March Madness: Top NBA Draft Prospects — West Region
Potential No. 1 picks Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero headline our Top 10 NBA Draft Prospects in the NCAA Tournament West Region
NBA scouts and general managers will be out in force over the next few weeks scouting all the prospects in the Big Dance.
While we believe that a player’s performance in the NCAA Tournament shouldn’t be a big factor in the overall scouting evaluation, there is evidence that it plays an outsize role in ultimate draft position.
Recency bias is surely one factor. So is that fact that this is when NBA coaching staffs, NBA owners and, occasionally, NBA GMs are getting more engaged in the scouting process. What they see here can leave an indelible scouting bias.
In other words, what happens over the next few weeks, rightly or wrongly, will likely significantly shake up our current Big Board 5.0.
Note that I’m ranking players based on their long-term NBA potential, not on their current production. Obviously several of the players in the “best of the rest'' are currently better than some players ranked above them.
On Monday, Rafael Barlowe broke down the Top 10 Prospects in the East Region.
Today we move to the West Region. This region is loaded, with two prospects who are vying for the No. 1 pick and four players ranked in our Top 10. Duke dominates this list with four players in our Top 10 and three in our Top 6.
And don’t forget to register for our March Madness Bracket Challenge, where you could win a lifetime subscription to NBA Big Board!
7’0” | 195 | Wingspan: 7’6”
Age on draft night: 20.1
2022 Draft Projection: 1-4
The Skinny: Through 29 games Holmgren is averaging 19.1 points, 12.8 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 4.8 blocks, and 1.1 steals per 36 minutes and shooting 61% from the field and 41.2% from 3.
The Good: The most unique player I’ve ever scouted. He’s an elite rim protector and a mobile big man who can handle the ball, shoot 3s and defend on the perimeter. He plays with elite toughness and a great motor. He’s super-competitive and he has kept improving all season.
The Bad: That 195-pound frame is the single biggest reason Holmgren isn’t the runaway favorite for the No. 1 pick in the draft. How you play him — how you protect him from bigger, stronger, more physical NBA players — is a question scouts are asking.
Bottom Line: He’s No. 2 on our Big Board and could easily move to No. 1 if he leads Gonzaga to a big Final Four run. Scouts have questioned the quality of the big men he’s played against in the WCC, where he’s done most of his damage this year. He’s going to get tested in the tournament. He could get matched up against Jalen Duren in the second round and against Arkansas’ Jaylin Williams in the Sweet Sixteen. And then there’s a highly anticipated potential rematch in the Elite Eight with the No. 4 player on our board, Paolo Banchero, that every NBA scout would be watching closely. Banchero and Duke got the better of Gonzaga in November. Holmgren has improved since then. If he outplays Banchero? The drumbeat for him to be No. 1 will grow.