By Hocine LOUKKAF on 1/4/2022

Not much change except the fact that Jabari Smith is becoming a legit contender for the #1 spot alongside Holmgren and Banchero, with Duren, Ivey and the rising Mathurin not too far behind.

#1 Chet Holmgren, 7-0 PF, Gonzaga, Fr

His body remains a problem but maybe Holmgren’s length makes him a better prospect than Banchero. He’s recorded at least 3bl and 11rbds in each of his games against top 25 ranked Alabama and Texas Tech during the last month despite struggling offensively (15pts on 4/13FG and 1/7 3pt). Shooting consistency is definitely what could make him a surefire first pick.

#2 Jabari Smith, 6-9 SF/PF, LSU, Fr

Playing for top 10 ranked Auburn, Smith was prolific in December, recording at least 12pts, 4rbds and two 3pts made in each game, combining 17/40 from three over the period. The two last games have been a bit under his averages with 2/8 from three in the win against LSU and 10pts 1rbds and 4tos against South Carolina last night. Smith remains one of the most intriguing prospects and a candidate for #1 pick.

#3 Paolo Banchero, 6-9 PF, Duke, Fr

The loss against Ohio State kind of exposed Banchero’s inability do dominate (14pts on 4/14FG 5rbds) facing a strong defense including another potential first rounder at his position, EJ Lidell. He’s been better over the last two games with 23pts against VT and 17pts 11rbds 4as against Georgia Tech but still remains an inconsistent shooter (4/13 3pt since December) who relies a lot on his body to score.

#4  Jalen Duren, 6-10 C, Memphis, Fr

After a streak of four losses during which he was at the very least inconsistent (two games with 2pts), Duren and Memphis have bounced back with wins against Alabama and Wichita State during which the top 5 prospect had 14pts twice. Now he needs to record the same defensive numbers as at the begininng of the season as he’s not recorded better than 6rbds and 1bl in each of his last four games.

#5 Bennedict Mathurin, 6-7 SG/SF, Arizona, So

With five 20+pt performances over the last seven games, it’s not hard to understand why Mathurin rose into the top 10. During this streak of seven games, the Canadian swingman has had six games with 6rbds or more, recorded more than 2tos only once why shooting at least 45% FG in each game and a combined 22/51 from three.

#6 Jaden Ivey, 6-3 SG, Purdue, So

Despite two losses against Rutgers and Wisconsin during the past month, Ivey has been solid, recording at least 12pts over the last nine games. Yet, his last game against Wisconsin was more difficult as he’s struggled scoring the ball efficiently (14pts on 3/9 FG) and above all was outplayed by Johnny Davis who had 37pts and 14rbds on him.

#7 Kennedy Chandler, 6-1 PG, Tennessee, Fr

After a strong showing against Colorado with 27pts, Chandler got colder as he’s shot three times under 32% FG over the last four games including 2/14 FG against Arizona on 12/23. Chandler remains the best pure PG of this draft but needs to improve his scoring efficiency to remain in the top 10.

#8 Patrick Baldwin, 6-9 SF/PF, Milwaukee, Fr

With only three games played over the last month or so, not much has changed for Baldwin. He had one exceptional game where he shot 6/6 from three, good for 26pts and 7rbds against Robert Morris but followed with 12pts and 6pts against Colorado and Rhode Island on awful percentages. The talent is there but the decision to play for Milwaukee where all defenders are focused on him is hurting his stock badly.

#9 Jaden Hardy, 6-5 SG, G-League Ignite

Things have been a bit better for Hardy who struggled a lot in his G League’s start as he had three games where he shot 44+% from the field for the first time of the season. 3pt consistency is still a work in progress with a streak of eight games where he has shot at least four times from three but only two where he recorded  more than 25%. Being a primary ball handler also remains an issue with at least 4tos in each of his last four games. Hardy needs a lot of polishing to end up in the top 5.

#10 Kendall Brown, 6-8 SF, Baylor, Fr

Over the last six games, Brown had a streak of three games where he recorded at least 12pts and 71% FG. Yet, over the other three games, including two against top 10 ranked opponents, Brown didn’t score more than 4pts and shot a combined 1/4 from three despite playing at least 20min. Like many other freshman prospect, he needs to being it at every game and be a constant threat offensively while developing his outside shot.

#11 Michael Foster Jr, 6-9 PF, G-League Ignite

With at least 10pts 7rbds and 1bl in each of his last six games (including three double-doubles and a streak of 11 made FTs), Foster Jr is proving that he deserves a lottery selection. Stretching his game could even open him the doors into the top 10.

#12 Dyson Daniels, 6-6 PG/SG, G-League Ignite

A lot like his countrymate Josh Giddey, Daniels is filling the statsheet but not on the most consistent way. Over the last five games, he had two 20+pt nights where he shot at least 56% FG and grabbed 8rbds or more but also recorded two games scoring 2 and 6 while shooting under 30% FG. At least, Daniels will always be active on the court even when he’s not efficient offensively, enough to have him in the lottery and maybe the top 10.

#13 Adrian Griffin Jr, 6-7 SF/PF, Duke, Fr

After a slow start where he struggled getting minutes, AGJ has had four double-digit scoring games over the last five games playing around 20min a night. His physicality and ability to hit the outside shot (8/16 over the last five games) could be intriguing to NBA scouts.

#14 Keegan Murray, 6-8 PF/SF, Iowa, So

Another intriguing prospect, Murray is the type of versatile combo forward who could bring something to the table on both ends of the floor. He had his first bad game against archrival Iowa State as he scored only 9pts on 4/17 FG but bounced back with 35pts the very next game. Shooting consistency could be the key for him to be picked earlier as he shot 25% or less from three in six of the last eight games (at least four attempts per game).

