By Hocine LOUKKAF on 12/5/2022
Wembanyama is definitely taking the lead for the first pick while college basketball’s start allow us to finally compare the best freshmen.
#1 Victor Wembanyama, 7-5 PF/C, Metropolitans 92 (France), 2004
The surefire first pick is killing it in French pro A with at least 30pts in each of his last four games and averages of 24.1pts 9.6rbds 3.1bl and 2.5as (sic). If he remains healthy, he will be an immediate game changer for the team which will select first.
#2 Scoot Henderson, 6-3 PG, G-league Ignite, 2004
A potential #1 pick in any other draft, Henderson was doing well in G-League (at least 18pts in first five games) before suffering a nose fracture. He has already displayed a better 3pt shot (47%) and could still improve his offensive efficiency and cut down on his turnovers.
#3 Amen Thompson, PG/SG, Overtime, 2003
Thompson is one of the rare prospects with unlimited potential. Yet, playing in the Overtime league at age 19 makes it difficult to evaluate him. His 15pts 6.5as and 6.3rbds look nice but his 15% 3pt and 4to per game can also worry scouts.
#4 Nick Smith, 6-4 PG, Arkansas, Fr
Out for the start of the season due to knee management, Smith Jr only played 5min in his first game. He’s showcased in his second game why he was a projected top 5 pick with 16pts 5as 1to including 3/5 3pt, albeit against an inferior opponent.
#5 Cam Whitmore, 6-6 SF/SG, Villanova, Fr
In his first game for the struggling Wildcats (3-5), Whitmore displayed in limited minutes his potential (7pts 3rbds 3st) leading Nova to an important win against the streaking Sooners. His influence on his team as much as his stats should put him in the conversation as a top 5 pick.
#6 Anthony Black, 6-7 PG/SG, Arkansas, Fr
As the main playmaker due to Nick Smith’ knee management, Black has proved he was legit. After two bad games where he recorded a poor 4/15 FG and 3as combined, Back bounced back with two 26pts 6as games against Louisville and above all Creighton, including 4/8 from three, his supposed weakness. Albeit against a weak opponent, his first game with Smith (8pts 6as 4rbds) proves he can play either of the two backcourt spots.
#7 Brandon Miller, 6-9 SF, Alabama, Fr
An older freshman as a 2002-born, Miller has been scorching hot for three with a combined 27/58 3pt in eight games (sic). The main problem is that, a bit like Jabari Smith last year, Miller lacks an elite first step, scoring better outside the 3pt line in all but two games and averaging a weak 40.5% FG compared to his 46.6% 3pt. Could be more of a 3pt specialist than a star forward.
#8 Jarace Walker, 6-7 PF/SF, Houston, Fr
Definitely not a franchise player, Walker’s rank is justified by his toughness, versatility and the motor he brings to the table playing for the perfect team to prepare him, Houston. Of course he had four bad offensive games but has been pretty impressive on defense and shooting the ball (6/14 from three). Consistency on offense will be required to solidify his top 10 status.
#9 Keyontae George, 6-4 SG, Baylor, Fr
Despite his good stats (14.9pts 4.1as 4rbds), George will need to improve his streaky shooting (already four games with at least five 3pt attempts and 25% or less made) if he wants a team to gamble on him as its future starting SG. He ‘s bounced back well from the hard loss against Marquette (12pts 4tos 1/5 3pt) with a nice game against Gonzaga (18pts 6rbds 2as 2st).
#10 Cason Wallace, 6-3 PG, Kentucky, Fr
After five good games to start his college career, including an impressive 14pts 8st 5rbds 5as statline against MSU, Wallace had been less dominant recently, albeit in two easy wins for UK, as he shot 37% and 20% FG. He seems more motivated against better competition as he recorded 14pts 8rbds 5as against Michigan.
#11 Gradey Dick, 6-8 SG, Kansas, Fr
The Kansas freshman sensation may not be the most spectacular but he can shoot for real. Averaging 15.3pts on 45% 3pt for the top 10 ranked Jayhawks, he’s been one of the best, if not the best freshman SG for the moment with a much sought-after strength, outside shooting.
#12 Ausar Thompson, 6-6 SG/SF, Overtime, 2003
Like his brother Amen, playing in Overtime could hurt Ausar’s stock. Yet, he has improved what was considered his main weakness, outside shooting, as he’s averaging 43% 3pt and had three games with 50% or above from three.
#13 GG Jackson, 6-9 PF, South Carolina, Fr
Reclassified in a better class, GG Jackson will fight better competition for a high pick. Playing for a team lacking a pure PG and a pure C, Jackson is forcing the issue a bit too much as illustrated by his averaged 15 FGA. At least, he still limits the damage with a decent 43% FG and 37% 3pt. he also displays consistent motor on the boards with at least 6rbds in each game played.
#14 Dariq Whitehead, 6-6 SG/SF, Duke, Fr
Considered a potential top 5 pick, Whitehead has been sidelined from the get-go due to a foot injury. Back for six games, he’s struggling for the moment with five games with 40% FG or below and 5.3pts per game in 14min.
