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2022 NBA Mock Draft: First Round Picks, Predictions & Player Notes

by Mike Randle | @RandleRant | Featured Writer
Jun 13, 2022
Keegan Murray

The NBA Draft is less than two weeks away, and there is a wide array of opinions on the order of the Top 5 overall picks. The 2022 draft brings a ton of talent across multiple positions, making it even harder than usual to project potential landing spots. This draft lacks the high-end scorers but is very deep with players who can make an immediate impact.

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As the NBA continues to move to positionless basketball, it is common to see players with elite size and guard-level skills. Players such as Jabari Smith (6-foot-10), Chet Holmgren (7-feet), and Paolo Banchero (6-foot-10), bring outside shooting and strong ball-handling ability. The versatility of this year’s class makes it difficult to differentiate their landing spots.

Oklahoma City and San Antonio have four total picks, including three in Round 1. Charlotte, Memphis, and Houston have two first-round picks each.

Four teams do not have any first-round draft picks this season. The Suns, Jazz, Lakers, and the Nets will not have a selection on June 23rd.

Here are my picks for the opening round of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Pick: 1
Team: Orlando Magic
Player: Jabari Smith (Auburn)
Age: 19 years, one month
Rationale: Jabari Smith is the best all-around player in the draft in both production and potential. Smith played in the toughest conference (SEC) among the Top 3 potential picks, leading the SEC Champion Auburn Tigers in scoring and 3P percentage. He brought a high motor and ranked second on the team in rebounding (7.4 RPG). Smith was +100 to be the first overall pick two weeks ago and is now -275.

Pick: 2
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Player: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)
Age: 20 years, one month
Rationale: A superbly talented seven-footer, Holmgren provides massive upside on his 195 lb frame at just 20 years old. Holmgren was the model of efficiency, shooting 60.7 percent from the field and 39 percent from three-point range. The only concern is the skinny frame, which struggled to compete with the elite athletes from Memphis and Arkansas in the NCAA Tournament. If Holmgren can add 20-30 pounds of muscle, he can potentially have a long NBA career filled with All-Star appearances.

Pick: 3
Team: Houston Rockets
Player: Paolo Banchero (Duke)
Age: 19 years, seven months
Rationale: Banchero would be the clear No. 1 pick in many other drafts. At 6-foot-10, 250 lbs, he brings elite NBA size with solid guard skills. He must improve his outside shooting (33.8 percent 3P) and is a mediocre defender without the rim protection skill of either Smith or Holmgren.

Pick: 4
Team: Sacramento Kings
Player: Jaden Ivey (Purdue)
Age: 20 years, four months
Rationale: The comparisons to Ja Morant are understandable but slightly overblown. As a sophomore, Ivey improved his scoring to 17.3 PPG but struggled with shooting consistency in critical games. Ivey shot 1 of 8 from three-point range in the Big Ten Championship against Iowa and was just 4 of 12 from the field in the season-ending upset to Saint Peter’s. His motor is questioned, but his athleticism is not.

Pick: 5
Team: Detroit Pistons
Player: Keegan Murray (Iowa)
Age: 21 years, 10 months
Rationale: Murray took a monster leap during his sophomore season, finishing fourth in the nation in scoring at 23.5 PPG. He led Iowa in scoring, rebounds, and blocks while shooting 55.4 percent from the field on 554 attempts. Murray is a superb 3P shooter at 39.8 percent, unlike other players projected near this pick. He will turn 22 in August, but that could be seen as a benefit that makes him an NBA-ready talent.

Pick: 6
Team: Indiana Pacers
Player: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)
Age: 20 years, four months
Rationale: I am above consensus on Davis, the 2022 Big Ten Player of the Year. Critics hold the Wisconsin system against him, but averaging 19.7 PPG for the Badgers is like 25 PPG on any other team. Davis is a great defender, only 20 years old, and shoots 80 percent from the free-throw line. I was tempted to put Davis above Murray, but the positional fit is better with Indiana.

Pick: 7
Team: Portland Trail Blazers
Player: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)
Age: 19 years, 11 months
Rationale: The smooth shooting guard earned Pac-12 Player of the Year honors for Arizona, one of the nation’s best teams all season. Mathurin worked out for Portland and has a versatile size at 6-foot-6. He shot 37 percent from deep on 225 attempts and has one of the most dangerous mid-range games of any guard in this draft. Mathurin brings athleticism and great length, highlighting his upside as an NBA defender.

Pick: 8
Team: New Orleans Pelicans
Player: Shaedon Sharpe
Age: 19 years, one month
Rationale: Sharpe has no college experience and never played for Kentucky despite enrolling. He is 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot wingspan and a reported 49-inch vertical jump. Sharpe is an unknown project which some NBA team will love to mold. The No. 3 ranked prospect in the 2021 recruiting class, Sharpe’s ability to finish at the rim definitely will land him in the Top 10.

