It’s been more than two months since the last update to these rankings, for which this author apologizes. The good news: the 2022 draft makes a lot more sense now than it did in December, and while there’s still quite a lot left to happen between now and June, things have begun to shape up in significant fashion as teams continue their preparations and decision-makers start to form stronger opinions.
This draft class is led by a very legitimate No. 1 prospect in Jabari Smith Jr., whose impeccable jump shot, defensive versatility and strong intangibles give him an outstanding base to build on as a prospect. There’s a general consensus around the league that Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jaden Ivey also seem likely to hear their names called in the top four. While the order of the top four varies depending on who you talk to, and there’s always going to be debate, I remain comfortable calling Smith the favorite based on all I’ve gathered from sources around the NBA.
There’s some thought circulating that this is going to be a bad draft, and I’m not sure I agree with that—the better way to frame it is that it feels like an unusually confusing class to parse. That’s mostly due to the number of relatively unproven but undeniably intriguing teenage freshmen with legitimate cases as first rounders, many of whom are still a year or two from contributing in the NBA. It could all look a lot different in a couple months depending on who stays in school and who turns pro, and the fact that there have been so many terrific sophomore breakout stories this year in college basketball (Ivey, Johnny Davis and Keegan Murray, to name a few) could add some proof of concept that there’s developmental value in returning.
The sense I’ve gotten is that once you get past the first nine or 10 names on the board, opinions noticeably start to differ, and strongly. COVID-19’s impact on the schedule over the past two years diminished opportunities for NBA teams to see many of these younger prospects firsthand, so patience has been a prerequisite in many cases given their smaller bodies of work. It’s not that there’s an absence of talent, but more that there’s an above-average level of market uncertainty, which historically leads to good players slipping in the draft, and strong organizations winding up the benefactors.
As always, the Big Board is built on my personal evaluations of players, in conjunction with intel and opinions gathered from a wide range of sources around the NBA and the basketball industry at large. This is not a mock draft and does not account for team fit.
1. Jabari Smith Jr., F, Auburn | Freshman
Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 220 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 1
The case for Smith at No. 1 isn’t all that complicated: he’ll be arguably the best pure freshman jump shooter to enter the draft in years; he’s an excellent, switchable defender; his intangibles are strong; and he’s the youngest prospect in what’s become a consensus top four around the NBA. Smith’s jumper is an incredible base on which to stack other offensive skills. As he expands his array of moves, cleans up his footwork and tightens his handle, his potential is through the roof. He shouldn’t need to waste many dribbles to score efficiently, and can be immediately employed as a pick-and-pop scorer and dangerous floor spacer next season, at minimum. While Smith hasn’t gotten to the rim a ton, part of that has to do with Auburn’s style of play; as he adds strength and physically matures, that should change. He has strong instincts and few bad habits, and as he continues to add to his scoring repertoire, Smith could be a near-impossible cover by the time he hits his prime years. Historically speaking, he’d be a legit No. 1 pick candidate in most drafts.
2. Paolo Banchero, F, Duke | Freshman
Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 250 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 2
Banchero has struggled a bit in conference play, but his mix of skill, size and versatility are strong calling cards, and he feels like a pretty safe bet to be a very good player. He’s had bouts of inefficiency, but as long as his jumper continues to improve over time, Banchero should be a dangerous offensive option and potential go-to guy who can make plays for others off the threat of his scoring. The holdup here is his lack of vertical lift in tight spaces, which hampers him both scoring around the rim and protecting it on the other end. Banchero isn’t super-versatile on defense and will primarily have to guard bigger forwards, and there’s some concern that his eventual value will be capped by whatever he gives up on that end. Still, his presence should open up things offensively for his teammates, and his ability to create mismatches with his strength and deceptive change of pace may translate right away. He’s got All-Star potential if things break right.
3. Chet Holmgren, F, Gonzaga | Freshman
Height: 7' 0" | Weight: 195 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 3
Holmgren is the most unique prospect in this draft class, as a talented shot-blocker with guard-like skills wrapped up in a 7-foot package. There aren’t many bigs who can protect the basket, handle the ball, make plays in a pinch and space the floor, and Holmgren does all of those things at a high level for a big. His floor is pretty high, and his statistical case is undeniably strong, but he also plays in the West Coast Conference and wasn’t great in the few tough non-conference games Gonzaga played. Because of that and his uniquely thin build, there are salient concerns around the NBA as to exactly what degree everything will translate—other than lobs and simple finishes, his buckets often require a lot of physical effort, which places a heavy premium on him becoming a high-level jump shooter. But his real value should come on the defensive end, and his legitimate upside as a rim protector coupled with his variety of potential plus offensive skills has solidified him as a consensus top prospect.
4. Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue | Sophomore
Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 200 | Age: 20 | Last rank: 4
In all likelihood, Ivey will be the first guard drafted in June, with the main question now being whether he’ll crash the top three. There’s star potential here: he’s extremely fast and strong, he puts a lot of pressure on defenses in transition, and the NBA’s style of play will open things up for him in a big way, particularly relative to Purdue’s scheme. His three-point shooting has come back to earth a bit, but he’s made definite strides in that area. He has the tools to be much better defensively than he is. A torrid stretch in late January/early February made plain his ability to take over games. Ivey still has to polish his passing, handling and decision-making and develop a better left hand, but it’s clear most teams will want to play him on the ball to try and maximize his ability—which also builds in risk. He’s been inconsistent, and there are lingering concerns about his spurts of selfish play and occasionally poor body language. Ivey’s upside is hard to deny, though, and he may rise from here as the draft draws closer.
