An early look at the top prospects next year

With the basketball world one month removed from the NBA draft, some have started to look ahead to the next rookie class that features some high-profile prospects.

The top of the class is highlight by Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren and Duke forward Paolo Banchero. The two players will likely trade places atop draft boards throughout much of the next season as both project to be franchise-changing prospects at the next level.

Of course, with the NBA draft set to take place on June 23, 2022, plenty will change over the course of the next 10 months. However, it can be a productive exercise to see how prospects have improved their stock and how others dropped on draft boards over time.

Rookie Wire took a very early look at the next rookie class and some of the top prospects to monitor as the 2021-22 season approaches in a couple of months.

Note: The order of the draft was determined by the reverse championship odds set by Tipico Sportsbook. The 2022 draft will only have 59 picks after the Bucks were stripped of their second-round pick by the NBA due to a tampering violation last year in free agency.

Houston Rockets: Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

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Height: 7-1 Weight: 195 Year: Freshman Position: C Holmgren announced in April he would commit to Gonzaga University, citing friend and recent draftee Jalen Suggs as a huge reason he chose the Bulldogs. He became the highest-rated recruit to ever commit to Gonzaga and should help the program continue its recent run of success. He brings a unique blend of size and skill to Gonzaga and has drawn comparisons to Kristaps Porzingis given his ability on both ends of the floor.

Detroit Pistons: Paolo Banchero, Duke

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Height: 6-10 Weight: 250 Year: Freshman Position: F The five-star recruit opted out of playing at O’Dea High School in Washington last season. However, he was named the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state two seasons ago as a junior after averaging 22.6 points, 11 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.6 blocked shots. He has been highly touted for his ability on both ends of the floor and has proven he can score at all three levels on the court. Banchero projects to be a difficult matchup in college given his size and overall ability. Note: This pick is protected for selections 1-16

Cleveland Cavaliers: Jaden Hardy, NBA G League Ignite

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Height: 6-4 Weight: 190 Year: N/A Position: G Hardy, who is considered the No. 2 prospect, chose to sign with the Ignite over established college programs including Kentucky, Oregon and UCLA. The Henderson, Nevada, native did not play last season due to the coronavirus pandemic, but he was named the Nevada Gatorade Player of the Year during the 2019-20 season after averaging 30.4 points, 9.1 rebounds and 8.4 assists. He has a great blend of athleticism and skill as a guard and can create for himself and others. The Ignite had success last season with Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga and Isaiah Todd, and Hardy is hoping to become the next beneficiary.

Orlando Magic: Caleb Houstan, Michigan

AP Photo/Gregory Payan

Height: 6-8 Weight: 205 Year: Freshman Position: G Houstan, a five-star recruit from the Montverde Academy, became the highest-ranked prospect to commit to Michigan since Glen Robinson III in 2012. He was named an All-American after averaging 13.2 points and 4.6 rebounds on 53% shooting from the field, including 40% from 3-point range. He recently helped Canada to the bronze medal in the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup, averaging 17 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 steals. He has been highly touted for his ability as a shooter. He also has great length and a good handle. His game should continue to grow with the Wolverines as he projects to be an early lottery pick next year.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Yannick Nzosa, Unicaja (Spain)

Height: 6-11 Weight: N/A Year: N/A Position: F Nzosa, 17, will be one of the youngest prospects in the draft next year. He only started playing organized basketball at 13, and his tools make him one of the most versatile big men in the class. He averaged 4.4 points and 2.6 rebounds in 40 games across the ACB, Eurocup and Spanish Cup. He joined Luka Doncic and Ricky Rubio as the only 16-year-olds to score at least 10 points in a debut in the ACB. He has transformed into a great defender given his ability to block shots and play the passing lanes while showing great promise on the offensive end. Note: This pick is protected for selections 1-14

Sacramento Kings: Jalen Duren, Memphis

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Height: 6-10 Weight: 230 Year: Freshman Position: C Duren reclassified to 2021 in early August and chose Memphis over other collegiate programs, including Kentucky and Miami. He played last season at the Montverde Academy, averaging 14.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.1 blocked shots in 23 games. He competed in the Nike EYBL season this summer, during which he averaged 13.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks and 1.9 assists in 15 games. Duren has drawn comparisons to Bam Adebayo of the Miami Heat given his size and skills. The physicality Duren plays with makes him a force in the paint while he is thought to be very advanced in his abilities at this stage of his career.

