Predicting 2022's Biggest NBA Draft Reaches
Every year, certain teams reach on prospects in the draft because they overestimate their upsides or put too much stock into their NBA readiness.
These five prospects are candidates to be selected earlier than they should for various reasons.
We aren't saying they're destined to bust out of the league, but based on where they're projected to go, they could have trouble meeting the value of their draft spot.
Ochai Agbaji (Kansas, SG, Senior)
Unable to win over NBA teams in 2021, Ochai Agbaji is now viewed as a potential lottery pick after making marginal improvements.
He's still a non-creator, which means his value will revolve around shooting. The wing shot over 40.0 percent from three-point range for the first time as a senior. But he still doesn't offer convincing shot-making versatility, as he converted just 26.7 percent of his pull-ups, 33.9 percent off his attempts off screens and four of 23 floaters.
His streakiness (11 games under 30.0 percent from three) and career 71.4 free-throw percentage raise questions about what type of shooter Agbaji will be.
For teams looking to win now, the idea of drafting a 22-year-old three-and-D player sounds logical. But it could also mean passing on better prospects who will become more valuable later in their rookie deals.
Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, SG, Sophomore)
It's worth questioning how well Johnny Davis' creation and scoring will translate.
He will likely be picked in the top 10 after averaging 19.7 points and hitting tough shots in key moments. But Davis produced via a 32.5 usage percentage and heavy dose of mid-range attempts, and he didn't provide much playmaking.
The only lottery picks 6'6" and shorter to attempt fewer than seven threes per 100 possessions and register an assist percentage under 15.0 are Gerald Henderson, Alec Burks, Jeremy Lamb, Victor Oladipo, Shabazz Muhammad, Justise Winslow, Stanley Johnson, Romeo Langford, Isaac Okoro and James Bouknight. And prime Oladipo had another level of burst compared to Davis.
Davis does not create a lot of space for himself off the dribble, forcing him to rely on hitting contested two-point jumpers.
His 38.9 percent rate on catch-and-shoot jumpers remains promising since he'll be looking at adjusting from being the No. 1 option to becoming a role player. But teams considering Davis in the Nos. 5-10 range will be betting on his creation and lead scoring to carry over. He shot 13-of-40 on isolation drives and pull-ups and 18-of-53 one-on-one.
Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand Breakers, SG/SF, 2003)
The idea of Ousmane Dieng may bait a lottery team.
The 19-year-old's potential, which is fueled by 6'9" wing size and flashes of ball-handling and shot-making, will look enticing to teams interested in betting on upside. He hasn't proved he possesses one advanced skill or athletic trait, however. And if it wasn't for a 12-game stretch from February to April—which still included some duds—we would likely be talking about a fringe first-rounder.
Dieng hasn't shot well from three in any league or setting, and despite impressive live-dribble passes, it's difficult to picture his creation or playmaking translating any time soon. On top of that, he buckles against contact around the basket, and unless he adds significant muscle or explosiveness, it's hard to imagine an effective scorer around the rim.
Given his age, a lot can change over the next few years. He has advantageous positional size and an appealing skill set. But the amount of things that have to go right with Dieng's development, both physically and fundamentally, feels daunting.
Nikola Jovic (Mega, SF, 2003)
Predictions suggest Nikola Jovic could be flirting with top-20 consideration. He's been in our first-round projections all season, though there are indicators that point to bust potential.
Coming into the season, the concern with Jovic always focused on whether he was athletic enough to create, finish and defend on an NBA floor. And then he registered incredibly low steal (1.1 percent) and block (1.5 percent) rates in the Adriatic League. At 6'10", he totaled 14 steals and 10 blocks in 695 minutes.
While Jovic doesn't project favorably on defense, the lack of defensive playmaking raises more questions about his lack of quickness and movement skills in general, which is worrisome for his offensive projection as well.
Wildly turnover prone (20.4 percent) for a player with moderate usage (22.6 percent), Jovic may be tough to play early, particularly since he's likely to struggle defensively. A lot may be riding on his shooting consistency. In 59 games recorded by RealGM since 2020, he has made 31.1 percent of his threes.
Blake Wesley (Notre Dame, SG, Freshman)
Off the radar entering the season, Blake Wesley caught scouts' attention by producing via standout athletic plays, three-level scoring flashes and secondary playmaking. He just wasn't efficient in any key area, and some of his weaknesses may be too far from correctable.
Though athleticism is supposedly a differentiating strength for Wesley, he shot 41.4 percent at the rim, grading in the 13th percentile. It was evident he had trouble making adjustments or knowing what route or type of finish to attempt.
In terms of touch, he shot 30.3 percent from three, 65.7 percent from the free-throw line, four of 12 on runners, 33.0 percent on pull-ups and four of 10 off screens. There isn't a promising indicator when projecting him as a shooter.
His quick first step, pick-and-roll passing and defensive tools are pluses. But scoring inefficiency off the dribble, forced plays and turnovers make it difficult to picture Wesley's being used on the ball. And he doesn't seem ready or equipped to offer enough value as a catch-and-shoot option.
It makes more sense to take a second-round flier on a project such as Wesley than to use a pick in the late teens or 20s on him.