Just a Minute: Prepping for the 2022 NBA Draft
The NBA Draft takes the big stage on Thursday night. The annual night of making young millionaires is one of the best nights for hoop heads. It certainly is for me. This is the space where I started my basketball career. I never miss it and never grow tired of this night.
There are so many things to watch. These are nine things that I’m taking a look at in the 2022 NBA Draft.
1. My number one guy is crystal clear.
I’ve gone on the record that Jabari Smith is my No. 1 player on the 2022 NBA Draft board. He’s been my No. 1 guy for some time and I’m comfortable with that going into tomorrow night’s big stage. I’d have my pick ready for Thursday night and the contract ready to sign for Smith. He’s an easy choice for me for the Orlando Magic. The roster in central Florida is stacked pretty deep for a nice run in the Eastern Conference. Smith could be used in a variety of ways alongside Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter, Mo Bamba and Chuma Okeke in the front court. With Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony on board, the guard play can do some interesting things.
2. Who do you think is the Rookie of the Year from this draft?
What a question in a very interesting draft. There are three guys who are talented enough to be the No. 1 pick. When Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren were in high school, all three of them rotated in the conversation for the top guy. In college, that same flip-flopping continued. Smith settled at the top (see No. 1) but you could make an argument for any of these guys and I’d be fine with it. All three, in turn, should be the right answer for this question.
Depending on how the draft plays out, I think Paolo Banchero with either Oklahoma City or Houston makes the most sense for the ROY. He’s the most ready to play, in my opinion, and the most ready to make the biggest overall impact across the board. The one-and-done stud from Duke could be the go-to guy for both OKC and Houston on offense. His usage rate should be the highest. His value as a starting four-man in the NBA is pretty high right out of the game. He's ready for it physically and he could be going to a team that has an open position ready for him to compete right away.
Therefore, that’s why Banchero is my June 2022 pick for Rookie of the Year.
3. What is the flavor of this draft?
- There are three dudes at the top. We know this. No need to continue that.
- The draft starts with the fourth overall pick and will the Sacramento Kings.
- I have no idea if the international projected lottery picks are going to be any good or just another “hey, he could be good” kind of selection.
- There are a lot of American players that fall into that same kind of thought, too.
- I think this draft has a lot of players in the same clump, meaning the gap of difference between several players is very small.
- Get ready for trades. Six teams have more than one first round pick. And the 2023 draft is juicy (potential all-world Victor Wembanyama of France).
4. So, who is this year’s Bones?
I love Bones Hyland. He was fun to watch for the Denver Nuggets as a rookie and was certainly one of the real steals of the draft after being picked No. 26 in the 2021 NBA Draft out of Virginia Commonwealth. If we redrafted today, he’s a top-eight pick.
Who can be drafted in the 20s this year that could be redrafted inside the 10 next season? That’s the million-dollar question every draft, isn’t it?
This is a bit of a gamble here but how about Jaden Hardy? Yes, I know the book on him. At one point he was in my consideration for the No. 1 overall spot in his 2021 high school class. He is as good of a scorer as I’ve seen over the last decade. Getting points is as natural to him as creating oxygen. He has some wow capabilities to him.
His G-League experience was meh. When a lot of eyes were watching him at the G-League expo in Las Vegas the reviews weren’t great. That’s when the great tank really began. The pre-draft process has drawn mixed reviews. Fine. It happens.
Consider this - a scorer is always a scorer. He’ll always be elite in that category. He’ll make big shots and he’ll have some pop to him that is hard to match with guards in this year’s draft. He’s 19. He’s going to be motivated by the reality of this experience of pro basketball. Will it help mature his game and overall basketball experience?
Going in the post-20s means he’s going to a playoff team with some quality NBA veterans who could show him the ropes.
If you could get a Jordan Poole type of guy in the 20s, you gotta take him.
5. Let’s continue this. Bones and Desmond Bane are great threats from three. Who could be an instant scorer/perimeter threat in this draft?
Give me Arizona’s Benedict Mathurin. Give him to me all day. If we’ve learned anything from the guys mentioned in the question, then we need to add more value to a guy like Mathurin. Let’s walk this out about the stud for the Arizona Wildcats.
