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2022 NBA Mock Draft 2.0
A week before the NBA Draft we take a second look at what may happen
With the Finals overlapping so much with draft month, information has been sparse compared to the last couple of seasons. But with a week left to go, it is clear some things are starting to leak through the cracks. This is my best guess at the first round a week out from the NBA Draft.
My final mock will be a collaboration with Jack Miller over at Establish the Run — be sure to check it out! (Depending on how much we disagree, I may also post my own here with just picks.)
Refer to Mock 1.0 for my previous takes.
1 - Magic - Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
Almost every mock you look at has Jabari Smith as the first pick, so why am I going with Chet? Because if you look closely, it appears history may be repeating itself from earlier this year when Travon Walker went first in the NFL Draft.
I spoke about Orlando’s front office and their affinity for length in Mock 1.0, but we can also see the cracks forming in the insider takes. Notice how much ESPN’s Jonathan Givony’s language has softened since earlier in the process:
While the Big Three of Auburn's Jabari Smith, Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren and Duke's Paolo Banchero have remained consistent, the order in which those three players are selected remains less than locked in as private workouts continue.
Last month, it was “Smith is all but assured to become the top pick”. This feels similar to the Walker whispers. In fact, many mocks make a point of saying it is not yet decided. The longer it stays that way, the more I believe Chet will be the pick.
2 - Thunder - Jabari Smith, Auburn
Where most insiders seem to agree more strongly is that Chet and Jabari will be the first two picks in some order. While that remains the most probable outcome, I will say that I am not quite as sold if Chet isn’t available for OKC to select. Yes, Smith — and particularly his shooting — would fit well with the current Thunder pieces, but Sam Presti knows that this league is built around stars, and that his team is far from ready to compete.
Paolo Banchero’s playmaking and demeanor may make him the higher ceiling prospect, and it would not surprise me at all of that is ultimately Oklahoma City’s preference. There have also been rumors that they are interested in Jaden Ivey. As always, expect the unexpected with Presti.
3 - Rockets - Paolo Banchero, Duke
Houston had Banchero in for a workout yesterday — and then they traded away Christian Wood.
Again, we shouldn’t over-value this move. The top three players are all bigs, and Wood is an expiring contract who is unlikely to be in the team’s future plans. This may simply mean they are comfortable selecting a big at three, and will pass on Ivey, who the team has been rumored to have some interest in.
4 - Kings - Keegan Murray, Iowa
There are three basic truths in the NBA:
Inside the NBA being the best programming in sports
“Win a real ring” replies to LeBron tweets
The Kings being the Kangz
Sacramento traded away Tyrese Haliburton at the deadline for Domantas Sabonis after drafting a third guard — Davion Mitchell — with the ninth pick last year. So will they take Ivey, who most around the league have as the clear best available prospect?
The Kings “aren't Ivey's preferred destination” according to Givony, who also notes that “the candidacy of Keegan Murray might be gaining steam with head coach-to-be Mike Brown. Owner Vivek Ranadive is also said to be a proponent of selecting him”. If Sacramento makes this pick, Murray is the likely favorite.
But will they ultimately hold onto it? We know Ranadive wants to win now, so moving this pick in exchange for some veteran help is possible. But perhaps they like Murray enough to believe he is worth sticking and picking for. Only time will tell.
5 - Pistons - Jaden Ivey, Purdue
This one is pretty clean. If Ivey is there, Detroit is taking Ivey. If he isn’t? The names bouncing around the league are same as noted in my first mock: Murray, Shaedon Sharpe, and Ben Mathurin.
6 - Pacers - Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona
The biggest riser late in the process may be Mathurin, who always seemed like a lottery guy, but is now seeing some top-five looks per Givony. Basketball News’ Evan Sidery believes the Pacers have “significant” interest in the Arizona wing.
7 - Blazers - Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky (kinda)
Sharpe has taken a hit through the draft process, but still seems to be drawing some potential interest as high as four, and I ultimately struggle to see him falling outside of the top eight despite the lack of a collegiate sample size.
