NBA Draft 2022: Sleepers, Steals, and Underrated Prospects

NBA Draft 2022 Sleepers, Steals, and Underrated Prospects

The 2022 NBA Draft is this Thursday, June 23 at 7:30 p.m. ET; our NBA Draft 2022 sleepers, steals and underrated prospects can be viewed here. The 2022 NBA Draft is the 76th edition, and the event will be televised on ABC and ESPN.

This year’s draft is taking place in Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Our NBA Draft 2022 experts at Basketball Insiders have studied the top sleepers, steals, and underrated prospects. A couple of the best sleepers that come to mind are Jake LaRavia and Wendell Moore Jr.

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2022 NBA Draft Sleepers and Steals | Underrated Prospects

There are multiple sleepers in the 2022 NBA Draft. Jake LaRavia is one of them. As a guard, his biggest weakness is his perimeter shooting. Though, his first year in college met expectations. He was selected MVC All-Freshman at Indiana State. Another prospect is Wendell Moore Jr. The junior forward progressed each season under head coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Also, Moore Jr. is a top 10 forward. Furthermore, Blake Wesley is our third sleeper pick. While Wesley played better offensively in high school, averaging 26 points and 6.3 rebounds in his junior year, his performance dropped off a smidge in his freshman season at Notre Dame. But he still had a terrific year. This explains why Wesley is one of our sleepers. On Nov. 29, 2021, the guard scored a season-high 24 points in Notre Dame’s 82-72 loss to Illinois.

Jake LaRavia | Wake Forest

Age: 20| Height: 6’9″ | Weight: 228 lbs. | Position: PG

Jake LaRavia is one of our top sleepers in this year’s draft. He played two seasons at Indiana State and one season at Wake Forest. In his junior year, LaRavia averaged 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in 33 games played with Wake Forest. Plus, he shot 55.9% from the field and 38.4% from downtown. He had the third-highest field goal percentage in the ACC last season.

To add to that, LaRavia finished his junior season with a total of 55 steals, averaging 1.7 per game and ranking sixth in the ACC. In 2022, the forward was selected second-team All-ACC. On Jan. 22, in Wake Forest’s 98-76 win over North Carolina, he closed out his performance with a career-high 31 points, 10 rebounds and four assists. Perhaps an NBA coaching staff could train LaRavia to play at the same level of intensity he did back in high school.

Wendell Moore Jr. | Duke

Age: 20 | Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 216 lbs. | Position: SF

Next, Wendell Moore Jr. is 6’5″ and weighs 216 lbs. In his 2021-22 junior season at Duke, Moore Jr. averaged 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game in 39 games played. Plus, he averaged 50% shooting from the field. And he ranked fourth in the ACC for assists, averaging 4.4 per game.

Along with earning a 2022 All-ACC Tournament first-team selection, he was named to the 2021-22 All-ACC second-team, 2021-22 ACC All-Defense and won the Julius Erving Award. In Duke’s 113-101 loss to Wake Forest on Feb. 25, Moore Jr. scored a career-high 25 points.

On Nov. 12, 2021, he became only the fifth player in Blue Devils history to finish a game with a triple-double. In Duke’s 82-56 victory over Army, Moore Jr. amassed 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. He is one of the top forwards in the 2022 NBA Draft, but his profile is still being skipped over by scouts.

Blake Wesley | Notre Dame

Age: 19 | Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 185 lbs. | Position: PG/SG

Blake Wesley is 6’5″ and weighs 185 lbs. In his 2021-22 freshman season at Notre Dame, Wesley averaged 14.4 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. With a usage percentage of 31.3, he led the ACC in this metric. Usage percentage is an estimate of the percentage of team plays used by a player while he was active during the game.

In addition to earning a second-team All-ACC selection, he was named to the ACC All-Rookie Team as well in 2022. The guard scored a career-high 24 points in Notre Dame’s 82-72 loss to Illinois on Nov. 29, 2021. Based on numerous NBA mock drafts, either the Timberwolves or Spurs are projected to draft Wesley in the first round. Other sleepers for the NBA Draft 2022 are on the main page.

