Posts Tagged ‘2022 NBA Draft’

The Houston Rockets have selected Auburn forward Jabari Smith with the No. 3 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Smith fell to the third spot after reportedly being projected to go No. 1 to the Orlando Magic hours earlier. He’ll join a rebuilding Rockets team that added guard Jalen Green with the second overall pick in 2021.

After sitting outside the top five high school recruits entering the 2021-22 college basketball season, Smith flashed immense potential as a high-level scorer and defender at a long 6-foot-10. He shot a sparkling 42% on over five 3-point attempts per game at Auburn while also averaging over a block and a steal per contest.

As a result of his strong campaign, Smith took home the USBWA Freshman of the Year award, made first-team All-SEC, and was on the late-season ballot for the Wooden Award. He also led the Tigers to their highest seed in the NCAA Tournament in over 20 years.

The 19-year-old is a rare prospect that has both a high floor and a high ceiling. At his peak, Smith’s shooting ability and size could put him in the echelon of Kevin Durant or Brandon Ingram as an All-Star-level wing scorer. However, even if his offensive playmaking doesn’t reach that level, he can still play a valuable role as a starter who can defend multiple positions and knock down open shots.

Bio

Position: Forward
School: Auburn
College experience: Freshman
Height: 6-foot-10
Weight: 220 lbs
Wingspan: 7-foot-1
Max vertical: N/A

Strengths

  • Well-above average size and length for a wing player
  • Knockdown shooter from the 3-point line
  • Versatile defender who can guard positions 2-through-5 with ease
  • Tough shotmaker with defenders in his face due to a high release point
  • Fluid, coordinated athlete with the occasional explosive burst
  • One of the youngest players selected at the top of the draft

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t always make great decisions with shot selection
  • Can struggle to generate plays for others off the dribble
  • Needs to finish better at the rim – shot 43.5% from 2-point range
  • Runs the risk of being a tweener as an oversized wing who lacks the strength of a big

The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.

At first glance, the wiry 7-footer doesn’t fit the prototypical college prospect mold, which makes him one of the most intriguing big men to enter the NBA draft in a while.

After dominating recruitment rankings as a high schooler, the Minnesota native pledged his collegiate career to the Bulldogs. He virtually put up a double-double per game, averaging 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, 3.7 blocks, and 1.9 assists. Holmgren also demonstrated a propensity to stretch the floor, albeit on low volume, shooting 39% on 3.3 attempts per contest.

The top-ranked national recruit had a dominant debut year. He was a consensus All-American and won several conference honors, including WCC Defensive Player of the Year, WCC Rookie of the Year, and a spot on the All-WCC team.

Holmgren is a fascinating presence on the court. Despite his incredibly lanky frame, the former Gonzaga standout is more than comfortable running the floor with the ball in his hands, opening up several compelling avenues for his offensive development while simultaneously continuing to grow as a talented rim-protector.

Bio

Position: Center
School: Gonzaga
College experience: Freshman
Height: 7-feet
Weight: 193 lbs
Wingspan: 7-foot-6
Max vertical: N/A

Strengths

  • Fantastic shot-blocking ability thanks to timing instincts and lengthy wingspan
  • Stretches his game to the 3-point line on occasion
  • Can run the floor moderately well with guard-like skill
  • Able to switch out to the perimeter and hold his own against smaller but quicker opponents
  • Possesses a great touch around the rim

Weaknesses

  • Legitimate questions as to whether he’s strong enough to battle with established NBA bigs
  • Averaged just 3.1 trips to the line, shooting a mediocre 71.7%
  • Can shy away from contact at times, especially when screening
  • Unproven creator in half-court settings, where he tends to work better as a finisher

With the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic have selected Duke standout Paolo Banchero.

“When you’re playing poker, you don’t put your cards on the table, right?” Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman said regarding the surprise pick, according to team writer Dan Savage.

Banchero is the latest one-and-done prospect to come out of the Blue Devils’ program. The 6-foot-10 forward was the lead option of an explosive Duke offense, averaging 17.2 points, 7.8 boards, and 3.2 assists over 39 appearances last season. Banchero finished fourth in the ACC in free-throw attempts (188) and 10th in blocks (36).

His strong regular season earned him ACC Rookie of the Year honors and an All-ACC first-team nod. Banchero elevated his game in the NCAA Tournament, helping Duke earn another Final Four berth. The former five-star recruit posted 18.8 points on 50% shooting, including a sizzling 52.6% mark on nearly four triples per game.

Bio

Position: Forward
School: Duke
College experience: Freshman
Height: 6-foot-10
Weight: 250 lbs
Wingspan: 7-foot-1
Max vertical: N/A

Strengths

  • Mix of quickness and strength creates mismatches for opposing big men
  • Has assortment of back-to-the-basket moves
  • Finishes well through contact
  • Efficient mid-range scorer
  • Uses crafty footwork to create his own shot
  • Great passer for his size
  • Solid ball-handling skills allow him to initiate fast breaks or pick-and-roll

Weaknesses

  • Drives recklessly to rim at times
  • Defensive effort and focus fluctuate too often
  • Needs to improve off-hand finishing
  • Coughs up the rock frequently, registered fifth-most turnovers in ACC last season

College basketball season ended almost three months ago, the NBA draft lottery was more than a month ago and the draft itself is later this week.

Seems like the process should be winding down.

Orlando Magic President Jeff Weltman sees it differently.

“I tell you, it’s still early in the process,” Weltman said Monday.

Translated: The Magic haven’t decided yet what they’ll do on Thursday night, when the draft rolls around and they have the No. 1 pick. Other teams have called to gauge what the asking price would be if they want to trade for that selection, and the Magic have evaluated all the top candidates.

But Weltman sees no reason to decide anything before it’s absolutely necessary, especially given the opportunity that Orlando has by holding this No. 1 pick.

“Dialogue is always ongoing,” Weltman said. “But, most importantly, we get to do what we want. That’s the real benefit of having the No. 1 pick.”

The top candidates for the pick are well-known: Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. worked out for Orlando earlier this month, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren met with the Magic for multiple days last week and Duke’s Paolo Banchero has been working out with former Magic guard Mike Miller.

Weltman wouldn’t say that those are the only three candidates Orlando would consider at No. 1.

“It’s confirmed that there are a lot of talented players at the top of this draft, that’s for sure,” Weltman said.

This is the fourth time that Orlando will be making the No. 1 pick. The Magic took Shaquille O’Neal with the top selection in 1992. Chris Webber was the No. 1 pick by Orlando in 1993, and he got traded that same night for Penny Hardaway and a package of future picks that were eventually turned into Vince Carter and, later, Miller. And in 2004, the Magic selected Dwight Howard with the first pick.

The No. 1 pick on Thursday will join a young core in Orlando that already includes 2017 top pick Markelle Fultz, a pair of top-eight picks from the 2021 draft in Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs, and Cole Anthony — the No. 15 pick in the 2020 draft.

Orlando also has the No. 6 picks from the 2017 and 2018 draft, Jonathan Isaac and Mo Bamba. It’s possible that when next season starts Orlando could have as many as six lottery picks, nine top-16 selections and 12 first-rounders on its roster.

This is all part of the challenge for the Magic — who also have the No. 32 and No. 35 picks this year — going into Thursday: Finding more youth that fits with the current core, finding ways to be better next season and sustainably better for years to come.

“We do want to get better but not at the expense of rushing back to mediocrity,” Weltman said. “And we do want to have something sustainable. But you have to elevate the standard to do that. You can’t just stay at the basement level, you know, interminably. So those are conversations that we’re having, which players do that for us.”