When Orlando Magic hand over their draft card to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, on Thursday night at Barclays Center, they will resolve the debate that has erupted in draft circles over the course of the year: Who should be the No. 1 nominee?
The first winner is Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga, a thin but hard seven-footer who can swing, dribble, pass and defend with aplomb. But there are also strong cases to be handed over to Auburn boss Jabari Smith, who spent last season drowning in seemingly impossible shots, and to Duke’s Paolo Banchero, an architect who has been dazzled in color as he is in the corner.
“All three boys have incredible talent,” said Jonathan Givony, founder of the DraftExpress scout service, an analyst of the NBA draft at ESPN. “This draft has very good players at the top and a good depth as well.”
Here are five more expectations to know.
6-foot-11, £ 223, front, Mega Mozzart (Serbia)
People ask Nikola Jovic about Nikola Jokic all the time. And it makes sense. Jovic and the Denver Nuggets star are very similar: They are both Serbian giants who played for the same club, Mega Mozzart, and only one letter separates their last names. But the comparison does not bother Jovic, who is expected to become the first international player to be considered on Thursday.
“People bring that up all the time,” he said. “I am very happy with that. I think it’s funny too because the possibility of such a thing happening is very small. At the same time, I feel good because people compare me to the league MVP twice “
As a boy, Jovic wanted to be a water polo player. He spent his summer with his mother in Montenegro and loved to swim in the Adriatic Sea. When he was 13, his father introduced him to basketball. What started as a backyard entertainment soon became a hit with the profession. “I was getting bigger,” Jovic said, “and it was very easy to see that basketball would be a better option than water sport.”
Although many NBA teams have been tracking European stars since their youth, Jovic did not make a name for himself on the organizing boards until he emerged at the Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Belgrade in March 2021. 4 who can hit 3, lead a quick break and make wise passes. He said he is ready to stay in Europe after the transfer, but hopes to land with a team that wants him to play immediately.
“Even if I need to play in the G League, that’s fine,” he said, referring to the NBA development league. “But for now, I think the best fit for me is the NBA”
6-foot-9, £ 221, front, Extra Time Scholars
When NBA inspectors visited Extraordinary Scholars this year, it was an eye-opener for the future. The start-up league has 10 potential players in the draft 2023 and 2024. But one player from the 2022 draft class took advantage of all that scout scout and has struggled to become a 3 star high school prospect who has not been announced as a nominee. of the first draft: Dominick Barlow.
“The fact that this was the first year of OTE’s fascinating scouts,” Barlow, 19, said. “And as soon as the scouts were in the building, they could see what I could do.”
Barlow played at Dumont High School, a small public high school in Dumont, NJ He did not come with the Amateur Athletes Union program until the summer before his senior year, when a New York Renaissance coach saw him play in public. Save. He surprised many in-basketball fans in September when he dropped out of the preparation program and turned down several major signing offers with Extraordinary Scholars. It offers a six-figure salary for boys and men basketball players who are at least in their junior year of high school.
Barlow hopes his story encourages other neglected players to keep working. “I came in as a 3-star kid, and I’m leaving as an NBA organizer. Some 5-star kids are struggling to get into the NBA one year after high school,” he said.
6-foot-8, £ 225, forward, Iowa
While Keegan and Kris Murray were going through the university basketball recruitment process, the twin brothers told each coach that they were not planning a package. Their father, Kenyon, had played university basketball in Iowa in the early 1990’s, and he encouraged everyone to find their own way.
Their father’s faith and knowledge helped the brothers remain active even after they finished high school with only one scholarship offer, for Western Illinois, a Summit League school that had never participated in a Division I NCAA tournament.
“Having a DI player to be your coach and to teach you everything and guide you in the recruitment process is very helpful,” Keegan, 21, said of his father, who was an assistant in his high school team in Iowa. “He told us we would be heroes, and we believed him.”
After rejecting an offer from West Illinois and moving to Florida for one year at a boarding school, Keegan and Kris signed with their father, Iowa alma mater. Keegan showed top-notch success as a new year student and began to get chatter about the NBA draft, but was not considered to have top-notch talent until this past season. As a second student, Murray was the top scorer among the Power 5 conference players, second only to Big Ten’s return, and scored 55.4 percent off the field and 39.8 percent from 3.
“He was the most productive player in college basketball this year,” Givony said, adding that he was good at transition and defense. “Everyone is looking for a player like him.”
Keegan is expected to be in the top five, with Kris deciding to return to Iowa for another season. “Thinking about where I was three years ago and where I am today is surreal,” Keegan said. “I did not always know where or when this hard work would bring results, but I knew it would bring results in the end.”
6-foot-3, 179 pounds, defender, Toledo
Ryan Rollins has heard people say that he had to return to the University of Toledo for his junior season. With another year’s experience, he would offer as a first-round pick in 2023. But Rollins rejects that idea. He sees no reason to wait.
“I feel like I’m one of the best players in the draft,” Rollins said. “If I don’t get selected in the first round, that’s fine. In the long run, I will be very good for a very long time in this league. Whenever and wherever I end up, I will be proud to be there.”
A native of Detroit, Rollins played the popular AAU program, Family. But the piled list, along with several injuries and his decision to volunteer to go to university early, put him under the recruitment radar. “I always had the impression that I was where I was for a reason,” he said. “I kept working, I kept trying to improve my skills. I didn’t care about basketball politics. I knew if I did well, the NBA would get me.”
Over two seasons in Toledo, he emerged as the best midfielder, with a soft handle, water work and a midrange rough game. He is now likely to be a second-round qualifier and capable of penetrating the first round. But he is more worried about what he is doing when he arrives in the NBA. He hopes he can become a midfielder to become a superstar.
He has been inspired by former midfielders who are in the NBA, such as Ja Morant (Murray State), Damian Lillard (Weber State) and CJ McCollum (Lehigh University).
“They went to a small school but managed to make a name for themselves,” Rollins said. “I feel like I’m following.”
6-foot-5, £ 198, defender, Kentucky
There is no better player in the 2022 draft than Shaedon Sharpe. Although listed as a Kentucky prospect, Sharpe has never been fit for the Wildcats. In fact, he has not played in a competitive basketball game for almost a year.
The Ontario native, Canada, moved to Kansas to play for Sunrise Christian Academy in his second year of high school, then was transferred to Arizona’s Dream City Christian in 2020 for his teenage season, when he was removed from the class in 2022. He then became the prime minister. The performance with the Canadian UPlay team in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League last summer made everyone watch. The tournament is often the venue for the future NBA star, with Sharpe averaged 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists within 28.3 minutes per game in 12 games.
Sharpe graduated from high school a year earlier and enrolled in Kentucky this spring. Although there were rumors that he would join the team in court, or return for the 2022-23 season, he has instead entered the NBA draft. And there is a good reason: He will soon be considered in the top 10.
“In terms of physical ability and perfect talent, it’s all there,” Givony said. “He’s a good shooter, a good defender, a good passer-by.”
The NBA teams have not been able to see much from him, but his 6-11 foot wings, explosive athletics and shiny shots can have many NBA teams out of the top five ready to risk.