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NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Jabari Smith Solidifying No. 1 Case, Johnny Davis Rising

Checking the temperature on the 2022 class as college basketball enters the midway point.

It’s been about six weeks since the last mock draft and quite a bit has happened as we near the midway point of college basketball season. This is a good checkpoint to take the temperature of the 2022 draft, which is a little more than six months out if things stay on schedule.

Right now, teams mostly feel comfortable with the very top of the draft, where Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, Johnny Davis and Jaden Ivey have all made convincing cases for themselves as high-quality prospects. To me, Smith is the draft’s top prospect, though there’s still debate around the NBA on that front. But after those five names, the shape of the draft itself gets muddier: many prospects, particularly the younger ones, have underperformed or feel unproven. NBA teams have a sense of what the options are, but things may look much different a month or two from now.

Per usual, this exercise serves as a gauge of how the NBA broadly views prospects in the present moment. The mock draft is based heavily on intel and conversations with executives, scouts and others around the NBA, as well as my own evaluations of each prospect, which in many cases date back several years between in-person viewings and film review. The closer we get to the draft lottery, the more team needs come into play, but the matter of fit isn’t worth seriously worrying about until after the NBA’s Feb. 10 trade deadline has passed.

The draft sequence was created using the standings entering Monday, Jan. 10. Note that there are now 58 selections in this draft due to Milwaukee and Miami forfeiting their second-round picks.

Florida Gators forward Anthony Duruji (4) pressures Auburn Tigers forward Jabari Smith (10) during the second half at Auburn Arena.

1. Magic: Jabari Smith Jr., F, Auburn

Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 210 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Smith took over the top spot on our board in December and continues to make a convincing case for himself as the draft’s top prospect. He combines picturesque shooting mechanics with substantial positional size, above-average athletic ability and an endearing competitive nature. Smith has shown flashes of dominance while playing a simple game, and when you consider how much he has left to add in the way of ball skills and footwork, it becomes hard to fathom what type of ceiling he might have. Taking him first is made easier considering Smith’s floor as a prospect is also quite high as a 6' 10" knockdown shooter with good instincts and who doesn’t take plays off. His learning curve as an 18-year-old has been highly impressive, and he’s figuring out how to score in gameflow on a team that doesn’t force-feed him touches (though at times, Auburn probably should).

There’s a whole lot to feel good about with Smith as the draft’s top prize, and while there’s still debate around the NBA between him and Banchero, his elite shot-making skills should ultimately be the difference-maker in those discussions. It’s hard to put a cap on what caliber of player Smith can be, considering his primary mode of scoring will be simply shooting over people, which he’s already quite good at. In the unlikely scenario he never adds much off the dribble, he should still be highly effective for a long time as a pick-and-pop oriented big. And if Smith stays the course and makes the most of his opportunity, he’s going to be a star. To me, he’s in a tier of his own atop the draft.

2. Pistons: Paolo Banchero, PF, Duke

Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 250 | Age: 19 | Freshman

While his case at No. 1 has diminished a tad due in part to Smith’s emergence, Banchero has plenty of fans around the NBA and could still wind up going first. He has a superb combination of size, strength and ball skills, and has the makings of a potential high-usage offensive fulcrum who can do damage from all over the floor. Banchero is a streaky jump shooter, but there are games and moments where his shot-making chops are highly convincing. If he improves on that front and adds some craft around the basket, he has All-Star potential. He is advanced for his age as an offensive player and should be able to create mismatches and make plays for teammates, especially if deployed creatively.

The main challenge Banchero faces as a No. 1 pick contender is more of an existential one: he’s a true power forward who may wind up a below-average defender, which sets an extremely high bar for his offensive contributions. His lack of elite length and athleticism likely puts a cap on his defensive value in the long run. Building a great team around that type of player can pose challenges in the NBA. Regardless, Banchero won’t fall far and should immediately help whichever team drafts him.

