The best player on the board, or the best fit right now? It’s a timeless draft question that has vexed personnel executives and scouts for time immemorial, and one that will loom over the 2022 NBA draft to be held June 23rd at Barclays Center in Brooklyn (8 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN App).
Each of the NBA’s 30 teams will approach the question from a different angle. Some teams are seeking that final missing piece and would prefer to fill a need. Some are trying to replace a player they expect to lose in free agency. Many others will take a longer-term view of the proceedings, selecting on the basis of potential and attempting to identify the player who can serve as a future linchpin of the franchise, or at a minimum can develop into his potential.
Meanwhile, an undeniable factor coloring these decisions relates to the people making them: How immediately does each team’s general manager or scouting department need to see a return on their June 23rd investment? Though front-office personnel tend to downplay this component, it’s one that must be considered. With that in mind, we projected all 58 picks of the 2022 NBA draft along two tracks: the best available player a team could take when it’s on the clock, and the available player who could fit in the team’s lineup right now.
Needs: Jabari Smith | Auburn | SF/PF | Age: 19.0
Best available: Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga | PF | Age: 20.0
Orlando was one of the NBA’s worst shooting teams last season, hitting 33% of its 3-point attempts. Drafting arguably the most dynamic shooter in the class in Smith — who made 42% of his 3-pointers and stands 6-foot-10 — makes sense. Running off screens, pulling up in transition, making iso step-backs, and hitting impossible fadeaways out of the post … seemingly no shot appears to be too difficult for Smith thanks to his high release point and soft touch. The intensity level and versatility Smith brings defensively will be attractive as well, along with the fact that he just turned 19 years old and checks every box the franchise looks for from a character and competitiveness standpoint. Holmgren is the No. 1 player on the ESPN big board, but not every team agrees with that notion, and Smith’s talent and fit on this roster is certainly compelling.
Needs: Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga | PF | Age: 20.0
Best available: Jabari Smith | Auburn | SF/PF | Age: 19.0
The Thunder cycled through more than a half-dozen options at center last season and would be thrilled to add a 7-footer with a 7-6 wingspan who projects as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate with the mobility, timing and competitiveness Holmgren offers. He’ll also give their offense, which ranked last in the NBA in 3-point percentage, much-needed spacing with his ability to shoot, push off the defensive glass, create for others and finish emphatically around the basket. Oklahoma City’s guards would love the two-way versatility and excellent feel for the game Holmgren brings, while the coaching staff will relish his toughness and selfless style. Should Holmgren be off the board, Smith is clearly the next best available player, and the Thunder would surely be thrilled to have him.
Needs: Paolo Banchero | Duke | PF/C | Age: 19.5
Best available: Banchero
The Rockets are early in their rebuilding process and will be intrigued by the star power offered by Banchero, the most polished offensive player in the class. A 6-10, shot-creating dynamo who can carry a significant load with his ability to handle, pass and shoot, Banchero’s playmaking ability should pair well with the explosive transition scoring and shot-making ability Jalen Green offers. Banchero could start next to a more traditional big man (Alperen Sengun) or operate alongside another perimeter-oriented big man (Christian Wood), making him a strong fit for the Rockets long-term.
Needs: Keegan Murray | Iowa | PF/C | Age: 21.7
Best available: Jaden Ivey | Purdue | PG/SG | Age: 20.3
The Kings started a hodgepodge of power forwards alongside Domantas Sabonis after making a late-season trade for the highly skilled big man, and certainly don’t have anyone on the roster currently who looks like a long-term answer at the position if Sabonis is indeed deemed a center. Drafting a power forward with wing skills and defensive versatility looks like a great fit on paper, and Murray’s ability to score prolifically and efficiently will allow him to carve out an immediate role alongside the more ball-dominant Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox, the franchise cornerstones at the moment.
At Iowa, Murray alternated between anchoring the defense from the 5-spot and being positioned at the top of Iowa’s full-court press, showing terrific instincts rotating from the weak side for blocks, getting in passing lanes and locking up on switches with his ability to move his feet one-on-one. At 6-9 with a chiseled frame, he looks legitimately big enough to see minutes as a small-ball center, which could help cover for Sabonis’ struggles on that end, while also demonstrating outstanding awareness off the ball. Despite all of Murray’s attractive traits, his long-term upside, physical tools and shot-creation aren’t as great as those offered by Ivey, who is widely considered the third- or fourth-best prospect in the draft by most teams, making him the better “best player available” pick if the Kings elect to take that route.
