With just over a week to go before the NBA Draft, we’ve had a major shakeup at the top and plenty of movement in the rest of the field as players have locked themselves into this year’s class with the withdrawal deadlines in the past.
As far as what changes you can expect, look for a major change in Oklahoma City’s draft strategy, the inclusion of players who are now officially included in the 2022 NBA Draft field and a dramatic climb for one of the NBA Combine’s biggest stars.
1. Orlando: Jabari Smith 6-10 220 PF Auburn Fr.
The general consensus as we get closer to draft day is that Jabari Smith will be on his way to Orlando as the newest member of a terrific young core. With two-way impact, defensive versatility and shot making that looks a lot like Kevin Durant, Smith is undoubtedly the safest choice with the first overall selection. He still needs to improve his isolation skills and his ability to drive to the basket, especially to his left, but he has the length and mechanics to develop into a transcendent scorer while being also being disruptive on the defensive end of the floor.
Why the Magic take Smith: With all of the pressure on them to make the right choice, not to mention on the player taken at 1, the Magic will be looking for the safest option with high potential and Smith offers the perfect blend of everything they need. Even if he initially struggles to create offense the same way he did in college, they can count on him to transform what they’re able to do defensively and impact the game on the defensive end as he expands his offensive arsenal with his great shooting touch early in his career.
Player Comparison: Rashard Lewis
2. Oklahoma City: Jaden Ivey 6-4 195 PG/SG Purdue So.
There are four prospects that appear to be on a different level than anyone else in this class, but the order they will go in is still up in the air. The latest change is Ivey’s ascension into the top-2 as Sam Presti looks more and more likely to pull the trigger on the standout guard instead of Holmgren. As a prospect, there is a ton of Ja Morant and Donovan Mitchell to be seen in Ivey who has the explosion and speed to attack the rim with ease regardless of who is matched against him.
Why the Thunder take Ivey: For the last few seasons the Thunder have consistently gone with upside over readiness, but their fan base is starting to run out of patience and they seem destined to go for safe over sorry with the second pick this season. While Holmgren offers the most upside, guards are the safer option with typically longer careers and Holmgren already has plenty of concerns with his lanky frame and durability. Either way, Oklahoma City holds the keys to the draft at this pick and the dominoes can begin to fall based on who they select.
Player Comparison: Donovan Mitchell
3. Houston: Paolo Banchero 6-10 250 PF/C Duke Fr.
Duke’s freshman phenom was one of the most unstoppable three-level scorers in the country last season and there isn’t a prospect in this class who is better at using his strength and athleticism to get to and finish at the rim. His defense is inconsistent, but he flashes rim-protection and versatility and I truly believe he is a better defender than most people give him credit for. He could really flourish as a small-ball five who can dissect defenses in the short roll with precise passing and terrific anticipation to create open looks for his teammates.
Why the Rockets take Banchero: With a young and talented backcourt promising to succeed in the future for Houston and a tremendous center duo under contract, they must turn their sights to the wing and Banchero is a perfect fit. If any of the top-four picks are a lock, it would be Banchero coming to Houston in what would be a perfect fit to elevate the Rockets back to the postseason.
Player Comparison: Julius Randle
4. Sacramento: Chet Holmgren 7-0 195 PF/C Gonzaga Fr.
With Ivey heading to Oklahoma City, the 7-footer from Gonzaga with the skillset of a point guard, incredibly, falls to the fourth overall pick here. Patience will be required as he attempts to fill out his frame, but provided he is able to put on some strength, Holmgren will be a perennial DPOY candidate and a matchup nightmare for many years.
Why the Kings take Holmgren: You can’t ask for more talent or more potential outside the top three picks of the draft, so I wouldn’t foresee any possible way the Kings could trade out if Holmgren falls to four. A frontcourt with Sabonis and Holmgren, with De’Aaron Fox handling pick-and-rolls is a scenario that should give Kings fans the type of hope they haven’t had since the Chris Webber, Peja and Vlade era.
Player Comparison: Kristaps Porzingis
5. Detroit: Keegan Murray 6-8 225 SF/PF Iowa So.
Few envisioned that anyone would be able to fill the shoes of Luka Garza so quickly in Des Moines, but Murray was able to do so the very next season. The 6’8 sophomore averaged 23.5 points and close to nine rebounds while shutting down opponents on the defensive end with two blocks and a steal per game for the Hawkeyes. His greatest strength as a player coming into the season was his defensive versatility and production and in one offseason he transformed into a prolific scorer, suggesting further development could well be on the way for the 21-year-old sensation.
