The 2022 NBA Draft has already played out, and as expected, excitement filled the Barclays Center as people in attendance watched this year's crop of prospects officially make it to basketball's biggest stage.
While these youngsters have yet to play their first-ever NBA game, those with analyst-like eyes can already picture what guys like Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith Jr. would do inside the court.
Others, meanwhile, see several similarities with current NBA stars, and we have decided to pick the five most notable of them.
5. (DET) Jayden Ivey – Ja Morant
The Detroit Pistons landed Purdue's Jayden Ivey at No. 5, and it speaks a lot about the team's plan for next season. Drafting an explosive attacker like Ivey shows that Detroit may have been thinking of adding a Ja Morant-like offensive juggernaut on their squad.
According to draft and college basketball expert Kyle Boone, Ivey's fearlessness to pressure the rim is "reminiscent of a young Morant." However, there was a slight difference in terms of the ways these two players get to the rim.
"Morant uses his handles, change of direction, and smarts to manipulate defenders and pressure the rim; Ivey can unleash some combination of that but often times is gathering a handoff and immediately attacking."
4. (OKC) Chet Holmgren – Kristaps Porzingis
Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren may have been one of the many players in his draft class who have looked up to LeBron James ever since they can remember. However, experts see his game far from King James' primarily because he's a seven-footer. Instead, he drew a comparison to a once-promising player his size- Kristaps Porzingis.
What does Boone have to say about it? The pair is definitely identical, but Holmgren has better defensive attributes than the Latvian giant.
"Both are clearly gifted scorers for their position with range beyond the 3-point line," Boone assessed. "Holmgren, though, does a much better job of covering ground on defense and is an elite rim-protector."
The Oklahoma City Thunder selected Holmgren at No. 2, and we'll see if he can exceed Porzingis in terms of overall success.
3. (HOU) Jabari Smith Jr. – Michael Porter Jr.
In the lead-up to this year's draft, many have already been buzzing about Auburn's Jabari Smith Jr. possibly becoming the No. 1 overall. Well, he didn't, but it doesn't change the fact that he's one of the best in this year's pool. The Houston Rockets are well aware of it and pounced for Smith at No. 3.
At 6-foot-10, Smith utilizes his advantage on the offensive end, typically rising over his defenders. As a sweet-shooting wing player, Smith earned comparisons to Denver Nuggets' Michael Porter Jr., a massive wing with a notably lethal shooting.
Experts say Smith's bread and butter are his incredible mid to long-range spot-up shooting, having shot 42% from beyond the arc heading into the draft. However, some believe that he also has the potential to become a lockup defender.
2. (POR) Shaedon Sharpe – Andrew Wiggins/Jalen Green
In basketball, it's a lot easier to make waves if you can jump. Nobody could blame the Portland Trail Blazers for being enamored by Kentuckys' Shaedon Sharpe, an athletic wing player with insane hops.
Sharpe, who landed at No. 7, has an undeniable leaping ability that significantly resembles that of Andrew Wiggins.'
Wiggins' vertical leap was reportedly about 44 inches, and Sharpe, on the other hand, is said to be closer to 50. However, some reckoned that Sharpe was much more aggressive than the Golden State Warriors star.
Speaking of aggressive playing style, NBC Sports Washington analyst and former Division 1 national champion coach Jimmy Patsos sees more of a Jalen Green in Sharpe's game.
"He didn't play at Kentucky this year, but there were some clips of him in the EYBL (Elite Youth Basketball League) season two years ago and he was definitely an elite athlete with elite jumping ability," Patsos said of Sharpe. "He could be an elite defender with buy-in. To me, it's a little bit like Jalen Green of Houston."
1. (ORL) Paolo Banchero – Blake Griffin
After the Orlando Magic made Duke's Paolo Banchero the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, Coach K hinted at what fans should expect from his former pupil.
"You are, I think, the most versatile player in the draft," Coach K told Banchero after he got drafted by the Magic. "You can play anywhere on the court. You're a winner. You are going to help tremendously and have a terrific NBA career."
But while Coach K emphasized Banchero's versatility, many couldn't help but focus on his sublime post-game that resembles that of a prime Blake Griffin.
Banchero's combination of brute strength, footwork, and ability to finish a tough shot in the post made it easier for experts to conclude that he's a Blake Griffin in the making.
But unlike Griffin, who had only improved his shooting when his prime years were over, Banchero already developed a respectable mid-range early on in his basketball career.
In the NBA, it's always nice to be compared to NBA stars. But when the season begins, these rookies will have the chance to create their own identity in the game.