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2022 NBA Mock Draft: First Round Picks & Predictions

May 23, 2022
Jabari Smith

Last Tuesday, we saw the Orlando Magic awarded the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, and we, as well as the rest of the teams in the league, now know where they will be selecting.

With that said, teams are fastly getting their papers together, finishing their scouting, and meeting with potential draftees ahead of the June 26 NBA Draft. Each team is scrambling to get everything together and complete their homework on what is shaping up to be one of the most unclear drafts in recent history.

With the picks set, we saw quite the shakeup in how we now view the puzzle pieces. Over the next few weeks, we will continue to break down and re-rank these prospects as we gather information on each of these young prospects. But at the moment, we will dive into how we view the current landscape of the NBA and which pieces fit each franchise.

Note:  The NBA Draft will only contain 58 picks as both the Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat were stripped of draft picks due to the league’s free agency tampering rules.

1. Orlando Magic – Jabari Smith (F – Auburn) 

Jabari Smith is the second-most unique player in the class behind only 7-footer Chet Holmgren. He stands at 6’10”, can shoot like a guard, and has incredible ball-handling abilities. With the backcourt locked up with Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs, Smith makes the most sense to pair with the Magic.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder – Chet Holmgren (C – Gonzaga)

As said above, Holmgren is the most unique player in the NBA Draft. A seven-footer that can block shots, stretch the floor, and handle like a guard has scouts feeling shades of Nikola Jokic. With the Thunder being one of the most inept teams on the glass and in clear rebuild mode for the next few years, Holmgren could flourish in this low-maintenance environment.

3. Houston Rockets – Paolo Banchero (F – Duke) 

Viewed as the top prospect in the class by some, including myself, for the Rockets to get Paolo Banchero at three would be a clear steal for an organization that seems to be faltering. With Jalen Green and Kevin Porter locked into the guard spots and a dominant Christian Wood operating the big spot, adding a versatile floor-spacing wing could spell wonders for the Rockets.

4. Sacramento Kings – Jaden Ivey (G – Purdue) 

The last player of the suggested “big-four” in this draft, Jaden Ivey is a downright nasty scorer. He’s a quick shifty guard that makes explosive plays and changes direction’s that force defenders into a frantic. With the Kings trading Tyrese Haliburton, their former star guard, at the deadline for a floor stretching forward in Domontas Sabonis, this pick of Ivey makes a ton of sense.

5. Detroit Pistons – Keegan Murray (F – Iowa) 

Keegan Murray, the leading scorer in the country, played out of his mind during his sophomore season at Iowa, averaging 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 1.9 blocks per game. He showed elite-level defensive skills matched with an offensive skill set. His play mixed nicely with the Pistons’ prized rookie Cade Cunningham from last year.

6. Indiana Pacers – A.J. Griffin (F – Duke) 

With a heavy investment in Haliburton and a backcourt stuffed with Buddy Hield and Malcolm Brogdon, adding a wing defender and three-and-d standout like A.J. Griffin could do wonders for a team that ranked 13th in PPG. Last season, the Pacers saw clear success spacing teams out with Hield and Haliburton playing simultaneously. Adding a sharpshooter like Griffin could translate to first season success and potentially a play-in spot.

7. Portland Trail Blazers – Shaedon Sharpe (G – Kentucky) 

C.J. McCollum is gone, and Damian Lillard is only getting older. The Blazers need to add to their backcourt to pair with the future in Anfernee Simons. Despite not playing for Kentucky last season, Shaedon Sharpe is known for his high intensity and explosiveness, fairly similar to the likes of De’Aaron Fox of the Kings. This crafty guard was once viewed as the third-best player in the country ahead of several players above, including Griffin and Smith.

8. New Orleans Pelicans – Bennedict Mathurin (G – Arizona) 

Thanks to the Lakers, the Pelicans can continue to load up with their current group of McCollum, Zion Williamson, and Brandon Ingram. Adding Bennedict Mathurin would do just that. A 45% from the floor and 36.9% from 3-point range, this crafty guard averaged 17.7 points per game in college on his way to a PAC-12 Player of the Year. He makes for the perfect win-now player that pairs nicely and would allow the Pelicans to play less of Devonte’ Graham.