3. Rockets: Chet Holmgren, F/C, Gonzaga

Height: 7' 0" | Weight: 215 | Age: 19 | Freshman

While his case as a prospective No. 1 has paled a bit as the season has gone on, Holmgren still projects as an early selection, primarily due to his prowess protecting the rim. He has terrific instincts as a shot-blocker and good feet for his size, enabling him to change shots in a translatable manner despite his lack of physical strength. Holmgren has also been an excellent play finisher, albeit he’s rarely been challenged by anyone close to his size, and has added upside as a passer and floor-spacer.

It’s nice that the defense is pretty bankable, but where someone rates Holmgren relative to Smith and Banchero feels like a reflection of what level they believe his offense will reach. Gonzaga is through with the tough part of its schedule, so we may not learn anything meaningful or new about Holmgren’s candidacy until March. He’s having a terrific season, but the other two players have built better cases atop the draft.

4. Thunder: Johnny Davis, SG, Wisconsin

Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 195 | Age: 19 | Sophomore

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Davis made his Big Board debut last month as a top-five prospect. His ascension as arguably college basketball’s best player and a high-level NBA prospect continues. He’s regularly turning in prolific performances and winning over scouts with his consistency, skill and competitive focus. It’s hard to nitpick anything he’s done, particularly considering he’s done it playing within Wisconsin’s system and elevated a team that wouldn’t rank in the Top 25 without him.

The main concerns surrounding Davis at this point are his size (some teams think he may be a bit shorter than his listed height), his shooting (which is trending up) and whether teams believe he can evolve into an on-ball playmaker (some do, some don’t). But there are no glaring holes in his skill set, and he’s added value on both ends of the floor. He never seems to slow down, while playing nearly every minute. For my money, he’s the best guard in the draft.

5. Pelicans: Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue

Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 200 | Age: 19 | Sophomore

The early buzz surrounding Ivey has dimmed a tiny bit as his recent play has been a little underwhelming at times. He’s still tracking as a top-five selection, with optimistic NBA teams viewing him as a potential lead guard who can better utilize his blazing open-court speed in the professional ranks than in college. He’s not a natural point guard, though, and it will take him some time to pick up full-time ball-handling responsibilities.

To Ivey’s credit, he’s found ways to make plays despite some stuffy spacing at Purdue. Scouts have nitpicked his basketball IQ and decision-making skills, as well as some occasionally underwhelming defensive performances. But Ivey offers uncommon upside, particularly relative to the rest of this class, which should keep his stock stable in the top five moving forward.

6. Pacers: Keegan Murray, PF, Iowa

Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 215 | Age: 21 | Sophomore

Suffice it to say Murray has been among the most reliable players in college basketball and exceptionally efficient in an outsized role that’s stretched his game to the limit. He was a clear breakout candidate coming into the season, but has been better than anyone expected offensively. In addition to converting random offense and finishing plays, he’s given NBA teams reason to believe in his shot, proving he can space the floor and make the occasional tough jumper when called upon. Murray has always been quite sound defensively, with great length and anticipation skills, and now projects to supply real offensive juice in a highly valuable role as a versatile four-man. He’ll turn 22 before the start of his rookie year, but should be able to help right away, and offers some untapped upside as a scorer.

7. Kings: Bennedict Mathurin, SG, Arizona

Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 210 | Age: 19 | Sophomore

Mathurin has taken a big step forward this season and has benefitted from Arizona’s uptempo environment, which allows him to play in transition and get up jumpers without forcing him to be a playmaker. He’s not a naturally creative player and is uncomfortable improvising with the ball, but he’s a terrific run-jump athlete athlete and a natural enough scorer to succeed in an off-ball role, similar to what Arizona is asking him to do. Mathurin has done enough that a lot of scouts view him as a fairly safe, if not spectacular pick in the Top 10, and if he can continue to improve defensively, he should have a fairly useful floor as a supporting-caliber wing scorer. To be more than that, his handle is going to need a ton of work, but Mathurin can still return value in this range of the draft, and looks like one of the better options in a somewhat thin lottery.

