The anticipation is finally over and the 2022 NBA draft is upon us. The Orlando Magic are finally on the clock
The 2022 NBA season is officially wrapped up. The Golden State Warriors are your NBA champions after securing their fourth title in the last eight years. With such a quick turnaround to the draft, we are already here. Here is a final mock draft before Thursday’s 2022 NBA draft.
Pick 1: Orlando Magic – Jabari Smith Jr, F, Auburn
The Orlando Magic won the NBA draft lottery, meaning they have their pick of the litter. The decision is likely coming down to Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr or Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren. With so many bigs already and a lack of three-point shooting, this pick looks more and more like Smith Jr every day. The Auburn forward is one of the best three-point shooting prospects in the class. Smith Jr shot 42% from behind the three-point line at 6’10” this season. Along with being an elite shooter, Smith Jr is also one of the best defenders in the class. A two-way threat already, Smith Jr has sky-high potential on both ends of the floor.
Pick 2: Oklahoma City Thunder – Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga
The term “Unicorn” gets thrown around for so many prospects these days that it has truthfully started to lose its meaning. However, that term unequivocally applies to Gonzaga’s Holmgren. A seven-foot, 200-pounder, with a 7’6” wingspan; Holmgren is a freak of nature with guard skills to boot. Holmgren has size, athleticism, shooting ability, ball-handling skills, and defensive prowess. The Oklahoma City Thunder have two talented young guards who could use an elite big man to play with. The Oklahoma City defense was surprisingly good last season and could use Holmgren’s rim protection to become elite. The Thunder were the worst offense in the NBA despite their great guard play. Holmgren’s ability to score in the half-court, as well as the full court, should help tremendously.
Pick 3: Houston Rockets – Paolo Banchero, F, Duke
The Houston Rockets are building a team with a common theme: Buckets. Within the last three seasons, the Rockets have added Kevin Porter Jr, Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun, and Josh Christopher. The Rockets would have loved to have Holmgren on the board to revive their putrid defense. Houston was dead last in defensive rating. Unfortunately, they will have to settle for the last of the top three prospects: Paolo Banchero. Banchero is a smooth-scoring forward who has an array of moves in his face-up game. A solid passer for his size, Banchero should pair well with Sengun, a second-year big who showed some flash as a rookie; enough so that Houston was comfortable with moving Christian Wood. One of the best indicators of whether or not a prospect can develop an NBA three-point shot is free-throw shooting. Banchero shot over 70% from the line.
Pick 4: Sacramento Kings – Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky
The Sacramento Kings‘ impressive lottery luck has continued. The Kings jumped in the lottery again and have a great opportunity to add another piece to a rotation that includes Domantas Sabonis, De’Aaron Fox, Davion Mitchell, and Harrison Barnes. Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe is one of the more complicated prospects in the class. He has not played a single minute of college basketball and barely practiced at Kentucky. The Kings need a scorer and Sharpe’s high school tape shows a high-level scoring ability with the ability to shoot the three-point shot. Sharpe is a high-level athlete and likely would be talked about more as a top pick had he actually played for Kentucky this season.
Pick 5: Detroit Pistons – Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue
Purdue guard Jaden Ivey is one of the most explosive players in this draft class. A natural off-guard, Ivey would fit perfectly with Cade Cunningham. Ivey is a scorer, with elite athleticism and a high shooting upside. While his game certainly needs refinement (a mid-range pull-up jumper would go a long way), he may be the perfect fit for the Detroit Pistons. The Pistons need to add weapons for Cunningham. Ivey has the ability to play with the ball in his hands but needs to work on playing without the ball. He should likely spend the early portion of his rookie season as a sixth man, allowing him to have the ball in his hands more often. He was not the most efficient player in college, but much of that can be attributed to spacing as Purdue played with multiple traditional bigs most of the season.