9. San Antonio Spurs – Jeremy Sochan (G – Baylor) 

We know how much the Spurs like polished NBA-ready players. That’s exactly what Jeremy Sochan is; a high motor, intelligent, and safe player. His flashy defense and playmaking ability would pair nicely with Dejounte Murray.

10. Washington Wizards – Johnny Davis (G – Wisconsin) 

Despite having defensive stallworths in Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, the Wizards ranked 25th in points per game allowed last season. Adding a two-way guard that is an intense, scrappy defender and a mid-range shooter pair’s nicely alongside a ball-dominant guard like Beal. This duo wouldn’t give you the most exciting offensive pairing but would cause headaches for any backcourt in the NBA on the defensive side.

11. New York Knicks – Jalen Duren (C – Memphis) 

The Julius Randle experiment failed in New York, and now, there are rumors of a potential split up. With Mitchell Robinson headed to free agency and Nerlens Noel unable to play heading into a contract year, the Knicks may opt to get ahead of the trendline and draft this young center. Jalen Duren’s athleticism paired with shot-blocking ability pairs nicely and should allow budding superstar R.J. Barrett to focus on his crafty offensive skillset.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Malaki Branham (G – Ohio State) 

Scoring was a problem last season for the Thunder. Rookie Josh Giddey was horrendous from behind the arc and dragged the Thunder down to 17th in made threes per game last season. Prioritizing adding a strong offensive weapon that can score at all three levels makes sense for the Thunder, especially with both of their guards being pass-first in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey.

13. Charlotte Hornets – Mark Williams (C – Duke)

The Hornets continue to trend upwards in the NBA hierarchy, but their glaring weakness continues to be the center position. Last season, manned by Mason Plumlee and Montrezl Harrell, the Hornets ranked 15th in rebounds per game. Adding an elite pick-and-roll center like Mark Williams that has shades of Celtics big-man Robert Williams, makes a ton of sense. Giving LaMelo Ball as much help as possible should continue to be the priority for the Hornets.

14. Cleveland Cavaliers – Dyson Daniels (G – G League Ignite) 

Despite having Collin Sexton back from injury and a new budding superstar in Darius Garland man the backcourt, the team was much better with a playmaking guard like Ricky Rubio running the offense. Adding Dyson Daniels, a 6-foot-6 guard with slick playmaking skills and a tight handle, should pair nicely with the Cavaliers’ style of offense. The 19-year-old remains an unpolished scorer and shooter, but his presence as a playmaker should elevate both key players in Evan Mobley and Garland.

15. Charlotte Hornets – Ochai Agbaji (F – Kansas) 

16. Atlanta Hawks – Tari Eason (F – LSU) 

17. Houston Rockets – Ousmane Dieng (F – New Zealand) 

18. Chicago Bulls – Blake Wesley (G – Notre Dame) 

19. Minnesota Timberwolves – TyTy Washington Jr. (G – Kentucky) 

20. San Antonio Spurs – E.J. Liddell (F – Ohio State) 

21. Denver Nuggets – MarJon Beauchamp (F – NBA G League Ignite) 

21. Memphis Grizzlies – Walker Kessler (C – Auburn) 

23. Brooklyn Nets – Bryce McGowens (G – Nebraska) 

24. Milwaukee Bucks – Jaden Hardy (G – NBA G League Ignite) 

25. San Antonio Spurs – Nikola Jovic (G – KK Mega Basket [Serbia]) 

26. Dallas Mavericks – Jalen Williams (F – Santa Clara) 

27. Miami Heat – Kendall Brown (F – Baylor) 

28. Golden State Warriors – David Roddy (F – Colorado State) 

29. Memphis Grizzlies – Christian Braun (G – Kansas) 

30. Oklahoma City Thunder – Trevor Keels (G – Duke) 


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