5. Detroit Pistons
Needs: Jaden Ivey | Purdue | PG/SG | Age: 20.3
Best available: Keegan Murray | Iowa | PF/C | Age: 21.7
Detroit looks like an ideal fit for Ivey on paper, as cornerstone Cade Cunningham would benefit from not being asked to create his own shot on every possession. With a slasher such as Ivey alongside him, the cerebral Cunningham could utilize his excellent shot-making prowess and ability to attack closeouts more consistently, allowing him to slide all over the floor while giving Ivey time to grow into being a more consistent on-ball creator and primary ball handler. Should Ivey be off the board, drafting the most productive player in college basketball this season in Murray would be an excellent consolation prize, as he looks like a Day 1 contributor as the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft, capable of sliding between all of the frontcourt positions thanks to his perimeter-shooting ability, feel for the game and defensive versatility.
Needs: AJ Griffin | Duke | SF/PF | Age: 18.7
Best available: Dyson Daniels | G League Ignite | PG/SG | Age: 19.2
The Pacers don’t have a true small forward on their roster and will likely be intrigued by Griffin’s dynamic shooting ability, his 7-foot wingspan and his chiseled frame that should allow him to slide up to the power forward position as needed. In the midst of a rebuilding process, a best-player-available approach could lead them in the direction of Daniels, a versatile guard who can play in a variety of lineup configurations and does a little bit of everything with his excellent passing ability and defensive prowess, especially with Malcolm Brogdon rumored to be available this summer.
Needs: Jalen Duren | Memphis | C | Age: 18.5
Best available: Shaedon Sharpe | Kentucky | SG | Age: 19.0
The Blazers are in the beginning stages of a rebuild and have a void at center. Often-injured Jusuf Nurkic is entering unrestricted free agency this summer and will demand a hefty payday that will take him into his 30s. Picking his successor in Duren — perhaps the most physically gifted big man in this class, and who brings impressive finishing prowess as well as outstanding potential as both a rim-protector and a pick-and-roll defender — makes sense. As the youngest player in this class, he has considerable upside to grow into long-term.
If Portland wants to take a true swing on talent, drafting Sharpe, who possesses elite physical tools with his exceptional frame, length and explosiveness, to go along with dynamic perimeter-shooting ability, has the potential to reap huge dividends down the road. There was a reason Sharpe was the No. 1-ranked player in his high school class, as he has the kind of scoring instinct many teams look for in a top offensive option and plays a position every franchise looks for talent at.
Needs: Dyson Daniels | G League Ignite | PG/SG | Age: 19.2
Best available: Ousmane Dieng | NZ Breakers | SF/PF | Age: 19.0
Of the teams drafting in the lottery, the Pelicans have less of a major need at any particular position, with four surefire starters in the fold, a plethora of young talent at every position that gives them tremendous depth and role players to plug virtually any hole. The Pelicans are still high on 21-year-old Kira Lewis Jr., a 2020 lottery pick who has suffered an unfortunate run of injuries. Drafting a versatile player such as Daniels could make the most sense from a needs perspective, as he’s capable of sliding in anywhere from 1-4 as his frame fills out. Daniels doesn’t need the ball to make his presence felt, as he’s an excellent decision-maker, passer, cutter, rebounder and a rapidly improving shooter who defends everyone from the point of attack to bigger wing-forwards and makes quite a few plays off the ball.
If the Pelicans decide to take a home-run swing on talent, a high-upside prospect such as Dieng could make plenty of sense. Dieng has the type of positional size, feel for the game and two-way versatility every NBA team covets, flashing dynamic shot-making ability, vision operating out of pick-and-roll, and the ability to guard multiple positions.
Needs: Shaedon Sharpe | Kentucky | SG | Age: 19.0
Best available: Jalen Duren | Memphis | C | Age: 18.5
The Spurs are in need of a star, as they haven’t won a playoff series in five years and don’t look particularly close to doing so with their existing core. Sharpe’s excellent size, frame, explosiveness, dynamic shot-making and overall scoring instincts make him easily one of the most talented prospects in this draft class, as he possesses everything NBA teams look for at his position, with considerable upside to grow into long-term.