Why the Pistons take Murray: Murray is really starting to emerge as the best of the rest outside of the top-four and the Pistons should be thrilled by what he can bring to their team. The Iowa superstar will be able to take a little pressure off Cunningham as a secondary ball-handler and shot creator and can also fill a valuable role as a 3-and-D wing alongside Saddiq Bey, giving the Pistons another great piece to build around as they look to free agency for a scoring guard to top off a great offseason.
Player Comparison: Vin Baker
6. Indiana: Bennedict Mathurin 6-6 205 SG/SF Arizona So.
A disappointing lottery night left the Pacers with the sixth pick and probably out of the running for the top 3-4 prospects as well as their post lottery prime target Keegan Murray, unless they are able to swing a trade. In Mathurin they’ll find a freakishly athletic scoring guard who is exceptional off the ball as a shooter and cutter. He can bring the house down with electric posters and heat up in a big way on the perimeter. He also showed in the NCAA Tournament that he is no stranger to big-time games or big-time shots.
Why the Pacers take Mathurin: if older Pacer fans squint hard enough, they can see a little Chuck Person in Mathurin’s game. The Pacers might have the cap-room now to handle a contract like Buddy Hield’s, but they’ll need another scoring guard alongside Brogdon and Haliburton when Hield’s contract is up and they’ll be hard-pressed to find one as talented as Mathurin. He is a lengthy scoring wing who loves to run in transition and is one of the more impressive shooters in this class, giving the Pacers exactly what they need in their mini-rebuild.
Player Comparison: Jason Richardson
7. Portland: Shaedon Sharpe 6-5 200 SG Kentucky Fr.
Sharpe offers the type of upside that teams look for with mid lottery picks, but the uncertainty regarding him is sure to scare teams as well. There is no disputing the electricity he brings and the mesmerizing talent that is on full display in his highlight reels, but nobody really knows what he can do right away or if he is worth the risk in the mid lottery.
Why the Trail Blazers take Sharpe: Sharpe figures to be a prime target for teams like OKC (Shai Gilgeous-Alexander) to trade up for in this range due to his immense upside. With Lillard injured, the Blazers moved CJ McCullum, and fell to the 7th pick. The new front office in place has to make the decision soon whether to move on from Damien Lillard (31) while his value is still high, and go young, or look to use this pick to acquire a player that works within Lillard’s window.
Player Comparison: Xavier Henry
8. New Orleans (via LAL): AJ Griffin 6-6 220 SF Duke Fr.
Griffin got off to a slow start for Duke, but came on strong as the season progressed, He did not prove that he could carry a college team, because he didn’t have to, which his detractors will be quick to pint out, however he’s more proven than someone like Sharpe. He stuck around 50% from the perimeter for the majority of the season and has an excellent frame, plus athleticism on the wing.
Why the Pelicans take Griffin: The Lakers implosion couldn’t have happened at a better time for New Orleans and GM David Griffin who acquired their pick in the Anthony Davis heist. Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum engaged in an iso-heavy offense this postseason, that worked a lot of the time, but this team still needs more shooting and scoring help surrounding their stars. Griffin provides this and more with a ton of upside and athleticism to add to an exciting young core.
NBA Comparison: Jamal Mashburn
9. San Antonio: Dyson Daniels 6-7 195 PG/SG G-League Ignite Intl.
The 6-7 Australian guard was the most impressive youngster for the Ignite this season and is the latest in a stretch of lengthy, foreign playmakers who are making their way to the league in recent years. Daniels doesn’t just impact the game with his passing and facilitation, but he is not just an active defender, he is incredibly disruptive on the defensive end of the floor.
Why the Spurs take Daniels: This move reminds me a lot of what the Thunder did last season bringing in another long facilitator in Josh Giddey. Dejounte Murray just had a career year, but if you can partner him with another impressive ball-handler and playmaker, you can create a multi-dimensional offensive attack and exploit whichever matchup you want with two incredibly talented versatile and long defenders.
NBA Comparison: Thabo Sefolosha
10. Washington: Ochai Agbaji 6-6 215 SG Kansas Sr.
The NCAA Tournament’s Most Outstanding Player is fresh off a national championship and a season of dramatic improvement to bolster his draft stock and soar into the lottery this season. With improved ball-handling and scoring inside the arc, Agbaji projects as more than just a sharpshooter on the outside, which gives him the edge over many of the other shooting guards in this class despite already being 22 years old.
