1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, PF, Auburn, Fr.
No prospect has been more impressive over the past month than Auburn freshman Jabari Smith. The 6’10 wing displays incredible shot-making ability with long arms and rarely feels defensive pressure with his size and length. Smith is also an active defender who plays with great energy, disrupting opposing ball-handlers and wings, while showing versatility on both ends of the floor. Smith would be the icing on the cake of a formidable young core in Orlando with Cole Anthony and Franz Wagner enjoying breakout seasons in 2022. His struggles to create space off the dribble and moving to his left are something to keep an eye on throughout the season.
2. Detroit Pistons: Chet Holmgren, PF/C, Gonzaga, Fr.
This is the time of year that many teams forget about Gonzaga and their players, but Chet Holmgren is someone you can’t forget about. The 7’0 freshman is lean, but displays athletic ability and skill we’ve really never seen from someone of his size. Holmgren is comfortable taking the ball up the court, taking on defenders off the dribble and fading off screens to knock down triples. While there will be fear related to his body strength and potential for injury, his upside alone is enough to draft him first overall, but his talent and comfort level with the college game is proving how special he is as a player.
3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, PF, Duke, Fr.
The top three players in this draft are fairly clear and I don’t believe any of them will drop to fourth or lower, unless there are injuries to any of them. Banchero is last between the three right now, but this could change countless times from now until the summer. Banchero’s athleticism and size are his greatest traits, but he uses them most effectively on the offensive end in isolations and post-ups. I think scouts would like to see him improve defensively if he wants to re-enter the #1 pick discussion.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jaden Hardy, SG, G-League Ignite, 2002
Hardy, a top-five recruit in the 2021 class, has taken the same route as Jalen Green to the pros and he projects similarly. He’s been downgraded by many but in reality is beginning to hit his stride and show why he was so highly rated coming out of high school. It’s unreasonable to expect a 19-year-old to instantly have everything figured out and shoot efficiently from the floor in a league as advanced and competitive as the G-League, so it is important to not be too critical of his early shooting struggles this season (35% FG, 27% 3-PT) and allow his game to blossom. Hardy is a bona fide stud with elite potential and teams will probably look foolish if he ultimately falls outside the top handful of picks.
5. New Orleans Pelicans: Jaden Ivey, SG, Purdue, So.
The major question mark surrounding Ivey heading into this season was his three-point shooting. As we approach the halfway mark of the regular season, Ivey is shooting 44% from beyond the arc and 50% from the entire field. The 6’4 guard is an electrifying scorer who can jump out of the building and disrupt almost all action defensively with freakishly long arms. If he can continue to shoot efficiently from the perimeter, Ivey stands a great chance to be a top-five pick in the upcoming draft.
6. Indiana Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin, SG/SF, Arizona, So.
The Arizona Wildcats are the most improved team in the nation and Mathurin is the cornerstone of the team. It’s no accident that he is one of the frontrunners for National Player of the Year as his blend of perimeter shooting and slashing is one of the best in the country. He has good size for a scoring guard at 6’6 and possesses a beautiful floater that rivals Immanuel Quickley.
7. Sacramento Kings: MarJon Beauchamp, SG, G-League Ignite, 2000
Beauchamp’s electrifying start to the season can no longer be considered a fluke. While his three-point numbers are poor, the 6’6 shooting guard is connecting on an astounding 68% from inside the arc and 57% from the field through 12 games with the Ignite. He is quite possibly more ready for the NBA game than his teammate Hardy and his ceiling is not as far away from the projected fourth pick as people think.
8. San Antonio Spurs: Max Christie, SG, Michigan State, Fr.
It’s rare that a freshman gets a chance to shine in Tom Izzo’s system. Christie is one of the premier shooters in this draft class, but he has gone through his struggles through the early part of his freshman season. A 9-14 streak from the perimeter in his last three games is a huge development for the freshman guard and he appears to be figuring things out. If he can build on this hot streak and start leading the Spartans in scoring during conference play, Christie could justify the lofty projections as a lottery selection. He’s a guy with a chance to develop into a star at the next level.
9. Portland Trail Blazers: Johnny Davis, SG, Wisconsin, So.
If you want to watch the best player in college basketball this season, look no further than Johnny Davis. He made a name for himself this summer with USA Basketball and his dramatic development is on full display this season for the Badgers. He wins in isolations, guard post-ups, backdoor cuts and anything else you can imagine that results in him putting the ball in the basket. It’s hard to fathom how someone can improve this much in one year, but Davis is making it a reality with his incredible start to the season. Portland’s disappointing season could land them a building block in the backcourt to ignite a rebuild or reload alongside Damian Lillard. Perhaps moving CJ McCollum mid-season for a player that fits better would be wise and then looking for a cheaper alternative with the number of quality guards available in the mid to late lottery.
