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

Jun 8, 2022
Jabari Smith

We are only a couple of weeks away from the 2022 NBA Draft, with rumors flying left and right and workouts starting to pick up for some of the prospects. Here is a look at my current mock draft for round one.

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

The Magic choose to go the route of Smith over Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero. With Mo Bamba hitting free agency, Smith joins Wendell Carter Jr. in Orlando’s frontcourt as someone who can play both inside and outside.

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

Holmgren goes to Oklahoma City as one of the most polarizing prospects in this class. It is pretty clear the center position is one of, if not the biggest, need for this Thunder team. Holmgren, a 7-footer who can play anywhere on the court, showed out at times this past season at Gonzaga, but his skinny nature still has people doubting him. The upside is evident with Holmgren, but we’ll see if that can pan out.

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

With the Rockets already having their future backcourt locked up in Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green, they bring in Banchero to compliment Christian Wood in the front court. I believe Banchero is the safest prospect in this class, showing out and flashing huge potential this past season at Duke. He is a highly versatile player who can contribute on both ends of the court.

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

With the “Big 3” off the board, Sacramento elects to take Ivey out of Purdue. Some are putting Ivey in the same conversation as the top-3 selections after he reportedly dominated draft workouts. This is an example of Sacramento going with the best player available despite having De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell in the backcourt.

5. Detroit Pistons – Shaedon Sharpe (SG – Kentucky)

Sharpe left Kentucky and never played a game for the Wildcats. He now joins a Pistons team in the middle of a rebuild, meaning he won’t take on too much pressure early on. He should compliment Cade Cunningham very well in the Pistons’ backcourt.

6. Indiana Pacers – Keegan Murray (SF – Iowa)

Some have Murray going No. 5 overall to the Pistons, but I have him falling one more pick here to the Pacers. With Malcolm Brogdon and Tyrese Haliburton locked into Indiana’s backcourt, Murray joins the Pacers’ front court with some openings. They have a few names, including Buddy Hield and Chris Duarte, but Murray should fit right in.

7. Portland Trail Blazers – Dyson Daniels (PG – G League Ignite)

With Portland trading C.J. McCollum this past season, they were sent right into a rebuild with Damian Lillard also sidelined. Despite a very lost season this past year, it still sounds like they want to keep Lillard and build around him. Anfernee Simons is a restricted free agent this offseason, so a talented guard in Daniels could be a safe move for Portland if they don’t match an offer Simons receives in free agency.

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

This would be a perfect match for a Pelicans team looking to win now and build around the core of Brandon Ingram, C.J. McCollum, and Zion Williamson. Mathurin, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, showed out at Arizona this past season, averaging over 17 points per game. He showed the ability to create his own shot at any moment in Tucson and would fit in nicely with a Pelicans team looking to build off a playoff appearance this past year.

9. San Antonio Spurs – Johnny Davis (SG – Wisconsin)

I like the fit of Davis joining Dejounte Murray in the Spurs backcourt. A pure scorer out of Wisconsin, Davis holds an elite scoring ability from anywhere on the court as a shooter and someone who can finish at the hoop.

10. Washington Wizards – Jalen Duren (C – Memphis)

It was an extremely odd season for a Memphis college basketball team that had a ton of hype entering this past season. It started super slow before picking it up towards the latter part of the year. Duren was a massive part of the Memphis turnaround, and he would now join a Wizards team in a weird situation. This selection would be assuming the Wizards want to move Kristaps Porzingis to power forward, where Duren would then slide into the center role for Washington. If the Wizards would rather keep Porzingis at center, this fit wouldn’t make sense.

11. New York Knicks – TyTy Washington Jr (PG – Kentucky)

It has been a while since the Knicks had stability at the point guard position. That is what they would get here with Washington, a former five-star prospect out of high school who averaged over 12 points per game this past college basketball season with Kentucky. I have seen Washington go later in several mock drafts, but given that he has already worked out with the Knicks and Thunder, I feel he could go earlier than many might expect and get selected in the lottery.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder – A.J. Griffin (SF – Duke)

This is ultimately the best player available type of selection for a Thunder team, making their second selection of round one right here. Griffin, one of the better scorers and shooters in this class, joins Luguentz Dort and Darius Bazley in the Oklahoma City front court.

13. Charlotte Hornets – Jeremy Sochan (PF – Baylor)

One of the more versatile players in this class, Sochan would be an interesting complement to Miles Bridges in the Hornets’ front court. It was an up-and-down freshman season for him at Baylor, but he fits perfectly in the position less NBA and projects as someone who can fit the pro level better than what he showcased overall in college.

14. Cleveland Cavaliers – Malaki Branham (SG – Ohio State)

Collin Sexton spent most of the final year of his rookie deal sidelined after tearing his meniscus, so there is no guarantee he will return to Cleveland this offseason. Branham would join Darius Garland in the Cavaliers backcourt, who broke out this past season in the absence of Sexton.

