2022 NBA Mock Draft 1.0
First mock of NBA szn
There is a bit quicker of a turnaround this year post-NFL Draft given that the league schedule more resembles what it was pre-COVID, but the NBA Draft is upon us. On June 23rd, basketball hopefuls will hear their names called, and begin a path they’ve mostly dreamed about.
Along with that comes a lot of research, mocking, and betting. We don’t have NBA Draft Props out just yet outside of the first pick (I’m hoping to see more before the Finals start), but I am already deep in my process for this draft. The lottery is much easier to look at with confidence right now, with plenty of moving and shaking to be done in the latter half of the first round.
With all of that said, here is my first look at the 2022 NBA Draft.
1 - Magic - Jabari Smith, Auburn
Smith is the majority selection right now for the first pick, and ESPN’s Jonathan Givony put a stamp on that in his Combine winners and losers piece.
While Magic executives have made it clear they will conduct a thorough process -- even extending beyond the widely believed top three prospects in Smith, Holmgren and Paolo Banchero -- most NBA teams firmly believe that's a formality and that Smith is all but assured to become the top pick. Smith, for his part, appears thrilled with that development. So is Holmgren over his looming marriage with the Oklahoma City Thunder, which is also the overwhelming expectation from NBA executives with whom we spoke at the draft combine.
There are some reasons to believe Holmgren could end up being this pick. The Magic front office has a well-documented history of selecting players with tremendous length — Jonathan Isaac, Mo Bamba, Larry Sanders, Thon Maker, John Henson, and some dude named Giannis — leading to a potential Trent Baalke/Travon Walker situation in Orlando. It is also worth noting that Holmgren and 2021 top-five pick Jalen Suggs played together in high school, and are by all accounts very close.
We could also see them flip picks with the Thunder, allowing Chet to come off first to OKC. For now though, I’m trusting Givony’s read on the league.
2 - Thunder - Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
Per the same blurb above, Holmgren would be the favorite to head to Oklahoma City. It is the kind of high-upside pick we have seen from Sam Presti in the past.
3 - Rockets - Paolo Banchero, Duke
The top three of this draft appear to be pretty solidified right now, even if they don’t come of the board in this exact order. Banchero would be an excellent offensive frontcourt-mate with last year’s number two pick Jalen Green, and has the kind of passing skills to make up for some of the playmaking that Green currently lacks as he figures out the NBA.
4 - Kings - Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky (kinda)
This is where the draft starts to get interesting. Sacramento was the big winner in the lottery, moving up from seven to four, and will get first crack at the second tier of prospects. However, I don’t think they end up making this pick.
Sacramento traded Tyrese Haliburton for Domantas Sabonis last season, and Kings owner Vivek Ranadive is supposedly putting a lot of pressure on the front office to make the playoffs in 2022-23. I think that makes it likely for Sacramento to trade down or out for players who can help them win now. A couple of options I’ve considered is a swap with the Thunder — who also pick 12th — that would net them Lu Dort, or a trade with Atlanta for John Collins.
If someone is coming up, it makes sense for it to be a swing at Sharpe, who is the biggest question mark given he did not play last season for Kentucky, but was also the top prospect in the country. Jaden Ivey is another potential trade-up candidate. If the Kings were to ultimately keep this pick, Keegan Murray — generally regarded as the best pro-ready prospect of everyone available — makes a lot of sense.
5 - Pistons - Jaden Ivey, Purdue
James L. Edwards III of The Athletic has reported that Detroit is focusing on four players: Ivey, Sharpe, Murray, and Bennedict Mathurin. Givony has the Pistons as Ivey’s best fit at the top of the draft.
6 - Pacers - Keegan Murray, Iowa
Murray will be 22 before the season starts, which puts him at a disadvantage to the other prospects taken so far. Still, he is perceived as a late bloomer with an all-around skill set and great character. Indiana just took Chris Duarte — a 24-year-old rookie — in the lottery last year.
7 - Blazers - Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona
Portland is another team that seems likely to trade their selection. They were unable to get to the top of the draft for one of the elite prospects, falling back from six to seven in the lottery process. Damian Lillard wants to stay and compete with the Blazers, which is unlikely to be assisted by a rookie. The most popular hypothesized trade has been this pick heading to Detroit in return for Jerami Grant — which could not actually happen until AFTER Portland makes the selection due to the Stepien Rule. Given the Pistons’ noted interest in Mathurin, I’m going to slot him here.
8 - Pelicans - Dyson Daniels, Ignite
New Orleans has a long list of prospects on their radar, and have also been rumored to be interested in moving up. Daniels has been surging up boards after it was confirmed that he grew three inches and put on 30 pounds since 2019 — including about a third of that this season. He is a high-level defender and passer. Eight may ultimately end up being too low.
9 - Spurs - Jeremy Sochan, Baylor
There is probably not a more Spurs-y player in this class than Sochan, who has a well-traveled international background, incredible attitude, and versatile defensive game. The Pelicans and Nuggets have been rumored to have interest in Sochan as well.