Pick: 9
Team: San Antonio Spurs
Player: Ochai Agbaji
Age: 22 years, two months
Rationale: I have Agbaji going higher than most mocks because I believe in his all-around ability. His shooting prowess and NBA-ready body project him as the perfect 3-and-D player. Agbaji is somehow underrated despite averaging 18.8 PPG and 5.1 RPG while shooting 41 percent from beyond the arc. His ceiling isn’t as high as the players above him, but he finds a perfect landing spot in San Antonio with future Hall of Fame coach Greg Popovich.

Pick: 10
Team: Washington Wizards
Player: Dyson Daniels
Age: 19 years, three months
Rationale: Daniels is a point guard, a clear area of need for Washington. He’s 6-foot-7 with a 6-foot-11 wingspan adding much-needed size to the Wizards’ backcourt. Daniels is an excellent passer, good rebounder, and superior defender. Tomas Satoransky and Raul Neto are free agents, and backup Ish Smith is not a long-term answer. Still only 19 years old, the upside is high for this Australian native.

Pick: 11
Team: New York Knicks
Player: Jalen Duren
Age: 18 years, seven months
Rationale: There is talk of Mitchell Robinson leaving the Knicks as an unrestricted free agent, and backup Nerlens Noel continues to battle injuries. Without a foundational guard to pair with R.J. Barrett, New York opts for an athletic rim protector in Jalen Duren. The 18-year-old led Memphis is scoring and rebounding and could develop on a versatile Knicks team where he doesn’t have pressure to score.

Pick: 12
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Player: A.J. Griffin
Age: 18 years, nine months
Rationale: This is the perfect landing spot for Duke’s A.J. Griffin, who shot 44.7 percent from beyond the arc. A former five-star prospect and son of Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin, he was slowed by a preseason knee injury. Griffin’s elite shooting ability is a prescription for a long NBA career.

Pick: 13
Team: Charlotte Hornets
Player: Jeremy Sochan
Age: 19 years, one month
Rationale: Charlotte ranked near the bottom of the league in every defensive category and is set for the future with a backcourt of LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier. At 6-foot-9, 230 lbs, Sochan is a versatile defender that can guard multiple positions. Sochan just turned 19 and is the perfect complementary piece to a high-scoring team like the Hornets.

Pick: 14
Team: Cleveland Cavaliers
Player: Malaki Branham
Age: 19 years, one month
Rationale: The 6-foot-5, 180 lb Ohio State product is one of the best three-level scorers in the draft. Branham tallied 50 percent from the field and 41.6 percent from 3P range, with fantastic ball-handling skills. A 6-foot-10 wingspan will help disrupt shooting guards/small forwards at the next level. Branham has hidden the Top 5 upside in this draft.

Pick: 15
Team: Charlotte Hornets
Player: Mark Williams
Age: 20 years, six months
Rationale: The Hornets would be thrilled to land the former Duke big man and should be able to select him after Sochan. While not a new-age stretch big, Williams can dominate on the inside and has much more offensive upside than current Hornets Mason Plumlee or Montrezl Harrell. Williams shined in the NCAA tournament, posting per-game averages of 13.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 blocks while shooting an insane 80.6 percent from the field.

NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer

Pick: 16
Team: Atlanta Hawks
Player: Tari Eason
Age: 21 years, one month
Rationale: Tari Eason was LSU’s leading scorer and best defender last year, an excellent pairing for a first-round pick. Eason can guard multiple positions and dramatically improved his 3P shooting to 36 percent from just 24 percent as a freshman at Cincinnati. Like Sochan, Eason has a path to make an immediate impact as a rookie.

Pick: 17
Team: Houston Rockets
Player: Walker Kessler
Age: 20 years, 11 months
Rationale: The 7-foot-1 Walker Kessler flourished after transferring from North Carolina to Auburn. He averaged 11.4 points and 8.1 rebounds while playing alongside potential No. 1 overall pick Jabari Smith. Kessler ranked second in the nation with 4.6 blocks per game and has a nice mid-range touch on offense. Still just 20 years old, a 7-footer with SEC and ACC experience has huge growth potential.

Pick: 18
Team: Chicago Bulls
Player: TyTy Washington
Age: 20 years, six months
Rationale: There is a lot of uncertainty in Chicago’s backcourt. The Bulls may be looking to unload Coby White, with Washington as an available younger option. The development of Ayo Dosunmu makes White more expendable, and the possibility of Zach LaVine leaving is starting to increase. Washington averaged 21 PPG while making almost 42 percent of his three-pointers during the SEC tournament. A fantastic defender that is still only 20 years old, the upside is high for this former five-star recruit.

Pick: 19
Team: Minnesota Timberwolves
Player: MarJon Beauchamp
Age: 21 years, six months
Rationale: A product of G League Ignite, MarJon Beauchamp averaged 15.1 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. At 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Beauchamp projects as a strong athletic defender at the NBA level. He needs to improve his shooting (24.2 percent 3P range) but would fit well with a Minnesota team that already has Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell.

Pick: 20
Team: San Antonio Spurs
Player: Caleb Houston
Age: 19 years, six months
Rationale: There is a big disconnect between what fans (particularly of Michigan) think of Houston and NBA scouts. He declined an invite to the NBA combine, likely believing he is already a first-round pick. He only shot 38.4 percent from the floor but 35.4 percent from 3P range. Houston has a smooth jump shot. and scouts are rumored to still be enamored by his five-star talent. The Spurs need three-point shooting, and Houston pairs nicely with Agbaji as San Antonio’s first two draft picks.

