NBA Draft predictions: Pickswise’s 2022 NBA mock draft
The 2022 NBA Draft is coming up on Thursday, June 23rd and it’s time to take a look at how the 30 first-round picks could shake out. The Orlando Magic hold the No. 1 overall pick after winning the NBA Draft Lottery this year. Will it be Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, or Paolo Banchero hearing his name called first? Which other college basketball prospects could become NBA lottery picks? How early will Jaden Ivey go among the top NBA Draft prospects? Could Shaedon Sharpe or Ousmane Dieng end up being the steal of this class? We’ll answer all those questions and more with this 2022 NBA Mock Draft.
Since the 2022 NBA Finals just wrapped up, it’s important to remember where some of the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics drafted their best players. Whether it’s Jayson Tatum at No. 3 overall, Stephen Curry at No. 7 overall, or even Draymond Green as a second-round pick, NBA stars and quality role players can be found at any number pick. On the flip side, even some of the best college basketball prospects could end up being NBA Draft busts when its all said and done. Either way, many of these first-round selections will appear on the fantasy baseball rankings next season in some form or fashion. Check out my breakdowns of the NBA Draft top 10 prospects for more in-depth coverage.
For the purposes of this mock draft, no trades are predicted or projected, though we’ll inevitably get multiple trades on draft night. Now let’s take a look at how the 2022 NBA Draft First Round could shake up.
1) Orlando Magic – Jabari Smith, Auburn, PF
It’s between Jabari Smith and Chet Holmgren for the first overall pick, but all indications and betting markets have the Magic going with the Auburn freshman. Orlando needs a building block in the frontcourt with Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, and Jalen Suggs in place as the ball-handlers. Though Holmgren has the bigger upside, Smith is a slightly safer pick for Orlando at No. 1 overall with a higher floor to develop into either a star or quality role player in the NBA. He already has a polished jump shot on the offensive end and shot 43.6% from three-point range last year in college. Smith also boasts defensive versatility with the size/quickness combo to guard multiple positions.
2) Oklahoma City Thunder – Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga, F/C
There’s a decent chance the Thunder trade down if another team is willing to move up and grab Chet Holmgren or Paolo Banchero. Assuming they stay put, Holmgren is the ideal high-upside pick that GM Sam Presti has shown a liking to over the years. The Gonzaga freshman not only possesses elite shot-blocking skills with his 7-foot frame, but he’s also a unicorn on offense with three-point shooting ability and ball-handling you don’t often see from players at his size. The lanky frame holding up to the physicality of the NBA is a legit concern, but the sky is the limit for this unique prospect. The Thunder need a young piece in the frontcourt with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey as the guards to already build around.
3) Houston Rockets – Paolo Banchero, Duke, F/C
After recently trading away Christian Wood to Dallas, the Rockets have cleared up minutes for Paolo Banchero (or whoever is left among the big three) in the frontcourt. The Duke freshman has an NBA-ready offensive skillset as a post-scorer with perimeter range while also being able to handle the ball and pass well for a big man. Banchero anchored Duke’s Final Four run in the 2022 NCAA Tournament and he can compliment Jalen Green’s playmaking ability as Houston’s building blocks of the future.
4) Sacramento Kings – Jaden Ivey, Purdue, G
It appears pretty likely the Kings trade this pick away as they look to add win-now veterans to compete for a playoff spot this season. If they hold, though, Jaden Ivey is the best available player as the top guard in this draft class. Even though Sacramento has De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell in the backcourt, taking Ivey and possibly working a trade for one of those guards may be too good to pass up for a franchise desperate for national relevance. Ivey has the ability to be the next great playmaking guard and he’s drawn appropriate comparisons to Ja Morant for his fearless ability to drive to the rim and finish. The Purdue sophomore also improved his three-point shooting last year, draining 36% from deep.
