The college basketball season has officially tipped off and, as expected, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero had impressive debuts. Basketball fans are in for an early treat as Holmgren and Banchero square off Nov. 26 in Las Vegas.
The G League Ignite is in its second season and has a few players on NBA scouts’ radars, led by sharp-shooter Jaden Hardy.
The No. 1-ranked player in high school, Shaedon Sharpe, is enrolling early at Kentucky and plans to redshirt second semester, similar to the path former Wildcat Hamidou Diallo took. As of now, the NBA will recognize Sharpe’s graduation date as December 2021, but he could appeal and possibly be eligible for the 2022 NBA draft since he’s a fifth-year high school senior and will meet the age requirements by June. Sharpe is a projected top-10 draft pick in the 2022 or 2023 draft, but will not be included in any 2022 mock drafts unless an appeal is filed.
There will undoubtedly be a ton of movement between now and June 23. Here’s Yahoo Sports’ latest look at the first round of the 2022 NBA draft.
(Draft order is from Tankathon.)
1. New Orleans Pelicans: C Chet Holmgren
Ht./Wt.: 7-foot, 195 pounds
The 7-foot freshman was the No. 1 player coming out of high school and is the best shot blocker in the country with his 7-foot-5 wingspan. He had one of the most impressive stat lines to start the season: 14 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks and six assists in a convincing win over Dixie State. He became the first player over the last 25 seasons to register at least 10 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five blocks in a Division I debut. Holmgren is a unique prospect in the way he handles the ball like a guard and protects the rim like a true center.
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 250 pounds
Banchero has an NBA-ready body, elite athleticism in the post and can extend his game outside 3-point range. He looked phenomenal against Kentucky and is the star player Duke has been missing the last couple of years. Banchero finished with 22 points and seven rebounds and did a little bit of everything. He might be No. 2 right now, but will definitely be considered for that top spot come draft night.
3. Detroit Pistons: G Jaden Hardy
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 198 pounds
Team: G League Ignite
Against the Agua Caliente Clippers on Thursday, Hardy finished with 24 points and hit his first four 3-pointers of the game. The elite shooting guard is not afraid to let it fly from all over the court and is a great finisher in transition. He has a quick first step off the dribble and loves to finish at the rim. Hardy models his game after James Harden, and it’s apparent in his step-back 3-point jumper. NBA scouts will be watching for consistency in his jumper and development this year playing against other professionals in the G League.
4. Orlando Magic: F Jabari Smith Jr.
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 220 pounds
The Magic are building a talented, young core around guards Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs and R.J. Hampton. Smith Jr. is an ideal stretch four to add to this young franchise. The 6-foot-10 freshman is the highest-rated recruit Bruce Pearl and the Tigers have ever landed. He has the athleticism to guard the perimeter and also the length to drop down low and protect the rim.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves: G/F Patrick Baldwin Jr.
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 220 pounds
School: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Baldwin Jr. elected to stay home and play for his dad at UW-Milwaukee over playing for a blue-blood program like Duke, Kentucky or Kansas. Both Baldwin Jr. and Holmgren are playing in weaker conferences and have the potential to dominate their respective leagues until the NCAA tournament. In his first game against North Dakota, Baldwin Jr. led both teams in scoring with 21 points and added 10 rebounds. He has great size for an NBA wing and is also an underrated 3-point shooter once he gets hot.
6. Atlanta Hawks: C Jalen Duren
Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 250 pounds
It’s hard to believe that Duren should still be playing high school basketball this year with his size and presence early in the college season. Duren reclassified and joined Penny Hardaway’s team late this summer and hasn’t been challenged in the lane yet. He had 15 points, six rebounds and five blocks in 31 minutes in his college debut. NBA scouts will be watching his development off the block and how he defends the pick-and-roll against faster, more experienced guards.
7. Indiana Pacers: G Jaden Ivey
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 195 pounds
Ivey is an athletic shooting guard who gave NBA scouts a glimpse of what he could be at the next level when he dropped 26 points in the first round of the NCAA tournament, the most points scored by a Big Ten freshman. Ivey has a ton of upside at just 19 years old and is the son of Notre Dame women’s head coach Niele Ivey. Over the summer, Ivey helped lead Team USA to a gold medal in the FIBA Under-19 World Cup where he averaged 12.3 points per game.
