NBA Draft pick-by-pick analysis from Sam Vecenie and John Hollinger

NBA Draft pick-by-pick analysis from Sam Vecenie and John Hollinger

The 2022 NBA Draft is now complete. Check out NBA Draft analyst Sam Vecenie and front-office insider John Hollinger judging each pick as it happened. This features instant analysis, projections and live reactions to all 58 picks – plus any key trades that occurred.

We began with a late curveball at the top of the draft, as the Orlando Magic selected Duke’s Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 pick instead of Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr., who had been favored to go first throughout the pre-draft process. Chet Holmgren went second to the Oklahoma City Thunder as expected, while Smith slid to the Houston Rockets at No. 3.

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1. Orlando Magic

Paolo Banchero | 6-foot-10, forward | 19 years old, freshman | Duke

Vecenie’s ranking: 3.

How you rate Banchero depends entirely on how much you value offensive upside above all. If you want someone who has a chance to carry an offense, Banchero should be the No. 1 guy on your board, as he was on Orlando’s. If the shooting comes around — and I think it will — his game translates well as both a primary offensive creator and a No. 2 option. He’s a sharp passer, a fluid shot creator with the best bag of tricks in the class, and someone who possesses at least enough touch to reasonably project him as an excellent perimeter shooter. He’s a genuine mismatch nightmare and will continue to be effective in that regard at the NBA level. Can he defend in space well enough to avoid being targeted for mismatches on that end? Right now, I think he would be attacked on defense because of his poor closeouts and bad movement habits in space (and because of faulty effort). But he has potential to get to a level where that doesn’t happen given his size, strength and intelligence.

Hollinger’s team fit: An absolute shocker how this turned out, as the Magic managed to keep their intentions entirely under wraps almost until the bitter end. I had Banchero second on my board behind Jabari Smith, Jr., but I had both of them in the same tier. This will shake up a lot of the expectations for what happen with the next few picks as well, particularly with Houston’s choice at No. 3.

Hollinger would have picked … Jabari Smith Jr.


2. Oklahoma City Thunder

Chet Holmgren | 7-foot, center | 20 years old, freshman | Gonzaga

Vecenie’s ranking: 1.

The word “unique” is overused in scouting circles, but Holmgren is that. There has never been a prospect like this to enter the draft. He’s so skilled, but also so skinny. He is one of the best defenders I have ever evaluated as a teenager. His positioning is elite already, and he has every length-based defensive tool at 7-foot with a 7-6 wingspan. His anticipation and instincts are insane. Beyond that, he’s genuinely tough and competitive. Offensively, he has all the skills. He can shoot, he can dribble in open spaces and he’s a good passer. But does he have the athleticism or burst to separate from opponents? It all comes down to functionality. Can Holmgren’s frame functionally work at the NBA level? Will it allow him to showcase that skill set that is more complete than any other player in this class? If Holmgren had Evan Mobley’s strength at 215 pounds, he would be the no-brainer No. 1 overall prospect, even with some of the questions I have about him as a shot creator.

Hollinger’s team fit: This one goes according to expectations despite the surprise at No. 1. Holmgren will fill a void for the Thunder in the middle and given them an elite shot-blocker to anchor the defense. Now the quest for the Thunder is to find some people who can shoot and score. The Thunder have picks 12 and 34 and multiple future picks to use in trade-ups. They’re likely just getting started here.

Hollinger would have picked … Smith.


3. Houston Rockets

Jabari Smith Jr. | 6-foot-10, forward | 19 years old, freshman | Auburn

Vecenie’s ranking: 2.

Where you rank Smith compared to the other two consensus top prospects (Holmgren, Banchero) is a cipher for how you see basketball in the modern era. I don’t see Smith as the primary ballhandler on a team, but I do see him as an efficient, effective, 20-plus point-per-game scorer who also plays great, switchable and versatile defense. Elite shooting and strong defense are two of the best assets for a teenage NBA player. They set him up to be a no-fail prospect in many respects. I do think he possesses some real upside as a shot creator, depending on how much explosiveness, athleticism and strength he can add. Because he’s a positive player on both ends, he’s the type of prospect that can impact winning at an exceptionally high level, either as a No. 1 or No. 2 option. Every team is looking for big, switchable defenders with shooting ability and potential to create shots.

Hollinger’s team fit: The Rockets get my top-rated player with the third pick, and a great fit for their current roster as well. Smith projects as a knockdown shooter who can space the floor around Jalen Green’s drives, and a big, switchable defender who can cover for some of the team’s other shortcoming at that end. Picture native Houstonian Rashard Lewis, but with more defensive chops. Houston still has picks 17 and 26 in the first round, so expect to hear more from these guys.

Hollinger would have picked … Smith.


4. Sacramento Kings

Keegan Murray | 6-foot-8, forward | 21 years old, sophomore | Iowa

Vecenie’s ranking: 8.

I buy Murray becoming an impactful and probably starter-quality NBA player who puts up numbers as a scorer. He’s going to knock down shots, attack closeouts and take advantage of any leverage-based mismatch he gets. Tobias Harris is the current NBA player I see most when I watch Murray. He is at his best when keeping things simple, with no frills. Murray will push the ball in transition, catch and shoot, make the occasional mid-post self-created bucket, and hit opposing guards on post mismatches. I also buy him as a shooter from all over the court in a variety of situations, meaning coaches will be able to move him around. Ultimately, his value will come down to whether he can be a switch guy on defense who can at least hold up at the point of attack, even if he’s not a lockdown stopper.

Hollinger’s team fit: Another surprise in the top 4! The consensus pick here was Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, but the Kings went with the better roster fit of Murray instead. The Kings only had one real forward on the roster and Murray’s effortless bucket-getting will help them in the short term, especially if new coach Mike Brown runs a similar system to Golden State’s. But this is a pretty big windfall to Detroit right behind them, who I expect to pounce on Ivey at 5.

Hollinger would have picked … Jaden Ivey.


5. Detroit Pistons

Jaden Ivey | 6-foot-4, point guard | 20 years old, sophomore | Purdue

Vecenie’s ranking: 4.

Evaluating Ivey’s pro future is all about how much you value athletic traits and how much you think teams can fix some of the issues. There is not a guard in this class with a higher ceiling if it all comes together. His ability to get downhill with power, force and speed is an immediately translatable skill. He can separate from just about any defender. But the difference between him and, say, a player like Ja Morant is what happens after. Whereas Morant is a natural as a passer and playmaker in addition to his vertical pop as a finisher, Ivey doesn’t have that natural feel right now and makes too many negative-value plays because of that. He’s going to get away from his man and collapse the defense, but he has to be able to make the right choice after that happens. If things go right, he could easily turn into a 25-point, six-assist guy. But his floor is something like Eric Bledsoe without the elite defense.

Hollinger’s team fit: The Pistons pounce on the best pure perimeter prospect in the draft despite landing just fifth in the lottery. Ivey has some boom-bust potential, but his blast-off quickness off the dribble should be a nice complement to Cade Cunningham’s more nuanced approach. Between this pick and a surfeit of cap space, Detroit’s rebuild seems ready to move into a more fruitful phase.

Hollinger would have picked … Ivey.


6. Indiana Pacers

Bennedict Mathurin | 6-foot-6, wing | 20 years old, sophomore | Arizona

Vecenie’s ranking: 5.

There is a high floor for Mathurin because of his natural shooting ability. He’ll hit jumpers off the catch, and he’ll do so off real movement, meaning he can generate open 3s on his own with or without the ball. On top of that, he’s a steady pullup shooter who has taken strides as a creator and playmaker. It’s hard to see how he fails on offense. Defensively, there are questions because of Mathurin’s lack of fundamentals, but he has enough tools to make strides in the coming years with the proper level of investment. Ultimately, the reason he’s ranked this high is his upside. I think teams, in time, will be able to use him in second-side actions if he can learn how to control the ball in terms of his handle. There is a world where he can be a solid No. 3 option offensively on a good team, with a bit of upside beyond that.

