NEW YORK — The 2021-22 college basketball season got underway Tuesday, with the Champions Classic from Madison Square Garden not only ending a monthslong drought for college hoops fans but also offering significant evaluation opportunities for the scouts and NBA decision-makers in attendance. The Duke Blue Devils, Kentucky Wildcats, Kansas Jayhawks and Michigan State Spartans collectively featured a large group of players with the ability to play at the next level.
The marquee matchup between Duke and Kentucky gave evaluators a chance to see widely acknowledged potential lottery picks including Paolo Banchero (Duke) and TyTy Washington Jr. (Kentucky) in action, with other intriguing figures, such as Duke’s Trevor Keels, Mark Williams and A.J. Griffin, featured along with Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji and Michigan State’s Max Christie. All of those players find their way into ESPN’s latest NBA mock draft.
Here’s how our mock sets up after the first action of the college season, followed by evaluations of the top players in the Champions Classic and others ESPN has recently evaluated:
Note: The projected 2022 draft order is based on ESPN BPI draft projections as of Monday. The full 1-59 order also reflects picks owed and owned.
Jonathan Givony’s NBA mock draft
1. Houston Rockets
Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga | PF | Age: 19.5
2. Detroit Pistons
Paolo Banchero | Duke | PF/C | Age: 18.9
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jalen Duren | Memphis | C | Age: 17.9
4. Orlando Magic
Jabari Smith | Auburn | PF/C | Age: 18.4
5. New Orleans Pelicans
Jaden Hardy | G League Ignite | SG | Age: 19.3
6. Cleveland Cavaliers
Caleb Houstan | Michigan | SF | Age: 18.8
7. San Antonio Spurs
Patrick Baldwin Jr. | Milwaukee | SF/PF | Age: 18.9
8. Minnesota Timberwolves
Peyton Watson | UCLA | SF | Age: 19.1
9. Boston Celtics
Jaden Ivey | Purdue | PG/SG | Age: 19.7
10. Toronto Raptors
Jean Montero | Overtime Elite | PG/SG | Age: 18.3
11. Memphis Grizzlies (from LA Lakers)
TyTy Washington Jr. | Kentucky | PG/SG | Age: 19.9
12. Memphis Grizzlies
Ousmane Dieng | NZ Breakers | SF/PF | Age: 18.4
13. Indiana Pacers
Yannick Nzosa | Unicaja Malaga | C | Age: 17.9
14. Charlotte Hornets
Trevor Keels | Duke | SF | Age: 18.2
15. Washington Wizards
Dyson Daniels | G League Ignite | PG/SG | Age: 18.6
16. Sacramento Kings
JD Davison | Alabama | PG | Age: 19.1
17. New York Knicks
Ben Mathurin | Arizona | SF | Age: 19.3
18. Atlanta Hawks
Max Christie | Michigan State | SG | Age: 18.7
19. Chicago Bulls
Kennedy Chandler | Tennessee | PG | Age: 19.1
20. Dallas Mavericks
Bryce McGowens | Nebraska | SG | Age: 19.0
21. Chicago Bulls (from Portland)
Roko Prkacin | Cibona Zagreb | PF | Age: 18.9
22. Denver Nuggets
Khalifa Diop | Gran Canaria | C | Age: 19.8
23. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Phoenix)
Ochai Agbaji | Kansas | SF | Age: 21.5
24. Milwaukee Bucks
Mark Williams | Duke | C | Age: 19.9
25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from LA Clippers)
A.J. Griffin | Duke | SF/PF | Age: 18.2
26. Houston Rockets (from Brooklyn)
MarJon Beauchamp | G League Ignite | SG/SF | Age: 20.0
27. Miami Heat
Keegan Murray | Iowa | PF | Age: 21.2
28. Philadelphia 76ers
Nolan Hickman | Gonzaga | PG | Age: 18.5
29. Golden State Warriors
Nikola Jovic | Mega Mozzart | SF | Age: 18.4
30. Memphis Grizzlies (from Utah)
Daimion Collins | Kentucky | PF/C | Age: 19.0
31. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Houston)
Allen Flanigan | Auburn | SF | Age: 20.5
32. San Antonio Spurs (from Detroit)
Jaime Jaquez Jr. | UCLA | SG | Age: 20.7
33. Oklahoma City Thunder
Tristan Vukcevic | Real Madrid | PF | Age: 18.6
34. Orlando Magic
Hugo Besson | NZ Breakers | PG/SG | Age: 20.5
35. New Orleans Pelicans
Michael Foster | G League Ignite | PF | Age: 18.8
36. New Orleans Pelicans (from Cleveland)
Walker Kessler | Auburn | C | Age: 20.2
37. Cleveland Cavaliers (from San Antonio)
Marcus Bagley | Arizona State | SF/PF | Age: 20.0