10 - Wizards - Johnny Davis, Wisconsin
Washington adds the Big 10 Player of the Year to pair with Bradley Beal in the backcourt.
11 - Knicks - Jalen Duren, Memphis
Classic Knicks play to add a center with most of the guards and wings gone.
12 - Thunder - Ousmane Dieng, Breakers
Another upside swing for Oklahoma City, who could look to move up from this spot to acquire someone else that they covet (Sharpe or Daniels would be my bet).
13 - Hornets - Mark Williams, Duke
Rim-running center with a massive 9’9” standing reach. He could leap Duren by draft time, if he hasn’t already.
14 - Cavs - Malaki Branham, Ohio State
Branham has been rising, including some late lottery buzz.
He just turned 19, and Branham’s shooting/scoring ability will be something teams covet.
15 - Hornets - AJ Griffin, Duke
Griffin has A+ shooting ability — knocking down 45% of his threes as a freshman at Duke — and has an NBA pedigree, but the rest of his profile has plenty of question marks. For starters, Griffin has shown to be a pretty poor defender. He also has a well-documented injury history, missing over a year in high school with ankle and knee injuries, and spraining his knee as a freshman as well. That’s why I have him slipping more in this mock than others you’ll see.
16 - Hawks - Tari Eason, LSU
Eason tested athletically to be very similar to Kawhi Leonard given his hand size, height, and wingspan. He recently turned 21, but has the potential to be a versatile defender and shot-maker.
17 - Rockets - TyTy Washington, Kentucky
I’m pretty sure if your draft strategy was simply “take Kentucky guards every year” you’d be good enough at this thing to keep your job. This appears to be the right range for Washington, and the Rockets could use a long-term backcourt mate for Jalen Green.
18 - Bulls - Jalen Williams, Santa Clara
The biggest winner at the NBA Combine, Williams has been labeled a top-20 selection by Sam Vecine, and top-25 by Givony. He is even getting some lottery buzz.
19 - Timberwolves - Dalen Terry, Arizona
Terry measured 6’7” with a 7’1” wingspan, and doesn’t turn 20 until July. Mike Schmitz compared him to a smaller Scottie Barnes, and indicated he could wind up as high as the lottery (now that he is the assistant GM for the Blazers, maybe we should keep an eye on this). He could be an ideal fit with Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards.
20 - Spurs - Nikola Jovic, Mega Basket
Already one letter away from being a two-time MVP, Jovic has not yet turned 19 and came in at a legit 6’11” in shoes at the Combine.
21 - Nuggets - Ochai Agbaji, Kansas
Denver is looking to compete now and Agbaji is coming off of a national championship at Kansas. He can be a 3-and-D contributor for them right away.
22 - Grizzlies - Jaden Hardy, Ignite
The immense depth of Memphis gives them the opportunity to take a shot on a talent that was once thought of as a top-5 player in this class.
23 - Sixers - E.J. Liddell, Ohio State
The Nets own the rights to this pick as part of the Ben Simmons trade, but all of the latest rumors have them defferring it to 2023. Philly needs some more shooting — especially with the Danny Green injury — and Liddell is also an excellent defender.
24 - Bucks - Terquavion Smith, NC State
Milwaukee plays good enough team defense to withstand Smith’s defensive shortcomings. They desperately need his “microwave scoring” abilities.
25 - Spurs - Walker Kessler, Auburn
Kessler is a tremendous defender around the rim, and would give the Spurs some insurance behind Jakob Poeltl, who is entering a contract year.
26 - Mavs - Patrick Baldwin, Milwaukee
Dallas is pretty set in the backcourt assuming they bring back Jalen Brunson, but their frontcourt desperately needs an infusion of talent. Baldwin is staying in the draft, and was a top-five recruit just a year ago. This is a great dice roll for the Mavs.
27 - Heat - Blake Wesley, Notre Dame
One thing that has been evident during these playoffs is that Miami can really struggle to score for long stretches. Enter Wesley, who has the talent and upside to be the kind off shot-creator they need off the bench in tandem with Tyler Herro.
28 - Warriors - Jake LaRavia, Wake Forest
Probably overly-simplistic take here, but a high-IQ basketball player with shooting ability usually sounds like a fit with Golden State.
29 - Grizzlies - MarJon Beauchamp, Ignite
6’6” with a seven-foot wingspan at the Combine. Beauchamp isn’t a shooter yet — and may never be — but the defense and length is something Memphis could use.
30 - Thunder - Caleb Houstan, Michigan
Houstan completely skipped the Combine, leading to speculation that he has a promise from someone late in the first round. To that end, he lands with OKC here to finish the round.
Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee
Kendall Brown, Baylor
Bryce McGowens, Nebraska
Christian Braun, Kansas
Wendell Moore, Duke
Ryan Rollins, Toledo