Hollinger’s team fit: No surprise here. Indiana could get back into this draft relatively quickly if rumored deals involving either Malcolm Brogdon or Myles Turner come to fruition. Either way, the Pacers badly needed a starting-caliber young wing as they continue to rebuild around guard Tyrese Haliburton, and Mathurin was the consensus best player on the board.

Hollinger would have picked … Mathurin


7. Portland Trail Blazers

Shaedon Sharpe | 6-foot-5, wing | 19 years old | Kentucky (did not play)

Vecenie’s ranking: 9.

Questions with Sharpe obviously abound. He’s a monster shot creator with terrific athleticism. He finishes at the rim and drives transition play. He’s also never been asked to be a playmaker for others, and there are real questions about his defense. There is also the matter that Sharpe has never played basketball beyond the high school and EYBL levels, meaning we haven’t seen him play against older collegiate or professional players. We’ve also never seen him in a situation that isn’t entirely built around and catered to him since he burst onto the scene. How will he react when he’s one part of a whole, as opposed to the No. 1 guy? Still, it’s almost impossible to find players who can create shots like Sharpe and make pull-ups at a high level as teenagers.

Hollinger’s team fit: This was one of the genuine mystery points of the draft, with the Blazers shopping this pick for immediate help, and also looking strongly at drafting Dyson Daniels. Sharpe is the right choice here, though, both in terms of fit (a shooter next to Damian Lillard and newly arrived Jerami Grant) and All-Star upside. One feels better about Portland making the right long-term choice here rather than sacrificing everything just to chase the 8th seed.

Hollinger would have picked … Sharpe.


8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Los Angeles Lakers)

Dyson Daniels | 6-foot-7, wing | 19 years old | G League Ignite

Vecenie’s ranking: 7.

At the end of the day, I think Daniels is the kind of player that helps you win. He’s a terrific defender as a teenager, and you can expect him to make an impact from Day 1. He handles the ball well and passes at a high level. He processes the game quickly and plays unselfishly. Even without the threat of the jumper, he helps teams right now through his sheer presence on the court, so he has a high floor. If that jumper ever comes along – it’s a reasonable bet that it will, given his touch and some of the relatively easy mechanical tweaks he can make to help his shot preparation – his ceiling is as one of the best role players in the NBA. High-level defense plus high-level passing and visual processing, along with real size and decision-making, is a combination that works.

Hollinger’s team fit: Daniels is a good fit on a New Orleans team that may be trading Devonte’ Graham this summer, opening up more minutes for a huge guard who defends, handles the ball and plays the right way. One can envision him pairing with C.J. McCollum in the Pels’ backcourt by the end of the season, as long as he proves he can make an open 3.

Hollinger would have picked … Jeremy Sochan.


9. San Antonio Spurs

Jeremy Sochan | 6-foot-9, wing | 19 years old, freshman | Baylor

Vecenie’s ranking: 6.

If Sochan can shoot, the ceiling is through the roof. Due to his disruptiveness, size and quickness, he has a real chance to be an All-Defense-caliber player. He can handle and be versatile on offense, and it feels like he’s just scratching the surface of what his long-term potential is on that end. The NBA covets guys who are 6-foot-9 with this kind of defensive upside, and the 2022 playoffs showed how important versatile defenders are in today’s league. If you buy into Sochan’s potential to shoot at all, there are some potential star outcomes here that could make him a worthwhile investment.

Hollinger’s team fit: I really like this pick for the Spurs. Jalen Duren was the other name you heard a lot here, but a switchable combo forward like Sochan who flashes perimeter skills is worth a lot more than almost any non-All-Star center. San Antonio also has picks coming at 20 and 25, and there are still trade rumors about a Dejounte Murray blockbuster, so we may hear a lot more from the Spurs.

Hollinger would have picked … Sochan.


10. Washington Wizards

Johnny Davis | 6-foot-6, guard | 20 years old, freshman | Wisconsin

Vecenie’s ranking: 10.

The idea with Davis is that he is a terrific competitor who can play on both ends of the court. He has size, he’s good enough athletically and he was extremely productive. It’s hard to score 20 points per game and be the Big Ten Player of the Year. Davis needs to be able to hit 3s consistently or be able to add a bit more juice off the bounce to get better separation at the next level. He has enough touch to make me feel confident about the former, but I worry a bit about the latter. If I’m going to bet on any player to improve, though, it’s one with Davis’ competitiveness, toughness and track record of getting better.

Hollinger’s team fit: I was not as big a fan of Davis as most other draft analysts; his reliance on tough pull-up 2s makes for a difficult NBA translation. He at least fits roster-wise on a Washington team that needs more backcourt help with or without Bradley Beal, but I liked Blake Wesley’s upside better at the shooting guard spot.

Hollinger would have picked … Blake Wesley


11. New York Knicks (traded to Thunder)

Ousmane Dieng | 6-foot-10, forward | 19 years old | New Zealand Breakers

Vecenie’s ranking: 16.

With Dieng, you’re betting on your developmental program being able to bring out his shooting. If he shoots, his potential is very high because of how he can process the game and read the floor. He easily could become a dribble/pass/shoot threat who is a long, switchable defender. Those types of players are worth their weight in gold in today’s NBA. A Dieng who shoots consistently from 3 is someone who turns into, at the very least, a very valuable role player. But if he doesn’t shoot it, the concerns become a bit more magnified, and it becomes somewhat harder to see how he impacts the game effectively on the offensive end. He’s not such a good creator with the ball in his hands that a good team will ever want him to have the ball all the time. Much like with many role players in the league, it comes down to betting on the shot.

Hollinger’s team fit: Ousmane Dieng is the perfect Oklahoma City Thunder draft pick: He has long-term upside, but he was bad player in the Australian NBL last season who almost certainly will struggle just to be replacement level as a rookie in the NBA. New York is getting multiple first-round picks – we’ll learn the exact nature of them soon, but this feels like a win for New York with the top talent off the board.

Hollinger would have picked … Josh Minott.


12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from LA Clippers)

Jalen Williams | 6-foot-6, wing | 21 years old, junior | Santa Clara

Vecenie’s ranking: 18.

I’m a buyer of Williams. It’s extremely hard to find players with genuine dribble-pass-shoot abilities who are also 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot-2 wingspan. If you believe in Williams’ shooting ability, it’s kind of hard to see how he fails. And if you buy into his defensive tools and playmaking upside, there are legitimate starter pathways here even if he’s not the best isolation creator. At the end of the day, teams should take Williams in the middle of the first round at some point if only because the skill-set intersection with the positional scarcity of having skilled wing playmakers will make him an extremely valuable player if he hits.

Hollinger’s team fit: Williams is everyone’s favorite sleeper, with his stock steadily rising though the draft process. Oklahoma City is loading up on size and length, but Williams also adds some skill to a team that appears desperately short on this commodity at the moment. It’s perhaps a bit of a surprise that the shooting-starved Thunder didn’t grab Duke’s A.J. Griffin though.

Hollinger would have picked … A.J. Griffin.


13. Charlotte Hornets (traded to Pistons via Knicks)

Jalen Duren | 6-foot-11, center | 18 years old, freshman | Memphis

Vecenie’s ranking: 12.