Why the Wizards take Agbaji: A hot start to the season showed that the Wizards might not be as far away as they think to returning to the postseason and competing in the playoffs. They will need to convince Bradley Beal to hang around and hope Kristaps Porzingis can return to elite form, but they’ll need talented players on rookie contracts to fill out the roster and Agbaji will embrace the win-now culture if that is what the Wizards choose to shoot for.
NBA Comparison: Desmond Bane
11. New York: Johnny Davis 6-5 195 SG Wisconsin So.
No college sophomore experienced such a huge improvement in one offseason as Johnny Davis did this past summer. Keegan Murray has an argument, but there were high expectations for the Iowa star, while few believed Johnny Davis could take over the Wisconsin program quite the way he did this past season. With limited offensive talent surrounding him, Davis still found a way to average nearly 20 points and lead the Badgers to a regular season conference championship and a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament and win Big Ten Player of the Year. While not the high volume outside shooter you would hope for, his ability to play on the ball some gives him added intrigue with teams.
Why the Knicks take Davis: It’s fair to say this fanbase is ready to start winning again and there aren’t many other prospects with the track record and winning mentality to match the 6’5 shooting guard. There might be more of a need for a center or true point guard with this selection, but if Davis falls this far in the lottery, the Knicks may feel obligated to draft the All American.
NBA Comparison: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
12. Oklahoma City (via LAC): Mark Williams 7-1 240 C Duke So.
Plenty of people will argue against drafting centers in the lottery who can’t shoot, but the value of a mobile seven-footer who can defend the pick-and-roll can never be overstated. Williams is an elite defender who will instantly provide solid minutes and transform the interior defense wherever he goes with a reported 7-7 wingspan. Williams also ranked as one of the most efficient scorers in the nation with 11 points per game on 72% shooting from the field and from the free-throw line.
Why the Thunder take Williams: If the Thunder really do pass on Holmgren (and Banchero) with the second pick, they’ll still have a massive hole in the frontcourt that Williams can fill immediately and effectively. With two lottery picks and an additional first-round pick, the Thunder are expecting a jump in the standings next season and these two picks are best-case scenario for that to occur.
NBA Comparison: Clint Capela
13. Charlotte (via NO): Jeremy Sochan 6-9 230 PF Baylor Fr.
Sochan is one of those players who you love to have on your team and absolutely hate to play against with his antagonism and aggressiveness defensively. As a player, he is one of the smoothest bigs in this draft class and is still incredibly raw as an offensive player. You could see him starting to get a better feel for his jumper as the season went along and with some patience, he could become a reliable outside shooter and a lockdown defender on the other end.
Why the Hornets take Sochan: It’s pretty clear what we believe the Hornets need to focus on this offseason with another athletic, defensive-minded forward heading to Charlotte in the late lottery. Not only will Sochan bring energy and intensity to a defense that desperately needs it, but he will be an exciting lob threat for LaMelo Ball to have some fun with in transition. Sochan would also provide some Miles Bridges insurance, in the scenario that they decide his price tag doesn’t quite meet the value he brings to the team.
NBA Comparison: Kyle Kuzma
14. Cleveland: Malaki Branham 6-5 195 SF Ohio St. Fr.
Branham was one of the breakout freshmen in the country this season and enjoyed a meteoric rise into the lottery of the 2022 draft. Branham scored efficiently from both the free-throw line and the 3-point arc at 83% and 41%, respectively and is certainly capable of punishing the rim off the dribble as well. Not only does he explode to play above the rim, but he is also incredibly efficient in the painted area with his back turned to the basket as a mid-low post scorer.
Why the Cavaliers take Branham: They have an outstanding young core of ball-handlers and frontcourt menaces, but the Cavs still need some help on the wing on both ends of the floor. Branham provides a spark in this role and is talented enough to challenge to be a starter from the jump in Cleveland. This is a great year to be looking for help on the wing and the Cavs should get a contributor with this pick even if Branham is already off the board.
NBA Comparison: Khris Middleton
15. Charlotte: Tari Eason 6-8 215 SF/PF LSU So.
A transfer from Cincinnati to LSU did wonders for Eason who transformed himself into one of the most disruptive defenders in the country with standout block and steal rates for the Tigers. There have been reports about his lack of basketball IQ during his visits with NBA teams, but any player who can thrive in the “triple-switch” defensive system that LSU implemented this season deserves a credit for their basketball mind and instincts on the defensive side of the floor.
