In the latest edition of P.I. Pulse, we continue our new column, 'P.I. Confidential.' Penned by an anonymous NBA scout with a decade of experience within multiple pro front offices, the idea with this endeavor is to provide them a platform to pull back the curtain and openly discuss scouting philosophies, procedures, processes, and of course, prospects:
I am not a fan of in-season redrafts, but I think a great exercise is to redraft the previous year’s draft every season for three seasons. After a few years, you should be able to get a great grasp of who the top-10 players are and use that information to help you assess where you were right and/or wrong on prospects at the time of the draft. With that said, I am taking a stab at redrafting the top-10 from the 2022 NBA draft class. As we are still only approximately 100 games into these guys’ careers, I have chosen some players I see as having more upside, even if they haven’t performed as well as others.
Peyton Watson (30)
Compare the year 2 stats of Watson and Jaden McDaniels — similar size — I have always been a proponent of getting these tall, lanky, thin guys and throwing them at guards where they can use their size to overwhelm but still have the movement skills to stay with them.
Dyson Daniels (8)
Daniels plays hard and is a versatile defender — it’s just a matter of whether his shooting will be able to come around. You could make a case for him getting into the top-10 in a redraft if he can raise his 3PT% into the mid-30s.
He’s an explosive scorer and still only 21 years old. Over the next year-and-a-half, will we see if Bennedict is simply a volume scorer off the bench or if he can improve his defense and create for others to take that next step as a player.
10. Mark Williams (15)
Mark is an elite rebounder and a good mover guarding on the perimeter, but he will need to improve his rim protection numbers. He’s produced a low TO% and AST% thus far, but I think he can do more than he has shown out of the short roll or finding shooters off post-ups. He needs to improve his touch from 3-10 feet where he currently shoots just 38%. If he can take a step as a rim protector, he should develop into a solid starting center.
9. Tari Eason (17)
Tari is just one of those valuable, athletic forwards who can guard anyone and does a great job bringing havoc on the defensive end. He’s second on the Rockets in on/off at +9.1 (86th percentile). He will make enough shots to keep you honest and is an awesome rebounder on both ends. For someone who at times plays out of control, he is only at 8.9% TO, which is great to see. He’s already a strong piece for Houston who can be an impact playoff player with his size, versatility and athleticism.
8. Walker Kessler (22)
Just a monster protecting the rim, Walker will be an elite rim protector for the next five years minimum. He has done a great job improving his body, which in turn has helped his movement skills immensely. He’s still just a play finisher offensively and does struggle with some turnover issues, but nothing terrible for a center. He needs to continue improving as a processor and needs to improve his FT% so he can play at the end of games.
7. Jalen Duren (13)
We might as well call this the “centers” tier because I think there will be three in Tier 4. Duren has become an elite rebounder on both ends and a super physical finisher above the rim, especially out of pick-and-roll. He’s a solid if not great rim protector due to him being a little smaller than you would like — but he makes up for it with his elite wingspan and vertical. He’s taken a big step in AST%, which you love to see from such a young player. He’s still a little turnover-prone, but if he can improve his handle and playmaking im the coming years, you can see flashes of Bam.
6. Keegan Murray (4)
Murray has done a great job being a solid role player for this Kings team in his first two seasons. His shooting has been down this year from 3 (35.6%), but he continues to be a great floor spacer and defender. He’s just an average rebounder playing alongside Sabonis and he never has the opportunity to have the ball in his hands to create for himself, which are two things that will impact how good Keegan and the Kings can be moving forward. The Kings should prioritize his offensive development because in the playoffs they will need that third option who is comfortable creating their own shot outside of Fox and Sabonis.
5. Jabari Smith (3)
Jabari is quietly having a really nice season for the revamped Rockets. His shooting numbers jumped from 41% to 49% and his 3PT numbers from 31% to 38% on similar volume. He's also averaging 10 rebounds and has a positive AST/TO ratio. Playing this season at 20 years old, he has started to fill into his body and looks to be rounding into the shooting forward he was projected to be in the draft. Still three years younger than Keegan, as well, with similar or better statistics, he’s my choice at #5.
4. Shaedon Sharpe (7)
This is certainly an upside pick with Shaedon over Jabari and Keegan, but I’ve seen enough flashes of elite self-creation, athleticism and shooting to bet on the upside as he is three years younger than Murray, as well. When he pops, he really pops. He’s an explosive athlete getting all the way to the rim and has deep range on his jumper. Has also shown the ability to create for others with his handle and speed. He doesn’t always bring the best effort defensively, but it may be safe to partially attribute that to playing on a non-contending team. With him, Scoot and Anfernee all juggling guard minutes along with Brogdon, he hasn’t found his best fit yet.
3. Jalen Williams (12)
I went back-and-forth here, but I think Jalen has shown enough this season to warrant being in the #3 spot. An awesome role player right now who seems to be improving rapidly, the big question for Williams for me is if he can take that next step with increased usage offensively. Defensively, he does a great job guarding 1-3 but leans on the more finesse side so I don’t see him being able to guard the elite forwards in the league right now. He may be getting a bump due to being a perfect player next to Shai and Chet. In time, I think he will need to double his 3PAr and improve as a rebounder to help OKC get into the championship mix.
2. Paolo Banchero (1)
He’s not a perfect player and has some areas where I would like to see some improvement, but I think Paolo has shown enough to be the second-best player in this draft class so far and moving forward. He boasts elite size and skill, especially as he’ll potentially be able to play some 5 in the playoffs, offering Orlando a ton of lineup versatility. He’s an elite foul-drawer, but is only shooting 73% for his career. Paolo is really hard to guard in the short post due to his handle and athleticism, as well as his ability to find shooters. For him to take the next step, I would like to see his efficiency increase and his shot diet cut out some of the pull up 2s (30% of his shots are non rim 2s where he shoots 38% - 12th percentile).
1. Chet Holmgren (2)
Chet is in his own tier for me and there might be a tier in between the next group of players. I had some injury reservations on Chet coming out of the draft, mainly due to how the group of 7’+ under 200 lbs. group had fared, but he has been so elite this season it’s hard not to comp him to a modern Kevin Garnett. His ability to space the floor and protect the rim is already elite, but it’s his ballhandling and creation that I believe will set him apart. Chet will impact winning basketball as long as he can stay healthy — and his upside is MVP-level.
Thanks for checking in! Leave me some feedback @_piconfidential and tell me where I’m wrong and who I need to watch further.
In the Chapter 4, we will analyze the last four years of data on drafted upperclassmen and see what can be derived to help forecast some older 2024 prospects' outlooks.
Until next time!