In the moment, the Houston Rockets walking away from the 2022 NBA Draft lottery with the third overall pick felt like a letdown, but it was actually a very good outcome. Even though the Rockets lost the most games in the league, they had a 47.9% chance of securing the fifth overall pick, compared to a 14% chance of landing the first.
While securing the first or second pick was slightly more likely than picking third, avoiding the coin flip’s chance of picking fifth has to be a massive win. With no clear-cut number one prospect and the possibility for draft-day trades, the Rockets front office will almost assuredly be doing their homework on the top-five picks.
The Meta Big Board
This is the second year I’ve done a meta big board. The general premise behind the exercise is two-fold. First, I am not an amateur basketball aficionado, and second, it is the belief in the wisdom of the crowd. By taking the work of many experts and aggregating it you can come to a better answer than relying on your own or another’s individual judgment. In essence, this big board aims to stand on the shoulders of giants and call itself tall.
Last season, I aggregated eight different big boards and then averaged each prospect’s ranking. Using the same method as before, but this time with 11 different publications, I once again created a meta big board for the 2022 NBA Draft. In this piece, I’ll take the scouting consensus and provide the statistical profile of each prospect. Unfortunately, no player in the top five of the meta big board did physical measurements at the draft combine.
#5 Keegan Murray
Keegan Murray is the oldest player projected to go in the top five, but his ‘prospectdom’ is the youngest. Murray received one division one scholarship out of high school, played a postgraduate year at the DME Academy, went to Iowa where he played sparingly as a freshman, and then exploded into the best collegiate player as a sophomore.
Murray’s meteoric rise was fueled by an advanced array of scoring moves and an excellent combination of size and body control. His feel for the game as a scorer is viewed as a plus and allows him to be a dangerous scorer without elite athleticism.
His size (6’8 or 6’9) and smarts have scouts projecting him as a multi-positional defender capable of potentially surviving as a small-ball five. Murray isn’t viewed as having superstar potential, but his ‘old-man game’ has the industry projecting a high floor. For a player who developed so late, the industry may be sleeping on his upside simply because of his age.
Statistically, Murray was college basketball’s best player. He led the nation in win shares, win shares per 48 minutes, and box plus/minus. His national best offensive box plus/minus of 13.0 was 3.5 higher than Oscar Tshiebwe in second. If traditional metrics are your thing, Murray also looks like a man amongst boys. He averaged 23.5 points and 8.7 rebounds per game on 62.1% shooting on 2-pointers and 39.8% on 3-pointers.
In my meta big board, Murray had an average ranking of 6.00 with a range between fourth and eighth. It’s safe to say, Murray should be the fifth pick in the draft and it looks incredibly unlikely that he will drop past eighth. He’s a polished high-floor prospect that should have a long, lucrative, and productive NBA career.