The 2022 NBA The draft is underway at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn and this year the mystery begins at the top with the Orlando magic.
Throughout the night, FOX Sports College basketball analyst John Fanta will provide his instant analysis and rating for each first-round pick, so make sure to follow us.
1. Orlando magic: Paolo BancheroForward, duke
Before we analyze any talent, let’s make one thing clear: the first name is made for becoming a big star in the NBA because it’s so clearly identifiable. A big part of what makes Banchero so special is its combination of speed and convenience to make contact. His ball handling skills are those of a guard and Banchero’s ability to change tempo on transitions is something special for a player his size. He has excellent body control and can also serve as a facilitator in an offensive. His ability to pass is underestimated.
The biggest problem with Banchero is the perimeter shot. If he shows he can consistently stretch the floor and score three times in the NBA, he could switch a franchise. His 34 percent mark from deep is the area in question, but Banchero has so many more upsides than this downside. He can be a star for a team in the NBA.
Magic needs everything. Orlando has an All-NBA rookie team member in Franz Wagner, but beyond that, all the Magic need to do is find good NBA players. This may come as a surprise, but Magic picked the most NBA-ready player in this draft class in Banchero. Class: A
Using the numbers: Averaging 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game while shooting 48% from the floor. Becomes the fifth Duke player to be drafted #1 overall.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet HolmgrenF/C, gonzaga
Holmgren is the most talked about prospect in this draft class because the unicorn skills are so intriguing, but the fact that he only weighs 195 pounds is a cause for concern regardless of what he did in college play. But Holmgren likes physicality; He accepts the contact and plays comfortably on the interior. The Minneapolis native was consensus Second Team All-American last season while earning WCC Defensive Player and Freshman of the Year honors.
It’s not that easy to take away the perimeter game from him and get him to shoot from deep because Holmgren proved that doesn’t work. The question is simple: Can such a unique body handle the workload of an 82-game NBA season? The league is evolving and Holmgren has the mentality a big man needs to be successful in the league. He has offensive versatility. He has the work ethic and attitude to fit in a dressing room. He puts his body at risk if it means he can stop a shot. But will Holmgren’s lack of weight keep him from battling the best bigs in the world night after night? We will see.
With four of the top 34 picks in this draft, the Thunder have lost many games and amassed as many assets as they can get. All of these selections involve trying to make a splash in the draft, and it fits the identity of General Manager Sam Presti. Holmgren could prove to be a generational talent if he prevails. That’s a big “if,” but with other tips upfront, getting the draft unicorn makes a lot of sense. Class: A
Using the numbers: Led all of college basketball with a 78.7 defensive rating and averaged 14.1 points and 9.9 rebounds per game while shooting 61% from the field and 39% from three. Is the highest drafted Gonzaga player of all time.
3. Houston missiles: Jabari SmithForward, maroon
Bruce Pearl called him the greatest player he has ever coached. The NABC Freshman of the Year and Second Team All-American lived up to the hype in his one year in Auburn. His shooting shot is pure, and the catch-and-shoot ability he possesses could make him a nightmare for opposing teams to defend. He has the explosiveness to rise over the edge and defending shouldn’t be an issue. If there’s one area he can work on, it’s his ball handling, but that’s finicky.
Beyond basketball skills, Smith ticks every box. His father played in the NBA for four seasons, and Smith’s level of fame and maturity shows he was so nurtured for that moment. Combine the size with his poise and a shooting league marksman’s mentality and there is reason to believe Smith could be a superstar in The Association for years to come.
The Rockets have an All-NBA rookie pick on the line in Jalen Green, and now he has a teammate who forms quite a duo in Houston. The Rockets needed a big that could shoot and Smith’s mechanics are excellent. He can walk the ground really well, which suits Stephen Silas’ system. In Houston they should be happy. This is a third pick that could be the best player in the draft. Class: A
Using the numbers: Averaging 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds per game while over 42% were shot from both the field and off the bow.