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

With Charlotte making their second selection in three picks, they choose to go the scoring route that Agbaji possesses out of Kansas. The Hornets do have a pretty crowded backcourt led by LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier, but Agbaji adds another scorer as someone who can create his shot when needed.

NBA DFS Lineup Optimizer

16. Atlanta Hawks – Ousmane Dieng (SF – New Zealand)

The Hawks select Dieng here, a 6’10 French professional basketball player who last played in New Zealand as part of the National Basketball League (NBL). From what we have seen, he offers a unique ability where he can play almost any position with his size and speed. There is always the risk and concern some people have with prospects coming from overseas, but we have also seen some foreign players take over the league as of late. He is super raw, but the Hawks have the talent to where they can be a little patient with Dieng early in the season.

17. Houston Rockets – Tari Eason (SF – LSU)

After already selecting Paolo Banchero, the Rockets continue to address the frontcourt with Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green anchoring the backcourt and Christian Wood leading the center position for Houston. Eason should help out the Rockets defensively quite a bit to go along with his scoring ability off the ball.

18. Chicago Bulls – Kennedy Chandler (PG – Tennessee)

The latest reports suggest the Bulls are concerned Lonzo Ball might not be ready for the start of next season after missing most of this past year. If Ball remains sidelined, Chandler will fill that hole as an immediate producer in Chicago’s backcourt.

19. Minnesota Timberwolves – Nikola Jovic (G – Serbia)

We saw Tim Connelly draft Nikola Jokic in Denver. He now becomes the president of basketball operations of the Timberwolves, where they’ll draft another Nikola, a Serbian professional basketball player. He is a super solid shooter, and though he is a little raw, he is joining a solid backcourt to where he’ll have time to find his groove.

20. San Antonio Spurs – MarJon Beauchamp (F – G League Ignite)

We have seen Greg Popovich and the Spurs draft these project players. They are usually international prospects, but this time they elect to take a chance on Beauchamp out of the G League. A super versatile player, Beauchamp is a very intriguing prospect for a Spurs team in an interesting situation right now.

21. Denver Nuggets – Jaden Hardy (G – G League Ignite)

We get the second straight prospect selected out of the G League, Hardy. The hope is the Nuggets will get Jamal Murray back healthy this upcoming season, but Hardy provides some nice insurance in Denver’s backcourt.

22. Memphis Grizzlies –  Mark Williams (C – Duke)

We saw the Grizzlies be forced to bench Steven Adams at times this past season, most notably in the playoffs. Williams provides a little more versatility to the center position for Memphis.

23. Philadelphia 76ers – E.J. Liddell (PF – Ohio State)

One of the bigger weaknesses on the 76ers roster is the front-court situation, currently led by Tobias Harris and Danny Green (who just tore his ACL in the playoffs). Liddell provides a solid fit in the 76ers front court, likely at the power forward position with Harris remaining at small forward.

24. Milwaukee Bucks – Jalen Williams (G – Santa Clara)

Williams was one of the more prominent winners from the NBA Draft Combine, where he boosted his overall stock. As a solid scorer and all-around playmaker averaging 18 points per game out of Santa Clara, Williams adds to the depth of the Bucks’ backcourt.

25. San Antonio Spurs – Dalen Terry (F – Arizona)

I previously mentioned Jeremy Sochan being one of the most versatile players in this class. Terry fits that bill as well as someone who can play almost any position. After entering the NBA Draft but keeping his college eligibility at Arizona, Terry maintained his draft status. He becomes a very intriguing fit with the Spurs as someone who offers a lot of upside as a defender with room to grow as a shooter and overall scorer.

26. Dallas Mavericks – Bryce McGowens (SG – Nebraska) 

It sounds like Jalen Brunson is likely headed elsewhere in free agency this offseason, so the Mavericks bring in McGowens as someone who can fill an immediate hole in the Dallas backcourt. He also offers intriguing value as a defender.

27. Miami Heat – Trevor Keels (SF – Duke)

The Heat can go the best player available and draft purely for depth, which Keels offers after averaging over 11 points per game as a freshman with Duke this past season.

28. Golden State Warriors – Wendell Moore Jr. (SF – Duke)

The Warriors don’t have a ton of needs at a particular position. The only argument you can make is the center position, but they aren’t giving up on James Wiseman this soon. Moore has solid experience playing the last three years at Duke, where he averaged over 13 points per game this past season.

29. Memphis Grizzlies – Blake Wesley (G – Notre Dame)

The depth in the Grizzlies’ backcourt was a little shaky at times this past season, so Wesley helps fill that hole as an immediate producer.

30. Oklahoma City Thunder – Christian Braun (SG – Kansas)

One of the more pro-ready prospects in this class, Braun is a pure scorer out of Kansas. He should compliment Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey well with the Thunder in pure rebuild mode.

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