With the Final Four approaching and many prospects still fighting to improve their stock, the Anchor Sports Network reviews potential landing spots for the league’s next greatest stars:
1. Orlando Magic: Chet Holmgren, Forward/Center, Freshman, Gonzaga
(14.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg, 3.7 bpg)
It’s almost no surprise who will get taken off the board first. Standing at 7 feet with a whopping 7’6 wingspan, Holmgren has the frame to become a bonafide unicorn with shot blocking potential in the league with his resounding coordination. Despite an upset in the Sweet 16 against Arkansas, Holmgren managed to average a double-double for the tournament, averaging 13 points and 13 rebounds through 3 games in the tournament. Holmgren lacks physical strength, which will hurt his post defense and could lead to more fouls. But with the right program and training, Holmgren will be a star in this league as he provides in various different statistical categories. In this scenario, Holmgren would join his former high school teammate, Jalen Suggs in the Sunshine State.
2. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, Forward, Freshman, Duke
(17.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 3.2 apg)
With Duke headed to New Orleans and Banchero continuing to play at a high level throughout the tournament, the second pick seems like a no brainer. With his skilled inside scoring, along with his facilitating and ball handling, Banchero is more than capable of becoming a secondary playmaker at the next level, showing flashes of potential during his one season at Duke. Just from watching his highlights, Banchero lets the game come to him, using his creativity to set up himself or his teammates. And with the league becoming more and more positionless as the league develops further, Banchero is in prime position to become a superstar in the NBA, and is the most NBA ready in this years draft.
3. Detroit Pistons: Jabari Smith, Forward, Freshman, Auburn
(16.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 2.0 apg)
In just one year, Smith took this Auburn Tigers squad to new heights despite an early exit from the big dance. Playing the power forward spot, Jabari Smith possesses a lethal, Kevin Durant-esque jump shot that was displayed several times in the clutch this season. On the defensive side of the ball, Smith gets after it on the defensive end, getting through screens and playing on the help side, showing potential of being a lockdown defender at times in his 34 appearances this season. The only thing Smith lacks is playmaking, as he will miss open teammates at times and his handle is not tight and will need wrinkling out in the pros. A combo of Smith and last year’s 1st overall pick, Cade Cunningham would prove to be lethal as they provide a balanced attack that could make some noise in the future.
4. OKC Thunder: Jaden Ivey, Guard, Sophomore, Purdue
(17.3 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.1 apg)
For the Thunder, you can’t pass up on Jaden Ivey. OKC may already have an overcrowded backcourt featuring players like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort, as well as rookies Josh Giddey and Tre Mann. On offense, Ivey is a dynamic scorer off the dribble, and has the potential to change the outcome of games should he have the ball in his hand. His long strides and athleticism sets him up to be a great inside scorer. And while he excels on the offensive end, he is a liability on the defensive end; not making proper rotations and overall and just looking uninterested in making an effort on defense.
5. Indiana Pacers: Keegan Murray, Forward, Sophomore, Iowa
(23.5 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 1.5 apg)
An unranked recruit coming out of high school, Murray has shown out on the National stage in his second year with the Hawkeyes, becoming a two-way player in the process. While being able to handle assignments on guards and bigs, Murray on the other side of the floor has the offensive skillset of a veteran, making minimal mistakes and getting to his spots out on the floor. He has a wide variety of post moves in his arsenal, with the ability to run out in transition. Murray is another NBA ready player and for him to play alongside newly acquired Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton and big man Myles Turner would be a match made in heaven.
6. Portland Trailblazers: A.J. Griffin, Guard/Forward, Freshman, Duke
(10.5 ppg, 1.0 apg, 45% 3PT)
While it may not show how impressive Griffin is in his numbers, he played on a Duke team that features 5 potential first round picks, including himself. He is a creative scorer, using various ball fakes and hesitations to get a bucket. Griffin is a knockdown shooter and would’ve had lead the NCAA in three point percentage had his usage rate been higher. Griffin would fit well alongside Damian Lillard and company, as he could fill a 3 and D type of role for Portland as his wingspan is measured in at 7’0. Griffin’s injury history may be a concern with lingering ankle and knee injuries during high school, but he has played in 38 games so far this season and looks to add to his draft stock in the Final Four.
