By Hocine LOUKKAF on 9/15/2022
With one of the most talented and deepest drafts coming next June, including unicorn Victor Wembanyama and electric PG Scoot Henderson, this draft could change the fate of several NBA teams, and the league itself, for the years to come.
#1 Victor Wembanyama, 7-5 PF/C, Metropolitans 92 (France), 2004
NBA comparison : Mix of Rudy Gobert/Kevin Durant
Scrutinized since age 11, Wembanyama could finally live his dream next June. He had a so-so season with ASVEL last year, showing incredible upside but injuring several times during the course of the season. He decided to transfer to Metropolitans 92 where he will be focused on the French championship with the ultimate goal to be the first name called on draft night.
#2 Scoot Henderson, 6-3 PG, G-league Ignite, 2004
NBA comparison : Russell Westbrook
The only player for the moment who could prevent Wembanyama from being picked #1, Henderson was already impressive last year playing against men in G-League. Remaining with Ignite should help him be even more impactful and maybe dominate the league, if he can show the ability to hit the outside shot, to put pressure on Wembanyama and the team which will have the #1 pick.
#3 Nick Smith, 6-4 PG, Arkansas, Fr
NBA comparison : Poor man’s Ja Morant
Another spectacular lead guard, Smith should be the leader of Arkansas, which has managed to attract three potential first-rounders with Anthony Black and Jordan Walsh. Smith has a nice combination of size, athleticism, passing and shooting and might prove that he’s the best PG in this draft class.
#4 GG Jackson, 6-9 PF, South Carolina, Fr
NBA comparison : Pascal Siakam
The former #1 player of the 2023 class has reclassified to enroll at South Carolina, making him immediately a potential top 10 pick. A modern PF, Jackson has a nice combination of skills and length. he will not be a brusier inside but could develop into a Pascal-Siakam type of player, able to do a bit of everything as a stretch four.
#5 Cam Whitmore, 6-6 SF/SG, Villanova, Fr
NBA comparison : Jaylen Brown
An uber-athletic forward, Whitmore was a show at last Hoop Summit (19pts on 2/3 3pt in 15min) and during last U18 America (18.7pts 6.3rbds on 45% 3pt). He will join a school known for turning college players into pros and could even dream of reaching the top three if he can lead his team far in the NCAA Tournament.
#6 Dereck Lively, 7-0 PF/C, Duke, Fr
NBA comparison : Karl-Anthony Towns
A versatile and mobile big, Lively has slipped below the 10th position in numerous drafts but may be the #2 big behind Wembanyama. He can handle the ball, shoot from outside while being a solid rebounder and rim-protector. He will also have great exposure at Duke which may propel him into the top 10.
#7 Jarace Walker, 6-7 PF/SF, Houston, Fr
NBA comparison : poor man’s Kawhi Leonard
One of the most underrated prospects of this draft, Walker combines an elite body (6-7 with a 7-2 wingspan) with versatility and a never-stopping motor which he uses on both ends of the floor. He has never disappointed and always puts the team first despite the hype around him. Choosing Houston illustrates his mindset and his shooting is the only thing that limits his very high potential for the moment.
#8 Amen Thompson, PG/SG, Overtime, 2003
NBA comparison : Poor man’s Scottie Pippen
An athletic freak, Amen, like his twin Ausar, has decided to take the Overtime route to prepare for the draft, which makes it pretty hard to evaluate them against prep school competition. Yet, their first exhibition game of the year against Mega Basket of Serbia displayed Amen’s potential as a playmaker (9s 3tos) and defensive despite his poor shooting (0/4 3pt).
#9 Keyontae George, 6-4 SG, Baylor, Fr
NBA comparison : Donovan Mitchell
A strong guard with nice shooting ability, George is a solid scorer who can get really hot. His combination of skills and athleticism also makes him difficult to guard because he can read the defense and drive to the basket. If he can display solid defense at a school known for that, shooting consistency and improving his passing will be the keys to make him the top SG of the class.
#10 Dariq Whitehead, 6-6 SG/SF, Duke, Fr
NBA comparison : Rich man’s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
A top 5 recruit and allegedly the best outside scorer in his class, Whitehead has already suffered a foot injury which may sideline him for some months. If he comes back healthy, he may need to prove he’s an efficient shooter and that he can guard quicker players on the perimeter to become a pure SG in the NBA.
#11 Anthony Black, 6-7 PG/SG, Arkansas, Fr
NBA comparison : Poor man’s Cade Cunningham
An oversized lead guard with skills, Black should form an elite backcourt with Nick Smith at Arkansas. He’s not much of a shooter (10/28 2pt, 1/6 3pt at last FIBA U18 America ) but a great facilitator and versatile defender who should find a way to score paired with Smith and Jordan Walsh.
#12 Arthur Kaluma, 6-7 SF, Creighton, So
NBA comparison : Pascal Siakam
An athletic combo forward, Kaluma has had an interesting freshman season displaying versatility on defense. If he can be more consistent from outside, it will give him more room also to drive and an opportunity to become a much better scorer.
#13 Ausar Thompson, 6-6 SG/SF, Overtime, 2003
NBA comparison : more advanced Hamidou Diallo
An ultra athletic swingman, Thompson still needs to find efficiency on offense as he’s not the creator his brother is and still struggles shooting the ball from outside. He should also look to improve his focus on defense as he reaches a lot for the ball, making him foul-prone.
#14 Kel’el Ware, 7-0 C, Oregon, Fr
NBA comparison : Ivica Zubac
An emerging talent at the center position, Ware impresses more by his length and good athleticism than by his skills for the moment. He showcased some ability to shoot the ball but needs to gains strength and develop some reliable low post moves.
