2022 NBA Mock Draft: First Round Picks, Predictions & Player Notes
1. ORLANDO MAGIC – F Paolo Banchero, Duke Freshman
There are so many viewpoints on how the consensus top three will shake out. Lately, the pendulum seems to be shifting towards Jabari Smith as the top pick, but I don’t think Orlando keeps Mo Bamba, and I also don’t think they pass up the opportunity to take the most polished player in this draft. The All-American Banchero would fit perfectly with a bunch of other young, exciting players on Orlando.
2. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER – C Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga Freshman
This is the easiest call of the top three for me. OKC is ripe with picks and can really do whatever they want with them, but Holmgren’s elite rim protection and offensive range make him someone OKC won’t pass on. There are concerns about his body’s ability to hold up in the NBA, but the reward vastly outweighs the risk with Holmgren.
3. HOUSTON ROCKETS – F Jabari Smith, Auburn Freshman
There’s talk that Houston is listening to offers about trading out of this pick, but I don’t see it. There is a consensus top three and Houston can use any of them, so this spot puts them in prime position. It’s possible they’re even getting the best one in this mock, as Smith checks every box for what a next-level NBA player needs.
4. SACRAMENTO KINGS – G Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky Freshman
The most polarizing spot in this draft takes the most polarizing player! I think the Kings will trade this pick based on recent comments about how they’re in “win-now mode” (then why did they trade Haliburton??), but if they keep it, Sharpe seems to make the most sense. The Kings have De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell at the point, and Sharpe would give them dynamic scoring on the wing. The risk is that he never played a minute of college basketball, but his early comps are to Paul George…
5. DETROIT PISTONS – G Jaden Ivey, Purdue Sophomore
Former lottery pick Killian Hayes has not been able to ascend to that next level, and pairing Ivey with last year’s first overall pick Cade Cunningham would make for one of the most exciting young backcourts in the NBA. Defense seems to be an issue, but you don’t pass on Ivey’s dynamic offense here.
6. INDIANA PACERS – F Keegan Murray, Iowa Sophomore
Indiana now has Tyrese Haliburton and Malcolm Brogdon locked into the frontcourt and Myles Turner ready to come back at the five, but they’re a wasteland at forward now. Murray comes in as a 3-and-D type player that could really help space the floor and help Turner.
7. PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS – G/F A.J. Griffin, Duke Freshman
There are a few ways to go here. I almost picked Bennedict Mathurin whose range could be a natural replacement for C.J. McCollum, but they already have Lillard controlling the perimeter. Griffin checks a lot of boxes on both offense and defense that Portland covets, and wing is their most dire area of need.
8. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS – G Johnny Davis, Wisconsin Sophomore
The argument can be made that Davis is one of the most NBA-ready players out of the gate, and even though they acquired C.J. McCollum, the Pels were still 27th as a team in 3PT%. Davis will immediately help this and could add to a really nice guard rotation.
9. SAN ANTONIO SPURS – G/F Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona Sophomore
10. WASHINGTON WIZARDS – F Tari Eason, LSU Sophomore
Washington has an offense that can score, especially once Bradley Beal returns, but they were once again obliterated on defense (25th in overall defensive efficiency). There are better players on the board, but Eason’s defense is what they need.
11. NEW YORK KNICKS – G Dyson Daniels, G League Ignite
This is a tough one because I think it really depends on what the Knicks do with Mitchell Robinson and Julius Randle. As it stands though, I think they keep both, which makes Daniels a smart pick here. All of the Knicks’ free agency moves last year were a mistake and led to a tremendous dip in team defense. They need to get that back, and Daniels can really defend on the ball while scoring as well.
12. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER – F Jeremy Sochan, Baylor Freshman
Sochan falling to the Thunder here makes this a home run draft for OKC, as they completely revamp the frontcourt with him and Holmgren. Sochan is known more for defense, but he has shown shades of offensive upside as well, and OKC is the perfect spot to develop.
13. CHARLOTTE HORNETS – C Jalen Duren, Memphis Freshman
Easy call here. Charlotte is ripe with talent and upside at both guard and wing, and their glaring weakness is at center. Duren is more of an old-school center than a “modern NBA” one, but he could really help this team if he can handle their pace.
14. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS – G Ochai Agbaji, Kansas Senior
If there weren’t so many young, flashy freshmen in this draft, Agbaji would go higher based on his elite shooting and two-way skills. Agbaji gives Cleveland much-needed wing depth on a team ready to compete.