5) Detroit Pistons – Keegan Murray, Iowa, F
First off, it seems likely that the Pistons will be trading away Jerami Grant this summer at some point. That would open up a ton of minutes at the small/power forward spot and allow Keegan Murray to step right into a starting role as a rookie. With Cade Cunningham already in place for Detroit as the distributor and a young core piece in the backcourt, Murray can be a 3-and-D type on the wing. Murray took a big leap this past season as he became Iowa’s No. 1 scoring option as a sophomore. His three-point shooting, in particular, improved to nearly 40% from under 30% a year ago.
6) Indiana Pacers – Bennedict Mathurn, Arizona, G/F
The Pacers are expected to target a shooting guard here with Shaedon Sharpe and Johnny Davis as possibilities. Bennedict Mathurin, though, brings a bit more roster flexibility to Indiana’s roster as a wing scorer who can play either the two or three at the next level. The Arizona sophomore improved his NBA draft stock a ton this past collegiate season after showing flashes as a freshman. He shot 38% from three-point range and brings some physicality to the defensive end as well. Mathurin would give the Pacers a solid wing presence with Tyrese Haliburton manning the point and Myles Turner down low.
7) Portland Trail Blazers – Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky, G
Portland has been in the NBA trade buzz and could either trade this pick away, look to move up into the top five, or stay put. Building around Damian Lillard is the clear objective, but it remains to be seen how the Blazers go about doing it. Shaedon Sharpe is a notable boom-or-bust prospect in this draft with NBA teams apparently split on how his talent will translate into the pros. He has the perimeter shooting chops, ball-handling ability, and athleticism around the rim to be a quality shooting guard. Still, that skillset is a bit unproven against tough competition since he didn’t log any minutes for Kentucky after reclassifying into the 2021 freshman class. The ceiling is there, however, for Sharpe to emerge as the steal of this NBA Draft.
8) New Orleans Pelicans (from Lakers) – Dyson Daniels, G League Ignite, G/F
The Pelicans are another team who could go in a number of different directions with this pick and may very well trade it away for a win-now veteran. If they stick at No. 8, though, Daniels is a great fit next to CJ McCollum in the New Orleans backcourt. The 19-year-old out of the G League Ignite program has the unique passing and playmaking ability as a taller guard who can realistically play positions 1-4 at the next level. He would compliment McCollum nicely while also giving the Pelicans another high-upside offensive talent next to Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson for the future. Daniels has risen quickly up NBA Draft boards this summer and there’s a chance he’s gone before this pick as well.
9) San Antonio Spurs – Ousmane Dieng, New Zealand Breakers, F
Since the Spurs have three first-round picks, they could be looking to hit a home run with this lottery selection. Enter Ousmane Dieng, a French prospect who played last year in the New Zealand pro league and has received a ton of pre-draft hype. Dieng possesses a ton of untapped potential with raw shooting and offensive skills at a 6-foot-10 size. San Antonio has been known to develop underrated prospects in the past (most recently Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell) and could bring Dieng along slowly as he gets comfortable with NBA competition. We could look back in 5-10 years at the 19-year-old being one of the steals of this draft.
10) Washington Wizards – Johnny Davis, Wisconsin, G
Any conversation surrounding the Wizards has to start with the Bradley Beal situation. Washington may look to trade their star away or hope to build around him with a supermax contract offer. If the Wiz hold onto Beal, giving him a backcourt mate should be a priority. Johnny Davis has the defensive ability and the offensive shot creation to take pressure off of Beal on both ends. Davis took a big leap this past season as a sophomore at Wisconsin and is arguably the best two-way guard of this draft class.
11) New York Knicks – Jalen Duren, Memphis, C
The Knicks have been linked to trading up into the top five to grab Jaden Ivey, but many other teams are in the same boat. Assuming New York holds onto this No. 11 pick, a big man is the way to go. Julius Randle could be on the move soon, Mitchell Robinson is a free agent, and Nerlens Noel isn’t the long-term answer at center. It’s either Jalen Duren or Mark Williams for the Knicks as they add a big man to complement the emerging talents of R.J. Barrett, Obi Toppin, and Immanuel Quickley. As for Duren, the Memphis freshman is an elite shot-blocker with the defensive ability that would fit right in with Tom Thibodeau’s identity in New York. Though he doesn’t stretch the floor much with basically no perimeter threat, Duren is a ferocious dunker and physical interior scorer.