8. Spurs: Kendall Brown, F, Baylor

Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 205 | Age: 18 | Freshman

It feels like Brown has almost defaulted into to the Top 10 conversation by way of his size and tools, impressive athleticism, and unusual efficiency as a scorer at a young age. He has a strong feel for how to score without dominating the ball, which has covered for the fact that he doesn’t have a reliable jump shot yet, and isn’t a naturally creative player. The latter items make Brown a bit divisive for some scouts, and understandably so. But if enough teams think they can develop his jumper, he’ll have a pretty good case to go in the lottery, as a wing who can defend multiple positions and play a support role on offense. If Brown never shoots consistently or with confidence, there’s real risk taking him this high. But consider that Isaac Okoro was drafted fifth two years ago despite some similar concerns, and that Brown is probably the better prospect of the two.

9. Trail Blazers: Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite

Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 200 | Age: 18

Daniels continues to track as Ignite’s top prospect and projects as a rock-solid NBA player, with an intelligent, unselfish approach that lends itself to winning basketball. He has terrific size and has been quite good defensively, and may be able to defend four positions as his frame fills out. Daniels has also proven capable of running offense and distributing the ball in a designated point guard role, and offers some unique two-way value without needing a ton of touches. He may not be a full-time on-ball player in the NBA due to his struggles creating his own shot, and improving his jumper is paramount to sustainable success as a high-end rotation player. Still, NBA teams seem optimistic that his winning traits will add up in the long run, and his success in the G League is a good indicator. The stats won’t tell the full story with Daniels, but his positive impact is evident when you watch Ignite closely.

10. Hawks: Jalen Duren, C, Memphis

Height: 6' 11" | Weight: 250 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Duren really hasn’t played all that well this season, but will default into lottery looks from teams in need of a long-term center due to his pedigree, age, and physical tools. He’s a player who’s never quite gotten the most out of his ability, and he’s a bit smaller than his listed height, but should be good enough just from an athletic perspective to have a useful NBA career as a rebounder and rim-runner. It’s concerning that in spite of Duren’s considerable gifts, he’s never been consistently dominant, and it’s not just his motor at this point — he’s not the type of physical presence who can simply flip a switch and take over a game. His feel is lacking behind his peers. But to be fair, he could just as easily be a senior in high school right now. In lieu of more tantalizing options, a big-needy team will probably take the plunge in the back half of the lottery.

G League Ignite guard Jaden Hardy looks to shoot against Grand Rapids Gold forward Manny Camper during the second quarter.

11. Knicks: Jaden Hardy, SG, G League Ignite

Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 185 | Age: 19

It’s been an up-and-down season for Hardy, who was projected as a top five pick before the season but has struggled mightily to play efficient basketball in the G League. While still worthy of consideration in the lottery, his style of play has often been critiqued by scouts who would like to see him share the ball, exhibit more patience, and make better pass/shoot decisions. He’s been playing better lately, but teams are hoping to see a more pronounced adjustment to the professional game over the next couple months. Hardy is a much better shooter than his stats indicate, but there’s a bit of skepticism considering he would have been old for his class had he attended college, and that he’s not overly tall for a shooting guard. Hardy has some upside if he figures it out, but profiles somewhat narrowly as a microwave scorer, and not every team is going to find that attractive early in the draft.

12. Celtics: Patrick Baldwin Jr., F, UW-Milwaukee

Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 220 | Age: 19 | Freshman

Baldwin has been one of the most frustrating prospects for NBA teams to evaluate, as he’s mired in a poor team situation, has battled recurring injuries, and hasn’t played all that well when he’s been available. He has considerable pedigree, brings size and above-average ball skills, and projects as a good three-point shooter with positive feel. That should be enough to keep his stock afloat in the first round. But his physicality, toughness and defensive mettle have frequently come into question, and Baldwin hasn’t really done much to assuage those concerns. While Milwaukee’s remaining schedule is underwhelming, scouts are hoping to see more of Baldwin down the stretch, and if he can string some consistent play together, it will go a long way. But at this point, chances are his draft stock will ultimately hinge on his predraft process more than whatever happens the rest of the season.

