2022 NBA mock draft: The early No. 1 pick battle, plus emerging international prospects

While not considered a banner group early on, the 2022 draft class is beginning to grow on NBA personnel, despite the limited in-person scouting opportunities over the past year.

This has proved to be a difficult class to evaluate. Several top prospects, such as top-10 candidate A.J. Griffin and Patrick Baldwin Jr., have barely played in the past 12 to 14 months due to COVID-19 restrictions or injuries. Others, including UCLA-bound Peyton Watson, started their high school seasons only this past weekend.

The traditional high school all-star game circuit (McDonald's, Hoop Summit, Jordan Brand) was canceled, and other national showcases and camps have been severely limited. By this point, NBA teams can usually start building their scouting files with significant amounts of data from FIBA tournaments, the Nike EYBL or other AAU events. Without those at hand, the reputations of those in the 2022 draft class will hinge almost entirely on their performance in college, with the G League Ignite or in international leagues next season, which makes this early projection far more fluid at the top than usual.