2022 NBA Draft First Round Scouting Reports: Strengths, Weaknesses, Sleepers and What To Expect From This Class
It’s the morning of the NBA draft, and the trajectory of many teams, players, coaches, front offices and prospects’ fates could be determined by just one pick. Who will get the steal of the draft? Who will be a bust? This time of the year marks a time where trade talks are coming from every direction, and all 30 fan-bases have hope that their teams will be able to improve and take advantage of this NBA draft. Other than the Warriors, who have a perfectly constructed team, all other 29 organizations can completely change the narrative around their team if they play their cards right. This list is in no exact order, and it is not a mock draft. It is a thoroughly written scouting report with everything you need to know about this year’s draft class. With that being said, let’s look at the class!
7-0, 195 PF/C
DOB: 05/01/02 (20.1 yrs)
Hometown: Minneapolis, MN
Strengths: An extremely skilled frontcourt player who can score everywhere from the floor. Has shown flashes of going coast-to-coast, the ability to attack his defender off the dribble, and can finish at the basket before opposing defenses can get set. Holmgreen has great size at 7’1″ and long arms (7’6″ wingspan) that allow him to alter and/or block many shots. Elite inside collegiate defender who makes up for his lack of strength with his length and IQ in the post, but he’ll definitely need to bulk up to not get pushed around. Has a smooth shot motion with a rapid trigger that can make him lethal in the pick-and-pop. The Gonzaga Product shot a very solid 39% from 3-point range. His 3 point percentage actually was as high as 45% from early December until around the NCAA Tournament. Takes advantage of and attacks less mobile centers and creates solid half-court space for any offense with his outside jumper. Holmgreen has an excellent basketball IQ as well for his age, as he can exploit opponents and make aggressive defenders sweat. Holmgreen’s rapid trigger and ability to put the ball on the court also make him hard to defend off screens. The former Gonzaga Bulldog standout uses his frame and long strides to get to the rim QUICK. Every time he suited up for the Zags he had some notable highlights. His lateral footwork allows him to defend any position and alter just about any shot. Excels at passing with his back to the basket in the post and reading off-ball action. A great defensive rebounder who can move. Has the ball handling and speed to lead the break after grabbing rebounds… His size and skills at his age give him sky-high potential and a seemingly limitless ceiling. We are looking at a prospect who could very well turn into a dominant two-way stud if he works hard enough and expands his range. Ultimately, he’s a very talented bigman with a quality feel for the game. If he keeps growing in size, length (just turned 20) and can stay healthy, he will be a FORCE at the next level.
Weaknesses: His greatest obstacles stem from his 195-pound physique. The ability to add weight while maintaining solid agility and mobility is not very easy. His combination of length and athleticism is unique yet concerning, because the chances him being able to play on the perimeter as a facilitator as he ages is more slim than not. Durability suffers Without higher body strength, that gives way for durability issues in the future. Stronger and more physical players might bully him under the rim, take away his length, and attack him if the opposition can stop his dribble and put him in tough spots. Doesn’t commit to screens and is known to avoid contact which limits the separation he creates. Gets into foul trouble, averaging around 4 fouls per 40 minutes in first and only campaign at Gonzaga. He didn’t perform too well against elite competition, and honestly vanished for some stretches of time in the tournament. At the beginning of the year, I did not know if Gonzaga was beatable with the team they had. We found out they were.
6’10”, 250 PF/C
DOB: 11/12/02 (19.6 yrs)
Hometown: Seattle, WA
Banchero averaged 17.2 ppg and 7.7 rpg in his lone season at Duke under Coach K, helping them reach the Final Four. The top-three draft prospect is 6’10 with a 7’0.5 wingspan, superb size and length for a team that needs a legit front-court prospect. Banchero was the 2022 ACC Rookie of the Year, first-team All-ACC, ACC All-Rookie team, was named as a second-team All-American. With the success Banchero was able to have in his only season at Duke, he showed that he is legit, and can be so at the next level.
Strengths: Banchero is the top forward in this year’s class. He is a young, smart and purely talented prospect who uses his power and skill to get to the rack. Not to mention, his quickness gives him a considerable edge when it comes to scoring at the rim. While shooting from deep isn’t his strong suit, he’s confident and an excellent dribbler. In a league developing to smaller, faster-paced lineups, his playmaking and clever passing ability stands out.
