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Ranking the Best Names in the 2022 NBA Draft
By: Khaqan Khan
It's draft day! The time of year when we welcome the next wave of talent into our league. Outside of the top 3-5 players, this is the first time most fans hear the names of their next favorite player. Admittedly, I only started paying attention to college prospects during March Madness, and that's only through the view of the NBA. But with my favorite team picking no.2 and no.12 with ambitions of making a trade, I've been hitting the draft guides and mock drafts hard. After weeks of research, the thing that stands out the most about this draft class is how awesome the names are this year. Usually, there's a name we get accustomed to due to personality and familiarity but aren't crazy cool. For instance, Anthony Edwards is an accountant's name, but because 'Ant' is perhaps the coolest mf-er in the league, we barely notice he shares the name with multiple mid-American construction company managers across America. The 2022 draft class has the highest share of cool names in recent memory.
Here's a ranking of the coolest names in this year's draft:
Bennedict Mathurin - What more do you want from a name. Honestly. Benedict is regal and badass at the same time. I've never heard of the name Mathurin before, but just by saying it, I can feel the hair on my chest grow. If you told me Mathurin was a character Sean Connery played, I would believe it. I would also believe you if you told me Bennedict Mathurin was the name of an unsung war general in WWII.
Jaden Ivey - Rare occasion where his name matches his game. Jaden Ivey deserves to be italicized. Jaden Ivey. The name is slick for a guy with a top-end first step. The evolution of guards of the Ja Morant-Jalen Green ilk. Guys that are this explosive need quick names so the announcer can just yell out JA! Green! OOOh IVEY! Whenever they blow by the defender and rise up for a dunk. Plus, imagine the branding opportunities. I'll be disappointed if he doesn't wear the number 4.
On the bubble: Chet Holmgren - On the bright side, the name is perfect for playing in Oklahoma, but on the other hand, it sounds like he should have a walrus mustache which would be cool if he had one, but he doesn't. Instead he looks like he should name Chad Zukaniski. Chet is like a cool short-hand you give the Ferris Buehler of your school, but that's his given name. The potential is there, I'm just not sure Chet Holmgren can live up to his name.
3. Johnny Davis - The name of the guy every dude wanted to be like in the 80s. Could also be an action hero name. Or imagine a trailer for a movie with Johnny as the main character. The trailer starts with all the different characters in the high school saying 'Johnny' in different tones. Friends trying to get his attention. The principal attempts to discipline him in a stern voice. The teachers are like, 'oh, Johnny,' but then the popular girl is like, 'Oh! Johnny' in a seductive voice. Then boom, the next shot is of a blonde stud who turns around with a state-champion smile and gives the camera a wink. That's who I imagine Johnny Davis being. I'm really glad Johnny Davis is one of those tough-shot makers because that means there's a chance someone like Mark Jones will make a 'Johnny!' call.
4. Dyson Daniels - +10 for alliteration. Daniels has the chance to be the passer in the draft. Which is perfect because there's so much you could do with his name. 'Dyson dicing up the defense!' 'Dyson just put his defender in a vacuum 'Dyson Dimes.' Okay, I'll leave that part to the professionals, but regardless what a sick name for a guy who's going to be all over the court.
5. Ousmane Dieng - The Announcer: "Ousmane, off the dribble. Ousmane, down the lane...(dunks) DIENG!"
6. Shaedon Sharpe - +10 for alliteration. We love alliteration here at the ICT Zone. Shaden Sharpe will shoot and schore. Sharpe is the biggest boom or bust prospect in the draft class but is one of the safest picks for cool names.
On the Bubble: Paolo Banchero - 19th-century Hispanic folklore hero or opera singer from Spain? Paolo's name alone isn't the issue. The issue is everything else about Paolo. Don't get me wrong, I'm excited to see him in the league, but I got to be honest, he does not have the ideal face-of-the-franchise face. Plus, I know it's a medical condition that he can't help, but let's be real, the fact he sweats so much is just not that cool. However, I'm sure he'll prove me wrong within moments in the league.
7. Mark Williams - I know at first glance this is a generic name, but considering he's a 7ft shot-blocker similar to Robert Williams, I'm pretty high on him. The name 'Mark' just feels like a big name. Mark Mcguire, Mark Henry, and Mark Ingram are all athletes that embodied power. Mark Williams will follow up the legacy his fellow athletes named Mark left behind.
8. MarJon Beauchamp - Man, I don't know where to start. Is it racist of me to say this name just screams D1? I know nothing about Beauchamp, but I hope he pans out.
9. Khalifa Diop - Not going to lie- this feels like a randomly generated name. I think I just want Diop to live up to the hype the name Kieta Bates-Diop failed to reach. I could see Khalifa Diop being a valuable rotation piece known for his defense hustle. He'll never be the most popular person named Khalifa, but I'm sure he'll make a name for himself.
10. Ziga Samar - I don't think I need to explain this one. Just say it out loud.
The other thing I did notice regarding the names of prospects in this draft class is a lot were names I expect to see in the NFL Draft. So naturally, I tried to figure out what type of NFL Draft picks these players would be if they weren't in the NBA solely based on the name.
- Tyty Washington - 4th round slot receiver that becomes the fan favorite for his off-field personality and on-field toughness
- Patrick Baldwin - 1st round talent. Ability to catch the ball over anybody but drops to the 2nd round due to poor route running.
- Jalen Duren - 3rd round sleeper, 6'1" deep threat WR.
- Jalen Hardy - RAC 2nd/3rd WR, played for a smaller program.
- Tari Eason - late 1st cornerback, not the most intimidating prospect at 5'9", but the resume speaks for itself. He more than held his own against the nation's top receivers in the SEC.
- Ej Liddell - top 10 wide-receiver talent. 6-3, 4.4 speed, played for Georgia, had a good game in the national championship. Probably going to struggle in his rookie year but will be good sooner rather than later.
There are also a lot of notable "Juniors" in this draft that I thought were worth bringing up.
- Scottie Pipen Jr. - please keep him away from any team with Malik Beasly.
- Ron Harper Jr. - It would be cool if he could find a role in the league
- Kenneth Lofton Jr. - Sadly, no relation to Kenny Lofton, but google this guy. Once you see a picture of him, you'll probably start rooting for him like I am.
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