Over the next month there will be a serious and active discussion about what the order is Gonzaga‘s Chet Holmgren, Duke‘s Paola Banchera and Brown‘s Jabari Smith should be elected in 2022 NBA Draft. Everyone has strong arguments to become number 1, and none of them are likely to go beyond the top three Arlandathen Oklahoma Citythen Houston get the honor of choosing one of the stars of central size with guard skills. So how do these three coincide with each other?

Few such qualified answers to this question as Arkansas coach Eric Musselman, a former TimberwolvesAssistant Magic, Hawks and Grizzlies and Warriors and Kings a head coach whose team has faced each of these elite prospects for a month this season. Smith scored 20 points and nine rebounds and scored 6 of 16 shots, losing Razor backs. Holmgren had 11 points and 14 boards and he corrected 23 minutes during the Sweet 16 loss to Arkansas. Banchera scored 16 points, seven boards and three assists in Elite Eight’s win over Hogs.

“I saw a reason to choose all three,” Musselman said Athletic this week. “They are all in the top three. If you’re drafting so high and not so much division, change choices. But these guys are all worth it. For me, the most amazing thing about all three of them is that they can do in their size and age. These are freshmen. We’re not talking about anyone in the fourth or fifth year, which is the maximum. So now what matters is what their work ethic is and what organization they end up with? This will determine how these three careers will develop. But each one has the tools you’re looking for at the top of the draft. In the NBA, it’s simple: what super-skills do you distinguish from others? If you don’t have it, then you’re just a rotation ”.

Holmgren’s super-skill is “shot-blocking and length,” Musselman said. Smith’s is “a height of 6 feet 10 and an elite driver.” Banchero is “6-10 and excellent in all three phases: from the rebound, in the middle of the rack and on the rim.” The result: they are all doing something so exceptional that Musselman is confident that they will succeed as pros.

In 2017 after him Nevada the team faced Markel Fultz in Washington (and won), he wasn’t at all sure he had just seen the final choice № 1. In fact, he was “absolutely shocked” when it happened on call night.

“Coaching in the NBA, I didn’t even think it was a first-round choice, let alone number one,” Musselman said. “But the most interesting thing in this process is how much the winning teams, which are drafting so well, are researching, and, on the other hand, how little some others are doing. The only teams that called me about Fultz were the winning teams. Anyone who asked, I could tell them it was a mistake. If you can’t help your college team win, that should be a concern – if it’s not that guy Anthony Edwardswho didn’t have pieces around him but just stood out physically – and that’s what I like about these three guys this year. They won at a high, high, high level. “

Unlike Fultz, and despite GeorgiaIn the fight for 2020, Musselman had no doubt that the Timberwolves made the right call by occupying Edwards №1 that year.

“I was looking at the lineup when we were playing with Georgia, and I could tell you,‘ This guy is a conscientious starting straight from the goal, ’” Musselman said. “That night we had no answer for Edwards. He was bionic. He was a superman. Climbing on his throw in the jump, he came off the ground three feet higher than our guys, such a feeling and we couldn’t even dispute his kick. We couldn’t bother him. His strength and athleticism were just different from everyone else. That’s what you’re looking for in number 1. And you can say it’s in all three guys this year. ”

But one of them has to get off the board first. So in what order will Musselman go after reconnaissance, game planning and encounters with each? This is Banchero, Smith, then Holmgren for him.

“If I had been in the draft room, I would have felt it, but each team has different needs and deadlines,” he said. “Someone might want to draft Chet because they have a longer-term plan. Someone might need perimeter shooting and a guy who can accommodate the floor, and Jabari would be that guy. But just playing against three, we had the hardest time fighting Paolo. “

Which brings us to the scout reports. Here’s how Musselman views the big three in his order:

1. Paola Banchero, Duke

To resentment: “There was simply no answer to it. Our intelligence report could not take anything away from him. When they needed a basket, he went to it. He got the ball where we couldn’t combine it twice and also grab it. He makes threes and has just improved as a 3-point shooter over the years. He can draw fouls. He is excellent on average. He has a good jab-step, a pull-up in the jump. Got a really good corner kick in the jump. Can run the floor. In fact, you know what? I think he can be even more athletic than Jabari. Probably even. “

About the defense: “We couldn’t get a mismatch because they had so many equal guys and then they went into the zone, so I felt bad for him as a defender. But we did not go to it much. We didn’t feel we had the advantage of publishing it at all and didn’t feel we had the advantage of rebounding to try to go for it or get it in trouble. So we really stayed away from him. “

Jabari Smith scored 20 points in a loss to Arkansas. (Nelson Cheno / USA Today)

2. Jabari Smith, Auburn

Offended: “He’s so unique with his ability to strike from such depths, and he doesn’t need a lot of dribbling to get them. He can shoot at people. Just not many guys his age or size who know how to shoot transition 3 off the run and catch like him. It’s a little similar Clay Thompsonwho dribbles a little and can be in a dead sprint, catch, plant and stick it. Jabari does it very well, which is a great thing at 6-10. Our plan was to just push it, not let go to the left. We felt that if he got a left hand, 1-2 dribbling, it was almost impossible to stop. It’s really unique because you don’t often see how a right-hander likes to put the ball on the deck with his left hand. We went through all of his wares and felt that he was perhaps the most unique right-handed guy we’ve ever seen. ”

On defense: “It’s so long, the only thing we’ve tried to do is maybe get a switch where the smaller guy can try to attack from the rebound. Even then you may have an advantage in lateral speed with a smaller guy, but Jabari’s reach makes it very difficult. I thought he knew how to clap and hit the ball. “

Holmgren’s couple worried about Arkansas’ physicality in the failed loss of Gonzaga Sweet 16. (Kelly L. Cox / USA Today)

3. Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

In resentment: “Huge up with its length, shooting and belts. It’s really intriguing. For us, the plan of the game was to climb under him on the perimeter, go as low as possible and try to swallow any dribbles that he may take. And then at the post we had to use our low center of gravity and try to be as physical as possible. Every time he sets up screens, just be as physical as possible and try to get in his way anywhere he’s been on the floor. We wanted him to have our strongest and most physical player. “

Arkansas is assigned 6 feet 6,225 pounds Trey Wadeapprentice, who scored an average of six points per game in three schools and then received a score NFL An attempt at a mini-camp as a tight end to guard the slender 7-foot 195-pound Holmgren. This highlights one of Holmgren’s main concerns at the next level: whether he can withstand physically.

About the defense: “We said there were no floaters when we went to the basket. Try to get him in rotation and attack his body physically during our dribbles. We didn’t want to reconcile and beat against him on average. When he crossed from the weak side, our goal was mostly to kill in the restricted area, go through his body and try to draw fouls. (Holmgren foul for the third time this season.) No soft loopholes. It was a relentless attack on the rim when you saw it come from the weak side. We knew he would block a couple of throws, but we wanted to be aggressive by hitting his body during our last strike. Right now, you’ll be so follow him – but just not many guys his size and age who know how to drive, pass and throw as well as he does. In addition, it is an excellent shock blocker with good abilities and mobility at this size. This child also likes a lot. “

(Top photo by Paolo Banchera: Lance King / Getty Images)


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