If opting for more of a needs-based approach, Duren could be very attractive here too. The center would offer a succession plan for the Spurs regarding Jakob Poeltl, who is entering the final year of his contract and may not be an ideal fit with the team’s timetable. Duren is also arguably the most physically gifted big man in the draft, at 6-10, 250 pounds with a 7-5 wingspan. He has a ready-made role from Day 1 as a lob-catching shot-blocker with the huge catch radius he displays, the excellent timing he shows as a rim-protector and the way he uses verticality to his advantage, but also has significant room for growth in terms of skill level as the game slows down for him entering his 20s.
Needs: Johnny Davis | Wisconsin | PG/SG | Age: 20.2
Best available: Bennedict Mathurin | Arizona | SF | Age: 19.9
The Wizards need to improve their backcourt after cycling through a cascade of guards this past season. An All-American last season, Davis should be able to play an immediate role with his defensive versatility, unselfishness and scoring ability, while also bringing many winning intangibles the Wizards will be attracted to. He would fit well alongside the ball-dominant Bradley Beal and has plenty of upside to tap into as well, being relatively young at just 20 years old.
Ignoring team needs and the fact that the team has drafted wings in the top half of each of the past four drafts, a player such as Mathurin could certainly get looks in a BPA-type approach. He’s only 19 and has plenty of room for growth as his ballhandling, passing and defense evolves, as he was one of the most productive players in college mostly because of his sheer talent and scoring instincts. He’s getting looks as high as the No. 6 pick, and is certain to come off the board somewhere in this range.
Needs: Bennedict Mathurin | Arizona | SF | Age: 19.9
Best available: AJ Griffin | Duke | SF/PF | Age: 18.7
This pick won’t solve all of the Knicks’ needs, as the team ranked last in 2-point percentage and second-to-last in assist rate. A player such as Mathurin could help, though, as he’s an All-American who excels coming off screens and operating in the open court, and can play either wing spot alongside franchise cornerstone RJ Barrett. If looking to take a swing on talent, drafting a player such as Griffin could make sense. His 7-foot wingspan gives him significant potential defensively, he’s one of the youngest players in the draft and he plays one of the most coveted positions in the modern NBA.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers)
Needs: Ousmane Dieng | NZ Breakers | SF/PF | Age: 19.0
Best available: Malaki Branham | Ohio State | SG | Age: 19.0
While Oklahoma City is flush with high-end backcourt talent, it’s hard to point to any of the team’s bigger wings or combo forwards as surefire starters on a contender at this stage of its rebuild. Picking one of the draft’s most talented wing-forwards in Dieng could make a lot of sense, as there are minutes to be had and quite a bit of potential left to tap. A fluid wing with ample size to slide to the power forward position as his frame fills out, Dieng hit his stride as the Australian NBL season progressed, flashing impressive shot-making prowess, the ability to create for teammates out of the pick-and-roll and the length and off-ball instincts to defend multiple positions.
Should Dieng already be off the board, the Thunder taking a swing on Branham could make sense. Branham’s combination of size, frame, length, scoring instincts and shot-making prowess off the dribble (44% FG%) and with his feet set (43%) looks seamlessly translatable to what the NBA is looking for at his position. He plays with a unique combination of aggressiveness and poise for a player who just turned 19, and the fact that he has made such impressive strides as the season moved on, facilitating more for others and showing competitiveness defensively one-on-one, gives him a high ceiling as a prospect.
Needs: Mark Williams | Duke | C | Age: 20.4
Best available: Williams
The Hornets have been seeking a legitimate rim-protecting, lob-catching center to pair with LaMelo Ball from the moment they drafted him, and could very well be attracted to Williams, with whom they’ll be very familiar from down the road in Durham. Williams led college basketball in dunks last season, won ACC Defensive Player of the Year honors and made considerable progress as a sophomore. He’s an absolute game-changer on both ends of the floor with his combination of size (7-1), length (7-8 wingspan) and non-stop energy, providing a steady offensive presence with his excellent hands and finishing ability and putting a lid on the rim defensively thanks to his mobility, timing and reach. A late bloomer who spent a big part of his freshman season at Duke adjusting to the speed of the college game, Williams has plenty of upside to tap into still at 20 years old, making him a solid “best player available” pick as well as one who fills an immediate need.
Needs: Ochai Agbaji | Kansas | SF | Age: 22.1
Best available: Johnny Davis | Wisconsin | PG/SG | Age: 20.2
The Cavs cycled through quite a few wing options last season, starting Dean Wade, Lamar Stevens, Cedi Osman and oversized Lauri Markkanen in an injury-plagued year. Agbaji, one of the best shooters in the draft as a plug-and-play, 3-and-D prospect, could fill that need. The 22-year-old All-American, coming off a national championship in which he won the Final Four’s Most Outstanding Player for Kansas, should be ready to contribute immediately after shooting 41% from 3 last season, holding his own defensively with his 6-10 wingspan and chiseled frame.
