Thursday, May 19, 2022

NBA Draft 2022 Big Board: Top players whose stock is rising or falling in updated top 75 prospect rankings

We’re sandwiched between two of arguably the most consequential milestones in the 2022 NBA Draft cycle, and with the declaration deadline for underclassmen behind us and the draft combine fast approaching, the pre-draft process is finally hitting its stride and accelerating ahead of the June 23 draft. So while there will be big events ahead — like the combine, the lottery and the withdrawal deadline all over the next month and some change — now’s the perfect time to hit the reset button and re-examine (and re-rank) this year’s class.

The CBS Sports Big Board prospect rankings as such is getting a revamp today, with a fresh ranking of this year’s prospects and an expansion of the rankings from 60 to 75 to further provide a picture of this crop of players. In total there were 123 players to enter the draft as early declares and several dozen from the international pool, so there’s lots of sorting to be done as we do our final due diligence on the class and begin to formulate our final rankings.

With that in mind, this is hardly our final rankings. There’s players here that very well may not stay in the draft, actually, with the withdrawal deadline still weeks away. And there’s more to be learned in the coming month than the last six thanks to the combine and other pre-draft scrutiny. All the caveats! That said, we’ve done our best to rank the class as things stand now.

The complete Top 75 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings can be found here with our look at the notable risers and fallers following a look at the top 10 from the Big Board.  

Top 10 NBA Draft prospects

Complete Top 75 NBA Draft Prospect Rankings

Risers

Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky

Current ranking: 5 | Previous ranking: NR 

We’ve refrained — until now — from ranking Sharpe because of uncertainty of whether he would or would not declare for the draft. Now that he’s in the draft — and expected to remain in — he slots in at No. 5. It’s an aggressive ranking for a player who did not play last season and who has not been seen in a competitive environment since the Nike EYBL circuit, I’ll admit, but in a draft where there’s a pretty steep drop-off after No. 4, the case for Sharpe is easy. At 6-foot-6 with a reported 7-foot wingspan and a pedigree as a former No. 1 overall recruit in his class, his ceiling as a potential star from the shooting guard position is undeniable. Teams always want to take big swings at the top of the draft, and Sharpe has as much long-term upside as almost anyone in the class. 

Jeremy Sochan, Baylor

Current ranking: 12 | Previous ranking: 16

Intrigue in Baylor’s one-and-done Sochan lies in his mystery. Is he a center? A power forward? A wing? A guard? Answer: all the above?

He does a little of everything as a defender. Has size and physicality to bang in the post and the mobility to defend on the perimeter and match up with wings and guards, too. On offense he’s got exciting tools as well, including some above average playmaking and passing for a player his size and the grab-and-go ability that opens up a team’s transition offense.

Sochan just makes things happen. Always fighting, always in the mix, always making plays and wreaking havoc. A foxhole guy that teams will want in their corner. Screams lottery potential. As this process rolls along, they’ll love his demeanor and work ethic, and it’s why I think he’s got a real chance in this draft to go inside the top 10.

Malaki Branham, Ohio State

Current ranking: 16 | Previous ranking: 20

I held off from ranking Branham too high initially in part because, at least at first, it didn’t appear a certainty that he’d remain in the NBA Draft. However, now that he’s committed to staying in the draft, he gets a tiny boost to where I’d actually take him — which is just outside the lottery. 

Branham had some real defensive issues he had to work through at Ohio State and those deficiencies are in part what may keep him from rising too far past this on my list. But on offense, he’s a silky 6-5 scorer who can fill it up inside and out and has the handle to create himself open looks to boot. 

Fallers

Patrick Baldwin Jr., Milwaukee

Current ranking: 37 | Previous ranking: 30

One can only skate on reputation and pedigree for so long. Baldwin Jr., unfortunately — even as a former No. 1 recruit — just isn’t the same prospect we once thought he was.

That certainly could change! He’s 6-9, has an effortless shooting motion, projects as a jumbo wing who can score it from anywhere. But he struggled at Milwaukee, averaging 12.1 points per game and shooting 26.6% from 3-point range while playing in only 11 contests and missing a ton of time because of injury. It’s the second consecutive injury-riddled season (along with his senior year of high school). If he returns to school he could rebuild his draft stock, but I can’t have him as a first-rounder right now given the injury risk he presents and the fact that he’s not looked like a former five-star in quite some time.

JD Davison, Alabama

Current ranking: 32 | Previous ranking: 30

Alabama coach Nate Oats told The Field of 68 at the Final Four that NBA feedback Davison is getting would put him in the late first or early second round. That jives with where we’ve ranked him for a few months now. Amazing athlete, good size, flashes of playmaking all help, but he represents a bigger gamble than most one-and-dones given his inability to really establish himself as a difference-maker at Alabama as a former five-star. In the late first or early second round, though, you’re betting on traits and projectability, and Davison is a worthwhile flier who could really develop into something in a few years. 

Trevor Keels, Duke

Current ranking: 43 | Previous ranking: 36

At one point during the 2021-22 season, Keels looked like a potential lottery pick and no-doubt-about-it one-and-done Dukie. Now that looks like it’s up in the air. There’s buzz that Keels is considering a return to Duke, where he could build off a strong freshman season and potentially reestablish himself as a first-rounder for next year. If he leaves Duke he could wind up in the 25-35 range by the time the draft rolls around. He’s one I think NBA teams would like to get a closer look at perhaps in a different, more expanded role next season after some inconsistent play as a rookie, which has him just outside the top-40 outlook on the Big Board right now. One of the biggest and most consequential stay-or-go decisions out there right now. 

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