Weaknesses: Banchero’s lateral speed improved through his freshman season, but he still needs to work on it to be as effective as possible in the NBA. His shot selection needs to be better in the NBA as his 3-point percentage was lowered by taking out-of range shots at times. His weaknesses are coachable though, and will strengthen with further NBA training and experience.
6’10”, 220 PF
DOB: 05/13/03 (19.1 yrs)
Hometown: Fayetteville, GA
Strengths: Smith is a wiry 6’10 combo/stretch four with long arms which allow him to shoot over defenders… Last year with the Tigers, he was easily one of the best and most confident jump shooters in the nation, especially from long range. He shot an elite 44% from downtown, averaging around 5+ attempts per game in his 17 outings. Like I said earlier, he seems to have the height and size to shoot jumpers in solid defenders grills. A quick, active and determined defender with strong lateral quickness… Possesses solid instincts and has high-IQ anticipation which can help him block shots and swipe ball handers without gambling too hard. The Auburn product is a Multi-functional defender who can guard any position on the perimeter and even in the post. defender too.Averaged 1.5 steals and a block last year. Always plays with energy and is a sound decision maker. Smith displayed quite some poise and maturity for only being a freshman. He pays attention to all the little details too. The Sandy Springs standout is a quality free-throw shooter (80% FT) and a 3-level-scorer. His long strides and quick first step help him slither by similar-sized defenders and to the rim swiftly. An excellent cutter who finishes lobs and layups efficiently… His dazzling, explosive dunks in transition ignites crowds and his offenses. Despite a strong usage percentage of 27%, He only committed 1.8 turnovers per game. His gritty, timely, smart and aggressive defense keeps him out of foul trouble. A two-way forward who has size, length, and “OutOfSight” potential… He can operate as a versatile and mobile player, being a small forward in big lineups, but seems ideally suited to play the 4 considering his power to create mismatches and rebound the basketball. His ability to defend the perimeter is unlike any other top bigs in this draft. With that being said, Jabari Smith has the safest ceiling out of any player in this draft class.
Weaknesses: Given his size and intensity, his rebounding numbers could very well improve at the next level (6.2 per game at AU), but he plays away from the rim a good bit given his ability to stretch out defenses. Not to mention, he had to share front court duties with a solid big man in Walker Kessler which surely altered his rebound totals.. With more strength, he can play more aggressively around the rim. Smith is a decent ball-hander who isn’t the best at creating his own shots. If he can grow as shot creator and ISO threat, he without a doubt will become an even better score. He’s an okay passer who can definitely get better as he grows under NBA development. At times, Smith settles settles for perimeter jumpers and low-percentage mid-range shots due to his hesitancy at times to get to the basket and create for others in half-court action. With only 17 games under his belt in his one and only season with the Auburn Tigers, scouts were given a small offensive sample size, but he has the physical traits to excel with his jump shot. He doesn’t create much space when catching passes at the elbow. Frequently settles for mid-range jumpers on these entries. When he drives, he most oftenly goes to the right, when he goes left he tends to take difficult faders. With that being said, Smith is a stud and probably the lowest risk in the draft thanks to his build, skillset and ceiling. I just don’t see an NBA where Jabari Smith isn’t AT LEAST a key piece of a team’s rotation.
6-8, 225 SF/PF
DOB: 08/19/00 (21.8 yrs)
Hometown: Cedar Rapids, IA
Strengths: 6’8″ forward Keegan Murray is projected to be somewhere between the 5th and 9th pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Murray is a weapon at forward who will help any team the moment he laces them up. Murray won the Big Ten Tournament MVP as well, leading the Hawkeyes to a conference title. Murray shot 55/39/74 shooting splits and averaged 23.5 PPG and 8.7 RPG last season. Iowa’s forward had the best box Plus-Minus since Zion Williamson too. Murray’s age, 21, could cause him to fall in the draft though. The Iowa Product is a lethal coast-to-coast transition scorer. He attacks the basket with his length and body control. Murray’s post-up game was effective, as he sealed opponents well during his collegiate career. His spin move is extremely effective too. The former Hawkeye forward can punish smaller players who switch onto him because of his aggressiveness and natural ability. He shot a pretty solid 39.8% from three-point range. His catch-and-shoot isn’t anything insane, but he can definitely be a threat. His high-motor is another advantage he has while on the court and his off-ball mobility makes him a vicious cutter.