15. CHARLOTTE HORNETS – G Jean Montero, Overtime Elite
This might be a reach, but after taking a “safe” NBA center, Charlotte shoots for the moon with their second pick. Montero can create his own shot at a high level and should fit in with the fast pace of Charlotte.
16. ATLANTA HAWKS – F E.J. Liddell, Ohio State Junior
The Hawks are a playoff team right now, and Liddell’s perimeter defense fits their scheme perfectly (a la Deandre Hunter). He also improved his shooting this past season and is a solid fit next to Trae.
17. HOUSTON ROCKETS – F Ousmane Dieng, New Zealand
Dieng is a bit of a project, but he has the upside to have top-five value if he develops well. Houston is a team that’s in position to be patient, and a 6-10 scorer is a perfect slot to fill for them.
18. CHICAGO BULLS – G Malaki Branham, Ohio State Freshman
I assume the Bulls resign LaVine to a max deal this offseason, but even if they don’t, Branham is a great pick to join (or replace Coby White) due to his prolific scoring last season.
19. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES – G/F MarJon Beauchamp, G League Ignite
Minnesota is in need of more wing defenders, and Beauchamp adds a scoring element as well. I’m not convinced D’Angelo Russell is part of Minnesota’s “big three” plans in the near future as they become a competitive team.
20. SAN ANTONIO SPURS – F Nikola Jovic, Mega Basket International
All film and scouting reports on this guy just scream “Spurs” to me. The combination of shot creation and length is something Popovich covets in his young players, and he’s also the perfect coach to teach Jovic defense.
21. DENVER NUGGETS – G Jalen Williams, Santa Clara Junior
Williams is making his name known this offseason with his stellar combine, and he has started to rise up draft boards as a result. The playoffs basically showed Denver to be “Jokic and nobody else” this past season (granted, Jamal Murray still isn’t back), but Williams can add a much-needed scoring element on the wing.
22. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES – C Mark Williams, Duke Sophomore
Memphis is thrilled with this pick, as they have used traditional bigs in their rise with Jonas Valanciunas and Steven Adams. The latter looked shot in the playoffs this year, and a younger Mark Williams can slot right in and learn the same style of basketball.
23. BROOKLYN NETS – G TyTy Washington, Kentucky Freshman
The Nets have tons of questions at guard, all the way up to the potential opt-out of Kyrie Irving. TyTy is young, but he showed himself to be a solid ball-handler and playmaker.
24. MILWAUKEE BUCKS – G Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee Freshman
He’s listed as 5’11” which has to be a concern for the NBA, but Chandler has serious speed that can make up for his height. Milwaukee can’t continue to compete with the point guards they have backing up Jrue Holiday, especially if he were to suffer anything more than a short-term injury.
25. SAN ANTONIO SPURS – G Blake Wesley, Notre Dame Freshman
The Spurs’ third first-round pick, and they use this one on upside as well. Wesley needs to improve his distance shooting, but his versatility on both ends makes him a fun Popovich pick here.
26. DALLAS MAVERICKS – G Jaden Hardy, G League Ignite
I don’t know if anyone remembers, but Hardy was projected as a high lottery pick near the season’s beginning. His draft stock has obviously slipped as there are things to work on, but Dallas has a solid culture for player development, and there’s a good chance they lose Jalen Brunson to free agency.
27. MIAMI HEAT – G Dalen Terry, Arizona Sophomore
I love the guy, but Kyle Lowry looked exposed in the series against Boston, and it’s time for Miami to look at other guards to help themselves overall. Terry is energetic, defended some top guards in the country, and contributed a good deal on offense.
28. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES – G/F Trevor Keels, Duke Freshman
The third Blue Devil in this draft goes to Memphis, who adds a solid role player in Keels. He’s somewhat of a Desmond Bane clone in both offense and defense, but this is a young culture to develop both, and who thought Bane would be so good this year?
29. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS – C Walker Kessler, Auburn Sophomore
I’m not sure what to think about James Wiseman, and I’m also not sure Golden State does either. They’re four games from winning an NBA title without him being a factor at all, so it’s possible they use this pick to take another seven-footer to evaluate. Kessler blocked an incredible 4.6 shots per game this past season at Auburn and would fit right in with the Warriors’ elite rim protection.
30. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER – F Kendall Brown, Baylor Freshman
Brown has elite upside but is a project in multiple areas, which makes the Thunder a solid landing spot for him as they continue to utilize their insane amount of draft picks to take on several projects.
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