NBA Draft bust candidates: Chet Holmgren, Johnny Davis, Shaedon Sharpe headline riskiest picks in 2022

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Nobody wants the dreaded 'bust' label.

If teams correctly predicted the future and aced the draft every year, we wouldn't spend any time rehashing the biggest busts. And yet drafting is an imperfect science which leads to imperfect draft results. 

It’s usually easy to identify the sure things in the NBA Draft, at least at the top of big boards. With many of the players likely to go in the top 14 hailing from blue blood schools, the names should be pretty familiar to basketball fans.

But with this group, what the draft boasts in depth it clearly lacks in superstar potential, even at the top end of the lottery.    

So who are the riskiest selections at the top end of the draft? The Sporting News takes you through six players who will hear their name called early on draft night that might not pan out in the long run.

MORE: NBA Draft 2022 dates, start time, pick order, TV channels & updated mock drafts 

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Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga

Let's get the big one out of the way first. Holmgren has the potential to become the best player in this draft and there's an argument to be made that no other prospect can match his ceiling.

Whoever drafts Holmgren will do so with the expectation that he develops in an All-Star. And yet history says that not all three players in the consensus top three — Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr., and Paulo Banchero — will become All-Stars. Since 2000, the only draft in which 1-2-3 went on to become All-Stars is 2016. 

Ever since Kevin Durant blessed Kristaps Porzingis, the basketball world has been trying to find the next unicorn.  Giannis as a unicorn definitely landed.  Chet as a unicorn?  Meh.  Sure, his offensive skillset is impressive and his 7-6 wingspan will make him a rim protector at the NBA level. 

MORE: Chet Holmgren's 2022 NBA Draft scouting report

But the obvious question with Holmgren is if his body can withstand the pounding against much stronger opponents. Gonzaga’s memorable NCAA Tournament matchup against Memphis and fellow future lottery pick Jalen Duran offered a perfect snapshot of Holmgren’s strengths and weaknesses.  He blocked four shots and altered even more, but at times was simply overwhelmed by Duren’s strength. 

Without adding more functional strength, especially in his lower body, Holmgren projects as a true developmental project, and that isn’t what you want in a top 3 pick.

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Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin

Arguably no player meant more to his team in college basketball than Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis last season, earning him Big Ten Player of the Year honors and in the process propelling him from off many draft boards in the preseason to a lottery lock. 

His 37-point, 14-rebound performance against fellow superstar guard Jaden Ivey in early January opened eyes around the NBA world. In that game, and in all of Wisconsin’s games, Davis was super ball dominant, because, frankly, he had to be. 

MORE: NBA Mock Draft 2022

Now instead of handling in pick-and-roll situations, he needs to expand his game to play off the ball and ideally transition into a 3-and-D player.  His athletic profile doesn’t lend itself to being an elite NBA level defender, and his 3-point shooting numbers regressed in his sophomore season. 

Much more comfortable shooting off the bounce than spotting up, Davis won’t be anything more than a role player unless he addresses his shot mechanics.  

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Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky

The last time a prospect had as much intrigue as Sharpe was when James Wiseman, after a very brief college career, was selected No. 2 by the Golden State Warriors in the 2020 NBA Draft. And just like with Wiseman, there are concerns about Sharpe’s lack of experience against top level prospects outside of AAU circuits. 

If you have some time to kill, go watch some Sharpe mixtapes. 

You will be impressed. And you should be — the talent is unmistakable. 

MORE: Shaedon Sharpe's 2022 NBA Draft scouting report

Sharpe, who was the No. 1 ranked player of the 2022 recruiting class before reclassifying and committing to Kentucky, didn’t play a single minute for the Wildcats and barely even practiced. 

Without any true sample size and positive vibes from scouts, it is pretty clear he needs to land in the right situation or risk being a bust.

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Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor

At 6-9, 230, Sochan rose up draft boards throughout his lone season with the Baylor Bears. 

Given his rise, and the fact that the 2023 NBA Draft looks like it might be the strongest of its kind in years, he made the right decision to turn pro. 

There is a lot to like here - size, athleticism, switchability on defense. The problem with Sochan and others on this list is what exactly his impact will be on the offensive end. The majority of his baskets came off plays created by his teammates and he hasn’t demonstrated the ability to be either a post scorer or reliable shooter from distance (29.6 percent on 81 attempts).

MORE: NBA Draft Best Bets 2022

While some players in this draft can score from all three levels, Sochan’s offensive limitations likely make him a 1-2 year project, at minimum. 

He profiles as a perfect selection for the Portland Trail Blazers, who love to draft on upside, at 7th overall.

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AJ Griffin, G, Duke

NBA teams look at prospects through a very simple lens: “what will your NBA skill be?” 

For Griffin, that is an easy answer - he can shoot lights out from 3. 

With good size and a strong base, his innate balance is something you just can’t teach, and it's why he connected on over 44 percent of his 3-pointers as a Blue Devil last season. Shooting alone likely means he will be a lottery pick, but his overall impact at the next level depends on what else he can contribute to a team. 

MORE: Ranking top 10 guards from Jaden Ivey to Trevor Keels 

During his one season at Duke, he showed flashes of brilliance and also flashes of Cam Reddish-level inconsistency.  The best path for Griffin appears to be as an 8-10th man, not a viable starter on a good NBA team.

TyTy Washington Jr. Kentucky Wildcats
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TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky

Prior to sustaining an ankle injury in the late January marquee matchup with Auburn, TyTy Washington was arguably the best guard in a loaded SEC Conference. 

He won’t wow you with shooting or athleticism, but he makes winning plays and knows how to take care of the ball.  The biggest problem is he isn’t necessarily quick enough to be a lead guard or big enough to play off the ball. 

MORE: 11 potential sleeper picks in the 2022 NBA Draft 

He projects as a Randy Foye type — solid, but unspectacular role player who will contribute.  And in this draft, that probably means he will be a lottery lock.

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