2022 NBA Draft: Discussion case for Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith or Jaden Ivey as the #1 prospect

Who is the #1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft?

We’ll find out who the Orlando Magic is on Thursday night value as the No. 1 pick as they pick first overall for the first time since 2004 — but there’s far from a unanimous view at the top of this draft among NBA front offices. And the same goes for our team of experts. In our final Top 100 rankings Consisting of a consensus ranking of CBS esports experts Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, David Cobb and myself, along with 247Sports’ Adam Finkelstein and Travis Branham, there were four different players who earned #1 votes.

So who is the #1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft?

The scouts have their opinions But our calculations in the consensus rankings showed Chet Holmgren deserved the honor – but below each of us have laid out our arguments for our pick as the No. 1 pro in this year’s draft. Here’s who each of us had on top and why as we head into Thursday night’s draft with a variety of views on the top of the class.

Want more analysis of the top prospects in the NBA draft? Listen below and subscribe to the Eye on College Basketball Podcast where we take an in-depth look at the top players making their way to the next level.

The case for Chet Holmgren

headshot image

I understand the arguments for Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero and even Jaden Ivey taking first overall picks in the 2022 NBA draft. I don’t think any of them are ridiculous options. But I still sincerely believe Holmgren is the best prospect this year and that’s why I also believe Orlando should get him number 1. He’s an elite defensive rim guard who can hover, ricochet, shoot, and generally take advantage of matchups on offense.

If a traditional Great is guarding it, they can probably bypass it. If a smaller player is guarding him, he can definitely shoot over him. Am I worried about the light frame? Sure, on some level I think. But as ESPN’s Jonathon Givony noted on a recent podcast, how many great prospects have missed their height just because they’re too skinny? He couldn’t think of any. Neither do I. So I just assume that Holmgren’s unique abilities will allow him to overcome his unique frame and eventually emerge as the best player out of this draft. – Gary Parish

Holmgren has the highest cap in the draft in my opinion. He changes the game on both ends of the floor. There just aren’t many 7ft models out there that can protect the rim, stretch the floor and still provide such an efficient presence in interior design. He’s even a better ball carrier and passer than I think some people give him credit for. But on top of that I simply believe in his mentality and this inner hardness. I know he needs to build his physique, but if there’s one thing that all NBA teams have found at an exceptionally high level, it’s that. Adam Finklestein

We know the whole world questions his physique, but the truth is Holmgren has never had a history of injury or shown that his lack of strength is a real handicap. You won’t be able to throw him at the Joel Embiids of the world, but nobody can throw anything at him. Four to five years from now we could rightly say he’s one of the faces of the league, with his ability to dribble, pass and shoot like we’ve never seen for his height and length, along with that fact that he is an elite defender and rim protection. Travis Branham

I understand Smith’s and Banchero’s fascination, but for me, Holmgren’s advantage is up a notch. Smith lacks playing potential – Holmgren can thrive in that department. Bancheros Suspect as a 3-pointer and on defense – Holmgren has a sweet punch and is one of the best chances to protect the rims we’ve seen. I also don’t buy the hilarious ravings about unique body type. Holmgren has been able to hold his own against stronger players all his life, and NBA rules will evolve in his favor. He’s already proven he can play at the highest level in amateur basketball, and he has the most room for improvement of all three top talents. Add it all up and that certainly sounds like the best player in the draft class. Colin Ward-Henninger

The case for Paolo Banchero

headshot image

Whether it’s for CBSSports.com, on Eye on College Basketball, or on CBS Sports HQ, I’ve explained why I have Banchero #1 on my big board many times over the past few weeks. But here, directly against the draft, again with feeling. Banchero is the most sensible choice of any player in this class because he is the most developed and proven talent. His numbers at Duke, with several other first-rounders on the starting lineup, were more than satisfactory: 17.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.2 apg for the nation’s top-rated offensive team, according to KenPom.com.

Banchero was a 52.8% 2-point shooter and 33.8% a 3-point shooter. Nobody in this draft has Banchero’s combination of size + skill + touch + passing + playmaking + rebound ability + competitive advantage. He has above-average grip, can work the post, shoot from the bow and isn’t a black hole. The hesitancy with him at #1 stems from the fact that he doesn’t potentially damage a 3-point shooter like Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, and even Jaden Ivey. But he can still shoot. Defensively he still has ground to make up. However, no one is as ready to play in the NBA tomorrow as Banchero, and I think by the end of his second contract he will prove himself a multiple All-Star. – Matt Norlander

The case for Jaden Ivey

headshot image

There are safer prospects at the top of this class (Smith Jr.) and also bigger boom/bust proposals (Holmgren), but none possess the rare combination of explosive athleticism and design ability that Ivey has in this draft. He’s a human firecracker that can pop to the brim. He has the potential to become a true next level Lead Guard as he continues to develop and improve as a decision maker.

At worst, he can be a tempo-change initiator, whose dynamic explosiveness helps ease the strain on a team’s first initiating option. I would rank him #1 for everyone else in this class if his game improves even slightly, if not significantly, and his improvement as a shooter over the past year speaks very well for him as a rising star in the NBA. Kyle Boone

The case for Jabari Smith Jr.

headshot image

What sets Smith most apart from Banchero, Holmgren and others as the top pick in the 2022 NBA draft is his elite outside shooting. With 6-10 and a 42% 3-point record on 5.5 attempts per game in his only season at Auburn, Smith projects himself to the next level as an excellent long-term shooter. While Banchero and Holmgren each flashed some range from the perimeter in their lonely college seasons, none projects as elitistly in any facet of the game as Smith does as an outside shooter.

Given that Smith also has excellent defensive potential and a thriving shot portfolio on offense, he’s the group’s safest bet on one day being an NBA All-Star. With promising young guards like Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony handing out basketball in Orlando, Smith would make a great addition to Magic’s core group. Though it may be years before Smith reaches his full potential, it’s easy to see him becoming the Magic’s top scorer early in his career as he will bring feather-light touch to the league on day one. David Cobb