17th overall pick in 2022 NBA Draft: Rockets select Walker Kessler
Actual pick: Tari Eason
It hurt throwing back Eason because he has the potential to be a special two-way player. The 22-year-old averaged 9.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 1.1 assists, and 1.2 steals in 21.5 minutes per game as a rookie while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 34.3 percent on his threes. Eason is an incredible talent with versatility. There is a serious case to be made that he is the correct pick here, but Walker Kessler was just better as a rookie.
The 7’1 big man immediately became one of the NBA’s best shot blockers and rim protectors as he averaged 9.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 2.3 blocks in 23.0 minutes per game. The 21-year-old has a limited offensive game, but he scored 1.29 points per possession as a roll man, which was in the league’s top 20 percent.
He had to earn his playing time early in the season, but after the All-Star break, Kessler played 28.9 minutes per game and averaged 12.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 3.3 blocks. The 7’1 big man struggles from the free throw line, but he looks to be a starting center and elite rim protector in the NBA for the next 15 years.