This is also a major trade spot, with players such as Jerami Grant and John Collins (among others) rumored to be on the block, and Sharpe seems like the kind of high-upside prize you may want if dealing a veteran. I go back and forth here between Sharpe and Dyson Daniels.
8 - Pelicans - Dyson Daniels, Ignite
Daniels is another process riser, with his length and defensive ability as major catalysts. New Orleans would get back some of what they lost in Lonzo Ball in that regard by bringing in Daniels.
9 - Spurs - Jeremy Sochan, Baylor
The Spurs dangled Jakob Poeltl at the deadline, and he is entering a contract year. San Antonio has been linked to the centers by a couple of credible insiders.
But centers have clearly lost value in the modern NBA, and the Spurs may prefer the versatile Sochan. He can guard 1-5, and maybe even play some five if San Antonio decides to get away from a traditional big for stretches of the game. Sochan, Jalen Duren, and Ousmane Dieng are the most likely picks here.
10 - Wizards - Johnny Davis, Wisconsin
Washington is looking to add someone in the backcourt per Givony, though that could come at the expense of this pick via trade. If the Wiz make the pick, Davis is the favorite.
11 - Knicks - Malaki Branham, Ohio State
This is a popular projected landing spot for A.J. Griffin given his CAA representation and his father’s connection with Tom Thibodeau. But Jonathan Wasserman poured some cold water on that idea recently.
Be it due to his medicals or lack of defensive production, Griffin appears to be sliding enough to make it past New York. Insert Branham, who is the type of young scorer in the backcourt the team could covet. They are rumored to have an interest in Jalen Brunson, but his restricted free agency likely keeps him in Dallas.
12 - Thunder - Ousmane Dieng, Breakers
Oklahoma City has supposedly been trying to move up from this second pick — my assumption would be for a Sharpe or Daniels type if they can’t get all the way up for Ivey — but if they were to stick and pick, I think this is the correct range for Dieng. He is rumored to have a guarantee already from at least one team. The tall and long wing from France via Australia just turned 19 last month.
13 - Hornets - Jalen Duren, Memphis
It is no secret that the Hornets would love to add a lob threat for LaMelo Ball, and there is no better prospect to do so than Duren. He is extremely bouncy, and doesn’t turn 19 until November. It would be surprising to see Duren make it past Charlotte — unless they prefer Mark Williams straight up.
14 - Cavs - Ochai Agbaji, Kansas
Givony, Wasserman, and Jeff Goodman all released new mocks this week — all of them had Agbaji to the Cavs. Where there is smoke, there’s fire. Agbaji’s championship pedigree and shooting ability likely have him in the mix for lottery teams looking to compete in 2022-23.
15 - Hornets - AJ Griffin, Duke
Could Griffin actually fall out of the lottery? It seems unlikely, but the top of the draft is pretty packed out. If Griffin has some kind of issue that is causing him to fall, out of the lottery is not out of the question. With that said, he’s young, long, and can shoot. This is likely the very bottom of his range.
16 - Hawks - Jalen Williams, Santa Clara
Rafael Barlowe had this to say about Williams in his most recent post at NBA Big Board.
After a strong showing at the NBA draft combine in Chicago and in team workouts, Santa Clara guard Jalen Williams seems to be a lock to be selected in the first round and is rumored to have a floor with the Atlanta Hawks, who own the 16th pick.
17 - Rockets - TyTy Washington, Kentucky
The Rockets are another team with multiple picks, and it shouldn’t surprise anyone if they use their extra assets to try to move up somewhere in the first round. In this spot, Washington makes a lot of sense. Houston needs a long-term backcourt-mate for Jalen Green, and it seems as though they have settled on taking a big at three.
18 - Bulls - Tari Eason, LSU
Eason has defensive prowess and measurements similar to Kawhi Leonard, but can he shoot the ball consistently? There are also some rumors that he isn’t interviewing well.
