The Best NBL Prospects in the 2022 NBA Draft

It’s been five years since Terrance Ferguson was drafted 21st in the NBA Draft, the player who shunned college basketball to instead play in the NBL, establishing the Australian league as a legitimate NBA pathway.

In the years since then, there have been a number of players who have used the NBL as their launchpad to the NBA Draft, with names such as LaMelo Ball and Josh Giddey playing a season in Australia before being picked up by a stateside team.

As this momentum grows, so too does the number of prospects looking to make the leap, with the 2022 contingent one of the biggest ever.

With under 24 hours left until the NBA Draft, we took a look at all the NBL players who are vying to hear their names read out.

Ousmane Dieng – New Zealand Breakers

Dieng is easily the most hyped of the NBL prospects, joining the Breakers as a Next Star in 2021.

The Frenchman averaged 8.9 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 1.1 assists per game, but those numbers are slightly misleading, as he came on much more strongly during the second half of the season.

It took Dieng 12 games to score in double digits, but he then went on to hit that mark in nine of his next 12, scoring 20 in two of his last five.

19 years old, Dieng is much more of a long-term prospect than an immediate plug-and-play guy, but NBA teams clearly see something they like in him, as he is projected as a mid-to-late lottery pick, and was even invited to the NBA Draft green room which is typically an indicator that the player will be taken towards the top of the draft.

Mock Draft Position

Sports News: 16th

ESPN: 8th

The Athletic: 8th

The Ringer: 9th

Sports Illustrated: 9th

It’s a case of deja vu here, as the second highly-touted NBL prospect is also a French player who spent the past year with the New Zealand Breakers – Hugo Besson.

Besson was a rock for the Breakers last year, the 20-year-old signed as an import and averaging 13.9 points, 3.9 rebounds, and 2.5 assists per game, one of the team’s most reliable scorers.

He shot 31% on 6.2 attempts from three per game, and teams seem intrigued with him as a shooter, projecting as a mid-to-late second-round pick.

Mock Draft Position

Sports News: 47th

ESPN: 44th

The Athletic: 55th

The Ringer: 47th

Sports Illustrated: 51st

This is where it gets tricker.

Travers received definitely interest from NBA teams and was even invited to the G League Elite camp, as well as participating in NBA workouts for eight different teams: Minnesota, Cleveland, Sacramento, Dallas, Indiana, Phoenix, Golden State, and the Clippers.

However, it does not appear that he is projected by many to be drafted.

The six-foot-six South Australian has been an instrumental piece of the Perth Wildcats for a few seasons now, averaging 7.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.3 assists per game, as well as providing some high-level defense when needed.

Realistically, Travers’ path to the NBA probably goes through the Summer League and possibly even the G-League, but there is always the chance that a team could take a flier on him, as evidenced by The Athletic’s John Hollinger in his separate Top 75 Prospects list.

Mock Draft Position

Sports News: Undrafted

ESPN: Undrafted

The Athletic: Undrafted

The Ringer: Undrafted

Sports Illustrated: Undrafted

Sotto was a big deal when he first signed with Adelaide as a ‘Special Restricted Player’, with the seven-foot-two Filipino bringing a whole load of hype with him.

One season later, it’s tough to argue that Sotto didn’t quite live up to expectations, averaging 7.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 0.5 assists per game, and not making the impact some thought he may – despite the fact he won the NBL fans MVP.

Like Travers, Sotto has been worked out by a number of NBA teams in the lead-up to the draft, including Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, Indiana, New York, Sacramento, and the Clippers.

Sotto also hasn’t featured on any major mock drafts this year, but he did feature on Sports Illustrated’s post-combine top 60 in May and is ranked 72nd on Sports Illustrated’s Top 100 Prospects list.

Mock Draft Position

Sports News: Undrafted

ESPN: Undrafted

The Athletic: Undrafted

The Ringer: Undrafted

Sports Illustrated: Undrafted

For the third straight year, the NBL Rookie of the Year is getting some NBA interest, and while it may not be on the level of Ball or Giddey, Cairns’ Bul Kuol still turned some heads stateside with his historic rookie campaign.

Kuol set the record for most three’s by an Australian rookie and averaged 10.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 2.3 threes per game during the 2021/22 season.

Kuol is not a huge name on draft boards but has still spent the off-season working out for NBA teams, most notably the Chicago Bulls who employ Australian assistant coach Damien Cotter.

Mock Draft Position

Sports News: Undrafted

ESPN: Undrafted

The Athletic: Undrafted

The Ringer: Undrafted

Sports Illustrated: Undrafted

Maker finished the NBL season in one of the best positions possible – at the top, winning the 2022 Championship alongside the Sydney Kings, becoming the first NBL Next Star to win a ring.

Now, Maker looks to follow in the footsteps of his cousin, Thon Maker, and be drafted into the NBA.

With season averages of 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game, he put together a compelling case, and while he is not currently projected to be taken in the 2022 NBA draft, he is most definitely in contention for a Summer League spot.

Mock Draft Position

Sports News: Undrafted

ESPN: Undrafted

The Athletic: Undrafted

The Ringer: Undrafted

Sports Illustrated: Undrafted

NBL fans are yet to see the full extent of Akoldah Gak’s talents, the 19-year-old not seeing much court time in his first two years under former coach Brian Goorjian.

However, if his performance at the U19 FIBA ​​World Cup is anything to go by, the tools are all there for Gak, who averaged 10 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks over the course of seven games.

Again, Gak is not a player who is expected to be taken during the draft, he has certainly attracted NBA attention, working out for Chicago, Milwaukee, Utah, and Washington.

Mock Draft Position

Sports News: Undrafted

ESPN: Undrafted

The Athletic: Undrafted

The Ringer: Undrafted

Sports Illustrated: Undrafted

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