Big-time collegiate and international players were selected in the 2022 NBA Draft. Plenty of these players are going to be expected to carry a heavy load on their teams early on in their careers. The NBA Rookie of the Year award is usually a strong indicator of a great career coming up, with recent examples being Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks in 2019 and Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies in 2020. It doesn’t always mean that though, with a somewhat recent example being Michael Carter-Williams in 2014. There are major favorites this year, but also a few sneaky sleeper options.
Murray excelled in college with the Iowa Hawkeyes en route to becoming the fourth overall pick. While at Iowa, he averaged about 24 points, nine rebounds, and two blocks per game as a sophomore. That wasn’t a fluke, as Murray took over the latest NBA Summer League. He was named MVP while averaging about 23 points, seven boards, and two assists per game. His shooting splits were phenomenal.
He should be on a much-improved Kings offense featuring the likes of De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, Harrison Barnes, and others. The issue, however, will be the number of mouths there are to feed. Murray finds himself in a tough starting frontcourt with decent talent behind him on the bench.
Houston is still in the midst of a rebuild heavily focused on youth development. This bodes well for Smith, who was excellent in college averaging about 17 points and seven rebounds per game as a freshman for the Auburn Tigers. His defensive capabilities along with his ability to stretch the floor will dazzle fans throughout the season.
Since the Rockets are developing youth, however, there will be a plethora of young players taking up shots. This will inevitably have an effect on Smith’s usage rates, especially with a player with a higher rate like Jalen Green around.
Ivey was selected fifth overall out of Purdue. While in college, he averaged about 17 points and five rebounds per game in his last season. He holds an arsenal of offensive weapons that will be on full display throughout the season. Detroit isn’t flush with established talent either. Ivey will team up with sophomore Cade Cunningham in the backcourt, forming a terrific young duo. Cunningham’s control and feel of the offense will allow Ivey to thrive off the ball, although Ivey can create his own shots just as easily.
Banchero enters the season with hefty expectations after being the first overall pick. He averaged about 17 points, eight rebounds, and three assists per game in his lone season with the Duke Blue Devils. Banchero will be given the ball as often as possible. Orlando has enough playmakers and passers in the backcourt who will make sure of this, such as Cole Anthony and Markelle Fultz. Banchero’s teammate at the forward spots, Franz Wagner, is a blooming star on his own, however, which may eat into Banchero’s usage. With that being said, Banchero is a generational talent.