2022 NBA draft — Ranking the top 30 prospects based on stats and scouting

2022 NBA draft — Ranking the top 30 prospects based on stats and scouting post thumbnail image

Two weeks away from the NBA draft, how do the top prospects and sleepers project to the NBA based on their statistics?

Back during the NCAA tournament in March, I posted initial 2022 draft projections for Division I prospects and members of G League Ignite. Along with updated stats for the full college season, I’ve since added international prospects — although just one who played outside the United States features in my top 30 — as well as a projection for Shaedon Sharpe based on his EYBL performance before reclassifying and spending last season at Kentucky.

We also now have a nearly complete list of who will be part of this year’s draft. Although the NBA’s deadline to withdraw from the draft isn’t until next week, the NCAA’s earlier deadline means college prospects headed back to school have already withdrawn. That’s led to some shuffling based on where players rank in ESPN’s top 100 prospects.

My projections translate performance in NCAA Division I and other leagues to an NBA equivalent and then adjust for age and position to project value over a player’s next five seasons. Lastly, I add in ranking in the top 100 for the best consensus projection.

For more on how my projections work and past examples, see here.

Power forward | Gonzaga
Top 100: No. 1
Stats: No. 1

Consensus: 4.4 WARP

There’s no change at the very top of my projections, with Holmgren still the top-rated in both the stats-only version and the consensus projections. Holmgren’s versatility stands out. He’s the first prospect ever in my database to project to block at least 5% of opponent 2-point attempts and take at least 30% of his own shots from 3-point range. Add in projected 59% accuracy on 2-point attempts and Holmgren figures to make a big impact at both ends even if he’s not the kind of dominant creator who usually ranks atop draft boards.



Check out some of the best highlights from Gonzaga sensation Chet Holmgren as he stays near the top of NBA draft boards.

Power forward | Auburn
Top 100: No. 2
Stats: No. 7

Consensus: 3.3 WARP

The one minor concern about Smith as a top prospect is his solid but unspectacular efficiency. Smith’s projected .545 true shooting percentage as an NBA rookie is weaker than league average (.566). To become the dominant scorer he’s got the potential to be, Smith will have to turn more of his long 2-point attempts (he shot 38.5% on 2s outside 17 feet, per Synergy Sports tracking) into 3s, which he made at a 42% clip — or an effective field-goal percentage of 63% when accounting for the extra point.



Check out highlights from Jabari Smith at Auburn as he gets ready for the NBA.

Power forward | Iowa
Top 100: No. 5
Stats: No. 4

Consensus: 3.0 WARP

Although Murray is old for a second-year player (he’ll turn 22 in August), he was productive enough last season to easily outweigh that. One of the most versatile scorers in college hoops, Murray made 62% of his 2-point attempts and 40% of his 3s. And Murray’s length made him a plus shot-blocker for a power forward. Along with Holmgren, Murray is the other player in the top five of both ESPN’s top 100 and my stats-only projections.



Check out the best highlights from Iowa standout Keegan Murray as he looks to lead the Hawkeyes in the NCAA Tournament.

Forward | Duke
Top 100: No. 9
Stats: No. 3

Consensus: 2.7 WARP

Given his father (longtime NBA role player Adrian Griffin, now an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors) was valuable in spite of his non-shooting, it’s amusing that AJ Griffin projects as one of the top shooters in the draft. Griffin hit 45% of his 3-point attempts on more than four attempts per game at Duke and went 12-of-19 in the four EYBL games for which I have data, thanks to ESPN Stats & Info. That Griffin was so effective at age 18 (he won’t turn 19 until August) bodes well for his NBA future.



Look back at the top moments from Duke forward AJ Griffin ahead of the NBA draft.

5. Dyson Daniels

Guard | G League Ignite
Top 100: No. 6
Stats: No. 6

Consensus: 2.7 WARP

The contributions made by Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga as rookies have validated G League Ignite as a path to the NBA. Daniels should follow in their footsteps as a lottery pick. During the G League Showcase, Daniels rated as more valuable than either Green or Kuminga in the 2020-21 bubble season thanks to his 56% accuracy on 2-point attempts and an assist rate second on the team behind Scoot Henderson, who is eligible for the 2023 draft. Daniels’ non-shooting (13-of-55, 25.5% on 3s) is a concern but the rest of his game is solid.