13. Thunder (from Clippers): Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame

Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 185 | Age: 18 | Freshman

After Wesley entered college mostly off the radar, it’s become clear in short order that he was an undervalued recruit. He’s hit the ground running as Notre Dame’s go-to scorer, and has a first-round case based on his upside and relative effectiveness at this age. While he’s still learning to be efficient, and his jumper needs some work, Wesley offers an attractive developmental slate, with good physical tools and size for a combo guard. He can get downhill effectively, has shown above-average feel for moving the ball, and has a ton of room to expand his offensive game. While he’s not a natural lead guard, and there’s some risk built in given how far away he is developmentally, Wesley has some undeniable chops, and his stock seems to be trending up early in conference play as scouts continue to lay eyes on him in person.

14. Wizards: MarJon Beauchamp, G/F, G League Ignite

Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 200 | Age: 21

Beauchamp has mostly acquitted himself well in the G League, and while this may be a little bit high to draft him in a vacuum, he’s successfully changed the narrative around him and established himself as a first-round pick. He looks the part, with ideal length for his position, plus athletic tools and an improved defensive mentality. Beauchamp hasn’t shot the ball well from distance or gotten to the foul line much, but he’s become a pretty active off-ball player and figured out how to fit into his role. The strides he’s made with Ignite have been significant, and while he’s a bit older than his peers, Beauchamp’s productivity and overall trajectory help his case. The late lottery is within reach, particularly if he can better sell teams on his jumper.

15. Timberwolves: Jeremy Sochan, F/C, Baylor

Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 230 | Age: 18 | Freshman

As a valuable role player on arguably the country’s top team, Sochan has left a positive impression on scouts, and looks polished enough to feasibly make an NBA leap ahead of schedule. His defensive versatility and perimeter skill at his size have made him more than a curiosity at this point, and while he’s not a consistent scorer yet, teams continue to make note of his all-around contributions. Bigs in Sochan’s mold who can be useful cogs at the NBA level and have the skill to play inside and out are typically in high demand, and it also helps that he’s on the younger side for a freshman. The gap between him and teammate Kendall Brown isn’t as wide as it seems, and there are some who think Sochan may be the better long-term prospect. There’s work left to do, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Sochan entrench himself in this range of the draft by season’s end, thanks to his all-around impact.

16. Grizzlies (from Lakers): E.J. Liddell, PF, Ohio State

Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 240 | Age: 21 | Junior

Teams have begun to come around on Liddell, who’s made the most of his decision to return to college. He’s elevated his all-around game in nearly every way and looks like a bankable first-round pick, having worked himself into great shape to help maximize his athleticism. While a tad undersized for a power forward, Liddell bridges the gap on both ends of the floor with his strength, toughness and physicality. He’ll need to continue improving his catch-and-shoot game, but his jumper looks to be in a good place, and he should be able to effectively space the floor, move the ball, and make energy plays. Also an instinctual shot-blocker, Liddell should add some value defensively and spend time defending both forward spots. He has some similarities to P.J. Washington and more athletic ability than comparable players like Grant Williams and Eric Paschall. As long as Liddell makes enough jumpers, it’s easy to see him sticking long-term.

17. Hornets: Mark Williams, C, Duke

Height: 7' 0" | Weight: 240 | Age: 20 | Sophomore

As far as the traditional bigs in this draft go, Williams looks like an appealing development player, and should be in the mix beginning in this range of the draft for teams in search of a long-term center. While his actual production has been up and down, there have been strong enough flashes to think that Williams can turn a corner in his development. He’s got great size and hands, runs the floor well, and occupies a lot of space in the paint. He’s also an underrated passer. Williams blocks a ton of shots just by dint of being enormous — he’s good, but probably not a truly elite rim protector by NBA standards. It’s not likely he ever shoots threes, but Williams has enough going for him to be a worthwhile investment, and potentially a future starter if all goes well.