12) Oklahoma City Thunder (from Clippers) – A.J. Griffin, Duke, G/F
After going Chet Holmgren and frontcourt at No. 2 overall, the Thunder should be looking to address a different position with this selection. A.J. Griffin is one of the best wing prospects of this draft class and would be a nice 3-and-D talent for OKC. Last year at Duke, the freshman was lights-out from three – shooting 44.7% from deep – and possesses an offensive skillset that’s a bit underrated after playing in the shadow of Paolo Banchero. The only question is his defensive ability, which was lacking in his lone collegiate season.
13) Charlotte Hornets – Mark Williams, Duke, C
Outside of the Knicks, the Hornets are the other lottery team most in need of a pure center. Mark Williams can fit in right away as a pick-and-roll partner and lob finisher for LaMelo Ball on the offensive end. Plus, the Duke sophomore is a top-tier rim-protector and defensive presence in the paint. Though his offensive game is a bit limited outside of scoring inside, Williams showed a surprisingly soft touch on jumpers this past season. He’s very unproven as a three-point shooter, however, only attempting one from deep in his two years at Duke.
14) Cleveland Cavaliers – Ochai Agbaji, Kansas, G/F
The Cavaliers are looking to take the next step as an Eastern Conference playoff contender after getting a taste of the Play-In Tournament this past season. With that in mind, adding the 2022 Final Four Most Outstanding Player and national champ makes a ton of sense. Though Ochai Agbaji is on the older end of NBA prospects at 22 years old, he brings in plenty of big-game experience and a veteran attitude after spending four years at college and leading Kansas to the title. It’s encouraging that Agbaji improved statistically each year from his freshman to senior seasons and shot 40.9% from three-point range as an efficient scorer last year. He has the defensive versatility to guard multiple positions and will bring 3-and-D vet experience to Cleveland right away as a rookie.
15) Charlotte Hornets (from Pelicans) – Jeremy Sochan, Baylor, F
With their second selection in the span of three picks, the Hornets could easily trade back to acquire other assets or future draft capital. They can also package both picks to move up. If Charlotte holds here, though, the target should be adding another complementary piece to build around LaMelo Ball’s playmaking. Jeremy Sochan is arguably the best defensive prospect in this draft with the size, athleticism, and versatility to guard all five positions in the NBA. The Baylor freshman’s shooting and post-up game are unproven after not showing much in his one college season, but the upside is there for him to get better offensively.
16) Atlanta Hawks – Jalen Williams, Santa Clara, F
Jalen Williams was a hot name at the NBA Draft Combine and he’s quickly risen up big boards and mock drafts this summer. The Santa Clara product was understandably overlooked in college after playing in a mid-major conference, but he’s now earned the admiration of plenty of NBA teams. Though Williams is a late-bloomer after just completing his junior season, the talent is still very much there. He drained nearly 40% of three-pointers last year, showed off playmaking and ball-handling skills as a point-forward type, and is a high-effort defender with the versatility to guard multiple positions. The Hawks should be looking to add more offensive talent to surround Trae Young and Williams provides an alternative scoring skillset on the wing than Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, or Bogan Bogdanovic.
17) Houston Rockets (from Nets) – Malaki Branham, Ohio State, G
The Rockets can go in a number of different directions with this pick after going Paolo Banchero at No. 3 overall (according to this mock). Recently acquiring the No. 26 overall selection from Dallas in the Christian Wood trade could allow Houston to pair both picks together and move back into the lottery. If they stay, the Rockets should continue to add young building block talent around emerging star Jalen Green. Bringing in Malaki Branham would add another combo guard to the backcourt and take ball-handling and playmaking pressure off of Green. The Ohio State freshman was one of the better defenders in the Big Ten last season and brings plenty of two-way upside.
