There are only a few days remaining until another NBA Draft is upon and as we etch closer to the first overall pick being made there are still some doubts over which name we will hear called. Everyone has their differing opinions over who should have that owner bestowed upon them, with a difficult decision in front of the Orland Magic. If they read this piece though, then they’ll know which direction they should go in.
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In my eyes, there are four players who are in a separate tier to the rest of the draft class and I’ll dive into them individually in a moment. That doesn’t mean the field is a weak one though, with All-Star talents on offer if you look hard enough. Names like Keegan Murray, Dyson Daniels and Bennedict Mathurin have all spent time high up on mock drafts around the globe with other prospects Jalen Duren, Jeremy Sochan, A.J. Griffin and Shaaedon Sharpe set to fight for a top-10 spot as well. Daniels in particular intrigues me as a prospect with the Australian showcasing his lockdown defence and playmaking chops for the G-League Ignite last season. Still, there’s a bit of a gap between these draft hopefuls and the players at the top of the food chain.
4. Jaden Ivey, Purdue
Surging up boards and trying to crack into the top-3, Jaden Ivey is shaping up as the best guard prospect in the 2022 class. The explosive Purdue shot-creator didn’t end his collegiate career with a bang, but he showed enough promise throughout the season to encourage scouts and NBA GM’s alike. His athleticism remains one of his best assets with his speed and polish making for a deadly combination in the open court. His assist numbers don’t jump off the page (3.5 assists per 36 mins), although there are enough tools to work with to believe that he can be a 20/5/5 type of player. I doubt he’ll ever develop into a lead playmaker, but if Ivey lands in the right scenario then there’s every chance he can live up to his potential at the next level.
Reminds me of: Victor Oladipo
3. Jabari Smith, Auburn
Ever since the Magic landed the first overall pick, most experts and hoop heads predicted smooth-shooting big man Jabari Smith to land in Orlando. On the surface, Smith has all the tools necessary to become a star in the NBA with touch and finesse around the hoop and a high floor thanks to his ability to score from all over the court. Questionable play at Auburn has left some fans doubtful about Smith’s ceiling, although his struggles last season were largely due to his inferior teammate and their inability to get him the ball. A hard-working, high-character prospect, experts are assuring fans that Smith is the safest pick of all the draft hopefuls with the intangibles on both ends of the court to become a superstar in future years. There’s still a scenario where Smith is the first player drafted later this week, but I wouldn’t be using the top pick on him.
Reminds me of: Rashard Lewis
2. Paolo Banchero, Duke
A versatile talent hailing from Duke, Paolo Banchero has a chance to fit perfectly into the modern-day, positionless NBA. He has the ability to handle the ball and score in a variety of ways that should see him challenge for Rookie of the Year honours from day one. There are few holes in his game, with the Duke freshman possessing the ability to rip down a rebound at one end and then take the ball the length of the floor to score at the other. His size helps him create mismatches on offence, but to unlock his superstar potential, Banchero will need to significantly improve his jump shot and his shot selection. With that being said, those aren’t reasons for pro teams to ignore Banchero and even though he won’t likely develop into a rim protector on defence he could become a matchup nightmare for opposing coaches over the next decade plus.
Reminds me of: Julius Randle
1. Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
A lot of time has passed since we last saw Chet Holmgren on the court, but let’s not forget that the lanky teenager has been the consensus top prospect in his age bracket for a number of years. Yes, his frame is a slight concern and while I’m not ready to say he’ll become the next Giannis if he fills out, Holmgren still plays with an incredible amount of grace and poise for someone of his size. An imposing defender and above-the-rim finisher at the collegiate level, the now-former Bulldog has GM’s salivating over his potential dominance at both ends of the floor with his impressive 3-point shot an added bonus. I can’t see a scenario where Holmgren becomes the main offensive option on a team, but there’s no reason why he couldn’t be a walking double-double who leads the league in blocks one day. That combined with his ability to stretch the floor makes him the perfect center to utilise in today’s league.
Reminds me of: Kristaps Porzingis