The 2022 NBA Draft was one of the most anticipated draft classes of the past five years thanks to top prospects like Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Keegan Murray. It adds to the hype surrounding this year’s NBA rookies, which could be one of the best classes in recent memory.
Many of the top talents attracted the headlines and earned the praise during the NBA Summer League schedule. Keep in mind, that we’re only seeing glimpses of what these young men are capable of accomplishing as this is just the surface of their potential.
Of course, all the attention on the marquee names results in other talented NBA rookies flying under the radar. We’ve seen it in plenty of times over the years, with the likes of Dejounte Murray, Jordan Poole, and Kevin Porter Jr. among those who came in under the radar and became surprises. This year’s class is no exception. With a stacked group of rookies, some are bound to stun everyone us with their talent once they get a chance.
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With that said, here are three NBA rookies that could make a huge surprise in the 2022-23 season.
Patrick Baldwin Jr.
The 28th pick of this year’s draft by the Golden State Warriors, Patrick Baldwin Jr. looks to be a perfect fit for the team. Although he wasn’t able to play the entire Summer League, Baldwin Jr. is still ready to show what he’s capable of.
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We saw a glimpse of what the 6-foot-9 forward can do on the basketball court. It’s fair to call his lone season with the Milwaukee Panthers underwhelming, considering he averaged 12.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.5 assists on a not-so-efficient 34% from the field and 26% from the perimeter. With that said, this is one of several NBA rookies where the raw talent is undeniable.
Baldwin Jr. appears to be a favorite for a ton of Warriors fans already. His ability to stretch the floor will prove to be useful to their offense once their season starts.
Selected with the 20th pick by the San Antonio Spurs, Malaki Branham has already shown that he belongs in the league. The 6-foot-5 prodigy out of Ohio State impressed fans during their team’s five-game appearance in Las Vegas. Branham showed that he can be reliable from the perimeter. Although he shot just 33% from the perimeter during the first two games, it didn’t stop him from being aggressive from that area of the floor.
This allowed him to shoot 5-8 from the three-point area during their final game which helped the Spurs win their only game of the Summer League.
Additionally, his defensive abilities have proven that he has a chance to be an elite on-ball defender. Branham knows how to utilize his 7-foot-1 wingspan well to knock the ball out of the offensive player’s hands. While he needs a bit of polishing in defense, he’s on the right track and with the perfect coaching staff.
His skills make him a valuable two-way player that teams need nowadays. Luckily for him, he will be part of a great young Spurs team.
With their 27th pick, the Miami Heat drafted Nikola Jovic, who came from Serbia. The 6-foot-10 forward had already made rounds around the league way before he got drafted. His talent and skillset caught the eyes of a handful of teams which helped him increase his draft stock.
Even though he was hyped by the media, Jovic wasn’t projected to be a lottery pick in most mock drafts. Still, the Heat got a steal in Jovic. His experience from playing professionally in Serbia will come in handy and give the Heat another shooter. The Heat won’t put a lot of responsibility on Jovic since they’re trying to compete for the title, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get a chance to step on the court.
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His 35% shooting efficiency from the three-point range will come in handy and might even make him a fan favorite. Defensively, he’s still lacking, but he’ll get a chance to learn under Erik Spoelstra’s system.