Center | Auburn
Top 100: No. 26
Stats: No. 2

Consensus: 2.6 WARP

Given Kessler’s projected block rate (more than 8% of opponent 2-point attempts) is the best of any player in my database by a wide margin, there’s undoubtedly a place for him in the NBA. Kessler is also a high-percentage finisher (70% on 2-point attempts) who attempted 50 3-pointers (albeit at a 20% clip). The question is how much Kessler’s footspeed will limit him against NBA pick-and-roll offenses, which has dropped him into the mid-20s in the top 100.

Guard/forward | Arizona
Top 100: No. 8
Stats: No. 9

Consensus: 2.4 WARP

The last of an unusually high number of players (six) in the top 10 of both the stats-only projections and the top 100 — typically a reliable indicator of NBA success — Mathurin has climbed a bit through the draft process. His combination of size (6-foot-7) and shooting (38% in two seasons at Arizona, with a form that portends possible improvement down the road) makes Mathurin an easy NBA fit just about anywhere.



Check out the best highlights from Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin ahead of the NBA draft.

Forward | LSU
Top 100: No. 18
Stats: No. 5

Consensus: 2.2 WARP

It’s atypical — though not unprecedented — for a top prospect to come off the bench during his last NCAA season. Eason started just four of 33 games at LSU after one year at Cincinnati, yet was easily the team’s best player in terms of advanced stats. Eason joins Zion Williamson and Chris Singleton as the third player in my database with projected steal and block rates both better than 2.5%.

Power forward | Baylor
Top 100: No. 15
Stats: No. 8

Consensus: 2.2 WARP

One of the most intriguing prospects in this draft, Sochan came off the bench for the defending national champs. His feel for the game and quick feet for his size suggests Sochan could be a better NBA player than he was in college. That will be doubly true if Sochan improves his shooting after hitting 30% of his 3s and just 59% of his free throws during his lone college season.

10. Shaedon Sharpe

Shooting guard | Kentucky
Top 100: No. 7
Stats: No. 15

Consensus: 2.1 WARP

As noted, Sharpe’s projection is based off 12 games for UPlay Canada in the 2021 Nike EYBL competition. It’s unusual for players to play EYBL the year before they enter the draft, but both Sharpe and Jalen Duren fit that category this year because they reclassified after EYBL play. Sharpe was one of the best players in EYBL, averaging 22.6 points per game in 28.3 minutes per game on above-average efficiency. Sharpe was particularly sure-handed for a high-scorer, committing just 1.5 turnovers per game. However, his low steal rate (0.8 per game) helps produce a good, but not great, statistical projection.

Power forward | Duke
Top 100: No. 3
Stats: No. 35

Consensus: 2.1 WARP

While the other two top prospects in this year’s rankings are 1-2 overall in the consensus projections, Banchero falls outside the top 10 because of his unspectacular stats-only projection. Banchero wasn’t as efficient as Holmgren and Smith. He was more accurate on long 2s than Smith (45%, per Synergy Sports) but not nearly as good from 3-point range (34%). Improvement there will help Banchero become an elite scorer. He could also stand to improve his impact on defense.



Check out the highlights from Duke’s freshman sensation Paolo Banchero as he declares for the NBA draft.

Guard | Purdue
Top 100: No. 4
Stats: No. 38

Consensus: 1.9 WARP

If I had to bet on one player to outperform their projection, it would be Ivey, who was a part-time starter with a .497 true shooting percentage as a freshman before blossoming as a sophomore (he pushed his TS% all the way to .579 while increasing his usage rate). There’s a long track record of quick guards proving more effective with NBA floor spacing, particularly when they can threaten defenses with their shooting. Ivey, who hit 36% of his 3-point attempts last season, could well qualify.



Check out the best highlights from Purdue’s star-man Jayden Ivey ahead of the NBA draft.