10. Atlanta Hawks: Blake Wesley, SG, Notre Dame, Fr.
Wesley started the season as an unheralded freshman who we all believed would have to battle for minutes in South Bend. Instead, he has been given the keys to the offense by coach Mike Brey and Wesley has responded in a big way growing in confidence every game out. He leads the team in scoring and takes all of the big shots for the Irish. He made a game-winning shot against Kentucky earlier in the season and delivered a go-ahead three-pointer to help the Irish defeat Georgia Tech. The skilled, athletic guard is making a name for himself, and staying consistent should keep him in the lottery discussion for the rest of the season.
11. New York Knicks: TyTy Washington, PG, Kentucky, Fr.
It’s rare to see a true freshman play with so much confidence and so much understanding of the game. With Sahvir Wheeler out, Washington took over the point-guard role against Georgia with 17 assists and 2 turnovers, setting a Kentucky record for assists in a game. Not only is he a fantastic playmaker, but he is also exceeding expectations as a shooter at 40% from beyond the arc to start the season. There’s an obvious connection with the Knicks and Kentucky guys, so if TyTy is available and New York is picking in this range, he would figure to be a perfect fit.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via LAC): Jalen Duren, PF/C, Memphis, Fr.
Jalen Duren might have been a top five pick 10 years ago, but the game continues to trend away from physical centers in favor of guards and facilitators. Still, the true freshman remains in the lottery discussion because of his post defense, rebounding and efficiency scoring around the basket. He is athletic enough to not be a liability on the perimeter defensively, and also shows some passing acumen, which will make it easier for teams to justify taking Duren on draft night.
13. Boston Celtics: Bryce McGowens, SG, Nebraska, Fr.
It’s been far from the season Nebraska envisioned and McGowens hasn’t exactly been a model of efficiency, but he is still a fascinating prospect with elite athleticism, length and the potential to be a standout guard. He is only shooting 24% from the perimeter, but an 83% shooter from the line with a ton of volume shows potential to dramatically improve his outside shot. He has all the tools to be a star in the NBA, and that is why a team may ultimately take a chance on him in the late lottery.
14. Washington Wizards: Keegan Murray, SF/PF, Iowa, So.
Luka Garza lit up college basketball for two consecutive seasons and left a void that nobody anticipated being filled so smoothly. Enter Keegan Murray. The sophomore forward leads the nation with 24.7 points per game and can score at all three levels. Luka who? His defensive versatility is probably the most intriguing part of his game, which says a lot about a player who leads the country in scoring.
15. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kendall Brown, SF, Baylor, Fr.
Speaking of defensive versatility, Baylor’s freshman forward fits that definition perfectly. He is able to do this as one of the most gifted athletes in this draft class. He is starting to improve offensively, but most of his value comes on the defensive end with his versatility and athleticism.
16. Memphis Grizzlies (via LAL): Patrick Baldwin Jr., SF/PF, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Fr.
I think many people expected Baldwin to thrive playing under his father against weaker competition in the Horizon League. That hasn’t been the case so far, but he still projects as a potential lottery pick because of his tremendous size and smooth shooting stroke. He can handle the ball well and would benefit from playing as a wing at the next level. He garners relentless attention, which causes poor shot selection and low shooting percentages. He must learn to embrace the role of the team’s star, or he could end up falling on draft night. One of the players in this year’s draft whose success appears dependent on landing with the right team and expectations.
17. Toronto Raptors: Julian Strawther, SF, Gonzaga, So.
An uptick in playing time this season is allowing scouts to see the ideal NBA wing prospect that Julian Strawther is. He has great size on the wing and can shoot the ball on the perimeter off the bounce, around screens and spotting up anywhere on the outside. He is a great rebounder with decent defensive potential, and appears to be the perfect wing player who can take up 20-25 minutes in the rotation and provide the shooting spark a team needs.
