TrueHoop 2022 NBA draft preview: Part I
It's a great year to trade down
BY DAVID THORPE
This year’s draft is a bit different than the last two, when I thought players like Evan Mobley, Scottie Barnes, and James Wiseman had special potential. I’d rank every player in this draft below those three. Certainly, there are a few prospects with big potential, but there are far more guys on the path to becoming solid contributors, and a few guys with some real elasticity on a path to spend 2026 in either the NBA All-Star game or the EuroLeague.
If I were devising a team’s draft strategy, “TRADE DOWN” would be written in huge letters on every whiteboard in the offices. Outside the top four, teams just need to focus on finding better-than-expected players.
In whatever order they’re selected, the top four guys have almost total consensus.
We’ve already previewed my favorite sleeper—Duke’s Mark Williams—who is my fifth-best prospect in this year’s draft. Beyond that, which player will give his team the most bang for their buck? Today, we’re looking at the top four players, plus three others who I believe can become solid NBA role players.
At TrueHoop, we have partnered with Stephen Ilardi to develop a new lens for evaluating a player’s true economic value to his team: Bonus Wins. Some recent players chosen in the late lottery or mid-first round have proven extremely valuable picks for their teams, because good players picked outside the top picks come with below-market salaries. For example, Mikal and Miles Bridges, who went 10th and 12th in 2018, have given their teams a combined 30 Bonus Wins since they entered the league. That can really help a team.
My top four
Back in March, we profiled Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, Jaden Ivey, and Jabari Smith. Since then, they’ve done basically nothing other than lose their last NCAA Tournament games. Everything now is done in private to limit any chance they have of performing poorly and falling out of the top four. Therefore, any analysis has to be based strictly on what we saw months or years ago, and what has convinced me after having that time to think it through. Murky waters make it hard to see the bed from above and the sky from below, but we still try.
Here are some conclusions I’ve settled on: