2022 NBA Mock Draft 2.0
The 2022 NBA Draft is set for June 23, and it’s time to start taking a look at how things might shake out. For the sake of simplicity, potential draft day trades are not included. Selections are based on a combination of my prospect scouting and team needs. The draft order is finalized as of the recent NBA Draft Lottery. Here is the link to Mock Draft 1.0 for reference.
1. Orlando Magic – Chet Holmgren, 7-0 Center, Gonzaga
I didn’t get off the Chet train despite the many reports claiming Jabari Smith is the favorite for No. 1 overall. Now reports are coming out that Orlando may not be totally sold on Smith with the top selection. Simply put, Chet Holmgren has the potential to develop into a type of star we’ve literally never seen before. A seven-footer who can shoot threes, crossover like a guard, protect the rim, and run in transition has never been a thing.
Taking a chance on his ceiling is worth the first pick, and that’s ignoring everything he’ll immediately provide. His unicorn skillset will likely manifest itself on the defensive end first and the offense will follow in due time. My one big concern with Holmgren is that he is too unique to the point that whatever team drafts him struggles to maximize his abilities and shoehorns him into a traditional rim protector role. Guess we’ll see.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder – Jabari Smith, 6-10 Forward, Auburn
I’ve already said I’m not sold on the value Jabari Smith will ultimately provide at his current draft stock, but I’m almost positive he’ll be one of the first two players selected in the 2022 NBA Draft. He might be the most perimeter-centric forward prospect we’ve ever seen. He’ll offer plus shooting and defense on the arc. It’ll be important for him to develop a workable handle and figure out how to get to the rim better in order to make his ceiling more than just a complementary role player. Pairing him with facilitators like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey should get the most out of him right away.
3. Houston Rockets – Paolo Banchero, 6-10 Forward, Duke
It’s weird to say the third overall pick might be a steal, but Banchero is likely the most NBA-ready prospect in this class. He is very gifted on the offensive end, possessing impressive post footwork and a deadly midrange game. The Duke freshman has also shown to be a good playmaker and would give Houston plenty of size and versatility at the forward spot. Banchero has a real shot to be a star one day and he probably won’t take long to acclimate to the NBA pace and physicality.
4. Sacramento Kings – Shaedon Sharpe, 6-6 Guard, Kentucky
Word on the street is that the Kings are looking to trade this pick, but I don’t like inventing random trades in mock drafts so they make the pick in this case. Would gambling on Sharpe be dumb? Yes, and that’s why I think the Kings would do it. Sharpe definitely has potential as a scorer, but a lot of the evaluations of him are based on a very limited sample size. The vertical athleticism and shooting will translate, it’s just a question of how high Sharpe’s ceiling really is. Sacramento takes a big swing here and attempts to fill out their wing depth with a boom-or-bust prospect.
5. Detroit Pistons – Jaden Ivey, 6-4 Guard, Purdue
Detroit sprints to the podium to take Jaden Ivey with the fifth overall pick. Ivey is probably the most athletic prospect in this draft class. His three-point shot has steadily improved over the last two years, and he has some upside as a secondary ball-handler and playmaker. He’s a nightmare to guard in transition and is excellent at creating space in the half court. Putting his elite athleticism alongside Cade Cunningham could solidify Detroit as having one of the best young guard duos in the league for years to come.
6. Indiana Pacers – Keegan Murray, 6-8 Forward, Iowa
Murray is considered one of the safest options in the top 10 for the steady play he provides on both offense and defense. In his breakout sophomore season, he displayed shooting touch from all three levels plus the ability to guard multiple positions. He may not have as high a ceiling as some of the other prospects in this range, but he probably has one of the highest floors. Murray does a lot of things well and projects as a long-term contributor.