5. Johnny Davis, SG, Wisconsin | Sophomore
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 195 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 5
There’s quite a bit to like about Davis, who has emerged as a National Player of the Year frontrunner and likely early selection due to his well-rounded skills, impeccable midrange game and strong competitive makeup. He’s an excellent rebounder for his position and a smart defender who has consistently found ways to make winning plays, even on bad shooting nights. Davis takes a lot of tough shots, but isn’t selfish, and while he’ll need to be more efficient to elevate his game in the NBA, he’s the type of prospect you bet on to keep improving. He’ll need to become a more consistent three-point shooter to hit his ceiling, but Davis has earned himself quite a bit of credibility around the league, and will be in the mix early on draft night.
6. Keegan Murray, F, Iowa | Sophomore
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 215 | Age: 21 | Last rank: 7
Murray has been among the top players in college basketball all season and isn’t getting quite enough credit for how he’s produced nightly in the Big Ten. NBA teams are discussing him like a top-five caliber prospect, and despite being an older prospect, he figures to come off the board in this range. Murray’s feel for finding pockets to score on offense and playing off of teammates, coupled with a long frame and defensive versatility, make him a safe bet to be a starting-caliber forward. He looks like a readymade NBA contributor considering his athletic tools and basketball IQ, and if he can turn himself into a legitimately good shooter, Murray could be incredibly valuable. Forwards with his type of size, feel and skill are always in demand.
7. Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky | Freshman
Height: 6' 6” | Weight: 200 | Age: 18 | Last rank: NR
Since it came to light that Sharpe will likely be eligible for this year’s draft, NBA teams have been operating under the broad assumption he’ll turn pro, despite the fact Kentucky’s camp has said otherwise. Should he declare, he’s likely to land somewhere in the Top 10 despite never playing a minute in college. Sharpe is a terrific athlete and promising jump shooter who began fully tapping into his ability last summer, when scouts caught a glimpse of him at Nike Peach Jam. But for the most part, NBA decision-makers have had minimal exposure to him up close. Presuming he declares, Sharpe’s performance in individual workouts will dictate where he lands and how high he can rise. Much of what happens here will take place behind closed doors. He has maturing to do, but his athletic tools and size as a score-first combo guard are highly enticing, and it’s not out of the question he could land near the very top of the draft when it’s all said and done.
8. Dyson Daniels, G/F, G League Ignite
Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 200 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 8
Daniels should enter the NBA well-prepared to play a role immediately. While not flashy or a big-time scorer, he already specializes in a valuable combination of things that impact winning. He’s a quality passer, rebounder and team defender who should benefit from moving into a secondary playmaking role in the NBA. He has the size and smarts to defend a range of positions, which should keep him on the floor, and his offensive value will stem from his understanding of how to move the ball, pick his spots and make teammates better as a connective piece. Daniels has to keep working on his jumper, but it’s not broken, and simply hitting open threes consistently will open up a lot for him. There are a lot of pathways for him to be successful in the long run, and his versatility should make him useful just about anywhere.
9. Bennedict Mathurin, SG, Arizona | Sophomore
Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 210 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 11
After making a certifiable early leap and backing it up in conference play, Mathurin put himself in the lottery conversation. His combination of run-jump athleticism and shooting ability give him a fairly sound pathway to value, although there’s debate as to whether or not his ceiling is much higher than a solid starter. He’s improved as a playmaker, but improvising doesn’t come naturally to him, and he’s a good but not truly elite perimeter scorer who can be streaky from distance. Mathurin leaves something to be desired at times defensively, as well. Still, between his rebounding, transition play and potential to improve guarding on the wing, there’s enough of a secondary skill set here to buy in early. Arizona’s uptempo style has been a terrific showcase for all he can do.
10. A.J. Griffin, F, Duke | Freshman
Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 220 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 32
Now healthy for the first time in a while, Griffin has turned a corner over the past six weeks, earning a huge role and starting to produce at a high level for Duke, which has benefitted from his torrid shooting. He is one of the youngest players in the draft and came in with a strong reputation in high school—and that naturally holds appeal in the first round. However, many NBA teams are still figuring out what to make of him, as his surface-level strengths as a shooter don’t totally cover for the fact that he doesn’t always add much value in other areas. While he’s played his way back into lottery conversations, scouts will keep nitpicking the quality of Griffin’s complementary skills in an attempt to suss out what his role will be beyond shooting. Still, it’s hard to view the fact he’s finally stringing positive games together in a negative light.
11. Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor | Freshman
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 220 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 31
While he has missed time with injury and isn’t a big-time scorer, Sochan feels like one of the safer bets in this freshman class to become a valuable contributor. He projects as the rare energy big who also creates lineup versatility on both ends of the floor, capable of playing on the perimeter and guarding multiple positions while rebounding and finishing plays at a quality rate. He’s a fundamentally sound player with above-average mobility for his size, and he doesn’t turn 19 until May. Sochan may move into an even bigger role down the stretch at Baylor following an injury to Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and is worthy of consideration this high in the draft considering his intriguing ceiling and bankable floor. If he’s able to expand his offensive game and improve his shooting, he could be extremely valuable.
12. Kendall Brown, F, Baylor | Freshman
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 205 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 6
Brown is one of the better athletes in the draft as well as one of the more polished freshmen, with his jump shot the main question mark. It’s a crucial one. He’s been highly useful in spite of that, as a big, rangy team defender and smart cutter and finisher who understands his role quite well. While not a scorer by trade, he has been remarkably efficient, shares the ball and plays a measured style that should serve him well in the pros. Brown’s shot isn’t broken by any means, but he does have a ways to go in developing confidence and consistency, which leaves some risk here. He’s also not a great ballhandler, which contributes to his creative shortcomings. But as long as he’s an average shooter, he should be a positive rotation player and potentially a long-term complementary starter given how many different things he does well.