7. Sacramento Kings: Shaedon Sharpe, Guard, Freshman, Kentucky
(College Statistics N/A)
Sharpe is an extremely interesting prospect simply because, he hasn’t appeared in any college basketball games. Joining the Kentucky Wildcats in the spring semester, Sharpe was going to use this season to better develop himself so that he would be more ready when he suits up for the team. Now, the 2022 number one high school prospect is gaining significant interest from the NBA as a lottery pick, despite not playing a single game this season. His isolation offense is deadly as he is a knockdown shooter with great inside scoring and ball handling. Not playing this season benefits his stock just in case his game doesn’t translate, but he can’t be a top 5 pick because of his inexperience, and the potential that his game does not translate to the NBA level. Adding a dynamic scorer next to De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis could make Sacramento a contender for years to come, but that comes with a bunch of ifs.
8. New Orleans Pelicans (from LAL) : Bennedict Mathurin, Guard, Sophomore, Arizona
(17.7 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.5 apg)
For New Orleans, its important to built around Zion Williamson amid rumors from his camp that he wants out. By bringing in Mathurin, you get a high energy player who can knock down the three at a high rate and can be a secondary playmaker in the league alongside C.J. McCollum. He loves to get out in transition and can make a big play when given the space. On the defensive end, he is inconsistent, looking uninterested at times. He has the potential to takeover on defense but he lacks the discipline to be a consistent defender, which could catapult him into a serviceable two-way guard in the league. With Brandon Ingram, C.J. McCollum, Zion Williamson and other solid role players on this team, Mathurin could be the missing piece of the puzzle for New Orleans as he can ignite on both sides of the ball.
9. San Antonio Spurs: Johnny Davis, Guard, Sophomore, Wisconsin
(19.7 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.1 apg)
After averaging just 7 points per game in his freshman campaign, Davis broke out onto the national scene this year for the Badgers, making himself known on offense with his mid range jumpers and in the post as well. On defense, he brings the same effort, hustling for loose balls as he tries to will his team to victory. While Davis may be a hard worker on both ends of the floor, he lacks athleticism overall which hurts his stock. Davis also lacks an outside shot, shooting just 30% from behind the arc. Under Gregg Popovich, however, Davis could thrive by learning how to become a consistent contributor on offense and defense, which could take him far in this league should he find his footing as well as his role in the league.
10. Washington Wizards: Jalen Duren, Center, Freshman, Memphis
(12.0 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg)
Duren is everything you could possibly want in a defensive minded center. With tremendous athleticism, Duren has great timing to block a shot with his 7’5 wingspan without committing a foul. He can also hang with other big bodies as he’s not afraid to get physical whatsoever. On the offensive end, he is a great interior scorer and poses as a threat in the pick and roll, either creating something for himself or one of his teammates when he gets involved in the offense. Duren is a very active rebounder, fighting for the second effort and excels at securing offensive rebounds specifically. And with minimal weaknesses that can be easily fixed upon his transition into the NBA, Duren is shaping up to become a two way center, drawing comparisons to Robert Williams, and an undersized Clint Capela.
11. Portland Trailblazers (from NOP) : Jeremy Sochan, Forward, Freshman, Baylor
(9.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.8 apg)
Another player who’s statistics don’t jump out at you, Jeremy Sochan true value goes beyond just the statistics. Playing for a Baylor team that was ranked number one in the AP Poll for a majority of the year, Sochan and the Bears played one of the most difficult schedules in all of the NCAA. He possesses all the intangibles to become an All-Defensive selection multiple times during the course of his career. And on the offensive end, with his speed and athleticism, Sochan can get downhill and finish on the inside, along with providing some playmaking skills too. His biggest weakness is a consistent jumpshot, shooting just 29.9% from three and an uninspiring 57.5% from the free throw line. Sochan will be able to provide on defense from his first day with the team, but his offense remains to be a project.
12. New York Knicks: Mark Williams, Center, Sophomore, Duke
(11.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 2.9 bpg)
With Mitchell Robinson hitting free agency this offseason, this is a pick that seems like a no brainer for the Knicks, especially as of now since Williams is playing his best basketball right now as the Final Four looms ahead. In the tournament so far, Williams is averaging 14.5 points while bringing down 8.8 rebounds per game, an improvement from his regular season statistics. And with his 7’7 wingspan, he wrecks havoc on other teams offenses as he is a well established rim protector. As the tournament continues, Mark Williams has the physical skillset and has proven his worth for this Duke squad, and I see him moving up many draft boards in the near future with more success.