- What a post-season killer he was.
- What a trajectory he’s on.
- He has leveled up year after year from the NBA Academy in Mexico from Montreal and to the NCAA ranks.
- Big-time athlete.
- Clutch shooter.
- Every indication he’s still on the starting slope of good things to come.
I’d take Mathurin over Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, a sexy top four, top five pick. I think Mathurin could even develop into a major star from this year’s draft class. If the Indiana Pacers can land him at No. 6 and pair him with Tyrese Haliburton then I think I may be looking at a new NBA League Pass favorite team. Moreover, he goes to Portland at No. 7 then the Dame-Math duo could be absolutely fun to watch.
6. This isn’t a great point guard draft. Which PG do I trust the most?
Let’s be clear, I don’t think we have an all-star in this group. Not at all. But I think we have some guys who will stick. Of the prospects, I think I trust Kennedy Chandler the very most.
If he has a long career like DJ Augustin, and I think he will, then that’s a big-time win for Chandler. The Tennessee native is one of the most competitive guys I think the draft has and he’s been in big game situations and delivered more than anyone in the pool. That’s a fact. Yes, small guards have a hard time making the transition to the NBA. That’s why I feel good about the Augustin comp. Chandler is better at this stage of his career than the former Texas PG from New Orleans. Defensively, I think Chandler can carve out a nice niche for himself as a replacement for a scoring point guard in a starting lineup. His switch-up is a nice offering for a coaching staff to work within their rotation. Free throw shooting (he only shot 60 percent as a freshman at Tennessee) may keep him off the floor in the clutch. I get that worry. No doubt. But I’ve bet on Chandler as a winner for the last three years. He’s proven. Why should it stop now? His mentality and approach is professional and consistent.
7. Who is the second-round steal in this draft?
I’m a believer in Tevin Brown of Murray State. As the young prospects get taken in the first round and as teams look at their rosters and look for specialists, Brown can do things really well - shoot the leather off the rock and pass like a point guard. Yes, he’s older for a draft pick (he’s 23). But he’s good enough to make a team as an important piece to a playoff team. Good teams fill roster spots with small contract specialists and Brown could be a very good one in the late picks. If he falls out of the draft, the former HoopSeen stud could be one of the most important free agent rookies coming out the draft. I’d expect his name to really have some heat in Vegas for summer league.
8. Cool, cool, give me three more candidates.
Memphis forward Josh Minott, G-League Ignite forward Michael Foster and NC State forward Dereon Seabron. I like all three of these guys as a second-round pick of value.
Minott - man, I wish he would have gone to Florida State. If he did, I think he’s a first round prospect after a year in college. He played 14 minutes a game on a team that had some real roster issues. This was a mulligan year for a guy who entered college on a nice upward trajectory. I could see him thrive in the G-League.
Foster - physically, he’s ready right now. He’s been ready for a while. He made the call by going to the G-League Ignite team. The Milwaukee native is a stat-stuffer and could be a mini Morris twin type of four man. You’d take a guy like that in the second round all day long.
Seabron - really like him as a sleeper second-rounder. Cut from the mold that reminds me a lot of forever NBA guys like Jamychal Green or Jeff Green, Seabron had a terrific sophomore campaign. He’s an older player so what you see may be what you get. If that’s the case, you’re getting a big man who can defend, pass, rebound and play a role for a long time at the pro level.
9. Will any of the Overtime Elite guys be drafted on Thursday night
This is a storyline worth watching closely. The startup has its first foray into the preps-to-preps alternative route with its trio of Dom Barlow, Jean Montero and Kok Yat. Will any of these guys hear their names called over the podium? Of the trio, I think Barlow is the most interesting. He’s a big face-up forward who makes shots, has the size and the best chance to play right away in the league and in the G-League.
With the Thompson twins waiting in the wings, I’m curious as to how teams will approach players from the pro point of view. Do they trust the onboarding of players from this platform? Sure, the Thompson twins are much better pro prospects than the OTE trio that could be drafted in 2022. This probably isn’t an apples-to-apples dialogue here. But it is worth charting.