13. E.J. Liddell, F, Ohio State | Junior
Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 240 | Age: 21 | Last rank: 35
Steady progression into one of the most reliable players in the country has solidified Liddell as a first-round caliber prospect. Despite being undersized for a power forward, his diversity of on-court strengths should give him a pretty navigable pathway to success. He’s become a consistent shooter with his feet set, he’s expanded his game as a passer, and he can face up slower bigs and weaker wings off the dribble, in addition to his play on the glass. If Liddell can help defensively on bigger wings and smaller bigs while fitting in on offense, there's a pathway to success in the mold of smaller fours like P.J. Washington or Grant Williams. Liddell is more mobile than both of those guys, and while his upside isn’t immense, he should be able to stick as a plus contributor in the NBA for some time.
14. Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame | Freshman
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 185 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 22
After hitting a rough patch in late January, Wesley seems to be back on track to some extent and has become one of the more interesting stay-or-go cases in college basketball. He’s far from a finished product, and if he turns pro this year, he’ll benefit from G League time as a rookie, but his physical tools, combo-guard skills and ability to attack the rim are pretty appealing from a developmental perspective. He needs to develop catch-and-shoot skills and become a more consistent defender. If he returns to Notre Dame, he could solidify lottery status with a strong sophomore season. Wesley entered college without much of a national profile, but he’s shown impressive enough flashes to warrant strong consideration in this year’s draft. There aren’t many college players with his type of explosiveness and quick-twitch movement skills, and while he may not be quite ready to make the leap, it’s a situation that continues to bear close monitoring.
15. Jalen Duren, C, Memphis | Freshman
Height: 6' 11" | Weight: 250 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 14
Duren has some of the best physical tools in the draft, with a chiseled frame, long arms and a strong base that should make him a quality rebounder and play-finisher. He’s shown passing potential that has added a degree of perceived upside, but Duren is going to have to be dangerous enough on offense to warrant playing through in order to maximize that. Although he’s quite young, which gives him time, the NBA at large remains a tad skeptical, as his feel isn’t particularly strong, his motor remains inconsistent, and he doesn’t figure to shoot jumpers anytime soon. Duren can be too reliant on bullying defenders in lieu of skill, something he’s been able to do his entire career, and given how the center position is changing, he’s not modern in the truest sense. He should be able to stick in the league with gradual improvement and is still a first-round talent, but not one that every team will be excited about.
16. Ochai Agbaji, SG, Kansas | Senior
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 215 | Age: 21 | Last rank: 34
Agbaji’s three-point shooting has come back to earth a bit in February, but his body of work has been pretty convincing. He’s all but solidified a spot in the first round. He’s taken a huge leap in terms of confidence and emerged as a consistent scorer, with the physical tools to hold his own in a complementary role in the NBA. While not a flashy player or especially tall for a wing, Agbaji should be able to knock down shots, defend reliably and fit in alongside better talent. He won’t create many shots for himself or for teammates, and the upside isn’t massive, but teams feel comfortable with what he brings to the table. He should be able to play minutes early in his career if he stays on this trajectory.
17. Walker Kessler, C, Auburn | Sophomore
Height: 7' 1" | Weight: 245 | Age: 20 | Last rank: NR
Kessler was left off this board in December after a slow start to the season, but has been the best defensive big in college basketball since the start of conference play, putting up ridiculous block numbers as the backbone of one of the best teams in the country. He is a good athlete for his size, has been extremely efficient around the basket and has also flashed some potential to eventually shoot the three with consistency. While his blocks will come back to earth in the NBA to some extent, Kessler should be well-suited to play in drop coverage and has the requisite mobility to be a defensive asset going up a level. There’s frequent debate around the NBA right now between which of Kessler and Mark Williams is the better prospect.
18. Patrick Baldwin Jr., F, UW-Milwaukee | Freshman
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 220 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 9
Baldwin has appeared in just 11 games this season, with various injuries making it difficult for NBA scouts to come see him. When he’s been available, he hasn’t played particularly well, which is due in part to the lack of quality team infrastructure around him, but he’s also not blameless. Those struggles can’t be totally ignored just because he was a touted high school prospect. Baldwin has great size, good ball skills and a sweet shooting stroke, and as long as he gets back on track, it’s still pretty simple to envision him finding an NBA role in the long run (think Cam Johnson). The unusual circumstances have made this a more difficult eval than it needs to be, but even if he’s just an above average role player in the end, Baldwin is still a worthy first-round talent. Much would seem to hinge on his predraft process, which should give him a better platform to win teams over come spring.
19. Wendell Moore, F, Duke | Junior
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 215 | Age: 20 | Last rank: 17
Though Moore’s scoring has cooled off a touch in conference play, his role in the NBA hinges more on his ability to do a bit of everything else. He’s taken a leap forward in confidence and assertiveness this season and has several useful strengths: he’s a capable passer who can handle the ball and start plays, he should at least be an average jump shooter, and he offers playable length and smarts on the defensive end. While he’s not especially tall for a wing, Moore’s traits in concert offer nice versatility in different types of lineups. His floor as a useful, team-first contributor remains fairly appealing, and his rebirth as an NBA prospect has been a nice story. As a versatile wing, he feels like a safe choice in a first round full of relatively unproven options.