Why the Hornets take Eason: There’s a good chance Charlotte moves one of their two picks, so Eason could be heading to a team looking to move up. The Hornets surrendered a whopping average of 138 points per game in the play-in tournament over the past two seasons, so it’d probably be in their best interest to bring in a defender with the talent of Eason here or at 13. He immediately brings a different level of energy and skill to the Hornets defense and has time and the potential to develop his offensive game into an effective stretch-four at the same time.
NBA Comparison: Marcus Morris
16. Atlanta: TyTy Washington 6-3 195 PG Kentucky Fr.
Washington is one of the smartest players in the class and one of the most efficient playmakers on one exception – he has to be healthy. That condition was not met for the latter half of the season and it led to the sudden downfall of his individual season and his team’s season. Even with the question marks about his health, the recent success of John Calipari’s guards makes you want to believe that Washington will be the next in a long line of successful ‘Cats in the NBA.
Why the Hawks take Washington: Look for Atlanta to be aggressive in trying to acquire a pick or move up in the draft. Kentucky’s standout guard knows how to play in a backcourt with another point guard, so he could easily line up next to Trae Young, but also be that calming presence to run a more composed style of offense when Young needs a rest. John Collins and Clint Capela are terrific pick-and-roll bigs who Washington could surely get the most out of with his decisiveness and terrific court vision.
NBA Comparison: Andre Miller
17. Houston (via BKN): Jalen Duren 6-11 250 PF/C Memphis Fr.
There are plenty of talented centers in the 2022 class, but there is a significant drop-off after Duren and we could see a team trade up to try to grab him in fear of this drop-off. With terrific length and athleticism, Duren can be trusted to hold his own on the perimeter and perform effective drop coverage in the pick-and-roll to disrupt this offensive action. There is no better trait in the modern NBA for a center to have than defensive acumen in these areas, which make him such a highly touted prospect and a potential lottery selection.
Why the Rockets take Duren: Duren is said to be in play anywhere from 13 to 19. Duren gives the Rockets a young Clint Capela type to add to their existing talented but less athletic frontcourt. Drafting for need has become less common with teams going for talent in the draft and fit in trades and free agency, and it’s tough to find a better talent than Duren this late in any draft class.
NBA Comparison: Andre Drummond
18. Chicago: Jalen Williams 6-6 210 SG/SF Santa Clara Jr.
Williams is the player with the most buzz in the draft after an incredible showing at the combine with great measurements and productive play in his scrimmages. A fringe first-round pick is essentially a lock for the first round and may even compete for a late-lottery selection after his great week in Chicago. Naturally, that is where we have him projected to land in the middle of the first round.
Why the Bulls take Williams: Chicago is in win now mode and are said to be actively shopping the pick. They saw first-hand how impressive his game is in Chicago during the combine. Zach Lavine is expected back, but Williams would be an excellent back up and should contribute immediately. Williams is a solid ball-handler and shot creator on the wing.
NBA Comparison: Shake Milton
19. Minnesota: Ousmane Dieng 6-9 185 SG/SF France Intl.
Typically, 6’9 players aren’t used as a primary ball-handler and playmaker, but that’s exactly what Dieng brings to the table. He obviously has elite size for a point-forward and could be used as an unorthodox point guard in second units as he develops his game and gets accustomed to life in the NBA. He is one of the higher potential players in this class if a team takes a chance on his incredible upside while living through the growing pains early in his career.
Why the Timberwolves take Dieng: The T-Wolves need a younger point guard and playmaker to pair with their budding superstar in Anthony Edwards, and while Dieng isn’t your traditional point guard, he can take over ball-handling responsibilities and lead an athletic Timberwolves roster into the future as these youngsters develop into stars.
NBA Comparison: Kyle Anderson
20. San Antonio (via TOR): Nikola Jovic 6-11 225 SF/PF Serbia Intl.
Jovic is another intriguing versatile forward with incredible size and fluidity. He may not be the most athletic prospect in the class, but he can run an offense and is not afraid to let it fly from beyond the arc. He’ll be must-watch television every time he’s on the floor and should be able to produce solid minutes in the right situation in the middle of the first.
Why the Spurs take Jovic: If Dyson Daniels goes to the Spurs ninth and Jovic is available here, he would figure to be a good fit with what the Spurs like. The Spurs do a tremendous job in pinpointing European talent and generally are spot on and also are among the best in the business in developing the talent that they bring in.