Minnesota Timberwolves: AJ Griffin, Duke

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Height: 6-6 Weight: 222 Year: Freshman Position: F Griffin, the son of former 10-year NBA veteran and Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin, has spent much of the past year training with his father in Tampa after his high school season was canceled last year. He is viewed as one of the most physical players in the draft next year and is believed to have a 7-foot-2 wingspan. He’ll have the chance to continue to develop with Duke next season and projects to have little issue with adjusting to the collegiate game.

San Antonio Spurs: Patrick Baldwin Jr., Milwaukee

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Height: 6-9 Weight: 220 Year: Freshman Position: G Baldwin passed on Duke next season to play for his father at Milwaukee. He became the highest-ranked recruit out of high school to commit to a Horizon League school. The decision to skip playing for a high-major program likely will not matter as Baldwin is thought to be a high draft pick next year in the NBA. He missed most of his senior season due to an ankle injury but recently helped USA Basketball to the gold medal at the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup, averaging 7.7 points, five rebounds and two assists per game.

Washington Wizards: Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn

Photo via USA Basketball

Height: 6-10 Weight: 215 Year: Freshman Position: F Smith, who is the son of former NBA veteran Jabari Smith, became the highest-rated prospect to sign with Auburn. He helped lead Sandy Creek High School to a spot in the Georgia state championship after averaging 23.4 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2.5 blocks and 1.6 steals per game, and eventually was named a Naismith first-team All-American.

Charlotte Hornets: Peyton Watson, UCLA

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Height: 6-8 Weight: 200 Year: Freshman Position: G Watson, who was the No. 1 prospect in the state of California, was named a McDonald’s All-American after averaging 30 points per game in an abbreviated season at Long Beach Poly. He recently helped USA Basketball win the gold at the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup after averaging four points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. Note: This pick is protected for selections 1-18

Toronto Raptors: Jaden Ivey, Purdue

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Height: 6-4 Weight: 200 Year: Sophomore Position: G Ivey was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team last season after averaging 11.1 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He saved his best for the end of the season, averaging 18.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game over the last six contests. Ivey continued his strong run after helping USA Basketball claim the gold medal at the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup with 12.3 points per game, which was second on the team. He is considered to be perhaps the top returning collegiate player and could be a high lottery pick next year with another strong run.

Memphis Grizzlies: Jean Montero, Overtime Elite

Photo courtesy of Overtime Elite

Height: 6-2 Weight: N/A Year: N/A Position: G Montero, who is from the Dominican Republic, has played the past two seasons with Gran Canaria of the Liga ACB, the top professional league in Spain. He averaged 18.4 points and 4.6 assists per game during his two seasons with Gran Canaria and emerged as a great scorer with his athleticism and ability to create for himself. He also helped the Dominican Republic to the bronze medal in the FIBA U16 Americas Championship in 2019, where he averaged 30.3 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game. Montero will be part of the inaugural class for Overtime Elite, a new program led by Kevin Ollie. He was the first international player to commit to the team and will begin the transition to the American game with several other top prospects.

Indiana Pacers: Nikola Jovic, KK Mega Basket (Serbia)


Height: 6-10 Weight: 209 Year: N/A Position: F Jovic will look to carry his strong run with Serbia in the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup into next season with KK Mega Basket. He was named to the all-tournament team after averaging 18.1 points, 8.3 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.7 blocked shots as Serbia narrowly missed the bronze medal. He is highly touted for his overall ability: He can handle the ball, shoot and rebound. He has shown some good moments on defense, but will need to continue to improve on that end of the floor. He shot 36.4% from 3-point range during the World Cup and looks to have no issue extending his range to the NBA line. With another year of development abroad, Jovic could be one of the most versatile big men in the class.

Chicago Bulls: Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona

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Height: 6-7 Weight: 195 Year: Sophomore Position: G Mathurin was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman team after averaging 10.8 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game last season. He proved an excellent 3-point shooter, converting on 41.8% of his attempts, which ranked sixth in the conference. Mathurin helped Canada win the bronze medal in the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup after averaging 16.1 rebounds per game, seventh-most among all players. He showed his ability to score; he was one of two players in the tournament with multiple 30-point games. With elite athleticism and a smooth stroke, Mathurin will be one player to keep an eye on this season.