Duren is a prototypical rim-running, shot-swatting big man — albeit one with good upside to be a starter because of his size, length, strength and athleticism. He catches the ball well. He is explosive athletically and finishes above the rim. He has good shot-blocking instincts from the opposite side and has the frame to turn into a primary rim protector with some work. The big question with Duren is, how high should a team draft someone whose game is relatively limited? The swing skill for Duren is his perimeter defense. If he can prove to be reliable enough to stay on the court in space and not get beaten by opposing guards, he can be a top-10 center in the NBA. A lot of outcomes end with Duren being somewhat like peak DeAndre Jordan. The game has changed enough to where I don’t think prime Jordan would top out as an All-NBA player in the 2020s and 2030s, but Duren can still be impactful through his sheer athleticism and strength.

Hollinger’s team fit: At first It seems odd that Charlotte would trade this pick to the Pistons (via the Knicks) when the Hornets need a center, until you remember that Charlotte also has the 15th pick, Duke shot-blocker Mark Williams is still available, and the Hornets can count on Cleveland not taking a big man at 14 given the current Cavs’ roster. Duren was the highest-upside player left on the board, as Detroit flips the pick from the Jerami Grant trade to land him. 

Hollinger would have picked … Duren.


14. Cleveland Cavaliers

Ochai Agbaji | 6-foot-5, wing | 22 years old, senior | Kansas

Vecenie’s ranking: 19.

Agbaji is a fascinating prospect, one who genuinely took a great leap this year by getting great at his best skills. He has a case as the best shooter off the catch in this draft. His numbers are terrific out of spot-ups, he has NBA range, and all the indicators in terms of his shooting from 3 are strong when he’s set. But how often will he get a chance to do that in the NBA? Agbaji’s long-term ceiling all comes down to him being able to add something inside the 3-point line. He has to be able to counter heavy closeouts with the ball; otherwise, the rest of his game falls apart a bit on offense. Whether it’s as a passer, as a finisher or as a relocation pull-up shooter, Agbaji needs to be able to make something happen. The good news? The combination of 3-point spacing off the catch and his quite-good on-ball defense at least gives him a reasonable floor of being a reliable rotational wing.

Hollinger’s team fit: Cleveland needs shooting and wing help, but I have a hard time getting excited about this pick. Agbaji profiles more as a backup 2 than somebody with starter upside, and at this point in the draft, that feels disappointing. The Cavs also could have selected a knockdown shooter in Duke’s A.J. Griffin, although there are some concerns about his injury history.

Hollinger would have picked … Griffin.


15. Charlotte Hornets (from New Orleans Pelicans)

Mark Williams | 7-foot-2, center | 20 years old, sophomore | Duke

Vecenie’s ranking: 15.

I’m a big believer in Williams. It’s almost impossible to find players with this sort of length who move this well in terms of mobility and agility. He’s not a switch guy, but he doesn’t get toasted out there. He’s terrific in drop. He obviously completely shuts down the rim with a standing reach that is longer than all but one player on the fringes of the NBA. He has elite tools and has learned quickly how to use them. It’s a very limited skill set because he’s not all that comfortable with the ball, but he’s going to be a terrific rim protector and a terrific rim runner and scorer. Those are two tailor-made roles that will lead to almost guaranteed NBA success.

Hollinger’s team fit: As noted above with Charlotte’s pick at 13, Williams was always going to be here at 15 so they could confidently make the Duren trade with their pick at 13. The Hornets desperately need a quality rim protector so it’s tough to argue with the fit. It’s just questionable whether using a top-15 pick on a center of this ilk was the best use of resources.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


16. Atlanta Hawks

A.J. Griffin | 6-foot-6, wing | 18 years old, freshman | Duke

Vecenie’s ranking: 11.

Griffin’s NBA upside comes down to how much you buy him as a shot creator. If you think he’s such a good shooter and jump-shot generator that he can average an efficient 20 points per game while living almost entirely on 3-pointers and pull-ups, then you should have him in the top five. As a scorer, I would argue that he has the most upside in the draft outside of the top four guys because of that value as a shooter. But if you don’t buy that he can get enough separation because his stiffness and athletic limits hinder his game’s fluidity and functionality, there is some real downside because of how poor he is on defense. When he’s not scoring, he can be invisible because he’s not making an impact as a defender, transition driver or passer. There were far too many moments where he was a passenger for Duke. This is a risk/reward pick. Take your chances.

Hollinger’s team fit: Griffin is an interesting pick for Atlanta because the Hawks seemed more intent on improving the defense and landing quality forwards with size. However, he can really shoot, and presents an obvious offensive pairing with pick-and-roll maestro Trae Young. Was he the best player available? It’s close enough to defend the pick.

Hollinger would have picked … Griffin.


17. Houston Rockets (from Brooklyn Nets)

Tari Eason | 6-foot-8, forward | 21 years old, sophomore | LSU

Vecenie’s ranking: 13.

Eason is one of the more confounding players in this draft class. His frame and mix of athleticism and power gives him an exceptionally high upside in the right situation. But he has some significant skill flaws that will hinder him from reaching it until they improve. His jumper is not consistent enough and doesn’t have much of a chance in pull-up situations in its current iteration. He needs to slow down and make better passing reads consistently. But defensively, the ceiling is enormous, and offensively, he’s a terrific driver who has enough touch to possibly project toward being a good shooter down the road

Hollinger’s team fit: Eason was always a likely candidate for Houston at 17 given how well his style fits the Rockets up-tempo and occasionally wild play. Eason’s size and defensive ability also fit well on a Houston team that needs more quality individual defenders, although the addition of Jabari Smith Jr. with the No. 3 pick may limit Eason’s ability to play smallball 4.

Hollinger would have picked … TyTy Washington


18. Chicago Bulls

Dalen Terry | 6-foot-7, wing | 19 years old, sophomore | Arizona

Vecenie’s ranking: 17.

Terry has been one of my favorites throughout the year. He was targeted early as someone I thought would be an exciting 2023 first-round prospect because of his athleticism, attitude, ability to switch and defend multiple positions and gifts to make plays as a passer for his teammates while also making good decisions. It’s exceptionally hard to find this combination of skills in a player at the college level. Arizona was 11 points per 100 possessions better when Terry was on the court, per Pivot Analysis, in large part because he impacts the game in so many different facets. It’s hard to see how Terry is not a starter-quality player if the shot translates. He just brings so many things NBA teams are looking for from non-star players. It might take some time with the jumper, but he is a terrific bet to be a good role player.

Hollinger’s team fit: I liked Josh Minott a bit better, but the idea is the same here. The Bulls are drafting a young defensive wing with upside because he can handle the ball and pass. Terry will need to improve as a shooter and scorer, but respect to the Bulls for resisting the urge to go for a meh upperclassmen as some kind of win-now move.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


19. Minnesota Timberwolves (traded to Grizzlies)

Jake LaRavia | 6-foot-8 forward | 20 years old, junior | Indiana State

Vecenie’s ranking: 22.

I’m a big-time believer in the idea of getting guys who can shoot and process the game at size. LaRavia is absolutely that. I buy him turning into a higher-volume shooter and buy him as the kind of player whom great players will want on their team because of how the ball doesn’t stick when he’s around. He consistently makes the right decision for his team, even if it’s at the expense of his own numbers or involvement. He shoots it and keeps it moving. Ultimately, where you fall on him defensively is likely where you fall on him in terms of his prospects. If you’re more worried about the quickness and heavy-footed nature of his game, then you probably have him as more of a second-round pick. Personally, I’m willing to bet on the numbers and the anticipation allowing him to not be a liability, which is why I have a first-round grade on him.

Hollinger’s team fit: Grizzlies GM Zach Kleiman has traded up for every single pick he’s made except for Ja Morant at 2 in 2019. LaRavia fits here: the Grizzlies have had a need for big forward with skill and can’t count on re-signing Kyle Anderson. However, the Grizzlies likely overpaid for the privilege, surrendering the 29th pick just to move up from 22 to 19. This is a good deal for Minnesota value-wise as well.

