The picks are in, and the 2022 NBA draft is in the books. So which players landed in the most favorable situations? Who has the talent to make the greatest immediate impact during the 2022-23 NBA season?
ESPN Fantasy expert André Snellings highlights the newly drafted players he has his sights on, starting with some unsurprising names from the top of the draft.
Paolo Banchero, PF, Orlando Magic: Banchero gives the Magic a strong offensive option from the power forward position. Banchero is a scorer first, and is able to create shots for both himself and his teammates off the dribble. He averaged 17.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 1.1 3PG, 1.1 SPG and 0.9 BPG while shooting 47.8% from the field, 33.8% from 3-point range and 72.9% from the line in 33.0 MPG as a freshman at Duke. On an offensively bereft Magic team without much in the frontcourt, Banchero should have the opportunity to produce big numbers and establish himself in the Rookie of the Year discussion. According to ESPN Analytics NBA Draft projections, Banchero ranked No.1 in the Draft by the NCAA production-based model, and co-leads this draft class with a 51% chance to develop into an All Star.
Chet Holmgren, PF, Oklahoma City Thunder: Holmgren is one of the elite defensive prospects in this draft, and the Thunder hope he utilizes his 7-feet of height and 7-6 wingspan to develop into a true anchor in the middle of their defense. Holmgren also has a strong jump shot, can clean the glass and handle the ball well enough to lead one-man fast breaks. Per ESPN Analytics, Holmgren ranked No. 2 in the draft by the NCAA stats-based model, No. 2 in adjusted block percentage in college and No. 2 in adjusted effective shooting percentage and is the other leader in this class with a 51% chance to develop into an All Star. Holmgren averaged 14.1 PPG, 9.9 RPG, 3.7 BPG, 1.9 APG, 1.3 3PG and 0.8 SPG while shooting 60.7% from the field, 39.0% from deep and 71.7% from the line in his freshman season at Gonzaga. He is likely to be among the rookie leaders in rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage this season.
Jabari Smith Jr., PF, Houston Rockets: Smith is a 6-10 combo-big that has an argument as the best shooter in the draft. He's barely 19 years old, which means he has quite a bit of upside as he continues to grow into his body. Smith is the son of a former NBA player, and already has a reputation for professional habits, intensity and hard work that bodes well for his continued development. He's also a strong defender. According to ESPN Analytics, among the top 100 prospects, Smith ranked among the top-12 in adjusted defensive rebounding rate, adjusted block percentage, defensive win shares and turnover percentage. In his one collegiate season, Smith averaged 16.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.3 3PG, 2.0 APG, 1.1 SPG and 1.0 BPG on 42.9 FG%, 42.0 3P% and 79.9 FT%. The Rockets are a young, rebuilding team that just traded their starting, scoring big man in Christian Wood, which should open up space for Smith to get major minutes and opportunity from Day 1.
Keegan Murray, PF, Sacramento Kings: Murray is a great floor-spacing combo-forward with excellent shooting touch, comfortable in the paint, in the mid-range and from behind the arc. He has a strong enough handle to create pull-up jumpers off the bounce, and he's also strong in pick-and-pop sets. Murray is one of the most NBA-ready prospects in this draft by dint of his age; he'll turn 22 years old in August, before the start of his rookie season. While some believe this caps his upside compared to some other prospects, Murray ranked fourth in the ESPN Analytics draft model and should be able to produce numbers for the Kings from Day 1. He was an outstanding collegiate scorer, averaging 23.5 PPG on 55.4 FG%, 39.8 3P% and 74.7 FT%. Murray could challenge to be the leading scorer in this rookie class, and his 8.7 RPG, 1.9 BPG, 1.9 3PG and 1.3 SPG in college suggest all-around skills that could translate to well-rounded rookie stats.
Jaden Ivey, PG, Detroit Pistons: Ivey was considered by many draft experts to be the best prospect in this draft outside of the three big men at the top...and perhaps even including them. He's an explosive athlete in the backcourt, with his physical prowess earning comps to luminaries like Ja Morant, Anthony Edwards or a less physical Dwyane Wade. He's got both burst and leaping ability, and is a highlight-reel finisher in the open court. Ivey was solid as a freshman, but took a big leap as a sophomore to 17.3 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.1 APG, 1.8 3PG, 0.9 SPG and 0.6 BPG on 46.0 FG%, 35.8 3P% and 74.4 FT%. Though he's often listed as a point guard, he'll likely play more shooting guard for the Pistons with Cade Cunningham running the show. This will allow Ivey the chance to focus on his scoring, attacking the rim off the dribble and getting good looks with his improving jump shot. He has as much, or more, star power as any player in this draft.
Bennedict Mathurin, SF, Indiana Pacers: Mathurin is a big wing with great explosiveness and an elite spot-up jumper with 3-point range. He's got a strong first step off the dribble that lets him get into the paint, where his leaping ability, strength and body control makes him a menace. Mathurin is another player that took a leap as a sophomore, averaging 17.7 PPG, 5.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, 2.2 3PG and 1.0 SPG for Arizona. Mathurin isn't elite at creating his own offense off the dribble, so he could project as more of a spot-up shooter and floor spacer early in his career. If he's able to improve the consistency of his defensive effort, he could project to a 3-and-D player as a youngster with the upside to become an impact offensive player down the road.
Shaedon Sharpe, SG, Portland Trail Blazers: Sharpe is a 6-6 shooting guard with incredible athleticism, and was ranked as the top prospect in the 2022 recruiting class before reclassifying into the 2021 class. As a result, he didn't play at the collegiate level despite enrolling with the Kentucky Wildcats in January. He's a highlight reel in the open court, has the strength to finish in traffic, and dominated at the high school level from both the inside and the perimeter. His biggest question mark is his lack of experience, and as a result it could take him some time to develop on the pro level. The Trail Blazers also still have Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons ahead of him in the backcourt, so he may not get big minutes off the bat. However, Sharpe has as much upside as any player in this draft, if he's able to find his level.
Dyson Daniels, PG, New Orleans Pelicans: Daniels is a 6-6 combo guard that played in the NBA G-League last season. He projects to play some point guard at the NBA level, giving his excellent size and length for his position. Daniels is also good at moving off the ball, as both a cutter to the rim and a guy that can flare out and knock down the trey. His experience at the pro level could help him be one of the best producers in this class from the word 'go'. Daniels ranked as the seventh overall prospect in the draft according to the ESPN Analytics Draft projections, with a 33% chance to develop into an All Star. His size and skillset would allow him to fit well in the Pelicans backcourt next to CJ McCollum.