4. Sacramento Kings: Keegan MurrayForward, Iowa
After earning Big Ten All-Freshman Team honors in 2020-21, Murray became one of college basketball’s top players as a sophomore. He took what appeared to be a retooled Iowa program and propelled Fran McCaffrey’s Hawkeyes to the program’s first Big Ten tournament championship since 2006. Murray used his 6ft 8 frame to his advantage, combining size with a smooth level of body control a difficult power, to stop along the way.
The Iowa native was as efficient as any player in college basketball this past season, proving he can score in a variety of ways. There is still room for improvement defensively for Murray and he will not be confused as a great passer. But in a high-scoring league, that area of Murray’s game is taken to the next level.
The Kings need perimeter shooting, and Murray fits that mold perfectly. They shot up 34 percent last year, so this speaks to a need. He’s a potentially good fit for De’Aaron Fox, but is he the fourth pick in the draft? I’m not sure about this. Grade: B+
Using the numbers: Averaging 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game while shooting 55% from the floor. First Iowa player to be drafted in the first round since Ricky Davis in 1998.
5. Detroit piston: Jaden Iveyguard, Purdue
A First Team All-Big Ten Selection and Second Team All-American, he started his sophomore year at Purdue and went on to become one of the most electrifying players in college basketball. Ivey more than doubled his score and rebound from his freshman season. He has developed into one of the best, if not the best, thoroughbred athletes in the class. Ivey’s first step sets him apart from other guards in this class, and as he moves towards the basket he slides.
What makes him a top five pick is his ability to influence the game in transition. There are some potential pitfalls, as Ivey’s perimeter game sometimes goes through droughts in college. The other key area Ivey needs to address is his defense. At times he has shown that he can be a great defender. Its 6ft 9 wingspan is sure to cause problems. But the defense came and went, too. Can he be an everyday defender? That’s a big question he needs to answer.
The Pistons drafted the best athlete in that draft class and selected another potential cornerstone to make Cade Cunningham’s life easier. The thought of Ivey in transition combined with Cunningham on the floor has particular potential. Detroit should be considered the draft night winner. Class: A
Using the numbers: Averaging 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game while shooting 35.8% from 3-point range.
6. Indiana Pacers: Benedict MathurinWing, Arizona
The Pac-12 Player of the Year and Second Team All-American is super athletic and has one of the best shooting shots in the draft class. Where Mathurin does the most damage is in transition. He flashes on the run with the ability to drop that swing-altering slam or deliver a pass that will raise eyebrows.
The negative at Mathurin? He is defensively raw and can be turnover prone at times. He can be a quality second option for a team with the ability to sometimes take over in games when all is going well because he knows how to shoot over people and with the right coaching staff could maximize the advantage.
Using the numbers: Averaging 17.7 points, 5.6 boards, and 2.5 assists per game, with 45% shooting from the field and 37% from off the arc. Was a member of the Canada U19 team that won the bronze medal at the 2021 FIBA World U19 Championships in Latvia.
7. Portland Trail Blazer: Shaedon Sharpeguard, Kentucky
Sharpe is possibly the biggest high-risk, high-reward prospect in the draft class. He is super athletic and long and can play over the edge. His shot sense is elite and he has the ability to put a shot on goal for a next level team. While Sharpe fits into the mold of a pinpoint guard, he’s a skilled passer and can make plays for teammates. So why isn’t he higher on the board? What makes him such a high risk?
He did not play in a game in Kentucky last season after being reclassified to be available for the sophomore at Lexington. Add that Sharpe has only appeared in 42 competitive games since 2019, and the question is whether he’ll be able to handle the challenges that come with moving to the NBA without having to go through a lot first . This is felt on the defensive end of the floor, where Sharpe didn’t really shine in the sample size we have. There’s also concern over Sharpe’s shot selection and how he picks his spots in the NBA, having not played any real 5v5 action since the Nike EYBL Circuit last July.
Using the numbers: Ranked #1 overall prospect in the Class of 2022 by ESPN, Rivals and 247Sports before enrolling a semester early in Kentucky. Averaging 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in the 2021 Nike Elite Youth Basketball League.
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