Tag Archives: 2022 NBA Draft

Paolo Banchero PF-Orlando Magic: 2022 NBA Draft, 1st overall pick

Banchero, the 2022 ACC Rookie of the Year, stood out as a versatile chess piece for the Blue Devils. He comes from athletic bloodlines and his basketball intelligence shines on the court. At 250 pounds, his strength has been evident since his playing days for the Seattle Rotary AAU in the Nike EBYL.

The consensus second-team All-American registered 12 double-doubles for the team this past season. Banchero, a former high school quarterback and Washington Gatorade Player of the Year in basketball, led the team in rebounding and finished second in assists.

Banchero finished his freshman season at Duke shooting nearly 48-percent from the field.

Duke had a number of players from its national runner-up squad selected in the draft. Three of Banchero’s teammates (Wendell Moore, Jr., Mark Williams, A.J. Griffin) went in the first round and a fourth, Trevor Keels, was selected with the 42nd pick in the second round. It marked the school’s most draft picks since the 2018 NBA Draft, when it had four players selected in the first 37 picks.

Jabari Smith PF-Houston Rockets: 2022 NBA Draft, 1st Round, 3rd overall

Former Auburn Tigers second-team All-American Jabari Smith was arguably the top prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft. It ranked as a minor surprise that he was still on the board with the third overall pick. In 2021-22, the 6-foot-10-inch power forward shot 42% from three-point range while averaging over seven rebounds per game.

Jabari Smith PF-Houston Rockets
Smith’s ability to shoot over the top of defenders makes him a tough matchup for the opposition.

His silky smooth mid-range game complements deep shooting capability. In addition, his defensive skill allows him to switch on that end of the floor. Smith, the 2022 SEC Freshman of the Year, joins fellow All-SEC performers Tari Eason and TyTy Washington as three Rockets first-rounders who could pay dividends for years to come.

Shaedon Sharpe G-Portland Trail Blazers: 2022 NBA Draft, 1st Round, 7th overall

Sharpe’s eye-opening athleticism is subsidized by fine size for a shooting guard. The former Kentucky guard never played a minute for the ‘Cats, but maintained his reputation prior to entering the 2022 NBA Draft.

The former No. 1 overall recruit in the class of 2021 averaged nearly 22 points per game for UPlay Canada in the 2021 Nike EBYL last summer. Sharpe reclassified from the 2022 recruiting class prior to signing and then redshirting with the Wildcats in 2021.

The Trail Blazers recently re-signed Anfernee Simons to a four-year deal and this makes the drafting of Sharpe more significant. If he can work his way into the backcourt rotation for the team, then it only adds to the team’s scoring capability in its second rotation. Scoring will be important after losing SF-SF Joe Ingles in free agency to the Milwaukee Bucks this offseason. Ingles never played for the Trail Blazers after injuring his knee last season.

Will Sharpe have a transition to the league that mirrors Simons’ or former 2013 seventh overall pick Ben McClemore? McClemore averaged just over 10 points per game for the team in 2021-22 and is currently an unrestricted free agent. The Trail Blazers recently signed former Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II, so playing time will not come easy in the team’s backcourt.

Jalen Duren C-Detroit Pistons (via Charlotte): 2022 NBA Draft, 1st Round, 13th overall

Duren was involved in a draft night trade that sent him from the Charlotte Hornets to the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons young roster brings plenty of opportunity for Duren, once considered the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2022 before reclassifying to play for head coach Anfernee Hardaway at Memphis. The excitement of Cade Cunningham as a former number one overall pick could signal the start of a Pistons resurgence.

Last summer, Duren was competing for the No. 1 spot in the 2022 recruiting cycle with his soon-to-be teammate at Memphis, Emoni Bates, now heading to play at Eastern Michigan. Duren led Team Final to a 2021 Peach Jam title while averaging 23 points and eight rebounds per game. The Philadelphia native then reclassified to the 2021 class. Fast forward a year later and the AAC Freshman of the Year could become a starting center in the NBA.

Duren averaged over 12 points per game for the Memphis Tigers in 2021-22.

The Hornets traded his draft rights to the Detroit Pistons after taking him 13th overall. Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, whom the team took fifth overall, could pave a driveway for the team’s foundation through this draft. Duren’s NBA-ready frame may be put to the test early, where his rare length (7’5″ wingspan) should be relied upon to protect the rim for teammates.

Ochai Agbaji SG/SF-Cleveland Cavaliers: 2022 NBA Draft, 1st Round, 14th overall

Agbaji, yet another Mokan Elite AAU product to star at Kansas, earned 2022 NCAA Final Four Most Outstanding Player honors. The 2022 Big 12 Player of the Year improved his three-point percentage each season while on campus, finishing at a 41-percent clip from behind the arc this past year. His 6-foot-10-inch wingspan complements a 6-foot-6-inch, 217-pound frame.