Hollinger would have picked … TyTy Washington.


20. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto Raptors)

Malaki Branham | 6-foot-5, wing | 19 years old, freshman | Ohio State

Vecenie’s ranking: 21.

How important is shot creation and shot making to you? That’s what it comes down to when you decide where to rank Branham on your board. Right now, that’s what his game is. For some evaluators, it’s the most important skill set for a player when drafting them, because there is nothing more valuable you can bring to a team than consistently creating your own shot in isolation and converting it effectively. Having said that, the bottom can drop out of these types of guys quickly if they don’t bring anything else to the table. With Branham, he has a good enough frame to where you want to buy into his defensive improvement long term, even if he has ways to go instinctually. But it’s going to be a bit of a roller coaster early in his career in terms of playing time unless he improves drastically in terms of his lower half strength and overall defensive fundamentals.

Hollinger’s team fit: Branham can shoot and showed flashes of high-level shot creation in his one season at Ohio State, but joins a team with an already crowded assemblage of shoot-first guards. That blockage might ease if the Dejounte Murray trade rumors come to fruition, but if they were going to go that way, I’m a bit surprised the Spurs didn’t roll with the bigger upside of Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley.

Hollinger would have picked … Wesley.


21. Denver Nuggets

Christian Braun | 6-foot-7, wing | 21 years old, junior | Kansas

Vecenie’s ranking: 23.

Braun does a lot of things that specifically translate toward being a terrific NBA role player, a strong fourth or fifth option to have out there who doesn’t need the ball to be effective. He defends well within a team concept on defense and can be relied upon there. He shoots at a high level and has potential to get even better. He’s athletic enough to hang on the court against great players. He can’t create his own shot, but on some level – so what? There are only so many players in the NBA who end up handling the ball at high volume, and Braun isn’t a total zero when he has the ball in his hand because of his ability to attack advantages, pass at a reasonable level and attack the rim. Braun probably won’t be a star, but he has a chance to be a lower-end starter/high-end rotation player when it’s all said and done because his game translates well toward being effective in the specific role he’ll be asked to play.

Hollinger’s team fit: Braun is a good athlete but doesn’t have the offensive upside of some of other players on the board, and it was a bit of a surprise to see him picked this early. Even if the Nuggets wanted to get a wing who could contribute, I had multiple shooting guards ranked higher, and might have looked at Duke’s Wendell Moore or Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell.

,Hollinger would have picked … Wendell Moore.


22. Memphis Grizzlies (from Utah Jazz) – traded to Timberwolves

Walker Kessler | 7-foot-1, center | 20 years old, sophomore | Auburn

Vecenie’s ranking: 30.

Kessler will be a relatively scheme-limited player. Teams in the draft that want to use more versatile, switch-heavy defensive strategies shouldn’t consider drafting him. He doesn’t have that capability, and even if he develops it, it’s certainly not going to be how he’s best used. On top of that, while he is a genuinely elite shot blocker, I don’t know that he’s an exceptional enough as an overall defender for teams to overhaul their defensive schemes to get him on the court. With all that being said, he needs to go to a team that is willing to play a consistent drop coverage scheme that allows him to showcase his length and rim protection in the paint. It would also help him to go to a place that has a strong lead guard in place. He’s more of a regular-season player than a playoff guy, but there is real value in being able to soak up those minutes and provide value in those games.

Hollinger’s team fit: The Nuggets drafted very well under Tim Connelly, so these picks will be under some scrutiny. His first move was to select an ace shot-blocker who was one of the draft’s most divisive prospects. Minnesota needed to improve its defense, but also has a paucity of legitimate NBA forwards and there were still some good candidates on the board. For what it’s worth, I don’t think Kessler would have made it to 29.

Hollinger would have picked … E.J. Liddell or Minott.


23. Philadelphia 76ers (traded to Grizzlies)

David Roddy | 6-foot-6, forward | 21 years old, junior | Colorado State

Vecenie’s ranking: 62.

Roddy was one of my favorite players in college basketball. I want nothing more than for him to find success in the NBA. The league would be a better place with Roddy’s presence in it. He’s just very difficult to peg into the league in an era where defensive versatility is valued arguably above all. Roddy can play at the NBA level offensively. I have very few doubts about that. He processes the game well, shoots it and has real skill level. I just have no idea who he guards that allows him to stick at anything beyond a bench player. Roddy is definitely someone who should get a two-way contract to see if the offense is just so good that it overwhelms his defensive liabilities and brings value. He’s the kind of guy I’d want around because he’s going to give you positive energy and a strong motor. I just can’t quite get to the guaranteed contract level of a first-round pick, though.

Hollinger’s team fit: Philadelphia turned this pick into Memphis bench sparkplug De’Anthony Melton, a plus move for Philly. As for Memphis, are you sensing a theme? The Grizzlies really really really want to hit on a big forward or two, going back to the Justise Winslow trade and last year’s Ziaire Williams pick. They now have added Jake LaRavia and Roddy to the mix, even though Roddy was seen by most as an early-to-mid second rounder. Ironically, the best switchable forward on my board played in their own city this year.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


24. Milwaukee Bucks

MarJon Beauchamp | 6-foot-6, wing | 21 years old | G League Ignite

Vecenie’s ranking: 28.

I want to love Beauchamp as a prospect because I love his story, and I love how hard he has worked to manufacture himself into being a genuine draft prospect. So many prospects would have been utterly waylaid by how messy his pathway to this point was. But instead, he put his head down and did the work. On top of that, the work he did was intelligent. He has built a game that makes sense for playing a role in the NBA. Whereas many players focus on getting as good with the ball as they can, Beauchamp worked on off-ball skills like his defense and motor, which is what teams want. That bodes well for him reaching whatever his ceiling can be. But if he can’t shoot because his touch isn’t great, and his feel for the game offensively isn’t particularly natural, I have some questions on what that ceiling ends up being. The fact that he’s versatile on defense in a league begging for guys like him is a huge plus.

Hollinger’s team fit: I don’t really understand how Beauchamp came to be regarded as a first-round material after a pretty average G League season as a 21-year-old, but a better argument can be made for his fit. The Bucks are short on forwards with size and Beauchamp’s energy could infuse a second group that looked short on athleticism this year. However, one does wonder if E.J. Liddell would have fit this team’s short-term horizon better.

Hollinger would have picked … Liddell.


25. San Antonio Spurs (from Boston Celtics)

Blake Wesley | 6-foot-4, guard | 19 years old, freshman | Notre Dame

Vecenie’s ranking: 25.

You’re drafting Wesley for what he could be, not what he is right now. It’s unlikely he’ll be able to come into the NBA next season and be a positive player, simply because of his shooting and efficiency or decision-making. But his ability to create a shot from nothing, his potential in isolation and his defense present such an intriguing combination of skills. On top of that, the flashy passing ability he showcases portends some real upside on the ball if teams must respect his shot at all three levels. This is essentially a boom-or-bust swing. If it works, Wesley has a chance to work out in a big way and become a legitimate starting guard in the NBA. There is also a real chance Wesley ends up not being much of anything if the shooting never comes around. There are signs he could shoot, but it’s going to take some work, and the touch indicators aren’t incredible. He’ll be relatively polarizing for NBA teams because of that, like many prospects in this class.

Hollinger’s team fit: I really like the value here for San Antonio – I had Wesley 11th on my board – although it makes me scratch my head even harder on the Branham selection at 20 since they overlap positionally. Nonetheless, this is a strong upside play for a rebuilding team.

Hollinger would have picked … Wesley


26. Houston Rockets (reportedly traded to Timberwolves via Mavericks)

Wendell Moore Jr. | 6-foot-6, wing | 20 years old, junior | Duke

Vecenie’s ranking: 31.