18. Nuggets: Ochai Agbaji, SG, Kansas

Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 215 | Age: 21 | Senior

Agbaji has the inside track to be the first senior drafted, thanks to a proper offensive breakout that’s placed him among the best three-point shooters in the country. He’s not dynamic or flashy in any way, but his newfound offensive confidence has played a big factor in his improved results. He fits the bill for a 3-and-D wing both physically and skill-wise, and has played his way into the first-round conversation thanks to his consistency. Agbaji should be a nice complementary piece who can help blend lineups, knock down shots, and offer defensive value with his strength, length, and athleticism. He should be appealing to playoff teams as a potential plug-and-play option in this range, and has proven enough to solidify first-round status.

19. Raptors: Christian Koloko, C, Arizona

Height: 7' 1" | Weight: 230 | Age: 21 | Junior

Koloko has been engineering a compelling case as the best rim protector in college basketball, racking up multiple blocks in all but one game to date. He’s previously measured with a 7' 6" wingspan and projects as a potentially high-level defensive role player, as he changes tons of shots and effectively erases space around the basket. Koloko still has a ways to go offensively, where he can still improve as a play-finisher and doesn’t have a ton of skill with the ball. But he should be able to succeed by keeping things simple, and his sheer size and defensive impact should have serious appeal in the first round. He’ll be in the mix for teams that need size, and his shot-blocking is a potentially elite NBA skill, which adds a layer of real upside.

Duke Blue Devils forward A.J. Griffin (21) shoots over Wake Forest Demon Deacons forward Dallas Walton.

20. Cavaliers: A.J. Griffin, F, Duke

Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 220 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Following his slow start to the season while returning from injury, it’s been nice to see Griffin string together positive showings and carve out a significant role as Duke’s sixth man. The jury remains out on what that actually means as far as the draft is concerned — NBA teams have mostly been in wait-and-see mode — but the closer he can get to his old self, the firmer his case as a first-rounder becomes. Griffin has been efficient and selective as a scorer, but hasn’t showcased much of a complementary skill set yet, which is a likely requirement for him to inch toward the lottery. He’s strong but not overly quick or shifty. Teams want to see him do more than simply score, and he can also be better defensively. Griffin is young for his class and warrants additional patience as he finds a rhythm but his stock remains one of the trickiest to gauge at this point in the season.

21. Mavericks: Nikola Jovic, F, Mega Basket (Serbia)

Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 210 | Age: 18

Jovic is tracking as the top name in a relatively weak group of international prospects, offering a rare combination of size and perimeter skills that have made him an effective offensive option at a very young age. He’s comfortable handling the ball and making plays for teammates, and has been productive. The primary concern is that Jovic is not especially athletic, which manifests negatively on the defensive end — he doesn’t move his feet well on the perimeter, and lacks a degree of effort and discipline at times. He may always be a liability in that respect, which raises the bar for how good he needs to be on offense. He’s unique enough that he belongs in the first round, and his frame, young age and basketball IQ are strong selling points. It’s just going to take some work for him to be able to stay on the floor defensively.

22. 76ers: Trevor Keels, G, Duke

Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 220 | Age: 18 | Freshman

Keels has been a higher-impact player for Duke than his stats suggest, logging a ton of minutes and providing solid perimeter defense while growing into a slightly outsized creative role. His individual scoring has yet to really come around, particularly his jumper, and while Keels was primarily billed as a bucket-getter in high school, NBA teams will still need to see more of those things for him to build a better case. To his credit, he’s taken good care of the ball and flashed more playmaking prowess than expected, particularly in ball screens. He’s more skilled than your typical big-bodied guard. There’s stuff to like here, but it’ll be an easier sell in the draft if Keels can be more efficient in the second half of the season.

