By Hocine LOUKKAF on 2/21/2022
While Banchero has declined a bit, Holmgren and Smith are having a remote fight for that #1 spot
#1 Chet Holmgren, 7-0 PF, Gonzaga, Fr
With a lack of opposition in Gonzaga’s conference, Holmgren has the room to perform consistently and work on his shot. He’s doing it pretty well with five 18+pt games, five 10+rbds games and an impressive 24/46 from three since early January. With Banchero and Smith declining a bit, Holmgren is becoming that sure thing at #1.
#2 Jabari Smith, 6-9 SF/PF, LSU, Fr
Despite his Tigers losing their first #1 ranking, Smith is still performing at a good level. After a streak of three games under 38% FG, he has been impressive in his last two games with 31 and 28pts on a combined 11/16 from three; nothing to make the hype around him deflate.
#3 Paolo Banchero, 6-9 PF, Duke, Fr
Even more than Smith, Banchero has struggled over the last weeks like his whole team, which lost three games against non-ranked opponents during the last month and a half. With four of his last six games under 36% FG and a poor 5/21 from three during that stretch, it will be hard to prove than he can be better than Smith or Holmgren who basically play at the same spot. Banchero may be more ready physically but also more limited in term of versatility and upside.
#4 Jaden Ivey, 6-3 SG, Purdue, So
After nine games with at least 15pts and multiple 20+ games, Ivey had his worst game for a long time with 11pts on 2/9 FG. He had a better game with 25pts against Rutgers but his 0/10 from thre over the last two games doesn’t help him. The best collegiate guard is a notch below the top 3 but his flashing style of play and motor could convince a team to pick him in the top 5.
#5 Shaedon Sharpe, 6-5 SG, Kentucky
The mystery man in this draft, the Canadian SG has graduated HS early to join Kentucky. He’s become eligible for the draft and is right away considered a potential top 10 and probably top 5 pick thanks to his combination of shooting and physical tools.
#6 Jalen Duren , 6-10 C, Memphis, Fr
Duren has his limitations as he had two single-digit scoring games in January where he only combined for 10rbds. Since then, he’s bounced back pretty well with three double doubles in a row with at least 66% FG including a win against Houston. Enough to make him the top center in this draft for now.
#7 AJ Griffin, 6-7 SF, Duke, Fr
With 34/66 from three since January, AJG’s stock has skyrocketed and he has become a regular potential top 10 pick. Now, the Duke forward has to work on his consistency as he had four games with 5pts or less during that stretch including 2pt on 1/7 FG in 24min in the loss against UVA. His rare combination of shooting and physical tools could land him in the top 5.
#8 Keegan Murray, 6-8 PF/SF, Iowa, So
If it wasn’t for this streak of four games, including three losses, during which Murray shot under 37% from the field, he would probably be a pick or two before. Fortunately, he’s had five games with at least 23pts including four with at least 50% FG which make him a surefire top 10 pick.
#9 Johnny Davis, 6-5 SG, Wisconsin, So
The best rebounding SG in college basketball, Davis would be higher if it was only for his 20.9pts and 8.3rbds per game or some impressive performances like his game against Indiana (30pts 12rbds). Yet, his lack of explosivity and above all, of shooting consistency (3/19 from three over the last eight games, three games under 27% FG with at least 13 FGA over the last eleven) make him a real bet if you pick him as your starting SG. He makes up for it by shooting more than 6 FTs per game, knocking 77% from the foul line.
#10 Michael Foster Jr, 6-9 PF, G-League Ignite
With 19.7pts 10.7rbds and 4as per game over the last six games, Foster Jr is showing rare poise for such a young big man. It would be even better if these games were not six losses for Team Ignite. Foster Jr also had two games under 44% FG, something that he should not accept as a big man and improve.
#11 Jaden Hardy, 6-5 SG, G-League Ignite
Maybe the prospect who struggles the most with G-League Ignite considering his hype before the season, Hardy will have to deal with the Ivey, Davis and now Sharpe at his position. His inconsistency shooting the ball (two games with 0/4 3pt over the last five games) and inabilility to be an efficient creator fror his teammates (21as for 19tos during that stretch) could make him slip to the late teens.
#12 Bennedict Mathurin, 6-7 SG/SF, Arizona, So
After shooting under 34% FG three games in a row in January (including the loss against UCLA where he went 5/22 from the field), Mathurin has shot at least 42% FG over the last four games/wins, including a combined 12/24 from three. More consistency and getting the Wildcats far in the tournament could propell Mathurin in the top 10 for sure.
#13 Kennedy Chandler, 6-1 PG, Tennessee, Fr
Watching how he destroyed Kentucky (17pts 6as 2st 0to), Chandler is proving once again he may be the best pure PG prospect in this draft. He still needs to cut down on his turnovers and put passing over everything (four games with 3as or less over the last seven, including 0 in the loss against Texas) to be a surefire lottery pick.