18) Chicago Bulls – Tari Eason, LSU, F
The Bulls should be targeting defensive-minded depth at the forward position and Tari Eason would be a welcome addition. The LSU sophomore is an active, willing, and versatile defender who can guard multiple positions and even play the small-ball five as he did in college. He improved as a shooter from his freshman to sophomore seasons, making 37% of his threes last year. Chicago already has their offensive playmakers in place, but Eason can provide the 3-and-D ability for a playoff-ready roster.
19) Minnesota Timberwolves – Blake Wesley, Notre Dame, G
The Timberwolves should look at guard with this pick to find a backcourt-mate of the future to pair alongside Anthony Edwards – especially since Patrick Beverly is getting up there in age and hitting free agency next season. Blake Wesley can allow the Minnesota offense to have two competent ball-handling combo guards who can both create for themselves off the dribble. He flashed that playmaking talent as a freshman at Notre Dame even though the talent around him was lacking.
20) San Antonio Spurs (from Raptors) – TyTy Washington Jr., Kentucky, G
There’s a decent chance that TyTy Washington gets drafted much earlier than this, but NBA teams have reportedly soured on him recently because of his refusal to scrimmage at the Draft Combine and an underwhelming season in college. At Kentucky last year, the freshman dealt with an ankle injury, shot just 33% from three, and took a backseat to Oscar Tshiebwe and Sahvir Wheeler in the offensive pecking order. Still, the talent is there for a 19-year-old who can create his own shot and is lethal in the mid-range and float game. The Spurs can take a chance on him with one of their three first-round selections if he falls this far.
21) Denver Nuggets – E.J. Liddell, Ohio State, F
Many mocks have E.J. Liddell going a bit earlier than this, but his tweener size as a 6-foot-5 power forward could cause him to slip a bit. Denver, though, would be a good landing spot as the team looks to add versatile defenders and three-point threats around Nikola Jokic. In his junior season at Ohio State, Liddell improved as a shooter (37.5% from three) while showing off his on-ball defensive skills and rim-protecting (2.6 blocks per game) in the physical Big Ten conference. The Nuggets won’t have to worry as much about Liddell’s limited offensive game since Jokic and Jamal Murray are the main ball-handlers and creators.
22) Memphis Grizzlies (from Jazz) – Dalen Terry, Arizona, G/F
Dalen Terry is one of those players who’s risen up draft boards this summer now that he’s out of Bennedict Mathurin’s shadow from this past season at Arizona. The sophomore wing is a versatile defender with his lengthy wingspan, 6-foot-7 size, and All-Defensive team honors in the Pac-12. He’s yet another 3-and-D player who the playoff-caliber teams, like Memphis, will covet to provide win-now depth. Terry shot 36% from three last year but also showed plenty of ability to handle the ball and run the Arizona offense at times. He’d give the Grizzlies another two-way talent to add to a young nucleus.
23) Philadelphia 76ers (from Nets) – Jaden Hardy, G League Ignite, G/F
The Sixers are another team that’s been widely rumored to trade this pick away in a package with Danny Green, Tobias Harris, or others to add a more proven piece to a title-contending squad. If they stay put, though, Philadelphia needs some wing talent to compliment Joel Embiid, James Harden, and Tyrese Maxey. In addition, Jaden Hardy is an upside pick who could develop into one of Philly’s long-term playmakers when the team eventually moves on from Harden. The 19-year-old is a smooth ball-handler who can create shots and score on his own. The three-point shooting could be more consistent, though he did shoot 36% on catch-and-shoot threes last year in the G League (per Synergy). Hardy’s defense needs work, but that may be more a matter of effort than talent.