Pick 6: Indiana Pacers – Keegan Murray, F, Iowa
The Indiana Pacers are perhaps the most talented team picking in the top ten. The Pacers have good players, without question. However, the only player with the potential to be a great player is recently acquired guard Tyrese Haliburton. After being acquired from the Kings, Haliburton had some very promising moments in Indiana. Pairing Haliburton with a two-way player and elite scorer like Iowa’s Keegan Murray could help the Pacers climb back towards the Eastern Conference playoff picture. With Haliburton and Buddy Hield potentially being the starting backcourt, someone needs to be the one who guards the opposing team’s best player. Murray has the defensive ability to warrant a top-ten pick, but if his offensive game can continue to grow, he can be a special player.
Pick 7: Portland Trail Blazers – Dyson Daniels, G, Australia/G-League Ignite
Defense. The Portland Trail Blazers need defense. For the better part of the last decade, the Blazers rolled out a backcourt that featured Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. Great scorers, yes, but lackluster defenders. Paring Lillard with a guard that can defend should be the priority as he continues to age and is coming off of an injury-riddled season. Dyson Daniels, originally from Australia, is a tall guard with a 6’10” wingspan that can defend multiple positions. His real strength is his playmaking, which would be a much-welcomed addition. If Portland can add Daniels, who can create baskets for his teammates, they would be taking a lot of pressure off Lillard.
Pick 8: New Orleans Pelicans – AJ Griffin, F, Duke
The New Orleans Pelicans roster is in dire need of three-point shooting. Ranking 27th in three-point percentage in 2022, New Orleans has a very simple objective: Add shooting. With Zion Williamson returning next season, there will be even less spacing on the floor, which may make it difficult for McCollum and Brandon Ingram to operate. Duke’s AJ Griffin, perhaps the best shooter in the draft, would fit perfectly with this team. The Pelicans already have their franchise players in tow and are now looking to add complementary pieces. On top of being an elite shooter, Griffin also adds incredible length, which gives him some nice defensive potential.
Pick 9: San Antonio Spurs – Mark Williams, C, Duke
The San Antonio Spurs are in dire need of some help in the middle. Jakob Poeltl is set to enter free agency after the 2023 season and the often-injured Zach Collins has played just 39 games in the last three seasons. Duke’s Mark Williams can be just the piece that the Spurs need. A long and athletic player, Williams can be the prototypical rim-running, rebounding, and shot-blocking center that has an immediate impact. He is incredibly similar to a player he shares a last name with: Robert Williams of the Boston Celtics who just put on a show in the Celtics’ 2022 playoff run.
Pick 10: Washington Wizards – Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor
The Washington Wizards’ first priority is trying to keep All-Star Bradley Beal from departing in free agency. Before they do that, they have a top ten pick that could entice him to stay, depending on the selection. The Wizards had a middle-of-the-pack defense in 2022 and can add a player here that could catapult them into the top ten. Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan is a rangy defender who can switch and guard multiple positions. His playmaking and scoring have been inconsistent, but if improved upon, can make him an indispensable piece for any NBA team. Regardless of what happens on offense, his defensive floor makes him worth a lottery pick.
Pick 11: New York Knicks – Bennedict Mathurin, G, Arizona
The New York Knicks, like many off-seasons before, have their eyes set on big fish. With Kyrie Irving’s recent disagreements with the Brooklyn Nets, the Knicks have emerged as a potential suitor. The Knicks are also in the market for Dallas Mavericks guard Jalen Brunson, whose father is a recent addition to the coaching staff in New York. Mathurin has the potential to be a high-level shooter and scorer and can complement many of these small guards that the Knicks are targeting.
Pick 12: Oklahoma City Thunder – Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin
After picking Holmgren second overall, the Thunder may want to add some guard play. They were one of the lowest-scoring teams in the NBA last season and could use all the help they could get on offense. Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis is an intriguing two-way prospect who may be best in a sixth-man role where he is allowed to come in and shoot at will. Davis’ shot profile translates well to the NBA level.https://www.basketball-reference.com/players/w/willipa01.html
Pick 13: Charlotte Hornets – Jalen Duren, C, Memphis
LaMelo Ball, you’re very welcome. Memphis big man Jalen Duren is a 6’11”, 250-pound athletic marvel who dunks everything. Duren’s tape is littered with furious throwdowns and powerful blocks. Duren should fit in well with the Charlotte Hornets’ fast-paced game plan and will likely thrive as a lob threat for Ball. The Hornets have been desperate for some better center play and get it here with the 18-year-old.
