In this Big Board, I’ll rank the prospects in the 2022 draft from a Spurs point of view. In addition to taking into account the previously discussed draft priorities, I’ll also factor in rumors of who I’ve heard the Spurs have spent extra time scouting in addition to my own personal opinion on the prospects.
1. Paolo Banchero
2. Jabari Smith
3. Chet Holmgren
It’s a close race between these three prospects. Banchero is probably the safest bet to thrive in San Antonio’s system. He’s a do-it-all forward in the mold of a modernized Chris Webber. He can score, create for others and would enter the NBA with a pro-ready physique.
Smith has great size and length for a scoring forward. He has an extremely high ceiling as a scorer and has a future-proof skillset. Holmgren is the wildcard. His underdeveloped body is a question mark but he could be an elite defender who develops into a strong second option on offense. His combination of shot blocking and shooting is difficult to find.
4. Jaden Ivey
For most teams, Ivey would be in the conversation for inclusion in the first tier. For the Spurs, he’ll probably stay No. 4 on their Big Board. He could fit next to Dejounte Murray but it wouldn’t be a seamless fit. Then again, his athlete athleticism and extremely high ceiling make him a player any organization would be thrilled to add.
5. Bennedict Mathurin
6. Jeremy Sochan
Whispers suggest the Spurs were extremely high on Mathurin last year. He decided to go back to Arizona and improved across the board. If the Spurs pick him, the best way to think of Mathurin is that he’d be a reroll on the same type of prospect that San Antonio hoped Lonnie Walker IV would become.
Sochan is a 6-foot-9 18-year-old who legitimately may be able to play all five positions on both offense and defense on the NBA level. He’s skilled, deceptively quick and he’s wise beyond his years. Can he shoot? That’s the question.
7. Shaedon Sharpe
8. Dyson Daniels
Sharpe is this draft’s mystery man. He sat out the whole season at Kentucky. Looking at his high school tape, the 6-foot-6 guard appears to have the potential to be a big-time scorer.
Daniels played in the G-League and had many impressive moments. He’s not a super athlete or a knock-down shooter but he can defend, pass, cut and possesses an advanced feel for the game.
9. Keegan Murray
10. Johnny Davis
Murray and Davis both had outstanding seasons at the collegiate level. Murray is a super skilled power forward who can shoot, score and has a high basketball IQ. Davis is a scorer with advanced moves and a rugged defender who pounds the glass.
That said, both are relatively underwhelming athletes who don’t appear to have a ton of untapped potential. It’s possible that the Spurs may decide either one is too good to pass up if available at San Antonio’s spot in the draft — but they don’t fit the mold that the Spurs have recently prioritized in the draft.
11. Jalen Duren
Generally speaking, I’m not a fan of drafting rim-running centers that can’t shoot. Duren is a bit different, though. He’ll be one of the youngest players in the draft (if not the absolute youngest) and he exhibited flashes of being able to pass and process the game at a quick speed. I’m not 100% sold on the idea of spending a lottery pick on Duren but he’s intriguing at this point in the process.
12. AJ Griffin
13. Malaki Branham
Griffin is a really young 6-foot-6, 220-pound swingman who posted outstanding shooting numbers during his one season at Duke. Unfortunately, he’s an underwhelming athlete who lost some mobility after a couple of high school injuries.
Branham is similar. He shot the ball extremely well as a freshman at Ohio State but his athleticism is pedestrian and he’s smaller than Griffin.
14. Ochai Agbaji
15. Tari Eason
Agbaji (22) and Eason (21) are older prospects but they are coming off impressively productive campaigns. Agbaji helped Kansas win a title and looks like a high-floor, plug-and-play, 3-and-D prospect worthy of other hyphenated plaudits. Eason plays a caffeinated brand of basketball and his energy could make him a defensive force from Day 1.
16. Ousmane Dieng
17. Nikola Jovic
Dieng and Jovic and high-ceiling, low-floor prospects to the nth degree that could become stars or bust out of the league before the end of their rookie contract. Both are 6-foot-10-ish new age players who can dazzle out on the perimeter but have more questions than answers in their respective scouting reports.
18. Blake Wesley
19. Trevor Keels
Wesley, if all breaks right, could be a fearless bucket-getter at the next level. Keels was an often overlooked freshman on Duke who showed flashes of scoring ability and high-end defensive potential.
20. Jaden Hardy
21. MarJon Beauchamp
Hardy and Beauchamp both played in the G-League. Hardy, who was highly ranked entering the season, had a really difficult season and his stats look ugly but he could develop into a slippery scorer. Beauchamp is 6-foot-7 with a well-rounded game and enough skill to make him a multifaceted role player.
22. Kendall Brown
23. Patrick Baldwin Jr.
24. Bryce McGowens
Brown is a fantastic athlete but he’s a timid shooter and doesn’t have much feel for the game. Baldwin had one of the worst college seasons an NBA prospect has ever had but he looks the part of a tall, long scorer who could become a nightmare to guard. McGowens is super skinny but he’s a 6-foot-7 guard with advanced scoring instincts.
25. TyTy Washington Jr.
26. E.J. Liddell
27. Kennedy Chandler
Washington could go down as another undervalued Kentucky guard prospect but it’s difficult picturing how he’d fit on San Antonio’s roster. Liddell is a high character power forward who was productive at Ohio State but his lack of height and the slowness of his feet probably keep the Spurs away. Chandler is a small point guard who plays with such smarts that he might intrigue the front office.
28. Mark Williams
29. Walker Kessler
30. Christian Koloko
These three center prospects are all likely to be picked in the first round. In fact, Williams looks like he might go in the lottery. I don’t like the idea of reaching for rim-running centers but this trio has such high defensive potential that it’d be understandable if the Spurs pick one of the three at 20 or 25.
Spurs Big Board 1.0 Takeaways
1) If the Spurs move up into the top four following the lottery, there are four clear-cut prospects that will come into focus. I’d lean Banchero if the Spurs miraculously get the No. 1 pick — but it’s close. Switching to a preference for Smith or Holmgren isn’t out of the question.
2) If San Antonio stays at 9 or 10, at this point it looks like they’d be picking one of Mathurin, Sochan, Sharpe, Daniels, Murray, Davis, Duren, Griffin or Branham. That may look like a lot of names but it’s actually a clearer picture than it typically is this far before the draft.
3) The 20th pick looks like a good opportunity to swing for the fences. Picking between Dieng, Jovic, Wesley, Keels, Hardy, Beauchamp, Brown, Baldwin or McGowens would give the Spurs a player who could very well be a bust but could also be a gem.
4) At 25, the Spurs could look to take another home run swing or go a safer route by picking Liddell or one of the center prospects.
5) If another team in the league gets enamored by one of the many boom-or-bust prospects, there’s a very real chance that the Spurs could trade at least one of their first round picks for a future first round pick. This is an okay-ish draft but I’d be all for trades in which the Spurs receive a lightly protected future first round pick in exchange for 20 or 25.