It’s draft season again, which means it’s time for the 2022 NBA Mock Draft. The college basketball season was exhilarating which plenty of top prospects emerging. In addition, basketball continues to grow exponentially on the international scene, so there will be plenty of international players as well.
2022 NBA Mock Draft First Round
1. Orlando Magic – Jabari Smith, Forward, Auburn
Jabari Smith has tantalizing potential. Orlando holds a plethora of guards and are a very young team, so Smith can start on day one as part of the impressive youthful core. He’ll be given the ball early and often to emerge as a star sooner rather than later. He fits very well into this team.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder – Chet Holmgren, Center, Gonzaga
Chet Holmgren seems to be just who the Thunder want. There are a few criticisms to his game, mainly his frame and physical size, but the Thunder have plenty of time to develop. Holmgren holds arguably the most potential in this draft, so developing with other young players on the Thunder should bode well. He’ll thrive with the guards already in place in Oklahoma City.
3. Houston Rockets – Paolo Banchero, Forward, Duke
Paolo Banchero rounds out the three players in contention for the first overall pick. Houston will be happy to have him. They look established in their backcourt, so Banchero is a great complement to those players. He showed several flashes of brilliance in his one season at Duke.
4. Sacramento Kings – AJ Griffin, Forward, Duke
This may be somewhat of a reach, but AJ Griffin has all the tools that make NBA scouts drool. He can emerge as one of the league’s top three-point shooters, and he’s still recovering from a couple of major injuries from years prior. If his athleticism returns to full strength, then Griffin holds All-Star potential.
5. Detroit Pistons – Jaden Ivey, Guard, Purdue
Jaden Ivey was elite at Purdue and looks as NBA-ready as it gets for a guard. He’ll slot in the Pistons’ backcourt alongside last year’s number one overall pick Cade Cunningham, giving the Pistons a backcourt that may very well be the best in the league in the future.
6. Indiana Pacers – Keegan Murray, Forward, Iowa
The Pacers are ready to rebuild. Keegan Murray is NBA-ready, but he can still improve further. Indiana offers time as well as a very solid fit.
7. Portland Trail Blazers – Dyson Daniels, Guard, G League Ignite
Portland is in an interesting spot. It looked like they were ready for a full-fledged rebuild, but ultimately they decided to hold onto star Damian Lillard. Their task now is to give him as much talent as possible. Dyson Daniels may not be an immediate starter in the backcourt, but he brings in an array of skills as well as future starting ability.
8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Los Angeles Lakers) – Jeremy Sochan, Forward, Baylor
New Orleans is also in an interesting spot. They looked decent enough in the playoffs this past season but were also without their star in Zion Williamson. His future looks uncertain, however, so the Pelicans can bring in another forward option in Jeremy Sochan. His potential is certainly high.
9. San Antonio Spurs – Bennedict Mathurin, Guard, Arizona
The Spurs have a lot of talent around the court, but none with star potential outside of Dejounte Murray. Bennedict Mathurin, on the other hand, holds star potential. He looks like an ideal player for the Spurs system.
10. Washington Wizards – Shaedon Sharpe, Guard, Kentucky
Shadeon Sharpe is definitely an interesting prospect. He has outstanding skills and tools but hasn’t played for over a year. Picking him is a gamble, but one worth taking for a team with no clear direction like the Wizards.
11. New York Knicks – Johnny Davis, Guard, Wisconsin
New York came back down to Earth last season and can use help, especially in the backcourt. Johnny Davis was outstanding for Wisconsin this past season. His fit on this team has to be looked at carefully, but with that being said, his talent is an immediate plus for the Knicks.
12. Oklahoma City (from LA Clippers) – Ousmane Dieng, Forward, NBL
Drafting Ousmane Dieng may be a stretch for the Thunder here. With that being said, the French forward’s potential is through the roof, and he showed it later in the NBL season. The Thunder have plenty of time to develop their prospects, making Dieng a solid fit and a possible 2022 NBA Draft steal.