If team needs aren’t being taken into consideration, the slide of Davis to this stage of the draft has to be attractive for the Cavs. Davis was the most improved player in the college game, going from role player to superstar in the span of an offseason after winning a gold medal with USA Basketball. His rebounding, defensive versatility and all-around grit stand out in addition to the strides he has made offensively and the contributions he makes to playing winning basketball.
15. Charlotte Hornets (via Pelicans)
Needs: Jeremy Sochan | Baylor | PF | Age: 19.0
Best available: Sochan
With Montrezl Harrell, Miles Bridges and P.J. Washington all entering free agency, drafting a second big man even after selecting Williams could make sense considering how thin the Hornets’ frontcourt looks on paper. Sochan has a case to be considered both the most talented player on the board as well as one who fills the most immediate need, making him an excellent pick at this stage of the draft. Sochan brings several different dimensions with his ability to defend all over the floor, pass the ball effectively and slide up or down positions depending on the matchup, while also possessing plenty of upside to grow into having just turned 19. His feel for the game, versatility and competitiveness gives him a very high floor as well.
Needs: Tari Eason | LSU | PF | Age: 21.0
Best available: Eason
With John Collins rumored to be available for trade, the Hawks could look to add depth in the frontcourt and shore up their defense, which ranked worst last season among playoff teams. Eason is one of the most explosive and productive players in the draft, putting consistent pressure on opposing defenses with his quick first step, physicality and insatiable intensity, characteristics that allow him to live at the free throw line. These same traits helped make him one of the most versatile defenders in college, a magnet for steals, blocks and rebounds who flew all over the floor in LSU’s suffocating press while rotating from guarding point guards to big men.
Eason’s 7-2 wingspan, massive hands and ability to be an asset in pressing, switching and trapping schemes with his quickness, instincts and activity could be very attractive to the Hawks if they are willing to mix things up defensively with different schemes. Offensively, Eason has plenty of untapped upside as evidenced by the stellar 27 points per 40 minutes (pace-adjusted) he averaged last season. Eason fills a potential need while offering the type of potential needed to be viewed as the best prospect available.
17. Houston Rockets
Needs: Malaki Branham | Ohio State | SG | Age: 19.0
Best available: Jaden Hardy | G League Ignite | SG | Age: 19.9
The Rockets need to keep stockpiling talent, which could very well lead them in the direction of Branham if he indeed falls to them at No. 17. Playing 33-year-old Eric Gordon for 29 minutes per game again doesn’t make a great deal of sense considering the rebuilding stage the Rockets are in, and flipping Gordon for whatever draft pick they can get is logical with his injury history. That would free up playing time for a high-upside 19-year-old prospect such as Branham, who offers floor-spacing ability as well as shot creation from the perimeter and midrange.
If the Rockets are looking to swing for the fences on a high-upside prospect, Hardy makes a lot of sense, as an all-G League Ignite backcourt of him and Jalen Green certainly would be able to score in bunches. Hardy started the season projected as a top-five pick, but his stock slid quite a bit after an extremely inefficient season that was marred by poor shot selection, turnovers and defensive lapses. There are enough indicators to show the potential Hardy offers offensively, with incredible shooting range, dynamic shot-making off the dribble and occasional flashes of passing and scoring touch around the rim. Hardy’s 6-9 wingspan and solid frame suggest a player who can at least hold his own defensively as he improves.
Needs: TyTy Washington Jr. | Kentucky | PG/SG | Age: 20.5
Best available: Washington
Starting point guard Lonzo Ball has had numerous injuries throughout his NBA career, and the recent news of a potential setback in his recovery from knee surgery can’t be considered encouraging for Bulls fans. With franchise cornerstone Zach LaVine undergoing knee surgery himself this offseason, as well as becoming an unrestricted free agent, it might not be out of the question for Chicago to look at the backcourt as a position of need. That could make Washington’s candidacy as both a needs pick and the best player available fairly compelling for the Bulls. Washington can play with or without the ball, excels in pick-and-roll and is a strong perimeter shooter, making him attractive at this point in the draft, especially since he has the size and length to play in many different lineup configurations with any of the Bulls’ existing players.
