NBA Draft Review: Deep pitch can surprise stars

When the Orlando Magic hands over their draft card to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver on Thursday night at the Barclays Center, they settle a debate that has been raging in draft circles for a year: Who should be the No. 1 pick?

The front is Gonzaga Chet Holmgren, a thin but nail-resistant seven-legged man capable of shooting, dribbling, assisting and attacking defense. But equally powerful things to do for Auburn’s big man, Jabar Smith, who spent last season with seemingly impossible shots, and for Duke Paolo Banchero, a creative shooter who is just as polished in paint as he is on the perimeter.

“All three guys are incredibly talented,” said Jonathan Givoni, founder of scouting service DraftExpress, an NBA draft analyst at ESPN. “This draft has really great players at the top and also very good depth.”

Here are five more perspectives you need to know.

6-foot-11, 223 lbs, forward, Mega Mozart (Serbia)

People are constantly asking Nikola Jovich about Nikola Jokic. And it makes sense. Jovic and the Denver Nuggets star have a lot in common: both Serbs are great men who played in the same club, Mega Mozart, and only one letter separates their last names. But the comparison does not bother Jovic, who is expected to be the first international player on Thursday.

“People keep naming it,” he said. “I’m really cool with that. I think this is quite ridiculous also because the probability of something like this is very low. At the same time, I feel good because people appreciate the two-time league MVP.

As a boy, Jovich wanted to become a professional water polo player. He spent the summer with his mother in Montenegro and loved to swim in the Adriatic Sea. When he was 13, his father introduced him to basketball. What started as a hobby in the yard soon became an obsession and a profession. “I was getting bigger and bigger,” Jovich said, “and it was pretty easy to see that basketball would be a better choice than water polo.”

While many NBA teams have been watching European stars since their early teens, Jovic did not become famous on the draft boards until he came out at the next generation Adidas tournament in Belgrade in March 2021. 4 who can shoot 3s, make quick breaks and make smart passes. He said he is ready to stay in Europe after the draft, but hopes to land with a team he wants to play with immediately.

“Even if I need to play in the G-League, that’s cool,” he said, referring to the NBA Development League. “But now, I think the NBA is ideal for me”

6-foot-9, 221-pound, forward, overtime elite

When NBA appraisers visited the overtime elite this year, it was for the future. The Beginner League has potential top-10 players in the 2023 and 2024 drafts. But one player in the 2022 draft class took advantage of this extra scout attention and went from a 3-star high school perspective to choosing a potential first-round draft: Dominic Barlow.

“The fact that this was OTE’s first year interested the Scouts,” said Barlow, 19. “And once the scouts were in the building, they were able to see what I could do.”

Barlow played at Dumont High School, a small public school in Dumont, New Jersey. He was not included in the Amateur Athletes Union program until he was senior until the summer when the New York Renaissance coach noticed he was playing in public. Park. In September, he surprised most basketball insiders when he left the training program and turned down several important offers to sign with the overtime elite. It offers a six-figure salary to boys and men basketball players who are at least in junior high school.

Barlow hopes his story will inspire other overlooked players to continue working. “I came in as a 3-star kid and left the NBA draft pick. Some 5-star kids have a hard time getting into the NBA after a year of high school,” he said.

6-foot-8, 225-pound, forward, Iowa

When Keegan and Chris Murray were in the process of being recruited for college basketball, the twin brothers told all the coaches that they did not agree. Their father, Kenyon, was playing Iowa College basketball in the early 1990s, and he urged them to each find their own way.

Their father’s faith and knowledge helped the brothers stay strong even when they finished their high school career with just one scholarship to Summit League School in Western Illinois, which had never been to a Division I NCAA tournament.

“Having a great player to be your coach, teach you everything and teach you in the recruitment process is really helpful,” Keegan, 21, told his father, who was an assistant on the Iowa High School team. “He told us we would be professionals and we believed him.”

After rejecting an offer from Western Illinois and moving to Florida for a year at a prep school, Keegan and Chris signed their father, Alma Mater, of Iowa. Keegan showed excellent efficiency as a freshman and started making noise in the NBA Draft, but he was not considered the best talent until last season. As a sophomore, Murray was the top scorer among Power 5 conference players, he had the second most rebounds in the top ten and he hit 55.4 percent from the field and a solid 39.8 percent from 3.

“He was the most productive player in college basketball this year,” Givoni said, adding that he was good in the transition and defense. “Everyone is looking for a player like that.”

Most likely, Keegan will be in the top five, and Chris has decided to return to Iowa for another season. “Thinking about where I was three years ago and where I am today is surreal,” Keegan said. “I did not always know where or when this work would yield results, but I knew it would bring results in the end.”

6-foot-3, 179-pound, guard, Toledo

Ryan Rollins heard people say he was due to return to the University of Toledo for a junior season. With another year of experience, he plans to select a probable first round in 2023. But Rollins rejects this idea. He sees no reason to wait.

“I feel like I’re one of the best players in the draft,” Rollins said. “If they do not select me in the first round, it is good. In the long run, I will be very good in this league for a long time. “I will always be proud wherever I go.”

The Detroit Rollins starred in AAU’s featured program, Family. But the stacked list, combined with a few nasty injuries and a decision to enroll in college earlier, kept him under the radar of recruitment. “I always thought I was where I was for a reason,” he said. “I kept working, trying to perfect my craft. I was not nervous about basketball politics. I knew if I was good enough, I would win the NBA.

For two seasons in Toledo, he appeared as a mid-level showstopper with a sleek handle, liquid foot, and deadly mid-range game. Now he will most likely choose a second round that has the potential to sneak in the first round. But he is more concerned with what he does when he enters the NBA. Hopes he could be the next mid-level player to become a superstar.

He is inspired by former mid-level players who are in the NBA, such as Ja Morant (Murray State), Damian Lillard (Weber State) and SJ McCollum (University of Lehigh).

“They went to small schools but were able to make a name for themselves,” Rollins said. “I feel like I’m next.”

6-foot-5, 198-pound, guard, Kentucky

There is no more mysterious player than Shadon Sharp in the 2022 draft. Although he was listed in the Kentucky run, Sharp was never suited to the Wildcats. In fact, he has not played in a competitive basketball game for almost a year.

A resident of Ontario, Canada, he moved to Kansas to play for a sophomore high school student at Sunrise Christian Academy, then moved to Arizona Dream City Christian in 2020 for his junior season when he was not ranked in the 2022 class. Then dominant. Last summer’s Nike Elite Youth Basketball League performance with the UPlay Canada team caught everyone’s attention. The tournament is often a testing ground for future NBA stars, with Sharp averaging 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 28.3 minutes in 12 games.

Sharp graduated from high school a year earlier and enrolled in Kentucky this spring. Although there were rumors that he would join the team on the court, or return in the 2022-23 season, he entered the NBA draft in return. And there is a good reason: it will almost certainly hit the top ten.

“In terms of physical ability and talent, it all exists,” Givoni said. He is a dynamic hitter, an aggressive defender, a smart passer.

NBA teams may not have seen much from him, but his 6-foot-11-wing length, explosive athleticism and polished shooting might make most NBA teams ready to take risks beyond the top five.

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