The Golden State Warriors put the official bow on the 2021-22 NBA season when they polished off the Boston Celtics on June 16th, which means it’s time to shift our focus to the 2022 NBA Draft on June 23rd. For the first time since 2004, the Orlando Magic will be picking first. Their previous three first overall picks have all made All-NBA first team throughout their careers. They consist of Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber (traded to the Golden State Warriors for Penny Hardaway), and Dwight Howard. As for the 2022 Draft class itself, there doesn’t appear to be as many future stars as last year but that doesn’t mean they won’t become quality NBA players. Time will tell.
1. Orlando Magic select: Jabari Smith, 6’10” 220 lbs Forward, Auburn, 19 years old
Most mock drafts have been split between Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith. Both players fit the long, lanky, and versatile mold that their GM John Hammond is looking for, but in the long term, Smith appears to have more potential as a go-to guy from his ability to score from the perimeter, from the post, facing up, and occasionally under duress. With that said, Smith must improve his finishing ability and ball handling if he wants to maximize his potential.
Pro Comparison(s): Rashard Lewis/ Andrei Kirilenko
2. Oklahoma City Thunder select: Paolo Banchero, 6’10” 250 lbs Forward, Duke, 19 years old
Similar to the Orlando Magic, the Oklahoma City Thunder could use a go-to scorer and the best prospect left who fits that description is Paolo Banchero. The 19-year-old already has an advanced scoring repertoire with his ability to score while posted up, faced up, and is respectable from the perimeter. Along with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, Banchero also adds another element of playmaking, both in the half court and in transition. Banchero’s swing skill will be his consistency shooting from the perimeter and his effort on defense.
Pro Comparison(s): Blake Griffin/Michael Beasley
3. Houston Rockets select: Chet Holmgren, 7’1” 195 lbs Forward, Gonzaga, 20 years old
Most mock drafts have Chet Holmgren off the board within the first two picks, but there’s no going wrong with any of the consensus top three (Smith, Banchero, and Holmgren). If Holmgren falls to the third overall pick, the Rockets must take advantage of the opportunity that’s presented to them. With Christian Wood recently traded to the Dallas Mavericks, Holmgren brings a similar skill set but with a unique physical profile. With the proper development, Houston could be the ideal situation for Holmgren. His skill set could also work well with second year center Alperen Sengun who’s more of an interior player. As many scouts and analysts have beaten to death, he must add more strength to his frame but for the meantime whatever team drafts Holmgren will have to find creative ways to use him.
Pro Comparison(s): Kristaps Porzingis
4. Sacramento Kings select: Shaedon Sharpe, 6’6” 200 lbs Guard, Kentucky, 19 years old
Although some mock drafts have Jaden Ivey mocked here, it would defeat the purpose of the Tyrese Haliburton trade as Ivey’s skill set would be too redundant with De’Aaron Fox. However, the Kings would be swinging for the fences with this year’s mystery man Shaedon Sharpe who might be the most polarizing player in this year’s draft. Should the 19-year-old be selected at this spot, he’ll bring three level scoring, defensive potential, along with his athleticism to the Sacramento Kings. The main questions he’ll have to answer are “what is his identity?” and “will he be able to put all his tools together?”
Pro Comparison(s): Andrew Wiggins
5. Detroit Pistons select: Jaden Ivey, 6’4” 200 lbs Guard, Purdue, 20 years old
Although the Pistons didn’t win the lottery this year, they would win the draft, should they draft Jaden Ivey with the fifth overall pick. Right off the bat, this would give the Pistons a dynamic backcourt with Ivey and last year’s first overall pick Cade Cunningham. Both players would take the pressure off of each other as primary ball handlers which makes Detroit the most ideal situation for Ivey. Not known as a natural point guard, Ivey will have to keep learning the position if he wants to maximize his potential.
Pro Comparison(s): Russell Westbrook
6. Indiana Pacers select: Keegan Murray, 6’8” 215 Forward lbs, Iowa, 21 years old
At the moment the Indiana Pacers lack a direction or an identity. In a situation like that, the Pacers should take the best prospect available and figure the rest out. That prospect happens to be Keegan Murray who arguably has the most mature skill set of the players selected so far. Right away, he brings three level scoring to go along with his defensive potential but he must improve as a ball handler and passer.