24) Milwaukee Bucks – Jake LaRavia, Wake Forest, F
Since the Bucks are obviously still in title-contending mode, they should look to add depth and positional versatility to a roster with Giannis Antetokounmpo as the clear centerpiece. That means 3-and-D wings that can drain from deep but also guard multiple spots on the defensive end. Jake LaRavia did just that at Wake Forest and his three years in college will have him ready to compete for a playoff team like Milwaukee. The 20-year-old shot 38% from three last year and his jump shooting ability could have him go off the board earlier than this.
25) San Antonio Spurs (from Celtics) – Ismael Kamagate, Paris Basket (France), C
Since the Spurs have three first-rounders and four draft picks overall this year, they could be looking to use one of a draft-and-stash player. Ismael Kamagate is the best among them and the chance to stash him overseas for a year has actually risen his draft prospects into the first round. The French 21-year-old has the size (6-foot-11, 220 pounds) and physical athleticism to be a quality center in the NBA, but the San Antonio coaching staff could unlock more potential – whether it’s a year from now or in the G League.
26) Houston Rockets (from Mavericks) – Nikola Jovic, Mega Basket (Serbia), F
It’s very possible Nikola Jovic is long gone by the time Houston gets on the board at No. 26. The Serbian 19-year-old boasts a unique skillset at his size that many teams could be looking to take a chance on to find the next diamond-in-the-rough (much like Nikola Jokic, coincidentally?) However, Jovic has reportedly underwhelmed in workouts this summer and could be ignored by teams looking to contend in 2022 if he needs a year or two to develop. The Rockets would be glad to take the high-upside risk, though, with their third first-round pick. Jovic has perimeter-shooting skills, passing vision, and a jump shot at 6-foot-11.
27) Miami Heat – Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee, G
After watching Kyle Lowry play through injuries in the playoffs, the Heat should be looking for backcourt depth and a possible point guard of the future. Kennedy Chandler is an excellent ball-handler with the ability to create his own shot, pass his teammates open, and score from every level. The Tennessee freshman also has some defensive feistiness in him despite a 6-foot-1 frame, which is something the Miami front office would welcome with open arms.
28) Golden State Warriors – Wendell Moore Jr., Duke, G/F
The newest NBA champs have a pretty full roster and clearly not many holes to fill. So maybe this pick gets dealt for a quality veteran, especially since Moses Moody, Jonathan Kuminga, and James Wiseman will likely have bigger roles next season. If the Warriors stay, adding an experienced college player like Wendell Moore Jr. isn’t a bad idea either. The 20-year-old improved in each of his three years at Duke and brings a 3-and-D skillset to the wing position. Moore brings defensive versatility, which is something Golden State loves, and a winning attitude that’ll fit right in.
29) Memphis Grizzlies – Andrew Nembhard, Gonzaga, G
The Grizzlies may be looking for a backup point guard in this draft with one of their two first-round selections. Tyus Jones is a free agent and it remains to be seen whether he’s back in Memphis or not. Either way, adding some more offensive talent to take pressure off of Ja Morant should be a priority anyway. Andrew Nembhard is one of the best pure point guards in this draft after he quarterbacked Gonzaga’s top-tier offense this past collegiate season. Nembhard simply makes any offense better as he knows how to lead a fastbreak, push the pace, dish it smoothly to open teammates, and create his own shots around the rim. His 6-foot-4 size also gives him defensive versatility to guard either backcourt position.
30) Denver Nuggets (from Thunder) – Walker Kessler, Auburn, C
After recently acquiring this pick from Oklahoma City in the JaMychal Green trade, the Nuggets will be looking to add even more young depth to a playoff-caliber roster. We had Denver going with a wing (E.J. Liddell) at its earlier selection, so this pick should be used to add frontcourt depth behind Nikola Jokic. When Jokic comes off the floor, Denver needs a quality center to eat up minutes and hold his own. Walker Kessler can certainly do that as arguably the best shot-blocker in this draft and a defensive presence whenever the 7-footer is out there. The Auburn sophomore’s offensive game needs to evolve more besides his dunking and pick-and-roll ability. At the least, he’ll be a defensive-minded center at the next level and a worthy backup to a star like Jokic.
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