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We're still six months away from the 2022 NBA draft, but a new player has entered the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick.
Auburn's Jabari Smith has been phenomenal early in the season and is a serious contender for the top spot. Duke's Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren continue to impress NBA scouts in the first two months of the season.
Other players — like Iowa's Keegan Murray and Wisconsin's Johnny Davis — have started to fly up NBA draft boards with their versatile scoring ability and consistency.
Here's Yahoo Sports' latest look at the first round of the 2022 NBA draft.
(Draft order is from Tankathon as of Dec. 19.)
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 250 pounds
Duke: 16.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.1 apg
In the head-to-head matchup in November between Banchero and Chet Holmgren, Banchero was the better prospect on the court. He was hitting 3-pointers in transition with confidence and finding ways to score at the rim around 7-foot Holmgren. The 6-foot-10 forward has a grab-and-go style off a missed shot and is a lot more versatile on defense, sitting down and guarding the pick-and-roll very well.
Banchero ranks above the 76th percentile in every offensive category, according to Synergy Sports, and his most impressive stat comes as a spot-up shooter where he’s rated “excellent” and averages 1.2 points per possession.
Yes, there were concerning reports early in the season about consistent cramping during games and losing seven pounds of fluid per game, but the training and medical staff has since helped him get his excessive cramping under control and there will be little concerns from NBA teams come draft evaluation time.
2. Orlando Magic: F Jabari Smith
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 220 pounds
Auburn: 16.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.3 apg
In terms of who could make the most impact as an NBA player, Smith has the potential to be the best long-term prospect. He has great length and size and has excellent footwork in the post and off the dribble. Smith is one of the most productive bigs in college basketball and has shown NBA scouts early he can score at every level. Smith is averaging 44% from 3-point range on at least five attempts per game and is shooting confidently in the pick-and-pop. Smith has much more confidence getting to the rim and isn't afraid to bang down low, averaging 1.1 points per possession in post-up situations.
— Auburn Basketball (@AuburnMBB) November 27, 2021
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 196 pounds
Gonzaga: 12.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.6 bpg
Holmgren is a unique prospect in the draft and could easily go No. 1 overall. He’s one of the best rim protectors in the country, recording 41 blocks so far this season.
"Chet's a game-changer on defense, and there were a couple of layups that I would usually make with no problem, but with him at the rim, that wasn't happening tonight," Banchero said after matching up against Holmgren last month.
Holmgren needs to show a little more consistency against tougher opponents to prove to scouts that he’s the No. 1 pick. He had an underwhelming two points early in the season against No. 17 Texas and only five points on seven attempts against Texas Tech on Saturday. If he drops to No. 3, Holmgren and Aleksej Pokusevski are a dream frontcourt duo as the Thunder rebuild.
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 195 pounds
Purdue: 16.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.3 apg
Ivey is an excellent 3-point shooter and went 6-for-6 from deep in a win over Butler on Saturday. He cuts well off the ball, and his first step on the wing is extremely quick. Ivey has great length on defense, keeps his man in front consistently and contests at the rim. The Indiana native is a prime example of what can happen when players return for their sophomore season and go from a possible second-round pick to a potential top-five pick.
The Pelicans might have missed the mark when they drafted Zion Williamson instead of Ja Morant, and they could make up some ground by drafting Ivey. Morant and Ivey have worked out together and there are glimpses of Morant’s game in Ivey.
5. Houston Rockets: G Jaden Hardy
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 198 pounds
G League Ignite: 18 ppg, 3.1 apg
The Rockets are in rebuild mode and will most likely take the best available prospect if they end up with a top-five pick. Hardy was the best scorer in the country as a high school senior and is one of the best at creating separation off the dribble to create a shot. His shot selection needs to improve; that’s the one area that could cause him to fall a few draft spots. He’s very physical on defense and is more than holding his own in the G League while playing against professionals.
6. San Antonio Spurs: C Jalen Duren
Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 250 pounds
Memphis: 10.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.1 bpg
Duren is one of the most physically ready players in this draft class and is settling in nicely to the pace of the college game after a slow start. Duren reclassified and should technically be a high school senior. He was the No. 1-ranked player coming out of high school. He’s made great reads off the ball as a passer and has improved on his pick-and-roll defense. Duren has attempted only one 3-pointer this season, but is shooting an impressive 67% from the field. The Spurs do a phenomenal job at developing young talent and Duren would be a nice addition to Josh Primo as the future duo of the franchise.
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 220 pounds
Milwaukee: 15 ppg, 7 rpg
The Kings have selected guards in the lottery the past two drafts and need some help in the frontcourt. Baldwin Jr. is an athletic forward who would run the court well alongside De’Aaron Fox. He has the ability to step out and knock down the 3-point shot and has a high basketball IQ. Baldwin Jr. has been a little inconsistent early, and Milwaukee is struggling to win games. NBA scouts need to see Baldwin Jr. take over games if he expects to remain a potential top-10 pick.
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 210 pounds
Arizona: 17.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg
Mathurin is one of the best defenders in this draft class and rebounds the ball extremely well as a guard. Offensively, he’s second in the Pac-12 in points per game and is ranked in the 100th percentile (meaning no other player ranks above him) in offensive rebounds for putbacks, according to Synergy Sports.
He’s originally from Montreal, Canada, and became the first Canadian-born student-athlete to join the NBA Academy Latin America team in high school. Mathurin tested the NBA waters last season, but elected to come back for his sophomore season.
9. Indiana Pacers: G Johnny Davis
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 194 pounds
Wisconsin: 20.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg
No other player has improved his draft stock more than Davis. He was incredible during the Maui Invitational where he finished with 30 points, four rebounds and four steals in a win over No. 12 Houston. Davis is a high-level scorer who can knock down 3-pointers with a defender in his face and has great body control at the rim when getting in the lane. The guard matchup of the season will take place Jan. 3 when Wisconsin plays Purdue. NBA scouts will be in West Lafayette to see Davis go head-to-head with Ivey.
10. New York Knicks: G Kendall Brown
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 205 pounds
Baylor: 12.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg
Brown led No. 1 Baylor in a close win over Oregon on Saturday night. He finished with 17 points in 18 minutes and did a little bit of everything from catching alley-oop dunks to finishing and-one plays at the rim. He has great size at 6-foot-8 and is one of the most exciting players to watch in the open court. Baylor fans better enjoy watching Brown play now with his draft stock rising in each game this season.
— Baylor Men’s Basketball (@BaylorMBB) December 19, 2021
11. Toronto Raptors: G TyTy Washington
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 197 pounds
Kentucky: 13.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.4 apg
Washington is mostly playing off the ball at Kentucky, which could help him at the next level. He’s had a meteoric rise as a prospect from being an under-the-radar player in high school to a five-star his senior season. He was originally committed to Creighton before decommitting and heading to Kentucky. Washington looks very comfortable on the court playing against older, bigger guards and is tough to guard due to his consistent 3-point jumper and quick first step if he gets a defender in the air.
12. Boston Celtics: G Jean Montero
Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 172 pounds
Overtime Elite: 18.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 7.3 apg
Montero is the best player on the inaugural Overtime Elite team. He’s an offensive threat with his shooting versatility and playmaking ability, averaging better than seven assists per game. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Montero’s game translates to the NBA in the way he turns defense to offense and the ease he has creating for others.
13. Atlanta Hawks: G/F Keegan Murray
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 215 pounds
Iowa: 23.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg
Murray is leading the country in scoring and flying up draft boards. He’s not as explosive as other players in this draft class, but he’s been one of the most productive players in college basketball and his game translates well to the next level. Murray cuts very well off the ball, averaging 1.5 points per possession and is showing more versatility in his shot selection in the last few games.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves: G JD Davison
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 195 pounds
Alabama: 9.1 ppg, 5 apg
Davison is coming off the bench and playing behind a veteran backcourt but continues to find ways to impact the game. His first double-double of the season came in a win over Miami (13 points and 10 assists). He’s a solid playmaker with speed and shiftiness in the lane and loves to finish above the rim, despite his 6-foot-3 size.
15. Dallas Mavericks: G Kennedy Chandler
Ht./Wt.: 6-0, 171 pounds | Class: Freshman | Tennessee: 14.6 ppg, 5.4 apg
16. Denver Nuggets: G Wendell Moore
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 213 pounds | Class: Junior | Duke: 16.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.1 apg
17. Washington Wizards: G Ochai Agbaji
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 215 pounds | Class: Senior | Kansas: 22 ppg, 4.2 rpg
18. Philadelphia 76ers: G Dyson Daniels
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 200 pounds | Australia | G League Ignite: 11 ppg, 4.4 apg
19. New York Knicks: C Mark Williams
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 242 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Duke: 9.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3 bpg
20. Oklahoma City Thunder: G/F Caleb Houstan
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 205 pounds | Class: Freshman | Michigan: 10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg
21. Memphis Grizzlies: G Trevor Keels
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 221 pounds | Class: Freshman | Duke: 12.6 ppg, 3.2 apg
22. Houston Rockets: F Nikola Jovic
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 205 pounds | Serbia | Mega Basket: 10.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 179 pounds | Class: Freshman | Nebraska: 15.8 ppg, 6 rpg
24. Memphis Grizzlies: F E.J. Liddell
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 240 pounds | Class: Junior | Ohio State: 20.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg
25. Chicago Bulls: F Jabari Walker
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 200 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Colorado: 13.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg
26. Milwaukee Bucks: G/F Harrison Ingram
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 230 pounds | Class: Freshman | Stanford: 12.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg
27. Miami Heat: G Blake Wesley
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 185 pounds | Class: Freshman | Notre Dame: 13.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg
28. Memphis Grizzlies: G/F MarJon Beauchamp
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 175 pounds | G League Ignite: 14.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.3 apg
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 190 pounds | Class: Freshman | Michigan State: 8.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 210 pounds | Class: Junior | Texas Tech: 14.3 ppg, 2.2 apg