Needs: E.J. Liddell | Ohio State | PF | Age: 21.4
Best available: Ochai Agbaji | Kansas | SF | Age: 22.1
Having drafted Jarred Vanderbilt out of Kentucky, new Timberwolves decision-maker Tim Connelly will be very familiar with what he brings to the table as a prospect. Vanderbilt’s lack of shooting range and overall scoring prowess might cause Minnesota to look to upgrade the power forward position, making a player such as Liddell potentially attractive. Liddell’s ability to both switch on the perimeter and protect the rim gives him clear value defensively alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, along with the intensity, toughness and winning intangibles that give him a high floor as a prospect. If Liddell can continue to build on the 37% he shot from the perimeter last season, he could be an excellent addition to the roster.
If Connelly already has a plan for upgrading at power forward and is looking at more of a “best player available” approach, he might be surprised to see Agbaji available at No. 19. Agbaji positioned himself to be the first upperclassman hearing his name called on draft night and easily fits a mold NBA teams are looking for as a prolific shooting wing who guards multiple positions and can do a little more than just make open shots offensively.
20. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors)
Needs: Walker Kessler | Auburn | C | Age: 20.8
Best available: E.J. Liddell | Ohio State | PF | Age: 21.4
The Spurs are one of the smallest teams in the NBA in the frontcourt and could get even smaller if Jakob Poeltl isn’t retained in free agency next summer. Kessler, the NCAA Defensive Player of the Year, who stands 7-1, 245 pounds, with a 7-4 wingspan, is a force as a rim protector but also brings strong pick-and-roll finishing ability and even some potential as a perimeter shooter. Kessler is a steady offensive presence with his ability to catch difficult passes, hammer home lobs, finish with touch around the basket and make good decisions out of short rolls, which should make him a good fit in San Antonio’s offense.
If opting for more of a best-player-available approach, the Spurs could be attracted to the versatility and productivity offered by Liddell. At 6-7, Liddell is undersized for an NBA power forward, but makes up for that with a near 7-foot wingspan and chiseled 243-pound frame. He brings a strong defensive versatility with a much improved shooting stroke that made him a weapon from beyond the 3-point line.
Needs: Jalen Williams | Santa Clara | SF | Age: 21.1
Best available: Williams
What the Nuggets really need is to stay healthy, as they have one of the NBA’s best starting units when their top lineups are available, something that has been rare. Having drafted well, and forced to play their young players fairly extensively due to injury, the team has also developed some solid depth, giving the Nuggets good flexibility heading into the draft. The versatility offered by Williams could be attractive to general manager Calvin Booth. Williams has the length to defend power forwards with his 7-2 wingspan, but had the court vision, playmaking and shooting to be utilized at point guard in college, which should allow him to slide all over the floor for a team such as Denver that is one of the NBA’s most positionless. Williams has been one of the big winners of the pre-draft process, starting with his outstanding measurements and continuing with his strong play at the NBA combine scrimmages and at his pro day, where he excelled in 3-on-3 action.
Needs: Jake LaRavia | Wake Forest | PF | Age: 20.5
Best available: Kennedy Chandler | Tennessee | PG | Age: 19.7
The Grizzlies have drafted extremely well and now have a stacked roster of contributors to choose from, giving them the flexibility to draft any type of prospect, old or young, at any position. With soon-to-be 29-year-old Kyle Anderson entering unrestricted free agency, and coming off just an average showing in the NBA playoffs, the Grizzlies could be in the market for a versatile wing-forward who can play off others, make shots from the perimeter and defend multiple positions. LaRavia, who shot 38% from 3 last season and 78% at the free throw line, brings a strong feel for the game and intriguing playmaking ability defensively. The Grizzlies might look at him as somewhat of a bigger John Konchar, someone who could be an excellent fit with their style of play.
If looking to pick someone even younger, with a potentially higher upside, local product Chandler might be another interesting fit, especially if the impending free agency of backup point guard Tyus Jones gets out of hand. Chandler was one of the most talented point guards in college, blessed with incredible speed and burst, shifty ball-handling ability, terrific creativity as a finisher and passer, and flashes of real shot-making ability. Despite being on the smaller side, Chandler’s quickness, basketball instincts and length made him a significant asset defensively last season, allowing him to make a living getting in passing lanes while also being a real pest on the ball.