#15 Ismael Kamagate (France), 6-11 C, Paris Basket (France) 2001

For his first year in the solid French Pro A, Kamagate has been surprising, getting more minutes and better stats than last year in Pro B. The French center’s combination of length and mobility, added with his 70% on the court and from the FT line, make him a potential two-way player who could help teams in need of a defensive anchor.

#16 Johnny Davis, 6-5 SG, Wisconsin, So

Davis may not be the most hyped player or prospect but he’s been on a tear recently as he’s recorded at least 20pts in eight of the last nine games. Davis also makes up for his lack of shooting consistency with a never-slowing motor, combining 25rbds and 21 FTs over the last two games, including season bests 37pts and 14rbds in the win against 3rd ranked Purdue.

#17 TyTy Washington, 6-3 PG/SG, Kentucky, Fr

The next Kentucky guard to make it in the NBA, Washington has been pretty solid since the start of the season with only three games under 44% FG. Yet, these three games led to losses for Kentucky against big conferences opponents including Washington’s worst scoring game last night against LSU (5pts on 2/9 FG). The freshman will need to prove he can play well against solid competition if Kentucky wants to go far in the Tournament.

#18 Yannick Nzosa (DR Congo), 6-11 PF/C, Malaga (Spain) 2003

Once a top five projected prospect, Nzosa could be victim of a team’s strategy not to expose him as Malaga signed him on a long-term deal while he’s getting the exact same playing time as last year. Unfortunately, he seems to peak as he’s far less efficient when he’s on the court, which, added to his contractual situation, could cause him to slip much lower.

#19 Jean Montero, 6-2 PG, 2003 Overtime Elite 

Always hard to evaluate a player who is not playing against known competition. As long as he’s working on his game and stays healthy, a team will consider him one of the top PGs in this draft, enough to have him ranked in the top 20.

#20 Nikola Jovic (Serbia), 6-10 PF, 2003 MegaBasket (Serbia) 2003

The Serbian forward is displaying his versatility in Adriatic League shooting 37% from three while averaging almost 3as. He could be more impactful on the boards with 4.3rbds in 28min per game but his stretch-four profile will interest teams .

#21 Marjon Beauchamp, 6-7 SF/SG, G-League Ignite, 2000

After a good start, Beauchamp had two bad games where he scored 2 and 6 despite playing 30+min. He bounced back well with 25 and 2  in the very next games but needs to improve his outside shooting as he’s combined 0/7 over the last four games.

#22 Christian Koloko, 7-1 C, Arizona, So

One of the best shot blockers in the country, Koloko has been inconsistent over the last month as he recorded three games with 6pts or less and three games with 12pts or more over the last six games. He struggled against Illinois and its center Kofi Cockburn with 4pts and 7rbds while Cockurn had 13 and 13 (albeit on 5/15 FG). Koloko still has room to improve and may hear his name in the first round.

#23 JD Davison, 6-2 SG/PG, Alabama, Fr

After a streak of four interesting games against Miami (13pts on 6/8 FG 10as), Gonzaga (20pts on 4/6 3pt), Houston (10pts 9rbds) and Memphis (8pts 10as 5rbds 3st), Davison has been bad over the last three games, combining 13pts on 4/14 FG (0/6 3pt) and recording 8tos against Tennessee. If he can’t prove he can project as a solid back up from the bench and bring energy, Davison will probably need to stay one more year in college.

#24 Wendell Moore, 6-6 SF, Duke, Jr

Not the player with the biggest upside but a solid swingman. Despite recording his first game under 10pts last night, Moore is as steady as you can find with only one game under 46% FG, multiple 4+as games and a combined 9/15 3pt over the last five games.

#25 Walker Kessler, 7-1 PF/C, Auburn So
With averages of 14.8pts 8.8rbds and 6.2bl  (and a combined 12/17 FT) over the last five games, including a triple double (16pts 10rbds 11bl) against top 20 ranked LSU, it’s hard not to talk about Kessler. He’s been one of the best rim protectors of the country and could even be more intriguing if he starts knocking his shots (2/4 3pt over the last four games).

#26 Trevor Keels, 6-4 SG, Duke, Fr

Projected by some experts in the lottery, I see less upside in Keels who, as solid as he may be, is not one of the most explosive neither one of the better shooting guards you’ll find among the 2022 prospects. His strong debut against Kentucky have been overshadowed by his bad games against Gonzaga (6pts on 2/11 FG albeit with 7as) and Ohio State (9pts on 3/12). The freshman still has several months to prove me wrong.

#27 EJ Lidell, 6-7 PF, Ohio State, Jr
The typical Midwest blue collar, Lidell has been praised after his 14pts 14rbds 6as 3bl game in the win against Duke despite multiple 20+pt game. Despite his physical limitations, his versatility and toughness make him one of the closest comparisons to Draymond Green, somone who should be gone by the end of the first round.

#28 Hugo Besson (France), 6-4 SG, New Zealand Breakers (NBL) 2001

After three 20+pt games where he combined 12/27 from three, Besson has struggled in the next with 8 and 6pts on an awful 0/10 3pt. Consistency will be the key to be picked in the first round.

#29 Ousmane Dieng (France), 6-9 SF/SG/PG, New Zealand Breakers (NBL) 2003

One of the most intriguing prospects of the 2003 class, Dieng is hitting a wall playing in the NBL as he averages only 3.3pts on awful FG percentage. Yet, his profile and youth could make him a late first round selection for a team willing to develop him over 2/3 years.

#30 Mark Williams, 6-11 C, Duke, So

A rawer prospect than Kamagate, Koloko or even Kessler, Williams’ Duke pedigree and rim-protection still could intrigue teams in the late first. Yet, he can’t afford to have too many games with 5rbds or less like it was the case in the last games despite playing less against limited opposition.