The NBA draft is normally all about the top prospects, but there are some players that are not getting enough attention.
The 2022 NBA draft is chock full of talent at the top. Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren may be the next unicorn in a generation of highly skilled bigs entering the NBA. Auburn Freshman Jabari Smith Jr has the ability to score over 20 points a night on offense and then be a versatile defensive chess piece on the other end. Paolo Banchero, a smooth-scoring big man from Duke, has a sky-high ceiling. However, there are a multitude of players going towards the later portion of the lottery that also deserve some love. Here are three late-lottery prospects (based on Tankathon’s mock draft) to keep an eye on with the NBA draft just a month away.
Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor
Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan, currently mocked tenth overall, is a prime example of where the NBA is trending towards. A long, versatile forward with the ability to guard multiple positions, Sochan is a raw prospect with loads of potential. While his shooting stroke and ball handling could certainly use some work, his defensive versatility and athleticism make him an enticing prospect going forward and a great fit for a team like the Oklahoma City Thunder, who have no pressure to win and get contributions from him immediately. With more teams trying to create their own Draymond Green, Sochan’s defensive presence, passing ability, and intensity make him such an intriguing prospect.
Sochan certainly has things to improve upon; the main one being his ability to shoot the ball consistently. While he shot just under 30% from beyond the arc for Baylor, there was a five game stretch from December 12th to January 1st where he shot 8/14 from three, which is a 57% clip. Sochan just turned 19 on May 20th. There is a lot of potential to work with for whichever team grabs him.
Ousmane Dieng, F, New Zealand Breakers (NBL)
While we all wait patiently for the French phenom in 2023, Victor Wembanyama; there is an extremely talented Frenchman playing in New Zealand. Ousmane Dieng, a raw but incredibly talented forward, has a blend of size and skill that lends itself well to teams trying to embrace this modern era of forwards. At 6-10 with a 7-1 wingspan, Dieng has one of the more tantalizing size profiles in this year’s class. Another incredibly young prospect, he is a work in progress. The aspect that should leave NBA clubs encouraged is that his improvement is visible. Dieng was horrible early on in the NBL, looking completely outmatched in a pro league.
In his first eleven games, Dieng was averaging just four points per game with two rebounds. He was also shooting at a dreadful 24% clip, and just 15% from three. However, when some injuries hit the Breakers, Dieng saw increased responsibility and playing time. With this, his confidence and comfort rose, and he dramatically improved. In his final eleven games, the young Frenchman averaged over 14 points, four rebounds and over one steal per game. He also shot 48% from the field and almost 36% from three. However, Dieng’s best ability might come on the defensive side of the floor.
Able to guard multiple positions, Dieng fits the modern game. He has an innate ability to get his hands on the basketball. However, what makes him a difference maker is his passing and ballhandling abilities. Both have work to be done, but the potential he has already flashed as a teenager should make him a lock for the lottery. Dieng has a great feel for the floor as a ballhandler in both the open floor and the pick and roll. He’s another prospect that needs to be developed, but it truly is not hard to see a path for him becoming one of the most impactful players in the NBA.
Mark Williams, C, Duke
Duke’s Mark Williams is one of the more straightforward prospects in this draft. He dunks the ball, he rebounds, he blocks shots. If you are expecting anything else from him; you will be incredibly disappointed. He is a role player, but has the potential to be a star in his role. As his minutes increased, so did his productivity. Williams impact as a rim protector is what makes him a lottery pick, but his impact beyond that will leave much to be desired. He is a fantastic athlete for his size and pairs it well with his nearly 7-7 wingspan. He also hits free throws at a better rate than most centers of his skillset, shooting 73% from the line.
Williams is perfect for a team that already has their future stars. A team like the Charlotte Hornets comes to mind. They need a defensive anchor in the worst way possible. Williams can also play in the full court. He is also a lob threat, which pairs well with LaMelo Ball and how he likes to play. Look at the impact that Robert Williams has with the Boston Celtics. That can be the type of impact that Mark Williams can have. He is a role player that can thrive and change games in his role.