Stock Report on Top 2022 NBA Draft ProspectsJanuary 25, 2022
Stock Report on Top 2022 NBA Draft Prospects
It's time for a check-up on the top NBA prospects and those who've recently generated the most buzz.
We provided reports on our top five players and updates on potential risers, fallers and those whose stock remains steady.
Consider these lottery names that scouts have mentioned most often over the past few weeks.
Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga, PF/C, Freshman)
Stock report: Losing No. 1 overall steam, but still top three
Latest stretch: Six games, 15.3 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.7 blocks, 50.0% 3PT
Chet Holmgren doesn't receive Paolo Banchero's No. 1 option touches, but he's still consistently producing numbers and tantalizing highlights.
In a 22-point effort against San Francisco on Thursday, he hit two threes and a pair of mid-range jumpers, scored on a drive past a closeout and blocked four shots. Through 17 games, he's shooting 73.9 percent inside the arc and 39.6 percent from deep. He's swatted 57 shots, 20 more than Banchero (17) and Jabari Smith (20) combined.
The 7-footer also continues to astound on coast-to-coast takes, having converted a remarkable 10-of-10 fast breaks as a transition ball-handler.
However, it does seem like his chances of going No. 1 are lower now than what they were in November. That's mostly related to the play of Smith and Banchero. For some scouts, it's just easier to picture their bodies and skill sets in the NBA. Holmgren's 195-pound frame may be too scary for certain NBA teams to look past when there are two other top-tier prospects who don't present any obvious risk.
Though Holmgren's stats and flash plays still hint at No. 1 overall potential, they've come mostly facing low-level competition. Through five nonconference games against Texas, Duke, UCLA, Alabama and Texas Tech, he averaged 9.6 points on 51.4 percent, a significant drop-off from his in-conference numbers.
Still, Holmgren remains the No. 1 prospect on Bleacher Report's board. We've seen enough evidence of NBA skill, length, mobility and IQ being able to offset the challenges posed by a lack of strength. He will be vulnerable to slipping a few spots, though, depending on the lottery order and the minds of those specific decision-makers at the top of the draft.
Jabari Smith (Auburn, PF, Freshman)
Stock report: Potential new favorite at No. 1
Latest stretch: Five games, 15.8 points, 5.8 rebounds, 51.9 percent FG, 39.1 percent 3PT
What seemed like flashes of shooting and mid-range scoring early in the season have become regular occurrences for Jabari Smith. Scouts sound totally swayed by his consistent three-pointers and advanced rise-and-fire game inside the arc.
The 6'10", 18-year-old is still at 42.3 percent on 5.1 attempts from behind the arc. They aren't all just simple catch-and-shoot shots. He's pulling up and using jab steps, getting himself enough space to elevate for jumpers that defenders can't effectively contest.
While his perimeter offense has been steady all season, he's shown signs of defensive growth, looking more decisive and prepared when anticipating his man's moves or finishing attempts.
Scouts love his skill level, fit for today's NBA, potential defensive versatility and character. And it all seems like we're still looking at a player at his floor. A full year younger than Chet Holmgren, Smith doesn't turn 19 until May, and there is still plenty to add and adjustments to make.
Smith can be tighter handling the ball under pressure, and a combination of limited explosiveness and lefty touch around the basket has contributed to his 48.8 two-point percentage. He also hasn't collected more than seven rebounds in a game in a month, and for a potential No. 1 pick and projected power forward, it would feel more comforting if his inside presence was stronger.
Paolo Banchero (Duke, PF, Freshman)
Stock Report: Unchanged/Projected top-three pick
Latest stretch: Seven games, 20.0 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 53.2 percent FG, 31.8 percent 3PT
Paolo Banchero has put more of an emphasis on playmaking over the past three weeks. It didn't show as much early in the season, but his passing ability stood out much of his last year in high school, and it's resurfaced recently, with Banchero doing an effective job using his gravity, vision and delivery skill to set up teammates.
Otherwise, he continues to play through contact around the basket, which he does better than fellow No. 1 overall candidate Jabari Smith.
His handle and left hand have also looked stronger on drives. He's settling less for mid-range jumpers.
Banchero's three-point shooting is still behind Smith's and Chet Holmgren's. He tends to hesitate on catch-and-shoot opportunities. And defensively, though he's capable of making highlight blocks around the basket, he can be vulnerable closing out or guarding in space, and his defensive motor isn't always turned up.
Still, between Banchero's physicality, creating and dishing and shot-making versatility, scouts see a surefire pro scorer whom NBA teams can immediately start running offense through.
Jaden Ivey (Purdue, SG, Sophomore)
Stock update: Unchanged/Projected top-five pick
Latest stretch: Nine games, 17.6 points, 2.3 assists, 44.8 percent FG, 44.4 percent 3PT
Even if some holes in Jaden Ivey's half-court skills occasionally show, scouts still detect more star potential than with any other guard.
