Potential No. 1 picks Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero declare for NBA draft

Georgia State v Gonzaga
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Who becomes the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft will be all about who wins the Draft Lottery — there is no consensus, no Zion-like lock on the top pick this year.

But two of the three guys who could go No. 1 — Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga and Paolo Banchero of Duke — officially declared for the NBA draft over the past couple of days.

Holmgren posted his intentions on Instagram Thursday and told ESPN he was going pro.

Holmgren is the most likely No. 1 pick because of his potential, but he also may have the lowest floor of the top three players — that risk makes him divisive. Holmgren doesn’t fit neatly into molds of what both fans and scouts see as an NBA player; rather he is a true unicorn (the closest comp may be Kristaps Porzingis, but that is imperfect). Can he thrive in the NBA game?

Holmgren is 7-foot with a 7’5″ wingspan, and averaged 14.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game for Gonzaga. He has the potential to be a defensive force in the paint, but he also ways less than 200 points, needs to get stronger, and there are durability concerns. He put up numbers at Gonzaga, he can shoot the three or finish at the rim, but he wasn’t asked to do a lot of shot creation in college so that part of his game is a bit of an unknown.

Duke star Paolo Banchero declared for the draft on Wednesday.

A 6’10” big, Banchero showed his potential in the Final Four against North Carolina, knocking down threes and getting buckets inside on his way to 20 points and 10 rebounds. In that championship game, Banchero played solid defense — not something he is known for — and the jumper falling a few times was a good sign. He needs to improve his handles ad show he can defend consistently, but it was easy to watch him and see where he fits in the modern NBA game as a big man.

Banchero will likely be drafted No. 3, behind Holmgren and Auburn’s Jabari Smith (in whatever order), but he has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone.