Shadow League’s Top 10 NBA Draft Prospects Might Shock You | Some Say This Draft Is Weak Sauce

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With the NBA Finals just ending last Thursday, many didn’t even realize the next generation of NBA hoopers were slated to have their names called exactly seven days later.

Tonight, 30 players hear their names called in the first round, where all contracts are fully guaranteed. Then 30 more will have their names called in the second round. While those aren’t fully guaranteed, look to these players for inspiration on how to make a name for yourself. 

On how to go from underrated to undisputed. 

Four-time NBA champion Draymond Green, reigning two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, one-time champion Khris Middleton, three-time NBA Sixth Man Lou Williams and many other players have gone on to great careers after being taken in the second round. 

So while these following players may be considered the 10 gems in the 2022 draft, you’d best believe there will be second-round sleepers who eventually get their due. 

Here’s the “cream of the crop.” 

Jabari Smith (Orlando Magic) — The sweet-shooting stretch four has a skill set that is perfect for today’s pace and space game. Smith shot 42 percent from three in his last year at Auburn. Good rebounder, and excellent defender. Shoots it like KD a bit, but more like former NBA All-Star Rashard Lewis, who etched out a solid career as a stretch four in Seattle, Orlando and Miami before the position actually had a name. 

Auburn head coach Bruce Pearl told reporters that with Smith he had “the best player on the floor every night.”

 

Chet Holmgren (OKC Thunder) — The Thunder have an astounding 38 total picks, including 19 first-rounders, between now and 2027. But this pick could be the most important. Why? Because with Holmgren you get a rim protector (four blocks per game) who’s capable of fitting any system. His ability to make the three at Gonzaga (40 percent), create for others and finish with either hand at his size makes him a great choice alongside guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. 

Take Chet and make him the centerpiece of the rebuild. His skill set draws comparisons to NBA unicorn Kristaps Porzingis on offense and uber athletic Marcus Camby on defense.

 

Paolo Banchero (Houston Rockets) — Banchero possesses the most NBA-ready frame of the trio, but there are concerns about his motor and defensive effort; something the other two potential No. 1 overall picks excel at. 

Banchero has all the tools offensively, but for a guy with an imposing  6-foot-10, 250-pound frame, he tends to get lost on the perimeter way too often. If he were to use his size and strength more he’d be a matchup nightmare. The Duke one-and-done star compares to a low-end Julius Randle and high-end Chris Webber/Blake Griffin if he works hard enough.

 

 

Jaden Ivey (Sacramento Kings) — Ivey is an athletic specimen who flashed at Purdue. His versatility allows him to play either guard position. He also has that unique ability to attack the rim and finish through contact and over length like Ja Morant, Russell Westbrook and Dwyane Wade. He’s let it be known that he’d love to play under the bright lights for the Knicks.

Keegan Murray (Detroit Pistons) — Murray shined for Iowa last season and appears to be one of the most NBA-ready players in the draft. A 6-foot-8 wing who shoots it with range (going from 29 percent from three in 2020-21 to 40 percent in 2021-22). 

That marked improvement from distance opened up his entire offensive game as he averaged 24 ppg last season. He’s a bona fide bucket getter, with a skill set reminiscent of Toronto Raptors Cameroonian star Pascal Siakim.

Dyson Daniels (Indiana Pacers) — If the Pacers draft Daniels here it’s a clear indication they’re moving on from former NBA Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon.

Daniels provides great size at 6 feet 7, and pairing him with Tyrese Halliburton in “Naptown,” would make for a talented duo. Daniels is also from Australia like OKC Thunder guard Josh Giddey, who was a strong Rookie of the Year candidate until injuries hampered him. Dyson showed a complete floor game during his one season in the G-League. With Daniels you’re getting a bigger Lonzo Ball.

Jalen Duren (Portland Trail Blazers) — They need to add some talent to make superstar Damian Lillard happy in Rip City. On Wednesday, the team traded for Pistons forward Jerami Grant. Adding someone like Duren would enhance the team’s talent pool, plus at 6 feet 11 and 250 pounds he’s a grown man inside. As a great rim protector and lob threat for Dame Lillard in the pick-and-roll game, the Memphis Tigers product gives us Dwight Howard vibes.

 

 

Bennedict Mathurin (New Orleans Pelicans) — Mathurin is the best two-way player in the draft and can dominate a game without scoring. The only knock on Mathurin is his streaky range shooting, but even that got better last year at Arizona as he shot 37 percent from three.

At 6 feet 7 and 215 pounds, he’s being compared to NBA stars Jimmy Butler and Jaylen Brown. He could have the most upside in the draft.

 

 

Adrian Griffin Jr. (San Antonio Spurs) — Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich loves big-framed knockdown shooters, and that’s exactly what AJ Griffin is. Standing 6 feet 7 and 205 pounds, Griffin already has an NBA build and lethal stroke. The Duke player’s injury history could scare teams away, but his shooting ability may be too good to pass on. In a league predicated on pace and space, he fits seamlessly as an adept jump shooter. Reminds you of Raptors star Gary Trent Jr.

Shaedon Sharpe (Washington Wizards) — To long-suffering Wizards fans, the hope is that he makes Bradley Beal tradeable. Sharpe has the highest upside of anyone in this draft, but he’s also got the most question marks and hasn’t played in a game in almost a year. Sharpe graduated high school in January, forgoing his senior season of high school to join the Kentucky Wildcats.

Coach John Calipari decided not to play him once he arrived, believing he’d have the 2021 No. 1 overall recruit this season. But the uber athletic Sharpe wasn’t with being suppressed and signed with an agent giving up his college eligibility. Wizards need a do-over and starting with a more athletic Brandon Roy clone is a great start.