The NBA draft 2022 is now 10 days away, yet what makes this draft so fascinating is the wide-ranging views on the top prospects.
The Detroit Pistons, picking No. 5 overall June 23 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, seem likely to decide between four prospects, but we still don’t have any indication which way they’re leaning. We also don’t know how the Jerami Grant situation affects the thinking of general manager Troy Weaver, vice chair Arn Tellem and others with significant say in the situation room.
Draft workouts are still being conducted and medical information is still circulating, so teams might tweak their draft boards in the final days before the Orlando Magic are on the clock with the first selection just after 7:30 p.m. next Thursday.
Let’s go around the league to see what trusted draft analysts are saying and who they’re projecting in the latest mock drafts:
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CBS Sports, Gary Parrish: Keegan Murray
Parrish, the longtime CBS college basketball analyst, released his latest mock draft Friday, and has Purdue’s Jaden Ivey going fourth to Sacramento, leaving the Pistons their choice of Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky), Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona) or Keegan Murray (Iowa).
Parrish wrote Murray’s value comes from his size, switchability defensively and consistent shot from the perimeter.
“What he does, at his size, is perfectly suited for the modern NBA and would fit well with a Detroit franchise trying to return to respectability with Cade Cunningham as the centerpiece,” Parrish wrote.
Sharpe goes sixth to Indiana, with Mathurin seventh to Portland.
Chet Holmgren (Orlando), Jabari Smith Jr. (Oklahoma City) and Paolo Banchero (Houston) are Parrish’s first three picks.
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Bleacher Report, Greg Swartz: Shaedon Sharpe
With Ivey going No. 4 to the Kings, Swartz takes Sharpe for the Pistons because he “has the highest upside of anyone left on the board” if the Pistons want a potential star to pair in the backcourt with Cunningham.
Sharpe — the former No. 1 recruit in the 2023 class who joined Kentucky in January but did not play college basketball last season — can shoot from anywhere, and Swartz thinks he has the tools to become a top defender.
“He may get off to a slow start after electing not to play at Kentucky, but Detroit would be smart to play the long game here with Sharpe, who just turned 19,” Swartz wrote. “With he and Cunningham, the Pistons could have one of the best backcourts in the East in a few years.”
If this is the pick, we know one writer who will be disappointed.
Smith goes No. 1 to Orlando in this mock from Thursday.
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Sports Illustrated, Jeremy Woo: Jaden Ivey
Woo last week selected Murray for the Kings, meaning Ivey is on the board for the Pistons at No. 5. That’s exactly who Woo takes, and he likes the spot the Pistons are in despite falling in the lottery.
“Detroit is in a flexible position building around Cade Cunningham, and rival teams still expect the Pistons will look to move Jerami Grant, potentially to acquire a second desirable draft pick,” Woo wrote. “The Pistons need to get more athletic and bolster their offense, and right now it’s hard to envision them passing on Ivey if he’s on the board.”
Woo, who appeared on “The Pistons Pulse” podcast in April with the Free Press’ Omari Sankofa II and Bryce Simon, acknowledged Ivey had highs and lows last season, but his speed and explosiveness as a playmaker are too much to pass on. The spacing and freedom in the NBA will enhance Ivey more than most, Woo believes.
“If his passing chops and decision-making tick upward over time, Ivey is going to be hard to stop,” Woo opines. “He has the ability to be a very good defender when he tries, he shoots the three well enough to think it keeps improving and, if he can slow down the game for himself mentally while still attacking at a breakneck pace, Ivey can be a star. Pairing with a cool, collected playmaker like Cunningham would make his life much easier, and vice versa.”
Interestingly, Woo projects Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis sixth to Indiana, and G League standout Dyson Daniels seventh to Portland.
The Magic take Smith at No. 1 with Banchero going No. 2.
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ESPN, Jonathan Givony: Keegan Murray
Givony, the former DraftExpress founder, took a little different approach on his mock last week, listing both “needs” and “best available” for each team.
For the Pistons, he had Ivey as what they need and Murray as the best available, after selecting Ivey for the Kings — despite listing Murray as what Sacramento needs.
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“Despite all of Murray’s attractive traits, his long-term upside, physical tools and shot-creation aren’t as great as those offered by Ivey, who is widely considered the third- or fourth-best prospect in the draft by most teams, making him the better ‘best player available’ pick if the Kings elect to take that route,” Givony wrote.
He says Ivey and the Pistons are an ideal fit on paper. The Purdue sophomore could grow into a role as a creator and primary ball handler, and Cunningham would benefit from not being asked to create his own shot on every possession, allowing him to slide all over the floor and “utilize his excellent shot-making prowess and ability to attack closeouts more consistently.”
With Ivey gone though, adding “the most productive player in college basketball this season in Murray would be an excellent consolation prize, as he looks like a Day 1 contributor as the most NBA-ready prospect in the draft, capable of sliding between all of the frontcourt positions thanks to his perimeter-shooting ability, feel for the game and defensive versatility,” Givony wrote.
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