23. Philadelphia 76ers (Nets deferred pick to 2023)
Needs: Kennedy Chandler | Tennessee | PG | Age: 19.7
Best available: Nikola Jovic | Mega Mozzart | SF | Age: 18.9
With James Harden turning 33 in August and on the downside of his career from a physical standpoint, adding another talented ball handler to the backcourt will likely be a major priority for the Sixers, if only to protect Harden’s health and ensure he’s at his best entering the playoffs. After a rocky start, Chandler emerged as one of the premier college point guards in the second half of last season, showing blazing speed, dynamic ballhandling and passing ability, and an increasingly consistent pull-up jumper. His measurements (6-1, 172 pounds with a 6-5¼ wingspan) are what might keep him out of the lottery position his talent suggests, but didn’t prevent him from playing outstanding defense and leading the SEC in steals. The fact that he proved capable of playing off the ball in two- and three-guard lineups should be attractive as well.
If the Sixers prefer to swing for the fences for upside, a prospect like the 18-year-old Serbian Jovic could be an interesting gamble. Standing 6-11, Jovic is a seamless fit in the modern NBA as a combo forward who can shoot, handle and pass. While he saw most of his minutes at small forward last season, his 9-foot standing reach suggests he could slide up to the center position as his frame fills out, making him an interesting pairing with a skilled big man such as Joel Embiid.
Needs: Nikola Jovic | Mega Mozzart | SF | Age: 18.9
Best available: Walker Kessler | Auburn | C | Age: 20.8
While the Bucks are clearly in need of a big man capable of playing starting-caliber minutes, other team needs caused a half-dozen players capable of playing center to already be selected at this point in the draft, making the next-best true big man somewhat of a reach at this pick. While trading down and picking a player such as Khalifa Diop, Ismael Kamagate or Christian Koloko might make sense, another option would be selecting a player with the dimensions to operate as a 4/5 in the unique Bucks system alongside Giannis Antetokounmpo. One such player could be Jovic, who has excellent size at 6-11 with a 9-0 1/2 standing reach, ample measurements for a modern NBA big. Possessing an interesting blend of size, talent and confidence, Jovic is a skilled forward with the tools to fill a role a la Danilo Gallinari or Nemanja Bjelica down the line.
25. San Antonio Spurs (via Celtics)
Needs: Jaden Hardy | G League Ignite | SG | Age: 19.9
Best available: Blake Wesley | Notre Dame | SG | Age: 19.2
With their final pick of the first round, the Spurs can afford to take a swing on the player with the biggest upside possible, in hopes of striking gold like they previously did late in the first round with Keldon Johnson, Derrick White and Dejounte Murray. Hardy still has plenty of upside to tap into as a shot-making, instinctual scorer who is only 19. Adding more shooting alongside Murray should be an attractive proposition for the Spurs and Hardy has the type of scoring talent that could allow him to anchor a bench unit down the road if he continues to progress with his frame and decision-making.
If Hardy is unavailable and the Spurs are still looking to take a plunge on a high-upside prospect who needs time to develop, Notre Dame’s Wesley is another attractive option. Wesley is one of the most physically gifted guards in this draft, capable of getting into the paint at will with his strong frame and explosive first step. He made strides as the season moved on both defensively and with his ability to create for teammates, and if he can continue to evolve as a shooter, he has the potential to be an absolute steal at this stage of the draft.
Needs: Trevor Keels | Duke | PG/SG | Age: 18.7
Best available: MarJon Beauchamp | G League Ignite | SG/SF | Age: 21.6
With Jalen Brunson entering unrestricted free agency, the Mavericks might look at improving their backcourt depth through the draft. Keels is the type of big, versatile guard coach Jason Kidd likes and would make sense pairing alongside a superstar ball handler in Luka Doncic. Keels is one of the youngest prospects in the draft and brings the type of toughness, feel for the game and winning spirit that bodes well for his long-term projection. If the Mavericks are looking for a different type of prospect, Beauchamp could make sense here, as the type of rim-running, elite-cutting, hard-playing wing who doesn’t need plays called for him and can find his own offense alongside Doncic just by virtue of his energy.
Needs: MarJon Beauchamp | G League Ignite | SG/SF | Age: 21.6
Best available: Dalen Terry | Arizona | PG/SG | Age: 19.8
Continuing to add defensive versatility to the backcourt will be important for the Heat to hide the likes of Duncan Robinson, Tyler Herro and, at times, Max Strus. Beauchamp was often tasked with defending point guards with G League Ignite but is long enough to slide to the power forward position as needed with his near 7-1 wingspan. His game is in need of refinement as a ball handler, passer and shooter, but Beauchamp still found ways to be successful thanks to his outstanding work ethic running the floor, timely cutting, ability to sniff out offensive rebounds and pick-six steals, and the long strides he shows getting downhill on straight-line drives. The Heat are one of the NBA’s best development teams and should be able to continue to help him improve his skill level, which could make him a steal at this point in the draft.