7. Portland Trailblazers – Bennedict Mathurin, 6-7 Forward, Arizona
I’m higher on Bennedict Mathurin than most; to me he has one of the highest ceilings of anyone in the 2022 NBA Draft. The Arizona sophomore has basically every trait I would want out of an NBA wing – he’s extremely athletic, can score at all three levels (off movement no less), engages on defense, and plays with energy. Mathurin also has ideal size and people seem to be forgetting he’s just 19 years old with plenty of time to grow. You should never only look at highlights to evaluate a player, but Mathurin’s are just different. Go look at his highlights against TCU from the 2022 NCAA Tournament and maybe you’ll see what I’m seeing. The sky is the limit. Blazers add a really good player to start their rebuild around Damian Lillard.
8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Los Angeles Lakers) – Dyson Daniels, 6-6 Guard, G League Ignite
Dyson Daniels has been one of the big winners of the pre-draft process, seeing his stock rise into top 10 consideration. He’s a playmaker with defensive versatility, two things the Pelicans desperately need. Daniels has ideal positional size and length; here he continues the G League Ignite’s streak of top-10 picks. If his jumper continues to improve (it looked good in pre-draft workouts), I think Daniels’ ceiling is what everyone wanted Ben Simmons to become.
9. San Antonio Spurs – Jalen Duren, 6-11 Center, Memphis
The Spurs have needs pretty much everywhere. Duren is an athletic freak with a good amount of playmaking upside. He would be a phenomenal lob threat for Dejounte Murray and his physical play will make him a force around the basket. His rebounding and rim protection are immediate benefits. Add the flashes of midrange shooting and his potential is very tantalizing.
10. Washington Wizards – Johnny Davis, 6-5 Guard, Wisconsin
The Wizards are a very unserious franchise, and it feels like it’s been that way for some time now. Other than Bradley Beal, every single player on that roster is replaceable. Johnny Davis had a breakout sophomore year for Wisconsin. Even though the shooting numbers weren’t overly impressive, he had extremely high usage and was forced to take a lot of tough shots as he carried a mediocre Wisconsin roster through the entire season. He is one of the best guards in this class with his two-way ability and no-nonsense approach.
11. New York Knicks – AJ Griffin, 6-6 Forward, Duke
There’s a lot of guys in this class under top-10 consideration. One of them has to fall – in this mock it’s AJ Griffin. The Duke one-and-done put together an impressive year, shooting 49% from the field and 44.7% from three. He’s got a lot going for him as an athletic two-way wing with plus shooting, but there’s definitely some injury concerns that could impact his draft stock. If he falls to No. 11, New York should be very excited to snag him.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Los Angeles Clippers) – Jeremy Sochan, 6-9 Forward, Baylor
Sochan has received a lot of hype for his defensive versatility. He may be the best defender in this draft class, able to guard 1-5 effectively. The offense isn’t quite there yet however, and he needs to work on developing a consistent jumper if he is ever going to provide something on that end. There have been spots where the handle and passing abilities have looked like they could come along and Sochan could develop into a special player. Throw him in OKC’s development system and see what comes out.
13. Charlotte Hornets – Mark Williams, 7-0 Center, Duke
Current reports are that the Hornets want Jalen Duren, and they will take Mark Williams if Duren isn’t available. Charlotte’s need for a center is glaring, and the Duke product is definitely a solid consolation prize with Duren off the board. He’s a good athlete with a high motor who averaged 2.8 blocks a game last season. The rebounding and interior defense are what the Hornets will take him for, and any offense he can provide will be a bonus.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers – Malaki Branham, 6-5 Guard, Ohio State
Branham was uber-efficient in the second half of his freshman season. He excelled as a shooter and can play both on-ball or off-ball. The Ohio State product can score from all three levels and has additional playmaking chops. Cleveland have the frontcourt figured out with Mobley and Allen; adding Branham gives the backcourt an added dimension that could really elevate their play.