13. Charlotte Hornets: Tari Eason, Forward, Sophomore, LSU
(16.9 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.9 spg)
It was unfortunate to see the Tigers get bounced in the second round, as more play would have benefited Eason as he is a versatile player standing at 6’8. As a power forward, Eason is surprisingly quick for his position. With his wingspan and his speed, Eason can provide solid rim protection should he be placed in a small ball type situation. And on the perimeter, he likes to get steals and rebounds to get into transition on the fast break. Eason is a frequent attacker going to the basket and will draw foul calls, shooting 5.6 free throw attempts per game. And when he’s not driving to the basket, he can stroke the deep ball and looks to get his teammates involved in a secondary playmaker type of roll. The Hornets could really benefit from his style of play and dictate the future of small ball with this selection.
14. Atlanta Hawks: Kennedy Chandler, Guard, Freshman, Tennessee
(13.9 ppg, 4.7 apg, 3.2 rpg)
While he may be undersized for a point guard at 6’0, Chandler plays with a lot of heart and passion, as shown after Tennessee’s loss to Michigan in the Round of 32. Chandler is one of the better playmakers in this years draft, as he consistently looks to keep the ball moving as the signal-caller. His change of pace is his most valuable asset as he can get to the hoop in a hurry or shift the defense with his ball handling. He gets after it on the defensive end, as he has quick hands to pick the pocket of the offense, actively making an effort everywhere on the defensive end. You can really tell he loves to play the game of basketball each time he goes out there, and will be a valuable asset for any NBA team, as he flashed more and more potential as the season continued. The Hawks would not be an ideal team for Chandler as far as development goes with Trae Young at the helm, but wouldn’t be forced into a playmaking role right off the bat, taking some pressure off early for the youngster.
15. OKC Thunder (from LAC): Dyson Daniels, Guard, G League Ignite
The Thunder definitely do not need another guard, but with Daniels still on the board, its hard not to take him. Taking the alternate route with the G League’s developmental team, Daniels has a similar play style to fellow Australian and current rookie Josh Giddey. His passing is unmatched in the pick and roll game as he draws defenders toward him, creating opportunities for his teammates. He may not be an explosive guard, but with a solid outside shot and the ability to run an offense at will at his own pace, Daniels could be the steal of this years draft. And on defense, he is a disciplined defender with the ability to matchup against opposing guards and forwards, showing his defensive versatility. Expect Daniels to move up in future mock boards as the draft draws nearer.
16. Houston Rockets (from BKN): Ochai Agbaji, Guard/Forward, Senior, Kansas
(18.9 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.6 apg)
With Kansas still dancing, this could easily shake up the draft as Agbaji is an NBA ready guard with a great frame for his position as he can outmuscle his opponent in the post. And having attended the 2021 NBA Combine, there were questions regarding him being a consistent shooter and how it would translate to the league. Agbaji silenced his doubters this season, shooting a resounding 41% from behind the arc and 76% from the charity stripe. Houston is still in the midst of a rebuild, but bringing in Agbaji would help them rebuild faster. And if Houston believes that Kevin Porter Jr. is not the starting caliber player they once thought he was, Agbaji could be in prime position to be the lead play-caller for the Rockets.
17. Indiana Pacers (from CLE): TyTy Washington, Guard, Freshman, Kentucky
(12.5 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.9 apg)
With the improbable run by Saint Peter’s, Kentuckys season came to an end. Losing to a 15 seed in the tournament is one thing as upsets happen all the time. But for Washington to post 5 points, 1 assist, 2 turnovers, and 3 personal fouls in 32 minutes is disappointing to say the least. But this isn’t unfamiliar territory for a player to post a bad performance in the tournament to follow it up by having a great career in the NBA. Hopefully it was just a fluke but it definitely raises some eyebrows. While it wasn’t displayed in his lone game in the tournament, Washington is a pass first point guard, orchestrating the offense to get good looks, flashed countless times this season. And while he may not be athletic, he is graceful in the pick and roll game, and even looks like a young Chris Paul at times. By throwing fakes at defenders, it shifts the defense as he is a capable shot creator for himself and his teammates. If the Pacers do end up drafting him, I do not see him sticking for long as the Pacers have depth at the guard position with Malcolm Brogdon and newly acquired guards Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield.