13. Jalen Duren

Center | Memphis
Top 100: No. 10
Stats: No. 22

Consensus: 1.8 WARP

Including his EYBL stats caused Duren to drop a bit. He shot just 54% on 2s in EYBL play, weaker than the 60% Duren hit on those attempts at Memphis against tougher competition. There’s no concern about Duren’s finishing, but his touch away from the basket is a concern. According to Synergy Sports, Duren shot just 34% from beyond five feet. Strong offensive rebounding and shot-blocking should still make Duren an NBA contributor.

Point guard | Tennessee
Top 100: No. 19
Stats: No. 13

Consensus: 1.6 WARP

There’s a bit of a drop after the top 13 to the next tier of prospects. The undersized Chandler (listed at 6-foot) was productive nonetheless as a freshman point guard, making 38% of his 3s. (One concern: Chandler wasn’t nearly as good at the line, hitting just 61%.) Chandler is also a strong thief; his projected steal rate leads all top-100 players.

Forward | Milwaukee
Top 100: No. 34
Stats: No. 10

Consensus: 1.5 WARP

The NBA team that takes Baldwin late in the first round or in the second will be betting on his pre-college pedigree rather than his performance during 11 games playing for his dad at Milwaukee, where Baldwin shot just 34% from the field and had more turnovers than assists. Baldwin was a five-star recruit in large part because of his outstanding EYBL play as a rising junior in 2019, which fuels a top-10 stats-only projection. In particular, Baldwin was a far better finisher against EYBL competition.

Shooting guard | Kansas
Top 100: No. 30
Stats: No. 14

Consensus: 1.8 WARP

Braun improved his projection during Kansas’ run to the title, hitting three 3-pointers a game at a 45% clip, grabbing 7.3 RPG and posting an assist-to-turnover ratio near three in six NCAA tournament games. Before that, Braun already fared well in stats-only projections because of his 38% career 3-point shooting and lack of weaknesses.

Shooting guard | Ohio State
Top 100: No. 13
Stats: No. 33

Consensus: 1.3 WARP

Near the bottom of the top 30 back in March, Branham has jumped mostly because he’s risen into the lottery section of the top 100. His youth (still 18) and efficiency (strong .596 TS% as a freshman) support that idea. On the other hand, Branham didn’t contribute much in terms of box-score stats at the defensive end, limiting his stats-only projection.

Center | Duke
Top 100: No. 14
Stats: No. 32

Consensus: 1.3 WARP

Another big mover in the top 100, Williams has likely benefited from the play of Boston Celtics center Robert Williams III. Like the Celtics center, Williams is unusually effective at blocking jumpers because of his giant wingspan (measured at 7-6 and a half at the NBA draft combine) and talent for his size. Although this Williams isn’t the kind of playmaker from the high post, he’s an ultra-high-percentage finisher: 72% on 2-point attempts, nearly all at or above the rim.

Guard/forward | Duke
Top 100: No. 28
Stats: No. 19

Consensus: 1.3 WARP

Keels is on the young side for even a one-and-done prospect as he won’t turn 19 until late August. Still, I think NBA teams are probably right to have growing concern about Keels’ efficiency as a scorer. He posted a below-average .520 TS% in his one season at Duke, making 31% of his 3-point attempts and 67% of his free throws. Keels will have to improve those marks to become a valuable NBA wing.

Shooting guard | Wisconsin
Top 100: No. 11
Stats: No. 48

Consensus: 1.1 WARP

Davis’ skill set tends to divide scouts and statistical analysts. A high-volume scorer, Davis had the third-highest usage rate (32.5%) among players from major conferences, per Stathead.com. However, Davis’ .523 TS% was substantially below average. Davis got to the foul line regularly (6.3 attempts per game) but made just 47% of his 2s and 31% of his 3s.

Small forward | UCLA
Top 100: No. 32
Stats: No. 24

Consensus: 1.1 WARP

Despite being a top-ranked prospect, Watson played just 12.7 MPG during his lone season at UCLA. Only two players in my database have averaged fewer minutes before being drafted: Cheick Diallo and Harry Giles, the latter coming off a series of knee injuries. Although Watson accumulated steals and blocks at decent rates, his projection owes almost entirely to his combination of age and top-100 ranking.