New York Knicks: Roko Prkacin, KK Cibona (Croatia)


Height: 6-9 Weight: 225 Year: N/A Position: PF Prkacin entered the NBA draft this year but, surprisingly, opted to withdraw and play one more season overseas. He was projected by most to be a late first-round pick but can now climb into the lottery with another strong campaign in Croatia. Prkacin averaged 13.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.6 assists last season on 39.4% shooting from 3-point range. He can be one of the most versatile big men next year given his skills on offense.

Portland Trail Blazers: Dyson Daniels, NBA G League Ignite


Height: 6-6 Weight: N/A Year: N/A Position: G Daniels will play with the Ignite next season after spending time last year with the NBA Academy in Canberra, Australia. He emerged as one of the top prospects, participating in the NBA Academy Games, exhibition games at the 2019 NBA G League Winter Showcase and the 2020 Torneo Junior Ciutat de L’Hospitalet in Barcelona, Spain. He most recently participated with Australia in the 2021 FIBA U19 World Cup, averaging 14 points, 4.6 assists and 2.3 steals. The 18-year-old can do a little bit of everything on the court and will certainly stand to benefit next season in the NBA G League.

Charlotte Hornets (via New Orleans): Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee

Alex Driehaus/Naples Daily News

Height: 6-0 Weight: 172 Year: Freshman Position: G The five-star prospect was named an All-American last season at Sunrise Christian Academy in Kansas after averaging 14.8 points, 6.4 assists, 4.2. rebounds and 3.3 steals per game. He was considered the top point guard in the class of 2021 rankings given his athleticism and ability to create for himself and others. He has also improved as a shooter and is active defensively. Note: This pick is protected for selections 1-14 for the Pelicans but will convey to the Hornets in this situation.

Boston Celtics: Ousmane Dieng, NZ Breakers (NBL)


Height: 6-10 Weight: 200 Year: N/A Position: G Dieng, who was born in Paris, played last for the INSEP Academy in France, averaging 12.6 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. He also had a strong run for his country in the 2019 FIBA U16 European Championship, in which he averaged 8.9 points, 3.6 assists and 2.7 rebounds. He will join the Next Stars program in the NBL and hope to follow in the footsteps of LaMelo Ball, RJ Hampton and Didi Louzada as players that went on to be drafted in the NBA.

Atlanta Hawks: TyTy Washington, Kentucky

Meg Potter/The Republic

Height: 6-3 Weight: 185 Year: Freshman Position: G Washington was named the MaxPreps Arizona Player of the Year after averaging 24 points, seven assists and six rebounds per game for Compass Prep. He shot 41% from beyond the arc last year and even won the 3-point contest in May during the Iverson Roundball Classic. He has proven to this point to play well with or without the ball and brings good size to the Wildcats next season. With a season of development under John Calipari, Washington could hear his name called early next year.

Dallas Mavericks: Daimion Collins, Kentucky

Height: 6-9 Weight: N/A Year: Freshman Position: F Collins was named to the Naismith All-America third team after averaging 35.2 points, 14.4 rebounds. seven assists and 6.2 blocks per game at Atlanta High School in Atlanta, Texas. He proved a monster down low on both ends of the floor and will bring a massive 7-foot-4 wingspan with him to Kentucky. He is viewed as a little raw on offense, but he has shown the ability to shoot from beyond the arc, something that can continue to improve next season.

Houston Rockets (via Miami): Kendall Brown

Alex Driehaus/Naples Daily News

Height: 6-8 Weight: 190 Year: Freshman Position: F The signing of Brown helped give Baylor its highest-ranked recruiting class in program history. He was named a McDonald’s All-American last season after helping lead Sunrise Christian Academy (Bel Aire, Kansas) to the title game at the GEICO Nationals versus the Montverde Academy. Brown has the athleticism to impact games on both ends of the floor and has also impressed with his strength. Note: This pick is protected for selections 1-14 for the Heat but will convey to the Rockets in this situation.

Denver Nuggets: JD Davison, Alabama

Joe Rondone/The Commercial Appeal

Height: 6-3 Weight: 175 Year: Freshman Position: G Davison, who is from Latohatchee, Alabama, became the fifth repeat winner of Mr. Basketball in the state after winning the award in 2020 and 2021. He has perhaps the most athleticism of any prospect in the class and has gone viral several times for his leaping ability. He emerged as one of the top players at the Iverson Classic All-American Game in May given his ability to get to the rim and create for himself. He also shined on the defensive end with his physical tools. Davison will likely need to prove he can do all of those things on a consistent basis next year but has shown he is capable of it in a small sample size.

