NBA Draft Preview: A deep field can produce amazing stars.

When Orlando Magic will hand over his draft card to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, at the Barclays Center on Thursday night, he will set up a debate that has been rife in draft circles for the better part of the year: Who should be the No. 1 pick?

The foremost runner is Gonzaga Chat Holmgreen, seven feet thinner than a rail but stiffer with nails who can shoot, dribble, pass and defend. But equally strong cases are to be made for Auburn’s big man Jabari Smith, who spent the past season drowning in seemingly impossible shots, and for Duke’s Paolo Banchero, a creative shot maker who is just as brilliant in paint. Is as it is on the frame.

“All three are incredibly talented,” said Jonathan Givony, founder of DraftExpress, an NBA draft analyst at ESPN. “There are really good players in this draft and also the best depth.”

Here are five more possibilities to know.

6ft 11, 223 lbs. Forward, Mega Mozart (Serbia)

People ask Nicola Joke all the time about Nicola Joke. And it makes sense. Joachim and the Denver Nuggets star have something in common: they are both big men of Serbia who played for the same club Mega Mozart and only one letter separates their last names. But the comparison doesn’t bother Joachim, who is expected to be the first international player to be picked on Thursday.

“People pick it up all the time,” he said. “I’m very good with it. I think it’s also very funny because the chances of this happening are really low. At the same time, I feel good because people compare me to the league MVP twice. have been.

As a boy, Joachim wanted to be a professional water polo player. He spent his summers in Montenegro with his mother and loved swimming in the Adriatic Sea. When he was 13, his father introduced him to basketball. What started out as a backyard hobby soon became a craze and a profession. “I was getting bigger and bigger,” Joachim said, “and it was easy to see that basketball would be a better choice than water polo.”

Although many NBA teams have been tracking European stars since their early teens, Joachim did not become a big name on the draft boards until he competed in the Adidas Next Generation Tournament in Belgrade in March 2021. ۔ The 4s can shoot 3s, take quick breaks and pass smart. He said he was ready to stay in Europe after the draft, but hoped he would come down with a team that wanted him to play immediately.

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

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

When NBA observers visited the Overtime Elite this year, they were looking to the future. The Startup League has potential top 10 players in the 2023 and 2024 drafts. But one player in the 2022 draft class took advantage of all that extra scouting attention and worked from the 3-star high school unexpected to a possible first-round draft pick: Dominic Barlow.

“The fact that it was the first year of OTE made the scouts interesting,” said Barlow, 19. “And once the scouts were in the building, they were able to see what I could do.”

Barlow played for Dumont High School, a small public high school in Dumont, NJ. He did not attend the Powerhouse Amateur Athletic Union program until the summer before his senior year, when a New York Renaissance coach Had seen him play in public. Park surprised most basketball insiders in September when he dropped out of a prep program and turned down several top offers to sign with Overtime Elite. It offers a six-figure salary for boys and men’s basketball players who are at least in their junior high school years.

Barlow hopes his story inspires other overlooked players to keep working. “I came as a 3-star kid, and I’m going as an NBA draft pick. Some 5-star kids struggle to get into the NBA a year after high school,” he said.

6ft-8, 225 lbs, Forward, Iowa

When Keegan and Chris Murray were recruiting for college basketball, the twins told each coach that they were not a package deal. His father, Canyon, played college basketball in Iowa in the early 1990’s, and he encouraged everyone to find their own way.

His father’s faith and knowledge helped keep the brothers happy until he ended his high school career with just one scholarship offer, Western Illinois, a Summit League school that never played Division I NCAA Tournament. I did not go

Keegan, 21, described his father, who was a supporter of his high school team in Iowa. “He told us we were going to be professional, and we believed that.”

After rejecting a Western Illinois offer and moving to Florida for a year at prep school, Keegan and Chris signed with their father’s alma mater, Iowa. Keegan performed remarkably well as a new man and began earning NBA Draft buzz, but he was not considered a top flight talent until last season. As a sophomore, Murray was the highest scorer among Power 5 conference players, the second-highest number of rebounds in the Big Ten, scoring 55.4% off the field and a solid 39.8% off 3. Were

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

Keegan is likely to be in the top five, while Chris has decided to return to Iowa for another season. “Think about where I was three years ago and where I am today,” Keegan said. “I didn’t always know where and when all this hard work would bring color, but I knew it would eventually bring color.”

6ft 3, 179 lbs. Guard, Toledo

Ryan Rollins has heard people say he should have returned to the University of Toledo for his junior season. With another year of experience, he will likely be offered in 2023 as a first-round pick. But Rollins rejects the idea. He sees no reason to wait.

“I think I’m one of the best players in the draft,” Rollins said. “If I’m not selected in the first round, that’s fine. In the long run, I’m going to be very good in this league for a very long time. Whenever and wherever I go, I’m proud to be there. Will be.

A native of Detroit, Rollins played for a prominent AAU program, Family. But the stacked roster, combined with some annoying injuries and his decision to come to college early, put him under the recruiting radar. “I always thought I was where I was for some reason,” he said. “I kept working, trying to hone my skills. I didn’t care about basketball politics. I knew the NBA would find me if I got better enough.

During two seasons in Toledo, he emerged as a mid-major show stopper with a smooth handle, fluid footwork and a dangerous midrange game. He is now likely to be selected in the second round with the ability to hide in the first round. But he is more concerned about what he does when he enters the NBA. He hopes to be the next middle-class player to become a superstar.

He is influenced by former mid-major players who are in the NBA, such as Ja Morant (Murray State), Damien Laylard (Weber State) and CJ McCullum (Lehigh University).

“They went to small schools but they made a name for themselves,” Rollins said. “I think I’m next.”

6 feet 5, 198 pounds, guard, Kentucky

There is no more mysterious player in the 2022 draft than Shaden Sharp. Although listed as a Kentucky prospect, Sharp was never suitable for the Wild Cats. In fact, he has not played a competitive game of basketball in almost a year.

Ontario, Canada, moved to Kansas to play for Sunrise Christian Academy in his sophomore year of high school, then moved to Arizona’s Dream City Christian in 2020 for his junior season, when he was in the 2022 class. Was unclassified Then last summer’s performance with the UPlay Canada team in the Nike Elite Youth Basketball League forced everyone to take notice. The tournament often proves to be for future NBA stars, and Sharpe averaged 22.6 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 12 games in 28.3 minutes per game.

Sharp graduated from high school a year ago and entered Kentucky this spring. Although there were rumors that he would join the team on the court, or return in the 2022-23 season, he has instead entered the NBA Draft. And for good reason: it will almost certainly take you to the top 10.

“It’s all there, in terms of physical fitness and sheer skill,” Giovanni said. “He’s a dynamic shot maker, an aggressive defender, a smart passerby.”

NBA teams haven’t seen much more than that, but with its 6-foot-11 wings spread, explosive athleticism and flashy shooting strokes, most NBA teams are willing to take risks outside the top five. Can

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