Shooting guard | Notre Dame
Top 100: No. 27
Stats: No. 27

Consensus: 1.1 WARP

As a true freshman, Wesley was even more of a volume scorer than Wisconsin’s Davis, combining 31% usage with a .495 true shooting percentage. His statistical projection is better because he’s a year younger and has been a superior playmaker and shot blocker.

Small forward | Davidson
Top 100: No. 92
Stats: No. 11

Consensus: 1.1 WARP

Bidding to become just the second Korean player in NBA history, Lee stands out with his shooting: 40% career on a high volume of attempts (5.5 per game in 2020-21 and 6.2 this season).

24. Gabriele Procida

Shooting guard | Fortitudo Bologna
Top 100: No. 52
Stats: No. 16

Consensus: 1.0 WARP

The top-ranked prospect in my projections currently playing abroad, Procida is a pure shooter with excellent size at 6-7. In the Italian Lega Serie A this season, Procida made 38% of his 3-point attempts and 68% of his limited 2s. He’s also an above-average defensive rebounder for a guard.

Power forward | Colorado
Top 100: No. 66
Stats: No. 12

Consensus: 1.0 WARP

Despite a strong opening scrimmage at the NBA draft combine (16 points on 7-of-9 shooting and seven rebounds in 25 minutes), Walker — the son of former NBA player Samaki Walker — hasn’t made any move up in the top 100. The rebounding was no surprise from Walker, whose projected defensive rebound rate is third-best among top-100 players.

Power forward | Memphis
Top 100: 47
Stats: No. 20

Consensus: 1.0 WARP

Minott had a difficult time carving out playing time in a deep Memphis frontcourt that included lottery prospect Duren. He was productive when he was on the court, averaging 18.0 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per 40 minutes. Given his limited experience, the 20-year-old Minott is probably more of a long-term project, albeit one that could help in short bursts.

Forward/guard | Arizona
Top 100: No. 25
Stats: No. 34

Consensus: 1.0 WARP

A role player on a deep Arizona team, Terry has the lowest projected usage rate (12.5%) of any top-100 prospect. His playmaking from the wing (5.6 assists per 40 minutes) is an encouraging sign for Terry’s potential, while his 57% 2-point shooting is also strong for a perimeter player.

Point guard | Kentucky
Top 100: No. 17
Stats: No. 45

Consensus: 1.0 WARP

Since March, Washington has dropped six spots in the top 100, moving his consensus projection a bit more in line with the stats-only version. Washington believers can point to the track record of Kentucky guards blossoming in the NBA as well as the presence of veteran Sahvir Wheeler forcing Washington to play off the ball much of his lone college season.

Point guard | Richmond
Top 100: NR
Stats: No. 17

Consensus: 0.9 WARP

The highest-ranked player in my projections who’s not in the ESPN top 100, Gilyard is just 5-9 but became the NCAA’s all-time steals leader in December. It helped that he returned for a fifth year, meaning Gilyard will turn 24 in July. Given those shortcomings, it’s easy to see why NBA teams haven’t been excited about Gilyard as a prospect. He did work out for the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Power forward | Ohio State
Top 100: No. 20
Stats: No. 42

Consensus: 0.9 WARP

Liddell lags a bit in the projections because of his relatively high dependence on 2-pointers, which he hit at just a 53% clip during three years at Ohio State. Still, there’s a lot to like about Liddell’s potential. Although he measured at just 6-5 and a half without shoes at the combine, Liddell has a wingspan near 7-feet. That helps explain why Liddell emerged as a dominant shot-blocker last season, swatting a career-high 8.5% of opponent 2-point attempts. Liddell also made a career-high 46 3s at a 37% clip and will be a lot more valuable in the NBA if he can be a stretch 4.

Here are the full projections for the top 100 and unranked prospects who project better than replacement level:

Top 100 prospects without a projection: Leonard Miller, Dominick Barlow, Jean Montero, Zvonimir Ivisic, Gui Santos, Fanbo Zeng, Trevor Hudgins, Kok Yat and Yannick Kraag.

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