I've Got Five On It: Riskiest potential NBA Draft picks
The 2022 NBA Draft sits just days away, and a number of former Rivals150 prospects are set to shake Adam Silver’s hand and be handed a pile of money. With that moment, however, will come expectations. From boom-or-bust lottery selections to injury concerns, the draft is a minefield of sorts. So this week in I've Got Five On It, basketball recruiting director Rob Cassidy has a look at five of the riskiest potential picks in this year’s draft.
2023 Rankings: Rivals150
2024 Rankings: Top 40
1. CHET HOLMGREN
HIGH SCHOOL RANKING: No. 1 overall in the class of 2021
PROJECTED DRAFT SLOT: No. 2 overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder
WHY IT’S RISKY: No matter what you do with Holmgren you take a risk. Pass on him, and you’re opting out of selecting a prospect with a hyper-unique skill set the likes of which doesn’t come around often. Select him at No. 1 or No. 2 and you’re hitching your wagon to an incredibly thin, semi-unproven commodity, as the 195-pound Holmgren could be overpowered by NBA competition or find himself prone to injury when the game becomes more physical. The allure of the 7-foot Holmgren is, of course, his length and rare versatility, as he handles the ball and shoots from distance like few 7-footers can. Pick or pass. Either is a risk because saying “I told you so” will become easy in retrospect.
2. SHAEDON SHARPE
HIGH SCHOOL RANKING: No. 3 in the class of 2021
PROJECTED DRAFT SLOT: No. 7 to the Portland Trail Blazers
WHY IT’S RISKY: Sharpe was briefly the top prospect in the class of 2022 before reclassifying and enrolling at Kentucky for the second semester last year. He redshirted his one semester in Lexington and famously never played a game for the Wildcats. Nobody needs to be spoon-fed the reasons why selecting him is risky, as the former five-star hasn’t played in a basketball game that counted since his final game at Arizona’s Dream City Christian High School last October. That said, Sharpe’s talent is obvious. He’s a hyper-athletic, long-armed versatile slasher capable of creating his own shot and scoring from any part of the floor. That lack of sample size on his performance in high-level games remains concerning, however. There may not be a bigger boom-or-bust prospect in the draft.
3. JADEN HARDY
HIGH SCHOOL RANKING: No. 6 in the class of 2021
PROJECTED DRAFT SLOT: No. 27 overall to the Miami Heat
WHY IT’S RISKY: Hardy’s stock has gone in the wrong direction over the last year, as he was once viewed as a potential top-five pick, but the scoring ability that made him a top high school prospect not long ago is still there in spades, as he averaged 19.5 points per game in 25 G League outings. Questions about his shot selection and ball security have affected his stock, as has the fact that he hasn’t been nearly as efficient as most expected him to be at the G League level. Hardy, who once seemed like a lottery lock, suddenly feels like a bit of a risk as a first-round selection, but he could also end up being a steal for the Heat at 27 or any time after.
4. PATRICK BALDWIN JR.
HIGH SCHOOL RANKING: No. 8 in the class of 2021
PROJECTED DRAFT SLOT: No. 45 overall to the Milwaukee Bucks
WHY IT’S RISKY: Selecting Baldwin in the late second round isn’t exactly a massive risk, as it’s more like taking a flier on upside. That said, selecting him any earlier is putting your neck on the line. The 6-foot-10 forward chose a Milwaukee program coached by his now-fired father over Duke out of high school and struggled from an efficiency standpoint going through shooting slumps against less-than-elite competition. An ankle injury forced him to miss a month or so of his lone college season, and he slid down draft boards with haste. Some scouts think he’ll be a much better pro than he was in college, as his length, wiggle and track record of shot-making shouldn’t be forgotten. Baldwin could have hit the transfer portal and worked to improve his stock as a sophomore, but he instead chose to become a high-risk, high-reward second-rounder.
5. AJ GRIFFIN
HIGH SCHOOL RANKING: No. 17 in the class of 2021
PROJECTED DRAFT SLOT: No. 11 overall to the New York Knicks
WHY IT’S RISKY: The battle-tested Griffin was one of college basketball’s top three-point shooters a season ago and his skill set from that standpoint should translate well to the NBA level. That said, the risk with Griffin centers on his injury history. He’s been limited by leg, back and knee injuries in recent years and was a bit inconsistent, especially defensively, in his one season at Duke. That said, his dead-eye jumper and potential offensive efficiency make him a tantalizing prospect. If he's able to stay healthy at the NBA level, consistency should come. If not, selecting him at 11 could spell trouble.