#15 Kel’el Ware, 7-0 C, Oregon, Fr
Ware’s stats are intriguing (10.8pts 6.1rbds 1.5bl 30% 3pt on 3attpts) but his inconsistency hurts him too much right now. After three games with at least 13pts 7rbds and a block, he had two games against WSU and UCLA with 8 and 7pts, but above all 4 and only one rebound against UCLA in 28min. Will need to get tougher to be the second big (after Wemby) to hear his name on draft night.
#16 Leonard Miller, 6-10 PF/SF, G-League Ignite, 2003
After getting exposure last year, Miller’s signing with G-League Ignite allows him to keep working on his game against pros. Despite the losses, he has been pretty consistent with at least 8pts and 5rbds in each of his games. If he could improve his 3pt shooting, he could maybe hear his name in the lottery.
#17 Jett Howard, 6-7 SG, Michigan Fr
Another big shooter of this freshman class (43% 3pt on almost seven attempts), Howard looks like a fundamentally sound player despite his deceptive athleticism (49% FG, 2.3as for only 0.8to, 1.4bl).
#18 Dereck Lively, 7-0 PF/C, Duke, Fr
Lively has started very slow despite his HS accolades (4.2pts 3.3rbds in 17min). He’s been a bit better recently with 11 and 8pts in his last two games while recording at least 2bl in each of his last four games.
#19 Kris Murray, 6-8 SF/PF, Jr
As a 22yo jr, Murray is supposed to dominate. That’s not what he did against Clemson and TCU as he shot respectively 4/17 and 4/14 in those consecutive games. He did better against Georgia Tech with 31pts 20rbds 4as 2bl but will need to perform against better competition.
#20 Kyle Filipowksi, 6-10, PF, Duke, Fr
Far more consistent than his paint teammate Lively (at least 10pts and 4rbds in every game), Filipowski is yet more limited in term of length and defense. Despite his good 36% 3pt, he also had 40% FG or under in five of the ten games he played, which is lower than what you expect from your big man.
#21 Dillon Mitchell, 6-7 SF/PF, Texas, Fr
An impressive athlete playing for one of the top teams in the country, Mitchell has been efficient, (8.2pts 6.2rbds on 69% FG) but at the same time very polarizing as he hasn’t recorded any 3pt shot made or assist in almost 120min combined. More of a role player at the PF spot than a potential starting forward.
#22 Terquavion Smith, 6-4 SG, NC State, So
A very streaky shooter (last five games under 39% FG), Smith has nonetheless improved as a ball-handler and creator (5.1as for 3tos). Really needs to be more consistent to hope entering the top 20.
#23 Trevon Brazile, 6-10 PF, Arkansas, Jr
Of course, his poster dunk against SDSU has made him a fan favourite, but Brazile is much more complete than that. The Missouri transfer has stepped up his game and become an important piece for the Razorbacks (13.3pts 6.5rbds 1.1bl). His 39% 3pt could help him hearing his name sooner on draft night.
#24 Rayan Rupert, 6-7 PG/SG, NZ Breakers (New Zealand), 2004
Like his fellow countryman and friend Ousmane Dieng, Rupert chose the NBL and started pretty well (6.2pts and 6-3 record) before suffering a broken wrist. His playmaking and defensive potential (7-3 wingspan) make him an intriguing prospect.
#25 Terrance Arceneaux, 6-6 SG/SF, Houston, Fr
Ranked outside the top 50 in his HS class, Arceneaux has the athleticism and toughness you expect from a 3 and D swingman. His game needs refining and his stats may not be the most impressive (6.8pts 4.4rbds) but he’s in the perfect team, Houston, to learn the game the good way.
#26 James Nnaji, 6-10 C, Barcelona (Spain), 2004
Despite getting inconcistent playing time with Barcelona, Nnaji is a physical freak who proved he could be efficient in the tough Liga ACB (4.4pts 3.6rbds 0.9bl in 13min). He may be a draft and stash project or someone who could spend some time in G-League before being tested against the NBA big men.
#27 Arthur Kaluma, 6-7 SF, Creighton, So
Kaluma has slipped from potential lottery pick to the end of the first round. With four games under 38% FG and a mediocre 24% 3pt on four attempts per game, including 0/6 3pt in his last game, he could keep slipping to the secound round if he doesn’t display improvement on his shooting.
#28 Sidy Cissoko, 6-7 SG, G-League Ignite, 2004
Another Frenchman in this mock, Cissoko has transitioned pretty softly from Spanish 2nd division to the G-League (8.7pts 3.2rbds 2.4as). He still needs to be better at everything (passing, shooting, defense) as he lacks one elite strength.
#29 Trayce Jackson-Davis, 6-9 PF/C, Indiana, Sr
The only senior in this mock, TJD has been as efficient as usual (18.3pts 8.6rbds 2.3as 1.9bl). Unfortunately, he hasn’t added any semblance of the outside shot which could lead him to higher expectations. A perfect back up big for the next level.
#30 Emoni Bates, 6-8 SG/SF, Eastern Michigan, So
Like Patrick Baldwin last year, Bates chose a small school in which he has the right to do what he wants. He’s averaging 21.5pts and 6.5rbds on 36% 3pt despite being targeted by the opponents. Despite two games under 30% FG, his 45% FG and 2.3tos are pretty good considereing his 33min PT and how much he got the ball in his hands.