18. Minnesota Timberwolves: MarJon Beauchamp, Forward, G League Ignite (Statistics N/A)
If the Timberwolves are on the board and Beauchamp is still there, it shouldn’t be a question whether they should draft him or not. With so many ball dominant players on the Timberwolves with Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, and D’Angelo Russell, Beauchamp excels at playing off the ball using screens, cuts, and handoffs to create an open shot for himself. And having played guard in high school, Beauchamp possesses a tight handle and is more than capable of working on the ball as well. Beauchamp also fits into Minnesota’s defensive identity as he can set the tone of a game and will continue to hustle no matter the score. For Minnesota, this is a match made in heaven as the 6’6 forward with an impressive 7’1 wingspan could be the missing piece for a Minnesota team that is looking to make some noise across the NBA.
19. San Antonio Spurs (from TOR): Malaki Branham, Guard, Freshman, Ohio State
(13.7 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.0 apg)
Going into the season, Branham was not expected to be a one and done player coming out of Ohio State, but after becoming one of the team’s leading scorers, it’s hard for him not to be in this mock draft. His shooting numbers were impressive across the board, shooting 42% from three and 82% from the line. And while he may not be able to orchestrate a team that well with weak playmaking, he has shown that he can be a reliable shooter and defend on the other side of the ball. San Antonio is a good fit for him, and can see Branham being a nice secondary scorer behind All Star Dejounte Murray.
20. Chicago Bulls: Blake Wesley, Guard, Freshman, Notre Dame
(14.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.4 apg)
Coming into the draft as a shifty ball handler, Wesley is capable of becoming a microwave, thanks to his quick handles creating space for him. Wesley is still a raw prospect as some aspects of his game are underdeveloped. With Chicago, they’d be able to sharpen him up with the potential that he could become a microwave scoring sixth man, similar to Tyler Herro currently and Jamal Crawford in the past. Wesley may need to develop for an extra year before he’s inserted into meaningful minutes, but time is not on the Bulls side with two of their All Star perennial players getting up there in age. Nonetheless, in a best case scenario Wesley could start for this Bulls team down the line but could provide meaningful minutes as a sixth man, should he decide to stay in the draft as he declared for the draft with the option to return to Notre Dame.
21. Memphis Grizzlies (from UTA): E.J. Liddell, Forward, Junior, Ohio State
(19.4 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 2.6 bpg)
The true star for the Buckeyes, Liddell returned to school this past year after being criticized for his shooting as well as his perimeter defense. His defense was impressive this year, matching up with other players in the draft such as Paolo Banchero and Kofi Cockburn, and held his own with them, if not outplaying them. And since improving his three point shot, defenders have had to close out on him, making it easier for him to get to the hoop or open up a look for his teammates. I like the Grizzlies taking Liddell here since current Memphis forward Kyle Anderson is on an expiring contract and will likely ask for money that they’ll need to extend their young core with. Taking Liddell is very logical considering how defensive minded the Grizzlies are as a team.
22. Denver Nuggets: Ousmane Dieng, Forward, NZ Breakers
(7.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 0.8 apg)
Playing in New Zealand this past season, Dieng easily has some of the biggest upsides and potential in this years draft. With solid defense, ball handling, and shot creating skills combined with his lean frame, Dieng could wreck havoc on the league once he becomes fully developed. He has been able to get good looks so far when he’s on offense, but hasn’t had much luck hitting those shots, shooting just 35% from the field and 23% from downtown. Wherever he lands in the draft, he will be a project for years to come, as he will have to wrinkle out some of his woes on offense to become a rotational player in the league. Denver seems like a great place for this young man to land as the Nuggets developmental team has done a great job in recent years drafting players.
23. Brooklyn Nets (from PHI): Nikola Jovic, Forward, Mega Mozzart
(11.8 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.3 apg)
While Brooklyn may already have multiple ball dominant players on the team, adding Nikola Jovic wouldn’t be such a bad idea. Nets stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are on the ball for a majority of the game, wearing them down as the season goes on. By adding in a playmaking forward in Jovic, he allows Durant and Irving to work off the ball as he is more than capable of finding the open man in a half court set and in transition. Jovic is also good at handling the rock, playing guard growing up in Serbia. He is also relatively good with his shot selection, not forcing shots and looking for the open man. And with the ability to set good screens, Jovic opens up the floor for himself and his teammates. Not to be confused with 2021 NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, Jovic is capable of becoming a serviceable player in the league with tremendous upside.
