The 2022 NBA Draft is finally here, and with it comes the years-long culmination of evaluating the players in this class. We dropped our first big board for the 2022 NBA Draft the day after the 2021 NBA Draft was over. A lot has changed since our initial projection last June, but the top-two players on our preseason board stayed in the exact same spot all the way through the process.
Now it’s time to post our final draft rankings of the cycle. As I reflect on this class, I’m struck by the feeling that this was one of my favorite draft classes ever to cover.
What made this class so much fun to evaluate was having four prospects with a legitimate case to deemed as the best player in the class. Anyone scouting this draft class had to plant their flag on their No. 1 guy and live with the results. For me, that’s Duke forward Paolo Banchero. I also enjoyed having so many of the top prospects come from college basketball this season— especially when none of the top three players on next year’s board will ever step foot on a college campus. There isn’t one path to the NBA that’s inherently better than others, but I’m a sucker for watching top prospects fit into the storied traditions and pressure-packed atmospheres that college hoops specializes in.
Here’s our list of the 60 best prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft. After the table, we’ll break down the tiers and talk about our biggest takeaways.
NBA Draft 2022: Big board of top-60 players
|4||1||Jabari Smith Jr.||Forward||Auburn|
|8||3||Dyson Daniels||Guard||G League Ignite|
|14||4||Patrick Baldwin Jr.||Forward||Milwaukee|
|16||4||Blake Wesley||Guard||Notre Dame|
|17||5||EJ Liddell||Forward||Ohio State|
|18||5||MarJon Beauchamp||Forward||G League Ignite|
|21||5||Jalen Williams||Wing||Santa Clara|
|22||5||Malaki Branham||Guard/Wing||Ohio State|
|26||6||Jaden Hardy||Guard||G League Ignite|
|33||7||Jake LaRavia||Forward||Wake Forest|
|37||7||Max Christie||Wing||Michigan State|
|40||7||David Roddy||Wing||Colorado State|
|47||8||Dominick Barlow||Forward/Center||Overtime Elite|
|48||8||Jean Montero||Guard||Overtime Elite|
|50||8||Yannick Nzosa||Center||Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|53||8||John Butler||Forward||Florida State|
|54||8||Dereon Seabron||Guard/Wing||NC State|
|56||8||Julian Champagnie||Forward||St. John’s|
|58||8||Jordan Hall||Forward||St. Joseph’s|
|59||8||Ron Harper Jr.||Wing||Rutgers|
We’re defining a tier as the part of the draft where the players can go in any order and still seem reasonable enough to us based on our individual evaluations. The tiers are typically smaller at the top of the draft and bigger toward the end of it.
Here’s how we see this draft breaking down.
Tier 1: Franchise pillars with All-Star talent
Each of the top-four players in the draft are foundational cornerstones who will be All-Stars if they reach their peak outcomes.
- Paolo Banchero is our No. 1 guy: Banchero has been our top prospect since the start of the cycle because he’s the best shot creator in the class. For a huge forward at 6’10, 250 pounds, Banchero offers tight ball handling ability and some of the best live dribble passing in the class. He’s a load to handle as a downhill scoring threat, a skilled mid-range shooter, and strong enough to bully people in the post. He’s the player in this class most likely to become a primary option on a contending team, and that fact elevates him above his peers. Banchero’s skeptics are acting like his defense is a Trae Young-level liability, but that’s overblown. Again, he’s huge and has long shown a strong feel for the game. He’s going to be fine defensively at worst. Read our full breakdown of why Banchero is our No. 1 prospect here.
- Doubt Chet Holmgren at your own peril: It’s only natural to doubt Chet Holmgren the first time you see him because of his famously skinny frame. It just has to be noted that Holmgren’s frame has never prevented him from dominating whatever competition he’s faced. His physical tools, feel, touch, finishing, and ferocious rim protection make him the most tantalizing upside bet in the class — and he had the statistical production to back it up as a freshman with the Zags. Read our full breakdown on why he’s our No. 2 overall prospect in the class.
- Why we have Jaden Ivey over Jabari Smith Jr.: Personally, I value the ability to get to the basket over knockdown shooting. Shooting can usually be delegated to role players, but it takes a star to consistently bend opposing defenses by getting to the rim. Ivey’s burst with the ball in his hands is elite even by NBA standards. Smith is an awesome prospect — maybe already one of the best 6’10+ shooters in the world, and also light on his feet defensively on the perimeter — but the Auburn freshman struggles to create off the bounce and score efficiently inside the arc. Read our comprehensive scouting report on Ivey here.
Tier 2: Upside swings with great tools
I’m defining Tier 2 as high ceiling players with youth, excellent physical tools, and at least one bankable NBA skill.
