The pick is in and the 2022 NBA draft is in the books. So which players ended up in the most favorable situations? Who has the talent to make the most immediate impact in the 2022-23 NBA season?
ESPN fantasy pundit André Snellings highlights the newly drafted players he’s targeting, starting with some unsurprising names from the top of the draft.
Paolo Banchero, PF, Orlando Magic: Banchero gives the Magic a strong offensive option from the power forward position. Banchero is the first goalscorer and can create shots from dribbling for both himself and his teammates. He averaged 17.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.1 3PG, 1.1 SPG and 0.9 BPG while as a freshman at Duke he was 47.8% from the field, 33.8 % from 3-point range and 72.9% from the line in 33.0mpg. On an offensively disadvantaged Magic team with little upfront, Banchero should have an opportunity to produce big numbers and establish himself in the Rookie of the Year debate. According to ESPN Analytics NBA Draft Predictions, Banchero was drafted first in the NCAA production model and leads that draft class with a 51% chance of becoming an All Star.
Chet Holmgren, PF, Oklahoma City Thunder: Holmgren is one of the elite defenders in this draft, and the Thunder are hoping he’ll use his 7′ height and 7-6 wingspan to develop into a true anchor in the middle of their defense. Holmgren also has a strong jump shot, can clear the glass and handle the ball well enough to lead quick one-man breaks. According to ESPN Analytics, Holmgren was ranked #2 in the draft NCAA statistical model, #2 in college adjusted block percentage, and #2 in adjusted effective shooting percentage, and is the other leader in this class at 51%. Opportunity to advance to All Star. Holmgren averaged 14.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 3.7 BPG, 1.9 APG, 1.3 3PG, and 0.8 SPG in his first season with Gonzaga while earning 60.7% from the field, 39th place .0% from depth and 71.7% from the line. He’s likely to be among the rookie leaders in rebounds, blocks, and field goal percentage this season.
Jabari Smith Jr., PF, Houston Rockets: Smith is a 6-10 combo big arguing as the top shooter in the draft. He’s barely 19 years old, which means he’s got quite a bit on his mind as he continues to grow into his physique. Smith is the son of a former NBA player and already has a reputation for professionalism, intensity and hard work, which bodes well for his future development. He is also a strong defender. According to ESPN Analytics, Smith ranked in the top 12 in the top 100 prospects for adjusted defensive rebound rate, adjusted block percentage, defensive win shares, and revenue percentage. In his only collegiate season, Smith averaged 16.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.3 3PG, 2.0 APG, 1.1 SPG and 1.0 BPG at 42.9 FG%, 42.0 3P% and 79.9 FT%. The Rockets are a young, recovering team who just traded their big starter into Christian Wood, which should give Smith room to get vital minutes and opportunities from Day 1.
Keegan Murray, PF, Sacramento Kings: A great combo forward with wide ground clearance and excellent shot feel, Murray is comfortable in the paint, center and behind the arc. He has a grip strong enough to pop pull-up jumpers, and he’s also strong in pick-and-pop sets. Murray is one of the most NBA-ready candidates this draft because of his age; He will turn 22 in August before his rookie season begins. While some believe that limits his advantage compared to some other prospects, Murray ranked fourth in ESPN Analytics’ draft model and should be able to produce numbers for the Kings from day one. He was a standout college goalscorer, averaging 23.5 PPG at 55.4 FG%, 39.8 3P%, and 74.7 FT%. Murray could challenge to be the top scorer in this rookie class, and his 8.7 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 1.9 3PG and 1.3 SPG in college suggest all-around ability leading to well-rounded rookie statistics could lead.
Jaden Ivey, PG, Detroit Pistons: Ivey was considered by many drafting pundits to be the best candidate in this draft, barring the three big men at the top…and maybe even with them. He’s an explosive backcourt athlete with his physical abilities earning comps from luminaries like Ja Morant, Anthony Edwards or a less physical Dwyane Wade. He has both burst and jumping skills and is a highlight reel finisher in the open court. Ivey was solid as a freshman but made a big leap in his sophomore year to 17.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.8 3PG, 0.9 SPG and 0.6 BPG at 46.0 FG% , 35.8 3P% and 74.4 FT%. Although often listed as a point guard, he will likely play more shooting guard for the Pistons, with Cade Cunningham running the show. This gives Ivey a chance to focus on his goal, attacking the rim from dribbling and looking good with his improving jump shot. He has as much or more Star Power as any other player in this draft.
Bennedict Mathurin, SF, Indiana Pacers: A big wing with great explosiveness, Mathurin is an elite 3-point range spot-up jumper. He has a strong first step from dribbling that lets him get into the paint where his bounce, power and body control make him a threat. Mathurin is another player to jump as a sophomore, averaging 17.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2.2 3PG, and 1.0 SPG for Arizona. Mathurin isn’t elite at creating his own offense from dribbling, so he might project himself more as a spot-up shooter and ground spacer early in his career. If he’s able to improve the consistency of his defensive efforts, he could project as a youngster into a 3-and-D player with the advantage of becoming an impactful offensive player later.
Shaedon Sharpe, SG, Portland Trailblazer: A 6-6 shooting guard with incredible athleticism, Sharpe was named top prospect in the 2022 recruit class before being reclassified to the 2021 class. As a result, he did not play at the collegiate level despite signing up with the Kentucky Wildcats in January. He’s a highlight on the open court, has the power to finish in traffic, and dominated both inside and out at the high school level. His biggest question mark is his lack of experience, which is why it may take some time for him to develop to the pro level. The Trail Blazers also have Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons in backcourt, so he may not get great minutes right off the bat. However, Sharpe has just as many advantages as any other player in this draft when he’s able to find his level.
Dyson Daniels, PG, New Orleans Pelicans: Daniels is a 6-6 combo guard who played in the NBA G-League last season. He plans to play a point guard at the NBA level, indicating his excellent height and length for his position. Daniels is also good at moving off the ball, being both a cutter to the edge and a guy who can break out and knock the Trey over. His pro-level experience could help him be one of the best producers in this class right from the start. Daniels was ranked the seventh prospect in the draft with a 33% chance of becoming an All Star according to ESPN Analytics draft predictions. His height and skills would allow him to fit well in the Pelicans’ backcourt alongside CJ McCollum.
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