38. Minnesota Timberwolves
Andre Curbelo | Illinois | PG | Age: 20.0
39. Boston Celtics
Matthew Mayer | Baylor | SF/PF | Age: 22.1
40. Golden State Warriors (from Toronto)
Johnny Juzang | UCLA | SF | Age: 20.6
41. San Antonio Spurs (from LA Lakers)
Ismael Kamagate | Paris | C | Age: 20.8
42. Memphis Grizzlies
Josiah-Jordan James | Tennessee | SG | Age: 21.1
43. Orlando Magic (from Indiana)
Zach Edey | Purdue | C | Age: 19.4
44. Charlotte Hornets
Earl Timberlake | Memphis | SF | Age: 21.0
45. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Cleveland via Washington)
Justin Lewis | Marquette | SF/PF | Age: 19.5
46. Sacramento Kings
Julian Champagnie | St. John’s | SF/PF | Age: 20.3
47. New York Knicks
Drew Timme | Gonzaga | PF/C | Age: 21.1
48. Atlanta Hawks
Gabriele Procida | Fortitudo Bologna | SG | Age: 19.4
49. Sacramento Kings (from Chicago)
Ariel Hukporti | Melbourne | C | Age: 19.5
50. Dallas Mavericks
Matteo Spagnolo | Cremona | PG | Age: 18.8
51. Portland Trail Blazers
Malcolm Cazalon | Mega Mozzart | SG | Age: 20.2
52. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Denver)
Gui Santos | Minas | SF | Age: 19.3
53. Phoenix Suns
Zsombor Maronka | Prat | SF | Age: 19.1
54. LA Clippers
Taevion Kinsey | Marshall | SG | Age: 21.6
55. Detroit Pistons (from Brooklyn)
Andrew Nembhard | Gonzaga | PG | Age: 21.8
56. Indiana Pacers (from Miami)
Max Abmas | Oral Roberts | PG | Age: 20.6
57. Miami Heat (from Philadelphia)
Mike Miles | TCU | PG | Age: 19.2
58. Golden State Warriors
Ibou Badji | Lleida | C | Age: 19.0
59. New Orleans Pelicans (from Utah Jazz)
Terrence Shannon Jr. | Texas Tech | SG/SF | Age: 21.2
*The Bucks forfeited their 2022 second-round pick for violating rules governing the timing of free-agency discussions.
Scouting notes on Champions Classic prospects (and others)
Paolo Banchero drains two jumpers to extend Duke’s lead over Kentucky.
Paolo Banchero | 6-10 | PF | Age: 18.9 | Duke | No. 2 in ESPN mock draft
If it wasn’t clear prior to Champions Classic, it certainly is now: Banchero has almost all the ingredients teams look for in a No. 1 pick, which he has a great chance to ultimately become if he continues to play like he did against Kentucky. The 18-year-old proved too powerful, agile and skilled for the Wildcats’ frontline, scoring 22 points on just 11 shots while also battling second-half cramps. Despite going 0-for-3 from beyond the arc, Banchero gave us a glimpse of all the different ways he can get a shot inside the arc. He employed quick crossover spin moves to the rim with incredible balance and footwork before drawing fouls. He rocked into a smooth right-to-left crossover pull-up with the ease of a guard. He unleashed a face-up shimmy move that Jimmy Butler popularized, rising up from 17 feet to cash a smooth pull-up jumper. He knocked down a back-shoulder fall-away shot from the midpost over two defenders. He owned the midrange both off the dribble and the catch. He even drew two free throws on a midpost sweep-through move that would make James Harden proud.
Banchero’s offensive attack offers a balanced blend of power and finesse, as he utilizes go-to moves we’ve seen from wings like Jayson Tatum or Carmelo Anthony as teenagers, but with the frame (6-10, 250 pounds) of bigs such as Blake Griffin and Julius Randle. Simply put, Banchero is one of the most advanced freshman big men I can remember evaluating in terms of individual shot creation, light years ahead of the likes of Randle and Griffin at the same stage. On top of his scoring prowess from 18 feet and in, what makes Banchero incredibly tough to contain are his open-court attacks, and he figures to look even better on a spaced NBA floor. Like a young Ben Simmons with a head of steam, Banchero’s ability to turn defensive rebounds into unscripted offense for himself and others is incredibly valuable in today’s NBA, and he figures to terrorize retreating college defenses with his combination of brute force and grace. Duke will even use him as a ball handler in early drag screens.