Moore is one of those guys I feel I should like as a prospect. I tend to like those who have high feel for the game, are comfortable putting the ball on the deck, can pass and have made a high percentage of 3s. Moore also is a good defender. So why am I not quite as in as I feel like I should be? I worry about the intersection of lack of twitchy athleticism and questionable shooting. That can be a tough combination when it comes to carving out a role as an NBA rotation player. Moore seems to understand his role and does a good job of playing within the team. He is a trustworthy player who makes good decisions. If he shoots it at a reasonable level, he will stick in the NBA for a while.

Hollinger’s team fit: Moore was one of my favorite sleepers in this draft, and I think he has enough size to be able to play some minutes at the 3, a place where the Timberwolves are short on talent. Minnesota has a lot of offensive talent, but needs more two-way role players, so I like the fit here quite a bit even if I had Minott and Liddell rated a bit higher.

Hollinger would have picked … Moore.


27. Miami Heat

Nikola Jovic | 6-foot-11, forward | 19 years old | Mega Basket

Vecenie’s ranking: 34.

Jović is still young, so you don’t want to overthink the weaknesses, but it’s difficult to see how his game works right now on the defensive end in today’s NBA. The offensive game is fascinating, and it’s good enough that I think a team should take a flier late in the first round or early in the second just to see what becomes of it. His mix of shooting, ballhandling and passing is terrific for someone his size. I can’t quite get where I need to invest a top-25 pick because he has too many things to fix in his defensive game. I think he’d be hunted in mismatches regularly when he’d be out there. There likely is a role for him off the bench as a shooter and playmaker in transition. If the NBA game is all about versatility, Jović gives it to you on the offensive end of the floor but takes away just a little bit more than I’d be comfortable with on defense.

Hollinger’s team fit: Surprise, our first Euro isn’t til pick 27! And double surprise: It’s to the Heat! Pat Riley might be one of the most Euro-skeptical front office executives in NBA history. I’m surprised that Miami picked against that trend with Jovic, a player some overseas scouts weren’t even that crazy about. Miami may be using this as a stash pick.

Hollinger would have picked …Minott, unless it’s a stash


28. Golden State Warriors

Patrick Baldwin Jr. | 6-foot-10, forward | 19 years old, freshman | Milwaukee

Vecenie’s ranking: 43.

If I believed in Baldwin at all defensively, I would have a first-round grade on him. I buy the shot that much, and I think he has a chance to be one of the league’s best shooters due to his rhythm, balance, release and high-release point. But I just don’t think he’s going to be able to guard anyone, especially in the wide-open spaces the NBA provides. He might be such a good shooter that he sticks around the league for a while as a specialist, but I don’t think I buy him as an impact player. I see him more as being like another Wisconsin basketball legend, Steve Novak. Novak played about 500 career games and stuck around the league for a decade. But he was never the kind of guy who could be relied upon to hang enough on defense.

Hollinger’s team fit: Baldwin had an absolutely miserable freshman season, but his pedigree coming into the year helped keep his draft stock afloat. The idea of Baldwin as a big wing who can shoot probably connotes some fantasies of a young Otto Porter, but the reality so far has fallen miles short of that.

Hollinger would have picked … Liddell.


29. Memphis Grizzlies (reportedly traded to Rockets via Timberwolves)

TyTy Washington | 6-foot-3, guard | 20 years old, freshman | Kentucky

Vecenie’s ranking: 14.

Washington is a tough philosophical bet. Some evaluators believe in him, and others don’t. He’s going to be a polarizing prospect. I’m on the higher side because I tend to strongly believe in guards who can dribble, pass, shoot and make decisions at a high level. I think Washington stands out as a terrific secondary guard to have on a team. He shouldn’t be your primary creator, but if you have a player who can break down opponents and get Washington the ball while the defense is in rotation, that will be his best situation. Play him at point guard next to a terrific bigger offensive initiator, and he might be successful. Also, there’s now a history of Kentucky perimeter players outperforming their previous play at the school, such as Tyrese Maxey, Tyler Herro, Devin Booker and Keldon Johnson. I’ll buy Washington becoming more valuable than where he’s drafted.

Hollinger’s team fit: I had Washington in the teens on my board and really like his fit on a Houston team that has plentiful athleticism, but lacks a floor general to pull it all together. For a stretch in January, Washington was the best non-center in the SEC. One wonders if draft world overreacted to his struggles after a mid-season ankle injury.

Hollinger would have picked … Washington.


30. Denver Nuggets (from Oklahoma City Thunder – via Suns)

Peyton Watson | 6-foot-8, wing | 19 years old, freshman | UCLA

Vecenie’s ranking: 39.

Watson is a fascinating upside swing for the Nuggets. It’s easy to see why someone should be willing to try to develop him. He has great size and length, plays with playmaking and passing instincts, and has defensive upside that will help. I think Watson will be an NBA player in the future with his tools. But the question — as with many prospects who entered the draft as freshmen this season — is how long can a team afford to use a roster spot on Watson waiting for him to develop? He’s not all that close yet at 19 years old.

Hollinger’s team fit: And we’re now deep into the “fliers on upside” portion of the draft, with big forwards Jovic, Baldwin and now Watson selected with three of the final four picks on the first round, despite massively underwhelming 2021-22 seasons from each of them. While it feels like a serious reach, Denver’s track record in player development deserves some respect here. This is a better landing spot for raw talent than some other pieces.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


31. Indiana Pacers (from Houston Rockets – via Cavaliers)

Andrew Nembhard | 6-foot-4, guard | 22 years old, senior | Gonzaga

Vecenie’s ranking: 40.

Nembhard has improved so much over the years, and I think he has a real chance to stick as a solid backup lead guard. If the shooting holds up, he has all the tools he needs with his high level of intelligence as a passer and playmaker, his reliable decision-making, his pull-up shooting, his jump-stop floater game and his overall intelligence on defense. His inability to break down guys off the dribble on an island probably will hold him back from being a starter, but he can be a trustworthy option for a team that needs stable play off the bench when a starter is out of the game. If Nembhard’s shooting holds up and he keeps making teams pay for going under ball screens on him, my bet is that he plays in the NBA for a while and helps a team off the bench relatively early in his career.

Hollinger’s team fit: Nembhard made an impression with a brilliant performance at the Combine, but the Pacers are a bit crowded in the backcourt (even if Malcolm Brogdon gets traded) and thin at the forwards. I continue to be amazed that Minott and Liddell aren’t getting more love.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


32. Orlando Magic

Caleb Houstan | 6-foot-8, wing | 19 years old, freshman | Michigan

Vecenie’s ranking: 46.

I don’t love Houstan as a prospect. I can squint and see why an NBA team would find him interesting if it believes he projects to be an effective shot maker on the move. But he’d have to be so good in that role, with remarkably high volume and high efficiency, to make it. I don’t see that for him for a long time. It’s possible Houstan could get stronger and become more capable of using his frame and physicality on defense while also becoming an effective shooter who generates 3s with off-ball movement. But I think we’re four years away from that possibility, which makes him someone I would rather target as a second-draft candidate instead of being the team that employs him during his first go-around in the league. It’s entirely possible he morphs into something valuable. I worry the Magic won’t be the one that will get that value.

Hollinger’s team fit: We now have our prime suspect for the long-rumored Houstan promise! Everyone suspected Oklahoma City at 34 and it turns out it was the Magic at 32, which explains why this pick never moved. As with Baldwin, Jovic and Watson above, a reach on a young forward who produced little last season.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


33. Toronto Raptors (from Detroit Pistons – via Spurs, Wizards and Bulls)

Christian Koloko | 7-foot, center | 22 years old, junior | Arizona

Vecenie’s ranking: 48.