Pro Comparison(s): Otto Porter
7. Portland Trail Blazers select: Jalen Duren, 6’10” 250 lbs Center, Memphis, 18 years old
With all of the trade chatter surrounding their star guard Damian Lillard, the Blazers are looking to go young. So why not take a swing on the youngest prospect in the draft? With Jusuf Nurkic entering free agency, selecting Duren is hardly a reach at 7. Although Duren may look his age on the court at times, this environment of youth should allow him to play through his mistakes and learn from former NBA player and current head coach Chauncey Billups.
Pro Comparison(s): Dwight Howard
8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Los Angeles Lakers) select: Bennedict Mathurin, 6’6” 210 lbs Guard, Arizona, 20 years old
The New Orleans Pelicans have their core set but Mathurin is intriguing for New Orleans because he can play off the ball but can also create for himself. He also would add more athleticism to an already athletic bunch to go along with his defensive potential given his tools (athleticism and a 6’9” wingspan). A couple of areas for improvement are his shot selection and his consistency on the defensive end.
Pro Comparison(s): Terrence Ross
9. San Antonio Spurs select: Johnny Davis, 6’5” 194 lbs Guard, Wisconsin, 20 years old
The Spurs are picking in the lottery for a third straight year and could use a go-to scorer to help out their All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray. The best player available is Wisconsin’s Johnny Davis. Although the Spurs just drafted another shooting guard last year (Joshua Primo, 12th overall pick in 2021), they aren’t the most talented of rosters so their strategy should be to draft the best player available. Davis possesses the ability to score from the mid range, the post, and has demonstrated two-way potential. However, Davis must improve his consistency from behind the arc (31 percent from three point range).
Pro Comparison(s): Devin Booker/Gary Harris
10. Washington Wizards select: Dyson Daniels, 6’7” 195 lbs Guard,NBA G-League Ignite, 19 years old
The Washington Wizards are in desperate need of a point guard. Dyson Daniels is the ideal fit as his skill set is complementary with that of Bradley Beal. Although some scouts question whether Daniels can function as a primary ball handler, it’s the ideal way to get the most out of his potential. Daniels will have to tighten his handle and improve his consistency as a shooter off the catch as well as off the dribble if he wants to be trusted as a primary ball handler.
Pro Comparison(s): Josh Giddey/Delon Wright
11. New York Knicks select: A.J. Griffin, 6’6” 222 lbs Forward, Duke, 18 years old
The New York Knicks have a logjam at the wing but their strategy should be to draft the best player (most talented in this case) available and figure the rest out later. Some scouts have been skeptical about Griffin’s defense and whether his shooting will translate to the NBA (44 percent from three-point range). But with how well the Knicks have drafted the past couple of drafts they can afford to take a gamble on Griffin who is still 18 years old and won’t turn 19 until August. Outside of the concerns, Griffin is an ideal fit for the Knicks and fits the profile of a Tom Thibodeau-led team which is as a 3 and D wing.
Pro Comparison(s): Jimmy Butler/Patrick Williams
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Los Angeles Clippers) select: Ousmane Dieng, 6’10 205 lbs Forward, New Zealand Breakers (New Zealand), 19 years old
Analysis: After a slow start to the season Ousmane Dieng was able to turn his season around and rise up draft boards. Along with Banchero (in this scenario) Dieng adds even more playmaking ability to the Thunder roster which could possibly make for some highlight reel plays to go along with his athleticism. This may seem like a swing for the fences to some but this is an organization that can afford to do that given their direction which is rebuilding. For Dieng to take his game to the next level he must improve his outside shooting ability as well as continuing to improve his ball handling.
Pro Comparison(s): Ziaire Williams
13. Charlotte Hornets select: Mark Williams, 7’2” 242 lbs Center, Duke, 20 years old
Analysis: With Montrezl Harrell entering free agency and Mason Plumlee aging (32 years old), the Hornets could use an intimidating, shot-blocking presence like Mark Williams. Along with his defensive prowess, Williams gives their franchise point guard LaMelo Ball a pick-and-roll partner as well as a lob target. This move could perhaps help the Hornets get over the hump next season if they play their cards right.
Pro Comparison(s): Tyson Chandler
14. Cleveland Cavaliers select: Ochai Agbaji, 6’6” 215 lbs Guard, Kansas, 22 years old
Analysis: The Cavaliers have their core set for the future and were a win away from their first playoff appearance since 2018. But they are lacking a consistent 3 and D wing. There’s also potential for them to lose Collin Sexton in free agency. Agbaji not only fits the profile but he’ll be ready to contribute right away as a 22 year old rookie on a roster competing for the playoffs.
