For many basketball players, going pro is the dream of a lifetime.

It’s an exciting time to be an NBA fan as regular games for the 2021-2022 season are winding down and the playoffs are right around the corner. As each year goes by, everything culminates with the Finals that kick off on June 2nd. After this, basketball aficionados must wait in the off-season until a new round of matchups begins in the winter. However, there is another exciting event they can look forward to even after the championship winner is announced: the 2022 NBA Draft. Set to take place on June 23rd, the draft introduces college rising stars to the big leagues. For now, expert pundits are still laying out NBA predictions ahead of the highly anticipated championship series, but here we outline who those upcoming stars are that have a high likelihood of being picked in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft. Don’t miss this event!

Chet Holmgren

First up is Chet Holmgren, the Gonzaga Bulldogs’ player that everyone has their eye on. The 7’0″ 195 lb center is a force to be reckoned with on the court, with a miraculous wingspan and shooting skills that are practically unparalleled. Holmgren has a unique physical build and athleticism that doesn’t come around often. He’s averaged around 14.2 points per game this season, standing out as a true leader in the West Coast Conference. After all, there’s a reason why Gonzaga is number one in overall men’s NCAA standings, with an impressive record of 13-1.

Jabari Smith

Another player that the NBA would be lucky to have is Jabari Smith. The 6’10” forward from Auburn is a three-point shooting machine, leading the SEC at 42 percent. Additionally, he is especially good under pressure, making those outlandish shots look like a piece of cake. On the defensive side of things, he doesn’t slack either, recording a career-high 15 rebounds this season. Although the Tigers just recently lost in a shocking match against Miami and Smith didn’t perform nearly as well as expected, his successful track record up to this point is still expected to earn him a top position in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Which players would you like to see enter the NBA in 2022?

Jaden Ivey

Moving onto Jaden Ivey, the college standout guard from Purdue. Thanks to his lightning speed and physical build, Ivey is a defender who disrupts all plays from the opposition, even those with the best of intentions. The 6’4″ 200 lb powerhouse ranks number four overall, and it isn’t hard to see why. Not to mention athleticism runs in his blood, as Ivey’s father was a former NFL wide receiver and his mother, Niele Ivey, is the current head coach of the Notre Dame women’s team, having previously played in the WNBA herself.

Paolo Banchero

Paolo Banchero is Duke’s main superstar as of late. The power forward has proven himself in recent games, especially with a knockout performance against Michigan when he posted up a whopping 19 points and 7 rebounds in addition to 4 assists. Banchero has natural skills in leadership on the court, pushing the Blue Devils to think outside of the box and improve aspects of mobility and creativity on both defense and offense. The freshman already has a long list of accolades to his name, including ACC Freshman of the Year and First-Team All ACC. As the college finals rage on, Banchero has been performing at a top-tier level, blocking shots and fighting for loose balls.

Keegan Murray

Last but certainly not least, Keegan Murray is shaking up things for the Iowa Hawkeyes with his sights set on the NBA. The Big Ten forward is a top prospect due to his holistic skillset and power as a passer. He is also ambidextrous, an invaluable quality for offensive leaders. His resume proves that he can go a long way in the pros, and it’s only a matter of time until a franchise picks him up. One thing’s for certain: he belongs in the conversation.

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