NBA Draft prospects 2022: Who are the best players still available?

There's only one way to enjoy the 2022 NBA Draft — expect the unexpected. 

At the last minute, Paolo Banchero ended up being the No. 1 overall pick to the Orlando Magic. Chet Holmgren went to the Thunder and Jabari Smith who was the odds-on favorite to be the first off the board fell to the Rockets at No. 3. 

The Kings opted for Iowa standout Keegan Murray and Detroit landed a perfect backcourt mate for Cade Cunningham with Jaden Ivey at No. 5.

The Bulls took the biggest swing by selecting Dalen Terry who was ranked No. 31 according to the Sporting News' big board. Jaden Hardy fell to the 37th overall pick to the Sacramento Kings.

Ohio State standout E.J. Liddell fell to the No. 41 pick to the Pelicans. He had a first-round grade and has fallen into the second round. Duke's Trevor Keels dropped right in the laps of the Knicks at No. 42 overall. Baylor's Kendall Brown was expected to hear his name called in the first or early second round, he has to wait until the No. 48 pick.

For the complete list of players picked in the draft see the full draft tracker.

For the players who didn't hear their names called on Thursday, attention now shifts to the undrafted free agency pool. Here are the names who will look to sign with a team after the draft has concluded.

  • Justin Lewis
  • Dereon Seabron
  • Michael Foster
  • Dominick Barlow
  • Jean Montero
  • Alondes Williams
  • Ron Harper Jr.
  • Trevion Walker

NBA Draft prospects 2022: Best players still available in Round 1

The rankings below reflect original positions on Sporting News' big board of top 60 overall players. All analysis is from TSN's Kyle Irving.

Tier 1: The Big Four

 
RankPlayerPositionAgeClassHeight/WeightTeamPlays Like
1.Paolo BancheroF19FR6-10, 235 lbs.DukeJulius Randle
2.Jabari Smith Jr.F19FR6-10, 210 lbs.AuburnChris Bosh
3.Jaden IveyG20SO6-4, 200 lbs.PurdueJa Morant
4.Chet HolmgrenC20FR7-1,190 lbs.GonzagaKristaps Porzingis

1. Paolo Banchero, F, Duke (6-10, 235 lbs)

While he likely won't go first or second, Irving has Banchero as the number one player on his big board.

From Irving's evaluation:

At 6-10, 235 pounds, he has the perfect blend of an NBA-ready body and polished skill set, able to create his own shot and make plays for others. Banchero is a matchup nightmare with the potential to play the five in today's evolving outside-in NBA. 

His biggest question mark is on the defensive end of the floor. If he can lock in to become a two-way player, Banchero has every opportunity to become a big-time star.

MORE: Paolo Banchero, first-round pick... as an NFL quarterback?

Tier 2: Likely top-10 picks

 
RankPlayerPositionAgeClassHeight/WeightTeamPlays Like
5.Keegan MurrayF21SO6-8, 215 lbs.IowaPascal Siakam
6.Shaedon SharpeG18FR6-6, 200 lbs.KentuckyJalen Green
7.Dyson DanielsG196-6, 180 lbs.G League IgniteTyrese Haliburton
8.Bennedict MathurinG19SO6-6, 195 lbs.ArizonaJaylen Brown
9.Jalen DurenC18FR6-11, 250 lbs.MemphisDwight Howard

5. Keegan Murray, F, Iowa (6-8, 215 lbs)

Irving has Murray as the headliner of this tier. Murray will certainly be in play for the likes of the Kings, Pistons or Pacers when they're on the clock. Murray has the skill set to fit in any system and could be a plus defender on day one in the NBA.

6. Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky (6-6, 200 lbs)

Sharpe may be the biggest question mark in the draft but his tools and skills are hard to deny. Irving likens Sharpe to last year's No. 2 overall pick Jalen Green. Sharpe could end up being a bucket early in his NBA tenure.

7. Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite (6-6, 180 lbs)

Irving calls Daniels the prospect who could be the best perimeter defender in the class. Length, energy, size and a year of seasoning with the G League Ignite could help Daniels come off the board early.

Tier 3: Rounding out the lottery

 
RankPlayerPositionAgeClassHeight/WeightTeamPlays Like
10.Johnny DavisG20SO6-5, 194 lbs.WisconsinJosh Hart
11.AJ GriffinF18FR6-6, 220 lbs.DukeNorman Powell
12.Jeremy SochanF19FR6-9, 230 lbs.BaylorOG Anunoby
13.Mark WilliamsC20SO7-0, 245 lbs.DukeJarrett Allen
14.Malaki BranhamF19FR6-5, 180 lbs.Ohio StateKhris Middleton
15.Ochai AgbajiF21SR6-5, 215 lbs.KansasDe'Andre Hunter
16.Ousmane DiengF196-9, 185 lbs.NZ BreakersBrandon Ingram

10. Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin (6-5, 194 lbs)

We'll see the Taco Bell commercial featuring Davis quite a few times on ESPN tonight. Irving believes he can end up being a high-end role player on a championship team one day. Whoever selects Davis seems to be getting a ready-made pro.

13. Mark Williams, C, Duke (7-0, 245 lbs)

Irving likens Williams to Cavs big man Jarrett Allen, who is coming off a year where he was named an All-Star. There will be some interesting teams around this section of the draft who may be rushing to the podium with the Duke big man's name on a draft card.

14. Malaki Branham, F, Ohio State (6-5, 180 lbs)

Khris Middleton may be the most underrated player in the NBA today. Does that mean Branham is the most underrated prospect in the draft? The Ohio State wing was a late riser but could be the best scorer in this class.