13. Charlotte Hornets – Jalen Duren, Center, Memphis
Jalen Duren makes the most sense for Charlotte, and he falls right into their laps right here. The team is in dire need of a center, and Duren is at the top of the list of tier two bigs in this draft. His pure talent and athleticism may make him a steal in the late lottery.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers – Ochai Agbaji, Guard, Kansas
The Cavaliers were much improved last season but can still use help on the wing. Ochai Agbaji is as experienced as college players get, and his skill set is exactly what Cleveland needs. His “three-and-d” ability will get him plenty of minutes early on.
15. Charlotte (from New Orleans) – Tari Eason, Forward, LSU
Tari Eason enjoyed a solid career at LSU. He needs a little work before truly contributing in the league, but he’ll offer plenty of talent, especially coming in his defensive abilities to guard anyone on the court. The Hornets may be invested in the trade market, so Eason can replace big men that the Hornets may trade.
16. Atlanta Hawks – Blake Wesley, Guard, Notre Dame
17. Houston (from Brooklyn Nets) – Malaki Branham, Guard, Ohio State
Houston is rebuilding and is looking to add talent just about everywhere. Malaki Branham has plenty of talent and can become a very valuable bench contributor. Eventually, Branham can replace Eric Gordon.
18. Chicago Bulls – Mark Williams, Center, Duke
Chicago will be very happy to see a player like Mark Williams fall to them. Williams was both stellar and dominant for Duke this past season. The defensive end of the floor is where he really thrives, which will instantly help the Bulls. He provides relief for Nikola Vucevic.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves – Jaylin Williams, Forward, Arkansas
Jaylin Williams blossomed this year for Arkansas. His vast array of big man skills will be welcomed in Minnesota, where he can eventually start alongside Karl-Anthony Towns. Early on, however, Williams will be valuable off the bench.
20. San Antonio (from Toronto Raptors) – EJ Liddell, Forward, Ohio State
Experience, leadership, and high IQ are a few traits that come to mind when thinking of EJ Liddell. His basketball skills, of course, are still right up there, and he has all the looks of a future starter. Liddell is another player who seems like the perfect fit in the Spurs system.
21. Denver Nuggets – TyTy Washington, Guard, Kentucky
TyTy Washington can be a steal this late in the first round. The former Kentucky star showed flashes of brilliance early on in his college career. Denver, of course, has struggled with injury for the past couple of seasons and can use all the weapons they can get.
22. Memphis Grizzlies (from Utah Jazz) – Jalen Williams, Guard, Santa Clara
Jalen Williams is rising on draft boards quickly, especially after starring in the 2022 NBA Draft combine. Memphis may lose guards this summer to free agency, so they’ll be on the lookout. In addition, Williams is a very exciting player who will fit well with the also young and exciting Grizzlies core.
23. Philadelphia 76ers – Jaden Hardy, Guard, G League Ignite
The James Harden trade is already being discussed as a mistake. Jaden Hardy isn’t a replacement, but he’s another guard to throw in the mix. He showed flashes of stellar potential while playing for the G League Ignite.
24. Milwaukee Bucks – Kennedy Chandler, Guard, Tennessee
Jrue Holiday is the de-facto starter at point guard for the Bucks, but George Hill is getting older as a back-up. Kennedy Chandler played very well this season and shined in March Madness, so he can be Holiday’s future back-up.
25. San Antonio (from Boston Celtics) – Walker Kessler, Center, Auburn
San Antonio is clearly stacked in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft. Walker Kessler shows promise as a featured big man off the bench, and the Spurs can utilize him as quickly as next season.
26. Dallas Mavericks – Nikola Jovic, Forward, Serbia
27. Miami Heat – MarJon Beauchamp, Guard, G League Ignite
Miami has a reputation of unearthing gems. MarJon Beauchamp shined at times in the G League and could very well be next in line for Miami in their pipeline of developed stars.
28. Golden State Warriors – Christian Braun, Guard, Kansas
Golden State is still in the Finals and aren’t in direct need of win-now help. Christian Braun has the tools to become a reliable rotation player, so the Warriors would be wise to draft him to help their bench as their dynasty goes on.
29. Memphis – Kendall Brown, Forward, Baylor
30. Oklahoma City (from Phoenix Suns) – Wendell Moore, Forward, Duke
Wendell Moore spent time on a star-studded Duke team this season. He didn’t always shine above the others on the roster but remained consistent through and through. He projects as a solid rotational player, which is a great get for the Thunder here.