2022 NBA Draft: Debate Case for Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith or Jaden Ivey as No. 1 Prospect

Who is the No. 1 prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft?

We’ll find out Thursday night who the Orlando Magic is value as number 1 as they choose the first overall for the first time since 2004 – but there is far from a consensus on top of this draft among the NBA offices. And ditto for our team of experts. In our final top 100 rankings consists of a consensus drawn from rankings by CBS Sports experts Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, David Cobb and myself, along with Adam Finkelstein and Travis Branham from 247Sports, there were four different players who received votes at No. 1.

So who is the No. 1 prospect in the 2022 NBA Draft?

The scouts have their opinions but our calculation in the consensus rankings decided that Chet Holmgren deserved the credit – but below, each of us has stated us about our choice as prospect no. 1 in this year’s draft. Here’s who each of us had in first place, and why, as we run towards Thursday night’s draft with a wide range of views on top of the class.

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The case of Chet Holmgren

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I understand the arguments that Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero and even Jaden Ivey should go first overall in the 2022 NBA Draft. I do not think any of them are ridiculous alternatives. But I still really think Holmgren is the best prospect available this year, and that’s why I also think Orlando should take him with the number 1 choice. He is an elite edge defender in defense who can float on attack, bounce it, shoot and generally take advantage of matchups.

If a traditional big man guards him, he can probably walk around him. If a minor player guards him, he can definitely shoot straight at him. Am I worried about the small frame? Sure, on some level, I guess. But as ESPN’s Jonathon Givony noted in a recent podcast, how many great prospects have not been great just because they’re too thin? He could not think of anyone. I can not either. So I just want to assume that Holmgren’s unique skill set will allow him to overcome his unique framework and eventually emerge as the best player from this draft. – Gary Parrish

Holmgren has the highest grip on the draft in my opinion. He changes the game at both ends of the floor. There are just not many 7-footers, anywhere in the world, that can protect the rim, stretch the floor and still provide such an effective interior finish. He’s even a better ball handler and passer than I think anyone gives him the credit for. But on top of it all, I’m just a big believer in his mentality and inner toughness. I know he has to build his body, but if there’s one thing that all NBA teams have figured out how to do at an exceptionally high level, it is. Adam Finkelstein

We know that the whole world questions his physique, but the truth is that Holmgren has never had a history of injuries or shown that the lack of strength is an actual obstacle. You will not be able to throw him at Joel Embiids in the world, but no one can throw anything at him. In four to five years we can rightly say that he is one of the faces of the league with his ability to dribble, pass and shoot unlike anyone we have seen on his size and length along with the fact that he is an elite defender and rim protector . Travis Branham

I understand the lid of Smith and Banchero, but for me Holmgren’s upside is a notch above. Smith lacks playing potential – Holmgren can flourish beautifully in that department. Bancheros suspected as a 3-point shooter and in defense – Holmgren has a sweet stroke and is one of the best rim protection prospects we have ever seen. I also do not buy the noisy ravings about the unique body type. Holmgren has been able to withstand stronger players all his life, and the NBA rules will continue to develop in his favor. He has already proven that he can perform at the highest levels of amateur basketball, and he also has the most room to improve on some of the top three opportunities. Add it all up and it definitely sounds like the best player in the draft class. Colin Ward-Henninger

The case of Paolo Banchero

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Be it for CBSSports.com, on Eye on College Basketball or on CBS Sports HQ, I have explained my attitude to having Banchero No. 1 on my big board many times in recent weeks. But here, right up against the draft, once again, with emotion. Banchero is the most sensible choice of any player in this class because he is the most developed and proven talent. His numbers at Duke, along with several other first-time players in the starting lineup, were more than satisfactory: 17.2 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 3.2 apg for the top-ranked offensive team in the nation, according to KenPom.com.

Banchero was a 52% 2-point shooter and 33.8% from 3-point range. No one in this draft has Banchero’s combination of size + skills + touch + passing ability + game creation + rebounding skill + competitive advantage. He has an above-average handle, can work with the post, shoot from outside the arc, and is not a black hole. The hesitation with him at No. 1 stems from the fact that he is not as potentially harmful to a 3-point shooter as Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and even Jaden Ivey are. But he can still shoot it. Defensively, he has more ground to catch up. However, no one is as ready to play in the NBA tomorrow as Banchero, and I think he will eventually prove to be a multiple All-Star at the end of his second contract. – Matt Norlander

The case of Jaden Ivey

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There are safer prospects at the top of this class (Smith Jr.) and bigger boom / bust proposals as well (Holmgren), but no one possesses the rare combination of explosive athletics and creativity that Ivey has in this draft. He is a human firework that can appear to the edge. He has the potential to develop into a true leader at the next level if he continues to develop and improve as a decision maker.

In the worst case, he can be a tempo-changing initiator whose dynamic explosiveness helps to ease the burden of a team’s No. 1 initiation alternative. I would take him No. 1 over everyone in this class on the chance that his playing improves even marginally, if not significantly, and his improvement as a shooter over the last year is very well heralded for him as a thriving star to come into the NBA. Kyle Boone

The case of Jabari Smith Jr.

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What most clearly distinguishes Smith from Banchero, Holmgren and others as the best choice at No. 1 in the 2022 NBA Draft is his elite outside of shooting. At 6-10 and with a 42% 3-point mark of 5.5 attempts per game in his only season at Auburn, Smith estimates as an excellent long-term shooter at the next level. While Banchero and Holmgren each showed a certain range from the perimeter in their lonely college seasons, no one projects as an elite in any facet of the game just as Smith does as an outside shooter.

Given that Smith also boasts an excellent defensive upside and a thriving offensive portfolio, he is the group’s safest bet for one day becoming an NBA All-Star. With promising young guards like Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony distributing basketball in Orlando, Smith will be an excellent addition to Magic’s core team. Although it may take years for Smith to reach his full potential, it is easy to see him become Magic’s leading goal scorer early in his career due to feathery shots he will bring into the league on day one. David Cobb