Pick 14: Cleveland Cavaliers – Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas
The Cleveland Cavaliers shocked the world by surging to an early lead in the Eastern Conference. Eventually, injuries and talent caught up with them and they finished seventh and lost in the play-in tournament. Cleveland was trotting out a lineup of three seven-footers, making three-point shooting incredibly important. Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji is an uber-athletic sharpshooter who can provide some floor spacing for a Cleveland team that will sorely need it if they continue to trot out a lineup that features Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.
Pick 15: Charlotte Hornets – Ousmane Dieng, France/New Zealand Breakers
The Hornets, picking for the second time in the top fifteen, are once again going with a player who can help their defense right away. With excellent size and length, Frenchman Ousmane Dieng can immediately step on the floor and impact the game on the defensive end. On the offensive end, Dieng struggled early but was able to come along as the season went on. His playmaking ability is his greatest strength on offense. The swing skill will be his perimeter shooting. If his shot can come along he will be an incredibly impactful player.
Pick 16: Atlanta Hawks – Nikola Jovic, Serbia
The Atlanta Hawks have been rumored to be shopping John Collins. His poor play this postseason coming off of injury surely did not help. A player that could slot right into the forward spot is Serbian Nikola Jovic. Jovic is a great shot creator and playmaker, which could help the Hawks find some offense outside of Trae Young. His game also mirrors that of Danilo Gallinari, who he could also eventually replace in the rotation. A gifted scorer alongside Young could help the Hawks recapture their 2021 playoff magic.
Pick 17: Houston Rockets – Jalen Williams, F, Santa Clara
Another player that fits the Rockets’ offense-first game plan is Santa Clara’s Jalen Williams. An elite scorer, Williams averaged 18 points per game last season. His free throw percentage in college should be an indicator of his potential shooting ability in the NBA. The Rockets continue to add scoring and bypass defense adding another scoring threat here.
Pick 18: Chicago Bulls – Tari Eason, F, LSU
Chicago Bulls‘ head coach Billy Donovan preaches defense and his team needs more of it. With former top-five pick Patrick Williams coming off of injury, the Bulls could use more depth at the forward spot. LSU’s Tari Eason is a high-level defensive prospect with a nice three-point stroke to boot. With Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan looking to attack, some much-needed floor spacing would open up more opportunities for them.
Pick 19: Minnesota Timberwolves – TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky
The Minnesota Timberwolves‘ late-season surge to the playoffs was a nice story but left them disappointed with their point guard play. D’Angelo Russell was lackluster in their first-round matchup with the Memphis Grizzlies, leading to questions about him and his hefty price tag. Kentucky’s TyTy Washington is a guard who can sit for a year while the Wolves figure out what to do with Russell and his contract that becomes harder to move by the day.
Pick 20: San Antonio Spurs – Kennedy Chandler, G, Tennessee
Kennedy Chandler can be a great fit in San Antonio as they look to play faster. Chandler possesses great athleticism and shooting ability. He found his stroke late in the season. If his improved shooting carries over into the NBA, he has a much higher potential. He can be a nice piece off the bench after Dejounte Murray.
Pick 21: Denver Nuggets – Malaki Branham, G, Ohio State
The Denver Nuggets appear to be shaking things up. Forward JaMychal Green was sent to Oklahoma City and there have been trade rumors surfacing about guard Monte Morris. The Nuggets love scorers and Ohio State’s Malaki Branham can come off the bench and provide a spark. A swing skill for Branham would be his long-range shooting. If his stroke can continue improving he has the potential to be a top-tier sixth man.