15. Charlotte Hornets (via New Orleans Pelicans) – Ochai Agbaji, 6-5 Guard, Kansas
Agbaji was the best player for Kansas’ national championship squad. He’s a high-level three-point shooter who can hit from movement and he has great defensive instincts that manifest both on-ball and off-ball. I think he could provide Charlotte something similar to what Desmond Bane has provided for Memphis, and he would be a great player to add while LaMelo Ball is still on a rookie deal.
16. Atlanta Hawks – Tari Eason, 6-8 Forward, LSU
The Hawks are a disaster on the defensive end. Adding a versatile defender in Tari Eason helps solve that problem, plus he has some offensive upside as a slasher who averaged 16.9 points per game last season. Eason also averaged 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks a game as a sophomore for LSU. He still needs to develop a truly reliable jumper, but Atlanta already has plenty of shotmakers. Eason does a lot of things well that will benefit the Hawks on both ends of the floor. As we get closer to the draft, I think the LSU sophomore is becoming one of the more underrated prospects in the class.
17. Houston Rockets (via Brooklyn Nets) – Jalen Williams, 6-5 Forward, Santa Clara
Williams was arguably the biggest winner of the 2022 NBA Draft process. He may even be in play as a lottery pick. The Santa Clara junior is a skilled facilitator who operates well out of the pick-and-roll and has gradually developed into a solid shooter. He can get his own shot as well, but a big question moving forward is how he will look in isolation against NBA competition.
18. Chicago Bulls – Ousmane Dieng, 6-9 Forward, New Zealand
I’m of the opinion that Ousmane Dieng could wind up being one of the biggest steals of the entire 2022 NBA Draft. His season with the NBL’s New Zealand Breakers didn’t get off to a hot start, but by the end of the season the French international was showing off how high his ceiling could be. He’ll be a bit of a project but his insane upside as a creator is worth the look, especially with Lonzo Ball’s potentially serious knee issues.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves – TyTy Washington, 6-3 Guard, Kentucky
D’Angelo Russell’s contract is in its final years and the Timberwolves don’t really have a ton of facilitators on their roster other than him. Enter TyTy Washington, a Kentucky freshman who registered 17 assists in one game this past season. He is an effective midrange scorer who has a good enough three-point shot to build on. Recent Kentucky guards have taken a jump entering the league (see: Maxey, Quickley, Boston) and Minnesota will hope to benefit from that trend with Washington.
20. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors) – Dalen Terry, 6-7 Guard, Arizona
Dalen Terry has been another riser in NBA Draft circles of late. He’s a very versatile guard with great positional size who looks the part as a future complementary role player. San Antonio would get a capable secondary ball-handler and would also boost their team’s defense. Terry has some fairly big question marks given his limited usage at Arizona, so this looks to be more of a gamble than other guys in this range.
21. Denver Nuggets – Jaden Hardy, 6-4 Guard, G League Ignite
Hardy’s stock took a tumble this past season after a slew of inefficient shooting performances and unimpressive defensive showings. Considered a top-five pick at one point, the G League Ignite product will likely fall into the late first round. Despite a slow start, Hardy did improve throughout his G League campaign and showed off his potential as an electric scoring guard who creates space and works well in the pick-and-roll. Here the Nuggets pick up a bucket-getter who can play off Nikola Jokic and hope he continues to improve.
22. Memphis Grizzlies (via Utah Jazz) – MarJon Beauchamp, 6-6 Guard, G League Ignite
Beauchamp is getting slept on a little bit out of the prospects from this year’s G League Ignite class. He’s got a solid foundation as a scoring wing (30 PPG in JUCO) who will also provide plus defense. The three-point shooting isn’t totally there yet but he also didn’t take a lot of threes last season. Beauchamp’s fluid athleticism still makes him an effective slasher. His decision-making needs some work, but some of that can be trimmed down since he projects to take a mostly off-ball role in the NBA.