18. Denver Nuggets: Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee, Fr.
With an abundance of wings and big men in this year’s class, Chandler ranks as the second best point guard and still falls outside of the lottery. He stands out from other guards because of his playmaking (5.2 AST) and great defensive instincts and impact (2.3 STL). He is cooling off from the perimeter, but his willingness to let it fly from the perimeter is encouraging as it is not his greatest strength
19. New York (via CHA): Aminu Mohammed, SG, Georgetown, Fr.
Georgetown’s powerful wing is emerging as one of the top freshmen in the country despite his team’s struggles to start the season. He plays physical on both sides of the ball and is capable of playmaking and running the offense. We could see him work his way into the lottery discussion if his perimeter jumper improves, but he has only made 9 threes in 12 games, a stat that must improve for scouts to trust his outside jumper.
20. Dallas Mavericks: Nikola Jovic, SF/PF, Serbia, 2003
Jovic is a 6’10 forward who can run the offense and create for others in the open floor and in the half-court offense. If he can start knocking down outside jumpers consistently, Jovic will be an absolute steal regardless of where he is selected. The top foreign prospect has played well in spurts this season, and despite needing strength, has a game that fits today’s NBA with his size and versatility.
21. Cleveland Cavaliers: Wendell Moore, SG/SF, Duke, Jr.
When you list the most improved players in the country this year, you can’t leave Moore off the list. He went from a disappointing flop in his first two seasons, to an absolute star in Durham over the course of one summer and it’s all because of increased opportunities, confidence and improved shooting. We are seeing more work initiating the Blue Devils offense for the 6’6 wing, and he is close to making as many triples as he had his first two seasons combined in Durham.
22. Philadelphia 76ers: Ochai Agbaji, SG, Kansas, Sr.
Once you get past pick 20 or so, the NBA Draft often turns into contenders looking for the final piece to the puzzle for a championship run. Agbaji figures to be a hot name on a lot of draft boards as an experienced guard who just knows how to score. He is an improved slasher this season, but he puts points on the board from beyond the arc, shooting 47% on 91 attempts so far this season. The 21-year-old senior is one of the best shooters in the class and brings a great deal of experience to whatever team he goes to.
23. Milwaukee Bucks: Jabari Walker, SF/PF, Colorado, So.
There are several elite teams in the Pac-12 this season, but the best prospect outside of Ben Mathurin comes from the sleeper team in the conference who plays in Boulder. Walker is an elite athlete who shot efficiently from the perimeter as a freshman, but is enduring a sophomore slump in year two. Regardless, his athleticism and past success from the perimeter is enough to take a chance on him late in the first round as teams continue to trend towards small ball fours and versatility to fill out their rosters.
24. Houston Rockets (via MIA): Caleb Love, PG/SG, North Carolina, So.
Love is the next in a line of many North Carolina guards who you can’t take your eyes off. He has a lightning fast first step and plays with immeasurable energy while attacking the basket. A huge step for him this season was his perimeter shooting improvement. He shot 31% from the field and just 26% from distance as a freshman. Fast forward a year and he is 45% from the field and 44% from beyond the arc. His freshman season looks more and more like a fluke and his sophomore surge looks like the true dynamic player we expected coming out of high school.
25. Miami Heat (via BKN): Dyson Daniels, SG/SF, G-League Ignite, 2003
Daniels is one of those players who falls in this awkward part of the draft where competitive teams are looking for solid players with the ability to develop, but rebuilding teams are looking to trade up and get a high-potential project player before the second round begins. Daniels has a ways to go but shows promise as a big point guard who can defend and has great maturity at his age.
26. Memphis Grizzlies: Caleb Houstan, SF, Michigan, Fr.
Houstan continues to drop as he has struggled in adapting to the college game thus far, and it is possible that waiting until 2023 would be the best option for the true freshman. He is not adapting to the college game as quickly as many expected, and his 36% FG is far from enticing. The talent is certainly there, but with so many sophomores enjoying great bounce-back seasons this year, Houstan could be in need of another year to develop and grow as a player under Juwan Howard.
27. Memphis Grizzlies (via UTAH): Dereon Seabron, SG/SF, NC State, So.
Another ACC star who emerged out of nowhere is Dereon Seabron, the redshirt sophomore who is essentially averaging a double-double for the Wolfpack. He is a 6’7 slasher who initiates the offense and uses his long strides and quick first step to get to the hoop and finish around the rim. He could still improve as a passer, but his size and athleticism are exciting for a playmaking guard. The emergence of a perimeter shooting game would go a long way in improving his draft stock this year or next year, but he is still considered a first-round pick without it.