Against guards, he can defend 3-4. Murray’s on-ball defense demonstrates quality balance and footwork. His length gives him the ability to recover after getting beat on defense. Sincehe understands how to position himself, he was able to average an impressive 1.9 BPG and 1.3 SPG per game last season, respectively.
Weaknesses: The former Hawkeye is not the fastest player, which causes him to have a pretty mediocre first step off the dribble. This allowe opposing guards to be able to shake him off quickly. Murray’s handle is too sloppy, and his playmaking isn’t NBA-caliber yet. Defenders intercepted dozens of his inaccurate passes last year as well as he must become more tidy will the basketball in his hands. He also lacks the ability to consistently run pick-and-rolls as well as he could.
Lastly, Murray’s inconsistent midrange game needs much. much improvement, allowing defenses to play/anticipate his drive rather than his his pull-up jumper. Improved balance would force defenders to respect both channels.
6’4”, 195 PG/SG
DOB: 02/13/02 (20.4 yrs)
Hometown: South Bend, IN
Strengths: Jaden Ivey led Purdue to the Sweet 16 last season. At 6-foot-4 and 195 pounds, he has the athleticism to thrive at the next level.
Ivey has the raw passing ability to act as a combo guard and secondary playmaker. His size gives him versatility every NBA team needs nowadays.Ivey is an electric player with his explosiveness making him a nightmare for opposing defenses. He accelerates like he has a real-life turbo button which he uses to blow by defenders to get to the rack. In the open floor, he can reach a gear that other guys in his class just can’t quite reach in this class. Ivey is deadly in transition and is a very effective, shifty, and downhill guard.
Weaknesses: Ivey’s tough energy and play style can be a gift and a curse, as he may be overly aggressive and out of control on both ends at times. Tends to gamble and reaches often for steals, picking up unnecessary fouls and taking himself out of games… High IQ player, but his level of intensity and eagerness to make plays on defense can get the best of him, forcing him into turnovers by getting caught in no man’s land sometimes. When his speed doesn’t break down the defense’s help side, he demonstrates poor patience and shot selection. Can improve by varying his tempo. Should improve his mid-range game and add 1 and 2 dribble pull up shots while off the 3-point line. Improved passer but not a natural playmaker for others (3.3 apg/2.2 tog); loses his feet to complete passes, which telegraphs and gives defenders time to recover and close passing angles… Ivey possesses some misdirection, but is essentially an average ball-handler who uses his speed and lateral agility… He has a low lift on his jumper and shoots a set shot, which is less of a concern from 3-point range given his improvement this season, but it will make developing his floaters and runners more essential in the NBA. Some consider him a forthcoming point guard, but he’s more of a wing right now.
6-6, 205 Shooting Guard/Small Forward
DOB:06/19/02 (20 yrs)
Hometown: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Strengths: Mathurin’s stature, length, strength, and quickness allow him to compete with most perimeter players and has an extremely high ceiling. Mathurin is an intriguing wing prospect with All-Star capability. After a strong Freshman season, he broke out his sophomore year and is now almost guaranteed to be a lottery pick.
Mathurin is 6’6″ and pretty darn athletic for a wing. He has a strong upper body , excellent base, and is disciplined. He’s not the fastest dude, but he has good burst, a phenomenal quick first step, and plenty of hops. His shot is compact, steady, and soft. He is also a good isolation scorer that utilizes his exceptional ability to make jumpers which also results in many layups and dunks. The 19- year old was a pretty 37% from deep his sophomore year, and was a solid 77% free-throw shooter that can draw a lot of fouls.
Mathurin needs to become a better dribbler and needs to use his stature more to score at the rim.
