The 2022 NBA Draft is being heralded as a relatively flat one, meaning that the spread of talent between the latter portion of the lottery and early second round may not be as large as it typically is. Of course, pre-draft analysis can only be relied upon to an extent, however if this class fits the suit that it was tailored for, then the Toronto Raptors decision to move down from Pick #20 to Pick #33 may not turn out to be as poor of a decision as it looks like on the surface. There is plenty of international talent in this draft, and there are a slew of prospects who fit the mold of what the new-era Raptors are looking to build. If you think you know where players names will be falling on the draft board, it could be in your best interest to check out Ontario’s best betting apps. Without further ado, let’s dive into some analysis of five names to keep an eye on heading into June 23rd.
Leonard Miller, High School
Leonard Miller is one of the most intriguing prospects in this class, and not only because he hails from Fort Erie, Ontario, and has declared for the NBA Draft immediately after graduating high School. The eighteen year old forward stands at 6’10 with a 7’3 wingspan, and has an uber versatile skillset. His shot mechanics are funky and will certainly need work if he is going to become a long-range threat in the NBA, but he hasn’t shown any fear of taking the open shot when it’s available. The most exciting part about Miller’s game is his ability to play like a point-forward – something that the Raptors will certainly be taking note of. Miller’s ball-handling ability is subpar by an NBA standard, however his ability finding open teammates and manipulate defenders with pass-fakes is beyond his years. Given his lack of experience playing seasoned competition, Miller’s draft stock is being pegged anywhere between the mid-20’s and late 50’s, so he should be available by the time the Raptors select. A good NBA comparison for Miller might be Nicolas Batum.
Christian Koloko, Arizona
The running joke among Raptors fans last year was that if a player stood over 6’10”, he would have been traded. Although Koloko measures in three inches above that threshold, he doesn’t play like a traditional seven-footer on the defensive side of the ball. He has good mobility for his size, he is an elite athlete, he led the Pac-12 in blocks per game by a considerable margin, and he is a good rebounder. However, for him to stay on the floor in the NBA, he’ll have to expand his offensive game by a wide margin. Currently, he projects as a solid rim-runner and pick-and-roll lob threat, but outside of that, he can’t be trusted to create or knock down many twenty-footers. At his ceiling, he may look like a more offensively dynamic version of Clint Capela, but currently he seems more comparable to Mitchell Robinson.
Patrick Baldwin Jr., Milwaukee
Patrick Baldwin Jr. was a five-star recruit coming out of high school and looked destined to land in the top-ten of this year’s draft. Thanks to an underwhelming freshman season at Milwaukee, there’s a chance he could fall right into the Raptors lap. The said-to-be 3&D wing shot a dismal 26.6% from three-point range last season, and 34.4% from the field. The advanced analytics failed to vouch for him too, with an assist-to-turnover ratio of 0.74 despite having 28.6% usage. It’s also important to note however, that due to a nagging ankle injury, Baldwin only appeared in 11 contests last season. Baldwin shouldn’t be expected to blossom into a star (although you never know with the Raptors development system), however if he can rediscover the shooting stroke that he exhibited a year ago, he could fit into a role similar to Cameron Johnson’s with the Phoenix Suns.
Yannick Nzosa, Malaga
Yannick Nzosa is another player who seemed like a sure-fire bet to land in the lottery, but due to a terrible season in Malaga, he could hear his name being called in the second round. Nzosa is an elite-level athlete with upper echelon leaping ability, lateral quickness, and great speed in the open floor. Pair all of that with a 6’11 frame and a strong motor, and you’ve got a prototypical Raptors prospect. Nzosa is one of the youngest players in the draft (he won’t be of legal drinking age in Canada until November), and it certainly shows in his game. He plays out of control defensively at times, which led to him averaging 5.0 fouls per 36 minutes, and he shows some impatience offensively as well. Once the game slows down for him and he learns how to leverage his physical tools, he could develop into a Brandon Clarke-esque player.
Josh Minott, Memphis
Minott is a 6’8 power forward with intriguing upside because of his athleticism, and willingness to play both sides of the ball. In one season at Memphis, Minott averaged 6.6 points, 0.7 blocks, and 0.8 steals. His role at Memphis never required him to create offense for others or himself, and so he wasn’t able to flash much offensive prowess, however in his limited opportunity he still showed strong finishing skills around the rim. For Minott to carve out consistent wing minutes in the NBA, he’ll have to improve his three-point stroke, which will also enable him to attack closeouts and get downhill. If all goes well for Minott and his versatile defense translates to the pros, he could fill a role similar to Jarred Vanderbilt’s.