Banchero scores the ball with such ease, and the scary part is he has quite a few areas in which he can improve. He still has some catch-and-hold habits to get out of his game, either turning down pick-and-pop 3s or wasting dribbles to go into isolations rather than moving the ball or dribbling into handoffs. While some of that is a product of his role as Duke’s clear go-to-guy, this is something Tatum fought as well during his time in Durham. A talented passer, turning that vision into a consistent weapon is also on the priority list. But all the advanced shot creation Banchero has is hard to teach, and even as he is now, the 18-year-old should come close to averaging 20 points and 10 rebounds as a freshman, competing for ACC Player of the Year honors in the process. Should he prove he can make catch-and-shoot 3s consistently and be a more deliberate decision-maker, you have a bona fide star in the making, and the top prospect in the NBA draft.
In addition to his offensive attack, Banchero looked like he could be a defensive asset at the NBA level, switching onto guards and wings while moving his feet impressively against Kentucky. Although not much of a natural rim-protector given his average reach and inconsistent awareness, Banchero’s natural size will allow him to slide up and play some small-ball 5 for stretches, and an impressive verticality possession to start the Kentucky game bodes well for his growth potential there. Banchero can potentially even play as a big 3 at times given his defensive foot speed, ballhandling and shooting potential, especially as he adds the corner 3 to his repertoire.
Simply put, Banchero’s debut was a major success for the potential top pick, and he’ll have another huge opportunity to strengthen his case as the draft’s No. 1 overall prospect when he clashes with projected top pick Chet Holmgren on Nov. 26 in Las Vegas. — Mike Schmitz
Trevor Keels | 6-5 | PG/SG | Age: 18.2 | Duke | No. 14 in ESPN mock draft
Trevor Keels puts the game away down the stretch with a pair of late baskets for Duke.
No prospect improved his stock on Tuesday more than Keels, who finished with 25 points on 18 shots while playing spirited defense against projected lottery pick TyTy Washington and operating as Duke’s point guard for the better part of his 33 minutes.
As Givony pointed out, a stellar showing at Champions Classic historically doesn’t guarantee NBA success. I’ll never forget Quentin Grimes going bonkers in Madison Square Garden as a freshman at Kansas, only to take three more years to emerge as a first-round pick.
But Keels’ performance felt far different.
Keels had considerable buzz amongst NBA scouts after a strong showing in the preseason, which we outlined after visiting Durham last month. And this performance was far more than simply getting hot from 3 or overpowering smaller opponents to the rim, which he did plenty of. Keels emerged as a true hunter of sorts, making a clear effort to take Washington out of the game completely with his motor, physicality and technique. Then on the offensive end, he was relentless in his downhill attacks, getting his shoulders square to the rim and maneuvering his way into the paint before finishing either with physicality or the touch shots he’ll need at the next level given his lack of elite bounce and length.
Trevor Keels somehow gets the and-1 to fall
On top of the sheer physicality and effort, Keels has a tremendous feel for the game that shined bright as he made a host of NBA-level passes while operating at lead guard. He’s comfortable getting his defender on his back in pick-and-roll, either hitting the roll man in stride or skipping the ball to the corner, which he did consistently in exhibition play. He’s unselfish yet aggressive, looking for opportunities to attack or get to his jumper, which appears to be a real weapon despite Keels knocking down just one of four triples. He can create space with step-backs going to his left, and isn’t short on confidence from beyond the arc.
Keels looked like a lottery pick In Madison Square Garden, and the fact that coaches rave about his toughness, approach to the game and focus makes him even more attractive to NBA teams. The only pause teams are likely to have is the simple fact that there aren’t many NBA guards with Keels’ powerful, thick frame. How will his power-based downhill attacks translate against rangier defenders? Is he a knockdown enough of a shooter to play a Desmond Bane-type of role as a spot shooter and occasional secondary ball handler?