23. Philadelphia 76ers – E.J. Liddell, 6-7 Forward, Ohio State
It looks like Philadelphia is looking to trade this pick elsewhere. That’s not the craziest thing because I really don’t know what they would do with it. Their need for backcourt play hinges on what happens with James Harden and the frontcourt looks to be full if they hold on to Tobias Harris. Were they to keep the No. 23 pick, E.J. Liddell would be a very good choice as a win-now depth piece. He was an excellent scorer and rebounder who registered 2.6 blocks per game for the Buckeyes last season.
24. Milwaukee Bucks – Kennedy Chandler, 6-0 Guard, Tennessee
The Bucks roster looks devoid of guys to facilitate at the point. Kennedy Chandler would fill that hole. Some may count him out because of his size, but he plays much larger than his height. Tennessee’s star freshman is a great shooter and generates a lot of steals on the defensive end. I think he could carve out a solid NBA career wherever he ends up.
25. San Antonio Spurs (via Boston Celtics) – Jake LaRavia, 6-8 Forward, Wake Forest
This would be a major chess move for San Antonio, doubling down on the Dalen Terry pick by selecting another versatile wing. If both selections pan out, they would really be in business with roster of guys to complement Dejounte Murray. LaRavia is an underrated athlete who projects to be a knockdown three-point shooter at the next level.
26. Dallas Mavericks – Christian Koloko, 7-1 Center, Arizona
The 2022 NBA Playoffs revealed Dallas’ glaring need for a center. Arizona’s Christian Koloko will provide immediate impact as a rim protector and finisher close to the basket. He plays with a high motor, rebounds well, and has enough upside beyond the skills he can immediately provide to where the Mavericks should feel very comfortable taking him at the end of the first round.
27. Miami Heat – Patrick Baldwin Jr., 6-10 Forward, Milwaukee
Patrick Baldwin Jr.’s freshman season at Milwaukee was marred by nagging injuries and poor play when he actually did see the court. He definitely still has potential to grow into the player many expected when labeling him a lottery pick at the beginning of the season. Baldwin would fit well on a Heat roster in need of power forwards and the shot-making he can provide at 6’10” is certainly worth a gamble.
28. Golden State Warriors – Wendell Moore, 6-5 Forward, Duke
The NBA Finals have made it seem like Draymond Green *might* be taking a step back and Wendell Moore would be a really solid protege for the Swiss Army knife role that Green currently fulfills. Moore is an above-average shooter, ball-handler, rebounder, and defender. Putting him in a Golden State lineup where he can contribute in a number of areas would be a great situation for both sides.
29. Memphis Grizzlies – Blake Wesley, 6-5 Guard, Notre Dame
The Grizzlies front office is no stranger to making the most of late first-round picks. In the last two drafts, they’ve snagged rising star Desmond Bane and bench contributor Santi Aldama at the back of the first round. Blake Wesley makes a lot of sense for Memphis. They’ll get a guy who can capably play on-ball or off-ball and could even develop into a secondary playmaker to take some of the load from Ja Morant. The Notre Dame product stays locked in on defense in addition to his offensive acumen; I believe he would be a good fit for the Memphis culture, especially if the Grizzlies can’t bring back Tyus Jones.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Phoenix Suns) – Bryce McGowens, 6-7 Guard, Nebraska
Note: The Denver Nuggets traded for the No. 30 pick after this was written. This change will be reflected in the next mock.
Look for OKC to make a big value play with the last pick of the first round. Bryce McGowens has one of the most polished offensive skillsets in the class and is definitely worth an investment as a long-term project. He’s an effective slasher and shot creator with good positional length and tremendous scoring upside.
2022 NBA Draft First Round Bubble: Nikola Jovic (Serbia), Walker Kessler (Auburn), Ismael Kamagate (France), Kendall Brown (Baylor), Christian Braun (Kansas), Ryan Rollins (Toledo), Gabriele Procida (Italy), Trevor Keels (Duke), Andrew Nembhard (Gonzaga)
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