His special athletic ability isn't just for show. Last week, Ivey managed 19 points against Illinois despite making just three shots all game (13-of-15 FTs). His burst, explosiveness and fearlessness regularly create advantages and put defenses in tough spots.
Meanwhile, after struggling to hit shots and finish, he showcased sharper skill execution the following game at Indiana, tallying 21 points with made pull-ups and floaters to complement a pair of violent drives into dunks.
He's still hitting threes at a 42.4 percent clip. And though it's become clear he's definitely more of a 2-guard than scoring point guard, he's grading in the 99th percentile as a pick-and-roll passer, showing enough playmaking feel to add value by creating shots for teammates.
Ivey could stand to add more of an in-between game, as he relies on transition, hard drives and threes. He's only made five floaters, nine pull-ups and three total jumpers inside the arc. But it's not a red flag that will set off alarms, and given the jump he made from his freshman to sophomore year, scouts seem comfortable betting on his ability to continue developing.
Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, SG, Sophomore)
Stock update: Moving into top-five conversation
Latest stretch: Six games, 24.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 43.9 percent FG, 39.4 percent 3PT
Once Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith come off the 2022 draft board, the team picking fourth will be debating between a group of five to 10 prospects. Johnny Davis is becoming one of the headliners of this tier, as scouts are buying into his breakout and incredible transformation into a shot-creating lead scorer.
Aside from his 22.3 points per game ranking fifth in the country, he's hit a number of clutch shots while demonstrating the toughness and competitiveness that point to a higher floor and winning teammate, regardless of how well his skills translate.
But he's climbed boards by taking over games with improved ball-handling for slashing and self-creation, plus the ability to hit contested dribble jumpers (38 half-court makes on pull-ups). Having made six of nine threes over Wisconsin's last two games, he's also starting to answer questions about his distance shooting and preference for the mid-range.
While I've heard comparisons to Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, there are some reasons to question Davis' transition from college to the pros. He's currently operating with an enormous 34.2 percent usage. He doesn't create a ton of separation for himself (9-of-31 out of isolation) and instead relies on difficult shot-making. He also hasn't flashed too much playmaking for a 6'5" guard.
But in the draft's second tier, none of these concerns figure to hold much weight, especially given his ability to score off the ball (spot-up, cuts) and his defensive tools, energy and IQ.
Potential Lottery Risers
AJ Griffin (Duke, SF/PF, Freshman)
Latest stretch: Seven games, 11.9 points, 54.7 percent FG, 46.9 percent 3PT
Playing almost exclusively off the ball, Griffin is making the most of his complementary role. He hit five spot-up treys against Syracuse's zone over the weekend, raising his three-point mark to 46.6 percent on the season.
Griffin's 6'6", 220-pound frame and shot-making alone should be enough to warrant lottery looks. But at 18 years old, for a prospect who we've already seen lead USA's U16 team in scoring in 2019, there is clearly more offense to unlock from his flashes of self-creation and dribble jumpers (12-of-24).
The fact that he's looked comfortable and remained efficient while having to stand around the arc (for a loaded Duke roster) should leave teams feeling confident in his transition and fit in the pros.
MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite, SF, 2001)
Latest stretch: Four games, 19.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 51.7 percent FG, 4-of-9 3PT, 2.5 steals
One of the biggest storylines of the 2022 draft, Beauchamp has completely surprised scouts who'd seen little to no film of him last year in junior college. Aside from the numbers he's putting up, NBA teams have been drawn to his archetype and potential value as a versatile wing and multipositional defender.
He's excelling by picking up buckets within the flow of the Ignite's offense, getting out in transition, cutting, crashing the glass and occasionally making the open three. Though not an advanced self-creator or shooter, he uses his size, length and body control to create and finish scoring opportunities.
But he's also starting to show more touch on his jumper and mid-range pull-up. And he plays the right way with effort and discipline that NBA coaches figure to favor. Beauchamp's game might not scream All-Star or upside, but there is obvious, winning role-player potential tied to his off-ball activity, defensive tools, approach and room for shooting improvement.
Tari Eason (LSU, PF, Sophomore)
Latest stretch: Five games, 17.0 points, 6.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals, 56.4 percent FG, 5-of-10 3PT
Ranked top 10 in the nation in both offensive and defensive box plus-minus, Eason has made an impact with two-way versatility the NBA figures to value. A 26-point, 10-rebound double-double against Alabama last week only helped validate the early breakout signs and strengthen his case as a potential lottery pick.
The 6'8", 215-pound forward has wowed with his ability to put the ball down and attack, having already recorded 14 grab-and-go baskets in transition, 13 field goals after driving past closeouts and converted on 7-of-10 possessions as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. Otherwise, he's been an active off-ball scorer by crashing the glass, cutting and rolling. And his 3.5 steal rate and 6.5 percentage block rate can be viewed as promising indicators when projecting his tools and movement for the pros.
