Getting a real sense for draft class takes a few years. But doing a re-draft after just 9 months is fun, so let’s go!!
If the draft were to be held over today there would be major changes in how the players come off the board. The very top of the draft would be about the same, with Paolo, Chet and Jabari all holding onto their value – but after that it’s pure chaos.
As you read down the list below, imagine seeing this list as someone’s big board heading into last year’s draft – you’d wonder what they were smoking. But the NBA draft is incredibly hard to predict or get right, even for the highly paid executives and scouts making the final calls on draft night. It’s a reminder for all of us to remain open-minded heading into each draft cycle. That Internet weirdo with the ridiculous draft board might be closer to hitting on all the picks than the actual NBA decision makers. Life is funny like that.
Choosing the top 6 on this list was easy but putting those 6 in order was hard. I’m not attached to this exact order and could easily see each of these players sliding up or down a few spots. Ranking Jalen Williams, Shaedon Sharpe and Jaden Ivey was especially hard.
The biggest riser in this re-draft is Walker Kessler who was originally drafted no.22 by the Jazz and rises all the way to no.7 on this list.
One of the hardest decisions for me was where to put Ousmane Dieng. I’m still incredibly high on Dieng but he’s seen limited minutes and has a ways to go in his development. When it’s all said and done, I think he’ll be top 10 player in this class, with upside well beyond that.
The bottom line, this class is absolutely loaded with talent and is on track to go down as an all-time great draft class. If the draft were to be held over today, here’s how I would pick ‘em.
- Magic – Paolo Banchero – PF – Duke – The efficiency has fallen off from earlier in the season but Banchero is still having a monster rookie year and looks the part of a NBA star with some superstar upside. He has some limitations on defense and will have to shoot the 3-ball better but even with those deficiencies he’s still the top player in this draft class. The Magic got it right.
- Thunder – Chet Holmgren – PF/C – Gonzaga – Nothing new to say here. Chet is still working his way back from a foot injury and seems to be on track to be back next season. It’s tempting to put Jabari, JDub or Sharpe here but I’m still holding all my Chet stock and so, as boring as it might seem, I’m keeping him at no.2.
- Rockets – Jabari Smith Jr. – PF/C – Auburn – Smith Jr. was no.1 on my pre-draft big board and I’m still just as high on him. He’s not the go-to iso-scorer that Banchero is but he’s a far superior defender and a much better 3pt shooter. If he can gain the strength to play the 5 his value will increase that much more. The sky’s the limit for how good this kid can be.
- Kings – Jalen Williams – SG/SF – Santa Clara – No rookie has shocked the NBA world as much as Jalen Williams. He was drafted 12th overall by Thunder (which was already a bit of a surprise) but would land in the top 5 if the draft were done over today. His all around game, efficiency, size on the wing, passing ability and NBA readiness have all been better than anticipated. What a draft for the Thunder!
- Pistons – Shaedon Sharpe – SG – Kentucky (Canada) – Sharpe has finally gotten a lot of run for the Blazers, who are in full tank mode and he’s looked sensational. He’s a big time athlete with awesome shot making ability. He could end up as a top 3 player in this class but in this re-draft he lands at no.5. The Blazers did very well to swing for the fences and draft him at no.7.
- Pacers – Jaden Ivey – PG/SG – Purdue – I don’t know man, this just feels insane to have Jaden Ivey all the way down at no.6. He was no.2 on my pre-draft big board and I still think he has All NBA potential, or something close to that. But the players listed above him are special as well. For me he’s in the same tier as JDub and Sharpe, so I could just as easily have him up at no.4.
- Blazers – Walker Kessler – C – Auburn – Calling Walker Kessler a special defensive player is doing him a disservice. He’s doing things on the defensive end that rookies aren’t supposed to do and it looks like he’s going to be one of the best shot-blockers of this generation. The fact that he lasted all the way to no.22 on draft night is wild. He’d go much, much higher in a re-draft, probably in the top half of the lottery. If the above players were off the board the Blazers would do well to a dominant inside force like Kessler.
- Pelicans – Jeremy Sochan – PF – Baylor – Sochan isn’t the finished product that some of the guys lower on this list are but his upside on both ends of the court is so high that I’d draft him ahead of the higher scoring, bigger name players listed below. Sochan is ELITE on defense. He has a chance to be an All-NBA defender, while also being an underrated play-maker on offense. His outside shooting is his big swing skill but I’d bet on his scoring plus his awesome all-around game delivering great value in the coming years. The Pelicans took Dyson Daniels in this spot but would do well to have drafted Sochan, who went one spot lower.