Pro Comparison(s): Wesley Matthews
15. Charlotte Hornets (via New Orleans Pelicans) select: Tari Eason, 6’8” 216 lbs Forward, LSU, 21 years old
Analysis: Along with interior defense, the Hornets could also use a wing defender. There’s a possibility that the Hornets could lose Miles Bridges in free agency so they could use some insurance at the wing. Eason projects as a 3 and D wing wing at the next level but must improve his ball handling as well as proving his outside shooting will translate (35 percent from three point range).
Pro Comparison(s): OG Anunoby
16. Atlanta Hawks select: Malaki Branham, 6’5” 195 lbs Guard, Ohio State, 19 years old
Analysis: After a disappointing season, the Atlanta Hawks could use another shot creator to take pressure off of Trae Young. Malaki Branham is the best option left on the board. During Ohio State’s run in the NCAA Tournament, Branham has shown the ability to be a microwave scorer as well as set the table for his teammates at times. At the next level he’ll have to keep adding strength to his frame as well as becoming a more consistent defender.
Pro Comparison(s): Caris LeVert
17. Houston Rockets (via Brooklyn Nets) select: TyTy Washington, 6’4” 196 lbs Guard, Kentucky, 20 years old
Analysis: Similar to the Washington Wizards, the Houston Rockets are in desperate need of a point guard. Although Kevin Porter Jr. has the ability to be a playmaker, he’s not a natural at running a team. TyTy Washington is capable of setting the table for his teammates along with the ability to score at all three levels. Washington is one of the more polarizing prospects in this class but he would be a mild steal at 17.
Pro Comparison(s): Mo Williams
18. Chicago Bulls select: E.J. Liddell, 6’7” 243 lbs Forward, Ohio State, 21 years old
Analysis: The biggest hole on the Chicago Bulls roster is their lack of a two stretch four. E.J. Liddell fits the profile and will be able to contribute immediately to a roster looking to make a deeper run in the playoffs next season. Although Liddell is undersized for his position, he’s one of the more complete prospects in terms of maturity (in terms of his game).
Pro Comparison(s): Paul Millsap/P.J. Washington
19. Minnesota Timberwolves select: Jeremy Sochan, 6’9” 230 lbs Forward, Baylor, 19 years old
Analysis: Although the Timberwolves already have Jarred Vanderbilt and Jaden McDaniels, it doesn’t hurt to add another gritty wing defender to their roster. Sochan has a long way to go as far as his development is concerned but his physical tools along with his versatility are intriguing. He’s shown that he’s not afraid to shoot from the perimeter but needs to become more consistent to keep defenses honest. He could also improve his ball handling along with his discipline as a defender.
Pro Comparison(s): Deni Avdija
20. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors) select: Nikola Jovic, 6’11” 223 lbs Forward, Mega Mozzart (Serbia), 19 years old
Analysis: Nikola Jovic would be a very Spurs pick because of their history of scouting and drafting international players throughout the franchise’s history. Right away, Jovic brings a versatile skill set to go along with his physical tools. At his size he’s able to score at all three levels as well as be a distributor in both half court and transition situations. It is unknown if Jovic will stay overseas or come over to the NBA right away.
Pro Comparison(s): Hedo Turkoglu
21. Denver Nuggets select: Jaden Hardy, 6’4” 190 lbs Guard, NBA G-League Ignite, 19 years old
Analysis: The past few years, the Nuggets have been known to take gambles in the draft and have seen mixed results. For example, they drafted Michael Porter Jr. with the 14th overall pick in 2018 while also trading for Bol Bol and R.J. Hampton in the 2019 and 2020 drafts respectively. Hardy may not be ready to play consistent minutes in the NBA immediately and might have to go back to the G-League to get some reps. But a few years down the road, this could be a steal if the Nuggets develop him properly.
Pro Comparison(s): Malik Monk
22. Memphis Grizzlies (via Utah Jazz) select: Kennedy Chandler, 6’0” 172 lbs Guard, Tennessee, 19 years old
Analysis: The Memphis Grizzlies could potentially lose their reliable backup point guard Tyus Jones in free agency. But Kennedy Chandler fits the same mold and could possibly make a career of being a backup point guard. Despite his youth, Chandler is a steady point guard that can set the table for his teammates, score from all three levels, and disrupt offenses with his ability to steal the ball (2.2 steals per game). The main concern will be his size but if he can play the cat and mouse game effectively, he’ll have a long career in the NBA.