Shooting may be a key swing skill for Eason, who's made 13-of-40 threes (32.5 percent) but 77.8 percent of his free throws.
Jalen Duren (Memphis, C, Freshman)
Latest stretch: 10 games, 9.4 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 58.3 percent FG, 45.5 percent FT
Scouts aren't jumping off Duren's bandwagon. But it isn't adding any new fans. It's difficult to become too high on a center who only plays one position and hasn't flashed any signs of ball-handling, self-creation or touch.
His defensive floor and ceiling figure to keep him from falling too far in the draft. And his finishing should still hold value in some capacity. Some nice passing reads have also appeared promising, but the fact they need to be used (1.2 assists per game) as a key selling point tells you how low the bar is when assessing his offense.
Duren will likely need the right, specific team that's looking for an inside presence and rim protector. And that could also make him vulnerable on draft night.
Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee, SF/PF, Freshman)
Calf and ankle injuries have limited Baldwin, who's played one game since December 13. He was shooting 37.1 percent through eight games and a combined 10-of-36 against Rhode Island, Colorado and Florida, the only notable opponents on Milwaukee's schedule.
Scouts aren't sure what to make of his struggles in a No. 1 option role that he chose to play over attending schools like Duke or Kentucky.
There is still belief in Baldwin's shooting. But considering that he's had difficulty separating inside the arc against weak competition, scouts remain on the fence about where to slot him on their boards.
Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee, PG, Freshman)
Latest stretch: 10 games, 11.3 points, 5.1 assists, 2.2 steals, 37.8 percent FG, 25.6 percent 3PT
Chandler hasn't underperformed, but the bar for point guards in the draft is higher since teams don't want to spend lottery or top-20 picks on 15-minute-per-game backups.
There is also a sense of fear from scouts over small ball-handlers who aren't plus athletes or shooters. Last year, we saw Sharife Cooper fall all the way to No. 48 overall. Chandler, who's 6'0", 172 pounds, has shot just 32.3 percent from three on low volume (3.8 attempts per game). He's made 6-of-22 floaters and 27.3 percent of his pull-ups. And without size or explosion, he grades in the 37th percentile as a transition finisher and the 27th percentile out of isolation.
He's still a slick creator, sharp passer, capable shot-maker, crafty finisher and pesky defender. But scouts aren't confident that it is all going to translate. If teams aren't sold on Chandler being a quality starting point guard, he'll become vulnerable to a slide into the 20s or 30s.
Keegan Murray (Iowa, PF, Sophomore)
Latest stretch: Nine games, 23.4 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.1 blocks, 59.7 percent FG, 37.2 percent 3PT
Regardless of what happens from here, it's difficult to picture Murray rising into the top five or falling outside the lottery.
He's averaging 22.8 points with enough NBA traits for teams to picture a surefire contributor. On the other hand, scouts have trouble projecting star potential for a forward who's mostly a transition and post scorer.
Role players like Jeff Green and Harrison Barnes are comparisons I've heard used by scouts for Murray.
His two-way tools, motor, scoring instincts and improving shot are translatable strengths. Questions about his ability to create for himself and become a plus shooter figure to keep him in the Nos. 6-13 range.
Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona, SG/SF, Sophomore)
Latest stretch: Six games, 17.7 points, 3.2 assists, 49.3 percent FG, 38.9 percent 3PT
Scouts see a safe pick in Mathurin, with a high floor propped up by explosiveness and shooting. Mathurin and Jaden Ivey are the only players in the country with at least 20 dunks and 30 threes.
But the Arizona sophomore hasn't made a big jump as a creator or in-between scorer, having converted just 9-of-29 pull-ups, 8-of-24 shots off ball screens and zero isolation field goals.
On a positive note, he's focusing more on finding teammates lately, showcasing some playmaking and passing skills that could lead to more pick-and-roll ball-handling possessions in the future.
TyTy Washington Jr. (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)
Latest stretch: Eight games (not including at Auburn), 15.3 points, 6.0 assists, 54.9 percent FG, 44.0 percent 3PT
Scouts see a well-rounded player and tough competitor in Washington.
Now he has to recover from an ankle injury suffered against Auburn, but at this point, he's flashed comforting combo-guard versatility by shooting 39.7 percent from three, 45.4 percent on pull-ups and 58.6 percent on floaters while totaling 83 assists to 32 turnovers.
Washington has looked comfortable enough in different roles, creating for teammates and operating as a go-to scorer like he did against Tennessee (28 points, 13 shots) on January 15.
One of the criticisms from scouts has been that no specific trait or skill pops off the screen. Questions about whether he has the quickness to easily separate or the explosion to get to the rim will prevent Washington from rising into the top five.
Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports, Sports-Reference.com