With the eighth overall pick, I have the New York Knicks shocking the basketball world and selecting Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji.
While Keegan Murray may have been a bit of a surprise at the fifth overall pick, I think the New York Knicks’ pick will mark where things start to get very interesting in the 2022 Draft. With a few big names still on the board, I think New York will make a selection that initially confuses and perhaps even angers many of their fans, but one that will ultimately age very well. While there will be several younger players available with comparable or higher upside, I think Agbaji’s selection at eighth overall will come down to his intangibles.
Don’t get me wrong -- Agbaji has undoubtedly been Kansas’ best player this season in terms of skill and production. In his senior season with the Jayhawks, he’s averaging 20.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 1.7 assists and has by far played the best basketball of his career.
He’s grown into an elite shooter, hitting a career-high 42% of his threes this season on seven attempts per game. He’s also grown far more confident as a ball-handler, has NBA length and athleticism, and is already a fantastic off-ball defender. It’s difficult to imagine what more he needs to do on the court to be considered a 1st round draft prospect.
While placing him in the top ten of this year’s draft will understandably be a bit rich for some people’s tastes, what puts him over the edge in my mind is his dramatic improvement. A recent profile put together by The Athletic’s CJ Moore (subscription required) should give everybody the sense of what kind of a player and person Agbaji is, and by the time draft day rolls around, I am fairly certain there will be at least one team in or around the top ten that will take a flyer on him.
Agbaji is the embodiment of an underdog story that worked his way to the top even if it meant making some difficult decisions along the way. The heart, dedication, and drive to improve that he plays with is precisely what the Knicks need to place next to RJ Barrett even if the fit is a bit finicky. If New York wants to get better on and off the court and do it quickly, I am convinced this is the pick they need to make.