Here’s What the Potential 2022 No. 1 Overall NBA Draft Picks Bring to the Table 

Josh Cohen
Digital News Manager

Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Holmgren is a rare find. Not only is he an elite rim protector, but he moves his feet decently for a 7-footer. That enables him to switch out onto the perimeter and guard in space. Even if he doesn’t do it quite as well as, for example, Bam Adebayo, Anthony Davis, or Evan Mobley, it should be enough of a strength of his to avoid being a liability when defending on an island. What he displays on the other end of the floor will arguably be even more important as his game develops, however. We know he has range (shot 39 percent from 3-point land at Gonzaga), and we know he has a soft touch near the basket (shot 87 percent near the rim). What we don’t know is if he has enough shot-creation abilities to score without assistance. He’s not the fastest, nor is he the craftiest. His superior length to go along with his sweet shooting stroke might be enough, though, for him to manufacture enough points to be considered a major offensive weapon. He’s a sneaky good passer, too, and some believe he could evolve into a point center down the road. READ MORE      

Paolo Banchero, Duke

Scoring is obviously the most prominent part of basketball, and Banchero, at 6-foot-10, 250 pounds, does that perhaps better than anyone else in this draft. Not only can he make shots from any spot on the floor, but his blend of finesse, power, fluidity, and coordination makes him a potential No. 1 scoring option on an NBA team. On top of that, he can really pass. It wouldn’t be a surprise if he became a team’s primary or secondary playmaker. There are a few concerns, however. One, can he defend? While he wasn’t a negative on that end at Duke, it’s clear that he doesn’t move his feet all that well, nor does he protect the rim at a high level. Also, while slick and crafty, he doesn’t have nuclear speed. Could that make it a little more difficult for him to shake defenders when he goes to work in isolation? And finally, he only shot 33.8 percent from 3-point range this past season. Does he have a good enough touch from distance to make threes more efficiently at the next level? READ MORE 

Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn

Every team could use more 3-point shooting, especially from their frontline players. That is the main reason why the 6-foot-10 Smith drew so much national attention throughout the college season. He shot 42 percent as a freshman at Auburn from 3-point distance on 188 attempts. In one game (against Vanderbilt on Feb. 16), he drilled seven triples, which were the second most ever at Neville Arena. But his skills stretch beyond his range shooting. He can take a couple dribbles going either direction, stop on a dime, and knock down mid-range jays. On the other end of the floor, he’s as tough as nails and uses his lateral quickness and length to his advantage. Missing from his game, however, is shot creation. His movements are a bit choppy; his ball-handling is raw; he rarely attacks the basket (only 12 percent of his shot attempts came at the rim); and he sometimes takes contested shots with two, or even three defenders draped over him. READ MORE  

Jaden Ivey, Purdue 

Over the last 15-plus years, players like Ivey – who are fast, slithery, electric, and explosive – have fared well in the league. Dwyane Wade, for instance, was nearly impossible to stop early in his career because of how relentless he was attacking the basket. Derrick Rose was not only a blur in the open floor, but he was also so crafty that shot blockers struggled to contest his layups. Russell Westbrook, of course, has always been the most athletic player on the court. Now, Ja Morant has reached superstar status with his blend of speed, finesse, explosiveness, and edge. The 6-foot-4, 195-pound Ivey shares those same characteristics. Getting downhill certainly won’t be a problem in the pros. There’s less space in college to operate, and yet he still managed to accelerate all the way to the hoop on the regular. While he did improve his outside shooting his sophomore year, the jury is still out on whether he will be reliable enough from distance for defenders not to sag off him. Also, unlike Morant or Westbrook, Ivey has yet to prove he can be a lead guard and choreograph a high-powered offense. READ MORE  

Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky 

Everyone loves a mystery. It’s the unknown that ropes us in. Well, in this year’s draft, the mystery man is Sharpe, a 6-foot-6, 200-pound swingman with through-the-roof potential. The reason he’s such a mystery is because he didn’t appear in any games for Kentucky despite being the nation’s No. 1 recruit in the class of 2021. Even the high school tape on him is limited because he went to three different schools and wasn’t on anyone’s radar until right before his senior year at Dream City Christian in Arizona. What we know about him, though, is that he’s a jump-out-of-the-gym athlete. A dunk contest is almost certainly in his future if he chooses to participate. But also, he’s a very smooth, fluid shot creator with a Jalen Green-esque step-back jumper. We just don’t know how sharp (play on words) he will be at the next level. The team that selects him must be patient. READ MORE 

Keegan Murray, Iowa

Few, if any, have Murray at the top of their draft board. But, based on his play this past season at Iowa, perhaps he should at least be in the conversation. The 6-foot-8 Murray is a jack-of-all-trades type prospect. He really doesn’t have any major flaws. The problem is that he’s not a master at any one thing. He can shoot; he can score down low; he can push the tempo, he’s relentless on the glass; he can defend multiple positions; and he doesn’t turn the ball over a ton. But he doesn’t necessarily do any of those things at an elite level. Plus, the fact that he scored most of his points in college in the low post is a bit of a concern considering he’s only 6’8. He took advantage of every mismatch. That won’t happen in the NBA, though, as guys at his position will be able to push him off the block. Still, averaging 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds is nothing to sneeze at. It is important to note as well that he will be 22 years old by the time he starts his NBA career. READ MORE 

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