There is enough to love here where I think Eason’s range right now is probably very tight — 16-20. Chicago has been linked to long forwards for much of the draft process.
19 - Timberwolves - Nikola Jovic, Mega Basket
Jovic is a legit 6’10” and can shoot the ball effectively. Barlowe had some insight on his draft range.
Serbian forward Nikola Jović is rumored to have a soft guarantee and is expected to be off the board in the teens.
A “soft” guarantee tells me the team planning to take him may not actually keep their pick, but that this is about the range we should see Jovic come off the board.
20 - Spurs - Mark Williams, Duke
This is the bottom of Williams’ draft range assuming the Spurs don’t take Duren at nine, and would be a great job by San Antonio to shore up their frontcourt with their first two picks.
21 - Nuggets - Blake Wesley, Notre Dame
Barlowe had notes on Wesley as well:
Blake Wesley has drawn attention from lottery teams and could be one of the biggest risers by draft night. The Notre Dame freshman has added nine pounds to his thin frame, according to a source, and teams have been impressed by his combination of size, speed and competitiveness as well as his character. Wesley has several scheduled workouts remaining with teams selecting in the back end of the lottery.
Denver has been linked to backcourt help in this draft with Monte Morris available and Will Barton entering a contract year. Wesley would be a potential long-term replacement for the latter.
22 - Grizzlies - Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee
Chandler is an in-state product for Memphis, and would fill a need in the backcourt behind Ja Morant. Tyus Jone will be a free agent shortly, and could command a decent contract given the overall lack of talent in this class.
23 - Sixers - Jaden Hardy, Ignite
James Harden is expected to sign a short-term extension with the team, but is aging and showing signs of decline. The Sixers lack scoring depth behind him. Philly will not have a first-round pick next year as a result of the trade bringing him in. Hardy was once thought of as a top-five prospect, so this could be seen as a value selection. It is the kind of big swing Daryl Morey may prefer in this spot.
24 - Bucks - Walker Kessler, Auburn
Kessler was one of the best defensive players in college basketball, and would be a welcome addition of fresh legs to the Milwaukee frontcourt. Only a 60% free-throw shooter, he may not have the long-term shooting upside of Brook Lopez, but this late in the first one would think they’d be happy to add a rotational piece.
25 - Spurs - Dalen Terry, Arizona
Culture fit. Skillset fit. I’m high on Terry, and there have been whispers throughout the process that teams may be also — he supposedly interviewed very well at the Combine. Terry is long, and could play multiple positons for San Antonio (or any other team). It wouldn’t surprise me if he came off the board earlier than this.
26 - Rockets - MarJon Beauchamp, Ignite
Beauchamp was probably the most surprising Green Room invite for the NBA Draft, and it indicates he is likely to be a first-round pick. He was not a productive shooter in the G League, but is long and can guard everyone but centers.
27 - Heat - E.J. Liddell, Ohio State
Liddell seems like a pretty good #HeatCulture fit, and can offer some versatility and shooting at the four/five similar to PJ Tucker.
28 - Warriors - David Roddy, Colorado State
Givony reported that Roddy’s stock is back on the rise:
Roddy rebounded from an underwhelming showing at the NBA Combine with a slew of strong private workouts, showcasing why he was one of the most uniquely versatile players in the college game.
He is on the shorter side, but still has a seven-foot wingspan and can pass and shoot. This would be an intriguing fit with Golden State.
29 - Grizzlies - Jake LaRavia, Wake Forest
LaRavia can shoot, and is both younger (20, not 22) and more athletic than folks thought entering the pre-draft process. He appears to be a likely late-first-round pick.
30 - Nuggets - Trevor Keels, Duke
It was a bit of a surprise to see Keels stick in the draft after a lackluster showing at the Combine — maybe he expects to go in the first round. He is one of the youngest players in the draft, making for an interesting swing in the latter stages of the round.