NBA Comparison: Hedo Turkoglu
21. Denver: Blake Wesley 6-4 185 PG/SG Notre Dame Fr.
Wesley is a fearless slasher with the explosion and speed that caught our attention before he was even a starter for the Irish in his incredible and unpredictable freshman season in South Bend. He’s shown flashes of brilliance that is still yet to be fully tapped into. In the right situation, like Denver, Wesley could thrive and develop into an efficient combo guard being able to play both on and off thhe ball.
Why the Nuggets take Wesley: The Nuggets aren’t in a great place from a financial standpoint, so it is increasingly important that they nail their first-round picks in the next few years. They can be patient with Wesley as he develops and hope he develops into a starter a few years down the line with players like Monte Morris and Jamal Murray’s status up in the air.
NBA Comparison: Jamal Crawford
22. Memphis (via UTAH): MarJon Beauchamp 6-6 195 SG G-League Ignite So.
After a relatively quiet couple of weeks, Beauchamp is slipping down boards and now sits just outside the first round as other prospects impress and make the climb ahead of him. Dismiss him at your own peril though, because this Seattle native looked like the best prospect on the Ignite just as many times as his teammates who are projected in the first round at this point. Beauchamp received the 20th and final green room invite.
Why the Grizzlies take Beauchamp: Memphis has a number of scorers and could use Beauchamp’s athleticism and defensive potential. With a number of players such as Dillon Brooks on them ove after next season, Beauchamp is a player the team could look to develop alongside their young nucleus.
NBA Comparison: Josh Howard
23. Philadelphia: Jaden Hardy 6-4 200 SG G-League Ignite Fr.
Hardy was a polarizing high school recruit who garnered a lot of attention when he decided to forgo his college eligibility and take the professional route in what would have been his freshman season. He endured a sluggish start, but started to figure things out and remains an intriguing pick. Hardy is a young, raw prospect with a ton of upside, and his professional experience prepared him to contribute immediately for a contending team.
Why the 76ers take Hardy: The Sixers have Harden and Maxey, so hardy doesn;t exactly fill a need, but you can never have enough scorers. Hardy brings a combination of readiness after a year in the g League as well as obvious upside to develop for the future.
NBA Comparison: Gary Harris
24. Milwaukee: Kendall Brown 6-7 200 SF/PF Baylor Fr.
The former five-star recruit had a successful first season in Waco, but is seeing his draft stock slowly decline as other players separate themselves. Brown is certainly a special athlete, but the inconsistency of his outside jumper and lack of self-creation skills are as concerning as his physical traits are enticing. Defensively, however, Brown is a monster who will bring length and versatility to contribute on this end from the very first game.
Why the Bucks take Brown: There aren’t a lot of holes on the Bucks roster, or cap space, so adding a player that can bring them energy off the bench and upside to develop over time would be ideal. Brown can be one of those players giving elite athleticism and defensive versatility on the wing alongside Giannis.
NBA Comparison: Al-Farouq Aminu
25. San Antonio (via BOS): Ryan Rollins 6-3 180 PG/SG Toledo So.
Rollins is a prospect on the rise and intrigues with what he can bring to the table. He is a long, agile playmaker with great vision and playmaking instincts, and he doesn’t get enough credit for what he can do as a scorer. His free-throw percentage and smooth shooting mechanics suggest he is a better shooter than his 31% mark indicates from beyond the arc.
Why the Spurs take Rollins: You can never have too many playmaking combo guards on a roster and Rollins is a cheap option to backup Dejounte Murray early in his career as he blossoms into a potential starter or long-term role player for a Spurs team that is on the cusp of returning to relevance in the West, especially with three first round picks this season.
NBA Comparison: Anfernee Simons
26. Houston Walker Kessler 7-1 255 C Auburn So.
After blocking more shots than over 300 programs in college basketball, Walker Kessler is primed to be a first-round selection after transferring from North Carolina to Auburn last summer. There may not have been a more impactful transfer in the country and with Kessler’s length and shot-blocking instincts, he could easily make another immediate and impactful transition to a team next Winter.
Why the Rockets take Kessler: After dealing Christian Wood away a week before the draft in a deal that included this selection, the Rockets are obviously targeting one of the “big 3” (Smith, Banchero or Holmgren) with the third overall pick. At 17, we have the Rockets selecting Jalen Duren, so it’s possible they will look to address another position here. But Kessler offers solid value and a little different skill set from Duren with his rim protection abilities.
