 1 overall pick and any of the following top-tier prospects could wind up hearing their name called first on draft night!
Here is a breakdown for some of the top prospects in this year’s draft, including their strengths, weaknesses and outlooks evaluated during the pre-draft process.
NOTE: These draft prospects are NOT ranked in any particular order.
F/C Chet Holmgren: 7-0, 195 lbs | Freshman | Gonzaga - 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.7 blocks
Coming out of Gonzaga, Chet Holmgren is rated as the top big man in this year’s draft class and his length is what has many teams in the league excited about his potential. Standing 7-0 tall with a 7-6 unofficial wingspan, Holmgren is being classified as a high-level rim-protector that is more than capable of stretching the floor.
STRENGTHS: Not many 7-footers can move well outside of the paint, but Chet Holmgren is the full package. His footwork and quickness is exceptional for his size and stature, making him very worthy of being the top pick in this year’s draft. He looks very comfortable with the ball in his hands and while he is not the best facilitator, Holmgren showcased his ability to put the ball on the floor and make plays for himself and his teammates from outside the paint. Holmgren also has the ability to knock down shots from the perimeter and is an elite-level interior finisher with either hand.
WEAKNESSES: Chet Holmgren’s skinny-frame and overall strength is being questioned heading into the 2022 NBA Draft. At the NBA-level, plenty of centers and power-forwards will be able to back him down in the post simply because he is not built like a traditional center and rim-protector. His toughness is not in question, but strength and durability against bigger opponents is definitely a concern. Teams that do not have another big man may be weary of adding him as their sole rim-protector.
OUTLOOK: If he does not go first overall, it is hard to imagine that Chet Holmgren will fall past second overall, especially given that a team could be willing to give up a ton of assets to acquire him. Holmgren is an elite-level prospect that really does not have any long-term concerns. Adding weight and becoming stronger is something that can be worked on, but the skill he possesses and understanding of the game is something that cannot be taught. A new modern-day big man, Chet Holmgren will make a difference on both ends of the court during his rookie season.
F Paolo Banchero: 6-10, 250 lbs | Freshman | Duke - 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists
Many tend to know Paolo Banchero heading into the draft, especially since he was the star player for Duke this season, helping them reach the Final Four. Standing 6-10 with an unofficial wingspan of 7-1, Banchero really has the ability to play any position in this league, especially given that he is more than capable of playing one-on-one against any type of defender. Possessing a large frame and being an above-average athlete, Paolo Banchero will be one of the first three players selected in the 2022 NBA Draft.
STRENGTHS: In terms of scoring and offense, Paolo Banchero can do it all. From perimeter to post, the former Duke Blue Devil fits the mold of a modern day power-forward in this league and can not only make plays for himself, but others as well. Perhaps one of the more underrated parts of his game that gets overshadowed by his scoring abilities at the rim is Banchero’s passing abilities. He is not a “point-forward” per se, but the 19-year-old is extremely confident bringing the ball up the floor and initiating an offense. While his numbers may not show it, Banchero has a solid looking jump-shot from the perimeter and his game will translate perfectly to the NBA-level.
WEAKNESSES: Giving all of his focus on the offensive-end of the floor, defense will be something Paolo Banchero will have to work hard on during his rookie season in the NBA. Given his size and athleticism, Banchero checks off the boxes in terms of having the potential to make a difference defensively, but his effort on that end of the court has been challenged at times. Becoming more of a pick-and-pop 4-man in the NBA off of pick-and-roll sets will also be something Banchero will have to work on, as his jumper is very inconsistent right now.
OUTLOOK: Paolo Banchero has a chance to be the best player from this draft class simply because of how well his game on the offensive-end of the floor translates to the NBA-level. It would not be shocking to see him be an All-Star one day and with the right team, Banchero can truly be the face of a rebuild. He has a great feel for the game and being able to play multiple different positions and wear plenty of different hats, Banchero is well on his way to being a top pick
F Jabari Smith Jr.: 6-10, 210 lbs | Freshman | Auburn - 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals
Arguably the top pick in many scout’s minds right now, Jabari Smith Jr. seems like the best scoring talent at the top of the draft board. At Auburn, Smith showcased his abilities to score from virtually anywhere on the floor and out of all of the top prospects in this year’s draft, he is definitely the best jump-shooter. Another “positionless” type of player on the wing, Smith has a really good shot at being the first player selected by the Magic this year.
STRENGTHS: No matter where he is on the floor, Jabari Smith Jr. is able to get to his spots and knock down either a mid-range jumper or a three-point shot. He shot 43.6% from deep at Auburn, leaving many NBA scouts and executives to believe he will be a 40-plus percent three-point shooter on the wing at the next level. Comfortable with the ball in his hands, Smith can initiate an offense and has no problem getting to the rim either given his length. A very solid rebounder as well, Smith has plenty of room to grow his game in the NBA. All-around, there are very few things to critique about the 19-year-old.
WEAKNESSES: Mentality on the offensive-end of the floor will have to be worked on, as Jabari Smith Jr. does not always take the best shot in the middle of games, but this is likely due to him having to step up into the No. 1 role for his teams over the years. Smith is not the best rebounder at the top of the draft, especially on the offensive-end of the floor. Can be turnover prone at times, especially given that he is always looking to make the play for his team instead of getting his teammates involved.
OUTLOOK: Still having a ton of upside to grow, it is hard to imagine Jabari Smith Jr. not being the first or second prospect drafted in June. He has all the skills offensively to grow into an All-Star-level wing and given his length, Smith can grow into a factor defensively as well. No matter a team’s needs, Jabari Smith Jr. is one of the safest picks in this year’s draft given his current skills and potential.
G Jaden Ivey: 6-4, 200 lbs | Sophomore | Purdue - 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, 3.1 assists
The most athletic guard in this year’s draft class, Jaden Ivey tends to play well above the rim and is an exceptional ball-handler in the open floor. Quickness and explosiveness are the two main things talked about in regards to Ivey, making him a prospect that could immediately help change the narrative for a franchise needing talent in their backcourt. Ivey was one of the best guards in college basketball this last year at Purdue and his game should translate perfectly to the NBA-level, especially given the success another young, explosive guards like Ja Morant and Donovan Mitchell have had in a short period of time in the league!
STRENGTHS: A lot of the success Jaden Ivey finds on the basketball floor is because of his athletic abilities. Add this with the skill he already possesses and you have yourself a top guard prospect! Shooting off-the-dribble and spot-up from deep, Ivey has the ability to be a threat from the perimeter immediately and he is a very crafty playmaker as well, getting those around him involved. As a defender, Jaden Ivey is able to keep his opponents in front of him and has really solid lateral footwork. Any team looking for a new franchise combo-guard should be happy with seeing his name still available.
WEAKNESSES: Sometimes playing too fast, Ivey can be turnover prone at times, but this is not too much of a concern long-term. Ivey’s three-point shot is present, but can sometimes be more of a liability than a blessing. Needs to become more of an overall playmaker than playing off-the-ball. Defensively, getting strong and becoming more aware of floor spacing will go a long way in Jaden Ivey's development during his rookie year.
OUTLOOK: Offensively, you know what you are going to get with Jaden Ivey and his explosiveness is what has propelled him to being a top-tier prospect. He definitely has the ability to become a well-versed offensive threat and someone that can play with or without the ball in his hands at the NBA-level. Ivey may not be the best scorer or most talented player, but he is one of the best NBA-ready prospects in this draft.