28. Chicago Bulls: Mark Williams, C, Duke, So.
Once Mark Williams got accustomed to the college game last season, his playing time increased and we had the pleasure of watching one of the best rim protectors in the nation. His interior defense is his greatest strength, but he is also an efficient post scorer and one of the better rebounders in this class. Anyone looking for frontcourt depth and an immediate impact role player should look Williams’ way late in the first round.
29. Golden State Warriors: Trayce Jackson-Davis, PF, Indiana, Jr.
The Indiana junior came back for another season, which surprised some, and he is making the most of it so far this season. Jackson-Davis stands at 6’9, but he plays a lot taller with explosive athleticism, and long wingspan. His energy and production have him in the discussion for a first-round pick and if he can hold his own against massive big men in his conference, Kofi Cockburn and Hunter Dickinson, NBA scouts will look past his lack of size and hone in on his energy and production instead.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via PHX): Jamaree Bouyea, PG, San Francisco, Sr.
Still flying under the radar to some degree, Bouyea is a deep sleeper in this year’s class, but he is the leading scorer on a 14-2 team and shows flashes of Jimmer Fredette range at the University of San Francisco. Despite the high volume and tendency to take deep threes, Bouyea shoots 42% from beyond the arc and averages 17 points per game. The 6’2 guard is a prolific scorer with a flashy skillset and could hear his name called by a rebuilding team looking for a steal late in the first round or early in the second round.
31. Orlando Magic: Terrance Shannon, SG, Texas Tech, Jr.
Shannon is the star on a Texas Tech team that is winning big games without him. His return could spark a March Madness run and catapult him into the first round bubble with his outstanding defense and length for a rotational guard or wing.
32. San Antonio Spurs (via DET): Taevion Kinsey, SG, Marshall, Sr.
An underrated scorer and big time athlete at a mid-major program who has been on our radar as a late first to second-round sleeper for two years. Body type and movements have a Reggie Lewis (former Celtic standout) flare to them.
33. Cleveland Cavaliers (via HOU): Hugo Besson, PG/SG, France, 2001
Besson is emerging as one of the best foreign prospects in this class after withdrawing from the 2021 NBA Draft. The French guard is a long range bomber with decent athleticism, scoring skills and great handles who can facilitate and put the ball in the basket.
34. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ibou Dianko Badji, C, Senegal, 2002
A high potential center who stands over 7-feet tall and has a condor wingspan at near 7-8, and moves well laterally. Can stretch the floor to around the free-throw line and knock down those jumpers while also playing physical in the post on both ends. An intriguing prospect with extreme boom/bust potential.
35: Charlotte Hornets (via NO): Michael Foster, PF, G-League Ignite, 2003
An underrated star on the Ignite who shoots the best percentage from the perimeter out of all four prospects listed so far despite playing in the frontcourt. An exciting stretch-four who is also a great rebounder.
36: Orlando Magic (via IND): Johnny Juzang, SF, UCLA, Jr.
Juzang’s NCAA Tournament run had his remarkable three-level scoring on full display. He can be a microwave scorer and spark plug off the bench as one of the smoothest shooters in the draft.
37. Sacramento Kings: Orlando Robinson, C, Fresno State, Jr.
An underrated stretch-big who is tearing it up at the mid-major level. He’s highly skilled on the block and shoots a great percentage from all three levels.
38. Cleveland Cavaliers (via SA): Ismael Kamagate, C, France, 2001
An athletic, twitchy center who can also play physical and use his impressive court vision to create for others. More of a project than Robinson, but the potential is there to play a large role in the future.
39. Portland Trail Blazers: Jahvon Quinerly, PG, Alabama, Jr.
A former five-star recruit who possesses elite quickness, is a top notch floor general, but a shooting slump this season is causing a dip in his draft stock.
40. Atlanta Hawks: Jaime Jaquez, SF, UCLA, Jr.
One of UCLA’s breakout stars from March Madness who possesses great playmaking and ball-handling skills for a 6’7 combo forward.
41. New York Knicks: Jean Montero, PG/SG, Overtime Elite, 2003
One of the youngest players in the draft who is the only Overtime Elite player to be featured on the mock draft. Skillful ball-handler and impressive scorer with high potential, but extremely low floor in his rookie season. Teams might have to be very patient with Montero.
42. Los Angeles Clippers: Izaiah Brockington, SG/SF, Iowa State, Sr.
Former Penn State star who transferred to the upstart Cyclones program and became the top scorer and leader with an elite mid-range jumper and powerful finishing at the rim.