NBA Comparison: Cole Aldrich
27. Miami: Max Christie 6-5 190 SG Michigan St. Fr.
Although Christie struggled with consistency, the showed a lot of potential. At only 32% from the perimeter, many thought Christie might consider returning to school to prove it for a full season. Instead, he took a chance on himself and it would seem unlikely that teams will let a player with his talent fall outside the first round.
Why the Heat take Christie: Miami is a well rounded team who can afford to take a best player available approach to the draft. The Heat have a number of quality backcourt scorers with Max Struss and Tyler Herro. Christie offers more of the same as a shooter, but with such a premium on shooters in today’s game, you can never have too many quality ones. Christie likely needs a few years and would develop well in Miami learning from the existing 2 guards.
NBA Comparison: Landry Shamet
28. Golden State: Jaylin Williams 6-10 235 PF/C Arkansas So.
In just two seasons in Fayetteville, Jaylin Williams helped create a winning culture under Eric Musselman with impressive defense, leadership and intensity for all 40 minutes of every single game. At the very least, Williams will bring all of these intangibles and winning traits wherever he goes and he can be just as valuable with his plays on the court that often go unnoticed. Williams work ethic points to continued developing of his overall game, especially in the right situation.
Why the Warriors take Williams: Kevon Looney is enjoying a stellar postseason run, but the Warriors still need help at the five with James Wiseman a major question mark to become healthy enough to contribute to the Dubs. Williams can slide into the rotation and provide defensive versatility and tremendous help defense IQ.
NBA Comparison: Bobby Portis
29. Memphis: Christian Braun 6-7 210 SG Kansas Jr.
Braun’s greatest strength being his outside shooting gives him an excellent chance to be a first rounder and contribute at the next level. He is solid in transition, plays terrific defense and is a swiss-army knife on the offensive end who can cut to the hoop, drive and finish and knock down triples to spread the floor.
Why the Grizzlies take Braun: Because they are one of the most athletic teams in the NBA who flourish in transition and Braun was one of college basketball’s most impactful players in the country this season. The Grizzlies will be even more deadly from beyond the arch in future years if Ja Morant is sprinting up the floor with youngsters Braun and Max Christie spotting up at the 3-point line.
NBA Comparison: Fred Hoiberg
30. Denver (via PHX): John Butler 7-1 175 PF/C Florida St. Fr.
One of the big shocks of the withdrawal deadline was the fact that Butler stayed in the 2022 draft instead of returning to the Seminoles for his sophomore season. He had flashes of brilliance with a skill set you just don’t see from seven-footers often, but the consistency was nowhere to be found and Butler still has plenty of work to do before he can play any kind of minutes professionally. A good fit for his future development and a focus on intensity and consistent effort will be key.
Why the Nuggets take Butler: Denver picked up the 30th pick in a trade with Oklahoma City. The pick should be a solid one as there are quite a few players that were projected as future first round talents that kept their names in the draft. John Butler fits that category and is a player that needs time, but works perfectly for a team like Denver with multiple picks. Denver has struck gold drafting potential over the past few years and President of Basketball Operations Calvin Booth is one of the top talent evaluators in the business.
31. Indiana (via HOU): EJ Liddell 6-7 245 PF Ohio St. Jr.
The first player to miss the cut in the first round is EJ Liddell, but it would be no surprise if he end up in the top-30. In three years in Columbus, Liddell separated himself defensively as a standout and dominated on the opposite end of the floor with a terrific post-up game and an improved 3-point jumper in his final season to prove he is ready to make the jump to the professional game.
32. Orlando: Kennedy Chandler 6-1 170 PG Tennessee Fr.
After a sensational freshman season in Knoxville, especially during conference play, Chandler is seen as a potential late first rounder with his lighting speed and much-improved perimeter jumper. The Memphis native felt much more confident from beyond the arc late in the season by shooting 48% from 3-point range over his last 14 games. He gives Orlando added depth in their young backcourt.
33. Toronto (via DET): Dalen Terry 6-7 195 SG Arizona So.
Terry has skyrocketed up draft boards follwing a very impressive week at the NBA Draft Combine. He’s got solid versatility and interviewed extremely well in Chicago according to teams. His ability to defend and play multiple positions gives him a lot of intrigue in the late first, early second round area.