Philadelphia 76ers: Nolan Hickman, Gonzaga

Height: 6-2 Weight: 180 Year: Freshman Position: G Hickman originally committed to play at Kentucky but decommitted and opted for Gonzaga. He earned All-American honors last season after averaging 16 points, 3.3 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game as a senior to lead the Wasatch Academy (Utah) to a spot in the GEICO Nationals. He boasts a 6-foot-8 wingspan that should allow him to defend and play the passing lanes well. He can do a number of things on offense and should bring plenty of versatility to Gonzaga.

Oklahoma City Thunder (via Phoenix): Allen Flanigan, Auburn

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Height: 6-6 Weight: 215 Year: Junior Position: G Flanigan averaged 14.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.9 assists last season, raising his points per game by 11.1 from his freshman campaign. He will be just 21 years old by the time the draft approaches next year and will have another year of experience under his belt. He is touted as a physical guard with a long wingspan and great athleticism. His shooting has also improved as he looks poised to continue to build on a strong sophomore year. Note: The Thunder acquired this pick in the Chris Paul trade

Oklahoma City Thunder (via LA Clippers): Taevion Kinsey, Marshall

AP Photo/Matt Stamey

Height: 6-5 Weight: 185 Year: Senior Position: G Kinsey averaged 19.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and three assists last season to be one of six players in Division I to reach those numbers. He entered last season with questions regarding his shot, but he improved his percentage to 41.3 on 2.1 attempts per game. With another leap in production, Kinsey could be a first-round pick next year. Note: The Thunder acquired this pick in the Paul George trade

Memphis Grizzlies (via Utah): Julian Champagnie, St. John’s

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Height: 6-8 Weight: 215 Year: Junior Position: G Champagnie tested the pre-draft process this year but decided to return to school for this season. He was named to the first-team All-Big East last season after averaging 19.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 1.3 assists, leading the conference in scoring while ranking 25th in the country. After showing immense promise last year, Champagnie figures to be a first-round pick next year after another strong showing with the Red Storm. Note: The Grizzlies acquired this pick in the Mike Conley trade. It is protected for selections 1-6.

Golden State Warriors: Keegan Murray, Iowa

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Height: 6-8 Weight: 215 Year: Sophomore Position: PF Murray was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team after averaging 7.2 points, 5.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocked shots in 31 games. He was one of five players in the country to register at least 200 points, 35 blocks, 25 steals and 15 3-pointers. He is viewed as one of the top returning players this season and could find himself as a late first-round pick with another strong season for the Hawkeyes. The team just lost big production from Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp, so Murray figures to have a bigger role next season.

Milwaukee Bucks: Matthew Cleveland, Florida State

Height: 6-7 Weight: 200 Year: Freshman Position: G Cleveland averaged 22.8 points, 10.6 rebounds, 2.6 assists and two steals last season with Pace Academy. He joins the Seminoles as a prospect with great leaping ability and can get to the rim with some craftiness. He could potentially develop into a strong player with an improved shot; he already has the skills necessary to be a strong defender. Florida State has produced several draft picks in recent memory, and Cleveland could be another to benefit.

Memphis Grizzlies (via LA Lakers): Mark Williams, Duke

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Height: 7-0 Weight: 242 Year: Sophomore Position: C Williams averaged 7.1 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shot 66.4% shooting from the field last season with the Blue Devils. He finished the season by starting in each of the last 11 games and ended by registering 23 points and 19 rebounds in a win over Louisville. He opted to test the pre-draft process after his strong finish but ultimately decided to return for another season. With Paolo Banchero arriving, the Blue Devils figure to have quite the frontcourt duo this season and Williams could find himself as a first-round pick as a result. Note: The pick is protected for selections 1-10

Miami Heat (via Brooklyn): Michael Foster, NBA G League Ignite

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Height: 6-9 Weight: 220 Year: Freshman Position: F Foster became the first player to sign with the NBA G League Ignite for this season. The 18-year-old was ranked the No. 21 overall by 247Sports in the class of 2021 and No. 5 at the power forward position. He averaged 32.2 points and 18.4 rebounds as a senior and 26.3 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.1 blocks as a junior at Hillcrest Prep. Foster has proven to have a great inside presence and can often get to the free-throw line by drawing contact. The opportunity to play with the Ignite should give him even further development opportunities as he looks to expand his game.