If we learned anything during the 2021 NBA Draft, it’s that senior leadership is officially no longer valued higher than potential. The NBA has been trending this way for years now but the proverbial nail is in the coffin now. With only seven seniors being drafted at all and only two of those seven in the first round, youth, athleticism, and potential are clearly at the top of the scouting wish list.
Now that Michigan’s 2022 roster is set and the NBA Draft is complete, we have a much clearer picture of who could be involved in the draft process next year. Needless to say, there could be quite a bit of roster turnover next offseason.
5. Eli Brooks, SG
Brooks’s return will put a jolt into the Michigan program this winter and provide some much-needed leadership to an extremely young team. However, his draft prospects are a bit grimmer. Unless he can greatly improve his three-point shooting and playmaking on offense, it is unlikely that he will be drafted.
4. Devante Jones, PG
Jones decided to withdraw from the NBA Draft to transfer to Michigan from Coastal Carolina. While he appeared to be on the outside looking in this year, it is not out of the realm of possibility that Jones could work his way into the second round. He will undoubtedly have more exposure playing in the Big Ten rather than the Sun Belt and will have drastically more talent around him. It will be fascinating to see how Jones fits in what is becoming a growing list of graduate transfer point guards in Ann Arbor.
3. Hunter Dickinson, C
Like Jones, Dickinson also decided to pull his name out of the 2021 NBA Draft. This move was universally lauded by Michigan fans, college basketball fans, and NBA scouts. His return will allow him time to get more athletic, develop a shooting stroke, and improve his pick-and-roll defense. It is almost a certainty that this upcoming season will be Dickinson’s last in college as his stock will likely be as high as it will ever be. How much he can progress will determine whether he is a lottery pick or a second-round flyer.
2. Moussa Diabate, PF
Diabate is the prototypical big man in the modern NBA. He is a rim-running, athletic post who can fill the stat sheet with rebounds. I wholeheartedly believe there is a chance that he returns for a sophomore season, though all signs point to a one-and-done situation at this point. Should he hit the ground running in Ann Arbor, a lottery pick is not out of the question. Juwan Howard’s coaching fingerprint will be all over Diabate’s development and should get him to the NBA rather quickly.
1. Caleb Houstan, SF
Houston comes to Ann Arbor from Montverde Academy. This is the same Montverde Academy that just sent Cade Cunningham, Scottie Barnes, and Moses Moody to the NBA all in the same draft. He comes to college as prepared and polished as you can reasonably expect a high-schooler to be. I fully expect his potential to be realized very quickly at Michigan and for Houstan to be a top 10 pick in the 2022 draft. He is a prototypical three-and-D type of player who possesses the size and awareness to make an impact immediately. Obviously, things can always change, but I would be stunned if he were to return for a sophomore campaign.