#14 Walker Kessler, 7-1 PF/C, Auburn So
One of the highest riser lately, Kessler has been impressive playing for recent #1 ranked Auburn. With at least 7bl in three of his last six games, including a triple double with blocks against Texas A&M (12pts 11rbds 12bl), the Tiger center averaged 15.8pts 11.2rbds and 7bl (sic) over the last six games before the loss against Florida, stats which could help him grab some spots before the end of the season.
#15 Ochai Agbaji, 6-5 SG, Kansas
A volume shooter with Kansas (43.5% on almost 7attpts from three), Agbaji could bring his experience and solid rebounding to an already solid roster. His shooting has a bit derailed lately (8/29 from three over the last five games) before a nice 23pts on 3/6 from three against WVU.
#16 Dyson Daniels, 6-6 PG/SG, G-League Ignite
As Ignite’s main PG prospect, Daniels has a real chip on his shoulder creating opportunities for his teammates to score and also being an offensive threat. Unfortunately, he scored in single digits in his last three games while shooting only two FTs in the process in 93 combined minutes, illustrating his lack of agressivity. Yet, his oversized stature at PG and unselfishness, combined with the success of his countrymate Giddey, could be enough to hear his name in the top 15.
#17 Kendall Brown, 6-8 SF, Baylor, Fr
Another played who struggled in January with six single-digit scoring games in a row, Brown has been better after this bad streak with at least 7pts in each of his last nine games including 13pts 5rbds 5as in the last win against TCU.
#18 TyTy Washington, 6-3 PG/SG, Kentucky, Fr
While he is considered a steady and poise PG, Washington has struggled lately with five single-digit scoring games over the last eight contests including two losses against Auburn and Tennessee where he had to leave. More consistency will be required if he wants to enter the top 10.
#19 Ismael Kamagate (France), 6-11 C, Paris Basket (France) 2001
Consistency is the key for Kamagate in the rugged Pro A. After two 15pt games which resulted in wins, he had a poor game in the loss against Le Portel with 2pts and 3fo in 17min before racking 12pts and 7rbds in the loss against Cholet. He needs to find his floor to be a solid starter rather than a rising prospect.
#20 EJ Lidell, 6-7 PF, Ohio State, Jr
He may not be the player with the biggest upside or a future star, but Lidell is as safe a prospect as you can get. In his last eleven games, he’s always scored at least 13pts while shooting at least 43% FG and a combined 20/42 from three. The kind of tough and versatile stretch four you want to have in your roster.
#21 Jean Montero, 6-2 PG, 2003 Overtime Elite
The Dominican mystery remains … intriguing. Very hard to evaluate in the Overtime circuit against prep players, a team may take a gamble on him earlier but the 20s seem his spot.
#22 Marjon Beauchamp, 6-7 SF/SG, G-League Ignite, 2000
Except for his horrible game against the Capital City Go-Go (3pts 1rbd 1as in 32min), Beauchamp has improved his stock since the start of the season. Shooting is still a work in progress but his versatility and defensive potential should land him in the first round.
#23 Nikola Jovic (Serbia), 6-10 PF, MegaBasket (Serbia) 2003
The versatile Serbian forward keeps blowing the hot and the cold as he has shot pretty badly during the last games (4/32 from three over the last six games). His versatility will help him but being consistent is even more important for a stretch four like him.
#24 Wendell Moore Jr, 6-6 SF, Duke, Jr
After a scary fall against Clemson, Moore Jr has been able to come back and help the Blue Devils win their last four games. His averages of 16pts 6as 5rbds and 4st on the last two games illustrate he could become a Dosunmu-like type of all-around player.
#25 Ousmane Dieng (France), 6-9 SF/SG/PG, New Zealand Breakers (NBL) 2003
Another mystery prospect, Dieng went from being considered a top 10 prospect to slipping to the late first or further. He has been a bit better recently with 10pts per game over the last three games but his passing and FG % still leave to be desired.
#26 Patrick Baldwin, 6-9 SF/PF, Milwaukee, Fr
If a team takes a gamble on Baldwin, that would me mainly due to his HS hype and physical tools. Baldwin is still disappointing with a combined 26pts on 9/34 FG over the last three games.
#27 Mark Williams, 6-11 C, Duke, So
As raw as the Duke center is, his rim-protecting and rebounding abilities could be enough to make him a back-up center or a starter alongside a more offensive-minded PF. Speaking about offense, Williams has improved a lot with at least 10pts on 70+% FG in his last four games.
#28 Bryce McGowens, 6-7 SG, Nebraska, Fr
McGowens is still the same intriguing long SG but his offense and his team’s results make him a polarizing pick. Would he be better or less efficient around better teammates. We’ll probably know it next year.
#29 Justin Lewis, 6-10 PF/SF, Marquette, So
Marquette players tend to be overachievers and Lewis and his modern combo forward profile, if he keeps shooting and rebounding well, are good indicators of a long NBA career.
#30 Ibou Badji (Senegal), 7-1 C, 2002, Lleida (Spain LEB Gold)
Once a top 5 projected prospect, Badi didn’t play much with FC Barcelona but enjoys more playing time with Lleida in LEB Gold. He’s still raw but starts to showcase the length and athleticism that make him a special prospect.