Hollinger’s team fit: Koloko improved rapidly last season and the Raptors have had strong success with late draft picks. Plus, he’ll likely get chances as the only real center on the current Toronto roster. That said, I’m not sure many people had him rated in the 30s.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


34. Oklahoma City Thunder

Jaylin Williams | 6-foot-10, center | 19 years old, sophomore | Arkansas

Vecenie’s ranking: 47.

Hollinger’s team fit: The Thunder have a thing for limited, undersized, high-IQ bigs in the second round. I don’t really understand the Williams pick: he seems like a carbon copy of last year’s uninspiring pick in the 30s, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl. Especially in their position, you would think they’d reach for more upside. More importantly, the Thunder will have two rookies next year named Jalen Williams and Jaylin Williams. And I thought having Jeff Green and JaMychal Green was bad!

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


35. Los Angeles Lakers (from Orlando Magic – via Pacers and Bucks)

Max Christie | 6-foot-6, wing | 19 years old, freshman | Michigan State

Vecenie’s ranking: 27.

Christie is a project, pure and simple. A team’s evaluation of him comes down to where it is organizationally with its roster spots and how confidently it feels about developing his frame over the next two years. He will not be effective as a rookie. If you draft Christie, you’re hoping he takes the next year and a half, adds 15 pounds to a frame that desperately needs it and becomes the lights-out shooter he has potential to be. If you feel confident your team can do that, I buy having a first-round grade on Christie because his touch, balance and natural feel for separating from defenders gives him real upside in a role that every team is seeking. Every single NBA team would love to find wings with legitimate size and length who can make open jumpers, generate shots without the ball and defend their position well enough to stay on the court in NBA settings. Christie has the upside to do that.

Hollinger’s team fit: Despite their other organizational flaws, the Lakers’ track record on late draft picks is worthy of some serious respect. They might do this better than any team in the league. Christie was pretty bad last year, but has an interesting 3-and-D toolset. We’ll give L.A. the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


36. Detroit Pistons (from Portland Trail Blazers)

Gabriele Procida | 6-foot-8, wing | 20 years old | Bologna

Vecenie’s ranking: 31.

Procida is a stash all the way for me, but one who is pretty interesting. The shooting is legitimate. He does it off movement, with real balance and in readily translatable ways to show how he’d be used in the NBA. He’s one of my favorite international prospects in the class because it’s hard to find great shooters with legitimate size. If I didn’t have a roster spot and did have a second-round pick to use, he’d be near the top of the list for me as a player worth investing in. As he gets stronger and continues to become more functional because of it on a minute-by-minute basis in the game, he has some real upside that could turn him into an NBA player.

Hollinger’s team fit: Detroit was trying to move this pick and likely chose Procida as an overseas stash given how crowded the Pistons’ roster already looks. Of the available stash picks, he was the best one available.

Hollinger would have picked … Procida.


37. Sacramento Kings (reportedly traded to Mavericks)

Jaden Hardy | 6-foot-4, guard | 19 years old | G League Ignite

Vecenie’s ranking: 20.

Hardy’s margin for error is minimal. For Hardy to play in the NBA, he needs to drastically improve his defensive effort and attention to detail. To be a successful NBA player who sticks in a rotation, he needs to improve his shot selection and decision-making. It is worth noting, though, that these things are fixable. They’re mindset adjustments. Hardy does have a crafty, technical handle that could allow him to find success. He has real shooting touch. We’ve seen guys, like Jordan Poole, find success like this. The past is littered with more examples of it not exactly working out beyond a microwave-scorer level than with it all coming together like Poole, but Hardy does have real upside.

Hollinger’s team fit: Hardy was awful last year in the G League and the Mavericks gave up two future seconds to Sacramento just to get him. I’m having a hard time figuring this one out.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


38. Memphis Grizzlies (from San Antonio Spurs – via Lakers, Bulls and Wizards)

Kennedy Chandler | 6-foot, guard | 19 years old, freshman | Tennessee

Vecenie’s ranking: 36.

I want to like Chandler as a prospect because he’s tough and he’s about the right stuff. He makes strong decisions, has lightning-quick speed and tries on defense. On top of that, he has some of the skills that someone like, say, Sharife Cooper, didn’t last year. Whereas Cooper was an entirely on-ball player, Chandler can shoot off the catch, which could allow him to play as more of a role player. Plus, his defensive game is at a drastically different place. But it’s hard to buy into smaller guards in today’s NBA given how much the league hunts these guys in important moments. Plus, if Chandler’s ability to pressure the rim and score there falls apart, it’s possible his offensive game is non-existent if the pull-up shooting doesn’t translate. There are some pathways here to Chandler becoming a lower-end starter or a higher-end backup. But the floor is lower than you’d like to see through absolutely no fault of his own, given that he can’t get taller.

Hollinger’s team fit: Value-wise, I like the idea of Chandler at 38. He should have been a first-round pick and I had mocked him to the Grizzlies at 29. His addition also provides a bit of insurance if Tyus Jones leaves in free agency, especially since De’Anthony Melton was traded to Philadelphia. 

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


39. Cleveland Cavaliers (from San Antonio Spurs – via Jazz)

Khalifa Diop | 6-foot-11, center | 20 years old | Gran Canaria

Vecenie’s ranking: 66.

I’m a bit skeptical about Diop. I saw him as a potential stash in the back 10 picks of the draft just because his size and frame make him an intriguing player, but I don’t think he has real NBA upside until his positioning improves, his hands improve, his instincts as a rim protector improve and he becomes more capable of staying in the play regularly. He is playing real minutes in a high-level professional league, and that is worth considering, but this is a pure second-round stash play, and I don’t know that he’d be at the top of my list in that regard.

Hollinger’s team fit: Khalifa Diop is … not a player I expect to go in the top 40. It seems he’s likely to be a stash pick given the crowd in Cleveland’s frontcourt. I thought there were some players left on the board who could help teams, but it seems clear that teams don’t value the three players left (Minott, Liddell and Ryan Rollins) whom I had given first-round grades.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


40. Charlotte Hornets (from Minnesota Timberwolves – via Hornets, Cavaliers)

Bryce McGowens | 6-foot-7, wing | 19 years old, freshman | Nebraska

Vecenie’s ranking: 26.

At this moment, I don’t think McGowens is an effective basketball player. I don’t think he’ll be all that good as a rookie. It’ll take time for him as he grows into his body. But this is where the draft is all about projection and trying to see the future. Looking at a future where McGowens is 195 or 200 pounds as opposed to the 175 pounds he played at last season would radically shift his game. He’d be much more capable of absorbing contact. His shot probably will get better because he’ll be able to simplify the mechanics and get more of an easily repeatable release point while extending his range. He might even have a better chance of getting through screens and bothering opposing players in recovery on defense. McGowens is a terrific shot creator for his size. More importantly, he has the aggressiveness and toughness to play at the NBA level. I would bet he’s a very good player by the time he’s 24 or 25.

Hollinger’s team fit: McGowens had a lot of attention in the 20s and it’s a bit of a surprised to see him slide to 39; Minnesota is trading him to Charlotte. He’ll need to fill out his body and push past a crowd of wing players with the Hornets.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


41. New Orleans Pelicans

E.J. Liddell | 6-foot-7, forward | 21 years old, junior | Ohio State

Vecenie’s ranking: 24.