At 6-5, 225 pounds with a 6-6 wingspan, Keels’ closest physical comparisons range from Dillon Brooks to Sterling Brown to Bane to Lu Dort. Body type aside, Keels can flat out play. He isn’t afraid of the bright lights, he’s an energetic defender, he has an excellent feel for the game, and he looks poised for an all-conference type of season under coach Mike Krzyzewski, which would surely earn him looks throughout the lottery, especially with so many NBA eyeballs on Banchero. — Mike Schmitz
Jean Montero | 6-2 | Guard | Age: 18.2 | Overtime Elite | No. 10 in ESPN mock draft
Montero’s move to OTE has allowed NBA teams to see a different side of the Dominican guard’s game, as he’s playing with a level of freedom and confidence an 18-year-old can never expect to find with his previous club, Gran Canaria of the Spanish ACB.
Always known for his scoring prowess, Montero’s passing creativity and overall unselfishness have stood out the most thus far. On a team with several scoring options, he sets the tone by passing ahead, making the right play and operating with a level of maturity and poise that’s impressive to see from an 18-year-old, often lifting up teammates after mistakes. While Montero is not immune to getting caught up in the highlight-reel nature of OTE’s games, he has had some really impressive moments rejecting screens, snaking, probing and surveying the court out of pick-and-roll, and putting quite a bit of pressure on opposing defenses with his handle, footwork, shiftiness and natural pace. The fact that he can pull up off the dribble from deep vantage points makes him difficult to plan for, especially with the way he can find teammates on the move using both sides of the floor, as well as score inside the arc in a variety of ways.
Montero’s defense, always considered a concern given his size (6-2, 172 pounds with a 6-4 wingspan), has been inconsistent with OTE, as has his ability to finish through contact around the rim in traffic. His intensity level really fluctuates, although some of that has to do with the environment he’s playing in, as Montero showed more fight in his team’s highly competitive game against a well-coached Combine Academy than he did in some of their other all-star-type exhibitions.
While some will criticize Montero for leaving a high-level ACB team in Gran Canaria to play significantly lower-level competition versus mostly high school opponents, it’s important to note that he’s essentially the same age or younger than many of the top high school seniors in the U.S., who aren’t eligible for the draft until 2023. He does often look like a graduate student playing with 12th graders at OTE, but that reality has allowed him to show different parts of his game in a very different setting. How exactly NBA teams view OTE’s schedule is still a question mark, but Montero is doing what he can to ease any concerns by putting his outstanding talent and how easily the game comes to him on full display. — Jonathan Givony
TyTy Washington Jr. | 6-4 | Guard | Age: 19.9 | Kentucky | No. 11 in ESPN mock draft
Washington had a rough debut, shooting 3-of-14 from the field and having difficulties getting over screens and staying in front of the bigger and more powerful Keels, who gave him everything he could handle on both ends of the floor. Kentucky’s backcourt hasn’t established great pick-and-roll chemistry yet with its big men, as Washington struggled to generate high- percentage offense with Duke aggressively stepping out to the perimeter to contain his drives. Washington was forced to settle for difficult pull-up jumpers with the shot clock running down, and couldn’t turn the corner with much success either, being swallowed up inside the paint by Duke’s NBA-caliber size and length.
While Washington looked overly ambitious seeking out home run plays, he did have some moments that demonstrated what makes him interesting as a NBA prospect. He thrived when he could get downhill against an unbalanced defense off closeouts or dribble-handoff situations, rather than being forced to go one-on-one from a standstill. He bulldozed through Jeremy Roach for a layup out of a handoff, hit a pretty floater from the middle of the lane off a closeout and converted a tough pull-up from 17 feet, showing his skill and touch. He also made some good reads driving and dishing to create easy offense for teammates in small doses. He’ll likely settle down and show more of his feel and pace operating out of ball screens as the season moves on and his big men learn the nuances of holding or slipping screens and creating gravity with their rolls — it’s unlikely he’ll ever see this type of size or length again all season long. In the meantime, making better decisions with the ball and demonstrating a higher intensity level defensively will be important for Washington to maintain his lofty draft projection. — Jonathan Givony
Max Christie | 6-5 1/2 | Guard | Age: 18.7 | Michigan State | No. 18 in ESPN mock draft
Christie had a forgettable night, scoring 9 points on 10 shots while being unable to impact the game outside of converting a handful of smooth 3-pointers. Christie doesn’t jump off the page physically on first glance at 6-foot-5½, 192 pounds with a 6-8 wingspan, but has the type of fluidity, feel for the game and scoring instincts that every NBA team is actively seeking, especially from 18-year-old prospects. Christie put on a dynamic shot-making clinic in warm-ups that hinted at impressive things to come down the road, backing up some of the considerable buzz he’s received for his preseason showings in practice and exhibition play in East Lansing.