24. San Antonio Spurs (from BOS): Walker Kessler, Center, Sophomore, Auburn
(11.4 ppg, 8.1 rpg, 4.6 bpg)
Kessler is the rim protecting big that several teams will need to address coming into the draft, so it would not be surprising if Kessler is selected earlier than he’s projected. Standing at 7’1, Walker Kessler possesses a 7’5 wingspan that makes it extremely difficult to get shots up, let alone rebound the ball if you’re in his way. His family has an experienced background, with his brother playing in college, his dad playing overseas, and his uncle managed four seasons in the NBA. The only downsides to his game is his shooting, as he does not have a fluent jumper outside the interior, not to mention that he does not have much in the way of explosiveness, as he struggles to create his own shots. The most concerning part of his game is the limited post moves he has in his skillset, and it will prove to be difficult for him in the league if he does not improve his arsenal.
25. Golden State Warriors: Jaden Hardy, Guard, G League Ignite
Hardy is a bonafide bucket getter, who can create his own shot and get to the hoop with ease. If the Warriors land yet another play who can go get buckets for you out on the floor, the Warriors will continue their dynasty into the 2020s as they’ve established a very young core in just a few years. For Hardy to make the jump to the league, he must become more of an efficient player and essentially become more than just a good scorer. Hardy also lacks playmaking skills, due to his high scoring roles in high school, and he will need to learn to take better shots if he continues to be a playmaker going forward.
26. Dallas Mavericks: Patrick Baldwin Jr., Forward, Freshman, Milwaukee
(12.1 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.5 apg)
Originally a top recruit and projected to go higher in this years draft, Baldwin Jr.’s draft stock took a major hit as he played under his dad at Milwaukee this past season, which didn’t pan out, and has people wondering what Baldwin Jr. was capable of if he had joined a school with a well established basketball program. But with a solid handle, getting shots will not be difficult for him, but teams will overlook him should he start to take shots that fall outside a teams system. Dallas should definitely take a chance on him, especially if he was even half the player he was in high school, as the Mavericks lack depth at the forward position.
27. Milwaukee Bucks: Bryce McGowens, Guard, Freshman, Nebraska
(16.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.4 apg)
A very skilled player for the shooting guard position, McGowens is a very skilled shot maker with a great frame and length for his position. On offense, he has a smooth jumper with a soft touch who can take advantage of having a smaller player placed on him. And while his shooting percentages weren’t great (40% from the field, 27% from three), McGowens will have the chance over the summer to get his rhythm going and eventually improve at shooting as he makes the jump to the league. McGowens would be a great selection for Milwaukee as he would get a great opportunity to learn from last year’s championship team.
28. Miami Heat: Trevor Keels, Guard, Freshman, Duke
(11.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 2.8 apg)
With sheer athleticism, Trevor Keels is a very talented guard on the offensive side of the ball, getting to his spots with the ability to also shoot off the dribble. Keels doesn’t necessarily need the ball to make an impact on the floor as he uses cuts frequently to get himself open. The only things he needs to work on upon entering the league is his carelessness, as he can get sloppy with the ball or make bad passes at times. It’s also important to mention that Keels can lose his focus on the defensive end sometimes. But as long as he cleans up his act in two minor areas, Keels will be able to flourish in the league. Keels will get the opportunity to play for Erik Spoelstra, who has developed players into superstar guards over the years.
29. Memphis Grizzlies: Jean Montero, Guard, Overtime Elite
Montero took an unusual path to the draft, forgoing college, the G-League, and overseas, as he chose to play for the newly established and uncertain Overtime Elite league. Being a speedy guard that has the ability to create his own shot is a plus, but the Overtime Elite league only had three teams in circulation, meaning Montero was playing against limited competition all year. Not to mention that Montero hasn’t exactly been performing that great either. He has been able to get to his spots on the floor, but hasn’t been hitting them. Jean Montero has the intangibles to be great in the league, but has not done a great job displaying his ability to scouts, making him an unusual prospect. The Grizzlies would pick up another guy that they can develop, and hopefully begins to blossom when he enters the league.
30. OKC Thunder (from PHX): David Roddy, Forward, Junior, Colorado State
(14.3 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 2.7 apg)
Despite being bounced from the first round against Michigan, Roddy had a great season for Colorado State, being the go-to scorer for this Rams squad. While he won’t be leaned on to be a go to scorer coming into the league, Roddy can hit a variety of difficult shots. And if he does not have the look he likes, he has no problem dishing the ball off to his teammates. Roddy will fit in well with the Thunder as he will have the opportunity to work with some skilled young guards in Oklahoma City.