2022 NBA Draft: Case up for debate for Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith or Jaden Ivey as No.

2022 NBA Draft: Case up for debate for Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith or Jaden Ivey as No.

Who is the No. 1 Prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft?

We’ll find out Thursday night who the Orlando Magic value as the number 1 pick, as they select first overall for the first time since 2004 – but there is far from a consensus view at the top of this draft among the NBA offices. And ditto for our team of experts. in our end top 100 ratings composed of a consensus drawn from the rankings of CBS Sports experts Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, David Cobb and myself, along with Adam Finkelstein and Travis Branham of 247Sports, there were four different players who won first place votes.

So, who is the No. 1 prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft?

Scouts have their opinions but our consensus ranking math determined that Chet Holmgren was deserving of the honor – but below we each declare our cases for our pick as the #1 professional prospect in this year’s draft. Here’s who each of us had first place, and why, as we approach Thursday night’s draft with a wide range of views on the top of the class.

Want more analysis on top prospects for the NBA Draft? Listen below and subscribe to the Eye on College Basketball podcast, where we take a deep dive into the top players who are taking it to the next level.

The case of Chet Holmgren


I understand the arguments for Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, and even Jaden Ivey to take first overall in the 2022 NBA Draft. I don’t think any of them are ridiculous options. But I still genuinely believe Holmgren is the best prospect available this year, which is why I also believe Orlando should take him with the #1 pick. He’s an elite rim protector on defense who can float on offense, bounce , throwing and generally exploring confrontations.

If a big traditional protects you, he can probably get around you. If a smaller player protects you, he can definitely shoot right over him. Am I worried about the light frame? Of course, on some level, I think. But as ESPN’s Jonathon Givony noted in a recent podcast, how many great prospects have fallen short of greatness strictly because they’re too thin? He couldn’t think of any. Me neither. So I’m going to assume that Holmgren’s unique skill set will allow him to overcome his unique structure and eventually emerge as the top player in this draft. — Gary Parrish

Holmgren has the highest ceiling in the project in my opinion. He changes the game on both ends of the court. There simply aren’t many 7ft players anywhere in the world that can protect the rim, stretch the tread and still provide such an efficient interior finishing presence. He’s even a better ball handler and passer than I think some people are giving him credit for. But beyond all that, I’m just a big believer in your mindset and that inner toughness. I know he has to build his body, but if there’s one thing NBA teams have figured out how to do at an exceptionally high level, it’s this. Adam Finkelstein

We know the whole world is questioning his physique, but the truth is, Holmgren has never had an injury history or shown that his lack of strength is a real obstacle. You won’t be able to play it on the Joel Embiids of the world, but no one can play anything on it. In four to five years, we could legitimately be talking about him being one of the faces of the League with his ability to dribble, pass and shoot unlike any other we’ve seen in his size and length, plus the fact that he’s an elite defender. and rim protector. Travis Branham

I understand Smith and Banchero’s allure, but for me Holmgren’s advantage is a notch above. Smith has no playmaking potential – Holmgren can flourish beautifully in that department. Banchero’s suspect as a 3-point shooter and on defense – Holmgren has a sweet punch and is one of the best rim protection prospects we’ve ever seen. I also don’t buy into the loud delusions about the unique body type. Holmgren has been able to hold his own against stronger players his entire life, and the rules of the NBA will continue to evolve in his favor. He’s already proven he can perform at the highest levels of amateur basketball and also has the most room to improve from any of the top three prospects. Add it all up, and this certainly sounds like the best player in the draft class. Colin Ward-Henninger

The case of Paolo Banchero


Whether it’s for CBSSports.com, Eye on College Basketball or CBS Sports HQ, I’ve explained my stance on having Banchero No. 1 on my big board many times over the past few weeks. But here, against the draft, again, with feeling. Banchero is the most sensible choice of any player in this class because he is the most developed and proven talent. His numbers at Duke, with several other first-round players in the starting lineup, were beyond satisfying: 17.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.2 apg for the highest ranked offensive team in the country, per KenPom.com.

Banchero was a 52.% 2-point shooter and 33.8% 3-point shooter. No one in this draft has the combination of size + skill + touch + passing skill + playmaking + rebound prowess + Banchero’s competitive advantage. It has an above-average handle, can work the pole, shoot beyond the bow and is not a black hole. The hesitation with him at number 1 stems from the fact that he’s not as potentially damaging on a 3-point shot as Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and even Jaden Ivey are. But he can still shoot. Defensively, he has more ground to recover. No one is as ready to play in the NBA tomorrow as Banchero, however, and I think he will end up proving himself an All-Star multiple times by the end of his second contract. — Matt Norlander

The case of Jaden Ivey


There are safer prospects at the top of this class (Smith Jr.) and bigger ups and downs as well (Holmgren), but no one possesses the rare combination of explosive athleticism and creative ability that Ivey has this draft. He is a human rocket that can burst to the brim. He has the potential to become a real umbrella at the next level if he continues to develop and improve as a decision maker.

At worst, he can be a change-of-pace initiator whose dynamic explosiveness helps ease the burden of a team’s #1 initiating option. I would rank him number 1 above everyone else in this class on the chance that his play will improve even if marginally, if not substantially, and his improvement as a pitcher over the past year bodes very well for him as a budding star entering the NBA. Kyle Boone

The case of Jabari Smith Jr.


What most clearly separates Smith from Banchero, Holmgren and others as the top first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is his elite shooting. At 6-10 and with a 42% mark of 3 points on 5.5 attempts per game in his only season at Auburn, Smith projects as an excellent long-term shooter at the next level. While Banchero and Holmgren each exhibited some perimeter reach in their only seasons in college, neither projects themselves as elite in any facet of the game, as Smith does as an outfielder.

Given that Smith also has an excellent defensive edge and a burgeoning portfolio of creating shots offensively, he is the safest bet in the bunch for one day being an NBA All-Star. With promising young guards like Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony distributing basketball in Orlando, Smith would be an excellent addition to the Magic’s core group. While it may take years for Smith to reach his full potential, it’s easy to see him becoming the Magic’s top scorer early in his career due to the shooting touch he will bring to the league on day one. David Cobb

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