Once the bright lights of Madison Square Garden came on in real-game action, Christie looked a lot more like an 18-year-old who played for a small-town high school and missed considerable experience against high-level competition over the past two years due to the pandemic, looking a little timid and passive on both ends of the floor. Despite his struggles, Christie’s long-term talent is obvious, and there’s little doubt that he’ll be in demand among NBA teams whenever he decides it’s time for him to make the leap to the pros.
Christie is clearly in line for a considerable role and platform, as evidenced by the 31 minutes he played despite getting absolutely lit up defensively, meaning it’s very likely that he’ll have some major scoring explosions as the season moves on, which will only help build his case as a potential top-20 pick. As Josh Primo, the No. 12 pick in the 2021 NBA draft, showed last year, NBA teams are actively seeking out prospects in his mold and might not mind having to be patient with their development. — Jonathan Givony
Ochai Agbaji | 6-6 | Wing | Age: 21.5 | Kansas | No. 23 in ESPN mock draft
Agbaji’s decision to pull out of the 2021 NBA draft and return to Kansas for his senior season is already paying dividends, as the 21-year-old exploded for a career-best 29 points on 17 shots in a win over Michigan State, looking like a first-round pick in the process. Agbaji knocked down 3 of 6 triples (two of which came off the dribble), showed off his run-and-jump ability as a lane-filler in transition, caught multiple lobs well above the rim, made more plays off the dribble than we’re accustomed to seeing from him and added his usual value on the defensive end. With his strength, length and quickness, Agbaji proved capable of sliding with guards, containing penetration against collegiate wings and forcing turnovers in the passing lanes, making him one of the better all-around defenders in college basketball.
Madison Square Garden goes wild over Christian Braun’s alley-oop lob to Ochai Agbaji for the thunderous slam.
Standing 6-6, 210 pounds with a 6-10 wingspan, Agbaji shares similar dimensions to NBA wings Gary Trent Jr., Danny Green and Keldon Johnson. Agbaji is on the slightly small side for a true NBA wing, making it important that he turns himself into a true threat from 3 with more consistency and continues making strides as a ball handler and decision-maker, while not straying too far from his core competencies. If Agbaji can do those things, he should have no shortage of opportunities to land in the first round come June given his sizable role on a competitive Kansas team. The space he’ll have to slide up to the 4 at the collegiate level like he did against Michigan State — along with the NBA’s need for perimeter players who can defend two to three positions, space the floor from 3 and fit in physically — speaks well of his prospects. — Mike Schmitz
Mark Williams | 7-0 | Center | Age: 19.9 | Duke | No. 24 in ESPN mock draft
After generating quite a bit of buzz with his play during the preseason, Williams turned in an up-and-down performance against Kentucky, showing how his 7-7 wingspan can be impactful but also showing his limitations. Williams used his massive standing reach to block 3 shots in 17 minutes (while altering a few more) and tap in a lob with impressive coordination. On the flip side, Oscar Tshiebwe beat him up on the glass to the tune of 12 offensive rebounds, and Williams had his issues consistently containing the ball in pick-and-roll while also allowing the roller to sneak behind him on a couple occasions. Proving he can stay on the court against small-ball-oriented teams this season will go a long way in determining whether Williams can be more than a backup at the NBA level. — Mike Schmitz
A.J. Griffin | 6-6 | SF/PF | Age: 18.2 | Duke | No. 25 in ESPN mock draft
Coming off a knee injury suffered a month ago that was initially expected to sideline him for 4-6 weeks, Griffin was cleared after just 21 days and eased back into action with 11 minutes at MSG. After missing much of the past 2½ years with injury, and seeing little to no real competitive game action since 2019, Griffin is facing an uphill battle to carve out minutes for this team. His transition to the college game has been even slower than expected in the preseason, a perception felt even prior to Griffin’s injury.
Even in the limited action he saw, it was obvious that the game moves too fast for Griffin at this stage, as he was out of position constantly, having no idea where to be seemingly on both ends of the floor and making several spacing and timing mistakes that could have proven costly. He was yanked after 90 seconds in his initial first-half stint, and then had some positive moments in the second half before being pulled again after settling for a highly questionable step-back 2 from the baseline, despite a wide-open runway to the lane in front of him.