Tier 4: Mid-to-late first-rounders

TyTy Washington, Nikola Jovic, Jaden Hardy and E.J. Liddell are names NBA fans are likely going to be accustomed to hearing next season. The mid-to-late tier on Irving's big board could have the league's next diamond in the rough.

 
RankPlayerPositionAgeClassHeight/WeightTeamPlays Like
17.Jalen WilliamsF21JR6-6, 195 lbs.Santa ClaraTyreke Evans
18.Jaden HardyG196-4, 185 lbs.G League IgniteJordan Poole
19.Tari EasonF21SO6-8, 216 lbs.LSUHerb Jones
20.E.J. LiddellF21JR6-7, 240 lbs.Ohio StateP.J. Tucker
21.Kennedy ChandlerG19FR6-0, 170 lbs.TennesseeTyrese Maxey
22.TyTy WashingtonG20FR6-3, 185 lbs.KentuckyD'Angelo Russell
23.MarJon BeauchampF216-6, 199 lbs.G League IgniteJerami Grant
24.Nikola JovicF186-10, 210 lbs.Mega BasketDeni Avdija
25.Blake WesleyG19FR6-5, 185 lbs.Notre DameImmanuel Quickley

Tier 5: Borderline first round picks

For the teams drafting late in the first round and early in the second, value will be the overused term on the draft telecast. Christian Braun is coming off a national championship with Kansas. Will he hear his name called in this range? Auburn's Walker Kessler plays like a young Brook Lopez according to Irving. Will that be enticing to a team looking for a rotational big?

RankPlayerPositionAgeClassHeight/WeightTeamPlays Like
26.Christian BraunF20JR6-6, 218 lbs.KansasPat Connaughton
27.Christian KolokoC21JR7-1, 230 lbs.ArizonaMitchell Robinson
28.Trevor KeelsG18FR6-4, 221 lbs.DukeEric Bledsoe
29.Jaylin WilliamsC19SO6-10, 240 lbs.ArkansasAl Horford
30.Walker KesslerC20SO7-1, 245 lbs.AuburnBrook Lopez
31.Dalen TerryG19SO6-7, 195 lbs.ArizonaMichael Carter-Williams
32.Bryce McGowensF19FR6-7,179 lbs.NebraskaWill Barton
33.Jake LaRaviaF21JR6-8, 235 lbs.Wake ForestLauri Markkanen
34.Wendell Moore Jr.F20JR6-5, 213 lbs.DukeEvan Turner
35.Kendall BrownF18FR6-8, 205 lbs.BaylorJosh Jackson

Best of the rest

Canadians Andrew Nembhard and Caleb Houstan came into the college season with a lot of hype. Will they make an NBA front office look smart for getting value in the second round? Peyton Watson failed to live up to the expectations that were placed on him in his freshman year at UCLA. Will more space in the pros help him stand out? 

Patrick Baldwin Jr.'s season at Milwaukee wasn't headline-worthy. Will he regain form in the league?

RankPlayerPositionAgeClassHeight/WeightTeamPlays Like
36.Andrew NembhardG22SR6-5, 193 lbs.GonzagaTyus Jones
37.Ryan RollinsG19SO6-4, 180 lbs.ToledoFred VanVleet
38.Caleb HoustanF19FR6-8, 205 lbs.MichiganDarius Bazley
39.Ismael KamagateC216-11, 220 lbs.Paris BasketballHassan Whiteside
40.Justin LewisF19FR6-7, 245 lbs.MarquetteNassir Little
41.Hugo BessonG206-3, 196 lbs.NZ BreakersBogdan Bogdanovic
42.Dereon SeabronF22SO6-7, 180 lbs.NC StateGerald Green
43.Peyton WatsonF19FR6-8, 200 lbs.UCLACody Martin
44.Max ChristieF19FR6-6, 190 lbs.Michigan StateDanny Green
45.Josh MinottF20FR6-8, 205 lbs.MemphisDerrick Jones Jr.
46.Patrick Baldwin Jr.F19FR6-9, 220 lbs.MilwaukeeOtto Porter Jr.
47.Michael FosterF196-9, 220 lbs.G League IgniteJaMychal Green
48.David RoddyF21JR6-5, 252 lbs.Colorado StateEvan Turner
49.Dominick BarlowC186-9, 214 lbs.Overtime ElitePrecious Achiuwa
50.Khalifa DiopC206-11, 231 lbs.Gran CanariaIsaiah Stewart
51.Jean MonteroG186-2, 170 lbs.Overtime EliteDennis Schroder
52.Alondes WilliamsG22SR6-5, 210 lbs.Wake ForestDelon Wright
53.Jabari WalkerF20SO6-9, 215 lbs.ColoradoTorrey Craig
54.Ron Harper Jr.F22SR6-6, 245 lbs.RutgersNicolas Batum
55.Trevion WilliamsC21SR6-10, 255 lbs.PurdueXavier Tillman Sr.
56.JD DavisonG19FR6-3, 195 lbs.AlabamaDennis Smith Jr.
57.Gabriele ProcidaF206-7, 194 lbs.Fortitudo BolognaMax Strus
58.Moussa DiabateF20FR6-11, 210 lbs.MichiganJarred Vanderbilt
59.Yannick NzosaC186-10, 174 lbs.UnicajaUdoka Azubuike
60.Matteo SpagnoloG196-4, 185 lbs.CremonaEvan Fournier
Author(s)
Carlan Gay is a Deputy Editor at The Sporting News.