In one week, we saw the 2022 NBA Draft picture begin to
The Orlando Magic jumped to the No. 1 pick after last Tuesday's
NBA Draft Lottery, with the Oklahoma City Thunder earning the No. 2
pick and the Houston Rockets selecting third. Throughout the week,
draft hopefuls also went under the microscope at the NBA Draft
Combine, showing their skills in front of NBA teams and media
Our Senior NBA Draft Analyst Matt Babcock was in Chicago for the
Combine and NBA G League Elite Camp, and over the next month, he'll
be gathering intel and updating our 2022 NBA Mock Draft regularly.
With the Combine in the rear-view mirror, Babcock provides his
thoughts on some of the most pressing topics before the stretch run
of the pre-draft process in a Q&A:
What are your initial thoughts on how the NBA Draft
Lottery results could affect things come June?
"Two picks towards the top stand out to me: Oklahoma City at No.
2 and Sacramento at No. 4. My big question is: Does Sam Presti take
Jaden Ivey? I’ve been saying this for a while, but the impression
is that Ivey’s actual stock among NBA circles is higher than what’s
being portrayed in most of the media and the public. I believe that
he’s No. 1 or No. 2 on more teams' boards rather than being No. 4
or No. 5 as he is on most of the media’s mock drafts.
"The other pick is Sacramento — the early word is this pick
could easily be on the move. I’m not quite sure what to make of it
just yet, but I’ll surely be keeping a pulse."
Several prospects who participated in the first day of
scrimmages opted not to return for the second day. What do you
think of this move?
"Well, if the player got hurt, or if a team made a guarantee to
select them, that’s one thing. But if it’s just to avoid the
possibility of not playing well the second day, I’m not into that
at all. I think it’s safe to say that all of the players who chose
to play think they deserve a higher projected draft status. In that
case, play. Show your stuff! Go out there and earn what you think
you deserve. It not only sends a bad message to teams — I think
it’s a slippery slope regarding how they approach their careers
Much was made of Patrick Baldwin Jr.'s underwhelming
athletic testing results. Do you see this notably impacting his
"Patrick Baldwin Jr. battled some injuries this past season. His
unwillingness to play through those minor injuries and his lack of
toughness has raised concerns. He also chose to not play in the
5-on-5 games at the NBA Draft Combine. So for him to have such an
underwhelming vertical jump just adds another negative element to
the overall evaluation. He’s a very skilled and talented player,
but I’ll be direct here: I think he should go back to school."
Santa Clara wing Jalen Williams has been a buzzing name
on social media. How has his Combine performance resonated with
"Jalen Williams definitely helped himself last week. He’s
versatile, skilled, and long for a player that’s nearly 6-foot-6. I
don’t think he’s overly athletic, but he’s moved up a little bit. I
think some teams liked him more than others, but his name was
certainly buzzing. I think he’s solidified himself as a solid draft
Kendall Brown appears to be the biggest winner in the
NBA combine testing. Are his standout numbers helping his draft
"No, I don’t think Kendall Brown’s athletic testing helped him
much, but let me explain. Coming into the season, Brown was widely
regarded as a high-priority prospect, so everyone in the league saw
him at some point or another. I think I can speak for all scouts on
this one; we don’t need to see any metrics to figure out that
Kendall Brown is a freak athlete. So, although the numbers are
impressive, it was expected."
Which other players significantly improved their draft
stock with strong efforts at the combine?
"A few guys who helped themselves were Darius Days of LSU and
Marcus Sasser of Houston, both of whom played their ways into the
NBA Draft Combine by competing at the G League Elite Camp
"Another player who impressed me was Gonzaga’s Andrew
Did any other draft hopefuls personally stand out to you
that you might not have known well before the combine?
"Yes — Ryan Rollins of Toledo. He didn’t light the world on fire
by putting up huge numbers, but he really caught my eye. He’s very
shifty and quick. I think he has the potential to develop into a
dynamic on-ball creator. I had the chance to meet him briefly, and
Derek Murray will be interviewing him for us soon. I’m looking
forward to learning more about Ryan over the course of the next few
With a month still left before the draft, how can
prospects most directly impact their pre-draft image at this
Players are beginning to visit teams now. On those visits, some
players will play competitive 1-on-1, 2-on-2 and 3-on-3, in
addition to individual drills. That is the best way to move the
needle for a player. The teams will also be interviewing the
players and getting to know them on a personal level.
Many players have either recently hired an agent (or
plan to) as the draft process continues. As a former agent, what
advice can you offer to players currently making these
"At this point, players should have already signed with an
agent. This doesn’t exactly answer your question, but one bit of
advice that I’d share with players who just recently hired agents
is to stick to the plan. They signed with their agents for a
reason. These prospects are in probably the most vulnerable
situation they’ve ever been in, as they don’t know how things will
unfold, where they’ll live and play next year, or how much money
they’ll make. It’s nerve-wracking. They need to trust their agents
and let them do their jobs. They’re experts. See the plan through —
at least the imminent one."
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