20. Mark Williams, C, Duke | Sophomore
Height: 7' 0" | Weight: 240 | Age: 20 | Last rank: 18
There’s debate every year about when it’s actually a smart idea to draft a developmental center, as opposed to simply signing a veteran, but Williams is a headliner in what’s become a pretty good crop of reliable college bigs and has solidified a place somewhere in the first round. He’s become one of the better rim protectors in college basketball, and has shown the ability to change games with his size and wingspan while flashing explosiveness around the basket and good movement skills for his size. While he isn’t supremely skilled and doesn’t shoot very well, he’s shown some flashes as a passer and was a late-blooming prospect in high school, so there may be another level to his all-around game moving forward. Williams’s physical tools make him a nice project, but you have to have the time and space to let him evolve.
21. Josh Minott, PF, Memphis | Freshman
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 205 | Age: 19 | Last rank: NR
While perhaps not popular opinion yet, some around the NBA view Minott as Memphis’s best long-term prospect, with his versatility and budding perimeter skills creating an intriguing ceiling. His playing time has been a bit sporadic, but he has had a handful of strong performances since the turn of the new year and, presuming he decides to test the waters, will likely draw first round interest. Minott has quite a bit to offer defensively, with the length and mobility to switch screens, protect the basket and rebound. He’s a sneaky-good passer who should be able to function on the perimeter as his skills develop. He’s not a good jump shooter yet, but he’s a fairly good free throw shooter who may eventually develop range. If it all clicks, he could be a starting-caliber player, and it won’t be surprising if there are teams who try and keep him in this year’s draft.
22. TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky | Freshman
Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 200 | Age: 20 | Last rank: 26
Washington has been an important piece for Kentucky, as a steady hand who can move the ball, knock down shots and limit mistakes. He’s shown some intriguing craftiness and poise, and proven to be a capable shooter, if sometimes over-reliant on his jumper. While Washington has received a decent amount of hype, many NBA scouts seem to have more realistic expectations for him as a player to target beginning in the teens, rather than in the lottery. Washington turns 21 this year, making him closer in age to a sophomore than a freshman, and considering he’s not an exceptional athlete or remarkably efficient, he would appear to profile better as a third guard than as a starter. He doesn’t get to the line or to the rim often enough to inspire a ton of confidence in his scoring upside. But his knack for making the right play gives him a chance to succeed as a ball screen-heavy combo guard in the right situation.
23. Trevor Keels, G, Duke | Freshman
Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 220 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 10
Scouts have mixed opinions on Keels, who remains somewhere on the fringe of the first round conversation at the moment, having missed some time with injury while struggling to find consistency. He was billed as a quality shooter, and while his skill level and size have appeal as a combo guard, he hasn’t been stellar from beyond the arc. The emergence of A.J. Griffin as an additional scoring threat should theoretically make Keels’s life easier. He has a huge frame for a combo guard, but may need to slim down a bit more to maximize his ability in the long run, as well as improve his handle. Keels is a better shooter than he’s shown, and he’s one of the younger prospects in the draft, so there’s still first-round appeal here. A strong close to the season would help.
24. Tari Eason, PF, LSU | Sophomore
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 215 | Age: 20 | Last rank: NR
While Eason is somewhat divisive among scouts due to his offensive limitations, it’s hard to deny how productive he’s been all season, going from lesser-known transfer to one of the top players in the SEC. Eason has a lot to offer as an athletic team defender who frequently makes plays happen on that end and should be able to guard either forward spot. LSU’s aggressive scheme has highlighted those strengths. There are real questions about his jumper, and he’s otherwise reliant on converting random offense. The eye test doesn’t always match his stats, but at some point his numbers are hard to ignore. Eason has built a fairly convincing first-round case.
25. Marjon Beauchamp, G/F, G League Ignite
Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 200 | Age: 21 | Last rank: 20
Beauchamp has used the Ignite platform to his advantage, entering the season as a relative enigma and having now established himself as a potential first-round pick. He is the same age as many college upperclassmen, which is a crucial part of the eval, but has looked the part as a big wing who might eventually add value on both ends. Beauchamp doesn’t really create much offense for himself, but he’s a capable play finisher and above-the-rim athlete who has some feel for playing off of others and finding his spots. He’s a comfortable mid-range shooter, and the hope is that eventually leads to consistency from three. While not much of an on-ball defender, and at times a step slow on that end, his long frame plays up well in the passing lanes and should hopefully make him a positive in time. But his age and concerns about his feel make it hard to rank him too aggressively.
26. Malaki Branham, SG, Ohio State | Freshman
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 180 | Age: 18 | Last rank: NR
Although there’s a case for him to return and make an even stronger case in the 2023 draft, Branham has been one of the better under-the-radar freshmen in the country this season and deserves mention, particularly with his recent play as a go-to scorer for Ohio State. He is still learning the nuances of the game and has average height for a wing, but he’s long, he defends, and he has polished shot-making skills. He could be one of the better players in the country as a sophomore, presuming he stays. Branham has had a handful of truly impressive games this season, and if he tests the waters, there should be legit interest in his long-term upside. He’s still got a long way to go, but a big March could make this an interesting situation to watch.
27. Max Christie, SG, Michigan State | Freshman
Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 190 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 29
Although Christie’s freshman year has been challenging and his play has trended down a bit in February, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic in the long run, and he remains in the first-round picture. He’s played a lot of minutes for Michigan State and clearly earned some trust from Tom Izzo, but he hasn’t been heavily featured in the offense. Christie has an excellent frame and a projectable jumper, and while he’s a long ways off, there have been signs of progress with reason to think he might close the season strong. His intangibles are strong, and as a skilled, versatile wing, Christie is the type of player a team should feel comfortable investing in and taking a swing on, particularly in a draft class that leans heavy on developmental prospects. If he returns to school, he’d be a breakout candidate.
