Yes, the 2022 NBA Draft is months away, but it’s never too early to take a peek at some of the best young players in the nation, and where they might be playing next year. Unlike last year’s class, the class of 2022 has a lot of intriguing big men.
Obviously, Chet Holmgren, ESPN’s #1-ranked player in the high school class of 2021, who is now at Gonzaga, is expected to be a top two pick next season. Down in Durham, North Carolina, forward Paolo Banchero is another big man whose stock has risen immensely since the college basketball season. On top of that, Jalen Duren, the #1 center in the high school class of 2022, re-classified before this year and is now at Memphis, and will be eligible for the draft in the Summer.
With that being said, this should be a pretty deep class. We’ve already seen the craziness happen throughout college basketball this season, with no one being able to stay in the #1 spot for more than a week or two. It’s very possible that’s how the debate goes for the top pick this season, with teams, and front offices flip-flopping between Holmgren, Banchero, and even Jabari Smith out of Auburn.
Now before we take a look at my first big board of the season let’s take a look at what I believe the Cleveland Cavaliers should be looking for in the upcoming draft.
If you can’t pay for wings, you have to draft them
There is most certainly a debate to be had about which position is the most important in the NBA right now. For guys like me, I think it’s the quarterback of the team, the point guard. They handle the ball the most, they make the decisions, and they affect the outcome of the game more than any other position, unless a superstar is involved.
However, many Cavs fans right now might argue it’s big men. Just look at the turnaround the Cavs have been able to make just by acquiring Evan Mobley, who has impacted winning more than any other rookie. Cleveland had been third in the NBA in defensive rating, heading into Friday’s games; that’s now second, but we’ll hit on the two that were ranked a bit higher leading into then. The only two teams they were behind? The Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors, the two best teams in the league, according to wins.
Nonetheless, I would also make an argument that the defense has been great, but one thing has really stood out this year about this young team. They were 14th in the league in three-point shooting percentage, hitting them at a 35 percent rate, leading into Friday; that can vary some though, and Cleveland is currently 11th following Friday’s games. Needless to say, last year the Cavs were dead-last in the league in three-point shooting percentage.
I don’t think wings are the most important position, but they are your biggest asset. While watching the playoffs last season, we pretty much learned three things:
- Ben Simmons is scared to shoot
- Giannis Antetokounmpo is an absolute monster
- Shooting is the most important skill in the NBA by a long shot
Obviously, 1 and 2 aren’t the best takeaways, but three is spot on. The Suns got hot at the right time last year, and shot themselves through to the NBA Finals. If you polled many Cavaliers fans right now I think a lot of them would be willing to part ways with Isaac Okoro or Collin Sexton if the Cavs were able to bring in a guy like Brandon Ingram. Well, the good news is this draft class has some great wings as well.
Hell, Banchero could even be considered a wing at the next level. Jaden Hardy in the G-League can shoot the leather off the ball. Jaden Ivey at Purdue has transformed himself into possibly the best player in college basketball, and he did it in one summer. Adrian Griffin Jr. at Duke, Patrick Baldwin Jr. playing for his dad at UW-Milwaukee, and even Michigan’s Caleb Houstan are talented enough to be top 10 picks. Unfortunately, the second-ranked player in the high school class of 2022, Emoni Bates, also re-classified before the season, and is now playing at Memphis. But, unlike Duren, Bates will not be eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft, which is a bummer. However, not all is lost as I said there are a lot of good wings in this draft.
Before I get into the first big board, I want to be clear in saying that this is a team specific big board. I love Chet Holmgren, and think he will be able to add muscle and be a dominant player at the NBA level. But, do the Cavs really need another 7-footer on this roster? Or even Banchero, who is an exceptional athlete but more of a big man as well. So therefore, I would say the Cavs are set right now at point guard with Darius Garland, and at the four and five, I’d say they’re set for a year or two as well.