By Hocine LOUKKAF on 11/30/2021
Positions 1-2 seem set with Banchero and Holmgren, the first one having the better game in their matchup, but Jabari Smith appears as the dark horse for #1 in what looks like a pretty deep class.
#1 Paolo Banchero, 6-9 PF, Duke, Fr
Not the biggest Banchero fan but he is the prospect with the fewest weaknesses. He had two very good games against UK (22pts 7rbds on 7/11 FG and 8/9 FT) and Gonzaga (21pts 5rbds 3/8 3pt) where he’s displayed his strength and shooting. His modern-day PF profile makes him a special prospect.
#2 Chet Holmgren, 7-0 PF, Gonzaga, Fr
After struggling against vet-loaded Texas (2pts 4fouls), Holmgren has been very consistent since then. Yet and as willing he is to bang inside, Holmgren’s lack of muscle could be too much for a team to draft him at #1 compared to Banchero (two FT attempts over the last two games before last night’s Tarleton game). Displaying more outside shooting could be the key to come back at #1.
#3 Jabari Smith, 6-9 SF/PF, LSU, Fr
Smith has become the dark horse in the mocks thanks to his complete game and shooting. His last game was the illustration of it with 22pts 6rbds 4as 1to and 4/8 from three against Syracuse. He might be one of the few prospects who could en up #1 instead of Banchero/Holmgren.
#4 Jalen Duren, 6-10 C, Memphis, Fr
A full year younger than Banchero or Holmgren, Duren is experiencing the toughness of the NCAA as he’s had two poor game against Virginia Tech (6pts 7rbds 2bl) and Iowa State (2pts 6rbds 5tos) and shot only two FT over these two games. He needs to be an impact player every night and draw more fouls to hear his name in the top three on draft night.
#5 Kennedy Chandler, 6-1 PG, Tennessee, Fr
Chandler bounced back from his bad game against then top 10 ranked Villanova (6pts 2as 1/9 FG) with 14pts 8as 2tos on 2/3 3pt against another top 25 ranked, UNC. He is for the moment the clear top PG in this class which should land him in the top 10.
#6 Jaden Hardy, 6-5 SG, G-League Ignite
Hardy’s debut in the G-League have been pretty rough as the star SG hasn’t recorded any game with 39% or more from the field. His body is ready as he’s proved it averaging almost 6rbds per game but if his shot doesn’t fall, he will.
#7 Kendall Brown, 6-7 SF, Baylor, Fr
With at least 10pts and 60% FG in each of his first seven games in college and almost a triple double in his second game, Brown is displaying some rare consistency for a freshman. He may not look like a franchise player but could be an elite glue guy thanks to his athleticism, versatility and poise on both ends of the floor.
#8 Jaden Ivey, 6-3 SG, Purdue, So
After three easy contests to start the season, Ivey has been instrumental in both of his team’s wins against UNC and Villanova, combining 17rbds 13as for only 2tos while shooting 4/10 from three over these two games. He’s not a PG by any means but if he can keep bringing passing and consistent shooting to his offensive skillset, he could end up in the top 5.
#9 Ousmane Dieng, 6-8 PG/SG/SF, 2003, New Zealand Breakers (NBL)
One of the players with the biggest upside, Dieng elected to leave France for the NBL route. He’s been interesting in his last preseason game (18pts 9rbds) but let’s wait for the start of the season to have a better opinion.
#10 Michael Foster Jr, 6-9 PF, G-League Ignite
Foster Jr has not been hyped but he has been very efficient playing against men in the G-League. His 9.8rbds and 2.4bl in 30min could even allow him to play small ball C as he combines great strength with above average leaping ability. Developing his offense and outside shooting could make him an even more valuable prospect.
#11 Dyson Daniels, 6-6 PG/SG, G-League Ignite
If it wasn’t for hype, what would make Jaden Hardy, a player one year older, a better prospect than Daniels? Basically, the Australian comes from another country and is good right away against men shooting pretty decently from the floor (45% FG and 32% 3pt) while playing most of the time at the PG spot. Daniels looks like a smaller Giddey but is still oversized at 6-6.
#12 Yannick Nzosa, 6-11 PF/C, 2003 Malaga (Spain)
Nzosa has not exploded yet playing for powerhouse Malaga, with whom he’s signed a four-year deal until 2026, as he’s getting the same minutes as last year. His length and athleticism are intriguing enough to hear his name in the lottery.
#13 Christian Koloko, 7-1 C, Arizona, So
The Cameroonian center has made a huge leap as he’s been dominant in the paint in this early season, overplaying Michigan and C Hunter Dickinson in the process (22pts 7rbds 4bl). Koloko has also averaged a positive a/to ratio while shooting an impressive 78% FT on more than five attempts, definitely a big plus for a center prospect.
#14 TyTy Washington, 6-3 PG/SG, Kentucky, Fr
A scoring guard a la Quickley, Washington struggled against Duke (9pts on 3/14), the only top notch opponent Kentucky played. He’s had at least 10pts per game since then but needs to be tested once again against better competition.
#15 Patrick Baldwin, 6-9 SF/PF, Milwaukee, Fr
Baldwin wanted to be the main focus on his team’s offense but he has also been the one for his opponents. The long forward has struggled from the field with only one game with more than 40% FG. Playing for mid-major Milwaukee in the Horizon League, he will have to be clearly dominant to get the same respect as his high-major counterparts.
#16 Keegan Murray, 6-8 PF/SF, Iowa, So
A do-it-all combo forward, Murray had been very impressive despite playing poor competition until last night’s game against UVA where he recorded 18pts 9rbds and 3as. Being more consistent from three could help him secure the top scoring spot in the country and a lottery selection.
#17 Jean Montero, 6-2 PG, 2003 Overtime Elite
The Dominican PG decided to leave Spain for the Overtime experience. It will be tougher to evaluate him playing prep competition rather than Spanish ACB but he has all the tools to be one of the top PGs of this class.
#18 Nikola Jovic, 6-10 PF, 2003 MegaBasket (Serbia)
One of the top international prospects at last FIBA U19 WC, Jovic has displayed some versatility despite struggling with his offensive efficiency (9.2pts on 40% FG 4rbds 3.2as). If he can improve his scoring, his stretch four profile could attract more teams.
#19 Bryce McGowens, 6-5 SG, Nebraska, Fr
Starting his college career with two 25+pt games, McGowens has suffered against Creighton. He has bounced back well recording at least 18pts 6rbds 4as in his last three games, albeit against poor competition. Improving his mediocre 26% 3pt will be the key to enter the lottery.
#20 Caleb Houstan, 6-8 SF, Michigan, Fr
The Canadian SF has struggled since the beginning of the season with a poor 8.8pts on 35% shooting. He’s already slipping in the mocks and may slip even more if he doesn’t display what he was hyped for, offense and particularly shooting.
#21 Marjon Beauchamp, 6-7 SF/SG, 2000 G-League Ignite
After going from HS top 50 prospect to Juco player last year, Beauchamp has bounced back well playing more than 37min a game for Team Ignite. His shooting is still a work in progress but Beauchamp has been an efficient scorer (17pts on 55% FG) while using his length on defense (7.2rbds 1.7st 1.2bl).
#22 Bennedict Mathurin, 6-7 SG/SF, Arizona, So
Playing for the unbeaten Wildcats, Mathurin had some flashes like his 25pts 10rbds game against Wichita State or his clean 15pts 8rbds 4as 1to against Michigan. He also some bad nights against pretty bad opponents. Proving that he can perform every night will be he key for him to rise in the mocks.
#23 JD Davison, 6-2 SG/PG, Alabama, Fr
Slowly learning to be a pure PG, Davison uses well his physical tools but struggles with his outside shot (8.3pts on 55% FG but 27% 3pt). The same can be said concerning his PG duties as his 4.9as in 25min are more than decent but he will need to cut down his turnovers (3.1tos) and work on his IQ.
#24 Ismael Kamagate, 6-11 C, 2001 Paris Basket (France)
Not the most hyped French prospect but the “Kamagatour” has been impressive for his first year in French Pro A. A very fluid athlete with a gigantic wingspan and an improved shot (69% FT), Kamagate is averaging 10.8pts 5.6rbds and a league high 1.8bl as he matched the record for most blocks in a game for a French player with 8 against Roanne.
#25 Trevor Keels, 6-5 SG, Duke, Fr
After a strong start against Kentucky (25pts), Keels has been less impressive with only one game with at least 40% FG despite playing poor competition. He also struggled against Gonzaga (8pts on 2/11) but was at least able to create for his teammates (6as for 3tos).
#26 Trayce Jackson-Davis, 6-9 PF/C, Indiana, Jr
Not your modern type of prospect, TJD is punishing every paint he plays against, averaging 3.8bl in the process. His last game was impressive with 43pts 4as and 5bl against Marshall. The perfect blue-collar for a team that needs an enforcer inside.
#27 Matthew Cleveland, 6-6 SG, Florida State, Fr
The latest prospect launched by Florida State, Cleveland brings the same versatility and toughness, albeit with much less shooting, as current Spur Devin Vassell. Like many prospects in this class, shooting (14% 3pt) needs to be improved to hope more than a late first round call.
#28 Johnny Juzang, 6-7 SG/SF, UCLA, Jr
Despite all defenses being focused on him now, Juzang has improved both his overall FG and 3pt %. He’s a bit undimensional but at least you know what you get, a player that can come from the bench and bring immediate shooting.
#29 Mark Williams, 6-11 C, Duke; So
Williams had a coming out party against Gonzaga as he dominated in the paint with 17pts 9rbds 5bl. He has also scored at least 13pts over the last four games while averaging a remarkebly low 0.4to. A throwback type of player that could help a poor defense or be a nice back-up center.
#30 Wendell Moore, 6-6 SF, Duke, Jr
Moore hast really stepped up as his FG% went from 42% to 58% comparing to last year. He has also become a much more versatile player averaging 5.7as and an almost 3 a/to ratio. His 20pts 6as 6rbds in front of many NBA scouts will be remembered at the end of the year.