8. San Antonio Spurs: G/F Caleb Houstan
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 205 pounds
Houstan has a lot of maturity to his game, and he’s only a freshman. His 3-point shot is very fluid, especially stepping into it in transition. He’s a patient player on the wing who will make the extra pass. Michigan’s offense is running around 7-foot-1 center Hunter Dickinson this season, but having Houstan on the perimeter will open the lane for others since he’s such a threat.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder: G TyTy Washington
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 197 pounds
Washington is a fierce competitor who loves to get in the lane. He’s off to a slow start this season and was a little underwhelming in his debut against Duke, but NBA scouts can see his potential as a combo guard at the next level. Washington has great pace to his game and is an above average playmaker who can score at every level.
10. Sacramento Kings: G/F Peyton Watson
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 200 pounds
Watson will be coming off the bench behind Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. this season, but the freshman out of Los Angeles has huge upside as an NBA player. He has great length with a 7-foot wingspan and has excellent timing defensively when going head-to-head with bigger players on the block. Watson is a tireless worker and will continue to improve as he adjusts to the pace at the college level.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: G Trevor Keels
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 220 pounds
Keels is a stocky, athletic shooting guard who led both teams in scoring with 25 points in a 79-71 win over Kentucky. He added three steals and three assists in his first game at Duke and is a perfect complementary playmaker for Banchero. In the second game against Army, Keels led both teams in steals with six in 30 minutes. No player has helped his draft stock in the first few games more than Keels.
12. Boston Celtics: G Jean Montero
Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 172 pounds
Team: Overtime Elite
The Dominican guard elected to join the Overtime Elite team after previously playing for Gran Canaria of the Spanish ACB. Montero excels in the open court and has a solid pull-up jumper either in transition or coming off screens. The new Overtime Elite team has a ton of scoring options, and Montero is showing scouts early that he’s a pass-first guard who can create for others.
13. Charlotte Hornets: G Bennedict Mathurin
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 210 pounds
Mathurin is a solid 3-and-D wing with great size and has a solid 3-point shot. During his freshman year, he averaged 10.8 points and shot 42% from 3-point range. He showed improvement on his shot selection throughout his freshman year, and that’s something scouts will be watching closely this season.
14. Toronto Raptors: G Matthew Cleveland
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 200 pounds
School: Florida State
Leonard Hamilton and his staff produced two lottery picks the last two years and could make it three in a row with the freshman shooting guard. Cleveland has great size, length and elite shooting mechanics making him a player NBA teams will have to take a look at in the late lottery.
15. Milwaukee Bucks: G Kennedy Chandler
Ht./Wt.: 6-0, 171 pounds | Class: Freshman | School: Tennessee
16. Memphis Grizzlies: F A.J. Griffin
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 220 pounds | Class: Freshman | School: Duke
17. New York Knicks: G MarJon Beauchamp
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 200 pounds | Team: G League Ignite
18. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Yannick Nzosa
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 195 pounds | Team: Unicaja (Dominican Republic of Congo)
19. Memphis Grizzlies: G Max Christie
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 190 pounds | Class: Freshman | School: Michigan State
20. Oklahoma City Thunder: G/F Matthew Mayer
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 225 pounds | Class: Senior | School: Baylor
21. Houston Rockets: G JD Davison
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 195 pounds | Class: Freshman | School: Alabama
22. Dallas Mavericks: G/F Ousmane Dieng
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 185 pounds | Team: NZ Breakers (Australia’s National Basketball League)
23. Denver Nuggets: G/F Nikola Jović
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 209 pounds | Team: Mega Basket (Serbia)
24. Philadelphia 76ers: G Ochai Agbaji
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 215 pounds | Class: Senior | School: Kansas
25. Miami Heat: G Bryce McGowens
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 179 pounds | Class: Freshman | School: Nebraska
26. Oklahoma City Thunder: G Dyson Daniels
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 200 pounds | Team: G League Ignite
27. Memphis Grizzlies: G Allen Flanigan
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 215 pounds | Class: Junior | School: Auburn
28. Chicago Bulls: C Daimion Collins
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 202 pounds | Class: Freshman | School: Kentucky
29. Washington Wizards: F Roko Prkačin
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 225 pounds | Team: KK Cibona (Croatia)
30. Golden State Warriors: G/F Jaime Jaquez Jr.
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 225 pounds | Class: Junior | School: UCLA