23. Bucks: Jean Montero, PG, Overtime Elite

Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 180 | Age: 18

It’s tough to get a proper handle on Montero’s draft stock at this point in the season, noting that most of the NBA hasn’t had a long look at Overtime Elite in game situations yet, and that top decision-makers may not get a great feel for him until predraft workouts begin. But more opportunities are coming for teams to see him, and he’s been highly productive this season, albeit as the most experienced player in OTE’s team setup. Right now, the majority of scouts are still figuring out what to make of him in the draft hierarchy, but Montero does have legitimate feel and scoring chops. He’s close to maxed physically and doesn’t have great positional size, and likely profiles better as a second-unit ballhandler than as a starting-level point guard. His draft range still feels fairly wide, likely beginning in the teens.

24. Rockets (from Heat): TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky

Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 200 | Age: 19 | Freshman

Washington has put together a steady but largely unspectacular start to his freshman season, good enough to sustain first-round interest but leaving room for some dissent among scouts as to where exactly he should be drafted. He’s a capable lead guard who should be able to manipulate screens and knock down open shots, with a knack for making the right play. But his average athletic tools limit him a bit, as Washington settles for too many jumpers, hasn’t gotten to the rim or foul line much, and is a below-average on-ball defender. He projects better as a playmaker off the bench than as a starting-caliber point guard in the NBA, but has an attractive enough chance of getting there that he’s a viable option in the first round. Many scouts I’ve spoken with view him as a better option in the 20s than in the lottery, and he’s not for everyone, but his play has been trending up lately.

25. Heat (from Nets): J.D. Davison, G, Alabama

Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 195 | Age: 19 | Freshman

It’s been a bit difficult to get a handle on Davison, who brings elite run-jump athleticism in the backcourt, but doesn’t have ideal size for a combo guard and has struggled to consistently or efficiently generate offense. He’s a terrific passer, but his inability to make shots off the dribble allows defenses to sag off of him, and limits his capacity to utilize arguably his best skill. Davison doesn’t add a ton of value off the ball, which places a lot of weight on his development as a lead ballhandler and defender. His quality of play trended down in December, and despite some early lottery buzz, where he actually lands on draft night may depend on how much he can show in conference play. The returns have been somewhat mixed.

26. Grizzlies: Wendell Moore, F, Duke

Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 215 | Age: 20 | Junior

As the leader of a prospect-laden Duke team, Moore continues to rejuvenate his draft stock, and projects as a reliable, versatile role player moving forward. Scouts have lingering concerns about his three-point shooting and lack of explosiveness in the paint, but Moore’s game is otherwise well-rounded: he’ll guard pretty much whoever he has to guard, can make plays for teammates with the ball in his hands, and can be relied upon to compete and produce nightly. Some teams think he projects best as a small-ball power forward in the long run, where his skill level, length and athletic ability should play up. Moore is unlikely to be a go-to scoring option, but does enough of everything else to stick in the NBA for a while. His intangibles enhance his case in the first round.

27. Grizzlies (from Jazz): Ousmane Dieng, G/F, New Zealand Breakers (France)

Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 185 | Age: 18

Given the way his season is trending, it feels unlikely Dieng will enter the draft with much of a statistical résumé to boost his case. But his combination of size, athleticism and offensive upside should at least keep him in the first round conversation. He’s tall, pretty agile, and has guard-like skills, with a chance to be a versatile perimeter player who contributes on both ends. It’s easy to understand the eye-test appeal with him, but he just doesn’t have much of a production history. It’s not a dealbreaker, but Dieng will likely need additional seasoning in the G League or elsewhere before contributing positively to an NBA team. Selecting him is a big swing in hopes that he’ll be ready in two or three years. If he’s willing to remain overseas and develop, Dieng should be more appealing in this range of the draft.

28. Bulls: Jaime Jaquez, F, UCLA

Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 225 | Age: 20 | Junior

While Jaquez hasn’t fully broken out the way some hoped, he still has quite a few fans around the league, and has attractive role-player traits that should keep him in the discussion in the late first round. He’s tough, productive, known as a hard worker, and has enough size to spend time at both forward spots. Jaquez still needs to prove he can be a more consistent jump shooter, but he’s had encouraging flashes on that front. He’s the type of player who is easy to envision finding a way to fit in, considering his versatility on both ends of the court and his strong intangibles. A big second half would enhance his first-round candidacy, but his body of work likely won’t be the issue. There’s some debate about Jaquez’s upside, but he feels like a fairly safe pick in this range.