Pick 22: Memphis Grizzlies – Marjon Beauchamp, G, G-league
The Grizzlies are a fun, young team with plenty of energetic athletes. Marjon Beauchamp is another elite athlete with versatility. He’s long and athletic and while he is not a great defender, he should be able to improve. Memphis took Ziaire Williams last year who had a similar profile.
Pick 23: Philadelphia 76ers – E.J. Liddell, F, Ohio State
The Philadelphia 76ers bench disappointed them thoroughly in the postseason. A nice bench addition in the draft would be Ohio State forward EJ Liddell. Liddell can space the floor and play defense, a much-needed addition for Philadelphia. The 76ers missed countless three-pointers in the second round against Miami. Having another three-and-D player would go a long way for Philly.
Pick 24: Milwaukee Bucks – Patrick Baldwin Jr, F, Milwaukee
Patrick Baldwin Jr was once viewed as an elite prospect when he was entering college. Baldwin decided to forgo a traditional big school and decided to play for his father at Milwaukee. He struggled for the most part and his draft stock took a major hit. Once mocked in the top ten, Baldwin finds himself at the end of the first. Baldwin was wildly inefficient in college, but still showed flashes of his scoring ability. The Milwaukee Bucks desperately need to add more consistent perimeter shooters around Giannis Antetokounmpo; Baldwin can be their man.
Pick 25: San Antonio Spurs – Jaden Hardy, G, G-League
Jaden Hardy is another prospect that saw his draft stock take a hit by forgoing the traditional college experience. A gifted scorer, Hardy can provide a spark off the bench early in his career. His shooting profile projects well to the NBA level. Also, his free throw shooting should give confidence to whether or not he can shoot at a high level. The Spurs have three first-round picks to add some youth to a team that finds themselves in no man’s land.
Pick 26: Houston Rockets – Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest
The Rockets find themselves with the luxury of adding countless players to their porous roster. However, Kenyon Martin Jr has considered asking for a trade. With a sudden need at forward, the Rockets can grab Wake Forest forward Jake Laravia. A Junior, Laravia is an older prospect who has shown improvement throughout his time in college. He should add some floor spacing to the Rockets who have multiple players who want to attack.
Pick 27: Miami Heat – Walker Kessler, C, Auburn
There are many out there who believe that Miami Heat center Bam Adebayo should be playing forward. His ability to switch out onto guards makes him valuable, but he is not much of a rim protector. With Dewayne Dedmon hitting free agency and Omer Yurtseven only under contract for one more year before Miami is inevitably priced out, it may be time to invest in the future. Auburn’s Walker Kessler is a massive center with a 7’4” wingspan. He was one of the greatest shot blockers that college basketball has ever seen, averaging 4.6 blocks per game.
Pick 28: Golden State Warriors – Christian Koloko, C, Arizona
The Warriors are your 2022 NBA champions. With their roster being so deep, it is unlikely that any player they draft would see the rotation as a rookie. With Kevon Looney hitting free agency and James Wiseman yet to stay healthy, they may invest in a center. Arizona’s Christian Koloko is a big-body shot-blocker who was efficient and hit his free throws. Koloko was a force on the defensive end for the Wildcats.
Pick 29: Memphis Grizzlies – Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame
The Grizzlies continue to stockpile talented young players. Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley is certainly a good scorer but struggled with efficiency. Obviously, his role in college will look nothing like his NBA role. He will have to play more off the ball. Ultimately, he has time to improve as the Grizzlies likely do not have a spot for him in the regular rotation.
Pick 30: Denver Nuggets – Dalen Terry, G, Arizona
The Nuggets have a wide assortment of small guards on their roster right now. Most of them are lackluster defenders. Arizona’s Dalen Terry is a 6’7” guard with a massive wingspan who can be molded into an impressive defensive player. Terry’s numbers were less than impressive, but he was efficient. He also showed the ability to get his hands on the ball and averaged over one steal per game.