43. Boston Celtics: Keon Ellis, SG, Alabama, Sr.
Elite athlete who has an NBA frame and a ton of defensive upside. Projects as an energetic 3-and-D guard who can switch 1-4 and wreak havoc.
44. Minnesota Timberwolves: Michael Devoe, PG/SG, Georgia Tech, Sr.
The Georgia Tech southpaw simply puts points on the board and has a great shooting stroke and unlimited range that allows him to average over 20 points per game in Atlanta. Lack of speed keeps him from being a more sought after prospect.
45: Minnesota Timberwolves (via WAS): Tristan Vukcevic, PF/C, Serbia, 2003
Young, Serbian forward who is a talented finisher around the rim with decent potential. Limited athletically, which doesn’t help with defensive versatility, an important trait at the NBA level for big men.
46. San Antonio Spurs (via LAL): EJ Liddell, PF, Ohio State, Jr.
One of the best players in the nation who is seeing his draft stock soar with the development of an outside jumper. Was already an elite, versatile defensive prospect who now projects as a two-way small ball four.
47. Golden State Warriors (via TOR): Carlos Alocen, PG, Spain, 2000
A crafty, foreign guard who has great size for a playmaker at 6’5 and has spent plenty of time overseas developing and getting a better feel for the game. Has been on our radar for awhile and seems ready to finally take the leap to the NBA. Unfortunately has seen his stock plummet due to lack of opportunity and production at Real Madrid, he’s still in search of a consistent jumpshot.
48. Minnesota Timberwolves (via DEN): Julian Champagnie, SF, St. John’s, Jr.
Unlike his brother Justin, Julian returned to school after declaring for the 2021 draft and is one of the most impressive scoring wings in the nation. Scores at all three levels efficiently and has the length to continue that trend immediately as a rookie.
49. Charlotte Hornets: Forfeited Pick
50. Dallas Mavericks: Oscar Tshiebwe, PF/C, Kentucky, Jr.
One of the best rebounders seen at the collegiate level and his high motor and rebounding instincts will give him a chance to prove himself at the next level.
51. New Orleans Pelicans (via CLE): Yannick Nzosa, C, Congo, 2003
An elite rim protector, but offensive questions, namely a hitch in his shooting motion, hinder his potential and drop him to the mid-late second round.
52. Miami Heat (via PHI): Jahmir Young, PG/SG, Charlotte, Jr.
One of the top scorers and shooters in the nation averaging 20 points per game with impressive 48/38/87 shooting splits as one of the highest volume-shooters in the nation. An offensive threat to keep an eye on late in the draft.
53. Milwaukee Bucks: Forfeited Pick
54. Indiana Pacers (via MIA): Brady Manek, C/PF, North Carolina, Sr.
Manek transferred from Oklahoma to North Carolina and provided a perimeter threat in the frontcourt that they never possessed last season. He is a true stretch-big who can open up the floor and fits the modern game prioritizing shooting from wings and big men.
55. Detroit Pistons (via BKN): Matteo Spagnolo, PG, Italy, 2002
Spagnolo is one of three Italians with a chance to be eligible/selected. Spagnolo is well liked by International scouts for his size and playmaking ability. Should he keep his name in, look for him to hear his name called on draft night.
56. Utah Jazz (via MEM): Matthew Mayer, SF, Baylor, Sr.
Mayer hasn’t expanded his role as some expected, but is an athletic wing with great intangibles. He is an exciting wing prospect who should carve out a role for himself at the next level because of his infectious energy and confidence in himself.
57. New Orleans Pelicans (via UTAH): James Akinjo, PG, Baylor, Jr.
The Arizona transfer is one of the most productive transfers and guards in all of college basketball. He reads the game well, takes care of the ball and despite his size, should be a productive backup point guard who can provide valuable minutes off the bench.
58. Sacramento Kings (via CHI): Iverson Molinar, PG, Mississippi State, Jr.
An energetic combo guard who is having a down year on the perimeter with higher volume, but 89% free-throw percentage indicates better (shooting) days are ahead for the junior guard who averages 17 points per game.
59. Golden State Warriors: Roko Prkacin, PF, Croatia, 2002
Surprisingly small measurements at 2021 NBA Draft Combine diminished his appeal, but still a great value selection in the second round who does a bit of everything effectively. His struggles this year have his stock on the decline however.
60. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Duruji, SF, Florida, Sr.
A explosive, lengthy, versatile wing defender who will likely only carve out a role on that side of the ball, and an improving jumper sneaks him into the end of this draft.