34. Oklahoma City: Caleb Houstan 6-8 205 SF Michigan Fr.
Much like Christie, Houstan failed to live up to the lofty expectations in the Big Ten, but he still projects as a possible first rounder after he decided to stay in the draft. He proved that he is a talented shooter, which is rare to see in a 19-year-old who stands 6-8. If given the time to develop like OKC, Houstan could end up a steal in the second round.
35. Orlando (via IND): Christian Koloko 7-0 220 C Arizona Jr.
Tommy Lloyd transformed the Arizona program in his first season and that included turning Koloko into one of the best big men in the country. Koloko averaged nearly three blocks per game this season and was able to not just compete with, but dominate some of the best big men in college n Hunter Dickinson and Kofi Cockburn.
36. Portland: Bryce McGowens 6-6 180 SG Nebraska Fr.
McGowens was the best freshman in the Big Ten over the final month of the season and among the best in the entire country. He became impossible to stop from getting to the basket with his long strides and smooth athleticism and his continued development will be fascinating to see whether that is in the G-League this season or on a rebuilding team giving him a chance to prove himself.
37. Sacramento: Orlando Robinson 6-11 245 C Fresno St. Jr.
With all of the great centers to come off the board to this point, none of them will be reliable shooters from beyond the arc in their first season. Until now. Robinson measured just under 7-0, but shot 35% from the perimeter on three attempts per game in his junior season. He has the most complete game in this center class and could be a steal at this point of the draft.
38. San Antonio (via LAL): Wendell Moore 6-5 215 SG/SF Duke Jr.
Moore is a physical, playmaking wing who went from five-star bust after his frist two season, to an integral piece on a Final Four team and it has him competing for a first-round selection this June. As his perimeter jumper continues to develop, he will become more and more valuable of a role player who is more than worth a second-round selection.
39. Cleveland (via SA): Patrick Baldwin 6-10 220 SF/PF Wisconsin-Milwaukee Fr.
When choosing the most disappointing freshman in the country, the choice is clearly Patrick Baldwin. It was a feel-good story to see him choose to play for his father at Wisconsin-Milwaukee instead of a blue-blood, but that decision is questionable after a season filled with shooting struggles and injuries dropping him into the second round here.
40. Minnesota (via WAS): Iverson Molinar 6-3 185 PG Mississippi St. Jr.
Molinar is another sleeper point guard in this class who earned First-Team All-SEC this season ahead of projected first-round pick Kennedy Chandler. He was able to hold his own against SEC competition and if he can rediscover his 3-point jumper, he’ll be a steal in the second round and an effective pro for years to come.
41. New Orleans: Jamaree Bouyea 6-2 180 PG San Francisco Sr.
The NCAA Tournament was filled with incredible individual performances, but Bouyea had an argument for the best with his 36-point performance in an OT loss to Murray State in the first round. In this game, he showed off his limitless range that extends far beyond the NBA 3-point line and his explosiveness that will allow him to get past professional guards as well. Remember the name…
42. New York: Michael Foster 6-9 235 PF G-League Ignite Fr.
Foster rated as a five-star, top-10 recruit this past season and flourished as a stretch-four for the Ignite. Despite shooting the best percentage from the perimeter, Foster is the lowest ranked prospect out of the four Ignite players and is an intriguingly skilled 19-year-old.
43. Los Angeles Clippers: Trevor Keels 6-4 225 PG/SG Duke Fr.
Keels has the physicality and build that is eerily reminiscent of Lu Dort. But Keels comes into the league with a more complete skill set with the ability to knock down perimeter shots and vision. Whether Keels can make his mark on the league as a standout defender with the same passion as Dort remains to be seen.
44. Atlanta: Jabari Walker 6-8 215 SF/PF Colorado So.
It’s fairly difficult to maintain a 52% shooting percentage from beyond the arc, but when Walker returned for a sophomore season, all scouts had their eyes on how he’d handle more volume and more attention. A drop to 35% certainly cost him, but Walker clearly has the potential as a scorer and also has the frame and athleticism to impact the game in more ways.
45. Charlotte: Jean Montero 6-2 170 PG/SG Overtime Elite Intl.
Without playing any real competition at Overtime Elite, nobody really knows what Montero would be able to do at the collegiate level, nonetheless the professional level. he showed out in the Hoop Summit game, but questions linger. His highlights, like Shaedon Sharpe, are truly impressive though and someone will give him a shot because of it.
