The college basketball season — and by extension the sprint to the 2022 NBA Draft — will begin in earnest Tuesday night as the 2021-22 campaign gets underway. So with a new year upon us, it’s time to set the table for what lies ahead in the coming months as the draft starts to come into focus.
Below is our first stab of the season at what we expect. Much will change between now and next summer when the draft takes place as the college season drags on and international play continues, but it may be more shifting than anything, with a number of this year’s top prospects viewed as lottery locks entering the season.
That seems especially true at the top. Duke freshman forward Paolo Banchero will begin the season No. 1 in our mock and is viewed as one of the safest to go inside the top three of the draft next summer. It’s seen right now, though, as a two-man race with Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren, who is No. 2 in our mock, pushing Banchero. Jaden Hardy, Jalen Duren and international standout Yannick Nzosa loom as possible contenders and all come in near the top of our mock as well.
Duke’s Banchero and AJ Griffin, Trevor Keels and Mark Williams are Blue Devils projected to go in the first round of this mock draft. They will face Kentucky, led by prospects TyTy Washington and Daimon Collins, in. Michigan State’s Max Christie will play in the first game at Madison Square Garden when the giving this year’s Champions Classic seven projected first-rounders.
Our full preseason projections are as follows. The order is determined by SportsLine projections, but team needs for the selections are not taken into account because the NBA season remains in its infancy and the order may change drastically between now and the end of the season.