28. Jaden Hardy, SG, G League Ignite
Height: 6' 4" | Weight: 200 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 12
It’s been tough sledding for Hardy in the G League: he has struggled to score efficiently, hasn’t significantly improved his shot selection, and doesn’t seem to have turned a corner in any crucial development areas at this point in the season. He’s still a talented offensive player who may have a future as a microwave bench scorer, but this season has been a bit of a reality check, and his stock has taken a hit accordingly. Hardy projects as a capable shooter who should be able to play in ball screens and space the floor eventually, but the rest of his skill set leaves something to be desired, and he’s not gifted with high-end physical tools. There’s a steep learning curve for most shoot-first players, to be fair, but Hardy’s struggles to add value in other areas have made him a tougher sell. It still feels likely he lands in the first round, but there’s risk here.
29. Jaime Jaquez, F, UCLA | Junior
Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 225 | Age: 21 | Last rank: 21
The full offensive breakout some scouts hoped to see from Jaquez hasn’t happened, but he still has a lot to offer as a potential role player without any huge holes in his game. Many around the NBA like him quite a bit as a potential glue guy: he is tough, strong and smart, has legitimate offensive skill, and tends to contribute positively even when his shot isn’t falling. He isn’t an elite athlete and doesn’t have one calling-card skill, but he can handle, pass, shoot and feasibly play either forward spot. There are still some questions about Jaquez’s jumper, but he draws a lot of attention at UCLA, and opportunities will come more easily when he can play off better talent. While not a franchise-changing prospect, Jaquez has a chance at a long career given his range strengths and oft-noted work ethic, as well as the demand for reliable wings.
30. Alondes Williams, G, Wake Forest | Senior
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 210 | Age: 23 | Last rank: NR
Williams has become one of the better stories in this draft after transferring from Oklahoma, where it appears he was under-utilized the past two seasons. Now working as a full-time lead guard, Williams has emerged as maybe the best pure passer in the draft, leading a surprising resurgence at Wake Forest with his playmaking skills and efficient scoring. He doesn’t have a great frame or outstanding tools, but his feel for the game is substantial, and his turnover issues are more a byproduct of his huge role than any lack of basketball IQ. Williams is unorthodox and not the easiest sell for every team—he’s also 23—but he may have what it takes to contribute off an NBA bench on arrival. Optimistically, he’s a valuable rotation player who enhances the talent around him.
31. Bryce McGowens, G/F, Nebraska | Freshman
Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 180 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 36
It would be unfair to dock McGowens too much for how badly Nebraska has struggled this season, but he hasn’t always been a plus contributor, either, and he’s likely somewhere on the fringe of the first round as things stand. His ability to score at his size remains appealing, yet his shot selection leaves something to be desired at times. McGowens remains an interesting project for teams as a potential wing creator with size, but will need to become a more consistent shooter from range to hit a high-end outcome. He’s not extremely strong or explosive, but players with his type of frame and ball skills tend to get multiple opportunities to stick. It may take some time before he adds real value without the ball in his hands, and whoever drafts him will need to have patience, but a better situation could help matters a lot.
32. Nikola Jovic, F, Mega Basket (Serbia)
Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 210 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 19
Jovic is in the midst of a productive year in Serbia and has plenty to offer teams as a huge forward with guard-like perimeter skills. He is an awesome passer and looked like an improved shooter in the early part of the season, but his numbers have come back to earth a bit. The efficiency struggles are concerning. Jovic is not especially athletic, but has a knack for creating shots, and there’s a lot to like about his offensive feel. The biggest issue for him will likely come on the defensive end, where he is unlikely to make a serious impact and isn’t well-suited to guard bigs or wings in the NBA. Still just 18 years old, Jovic may have the best chance at the first round among an underwhelming class of international prospects.
33. Keon Ellis, G/F, Alabama | Senior
Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 175 | Age: 22 | Last rank: 23
Ellis’s scoring has been up and down this season, but he’s remained mostly efficient while cast into an oversized role on an Alabama team whose lead guards have often struggled to deliver the ball where it needs to go. He still offers real role player potential, providing positive defensive coverage, three-point shooting and ball movement on most nights. Ellis isn’t huge for a wing by NBA standards, but uses wiry strength to compensate, plays physically and uses his length and quickness to great effect. He doesn’t get to the rim enough, and he’s an older prospect, so the upside isn’t massive—but his reliable effort level and all-around impact are good indicators that he could thrive in a better situation.
34. Christian Koloko, C, Arizona | Junior
Height: 7' 1" | Weight: 230 | Age: 21 | Last rank: 28
Koloko remains in the late first-round conversation as a high-quality rim protector anchoring a very good Arizona team. He’s fallen behind Mark Williams and Walker Kessler in the center hierarchy—he’s older than both and not as advanced offensively—but does offer some upside with the way he changes shots and covers ground around the basket. Koloko’s defensive impact is palpable and his immense physical progression over the past several years has been impressive, although there are still times he needs to play through contact better. His upside is almost entirely tied to his defense, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing—he’s shown enough to project somewhat comfortably as a viable backup and worthwhile pick in the middle of the draft.
35. Jean Montero, G, Overtime Elite
Height: 6' 2" | Weight: 180 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 24
Montero remains one of the more interesting prospects in a relatively thin point guard crop, but seems to be floating around the edge of the first-round conversation at the moment. He’s an excellent passer with good scoring instincts and a creative style of play, but he projects as more of a backup in the NBA given his smaller frame and struggles putting pressure on the rim. Montero can be a bit too shoot-first at times, and there are some questions as to how he’ll score consistently due to a streaky jump shot. Where his stock stands come draft night seems likely to hinge more on his performance in predraft workouts and other settings, where he’ll have a chance to prove himself directly against draftable peers.
