A Draft Casual’s 2022 Big Board (3/2/22)

If you’ve read my draft grade articles, you know that I am a self-proclaimed NBA draft casual. I rarely watch NCAA games until March Madness, and when it’s time for the draft I have only basic knowledge of the guys being selected.

I want that to change. While trying to watch a few games, I spent the last week or so doing research on 2022 draft prospects. I watched highlights, read scouting reports, and started checking out some additional info on Twitter. 

So, after all that research, I’ve put together a top thirty ranking of the best players in the upcoming NBA draft. 

It might suck. I have no idea. My goal is to continue to pay more attention to NCAA happenings and update this big board up until the draft. I will be releasing an updated version after the tournament. 

Alongside my rankings, you will find another score. For each player, I compiled an average ranking across four other sources: NBA Draft Room, NBADraft.net, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN. I wanted to compare my placements to those of some major outlets. 

Let’s get into the list!

#1- Jabari Smith Jr. 

Media Ranking- 1.25

Jabari Smith, the versatile power forward from Auburn, seems to be the popular choice to be the first overall pick this June. From what I’ve seen, I find that very hard to disagree with. The 6’10” phenom is one of the best shooters in the draft, killing defenses off the catch or the bounce with a high release point reminiscent of Kevin Durant’s. Beyond that, he has a solid handle for a player of his size, and he’s a finisher at the bucket. If I were the GM picking first overall this summer, Jabari Smith would be my guy. 

#2- Chet Holmgren

Media Ranking- 2.25

Chet is a player I’ve been aware of since his high school days due to his immense talent. The seven-footer impresses me the most with his incredibly efficient paint play and his spectacular shot-blocking ability, but he has also displayed ball-handling and shooting that have scouts drooling at the mouth thinking about how good he can become. I wouldn’t blame anybody who thinks he is the top guy in this class. 

#3- Paolo Banchero

Media Ranking- 3.75

Paolo Banchero is the third guy in this class who has a shot at going number one. He’s an impressive scorer and should have an offensive impact right away in the league. He uses his 6’10” height and strength to be an excellent finisher at the rim, and he uses quality footwork to create space for his knockdown mid-range jumper. He’s very skilled for a player of his size. Banchero will likely become a top option very early in his NBA career. 

#4- Jaden Ivey

Media Ranking- 3.25

Ivey is an explosive downhill athlete, a quick and crafty finisher, and a transition tyrant at the point guard position. His playstyle has drawn many comparisons to Ja Morant. While it’s impossible to say if Ivey will ever become the player Ja is, his ceiling is high. He’s shown some off-the-bounce creation from deep, and if that becomes a legit weapon in his arsenal Ivey will be a very scary player one day.

#5- Nikola Jovic

Media Ranking- 21.25

International prospect Nikola Jovic immediately stood out to me. He’s oozing with natural talent as a 6’10” guard. He’s a smart and accurate passer who can handle the ball, and he has some shot-making ability. As shown by the media ranking, I clearly feel very different about Jovic than the average scout. I think the upside for a player with a skillset like Jovic’s is too high for him to be selected any later than tenth, and I’d roll the dice on him in the top five.                                                                                   

#6- Adrian Griffin Jr.

Media Ranking- 6.25

Duke freshman AJ Griffin’s claim to fame is his knockdown three-ball. He’s hitting a sizzling 49% from deep on four attempts per game for the Blue Devils. Shooting like that will make him an impactful player from the get-go, but it’s his athleticism and handle that give him the upside to be a top ten pick. 

#7- TyTy Washington

Media Ranking- 12.5

TyTy Washington is a smooth operator. The Kentucky point guard is very shifty and can score from all three levels. I like his floater game, as that is a shot that can make a good scoring guard great. This class isn’t very deep at point guard, but Washington is talented and I consider him a top option at that position.

#8- Shaedon Sharpe

Media Ranking- 8.0

Shaedon Sharpe is a mystery box. He hasn’t and won’t play any college basketball, leaving his high school highlights the only indication of his talent. He’s very athletic and has scoring ability, and his ceiling is high. His floor is low too because he’ll likely come into the league very raw. It’s difficult to tell how good Sharpe is, but if he pans out he could be the core of a rebuild. 

#9- Bennedict Mathurin

Media Ranking- 9.5

Arizona freshman Bennedict Mathurin is built for the modern NBA with his natural scoring ability. He has an extremely fluid stroke from deep and he’s a good shooter when set or on the move. He needs to improve on defense, he’s inconsistent on that end, but he’s got the torch and that’s hard to pass up on.

#10- Johnny Davis

Media Ranking- 6.75

Johnny Davis is the go-to guy on the Big Ten champion Badgers. He’s averaging 20 PPG (which isn’t typical for an NCAA player) and getting it done at all three levels. He’s also a tough defender. Many teams may be looking at him as a future franchise guard, but I’m not sold on that at the moment. He’s more of a tough-shot maker than a space creator, and that isn’t guaranteed to translate to the league. I like Davis as a 3&D two-guard in the NBA, but he’s very capable of becoming more than that.

#11- Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Media Ranking- 25.0

PBJ was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, receiving offers from all the big schools. He chose to play for his dad at the much less regarded University of Milwaukee. That has hurt his draft stock, but I’m high on him. Like Jabari Smith, PBJ is a good three-point shooter with a beautiful high release. He gives me Michael Porter Jr. vibes, and MPJ is a good player. I think more people should be looking at Patrick Baldwin Jr. as a lottery talent. 