To believe in Liddell as a prospect, you must buy into two things. First, you have to buy into him being a legitimate shooter. He’s improved so much over the years that he has a chance to do that, but I don’t know that it’s quite there yet given the hitches in his jumper. We’ve seen great college players make shots at that level then struggle to do so at the NBA level when the game speeds up and they have to be able to consistently rely upon the same form, shot in and shot out. Second, I think you have to buy into him sliding down to be a smallball five. Do you think he can rotate over and be a shot-blocking presence from the weak side. Does he have the strength to be able to anchor the rim in the same way someone like Grant Williams does for the Celtics? Overall, I’m quite a bit lower on Liddell than I was on Williams, because I think Liddell has less natural touch and isn’t quite as good at the things that make a good NBA role player coming in. And yet, I do like Liddell as an end-of-the-first, early-second-round pick because of his ability to be an impact two-way smaller big if the shooting translates.

Hollinger’s team fit: I had a top-23 grade on the Pelicans’ second-rounder last year, Herb Jones. Will it happen again with Liddell? He’s another big forward, and he’ll have a hard time seeing the floor if Zion Williamson is healthy. But his combination of shot-blocking knack and perimeter adequacy could make him a plus role player immediately.

Hollinger would have picked … Liddell.


42. New York Knicks

Trevor Keels | 6-foot-5, wing | 18 years old, freshman | Duke

Vecenie’s ranking: 37.

I get the idea behind Keels as someone who has a big, powerful frame who can manage a variety of switchable matchups while handling the ball and making good decisions. But I worry he might not have the defensive acumen he is reputed to have. He gets beaten a lot more than people who think about how he took TyTy Washington out of the first game of the college basketball season remember. On top of that, I worry about how functional his shot is in terms of translating to higher volume at the next level. I would have loved to have seen Keels return to school and try to improve some of these things, particularly his quickness and flexibility. If teams think they can fix that, I get having more of a first-round grade on him. But I can’t quite get there.

Hollinger’s team fit: Keels is a good value right here. He and Ryan Rollins were the two best guards left on my board. He is on the few players left in the draft that could plausibly be a starter in a few years if everything breaks right.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


43. LA Clippers

Moussa Diabate | 6-foot-10, center | 20 years old, freshman | Michigan

Vecenie’s ranking: 60.

Diabaté is for sure a project. He’s shown some flashes of real defensive upside, but is still a way to go from being able to actualize it. There is enough here to justify him getting picked, but I expect him to be on a two-way contract next season. He has some functional and mechanical things he must work on, ranging from his hands to his defensive use of angles to his over-aggressive tendencies. He has enough athleticism and is interesting enough to be able to slot him in as a theoretical energy bench big. But it’s going to take a couple of years that aren’t worth wasting a guaranteed 15-man roster spot on while he figures it out.

Hollinger’s team fit: I had somebody whisper to me that the Clippers would take Diabate here, but couldn’t quite believe it. He isn’t in my top 75, but this isn’t quite as crazy as it seems. He’s young and has some real defensive talent, but has to deal better with physicality and is miles behind offensively. The Clippers were likely limited at 43 by the fact they’re almost certainly giving a 2-way contract here rather than a real roster spot.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


44. Atlanta Hawks (reportedly traded to Warriors)

Ryan Rollins | 6-foot-3, guard | 19 years old, sophomore | Toledo

Vecenie’s ranking: 33.

I’m a big-time believer in Rollins’ offensive game because of his handle. He plays at a weird, in-between pace that is hard to defend while also having the ability to score from anywhere on the court off a live dribble. I think he’s going to shoot it well from all three levels. He clearly has good touch, as seen by his ability in the midrange and from the foul line, where he makes better than 80 percent. He needs to work through a few mechanical tweaks in his shot preparation and ability to make them off the catch. As soon as that happens, he’ll be effective as a second-unit ballhandler. I think Rollins’ future will come down to getting stronger and being more of an impactful defender. He needs to be able to hold up on the ball in some capacity. A lot of it probably gets fixed as soon as he adds strength to his frame, something he shouldn’t have much of an issue doing. He should turn into a solid, useful player.

Hollinger’s team fit: Golden State jumped up seven spots to grab Rollins here. I had a first-round grade on him and think he has some real developmental upside as a pick-and-roll operator, especially if the Warriors can bring his defense up to something passable. I’m a big fan of this pick.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


45. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Charlotte Hornets)

Josh Minott | 6-foot-9, wing | 19 years old, freshman | Memphis

Vecenie’s ranking: 42.

Minott is a significant project to undertake at this point in his career. More than any other player in the class, I feel like he made a mistake entering the 2022 NBA Draft. He has a real chance to get lost in the shuffle because of how raw his offensive game is right now. He’ll have a long road ahead of him in the G League to try to work through some of his issues. It’s not one thing from a skill perspective that he needs to improve. It’s almost everything at this point. Having said that, his upside as an athlete and as a defender is real enough to where I completely buy someone giving him guaranteed money. He’s a project, but one who will probably figure it out at some point and play in the NBA if the shot comes around at all. It’s hard to find athletes like this with this kind of twitchiness, length and explosiveness, and that gives him tremendous defensive upside. I don’t think the team that drafts him is the one that is most likely to end up getting the most value out of him because it’s going to take a few years for him to reach the level he needs to hit offensively

Hollinger’s team fit: Tim Connelly nabs my biggest draft crush, Minott, with the 45th pick. Given the Wolves’ struggles to defend halfway-decent forwards and the long-term upside of Minott, this is one of my favorite picks of the draft.

Hollinger would have picked … Minott.


46. Denver Nuggets (from Portland Trail Blazers – via Pistons and Nets)

Ismael Kamagate | 6-foot-11, center | 21 years old | Paris Basketball

Vecenie’s ranking: 29.

Kamagate is a fascinating developmental project for the Nuggets, because if everything works, he has a chance to work in ways that could portend success in the playoffs, a la Robert Williams III. That’s the kind of athlete Kamagate is. He’s really light on his feet and knows how to use his length to take advantage of what opposing teams present to him. He plays incredibly hard and has some latent ball skills as a passer that could really show by the time he’s 25 years old. He’s just not there yet. I don’t think I’d feel comfortable throwing him into the deep end of an NBA game, because it’s clear he’s working through his positioning and responsibility struggles. But it’s hard to find athleticism, length and a motor like his.

Hollinger’s team fit: The Nuggets love their Euros, and get themselves a stash in the rim-running French center after acquiring the pick from Portland.

Hollinger would have picked … Kendall Brown.


47. Memphis Grizzlies (from Cleveland Cavaliers – via Pelicans and Hawks)

Vince Williams | 6-foot-6, wing | 21 years old, senior | VCU

Vecenie’s ranking: 61.

I consider Williams to be a get on a two-way deal given his potential shooting and team defense combination. Mix that with the passing and his penchant for box-score defensive production, and it’s easy to see why Williams has popped a bit for more analytically inclined evaluators. The tape isn’t quite as impressive, and his athleticism raises concerns given what his role will need to be. But there is something here worth investing in, then seeing if he has the foot speed to make it work and if the jumper will translate. Williams was terrific this past season, is a bit underage for a fourth-year player and has a scalable skillset to success.

Hollinger’s team fit: As with the Clippers at 43, the Grizzlies almost certainly were offering a 2-way contract at 47 due to their roster crunch, and that limited their pool of candidates. Williams failed to gain traction at the G League Elite camp but has some real 3-and-D possibilities.

Hollinger would have picked … Brown.


48.  Indiana Pacers (from Minnesota Timberwolves)

Kendall Brown | 6-foot-8, wing | 19 years old, freshman | Baylor

Vecenie’s ranking: 35.

I liked the flashes we saw from Brown early in the season, but his latter portion of the year tailed off in a significant way to where Baylor was actually better when he was off the floor. You want to buy into the athleticism and switchability on defense at his size. It has potential to be a critical skill that could keep him on the floor in big moments in the NBA playoffs. But to do that, his offense needs to come along in more than a role as a potential ball-screen roller next to a floor-spacing center. It’s hard enough to project the offense now, but I still have a late-first/early-second grade on him.