Weaknesses: Mathurin’s inability to create offense off the dribble is his biggest challenge. His Inconsistent defensive intensity lacks at times… He is still developing and learning how to play like a wing… Not the greatest rebounder and gives up offensive rebounds. May struggle against high-energy offensive players because he’s primarily an offensive player. Gets lost on defense sometimes due to ball-watching, and can be overpowered during boxouts. He definitely needs more transition defense energy too. His free-throw percentage dropped from 84% to 76%, but his volume and mechanics are good. Smaller guards can blow past him, as his lateral agility and anticipation lacks on defense a little too often. It will take time for him to become a solid shoot creator, but he has the tools and potential to develop it in a few years. Not the largest wingspan, but nice size with a wingspan approximately 2-3 inches larger than his height…
6-7, 195 SG/SF
DOB: 03/17/03 (19.3 yrs)
Hometown: Bendigo, Australia
Strengths: Dyson Daniels has mid-lottery potential after a great season with the G League Ignite. The large Australian guard/wing has physical and mental tools and intriguing upside. He’s 6’7″ 1/2 (in shoes) and athletic for a guard. He has quick feet, hands, and bounce. He’s not a high-volume shooter, but he’s got great form and could become one. Has point-forward skills and an excellent awareness setting up his teammates.
Dyson is the top perimeter defender in this draft class (or at least one of the best). He has outstanding footwork, quick hands, and is great at positioning himself. Looking ahead a few years he could become one of the standout two-way players in the league.
Weaknesses: Although he’s talented, his in-game IQ needs to improve. Good athlete, but that doesn’t always convert at the next level… Isn’t particularly explosive and struggles to complete… Lacks a good separating step… Has problems rising over bigger defenders, which could be age and maturity. Alters his shot instead of taking contact, making it harder to convert. Length and size help him against lesser opponents, while bigger rim protectors cause him trouble. Most decent guards can stay in front of him and force the ball out of his hands since he is a basic dribbler with no moves and a slow first step. 1.5 FTA/game An average ball handler with room to evolve into the starting primary ball handler at the next level. Carries the ball high while bringing it up the floor or operating in the halfcourt.
6-6, 260 SF/PF
Colorado St. Junior
DOB: 03/27/01 (21.2 yrs)
Strengths: Roddy was good at scoring inside the arc at CSU, averaging 62% from two last season. High school football prospect at 6’6, 255 lbs., his size helped him play through contact to get to the rim. He can defend multiple positions with his 6’11 wingspan.
Weaknesses: Roddy is undersized for a forward at 6’6 and won’t post up defenders like he did in college. As a junior, he averaged 3.4 three-point attempts per game.
6-4, 225 PG/SG
DOB: 08/26/03 (18.8 yrs)
Hometown: Clinton, MD
Strengths: A big, strong combo guard who gets to the basket with his size. Defends well and harasses guards on and off the ball. Physical enough to play on the perimeter and switch to forwards… Solid rebounder who won’t back down or box out… Can score at all three levels, but midrange and perimeter efficiency are issues. He has point-guard experience, but he’s more useful off the ball. Can be a primary ballhandler… Spot-up shooter with potential… Averages 1.3 in both categories in 30 minutes per game. Physicality and willingness to draw contact get him to the line nearly three times per game.
Weaknesses: Passing and speed don’t make him a good lead guard, and he’s too small and lacks outside shooting to play off guard. Due to his practice shooting, he was expected to be an elite shooter at Duke, but he shot only 31% from 3-point range and 42% overall. Drives with his head down and gets stuck in traffic… Lacks court vision, which hinders his playmaking. Sometimes selfish, leading to few turnovers per game. Can disappear for long stretches, but his teammates will only get better at the next level. He only made 67 percent of his free throws as a freshman.
7-1, 255 C
DOB: 07/26/01 (20.9 yrs)
Hometown: Newnan, GA
Strengths: Kessler comes in at at 7’1″, 245 pounds. He routinely blocks 4 or more shots in a game (averaging 4.7 per game). He is a footer with nimble feet and moves well. He isn’t a statue in the paint and can defend pick-and-rolls while recovering to his man.
Despite being aggressive, he doesn’t pick up many fouls and uses verticality instead of swiping at the ball. His presence in the paint deters inside shots. Kessler makes contact with his man before chasing the rebound. His use of two-handed rebounds enables him to finish with dunks and put himself in scoring position.
Weaknesses: Kessler has a tendency to get his center of gravity too high on perimeter players, allowing them to pass him. This season, he’s made 21.4% of his threes on 1.5 attempts per game. He doesn’t secure the ball well when posting up offensively which leads to turnovers. He sometimes tries too hard offensively instead of playing to his strengths. This makes him a liability whenever he dribbles. The ball has been knocked out of his hands more than a player his size should have happen. Kessler must improve passing out of the post and finding open teammates. He Isn’t a great free throw shooter and with work could improve his 61.4 percent career mark.