36. David Roddy, F, Colorado State | Junior
Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 255 | Age: 20 | Last rank: NR
Roddy has emerged as one of college basketball’s most unique stars, and legitimized himself as an NBA prospect in the process. Coupling guard skills, shot-making chops and passing vision, Roddy’s hefty frame belies the fact he’s actually quite athletic. He’s emerged as a dangerous three-point shooter and a serious matchup problem. The main question is how he’ll make a living defensively, as he’s not especially tall or long for a four, and may not be quick enough to guard wings. But Roddy is dangerous from all over the floor on offense, and a highly intelligent and crafty player who NBA teams are taking seriously.
37. J.D. Davison, PG, Alabama | Freshman
Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 195 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 13
Davison has been one of the most polarizing freshman prospects, drawing a wide range of opinions from scouts as to where he deserves to be drafted. He’s an excellent run-jump athlete and quality passer, but his all-around game and decision-making skills leave something to be desired. Davison is a below-average jump shooter, especially off the dribble, and also doesn’t add a whole lot of value playing off the ball, which places a lot of weight on how quickly he can develop into a legitimate full-time lead guard. His feel for the game and tendency to float are both a bit concerning, and NBA teams will simply go underneath ball screens until he proves he can make shots off the dribble. Davison will almost certainly need G League time out of the gate, and while he’s in the first round discussion, not everyone is sold.
38. Justin Lewis, PF, Marquette | Sophomore
Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 245 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 52
Lewis is in midst of a monster sophomore season and has played his way into the draft, although he’s still got more to prove in terms of legitimizing his versatility. Lewis isn’t likely to create many shots for himself, nor does he protect the basket consistently, but he’s become a good perimeter shooter and useful defensive rebounder with a chance to fit in as a viable stretch four and team defender. Lewis doesn’t really move like a wing, nor does he offer advanced ball skills, which sort of narrows the pathways he can take to an NBA role — if one were confident he’d be able to switch effectively and playmake in a pinch, it would held — but he’s yet to turn 20 years old and has taken a nice step forward this year. He has a late first-round case if you buy the upside.
39. Jabari Walker, PF, Colorado | Sophomore
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 215 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 37
Assuming his jumper maintains a positive trajectory, Walker looks like a viable stretch four prospect, with a big frame that can add muscle and enough size and length to hold up physically and add value as a rebounder. The son of longtime NBA player Samaki Walker, Jabari was a late-blooming high school player and continues to show some intriguing versatility. Bigs who can hold their own defensively and knock down shots are always of interest, and while he needs a lot of polish, Walker has had a productive sophomore season. A strong predraft process could see his stock rise further.
40. Harrison Ingram, F, Stanford | Freshman
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 230 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 42
There’s some thought that Ingram will likely wind up in this draft, but he’s not a traditional one-and-done prospect—he’s not exceptionally athletic, nor a dynamic scorer, but his feel for the game is strong and he’s an excellent passer. Ingram’s efficiency as a scorer leaves something to be desired, and he’ll be challenged to defend in the NBA, but the hope is that his skills will be accentuated in support of better talent. He won’t be a fit for every team, but he’s been playing a bit better in February, and has the type of versatility that should warrant someone rolling the dice.
41. Ousmane Dieng, G/F, New Zealand Breakers
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 185 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 15
International scouts have always acknowledged Dieng’s upside, but he’s shooting just 27% from the field in 12 games in the NBL, which makes it hard to envision him contributing in the NBA anytime soon. He’s on the younger end of draft-eligible guys, which helps, and as a a tall, playmaking wing with guard skills, there’s some intrigue in the long run. Dieng has a smooth handle, sees the floor well, and can score at all three levels, and has a frame that should be able to add functional strength. Still, his lack of consistency should be a holdup, and he looks like a developmental flier at most right now.
42. Peyton Watson, F, UCLA | Freshman
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 200 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 27
Despite flashing positive things in January, Watson has returned to being mothballed in UCLA’s rotation this month, throwing another wrench in his draft stock. If he enters this year’s draft, teams will be eager to see him up close in workouts, noting his pedigree and upside as a two-way contributor. But ultimately, Watson hasn’t done enough to project comfortably as a first-rounder at this stage of the process, and there’s something to be said for him returning to college and making a better go of it in a featured role. His situation has been frustrating from an evaluation standpoint, and there’s been little opportunity for him to build confidence, given his lack of freedom to make mistakes on a veteran team. Don’t write Watson off yet, but for now, you kind of have to temper short-term expectations.
43. Trevion Williams, C, Purdue | Senior
Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 255 | Age: 21 | Last rank: 43
Williams may be the best passing big man in the draft, which makes him a person of interest in spite of a subpar athletic profile for a modern center. He has high-level vision and timing as a distributor, adds value as a rebounder, and has quick hands and good instincts defensively. But he’s a below-the rim finisher and likely to face a bit of an uphill battle scoring the ball as well as protecting the basket as a slightly undersized five. If Williams develops a reliable jumper, there’s a legit chance he sticks, but without one, it may be harder to find minutes for him in the NBA.
44. Ismael Kamagate, C, Paris (France)
Height: 6' 11" | Weight: 220 | Age: 21 | Last rank: NR
While Kamagate doesn’t play a particularly inventive brand of basketball, he’s been pretty productive this season in France, playing a simple rim-running and screening role and utilizing his high-end physical tools to positive effect. He’s a powerful finisher around the rim and has shown some flashes of passing and ball skills, as well, and while he’s still raw in terms of feel, there’s a pathway for him to find an NBA role presuming his growth continues. In a weak international class, he’s built the best résumé amongst bigs at this point in time.
