There's a good chance that by the time the Houston Rockets send their selection into the league office the second-ranked prospect will be gone. However, with the top three players, all ranked so closely and offering differing skill sets, there's a chance that any of the three could be there for the taking.
If you have missed parts 1, 2, and 3 that cover Keegan Murray (#5), Jaden Ivey (#4), and Chet Holmgren (#4) make of use of the links below.
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.
#2 Jabari Smith
Jabari Smith is the future of the NBA wing/forward. As positions get blurred, his combination of height, length, mobility, and perimeter shotmaking give him the chance to be the ultimate lineup skeleton-key.
The scouting report on Smith is relatively simple. He should be an excellent multi-positional defender capable of surviving on the perimeter and providing weakside help at the rim, and he’ll be a great shooter. Not only is he an accurate shooter, but he also possesses a quick and high release making his shot nearly unblockable.
Smith’s two calling cards should guarantee that he’ll have a long and impactful career, but his deficiencies call into question his ability to become a star. His lack of a handle prevents him from getting to his spots with the ball, which basically makes it impossible for him to run the offense. In the past, there were supply-dependent scorers that were stars, but those days are long gone. His passing doesn’t project as an asset, although it’s not a fatal flaw.
The other scary aspect of Smith’s game is his inability to finish around the rim. At 6’10, it’s expected for an NBA lottery-caliber player to be at least an above-average finisher at the rim. However, Smith fell well below average in that department. The combination of a poor handle and finishing around the rim means that stardom could be years away if it ever comes.
Smith’s statistical profile is not quite as impressive as the other prospects already mentioned. However, he did average 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.1 steals, and 1 block in 28.8 minutes per game on 43.5% shooting of 2-pointers and 42% from 3-point range. The proof is in the pudding, or, in this case, the box score. Smith is a lethal jump shooter, a versatile defender, and ghastly for a top-five pick around the rim.
In my meta big board, Smith had an average ranking of 2.45 with a range between one and five. The difference between him and Chet in average ranking is a statistically negligible 0.1. While some big boards are a little higher on Smith, a few are a bit lower. If big boards prioritized a prospect’s floor, Smith would likely be the consensus number one prospect, but the concerns over him ever being a star is enough to drag him down to two.