6-4, 200 Shooting Guard
DOB 07/05/02 (20 yrs)
Hometown: Henderson, NV
Strengths: Hardy is a highly touted recruit who chose G League Ignite over college. Hardy is a technically sound shooter who can score at all levels. He is an elite finisher at the rim and a perimeter space creator. His agility allows him to drive to either side and finish with either hand. His offensive strength is slashing while his impressive lateral movement and recovery are his strengths as a defender. Hardy steals a lot being a disruptive defender. When in rhythm, he can shoot from anywhere on the floor. Hardy is a great athlete who attacks the rim with aggressive ease.
Weaknesses: Hardy’s disappointing G-League season has dropped him from a mid-lottery pick to a mid-late first round pick. Offensively, he lacks the wiggle and moves to get by opponents in ISO situations. Hardy tends to overcommit when trying to steal, leaving his man open. His decision-making and game feel need work. He sometimes takes wild shots and dribbles too early on the drive. His overconfidence leads to drives without a plan, making him turnover-prone. His G-League shooting efficiency was poor, but he improved as the season went on.
6-6, 210 SG/SF
Santa Clara Junior
DOB: 04/14/01 (21.2 yrs)
Hometown: Gilbert, AZ
Strengths: Jalen Williams has a 7’2” wingspan and ball-handling skills to work as a secondary ball-handler and initiator. In his junior year, his perimeter shooting percentage jumped from 27% to 40%. He has the mechanics and production to take this jumper to the next level. He creates separation to get his own shot and plays catch-and-shoot on the perimeter. He averages four free throw attempts per game, making 81%. At Santa Clara, he scored 81/40/51 from all three levels. Offensively, he is a versatile big point-guard, secondary ball-handler and scorer, or off-ball shooting wing with size and strength to do all three. He drives carefully and excels at stopping and creating space with pivots and spins. Williams is an active, versatile defender who knows when to cut and help defensively.
Weaknesses: Williams does not have elite athleticism to match pro opponents. There are concerns about his lateral speed. Smaller guards often beat him off the dribble; he should use his long arms to strip them. Williams is slow on closeouts and has less potential than others in his draft range but could fill a rotational hole.
6-6, 180 SG
DOB: 11/08/02 (19.6 yrs)
Hometown: Pendleton, SC
Strengths: McGowens’ strength is ball-handling. He’s not shifty or fast with the ball, but he has a clean handle and can use his length and athleticism to drive to the paint or create separation in the mid-range. His ball-handling and scoring instincts mesh well. He can finish with either hand at the rim when driving to the basket. His leaping ability lets him finish above the rim. If he’s more consistent, he has three-level scoring potential.
6-foot-7, 181 pounds with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, he can become a versatile defender. Locking in on defense could boost his overall upside and game moving forward.
Weaknesses: McGowens’ ball-handling is a major concern. He’s not shifty or fast with the ball, but he has a clean handle and can use his length and athleticism to drive to the paint or create separation in the mid-range.
Wendell Moore Jr
6-5, 215 SG/SF
DOB: 09/18/01 (20.8 yrs)
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Strengths: He’s a versatile ball-handler who can play guard or small forward. In his junior year at Duke, he proved he could run point, feed the post, and run the pick-and-roll. His 7-foot wingspan makes him versatile on the floor. He’s a solid rebounder who can dominate defensively out of nowhere.
Weaknesses: His Duke numbers don’t reflect his potential as a shooter off the dribble. Sometimes he passes when he should shoot, causing careless turnovers. Between his freshman and junior years, he reduced his turnover average from 2.4 to 1.9. He may have trouble adjusting to the NBA like he did in college, but he’ll look to maintain his 50% floor shooting from last season at Duke.
6-7, 245 PF
Ohio St. Junior
DOB: 18/00 (21.5 yrs)
Hometown: Belleville, IL
Strengths: Liddell’s strength is growth. He returned to Ohio State to become more well-rounded, and it paid off. His improved 3-point shooting and perimeter defense have boosted his draft stock. He’s built to handle bigger post defenders. Great shot-blocking instincts, but he’ll struggle against NBA big men.
Weaknesses: Liddell’s lack of speed hinders his offense. He’ll need to improve his passing to be effective in the NBA. He was a scorer at Ohio State, so he’ll have to adapt in the NBA. Mid range shooting needs work too.