45. Julian Strawther, SG, Gonzaga | Sophomore
Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 205 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 49
It’s possible Strawther returns and winds up a leading scorer at Gonzaga next season, but he’s shown some good things as a quality role player and deserves to be in the combine mix this season if he tests. He has terrific scoring instincts, has shot the ball reliably this season, and is capable of having big games without hijacking the offense. Although he’s not much of a playmaker for teammates nor a highly impactful defender, Strawther’s combination of size and feel are attractive in the long run. He’ll need to become a bit more multidimensional to succeed in the NBA, but he’s on the younger side for his class and a name to watch moving forward.
46. Julian Champagnie, F, St. John’s | Junior
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 220 | Age: 20 | Last rank: 48
Although Champagnie’s numbers have dipped a bit this season, it’s easy to see why he might fit into an NBA role, as a dangerous standstill shooter with size who could be a specialist at either forward spot. He offers some basic utility on the defensive end, and despite being a junior is still just 20 years old. There’s some upside here if Champagnie can start to hit more shots off movement and diversify his offensive diet a bit more, but staying solid on defense, spacing the floor and moving the ball is a pretty simple pathway to being useful Bottom line, he neatly fits a player mold that teams tend to value come draft time.
47. Caleb Houstan, F, Michigan | Freshman
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 205 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 16
Houstan’s freshman year has been pretty underwhelming, considering his stellar reputation out of high school. But if you reframe your expectations here, he still has a chance to be a useful role player. At this point, Houstan may need to return to Michigan to have a legitimate shot at the first round—he’s a good shooter, but his defense and all-around game have been disappointing, and he’s not likely to create many shots for himself or others. Houstan isn’t a bad athlete, but he’s also not especially quick or explosive, and adding some strength could help cover and help him play more physically. His understanding of the game has always been pretty advanced for his age, and there’s still a decent chance he succeeds in the long run in some capacity as a floor spacing forward.
48. Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee | Freshman
Height: 6' 0" | Weight: 170 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 33
Chandler faces an uphill climb to being more than an NBA backup as an undersized point guard with an iffy jump shot. To his credit, he generally makes the most of what he has, utilizing his speed, quickness and vision to facilitate offense and attack the paint, and playing with a willingness to defend and pressure the ball. It’s simply a tough proposition to invest early draft capital in developing non-star guards who are far away as shooters, and Chandler may fall into that bucket, which coupled with his stature makes him an acquired taste. He’s a good passer, but relies a bit too much on his speed to create angles, and not likely to improve much from a physical standpoint. He’ll have to really hone his jumper to have a legitimate chance at sticking in a long-term role.
49. Jalen Williams, SF, Santa Clara | Junior
Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 195 | Age: 20 | Last rank: NR
Williams wasn’t really on the NBA’s radar entering the season, but has showcased a polished all-around game at Santa Clara and emerged as one of the best players in the West Coast Conference. He’s not an overwhelming athlete, but he’s an above-average passer and smooth ball-handler and should make enough jumpers to at least keep defenses honest. His upside isn’t crazy high, but Williams has the makings of a useful lineup-blending wing and looks like a viable second-round sleeper at the moment. Feel and size tend to be nice calling cards.
50. Christian Braun, F, Kansas | Junior
Height: 6' 6" | Weight: 220 | Age: 20 | Last rank: NR
Credit Braun for taking a substantial all-around leap this season, filling a secondary scoring role Kansas badly needed and putting himself in position to get a real chance at the NBA. He’s more of a play finisher than anything else, but he’s a good athlete who’s effective around the basket and in the open floor, and can elevate to block shots. His passing skills have gotten better, which is notable. There are still some issues here: he’s stiff physically, shoots a flat, inconsistent ball, isn’t a naturally creative ballhandler, and lacks much of an in-between game. If his defense plays up and he diversifies his way to complement better talent as a scorer, there’s a chance he finds a niche, but it’s not a guarantee by any means.
51. Pete Nance, F/C, Northwestern | Senior
Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 225 | Age: 22 | Last rank: NR
The younger brother of Pelicans forward Larry Nance Jr., Pete has followed a similar path as a late-blooming, versatile forward. He didn’t get the family gifts for leaping out of the gym, but Nance is a terrific passer with a good feel for screening and playing team basketball, and he’s got enough length and mobility to ascribe some role upside. Nance isn’t overly physical and needs to be a bit less reliant on his jumper, but he should be able to space the floor and find teammates while providing size and cover on the other end. He deserves to be in the mix for a two-way contract whether or not he gets drafted.
52. Oscar Tshiebwe, C, Kentucky | Junior
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 255 | Age: 22 | Last rank: NR
Although Tshiebwe isn’t a perfect fit for the modern NBA, being the best rebounder in college basketball counts for something, and there’s a chance he catches on as a useful, if limited, rotational big. Tshiebwe plays hard and has a unique gift for rebounding, and though he’s heavier and a tad undersized for a center, it always helps to have an elite skill to offer. While not a sexy draft pick, he figures to hear his name called and have a chance to catch on. Any offensive skills he can add would help the cause.
53. Yannick Nzosa, C, Malaga (D.R. Congo)
Height: 6' 10" | Weight: 175 | Age: 18 | Last rank: 25
Once billed as a potential lottery pick, Nzosa now looks like a pure second-round flier as his role has evaporated this season in Spain. It’s to the point where he may be better off staying in Europe to try and rejuvenate his stock, as he’s young enough to take his time to try and get back on track developmentally. He’s one of the more physically gifted draft-eligible prospects and has long-term potential as a quality rim protector and rebounder, but it’s been troublesome how much he’s struggled to produce and find minutes. Considering his role as a rim-running center is somewhat replaceable for NBA teams, it’s hard to justify investing significant capital here, even with the latent potential in mind.
