Updated NBA Draft Prospect Rankings: Big Board 4.0, Part 1
Jaden Ivey, TyTy Washington, MarJon Beauchamp and Walker Kessler among the big risers in our top-25 prospects
We’re now a little more than a month away from the start of March Madness, which means it’s time for my fourth 2022 NBA Draft Big Board.
My Big Board is my ranking, based on intel from NBA scouts and executives, of the top prospects in this year’s draft. This is not, however, a power ranking. I’m ranking prospects not by how well they are playing, but more by how scouts see their long-term NBA potential.
This is also not a mock draft. Two weeks ago I released Mock Draft 1.0, which projected which team will select each prospect. Rather, my Big Board is essentially a consensus ranking, gathered from all of my sources.
The Big Board is pretty stable at the top, with four players remaining in the mix for the No. 1 pick. After that, there is still a lot of variability, which is what we should continue to expect going forward — especially on freshman prospects with high upside but middling performances so far.
By the time we get out of the lottery, this draft is wide open, with a wide range of opinions from scouts and talent evaluators on where prospects will eventually land.
Here’s our latest stab at the top-50 prospects for the 2022 NBA Draft. Read the first 25 picks here. Picks 25-50 can be found here.
6’10” | 210 | Wingspan: 7’1”
Age on draft night: 19.1
2022 Draft Projection: 1-3
We moved Smith to No. 1 in Big Board 3.0 and his grip on the No. 1 position has only strengthened in the last month. That’s not necessarily because of exceptional play on his part, nor have the other top candidates for the No. 1 pick faltered — far from it, actually.
But there is a growing sense among lottery teams that Smith has the highest ceiling, and virtually all of them, if they were to get the No. 1 pick, appear to be locked in on Smith as their guy. He remains, as of now, the only player in the draft with a consensus Tier 1 (potential superstar) rating from scouts.
Things can change with a poor finish to the season or bad workouts. But right now Smith’s hold on the top spot seems really firm.
In 22 games, Smith is averaging 20.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.7 steals per 36 minutes and shooting 44% from the field and 40.5% from 3.
02 JADEN IVEY
6’4” | 200 | Wingspan: 6’9”
Age on draft night: 20.4
2022 Draft Projection: 1-5
The competition for No. 2 is much hotter, with a virtual dead heat between Ivey, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero here. Every team I talk to seems to have its own preference, so ranking them becomes a real challenge. If I could rank them 2A, 2B and 2C, I would.
Ivey gets the (slight) edge based on his perceived ceiling among teams. His elite athletic talents are tantalizing to teams that see some Russell Westbrook and Ja Morant in him. He’s less polished than Holmgren and Banchero, but his constant improvement gives teams hope that he’ll develop into an elite two-way guard who can play both on and off the ball in the NBA.
Hitting a game-winner recently has enhanced the narrative concerning Ivey. Every team in the league is looking for players who can create their own shot at the end of games.
In his first 21 games, Ivey is averaging 20.8 points, 6.3 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.6 blocks and 1.4 steals per 36 minutes and shooting 48% from the field and 43.6% from 3.