2022 NBA Draft Preview

Top NBA draft storylines, Flowers’ chances to get drafted

WSU+guard+Michael+Flowers+%2812%29+dribbles+around+Arizona+guard+Pelle+Larsson+%2810%29+during+the+second+half+of+an+NCAA+college+basketball+game%2C+Feb.+10.

KELLY LIM

WSU guard Michael Flowers (12) dribbles around Arizona guard Pelle Larsson (10) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game, Feb. 10.

TREVOR JUNT, Evergreen Reporter

The NBA draft has been extremely interesting in past years, with 2022 seeming to be no exception.

Similar to other NBA drafts, there are a few players that stand out above the rest and after they are drafted there is a fall-off in talent.

Three players are much better prospects than the rest of the draft by most accounts. Jabari Smith, the forward from Auburn shot 43.6% from beyond the arc. Chet Holmgren, the center from Gonzaga is an excellent defender standing 7 feet tall with a 7 feet 6 inch unofficial wingspan and Paolo Banchero, the forward from Duke is 6-10 with an unofficial wingspan of 7 feet 1 inch.

The top three teams drafting are the Orlando Magic, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets. Each of these teams would be happy to land one of these three prospects. These guys could go in any order in the way of these teams, but the consensus seems to be Smith to Orlando, Holmgren to OKC and Banchero to Houston.

There are other middle prospects that are interesting as well. Shaedon Sharpe, the 18-year-old freshman from Kentucky has not played a minute of college basketball. However, he could be viewed as a boom or bust prospect for multiple teams. Looking back at his high school playing and his U-19 games he played like a star.

The New Orleans Pelicans would be ecstatic to land him at the eighth spot in this draft. Pairing him up with Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson could make for a lot of fun basketball to watch. The former number one prospect could end up being a massive steal this year.

Nikola Jovic is another puzzling prospect. The 19-year-old Serbian is 6 feet 10 inches tall, with a 7-foot wingspan and can dribble and pass like a guard. He is another European unicorn that could be interesting to NBA teams.

Jovic has been projected all over the place, from 10 to 30. He will be a first-round draft pick on Thursday, which I believe that he should go early in the draft as he has too much value and potential to pass up.

Portland is one of the most intriguing teams to be drafting in the top-10 this year. The question remains if they want to keep trying to build their team up again after dismantling it this past season or if they want to completely tear it down.

Damian Lillard will turn 32 this summer and is past his best playing days, it may be best to move on from him and build from the ground up. However, moving on from a player like Lillard may be hard to do for Portland’s management given the extensive highlight reel he has builit in Portland over the past decade.

If they keep Lillard and are trying to build around him, they will most likely play the draft in the safest way possible, drafting the player on their board with the highest floor. If they trade Lillard, they would be able to draft in a way not worrying about the floor and drafting the player with the highest ceiling possible No. 7 overall.

There have only been 20 players in WSU history to move on and play in the NBA. Most notably, Klay Thompson, Aron Baynes, Craig Ehlo and James Donaldson. The most recent player to be drafted from WSU is CJ Elleby in 2020, before him the latest Coug to be drafted was Thompson in 2011.

In this upcoming draft, only one WSU basketball player is in true contention of making it to the NBA: point guard Michael Flowers.

Flowers just finished his fifth-year season at WSU and was selected second team all-conference after being the Cougs’ captain.

He finished the season with a team-best average of 14.2 points with 3.2 assists per game. He became WSU’s all-time single-season three-point leader, surpassing Thompson with 100 made three-pointers.

The truth is, Flowers’ NBA draft chances are slim. Flowers has a chance to become a late second-round draft pick by any team looking for a backup point guard or an above-average  three-point shooter. Most likely, Flowers will go undrafted and could sign a contract with an NBA team.

He could sign an NBA contract, but he could be signed to a developmental G-League contract so the NBA team that signs him can see how he does against NBA competition. Age is a downside for Flowers at 23 years old as many teams are looking to develop younger athletes.

The 2022 NBA Draft will take place at 5 p.m. PST on Thursday and will be broadcasted by ESPN.