54. Michael Foster Jr., F/C, G League Ignite
Height: 6' 8" | Weight: 250 | Age: 19 | Last rank: 51
Foster remains a polarizing player to scout: he’s been productive but inefficient in the G League, deserves credit for holding his own, and yet leaves something to be desired as a potential energy big. He has a tendency to float to the perimeter, but isn’t very functional there, and is still figuring out what his role has to be to succeed in the long run. If Foster can utilize his strength and size to become a better rebounder and rim protector, it would enhance his chances of sticking in the NBA. He’s so young that it’s probably best to be patient, and he’s draftable in the second round, but it may be an uphill climb for him without a major offensive leap.
55. Hugo Besson, G, New Zealand Breakers (France)
Height: 6' 3" | Weight: 195 | Age: 20 | Last rank: 41
Besson has been productive if not all that efficient in the NBL this season after making the jump from France’s Pro B league, where he was named Best Young Player last year. He’s a crafty, perimeter-oriented scorer with a smooth game, and offers a bit of scoring upside, but doesn’t offer much defensively and isn’t a great athlete. He turns 21 this year, which hurts his case a little bit, and the bar is high for players in his mold, as a scoring combo guard. But there’s enough to like here to talk yourself into stashing him.
56. Zach Edey, C, Purdue | Sophomore
Height: 7' 4" | Weight: 295 | Age: 19 | Last rank: NR
Edey has turned himself into a good player, in addition to being absolutely enormous. While he’ll benefit from more time in college, his development bears mention, as he’s been pretty consistent for Purdue and has put his athletic tools to work. Edey has good feet and hands and is fairly mobile for a guy his size, and while he’s still developing skills and picking up concepts, for a guy who started playing basketball late, he’s on a positive track. He’s a good free throw shooter for his size, leaving hope he eventually adds a three-point shot. There’s a world where Edey becomes a Boban Marjanovic-like situational center in the NBA, which isn’t necessarily a player you’d rush to draft, but a worthwhile project nonetheless.
57. Andrew Nembhard, PG, Gonzaga | Senior
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 195 | Age: 22 | Last rank: 59
Nembhard has used the platform to his advantage at Gonzaga, as one of the steadier hands available in a thin point guard class. He should be in the mix in the second round, as he’s always had terrific feel for the game and has nice size for a lead guard. Granted, Gonzaga plays a pretty soft schedule, but his ability to get the ball where it needs to go remains useful and has a chance to play up in a reserve role, particularly if his improved jumper is for real. Nembhard’s savvy and passing skills are pluses, and he’s a heady defender who impacts winning, making him a decent flier to fill a need somewhere.
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58. Kellan Grady, SG, Kentucky | Senior
Height: 6' 5" | Weight: 205 | Age: 24 | Last rank: NR
All Grady has done since arriving at Kentucky is bomb threes, but he’s made them at an elite clip and put himself in the mix as a specialist. He’s turning 25 in September, so he’s going to need to prove it quickly at the NBA level, but there shouldn’t be much doubt that he can make shots and move the ball adequately enough to earn a shot. He’s a very specific need pick, but he knows exactly what his job is, and his shooting skills should give him a chance to catch on in some capacity.
59. Tyler Burton, F, Richmond | Junior
Height: 6' 7" | Weight: 215 | Age: 21 | Last rank: 44
An athletic, swiss-army-knife forward who’s flown a bit under the radar, Burton has built some buzz as a second-round sleeper and potentially useful role player, although his play has tailed off in conference. He plays with energy, finishes well with both hands, won’t need designed touches to be effective, and should be able to defend wings and forwards, but he’s been playing in Richmond’s system and teams will want to see him operate outside of it in predraft settings. Burton’s streaky jumper is a key swing skill, but if he can make enough shots and find ways to fit in, he could prove useful.
60. Matthew Mayer, F, Baylor | Senior
Height: 6' 9" | Weight: 225 | Age: 22 | Last rank: 60
Mayer has regressed statistically as a senior while inheriting more minutes, but should remain a candidate for a two-way contract whether or not he goes undrafted. He’s tall for a wing forward and can knock down shots, but isn’t a very physical player and sometimes struggles to make a major impact on games when not scoring. He has been a bit better defensively this season, and the NBA’s premium on size and ball skills makes him an interesting flier, but he’ll need to close the season strong to really rejuvenate his case in the draft.
61. Orlando Robinson, C, Fresno State | Junior
62. Moussa Diabate, F/C, Michigan | Freshman
63. Gabe Brown, F, Michigan State | Senior
64. Jaden Shackelford, SG, Alabama | Junior
65. Johnny Juzang, SG, UCLA | Junior
66. Colby Jones, G, Xavier | Sophomore
67. Gabriele Procida, G/F, Fortitudo Bologna (Italy)
68. Dereon Seabron, F, NC State | Sophomore
69. Matteo Spagnolo, G, Vanoli Cremona (Italy)
70. Khalifa Diop, C, Gran Canaria (Senegal)
71. Dominick Barlow, F, Overtime Elite
72. Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest | Junior
73. Iverson Molinar, G, Mississippi State | Junior
74. Trayce Jackson-Davis, C, Indiana | Junior
75. Isaiah Mobley, F/C, USC | Junior
76. Jamaree Bouyea, PG, San Francisco | Senior
77. Ron Harper Jr., F, Rutgers | Senior
78. Terrence Shannon Jr, G/F, Texas Tech | Junior
79. Caleb Love, SG, North Carolina | Sophomore
80. Jamarion Sharp, C, Western Kentucky | Junior
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