The 2022 NBA draft is here and the speculations are gaining momentum. There will be storylines emanating from the outset of Thursday’s event at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn as to whether the Big Three of Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero go in the order expected, and to the teams expected?

If it’s Banchero to the Orlando Magic at No. 1, Holmgren to the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 2 and Smith to the Houston Rockets at No. 3, what might that mean for the Sacramento Kings at No. 4? Will the Kings, who must consider the likelihood of their pick signing with the struggling franchise, strike a draft-night deal? If they do, how will the rest of the night’s dominoes fall?

Paolo Banchero is likely to be No. 1 draft
Banchero has been the top prospect since the start of the cycle simply because he is 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 is 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.

Why 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.