#15 Dillon Mitchell, 6-7 SF/PF, Texas, Fr
NBA comparison : KJ Martin
Another athletic combo forward, Mitchell is as athletic as he is raw. A bit limited in terms of length/power to play full PF in the NBA, he will need to refine his handling and shooting to transition at the SF spot.
#16 Nikola Djurisic, 6-8 SG/SF, Mega Basket (Serbia), 2004
NBA comparison : Gordon Hayward
A versatile swingman, Djurisic used Mega Basket’s exhibition game against Overtime to start his first draft season the best way with 24pts 6rbds 4as on 4/4 3pt. He still has room to improve his body and athleticism but his shooting and passing ability make him a potential top 20 pick for sure.
#17 Jordan Walsh, 6-7 SF/SG, Arkansas, Fr
NBA comparison : Luol Deng
Walsh will complete an incredible trio of freshmen with Nick Smith and Anthony Black at Arkansas. He’s a nice prospect by himself though with ability to handle the ball, shoot and nice athleticism.
#18 Cason Wallace, 6-3 PG, Kentucky, Fr
NBA comparison : less athletic Bledsoe
Not the most hyped prospect but one of Kentucky’s most solid PG prospects for years due to his great size and strength at his position. Wallace brings toughness on both ends of the floor and should develop into a potential lottery pick at Kentucky.
#19 Leonard Miller, 6-10 SF/PF, G-League Ignite, 2003
NBA comparison : Poor man’s Lamar Odom
A late-bloomer on last year draft’s radar, Miller has chosen to take the Ignite path to improve his chance at getting drafted in the first round. He’s as talented as he’s raw and will need to tighten his handles and shooting to be impactful against men in the G-League.
#20 Terquavion Smith, 6-4 SG, NC State, So
NBA comparison : less powerful Kendrick Nunn
More of a potential microwave coming from the bench than a starter in the NBA, Smith makes up for his lack of length and power thanks to his great athleticism and skills. Improving his shot selection and passing could help guarantee him a top 20 selection.
#21 Rayan Rupert, 6-7 PG/SG, NZ Breakers (New Zealand), 2004
NBA comparison : Very poor man’s Scottie Pippen
An oversized guard with a gigantic 7-3 wingspan, the French prospect may be even more intriguing than last draft’s 11th pick Ousmane Dieng. A potential terror on defense, he has a lot of aspects to develop from his shooting to his handles and overall IQ. He decided to take the same path as his former teammate and has joined NZ Breakers of the NBL.
#22 Sidy Cissoko, 6-7 SG/SF, G-League Ignite, 2004
NBA comparison : taller Terrence Mann
Another versatile oversized swingman, Cissoko is decent at everything but lacks a real strength. A nice athlete, a decent shooter and passer, he will need to find his role as an efficient secondary ball-handler to improve his draft stock.
#23 Adem Bona, 6-9 C, UCLA, Fr
NBA comparison : taller Montrezl Harrell
An athletic specimen with brutal force, Bona is a high-motor big man who loves to run down the court and cut for dunks. He’s also a very good rebounder and shot blocker whose stock could improve if he displays better IQ and offensive talent
#24 Chris Livingston, 6-6 SG/SF, Kentucky, Fr
NBA comparison : Josh Jackson
A talented swingman who has good athleticism and decent shooting, Livingston may lack an elite strength to be more than a nice option from the bench. If he can display more versatility offensively and consistent shooting, his stock could rise into the top 20.
#25 James Nnaji, 6-10 C, Barcelona (Spain), 2004
NBA comparison : Andre Drummond
Already playing some minutes with one of the best European teams, Nnaji knows how to take advantage from his big wingspan and strong body. If he can get more minutes in Euroleague and develop some low post moves, it could convince teams to take a chance on him as high-floor rim protector.
#26 Emoni Bates, 6-8 SF, Eastern Michigan, So
NBA comparison : Poor man’s Brandon Ingram
The former HS superstar has disappointed for his first college season with Memphis. He has decided to come back home enrolling at Eastern Michigan. The talent is here but Bates needs to become a leader and an efficient scorer to hear his name in the first round.
#27 Bilal Coulibaly, 6-6 SG/SF, Metropolitans 92 (France), 2004
NBA comparison : more versatile Thabo Sefolosha
A late bloomer in French basketball, Coulibaly is a long-limbed defensive Swiss knife who is getting more and more at ease offensively. He can handle the ball pretty well making him a potential secondary ball-handler like he proved it in the exhibition game against Bronny’s California Club. He should also benefit from Wembanyama’s exposure playing with him for Boulogne-Levallois.
#28 Juan Nunez, 6-4 PG, Ulm (Germany), 2004
NBA comparison : Beno Udrih
A traditional PG, Nunez has earned MVP honours at the U20 Euro despite playing against players two years older. He may lack the athleticism but his size and IQ could land him higher if he has a good season with Ulm.
#29 Trayce Jackson-Davis, 6-9 PF/C, Indiana, Sr
NBA comparison : Isaiah Hartenstein
A big man who plays mostly in the paint, TJD was dominant last relying basically on his power and skills. Before extending his range, he will need first to take some shots as he has taken only three shots from 3pt in his college career (all last season).
#30 Daimion Collins, 6-10 PF/SF, Kentucky, So
NBA comparison : longer/rawer Jalen McDaniels
An impressive athlete at 6-9 with a 7-5 wingspan, Collins was not given much chance to do mistakes playing limited minutes for last year’s 26-8 Wildcats. Despite his lack of strength, Collins’ mobility and developing skills should land him good minutes next to Tshiebwe and potentially a first round selection.