NBA teams will continue to monitor Griffin’s progress, and whether his feel for the game improves and he can better use his enviable physical ability to his advantage. It’s not easy to find players with the type of frame, length and power he displays, which allowed Griffin to make several strong possessions against Kentucky, both on the glass and in terms of getting in passing lanes. One of the younger freshmen in the class, not turning 19 until late August, Griffin might be a prime candidate to consider the virtues of a sophomore season, especially with NIL agreements now providing an opportunity to make money while in college. — Jonathan Givony
Dominick Barlow | 6-9 | PF | Age: 18.4 | Overtime Elite | Undrafted in ESPN mock draft
Automatically eligible for the 2022 NBA draft as a 2021 high school graduate who elected to sign with a professional league, some eyebrows were raised by Barlow’s decision to forgo college considering he was only the No. 80-ranked recruit in his high school class. So far, that decision hasn’t looked as bad as it did when announced in September, as Barlow had a strong showing at the OTE pro day in front of 60 NBA scouts, and has been performing very well in six games played thus far as well, improving his draft stock in the process.
What Barlow lacks in pure size (6-foot-9) or strength (214 pounds) he makes up for with an impressive combination of fluidity, explosiveness, smarts and budding skill. He’s regularly tasked with guarding players much smaller than him on the perimeter, and does a nice job of getting in a deep stance, turning his hips agilely and covering ground to make plays at the rim. While he’s not the most physical rebounder or interior defender, the fact that he can legitimately guard players much smaller than him gives Barlow great versatility to tap into, and the soft touch around the rim and intriguing passing creativity he displays hint at good things to come down the road offensively as well. Barlow has yet to make a 3-pointer in six games but is shooting 82% from the free throw line and has made a number of difficult pull-up jumpers inside the arc, indicating plenty of room for growth in this area.
It remains to be seen how much value NBA teams will see in a prospect like Barlow who isn’t blessed with incredible long-term upside, doesn’t play a position that is all that hard to find, and is probably pretty far away from stepping on a NBA court at 18 years old, making him far from a lock to hear his name called. With another year on his contract at OTE, it’s not hard to envision him finding a niche at the pro level in the summer of 2023 with the many things he brings to the floor, and it would not be surprising to see him develop into a NBA player down the road if he continues to improve. — Jonathan Givony
Kok Yat | 6-8 | Wing | Age: 18 | Overtime Elite | Undrafted in ESPN mock draft
A virtual unknown ranked outside the RSCI top 200 out of Norcross (Georgia) High School, Yat has been a pleasant surprise for the first-year program thus far, even vaulting into draft conversations thanks to his tools and talent, and the glimpses of ability he showed in front of 60 NBA scouts at Overtime Elite pro day. Standing 6-8 with a 6-11 wingspan, a 41-inch vertical and a lean 186-pound frame, Yat has the measurements of NBA wings ranging from Andrew Wiggins to Tony Snell to Caris LeVert. Yat’s vertical explosiveness, shooting touch and defensive potential caught our eye during our first in-person evaluation of the Alaskan-born, South Sudanese prospect. Through his first four games on Team Fanning, Yak — the cousin of Hornets rookie JT Thor — is averaging 12.8 points, 5.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks in 25.2 minutes while shooting 47% from 2 and 36% from 3.
When Yat’s catch-and-shoot jumper is falling, it’s easy to see him as a draftable prospect who could eventually carve out a 3-and-D role with more experience and seasoning. He can stand to speed up his release and is on the streaky side, but he has sound mechanics with his feet set, and has even shown the ability to make shots off the bounce in spurts. Yat is also a good cutter who has hammered home several highlight dunks, exploding with impressive elasticity off two feet in space. That length and explosiveness shows up defensively, where Yat can slide with guards, bother jump shooters and rotate from the weak side to make plays at the rim, pinning the ball off the glass with two hands on one occasion. For Yat to transition from prospect to player, however, he’ll have to improve as a ball handler, greatly fine tune his shot selection and vision, fill out his thin frame and become a much more disciplined on- and off-ball defender (4.3 fouls in 25.2 minutes)
Yat will have to wait to address some of those improvement areas as he’s slated to miss the next month or so due to “signs of a bone stress in his leg,” according to Overtime Elite GM Brandon Williams, as reported by Givony. Should Yat get back to full strength following his shin injury, given his draft eligibility and the fact that he plays a position every NBA team is searching for, executives will surely be gathering as much information on the 18-year-old as possible between now and the 2022 NBA draft. — Mike Schmitz
Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and international teams.
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