#12- Keegan Murray

Media Ranking- 8.5

Iowa freshman Keegan Murray is one of the nation’s leading scorers. He doesn’t create for himself, but he’s smart and efficient in the way he gets it done. He’s shooting 64% from two on eleven attempts per game, as he’s a very effective driver with good touch at the basket. He’s a solid shooter as well with smooth form. He lacks the ability to create for himself, and I think his ceiling is a high-end role player, but there’s nothing wrong with selecting a sure-fire contributor in the lottery. 

#13- Jaden Hardy

Media Ranking- 22.0

Like his G-League Ignite predecessor Jalen Green, Hardy is a talented player who needs to piece everything together. He struggles with efficiency and decision-making at times, but he’s shown many flashes of natural scoring and passing ability and I think his upside is high. 

#14- Kendall Brown

Media Ranking- 18.0

Brown is a very active and athletic forward who will fit in with any NBA roster. He’s versatile on defense, a smart cutter, and a good finisher. I think a player like him who could play anywhere has too much value to be picked outside of the lottery.

(Now that we are outside of the lottery, I will keep my explanations shorter. I still have limited knowledge on most of these guys, and the lower we go the less information I was able to find.)

#15- Tari Eason

Media Ranking- 23.0

Eason is a 3&D wing, but he also has a solid handle and mid-range game that suggest he can become more than that one day. 

#16- Walker Kessler

Media Ranking- 19.25

Rim protection is the most important part of an NBA defense and Kessler is averaging 4.7 blocks per game for Auburn. 

#17- Jean Montero

Media Ranking- 38.5

Montero is a foreign point guard who is pretty raw. He has pure playmaking talent and can shoot off the dribble, and could end up having a Darius Garland-esque developmental path (late bloomer). After all, point guard is the hardest position to adjust to in the NBA. 

#18- Jalen Duren

Media Ranking- 11.0

Duren is a monster in the paint on both ends, and he’s one of the best rebounders in the draft. His offensive skillset is limited to lob catching and dump-off finishing though, which doesn’t make me excited enough about his upside to take him in the lottery (especially if he doesn’t have good playmakers around him). 

#19- MarJon Beauchamp

Media Ranking- 18.75

Beauchamp doesn’t excel in one area, but he can do everything well. He can score at the rim and from the mid-range, he plays defense, and he’s unselfish. He should be a very solid role player the moment he touches an NBA court.

#20- Dyson Daniels

Media Ranking- 15.75

Daniels is a talented defender and is a good passer for a wing, but he’s very limited as a scorer and that will have to change. 

#21- Wendell Moore

Media Ranking- 22.75

Moore is a good shooter, a decent passer, and a high flier. He’s another do-it-all guy and has high upside if he can build off his shot-creation ability.

#22- Blake Wesley

Media Ranking- 20.0

Blake Wesley is a bucket. He moves well with the ball, finishes over bigger players, and can shoot the ball. 

#23- Ochai Agbaji

Media Ranking- 19.5

One of the most polished products in the draft, fourth-year Kansas wing Ochai Agbaji will provide immediate 3&D impact in the NBA.

#24- Johnny Juzang

Media Ranking- 62.0

I have no idea why the media thinks Juzang will go undrafted. Maybe this is me being a casual, but I think he’s a late first-round talent. He has shooting/scoring ability that most players in the draft can’t match. 

#25- Trevor Keels

Media Ranking- 25.7

Keels is a strong point guard who plays hard on defense and finishes through contact at the rim. He is also very comfortable in the pick&roll, one of the NBA’s most common actions. 

#26- E.J. Liddell

Media Ranking- 25.75

Ohio State power forward E.J. Liddell’s main strengths are finishing and defense. He’s also become a solid three-point shooter over his college career, which will make him more playable in the age of stretch fours. 

#27- Caleb Houstan

Media Ranking- 40.0

Houstan has a smooth jumper he uses to score at a high level. He was regarded as a first-round pick until early-season struggles changed that, but I think he’ll be a solid contributor in the league. 

#28- Michael Foster 

Media Ranking- 44.25

The fourth and final G-League Ignite prospect on my top thirty, Foster plays with energy on defense and on the glass. He has a fluid mid-range game and is developing a three-ball. 

#29- Jeremy Sochan

Media Ranking- 19.75

Sochan is a player I’ve seen get a lot of buzz on Twitter, mostly because he’s one of the best defenders in the draft. He isn’t much of a three-point shooter at this point, and his terrible free-throw shooting makes me nervous. 

#30- Tyson Etienne

Media Ranking- 79.0

Etienne is a better shooter than almost every player I did research on, and he displays NBA range in every game he plays. If a guy like Corey Kispert can be picked just outside the lottery I think Etienne is worthy of a late first-round selection. 

Other players I scouted for this and will continue to keep an eye on include Matthew Cleveland, Max Christie, Mark Williams, and Harrison Ingram.

So that’s a draft casual’s big board! How bad was it? Let me know! Thanks for reading, and see you next time!

(P.S. Sorry it’s been so long since I last put out an article- I was struggling to come up with a good idea. I will be more consistent.)

(Another P.S. If you know any good sources for NBA draft info- websites, blogs, Twitter accounts, anything; let me know!)

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