The 2022 NBA Draft is set for June 23 in Brooklyn and the top prospects are expected to be inclusive of notable frontcourt players. The Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Houston Rockets will be the first three teams to add a potential franchise cornerstone at the start of the first round. The wing position has increasingly become more valuable in today’s NBA and the following frontcourt prospects are likely atop many teams draft boards heading into Thursday night.
2022 NBA Draft prospects: Top-10 forwards
Paolo Banchero (Duke) - 17.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 3.2 APG, 47.8 FG%, 72.9 FT%
At 6’10 and 250 lbs., Banchero has good size and length to play in the backcourt. He has a nice blend between strength and athleticism to give him an advantage over defenders and is capable of beating his defender off the dribble. He has a solid jump shot and with a 33.8% average from beyond the arc, he could very well add the deep shot to his repertoire as well.
Jabari Smith (Auburn) - 16.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 2.0 APG, 42.9 FG%, 79.9 FT%
His wingspan gives him an advantage in being able to get his shot over defenders and as a 42% three-point shooter he’s capable of being a stretch big as well. His wingspan also gives him an advantage as a disruptive defender, and he’s capable of switching to guard all positions one through five.
Keegan Murray (Iowa) - 15.8 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, 54.3 FG%, 74.9 FT%
At 6’8 and 225 lbs., Murray should be able to play along the frontcourt as he continues to fill out his frame throughout his career. He can space the floor with a nice shooting touch and is confident in beating his defenders off the dribble with a long first step. He’s a solid post-up player and when given the mismatch against smaller defenders he’s adept at leveraging the hook shot to his advantage.
AJ Griffin (Duke) - 10.4 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 1.0 APG, 49.3 FG%, 79.2 FT%
Griffin has the ideal size and frame (6’6, 220 lbs.) to play in the frontcourt but his shooting touch can make him even more dangerous against defenses. He shot 44.7% from three in college and should only continue to improve his outside shot. He’s proven to be able to create space for his own shot and even leverage some physicality as he attacks the basket.
Jeremy Sochan (Baylor) - 9.2 PPG, 6.4 RPG, 1.8 APG, 47.4 FG%, 58.9 FT%
Sochan has seen his draft stock rise as a result of his impressive physical traits (6’9, 230 lbs.) and his perceived upside. His build is adept for the modern NBA and teams should be able to leverage his size to defend multiple positions one through five. His talent is still very much raw but as long as he continues to hone his skills he can be a consistent offensive weapon.
Malaki Branham (Ohio State) - 13.7 PPG, 3.6 RPG, 2.0 APG, 49.8 FG%, 83.3 FT%
Branham has proven to be able to score at all different levels and he averaged an efficient 49.8% from the floor in college. Even more encouraging is his reliability from the charity stripe, having shot 83.3% on free throws. He’s much more comfortable as a spot-up shooter but will need to get more confident shooting in traffic or off the dribble with NBA defenses keying in on him.
Ousmane Dieng (France) - 8.9 PPG, 3.2 RPG, 1.1 APG, 39.8 FG%, 66.7 FT%
Dieng has great size for a wing player (6’9) and is a crafty finisher at the rim. If leveraged in pick-and-roll situations team can maximize his knack for scoring in motion. He’s a solid ball-handler and has the upside to beat his defenders off the dribble with his first step. While he shot just under 40% overseas he has the potential to become more of a reliable spot-up shooter.
E.J. Liddell (Ohio State) - 14.1 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 48.0 FG%, 74.9 FT%
Liddell has an advantage in using his strength and frame to his advantage, measuring up at 6’7, 235 lbs. with a 7’ wingspan. He plays with a high motor and has proven to be unselfish by looking to find his open teammates. He’s not afraid to be physical and his aggressiveness serves him well should he get to the free-throw line, where he shot close to 75% in college.
Tari Eason (LSU) - 13.0 PPG, 6.3 RPG, 1.1 APG, 50.4 FG%, 75.7 FT%
At 6’8 and 215 lbs., Eason can confidently play either forward spot and can guard multiple positions one through five. He’s tenacious on the defensive end and is aggressive in attacking the boards, having averaged 6.3 RPG in college. A key improvement for him will be focusing on being more disciplined and avoiding mental errors that can be a detriment in the pros.
Nikola Jovic (Serbia) - 11.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 1,0 APG, 55.2 FG%, 75.0 FT%
He is an all-around combo forward and his shooting touch from outside is a clear indication of stretch big potential. His size and speed allow him to eventually shoot off the dribble with ease, though that skill set is not quite there yet. He’ll need to fill out his frame as he transitions to the NBA with stiffer competition on the defensive end.