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2022 NBA Draft Buzz: Latest Intel on Top Prospects and VIP Lottery Teams

Jonathan Wasserman

We're only days away from the 2022 NBA draft, which means teams are talking, rumors are spreading and information is being traded.

There is still a lot of discussion about who the Orlando Magic will take with the No. 1 overall pick. New questions about Chet Holmgren have also come up.

Trades are being discussed as well, starting with the Sacramento Kings at No. 4.

It's not typical to hear anything concrete before draft week, so the next few days should include plenty more gossip.

Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren Names Tied to Orlando Magic

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Since lottery night, rival teams have largely predicted that the Orlando Magic will favor Jabari Smith at No. 1. However, over the past week, we've heard the Magic are doing their homework on Chet Holmgren. The idea that Orlando is considering him has gained steam.

Smith also worked out for the Oklahoma City Thunder and spent multiple days with them. That suggests the Magic haven't given him any assurance about drafting him first.

Smith did work out in Orlando as well.

There have also been questions about Holmgren's willingness to take a physical and the NBA's heart test. However, sources say after he originally declined them, Holmgren did wind up doing the necessary medical work during a visit with the Magic.

It's unclear whether he plans to hold back information from specific teams, but the idea that he's trying to steer his way toward (or away) from some seems possible.

Bennedict Mathurin Locking Himself into Top 8

AP Photo/Denis Poroy

Teams aren't expecting Bennedict Mathurin to get past the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 8. Most people around the league believe he'll be off the board by then at the latest.

Strong and explosive with 6'6" size (in shoes) and a sweet shooting stroke, Mathurin presumably looks great in a workout setting. He's more proven then Shaedon Sharpe, far more athletic than AJ Griffin and the more dangerous scorer/shooter compared to Dyson Daniels.

The Sacramento Kings, Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers and Portland Trail Blazers could all view Mathurin as a fit at the 2/3 positions. His range is looking like Nos. 4-7.

AJ Griffin Odd Man Out of Top 10?

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With Keegan Murray, Dyson Daniels and Bennedict Mathurin seemingly locked into the top eight, AJ Griffin is believed to be vulnerable to sliding.

Even though Shaedon Sharpe never played a minute at Kentucky, most assume he offers too much upside for teams to pass on in the Nos. 6-10 range.

Meanwhile, not everyone has bought into Griffin offering more than shooting. In 39 games at Duke, he totaled 38 assists, 20 steals and 53 free-throw attempts. That has raised questions about his lack of burst and heavier feet for creating, blowing by or defending.

While we haven't received any word about Griffin's medicals raising red flags, his injury history in high school is widely known. Griffin being on the board when the New York Knicks pick at No. 11 is sounding possible.

Ousmane Dieng Buzz Feels Real

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Some believe Ousmane Dieng is getting consideration from lottery teams, and even a few drafting in the top 10.

He's being viewed as a high-risk, high-reward pick, so believers may see enticing upside in a range where most prospects project as role players.

The idea of Dieng, a 6'9" wing with guard skills, was always more compelling than his production. But over the second half of his season in the NBL, he strung together an impression stretch of scoring and shot-making, which led to optimism over his development.

It's sounding like the earliest Dieng could go is to the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 8 or San Antonio Spurs at No. 9.

Sacramento Kings Trade Talk

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Teams are expecting the Sacramento Kings to be discussing trades until they're on the clock at No. 4.

At this stage, the price for the No. 4 pick is presumed to be steep, though it normally would be days before the draft. That price will likely go down as we get closer to 8 p.m. on Thursday.

While Jaden Ivey is widely considered the draft's fourth-best prospect, teams also say never to expect anything when it comes to Sacramento. Shaedon Sharpe is thought of as a sleeper option if the Kings stay put, though Keegan Murray is also presumed to earn consideration.

Side Notes

AP Photo/Matt Rourke

- Rival teams continue to think Jaden Ivey is a sleeper pick at No. 2 for the Oklahoma City Thunder, especially if Jabari Smith goes first. Despite Holmgren getting consideration at No. 1, scouts still seem to share nerves about his body and limited creation for a top pick. Nobody sounds hesitant when it comes to Ivey. He wouldn't be an ideal fit for an OKC team that already has Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, so the belief that he's an option at No. 2 may be more tied to some lack of confidence in Holmgren.

- Jake LaRavia has been invited back for multiple second workouts. The assumption is that he goes somewhere in the 20s. The general consensus is that he's a highly skilled, intelligent forward whose versatility checks the right boxes in today's NBA.

- Andrew Nembhard could sneak into the 20s after winning teams over during the NBA combine. Though it was only one scrimmage, he easily dominated second-round prospects with more freedom than he had at Gonzaga.

- A shared belief has Johnny Davis' draft floor at No. 10. Most expect the Washington Wizards to take him if he's on the board and there isn't another surprise faller.

- Scouts are expecting teams drafting in the teens and 20s to make their picks available. Next year's draft is expected to be one of the best in recent memory, so some non-lottery teams may punt on their 2022 picks entirely if they can add another first-rounder next year.

- There is an assumption that Dalen Terry will be a first-round pick, with word spreading about him easing concerns over his shooting numbers during workouts. At 6'7" with a nearly 7'1" wingspan, he's a unique player given the fact he played point guard and defends wings. Once the big names are off the board, being unique could hold extra value in this draft.


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