- Jalen Duren is our pick for the fifth best player in the class: Mostly everyone has the same top-four in this class. The fifth spot is where it gets interesting. We like the Memphis center at No. 5 for his strong frame, long arms, explosiveness around the rim, short roll playmaking upside, and defensive versatility. It’s easy to peg Duren as your typical lob catcher/rim protecting big, but he has more game than just that. He’s a versatile defender who can play the pick-and-roll any way you want, whether it’s in drop, at the level of the screen, or on a switch. His skill level and feel for the game are only scratching the surface of their long-term upside. While his skills develop, Duren will succeed by playing with power around the basket than anyone in the class on both ends of the floor.
- Shaedon Sharpe and A.J. Griffin are big wings who shoot the lights out: Sharpe and Griffin are probably the two “riskiest” prospects in the lottery, but both are worth betting on. Like Duren, Griffin is one of the youngest players in the class but already has a grown man’s frame. He showed fantastic touch from deep by knocking down 45 percent of his threes as a freshman at Duke. Griffin may be labeled as a health risk after multiple knee injuries in high school, which seem to have limited to his flexibility a bit both as a north-south driver on offense and in screen navigation defensively. The red flags are scary, but we’ve seen too many flashes of star qualities on the wing throughout his career to pass over him. Sharpe is a risk for the simple reason that he’s barely played after joining Kentucky midseason but deciding not to take the floor. Still, Sharpe has a great frame from a two guard, jaw-dropping hops, and a money three-point stroke. Read our full breakdown of Shaedon Sharpe here.
Tier 3: High-floor contributors
These four college veterans feel like “safe” picks that should have long careers in the league.
- Dyson Daniels and Johnny Davis are plus defenders in the backcourt: Daniels is the bigger (6’8) guard with more playmaking potential. Davis offers more 1-on-1 scoring juice. Neither is particularly good as a three-point shooter, but Davis feels further along in that area at this time. While it’s far from a perfect comparison, these two remind us a bit of Boston Celtics guards Marcus Smart (Daniels) and Derrick White (Davis). If the spot-up shooting comes around, both feel like trustworthy role players who can handle playoff minutes.
- Keegan Murray and Bennedict Mathurin are skilled movement shooters: Murray and Mathurin both turned into All-Americans as sophomores by proving to be versatile shooters with range. Murray is a big combo forward at 6’8, 225 pounds who hit 40 percent of his threes, scores well in around the basket, and has sharp rotational instincts defensively. Mathurin is the better athlete, which he leverages particularly well as a cutter. I’m more skeptical about Mathurin defensively, and worry he could be a little one dimensional as a shooter. Ultimately, his shooting, athletic gifts, and awesome production at Arizona makes him someone you don’t want to fade more than this.
Tier 4: Weirdo upside gambles
These players have unique strengths, but also some serious red flags. If they hit, they could be plus-starters.
- Tari Eason is a buzzsaw: Eason has a great frame — 6’8, 220 pounds with a 7’2 wingspan and huge hands — and excellent athleticism. He should have big upside as a switch defender in the league, and is at his best blitzing ball handers or darting into the passing lanes to force turnovers. Eason is also a talented downhill driver, which helped him have a massive free throw rate while knocking down 80 percent from the line. His three-point shot has a slow release and is less of a sure thing, but he did 35 percent of his triples this season on 78 attempts. He does not have a reliable left hand yet, and can get a little out of control because of it. The physical gifts are just so impressive that we love Eason as a chaos agent with some real slashing upside.
- Patrick Baldwin Jr. is a huge shooter with medical red flags: Baldwin was a top-five high school recruit who chose to play for his father at low-major Milwaukee, and had a terrible freshman year defined by injuries. Throw out the college tape and you’ll find a 6’10.5 knockdown shooter who can also create in the midrange. The issue is his health after having two straight years wrecked by a dislocated ankle, and the loss the athleticism that occurred in part because of it. Read our feature the rise and fall of Baldwin as a top draft prospect.
- Jeremy Sochan is an exceptional defender who never messes up: If Eason wins on defense by ripping the ball away from the opposition, Sochan does it providing blanket coverage all over the floor. His motor, instincts, and length is incredibly frustrating to play against. Sochan separates himself with his feel for the game and comfort handling the ball on the perimeter. His shooting is a major question mark at this stage, but his brilliant play on the defensive end feels like one of the safer bets to translate in this class.