If looking more toward a younger prospect with a higher upside, Arizona’s Terry could be attractive. Terry has been one of the big winners of the pre-draft process, impressing teams with his character on and off the court while dropping glimpses of significant versatility and upside he can grow into at just 19. Like Beauchamp, his jumper needs work, but the framework is already in place to be a strong two-way contributor.
Needs: Andrew Nembhard | Gonzaga | PG | Age: 22.3
Best available: Trevor Keels | Duke | PG/SG | Age: 18.7
The Warriors have some interesting young pieces in place waiting on the wings in Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga and James Wiseman, along with 22-year-old budding star Jordan Poole. Adding a point guard to that mix could be compelling as they aren’t particularly deep at that position, especially with Steph Curry already 34 years old. Nembhard, one of the best point guards in college basketball this season, could be an option. He sports excellent size at 6-4 and a soft shooting touch, making 38% of his 3-pointers and 87% of his free throws. Nembhard plays the type of mature, unselfish style that will be attractive to the Warriors and has an outstanding feel for the game which has allowed him to excel in the pre-draft process and boost his stock considerably.
If the Warriors prefer to opt for a younger prospect with a higher upside, they could look toward a strong-framed, two-way guard such as Duke’s Keels. One of the youngest players currently projected to be drafted, Keels is intriguing to NBA teams due to the combination of toughness, off-court intangibles, feel for the game, defensive versatility and passing creativity he shows. He showed a sense for the moment in some of Duke’s biggest games last season, coming to life as a shot-maker and finisher around the basket in several crucial moments despite his age.
29. Memphis Grizzlies
Needs: Blake Wesley | Notre Dame | SG | Age: 19.2
Best available: Peyton Watson | UCLA | SF/PF | Age: 19.7
With backup point guard Tyus Jones likely to pursue a bigger role and significant raise after a strong season, adding another creator to the backcourt could be a priority for Memphis, especially with Ja Morant‘s hard-nosed style of play. Wesley, a physically gifted, instinctual scorer who excels in the open court and creating off the dribble, is a guard option. His youth and tools give him plenty of upside to grow into on both ends of the floor.
If Wesley is unavailable, and the Grizzlies still want to roll the dice on a high-upside prospect, a player such as Watson seems like the type of prospect they could be interested in. Watson started off the year projected as a top-10 pick but saw his stock crater after struggling to get on the floor at UCLA and not being particularly productive when he did. Watson has excellent physical tools at 6-8 with a 7-0 1/2 wingspan, a near 9-foot standing reach and impressive vertical explosiveness. NBA scouts quietly buzzed all season that Watson was showing a lot more potential in practice than he was able to display in games, with his ability to defend multiple positions, get out in transition, attack the rim, take open 3s and move the ball unselfishly. At 19 years old, there isn’t a huge downside to taking a flyer on Watson and seeing how he develops down the road.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Suns)
Needs: Dalen Terry | Arizona | PG/SG | Age: 19.8
Best available: Bryce McGowens | Nebraska | SG | Age: 19.5
The Thunder aren’t really hampered by positional needs, as they have the financial flexibility, considerable young talent and a trove of future draft picks to alter their roster considerably when the time is right. In the meantime, taking swings on talent feels like the most likely bet for Sam Presti & Co., and drafting a long-armed, versatile 19-year old such as Terry who defends multiple positions, is an excellent passer and is “only a jump shot” away from being a viable NBA rotational player seems like an interesting roll of the dice.
If Terry is gone, another prospect in that mold could be Nebraska’s McGowens. He’s one of the most talented wing prospects in this class long-term, a fluid scorer who needs time to build up his frame and improve his defensive intensity, but he has intriguing tools that are hard to come by from a talent perspective.