29. Thunder (from Suns): Peyton Watson, F, UCLA

Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 200 | Age: 19 | Freshman

Watson has hardly had any opportunity to make an impact at UCLA, with Mick Cronin essentially mothballing him on a team that features seven upperclassmen. It’s become a difficult situation for NBA teams to get a handle on, and Watson is one of several underperforming but talented freshmen who have struggled, leaving his first-round candidacy in flux. He’s a gifted scorer and athlete but has lagged behind a bit defensively, which has made it much harder to earn minutes. At this point, there’s simply not much on tape to draw conclusions from. The hope remains that Watson might gain more of a foothold in the rotation in the second half of the season, and teams will be eager to learn more about him in the predraft process, regardless. For now, he projects as a long-term development swing in this part of the draft.

30. Warriors: Malaki Branham, G/F, Ohio State

Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 180 | Age: 18 | Freshman

This is admittedly a bit of a speculative placement, but Branham has started to build a bit of buzz after some quality January showings and has emerged as the Buckeyes’ second scoring option. He flew under the radar early in the season and posted modest numbers, but what he’s doing right now feels legitimate: he’s a confident and dangerous three-point shooter with a strong first step going downhill, and good instincts getting into the paint despite lacking a shifty handle. Branham has also been quite good defensively, with agile feet and plus length that offer some matchup versatility. His 35-point outburst against Nebraska stands as one of the more impressive games by any freshman this season. The NBA at large is still coming around on him, but if this trend continues, he might force the issue.


31. Magic: Caleb Houstan, F, Michigan | Freshman

32. Spurs (from Pistons): Max Christie, SG, Michigan State | Freshman

33. Cavaliers (from Rockets): Bryce McGowens, G, Nebraska | Freshman

34. Thunder: Yannick Nzosa, C, Malaga

35. Hornets (from Pelicans): Keon Ellis, G/F, Alabama | Senior

36. Magic (from Pacers): Tari Eason, PF, LSU | Sophomore

37. Kings: Pete Nance, F/C, Northwestern | Senior

38. Trail Blazers: Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee | Freshman

39. Cavaliers (from Spurs): Julian Strawther, G/F, Gonzaga | Sophomore

40. Hawks: Harrison Ingram, F, Stanford | Freshman

41. Celtics: Jabari Walker, PF, Colorado | Sophomore

42. Knicks: Walker Kessler, C, Auburn

43. Clippers: Allen Flanigan, SG, Auburn | Junior

44. Timberwolves: Dereon Seabron, G/F, NC State | Sophomore

45. Timberwolves (from Wizards): Hugo Besson, G, New Zealand Breakers

46. Spurs (from Lakers): Khalifa Diop, C, Gran Canaria

47. Hornets: Trevion Williams, C, Purdue | Senior

48. Timberwolves (from Nuggets): Julian Champagnie, F, St. John’s | Junior

49. Warriors (from Raptors): Michael Foster, PF, G League Ignite

50. Mavericks: Gabe Brown, F, Michigan Stat | Senior

51. Pelicans (from Cavs): Tristan Vukcevic, C, Real Madrid

52. Pacers (from Heat): Andrew Nembhard, PG, Gonzaga | Junior

53. Nuggets (from Nets): Ismael Kamagate, C, Paris Basket

54. Jazz (from Grizzlies): Alondes Williams, G, Wake Forest | Senior

55. Pelicans (from Jazz): Tyler Burton, F, Richmond | Junior

56. Kings (from Bulls): Ron Harper Jr., F, Rutgers | Senior

57. Warriors: Terrence Shannon Jr., G/F, Texas Tech | Junior

58. Suns: Johnny Juzang, SG, UCLA | Junior

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