As we are slowly, but surely approaching the new NBA season, we should take a look at what is ahead. Many teams have been strengthened by some great young prospects coming from the NCAA. The 2022 NBA Draft shed a light on what we can expect and which teams to follow during the upcoming campaign.
The battle for the Rookie of the Year will once again be quite electrifying, but it might not be complete without Chet Holmgren. The Thunder’s rookie suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury in his foot during a Pro-Am game during the break.
However, there are still some versatile players who are ready to make the next step in their career and shine bright in the NBA. The favor Paolo Banchero, but will he be able to withstand the pressure in the upcoming season?
Who will be NBA Rookie of the Year in 2022?
Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic
Paolo Banchero was neck-and-neck with Chet Holmgren for the provisional No.1 spot in the rankings for the 2022 NBA draft. The 19-year-old power forward was eventually selected as a top pick by the Orlando Magic.
Banchero was a 5-star recruit in the 2021 class which made him one of the most desired players in college basketball. He went on to play for Duke University, leading his team all season long. However, his efforts were enough only for a Final Four spot as he was eliminated by North Carolina one step away from the Final.
Banchero averaged 17.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game in his only college season for Duke. Having in mind his versatile playing style, the young talent has been quite spectacular with his 47.8 FG%.
During the offseason, Banchero had to fight hard to defend his #1 spot in the draft. Even though he only played twice for the Magic, he managed to showcase his skills averaging 20 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 6.0 assists along the process.
Keegan Murray, Sacramento Kings
Keegan Murray was selected with the fourth overall pick by the Sacramento Kings. The power forward will provide the much-needed help to one of the most struggling teams in the NBA in recent years. The Kings missed the Playoffs in their last 16 attempts which raises several red flags for the management.
Murray has been part of Iowa for two consecutive years, but it was his second season that made the difference for him. His height of 6’8’’ helped him dominate in the pain throughout his entire sophomore year. In the end, he won the Karl Malone Award cementing his legacy as the best power forward in the campaign.
The athletic player averaged 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.5 assists across 35 appearances during the 2021/22 NCAA season. Moreover, his 1.9 blocks and 1.3 steals per game further underline his dominance on both ends of the court. Murray has grown immensely throughout the past year.
Jabari Smith Jr., Houston Rockets
Jabari Smith Jr. was selected as the third overall pick by the Houston Rockets. Based solely on his physical attributes, the 19-year-old talent certainly has a promising future in the NBA. Standing at 6’10”, Smith Jr. has been a threat for any defense in the NCAA throughout the past year.
Unfortunately, Auburn suffered an upset in the Second Round to Miami (FL). The Tigers had a fantastic season sharing a 28-6 record in the Regular Season with Jabari Smith Jr. averaging 16.9 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 2.0 assists per game.
Jabari Smith might have missed winning it all as a college player, but now it’s far more important how he will adapt to the NBA. He will be surrounded by young colleagues in Houston as will play along with Josh Cristopher, Jalen Green, and Kevin Porter.
Jaden Ivey, Detroit Pistons
Jaden Ivey is considered to be one of the most athletic rookies in the 2022/23 NBA season. The 20-year-old shooting guard stands at 6’4″ and weighs 195 lbs.
Ivey was part of the United States team that won the gold medal at the 2021 FIBA Under-19 World Cup in Latvia. He led his team past France in the Final, scoring 16 points for the 83-81 win and the gold medal. The powerful shooting guard has been selected for the All-Star Team at the World Cup.
His venture in Purdue wasn’t that successful as they were upset twice in the brackets. In 2021, they were ousted by North Texas, while in 2022 they fell against Saint Peter’s in the Regional Semifinals.
Ivey averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists across 36 appearances during the season. He led the Boilermakers to the No.1 in the Associated Press poll for the first time in school history.
Bennedict Mathurin, Indiana Pacers
Bennedict Mathurin remains among the hidden favorites for the Rookie of the Year award. The Arizona Wildcats had a fantastic Regular Season, but their hopes were cut short by Houston in the Regional Semifinals.
Mathurin averaged 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game, making him one of the main reasons for the team’s sheer consistency. The 20-year-old shooting guard signed with the Indiana Pacers who will give him enough playing time to prove himself.