- Spurs – Jalen Duren – C – Memphis – Duren might not ever be a primary option on offense but he’s an absolute man-child in the post and is dominant on the glass. He’s also an excellent rim protector, runs the floor well and is always a lob threat. He should have been drafted higher than where he went on draft night (no.13). His upside might be lower than some but his floor is very high. He would look real good in a Spurs uniform.
- Wizards – Bennedict Mathurin – SG/SF – Arizona (Canada) – After a very hot start to the season Mathurin has cooled off a bit and moves down a few spots on this second way too early re-draft. He’s still a top 10 pick here but some of the hype has faded. He’s going to score the ball at a high level for a lot of years but it remains to be seen if he develops into an All Star level SG. The Wizards drafte Johnny Davis at no.10 but would have done well to land a player like Mathurin…or really any of the other players drafted in this range.
- Thunder – Keegan Murray – PF – Iowa –Pelicans – Murray was drafted no.4 overall and was exactly what the Kings needed with that pick. That being said, there are plenty of higher upside players in this class that will likely have better NBA careers. This doesn’t feel right to have him at no.11 but the players listed above him all have bigger upside. Still, this ranking could look very foolish in a few years.
- Thunder – Ousmane Dieng – SF – France – When it’s all said and done Dieng could very well be a top 10 talent in this draft. He might have a lower floor than some but his ceiling is extremely high. After missing time with an injury he started to get some more consistent run for the Thunder and showcased his broad set of skills and big upside. This kid is going to be really good!
- Pistons – Adrian Griffin Jr. – SG/SF – Duke – Griffin Jr. has put to rest a lot of the worries scouts had last year around his athleticism and ability to stay in front of NBA wings. His shooting has obviously translated and he’s shown some nice mid range scoring acumen as well. The only reason he’s this low is due to the strength of this rookie class.
- Cavs – Tari Eason – SF/PF – LSU – Eason is going to be a very long-term productive NBA glue-guy with high-level starter potential. He might have been under-drafted at no.17 on draft night but only goes a few spots higher here.
- Hornets – Dyson Daniels – SG/SF – G League Ignite (Australia) – Daniels is one of the best defenders in this draft class but has struggled on the offensive end. He’s a skilled passer but inconsistent shooter and has a ways to go before being an effective NBA player. I’m tempted to have him even lower but I think he’s one of those players that will just take some time and then, once the light goes on, he’s going to be really good.
- Hawks – Jaden Hardy – SG – G League Ignite – Hardy was severely under-drafted, falling to no.37 on draft night. The former top 5 recruit struggled a bit in the G League last season but there was never really any doubt that his scoring prowess would translate. I’m guilty of overthinking this one, worrying too much about his inefficiencies and ignoring the obvious abilities he has to put the rock in the cup.
- Rockets – Malaki Branham – SG – Ohio State – Only in his first year but already a professional scorer, Branham is who we thought he was: a guy who can play off the ball and get buckets in bunches with limited touches. He moves up a few spots from his draft night spot (no.20).
- Bulls – Mark Williams – C – Duke – Williams looks like a long-term starter at center and while he might not be a star he should be highly productive and bring a lot of value to his team. He falls a little in this re-draft but mainly because of the great play of some of the other rookies.
- Grizzlies – Andrew Nembhard – PG – Gonzaga – Nembhard is going to play in the NBA for a long, long time. Getting a player like that at no.19 would be great value. He went no.31 in the draft but rises to the mid first round here.
- Spurs – Christian Braun – SG/SF – Kansas – The ever-feisty guard/forward from Kansas has been a solid contributor for the Nuggets and would be drafted in about the same range, perhaps a bit higher in a re-draft. He’s looking like a really solid complimentary piece to a winning team, exactly what the Nuggets needed in the mid first round of the draft.
Honorable Mention/On the Bubble
- Ochai Agbaji
- Patrick Baldwin Jr.
- Christian Koloko
- David Roddy
- Nikola Jović
- MarJon Beauchamp
- TyTy Washington
- Jaylin Williams
Here’s a lock back at my 2022 Mock Draft
And here are the Full 2022 Draft Results