Pick: 21
Team: Denver Nuggets
Player: Kennedy Chandler
Age: 19 years, nine months
Rationale: A true multi-dimensional scorer, Kennedy Chandler’s only obstacle is his size. He led Tennessee in scoring (13.9 PPG) as a freshman while dishing out 4.7 assists with 2.2 steals per game. Chandler shot 38.3 percent from deep, is lightning quick, and would undoubtedly create consistent scoring opportunities for Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. In September, he turns 20 years old and has much more upside than 26-year-old veteran Monte Morris.

Pick: 22
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
Player: Nikola Jovic
Age: 19 years old
Rationale: Memphis is one of the youngest teams in the NBA and has a core group that projects for sustained NBA success. The Grizzlies found a quality young player last year in Ziare Williams and can add one of the most skilled players in the draft in Serbia’s just-turned-19-year-old forward, Nikola Jovic. He profiles as the prototypical point-forward, making the Grizzlies’ offense even harder to guard. His foot speed and size (6-foot-11) make him solid defensively and could be the final piece to a Memphis “small-ball” lineup with Jaren Jackson Jr. at center.

Pick: 23
Team: Philadelphia 76ers
Player: E.J. Liddell
Age: 21 years, six months
Rationale: Ohio State’s E.J. Liddell is gaining a ton of draft buzz as we approach June 23rd. The former Illinois Mr. Basketball in high school, Liddell measured a standing 35.5-inch vertical leap at the draft combine. He also shot 37.4 percent from beyond the arc while leading the Buckeyes with 19.4 PPG. The 240 lb forward epitomized consistency, scoring double-digit points in every game this season.

Pick: 24
Team: Milwaukee Bucks
Player: Ousmane Dieng
Age: 19 years, one month
Rationale: Milwaukee had already shown an attraction to a player like Dieng when they drafted Thon Maker in the 2016 draft. At 6-foot-10, Dieng can handle the ball surprisingly well but needs to work on his shooting. With great creators such as Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, Dieng has plenty of time to develop his offensive game. He has the size to contribute right away on defense and just needs to be active on offense to produce rebounds and layups. He just turned 19-years old, and Milwaukee fits the need of a team that can provide time to develop.

Pick: 25
Team: San Antonio Spurs
Player: Christian Braun
Age: 21 years, two months
Rationale: Braun has a National Championship pedigree with super 6-foot-7 size. He is a lights-out shooter at 38.6 percent from beyond the arc and brings a high motor. Braun was at his best in the biggest games and is more athletic than most realize. His high basketball IQ fits perfectly in San Antonio.

Pick: 26
Team: Dallas Mavericks
Player: Blake Wesley
Age: 19 years, three months
Rationale: Dallas goes for the best available player in Notre Dame’s Blake Wesley. He has a great burst and attacks the rim aggressively off the dribble. Wesley is raw but is one of the best athletes in this draft and would add another tenacious on-ball defender to the Mavericks’ elite defense.

Pick: 27
Team: Miami Heat
Player: Jalen Williams
Age: 21 years, three months
Rationale: The 6-foot-6 junior flew under the radar most of the year at Santa Clara but really moved up during the pre-draft process. Williams was reportedly the best player on the court on both days of the draft combine scrimmages. He attacked the basket, shot well, and excelled in off-ball defense. Williams could follow in the footsteps of last year’s draft days risers, Josh Primo (No. 12 pick) and Bones Hyland (No. 26 pick).

Pick: 28
Team: Golden State Warriors
Player: Wendell Moore Jr.
Age: 20 years, nine months
Rationale: The former five-star recruit was uncertain about staying in the draft but remained likely to first-round assurances. Moore led the Blue Devils in assists (4.4) and steals (1.) per game. He will have time to develop behind Golden State’s star guards and can make an impact even without scoring. Quick hands, over a 7-foot wingspan, and the Duke pedigree make him a fit with the Warriors.

Pick: 29
Team: Memphis Grizzlies
Player: Kendall Brown
Age: 19 years, one month
Rationale: The 6-foot-8 Baylor product is a standout defender with great leaping ability. Brown is one of the best finishers at the rim and brings a similar athleticism and intensity to Memphis as big man Brandon Clarke. This isn’t the part of the draft to find great scorers, but rather great fits. Brown fits the Grizzlies’ defensive-minded personality.

Pick: 30
Team: Oklahoma City Thunder
Player: Jaden Hardy
Age: 19 years, 11 months
Rationale: The former five-star prospect turned down college offers from Kentucky and UCLA to play for G-League Ignite. Hardy is regarded as a high-upside scorer that needs time to develop. At 6-foot-4, 200 lbs, Hardy finished through contact and attacked the rim off the drive very well. He was a bit disappointing in the G-League, which dropped him to a late-first-round pick. Hardy would fit in with the youth movement in Oklahoma City.

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