- Dalen Terry is a versatile wing with a great motor: I wasn’t brave enough to fully commit to a “Dalen Terry was the best prospect on Arizona” take, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it came to fruition. Terry is a do-it-all wing who can really handle and playmake, but operated at a very low usage rate last year. Spot-up shooting is his clear swing skill. Terry should bring it on the defensive end, and feels like a perfect complementary piece around a team with multiple stars. His infectious personality should win him new fans wherever he goes.
- Blake Wesley is a creator bet with a blazing first step: Wesley emerged into a surprise one-and-done by asserting himself as Notre Dame’s high-usage offensive engine. Wesley can usually get wherever he wants on the floor, but his finishing ability is disappointing. We like his natural ability to bend defenses, and hope his rim scoring and three-point shooting improve in time.
Tier 5: High floor rotation guys
Finding contributors outside of the lottery is the most efficient way to build depth in the NBA. Each of these players feels like they can fill a role in the league.
E.J. Liddell was a three-year star in the Big Ten who has all the attributes to transition into a reliable NBA role player. A stout 6’7, 240-pound forward, Liddell has always been a gifted inside scorer, but improved to 37 percent on decent volume from three-point range this season. His defense will likely be his calling card in the league. He’s impossible to move in the post with a low center of gravity, and has surprising hops as a rebounder and shot blocker. He feels like a perfect third big in the NBA. MarJon Beauchamp is a high-motor defender with length, athleticism, and two-point scoring touch. He needs to improve as a three-point shooter, but few players in this class “have that dog in them” more than Beauchamp. Mark Williams is a center with a huge 7’7 wingspan who should thrive playing drop coverage and slamming home lobs. I don’t love centers who don’t project as plus shooter or plus passers, but his enormous dunk and block radius is going to get him drafted higher than where I ranked him.
Malaki Branham and TyTy Washington are two freshmen guards who can both hit tough buckets in the midrange. Washington has more ability to play on the ball (including a 17-point, 17-assist game in January). Branham’s numbers are awesome as a three-point shooter and pick-and-roll playmaker, but his lack of top-end athleticism makes him think his game will have a tougher translation to the league. Jalen Williams is a late-rising mid-major wing with a ridiculous +9 wingspan who lacks athletic burst but shines as a pick-and-roll playmaker and three-point shooter. Christian Braun is a high-motor 3-and-D wing bet with some bounce, and Walker Kessler is a massive shot blocker who might have some currently underdeveloped shooting potential.
Tier 6: Upside plays that need a couple years of development
These players have tantalizing upside traits but will require some patience.
Ousmane Dieng is a lanky 6’10 wing via France with a burgeoning perimeter game who needs to add weight and continue to sharpen each of his skills. Jaden Hardy was a top-five high school recruit whose stock dropped a bit after an inefficient year with the G League Ignite. Hard still offers tight ball handling and deep range on his pull-up, but struggles with shot selection and finishing at the rim. Bryce McGowens is a 6’7 guard who has some ball handling and shooting upside, but could need a couple years before he’s ready to contribute. Kendall Brown is a super athletic 6’8 wing with real passing chops who struggles to shoot and occasionally feels like he’s floating in games. Peyton Watson is a tools-y wing with major defensive upside who could barely crack the rotation as a freshman with UCLA. Josh Minott is a 6’8 wing with major athletic gifts but needs to develop his all-around skill level.
Tier 7: Could be something
These aren’t the safest bets, but each has the talent to carve out a role in the league eventually if they get in the right situation.
Kennedy Chandler is a small but tough point guard who has been productive on a variety of big stages. Ochai Agbaji blossomed as a senior after improving to 40 percent three-point shooter. He’s a likely first rounder as a 3-and-D wing, but we’re a bit skeptical of his ability to beat defenses by putting the ball on the floor. David Roddy is a beefy 6’6, 260 pound wing who blossomed into a 44 percent three-point shooter this year, but needs to prove he can defend and capably attack the defense off the bounce. Trevion Williams is a 270-pound big man with awesome passing ability but question marks about his shooting and defensive mobility. Trevor Keels is a strong, young guard who didn’t live up to the hype as a shooter, but impressed at the point of attack defensively.
Tier 8: Late second round fliers
These are our favorite gambles at the end of the draft.
Jean Montero is a shifty guard who can make dynamic plays but lacks consistency and will always be one of the smaller players on the floor. John Butler might be taller, skinnier, and a better three-point shooter than Chet Holmgren (who didn’t measure at the combine). Butler doesn’t have the physicality to compete right now at 7’1, 175 pounds, but he moves decently well and can really shoot with range. Dereon Seabron is a powerfully built guard with good size and an impressive first step, but lacks shooting touch.
How to watch the 2022 NBA Draft
- Date: Thursday, June 23
- Time: 7:30 p.m, ET
- TV: ESPN
- Stream online: WatchESPN