At a certain point early in the second round, teams realize that whichever player they pick is highly unlikely to play a role for them anytime in the immediate future, and move strictly to a best-player-available approach. Some teams will prefer to target players who are willing to be stashed internationally or in the G League and won’t take up a roster spot, while others will survey the landscape and ensure they are drafting players who understand they will be signing a two-way contract. — Givony
31. Pacers (via Rockets)
Needs: Christian Braun | Kansas | SG/SF | Age: 21.1
Best available: Jake LaRavia | Wake Forest | PF | Age: 20.5
Needs: Khalifa Diop | Gran Canaria | C | Age: 20.3
Best available: Christian Braun | Kansas | SG/SF | Age: 21.1
33. Raptors (via Pistons)
Needs: Ismael Kamagate | Paris | C | Age: 21.3
Best available: Kendall Brown | Baylor | SF | Age: 19.0
Needs: Bryce McGowens | Nebraska | SF | Age: 19.5
Best available: Andrew Nembhard | Gonzaga | PG | Age: 22.3
35. Magic (via Pacers)
Needs: Hugo Besson | NZ Breakers | PG/SG | Age: 21.0
Best available: Khalifa Diop | Gran Canaria | C | Age: 20.3
36. Trail Blazers
Needs: Peyton Watson | UCLA | SF/PF | Age: 19.7
Best available: Caleb Houstan | Michigan | SF | Age: 19.3
Needs: Caleb Houstan | Michigan | SF | Age: 19.3
Best available: Patrick Baldwin Jr., | Milwaukee | SF/PF | Age: 19.5
38. Spurs (via Lakers)
Needs: Kendall Brown | Baylor | SF | Age: 19.0
Best available: Wendell Moore Jr., | Duke | SF | Age: 20.6
39. Cavaliers (via Spurs)
Needs: Patrick Baldwin Jr. | Milwaukee | SF/PF | Age: 19.5
Best available: Hugo Besson | NZ Breakers | PG/SG | Age: 21.0
40. Timberwolves (via Wizards)
Needs: Wendell Moore Jr. | Duke | SF | Age: 20.6
Best available: Ismael Kamagate | Paris | C | Age: 21.3
Needs: Leonard Miller | Fort Erie International Academy | SF/PF | Age: 18.5
Best available: Miller
Needs: Christian Koloko | Arizona | C | Age: 21.9
Best available: Koloko
Needs: Jaylin Williams | Arkansas | C | Age: 19.9
Best available: Ryan Rollins | Toledo | SG | Age: 19.9
Needs: Ryan Rollins | Toledo | SG | Age: 19.9
Best available: Jaylin Williams | Arkansas | C | Age: 19.9
Needs: Max Christie | Michigan State | SG | Age: 19.2
Best available: Justin Lewis | Marquette | SF/PF | Age: 20.1
46. Pistons (via Nets)
Needs: David Roddy | Colorado St | PF | Age: 21.1
Best available: Max Christie | Michigan State | SG | Age: 19.2
47. Grizzlies (via Cavaliers)
Needs: Justin Lewis | Marquette | SF/PF | Age: 20.1
Best available: David Roddy | Colorado St | PF | Age: 21.1
Needs: JD Davison | Alabama | PG | Age: 19.6
Best available: Davison
49. Kings (from Bulls)
Needs: Josh Minott | Memphis | PF | Age: 19.5
Best available: Minott
50. Timberwolves (from Nuggets)
Needs: Jean Montero | Overtime Elite | PG/SG | Age: 18.9
Best available: Montero
Needs: Dominick Barlow | Overtime Elite | PF/C | Age: 19.0
Best available: Barlow
52. Pelicans (via Jazz)
Needs: Michael Foster | G League Ignite | PF | Age: 19.3
Best available: Foster
Needs: Gabriele Procida | Fortitudo Bologna | SG | Age: 19.9
Best available: Procida
54. Wizards (via Mavericks)
Needs: Yannick Nzosa | Unicaja Malaga | C | Age: 18.5
Best available: Trevion Williams | Purdue | C | Age: 21.6
Needs: Dereon Seabron | NC State | SG | Age: 22.0
Best available: Seabron
56. Cavaliers (via Heat)
Needs: Trevion Williams | Purdue | C | Age: 21.6
Best available: Yannick Nzosa | Unicaja Malaga | C | Age: 18.5
57. Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies)
Needs: Ron Harper Jr. | Rutgers | SF/PF | Age: 22.1
Best available: Harper
58. Pacers (via Suns)
Needs: Matteo Spagnolo | Cremona | PG | Age: 19.3
Best available: Spagnolo
Note: The Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat each lost a second-round draft pick after an NBA investigation revealed premature discussions into the free agency of guards Lonzo Ball and Kyle Lowry.
Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and International teams.