With the second half of the season underway, the playoffs will be here before we know it. That being said, that means the NBA Draft is also fast approaching. With top talents like Chet Holmgren and Jabar Smith Jr set to headline the draft, let the mock process begin! The first and most important piece of the draft should be the top five picks.
As of right now, the top three picks as far as who picks first, is up in the air. The Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, and Houston Rockets are all sitting around 15-47 overall. That being said, it is difficult to say who will pick first. However, some teams have needs for certain positions so that is something to look into. With the amount of talent awaiting the draft, let’s break down the top five draft picks I expect to have their names read this summer!
There is no doubt about it that Holmgren should be number one on any draft board. He is really showing the potential that was promised when he committed to Gonzaga. At 7’0, 195 pounds, Holmgren might not be the biggest player but his dribbling ability and shooting ability help him out. He can rebound, defend in the paint, and shoot from anywhere. Holmgren currently is averaging 14 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks per game.
Holmgren is another modern version of the college big man where he is a “stretch five”. He will likely operate as a perimeter-centric player in the NBA. The best way to describe Holmgren would be a seven-foot small forward that defends the paint well.
With a team like the Detroit Pistons likely about to snag another top-three pick, Holmgren could compliment last year’s number one overall pick, Cade Cunningham. Holmgren is an ideal Three-and-D player that provides another scoring option for Detroit. With Cunningham being a nightly triple-double, Holmgren could be a good addition to the rebuild process in Detroit. If he can mold his game to the next level in the NBA, he could be a superstar in no time.
Team That Needs Him Most: Detroit Pistons
NBA Player Comparison: Kristaps Porzingis or a lower-tier version of Kevin Durant
Jabari Smith is the centerpiece of Bruce Pearl’s elite Auburn squad this year. Smith is the number one scoring option for the number five team in the country. At 16 points and 6.8 rebounds per game, Smith has Auburn primed for another March tourney run. Smith might not be player of the year material but he possesses high caliber scoring and is elite defensively.
What Jabari has that Holmgren is missing would be the size to get pushed around in the paint and be fine. He can defend any position on the floor and score at a high volume. The big selling point here is that he can step into a high-efficiency role immediately in the NBA.
As far as teams that need someone like him, I think he fits into the Houston Rockets scheme quite well. Houston is in need of any young talent they can get and Smith is next up. Smith would bring in a five-tool ability that would add to the young core of Jae’Sean Tate, Kevin Porter Jr, and Jalen Green. If Houston wants to continue their rebuild with more young talent, Smith is the guy.
Team That Needs Him Most: Houston Rockets
NBA Player Comparison: Early years Kevin Durant
At the beginning of the year, Banchero had everything lined up to be the number one pick in the 2022 draft. After an off-court issue early in the season, Banchero has fallen a few spots. His abilities on the court have not waivered though considering he’s averaging 16.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, and three assists. Banchero has the Duke Blue Devils sitting as the number four team in the country. He was in the discussion for player of the year early but now he likely is nowhere near that conversation.
Banchero out of the three names so far looks the most “NBA ready” with his build and abilities. While he might not go number one overall, number three isn’t bad either. He easily fits the mold of a modern-day forward with his advanced skill level, offensive versatility, and ability to stretch the floor. Where Banchero will struggle will be defensively. He has the build to take hits down low but if he is guarding a faster opponent, that is where he could struggle.
For teams that could use Banchero, the Orlando Magic would be a good fit. Both the Rockets and Magic are in need of a fresh forward that can score, rebound and dish the rock. I think Banchero would fit better in the Magic’s scheme better though. Orlando is one of those teams that could be one piece away from a turnaround and a dynamic player like Banchero could be the answer.
Team That Needs Him Most: Orlando Magic
NBA Player Comparison: Chris Webber
Next on our list is the first player that is not a freshman. Jaden Ivey, a sophomore out of Purdue is one of the returning players for an elite Purdue squad. At 6’4, 195 pounds, Ivey is a pesky defender who has grown as a player significantly since his freshman year. At 17.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.1 assists, Ivey does it all for the Boilermakers.
Ivey is definitely NBA-ready but still needs to develop his shot a little bit more. He does not shoot the ball well from three or from the free-throw line. Ivey excels with his dribbling ability and athleticism to jump out of the gym and finish at the rim consistently. As his shot develops I think Ivey would be a valuable piece for a team looking to add a dynamic finisher and defender.
A team that definitely would benefit from drafting Ivey would be the Pacers but I think based on their record, will just miss him. The more realistic team here is the OKC Thunder with one of their many draft picks over the next few years. The Thunder are full of young talent and the only worry I would have with Ivey going to OKC is he would get lost in that large group of young talent. If Ivey falls to the Pacers that would be ideal as they are in rebuild mode and need young talent.
Team That Needs Him Most: Indiana Pacers, Oklahoma City Thunder
NBA Player Comparison: Versions of Dwayne Wade
Yet another Duke Blue Devil in the top five. The entire starting five for Duke will probably be drafted at this rate. Duke has five players scoring in double digits and Griffin is a big reason why. Griffin is an elite shooter as he is shooting 48 percent from three-point range. At 6’6, 222 pounds, Griffin is yet another version of a player that will thrive in an NBA league that is in love with three-point shooters.
While Griffin is not the leading scorer in any sense, his contributions are big enough to earn him a potential top-five pick in the draft. When you shoot nearly 50 percent from three and over 50 percent from the field, you are an elite shooter. Griffin will fit into that stereotypical “three-and D” mold in the NBA.
As far as teams that need him, I think Griffin could fit in well for the Pacers much like Jaden Ivey from Purdue. Griffin will bring immediate offensive impact and the Pacers need that badly. He might need some fine-tuning on his defense or even his aggressiveness to score more but I do not see that being an issue. When you play on a Duke team with five NBA-ready players, you can take a break and not be worried about being the top dog. I think the Pacers will have two solid players to choose from in Ivey and Griffin come draft day.
Team That Needs Him Most: Indiana Pacers
NBA Player Comparison: Klay Thompson
Who do you think will be drafted #1 overall? Comment down below and let me know who you think it will be!
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