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RELATED: NBA Draft 2022: Top 10 Best Guard Prospects

Underrated Prospects in the NBA Draft 2022

Our top 3 most underrated prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft are Zach Edey, Nikola Jokic and Malachi Branham. Edey is just an oversized center, and he can help out a number of teams for acquiring rebounds and protecting the rim. According to BetOnline odds, Ousmane Dieng has -275 odds of getting drafted ahead of Branham. Likewise, Branham possesses +185 odds of going ahead of Dieng.

Zach Edey | Purdue

Age: 20 | Height: 7’4″ | Weight: 295 lbs. | Position: C

Moreover, based on the NBA mock drafts we’ve skimmed through, Zach Edey is not receiving the attention he deserves. Is he the next Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Shaquille O’Neale? Probably not. However, a reliable center is hard to come by in the NBA.

The tallest player in league history was Gheorghe Muresan. He is 7’7″ and weighs 303 lbs. But he only played most of five seasons. Then there is Yao Ming, who is 7’6″ and weighs over 300 lbs. Ming played in the NBA for most of seven seasons. These players were arguably too tall for the NBA. In other words, too tall to have a long playing career.

Will Zach Edey follow the same path? Anyway, in his 2021-22 sophomore season at Purdue, Edey averaged 14.4 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in 37 games played. In 65 games combined in his first two years in the NCAA, he averaged 11.9 points, 6.3 rebounds and nearly 1.0 assist per game.

Last season, he led the Big Ten in rebounds with a total of 117. Also, he finished with a Player Efficiency Rating (PER) of 36.5, leading all other players in his conference. And Edey finished the 2021-22 season with the best offensive rebound percentage (18.5). The Toronto-born player was selected to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team in 2021. Then, he was selected to the second-team All-Big Ten in 2022.

RELATED: NBA Draft 2022: Top 10 Best Forward Prospects

Nikola Jokic | ABA League

Age: 19 | Height: 6’11” | Weight: 223 lbs. | Position: PF

Another Nikola Jokic playing in the NBA would confuse quite a few fans. For the good news, this player is nothing like the two-time MVP center. This Nikola Jokic is a mammoth forward. He was born in Leicester, England in 2003. In the ABA League, he made his debut on Mar. 19, 2021 with Mega Mozzart (Mega Basket), a professional basketball club based in Serbia. In his team’s 74-65 loss to Split, he finished with 10 points and 9.0 rebounds in 21 minutes played.

In both seasons played in the ABA, Jokic was selected to the Junior ABA League Ideal Starting Five and became a Junior ABA League champion. In 2021, the forward won the Junior ABA League MVP as well. Having said all of this, one of his weaknesses is his physicality. The forward needs to be more aggressive in the paint. Considering he’s nearly 7′ tall, Jokic has to learn how to properly defend the rim. One thing is for sure, Jokic is an excellent scorer. He can shoot over anyone, especially from 3-point range.

Malachi Branham | Ohio State

Age: 19 | Height: 6’5″ | Weight: 180 lbs. | Position: SG

Lastly, Malachi Branham is 6’5″ and weighs 180 lbs. He attended St. Vincent High School. On the RSCI Top 100 list of 2021, the guard ranked 32nd. In his freshman season at Ohio State University, Branham averaged 13.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game in 32 games played. He ranked second in free throw shooting percentage (83%) in the Big Ten.

Equally important, the guard shot 49.8% from the field and 41.6% from beyond the arc. He was selected 2021-22 third team All-Big Ten and Big Ten All-Freshman. In addition to those achievements, Branham won the 2021-22 Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Besides comparing weight, the average height of a shooting guard in the NBA is 6’5″. So, he’s already halfway there. Most of all, Branham has the speed and agility to make a big play happen. More underrated prospects for the 2022 NBA Draft are on the main page.

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