Pro Comparison(s): Darren Collison
23. Philadelphia 76ers select: Jalen Williams, 6’6” 209 lbs Guard, Santa Clara, 21 years old
Analysis: It is clear that the Philadelphia 76ers need more wing shooting to help James Harden in drive and kick situations. Jalen Williams not only gives the 76ers shooting, he also gives them shot creation, playmaking, and defensive potential. Williams will need to keep improving as a ball handler as well as his technique as a defender but his role on this team would be as a 3 and D wing.
Pro Comparison(s): Josh Richardson
24. Milwaukee Bucks select: Blake Wesley, 6’4” 187 lbs Guard, Notre Dame, 19 years old
Analysis: The Milwaukee Bucks could use a microwave scorer to come off their bench and Blake Wesley fits the mold of that description. Wesley has a herky jerky style of play which can be fun to watch but he must improve his efficiency as a scorer (40% FG, 30% 3PT, 65% FT) if he wants to see significant playing time especially in big moments. Similar to Hardy, Wesley may have to earn his reps in the G-League first and then eventually fight for rotational minutes on a team with championship aspirations.
Pro Comparison(s): Jamal Crawford
25. San Antonio Spurs (via Boston Celtics) select: Walker Kessler, 7’1” 256 lbs Center, Auburn, 20 years old
Analysis: This could be a pick that the Spurs trade to another team but for the purposes of this mock draft they could use some youth in the interior. Right away, Walker Kessler gives the Spurs a rim protector to back up their starting center Jakob Poeltl. Walker Kessler was second in Division I college basketball in blocks per game (4.6 blocks per game) during his one season at Auburn. With that said, Kessler needs to become more disciplined on ball fakes as well as improving as a shooter from three point range and the free throw line (20% 3PT and 59 % FT).
Pro Comparison(s): Jakob Poeltl
26. Houston Rockets (via Dallas Mavericks) select: Patrick Baldwin Jr., 6’10 231 lbs Forward, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 19 years old
Analysis: Once a projected lottery pick, Patrick Baldwin Jr. falls all the way to 26 in this scenario. With the youth movement that’s going on in Houston, this pick would make a lot of sense. Baldwin is one of the more tricky players to evaluate because his style of play to go along with his physical profile passes the eye test but his numbers were underwhelming. With that said, the Rockets can afford to swing for the fences given their direction.
Pro Comparison(s): Kyle Kuzma
27. Miami Heat select: Wendell Moore Jr., 6’5” 217 lbs Forward, Duke, 21 years old
Analysis: Although the Heat could use more size, that can be addressed in free agency. They also need another versatile wing aside from Jimmy Butler. This past season, Moore improved in almost every statistical category. He also already knows what it’s like to be coached hard and play for a culture that’s bigger than himself which makes him an ideal fit for this organization.
Pro Comparison(s): Alec Burks
28. Golden State Warriors select: Dalen Terry, 6’7” 195 lbs Guard, Arizona, 19 years old
Analysis: Although the Warriors won the NBA Finals, they could use another ball handler to take the pressure off of Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole. Dalen Terry not only gives the Warriors another ball handler, he also gives them another passer, along with his overall versatility on both ends. Terry has been a late riser on many mock drafts in recent weeks and fits the mold of the Golden State Warriors with his team-first mentality. Similar to when Jordan Poole was selected, some may question this selection initially but in a few years those same people will be glad the organization took a chance on him.
Pro Comparison(s): Shaun Livingston
29. Memphis Grizzlies select: Bryce McGowens, 6’6” 181 lbs Guard, Nebraska, 19 years old
Analysis: Along with a backup point guard, the Grizzlies could use a spark plug off the bench. Although the Grizzlies ranked top 10 in bench points, none of their bench players are known as microwave scorers and that is something Bryce McGowens would bring to the table should he earn rotational minutes on this roster. Like Blake Wesley, Jaden Hardy, and Patrick Baldwin Jr., he passes the eye test but needs to improve his shot selection and become a more efficient scorer.
Pro Comparison(s): Jordan Clarkson
30. Denver Nuggets select( via Oklahoma City Thunder and Phoenix Suns): Trevor Keels, 6’5” 223 lbs Guard, Duke, 18 years old
Analysis: The Nuggets could use a player with defensive versatility, or at least defensive potential. Despite being 6’5”, Keels has the physical profile to guard 1s, 2s, 3s, and smaller 4s. He can also operate as an offense initiator but needs to improve as a decision maker. Keels could also improve his discipline as a defender. Similar to Hardy, he may not see many minutes right away and may have to earn his reps in the G-League but down the road this could be a selection the Nuggets were glad they made.
Pro Comparison(s): Marcus Smart