NBA Draft 2022: Why more big men return for another year in college instead of becoming professionals

In conversations with members of the front office over the past few months, I have asked many questions about Chet Holmgren because he is the most captivating and polarizing player in the 2022 NBA Draft.

Some would take it as a general choice №1. Others would not use a top three for him. One CEO told me he saw Holmgren as the future Defender of the Year. Another told me that he is the type of player who will be played off the floor by teams that engage in a five-out attack with a small ball.

They can both to be right.

Which is one of the reasons why assessing prospects that are centers and centers alone has become the most challenging task facing NBA draft leaders. The great centers are still great – proof that the current MVP (Nikola Jokic) and the current MVP runner-up (Joel Embeid) are really both centers. But for any center that exceeds reasonable expectations of where it was elected, there are three or four boys marked as missed, largely because they can’t do the things that modern centers require.

As a guard in space.

“Preparing for defense is the greatest thing,” said a former head of the front office. “They put you in a spread pick-and-roll and they delete you.”

This, by the way, is one of the reasons why so many great big boys like it Kentucky Oscar Tshibwe, North Carolina Armando Bacot, of Indiana Trace Jackson-Davis and of Purdue Zack Go – return to college next season, when they may all have been selected from the first round 10 years ago. Of course, their ability to make remarkable sums of money legally through name, image and likeness capabilities proved to be a magnet on campus. But the truth is, these players have never chosen between definitely playing in the NBA next season or definitely playing in college. They chose mostly between perhaps to play in the NBA next season or definitely play in college, where they could probably make more money next year than they would as a professional.

“None of these guys you nominated would be selected for the first round,” said one evaluator. “Some of them wouldn’t even be selected in the second round. The big players in college sometimes don’t fit into the NBA. We used to say that about the little guards. Now we say that about the traditional big ones.”

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The Scouts’ consensus assessment is this: unless you can guard the space at least a little in defense and either run along the edge or stretch the floor in attack, it’s probably not worth choosing too high in any draft.

So what to do with Holmgren?

Skeptics of Gonzaga The product’s ability to actually star in the NBA points to the fact that it plays only one position and is clearly not gifted enough to keep great in space – although many reviewers have said they believe it will at least be “OK”. to him. His light figure is another clear area of ​​concern. This is bad. But the good is so good that his believers still see Holmgren as worthy of consideration to be elected first overall, because they present him as an elite defender of the rim and a legitimate great who can play-do on the perimeter and reliably do 3 points. In other words, Holmgren is so gifted in some things that he may indeed one day be the Defender of the Year and the annual All-Star, but so dubious in other ways that he could never really become what they should be. the first two elected. . And, yes, there is a scenario, given the way the game has developed for centers, where he is also the best defender of the year and a responsibility in defense in certain situations, because even the three-time defender of the year Rudy Gober has sometimes proven himself as a defensive responsibility in certain situations.

“Chet is one of the most unique perspectives I’ve ever seen,” said one evaluator. “If you take him number one, you may be sorry. But if you betray him, you may be sorry … I guess you can say that for many perspectives. But I think it’s more true for Chet than he is with the top five predictions. ”

Traditional versus modern center

After Holmgren gets off the board, who knows when the next center will be chosen? It will probably be Jalen Duren, the only and ready physical specimen Memphis. But this is also the problem for most adults today, it is a traditional center rather than a modern center in the sense that it is not clear how effective it will ever be too far from the basket at both ends of the court. If Duren enters the top 10, it will be much closer to №10 than to №1, although he was once ranked №1 in his high school class.

He had to be born 20 years earlier.

Decades ago, Duren would have been an easy choice in the top five as before Illinois star Kofi Cockburn will compete for the lottery. Now Duren may not make the top 10, and Cockburn, a traditional center in beast mode, is at risk of being left unselected, despite being a two-time All-American that destroys the rims.


Because being big, destroying the rims, is no longer as important as being big, which can move its legs and stand in front of the smaller players in space, that’s why. Therefore, highly productive and finished college products that were once designed as special perspectives in the NBA are now often unwelcome at the next level.

It is great for the college game.

But don’t be fooled into thinking that big guys like Tshiebwe, Bacot, Jackson-Davis and Edey are coming back to college just because of how much they love it – or even for the NIL money available. That’s part of it, of course. But these players are mostly returning to college because the NBA’s game has changed so much for the centers that they are no longer wanted in the way they would have been in previous eras. These players are coming back mostly because with the development of the sport, there really wasn’t a great place to go.

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