46. Detroit (via BKN): Julian Champagnie 6-7 210 SF St. Johns Jr.
The brother of Raptors forward Justin Champagnie, Julian possesses a similar skillset as an impressive three-level scorer with great size on the wing. Averaged two steals and a block per game in his junior year, showing how disruptive he can be with his 6’10 wingspan and quickness to jump passing lanes.
47. Memphis (via CLE): Jake LaRavia 6-8 225 SF/PF Wake Forest Jr.
Withdrew from the NBA Combine after an incredible showing in the 3-point drills and agility testing before the scrimmages. The 6-8 playmaking wing clearly knows how to be effective on the offensive end and could provide a spark for whoever selects him.
48. Minnesota: Ismael Kamagate 6-11 230 C France Intl.
A modern, mobile and explosive big man who knows how to alter shots around the rim and create for others out of the post. Kamagate also has jump-shooting potential and could even expand his shot to the 3-point line in a few years.
49. Sacramento (via CHI): Josh Minott 6-8 205 SG/SF Memphis Fr.
Another prospect who many expected to return to school, but Minott was leaving Memphis one way or another, and obviously believes his abilities are ready for the NBA now. He is a fluid shooter at 6’8 and even worked his way into our lottery following pre-season practices in which scouts came away raving about him, so he clearly has the potential and talent to entice scouts and could develop if put in the right situation.
50. Minnesota (via DEN): Peyton Watson 6-8 205 SG/SF UCLA Fr.
An athletic, ball handling wing who will make his money as a lockdown wing defender and promising building block in the future. One of the least NBA ready prospects in the class, but easily has one of the highest ceilings due to elite athleticism and promising ISO skills that make him built for the modern game.
51. Golden State (via TOR): Ron Harper Jr. 6-7 240 SF/PF Rutgers Sr.
Harper is one of the draft’s big sleepers. His body type screams Europe or even Rec League, but the more you watch him, the more it becomes clear he can overcome the lack of speed with his great basketball IQ and skillset. He needs to devote himself to better diet and conditioning, but the upside is considerable.
52. New Orleans (via UTAH): Dereon Seabron 6-6 180 SG/SF NC State So.
Alongside Terquavion Smith, who returned to the Wolfpack after entering the draft, Seabron rounded out an exciting and dynamic backcourt for NC State as a slasher and rebounder who posted 12 double-doubles as a redshirt sophomore. Teams looking for slashing scorers and athletic wings who can crash the glass will have Seabron extremely high on their draft board.
53. Boston: Ibou Dianko Badji 7-1 240 C Senegal Intl.
Badji is a bit of a project pick late in the draft with his standout length and athleticism. He struggled to show much develop over the past season, so he is likely to be a late rouch stash pick but the upside is intriguing.
54. Forfeited Pick
55. Forfeited Pick
56. Washington (via DAL): Bryson Williams 6-8 240 PF/C Texas Tech Sr.
Williams is an experienced big who finally found his home in Lubbock as a super senior at 24 years old. With excellent form on his shot, he shot over 40% from the perimeter and has the strength and size to play the same stretch-four role at the next level. Despite being a 6-8 center, his wingspan allows him to play a lot bigger.
57. Golden State: Aminu Mohammed 6-5 215 SG Georgetown Fr.
Mohammed is a powerful slashing guard who really struggled to score from the outside in his freshman season. Uses his athleticism and strength to corral rebounds and create space for himself around the rim off the dribble. He still needs plenty of time for improvement, but can be a well-rounded role player in time.
58. Cleveland (via MIA): Andrew Nembhard 6-4 195 PG Gonzaga Sr.
As one of the most productive and efficient point guards in college basketball the past four seasons, it’s easy to picture Nembhard carving out a role for himself as a backup point guard for many years in the NBA with his composed and mature game and encouraging shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
59. Portland (via MEM): JD Davison 6-2 190 PG/SG Alabama Fr.
After a season filled with turnovers and frustration, Davison decided to stay in the draft and bank on his explosiveness and potential to get him drafted this summer. There’s no disputing that he has upside, but he may have a long road to becoming a NBA contributor.
60. Indiana (via PHX): Johnny Juzang 6-6 210 SG/SF UCLA Jr.
2021’s NCAA Tournament darling returned for another season, but the buzz surrounding him as a prospect diminished. There’s plenty to love about his three-level scoring and beautiful jump shot, but he’ll need to be able to impact the game in more ways than shooting if he wants to earn consistent minutes for an NBA team.