Agbaji heads to an improving Cavaliers roster that already sports quality personnel on the wing. He could share minutes with Isaac Okoro, who we spotlighted prior to the 2020 NBA Draft. Okoro produced four straight double-digit scoring games in December 2021 and had two 20-point efforts this March. In addition, he improved his shooting from behind the arc by nearly six percentage points from his NBA all-rookie campaign. The pairing provides insurance in case they are unable to retain the services of 2023 free agent Caris LeVert, who was picked up in a midseason trade this past season.

Tari Eason F-Houston Rockets: 2022 NBA Draft, 1st Round, 17th overall

After transferring from Cincinnati, Tari Eason made the most of his 24 minutes per night at LSU, earning 2022 SEC Sixth Man of the Year honors. Along the way, he averaged nearly 17 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.

His 7-foot-1-inch wingspan did him wonders on the defensive side of the floor, as he finished fourth in the conference in steals per game (1.9). No place better exhibited the growth in his game than the free throw line, where he improved by nearly .23 percentage points (80%) from his Freshman All-AAC campaign at Cincinnati (57%).

Christian Braun SG-Denver Nuggets: 2022 NBA Draft, 1st Round, 21st overall

Former Kansas shooting guard Christian Braun starred for the Mokan Elite AAU basketball squad before becoming a second-team All-Big 12 guard. Over the course of his career, Braun was active on both ends of the floor.

He stood out during athletic testing of the 2022 NBA Combine, posting a 40-inch maximum vertical jump and 3.13-second time in the NBA shuttle. His athletic prowess should come as no surprise. Braun -who hails from Kansas and was named the state’s Mr. Basketball in 2019- has had an entire family play college basketball. His brother, Parker, is currently a 6-foot-10-inch forward for Santa Clara.

Walker Kessler C-Utah Jazz (via Minnesota Timberwolves through Memphis): 2022 NBA Draft, 1st Round, 22nd overall

Walker Kessler, the 2022 Naismith Defensive Player of the Year, blocked nearly five shots per game for the Tigers in 2021-22. A serviceable contributor while at UNC, the former five-star recruit reached new heights in his lone year at Auburn.

Blessed with a 9-foot-4-inch standing reach, the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and third-team All-American also tallied 11.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game this past season.

Walker Kessler C-Minnesota Timberwolves
Aside from averaging 4.6 blocks per game, Kessler put up 11 points and eight rebounds per game.

Kessler, the 2020 Georgia Boys Gatorade Player of the Year, should compete for immediate playing time in the Timberwolves rotation.

UPDATE: In an unrelated move, Kessler was traded to the Utah Jazz along with four first round picks between 2023 and 2029, Patrick Beverly, Leandro Bolmaro, Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley on July 1, 2022.

Wendell Moore, Jr. SF Minnesota Timberwolves (via Dallas): 2022 NBA Draft, 1st Round, 26th overall

Wendell Moore, Jr. took a circuitous route to the Twin Cities, first getting drafted by the Dallas Mavericks before being traded to the Houston Rockets. From there, he was involved in another draft night trade between the Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Moore, Jr. has a versatile game that shines on the defensive end. The 2022 Julius Erving Award winner also earned All-ACC defensive honors this past season.

Wendell Moore G/F-Minnesota Timberwolves
Moore (pictured) posted 25 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals in a 113-101 double overtime loss to Wake Forest on February 25, 2020.

A second-team All-ACC selection, Moore, Jr. provides wing capability for the Timberwolves improving roster. We went inside Moore’s game prior to the 2020 campaign. His ability to create space on the floor is complemented by deft vision.

Patrick Baldwin, Jr. F-Golden State Warriors: 2022 NBA Draft, 1st Round, 28th overall

Patrick Baldwin, Jr. was ranked as a Top Five recruit in the Class of 2021 before deciding to play for his father, Patrick Baldwin, Sr., at Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The former five-star recruit battled through injury in 2021-22, averaging a pedestrian 12 points per game.

In the process, he shot 34-percent from the field. Baldwin, Jr.’s upside and size, however, could make him yet another draft night find for the 2022 NBA Champion Golden State Warriors.

Baldwin, Jr. (pictured for PhenomU in the 2019 Nike EBYL) shot 74.3% from the free throw line in 2021-22 at Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

We go inside his game during the 2019 Nike EBYL, when he played for PhenomU alongside 2021 NBA Draft first-rounder and current Atlanta Hawks forward Jalen Johnson.