Hollinger’s team fit: Great move by Indiana to swoop in and get value with Brown at 48. He’s a tools wing with long-term possibilities. The offense is a question, but it’s not clear to me what made him less palatable than the run on other young tools wings 20 picks ago.

Hollinger would have picked … Brown.


49. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Sacramento Kings – via Bulls, Grizzlies, Pistons)

Isaiah Mobley | 6-foot-10, forward | 22 years old, junior | USC

Vecenie’s ranking: 41.

Mobley is one of the players that I most diverge from consensus. I buy him as an interesting, potential-guarantee guy because of the way his game could translate to how modern bigs play in the NBA. He’s a killer passer out of short rolls, and he can shoot, which already gives him an enormous leg up on a lot of bigs already. He has good defensive awareness for the most part and can slide his feet at a really high level, in addition to his 7-foot-3 wingspan. He might not have the athletic tools to play in the NBA, but I’d be willing to pay with a second-round pick to find out. I’m something of a believer in Mobley.

Hollinger’s team fit: The suspicion from the moment Cleveland made the trade earlier today to get pick 49 was that the Cavs would take Evan Mobley’s brother here. The Cavs have a crowded frontcourt and might very well keep Mobley on a 2-way contract. What’s odd is that Cleveland already had pick 56; were they that worried about the intervening six picks? I don’t hate the pick, by the way. Mobley isn’t his brother, but he can pass and has a good IQ.

Hollinger would have picked … Justin Lewis


50. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Denver Nuggets – via 76ers)

Matteo Spagnolo | 6-foot-6, guard | 19 years old | Vanoli Cremona 

Vecenie’s ranking: 38.

It’s hard to find athletes with this kind of creative mindset who already have achieved a modicum of success professionally. Spagnolo has been a terrific prospect at every step of his career and took that next-level leap this past season while out on loan from Real Madrid. He’s big for a guard, and that should give him some margin for error. As he grows into that frame physically, he should be able to get even better with the ball, as he can keep players on his hip and shield them from the ball. I like Spagnolo as a stash pick. He’s not a sure thing to translate, and there is some work to be done with his shooting off the catch, but this could turn out really well if the Timberwolves are willing to be patient.

Hollinger’s team fit: With a surfeit of second-round picks, Minnesota dropped one of them on Indiana at 48 and then went for the best available stash player, Spagnolo, at 50. Spagnolo might not be athletic enough for the league but he can really shoot. The Wolves will leave him overseas.

Hollinger would have picked … Spagnolo.


51. Atlanta Hawks (from Golden State Warriors – via Raptors and 76ers)

Tyrese Martin | 6-foot-6, wing | 23 years old, senior | Connecticut

Vecenie’s ranking: 68.

Hollinger’s team fit: Martin takes over as the Skylar Mays Memorial 2-Way Shooting Guard after a strong performance at the Combine put him more firmly on the draft radar. I had other players I liked a bit better but this is a reasonable pick in the 50s.

Hollinger would have picked … Lewis.


52. New Orleans Pelicans (from Utah Jazz)

Karlo Matkovic | 6-foot-10, center | 21 years old | Mega Basket

Vecenie’s ranking: 76.

Matkovic is a live athlete at center, a legitimate leaper who finishes above the rim and averaged nearly 12 points and six rebounds for Mega this season. He’s going to have to expand his range, I think, to be able to play in the NBA. But there are some tools here in terms of explosiveness that are intriguing long-term. He’ll likely stay overseas for a couple of years, and maybe if he keeps improving his skill level, he comes over.

Hollinger’s team fit: The rumored promise to keep Matkovic in the draft finally comes to fruition. I like him and think he had a strong case to go higher than some of the other European stash picks. The Pelicans had a crowded roster, so keeping this pick overseas makes sense.

Hollinger would have picked … Matkovic.


53. Boston Celtics

J.D. Davison | 6-foot-3, guard | 19 years old, freshman | Alabama

Vecenie’s ranking: 54.

More than any other player, I thought Davison made a substantial mistake leaving college for the NBA Draft. He has upside to play in the NBA at some point, but his skill set and tools are so raw. It doesn’t feel like he has a great understanding of what he’s doing out there against high-level talent, which is a function of playing against it less often than most elite-level prospects due to his high school experience against lower-level competition. It’s possible Davison could eventually figure it out. He has the athleticism to do so. But I think he’s multiple years away from that, and I’m not sure it’s worth investing in a smaller guard with defensive and shooting concerns with a guaranteed contract. He’s a two-way contract player all the way for me, the kind of guy who is worth a developmental flier but not actual substantial investment at this stage – something that he would have received had he stayed in school at Alabama.

Hollinger’s team fit: Davison is likely playing on a 2-way; he’s young and has explosive leaping ability but is too wild with the ball and has to tighten up his outside shot.

Hollinger would have picked … Lewis.


54. Washington Wizards (from Dallas Mavericks)

Yannick Nzosa | 6-foot-11, center | 18 years old | Unicaja Malaga

Vecenie’s ranking: 72.

Hollinger’s team fit: Nzosa was projected as a possible lottery pick before a horrific season with Malaga this year. Nonetheless, a lotto scouts are still high on the Congolese teenager’s ability to be a disruptive, switching defender, if he can just get the offensive end of the floor straightened out. The Wizards will leave him overseas to develop.

Hollinger would have picked … Lewis.


55. Golden State Warriors

Gui Santos | 6-foot-7, wing | 20 years old | Minas

Vecenie’s ranking: 75.

Hollinger’s team fit: The Warriors, who had a full roster and probably aren’t as motivated as some other teams to sell picks, went for the stash pick here. I would have rolled with Ziga Samar or Luke Travers personally, I think they’ve been underrated in this process.

Hollinger would have picked … Ziga Samar.


56. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Miami Heat – via Pacers)

Luke Travers | 6-foot-8, forward | 20 years old | Perth Wildcats 

Vecenie’s ranking: 87.

Hollinger’s team fit: Instead, it’s Cleveland taking Travers with the stash pick at 56. The fact they also bought a pick at 49 for Mobley’s brother suggests to me that they had promised Travers to stay in the draft. I like his future if he can learn how to shoot.

Hollinger would have picked … Samar.


57. Portland Trail Blazers (from Memphis Grizzlies – via Jazz)

Jabari Walker | 6-foot-8, forward | 19 years old, forward | Colorado

Vecenie’s ranking: 49.

Hollinger’s team fit: I’m shocked Justin Lewis hasn’t been picked yet and think he’s a better prospect than Walker, but Walker showed enough at the Draft Combine to warrant getting selected. The other news here is that one presumes the Blazers will put Walker on a 2-way contract, after years of barely valuing their 2-way spots at all.

Hollinger would have picked … Lewis.


58. Milwaukee Bucks (from Indiana Pacers – via Suns)

Hugo Besson | 6-foot-6, guard | 21 years old | New Zealand Breakers

Vecenie’s ranking: 71.

I think Besson is much more likely to be a good player in Europe than making it in the NBA. There isn’t enough efficiency or defensive upside to project that he can become an NBA player confidently. He has a chance because his handle is strong, and if the shot ever falls at a high enough clip, I’d get it. But I think he’s a stash until that happens, maybe one who might have been better off going undrafted early in his career so that he could have then chosen his spot later if he improved enough.

Hollinger’s team fit: The Bucks might be on the Georgios Kalaitzakis plan again here, buying a late pick that will pay for itself when they sign him to their last roster spot for the bare-bones rookie minimum, and thus save millions in luxury tax.

Hollinger would have picked … Lewis.


(Top design: Wes McCabe/The Athletic; Getty Images, USA TODAY Sports)


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