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Holmgren, Smith, Banchero: Who should go No. 1 in 2022 NBA Draft?

There may be a consensus top three or four players in the 2022 NBA Draft, but the No. 1 choice is anything but a guarantee right now.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — There are some star studded prospects at the top of the 2022 NBA Draft Big Board. That’s something we see rather consistently going into every draft, but what we have this year is some ambiguity with the top three or four players, not knowing who the clear favorite to be selected No. 1 overall is just yet.

Those top three “consensus” players are Duke’s Paolo Banchero, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith. 

But there may be a fourth player who could be one of the top three selections. On Tuesday’s Locked On Sports Today podcast, NBA Big Board director of scouting Rafael Barlowe joined Peter Bukowski to look ahead to this month’s draft.

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“I do think there’s a chance that Jaden Ivey could be in that mix, I’ve heard some rumblings that the Thunder really love him,” Barlowe said. “But of course that could be smoke screens at this point in the draft season. I’ve heard rumors they could move down to four because they really like him. But I think the consensus is there’s a tier one with the big three, and then Jaden Ivey on his own tier. And then it’s wide open.”

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Barlowe said while you keep hearing about how the league wants to go smaller and smaller with their top selections, you see this year the top three players are likely going to play power forward or bigger. 

"You can make the case Jabari Smith is the best shooter in the draft. You can say Chet Holmgren is the best defender in the draft…and he can also shoot the ball. And then there’s Banchero who I think is the best of the three. The one I feel most comfortable with, end of the shot clock, go get me a bucket. But he’s not on the same level of a defender as Holmgren and Smith.”

Barlowe said he sees similarities with how people rated Celtics star Jayson Tatum in 2017 ahead of the draft with Banchero now. He said if he's choosing No. 1, he's going with Banchero.

“If it’s me it’s Banchero," Barlowe said. "I feel like the same criticisms of Banchero we had in 2017 with Jayson Tatum…At the end of the day Tatum is going to be the best player from that draft. And I feel that way from Banchero, that he will be the top player from this class at the end of the day.”

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