Welcome to my 2022 NBA Mock Draft. I’ve mocked all 30 first-round picks in this article, with a bit more attention paid to the lottery picks (1-14). At the end of the article, you can find a few prop bets for draft night if you are so inclined to tail. Enjoy.

 

2022 NBA Mock Draft

1.1 – Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, Auburn

I don’t envy the position Orlando is in. The roster has been littered with young talent at every position, but the franchise’s perpetual toiling at the bottom of the Eastern Conference is proof they haven’t been able to put anything resembling a competent rotation together. I would personally take Chet Holmgren here, but all signs point to Smith being the pick for Orlando after they brought in six of the top prospects for evaluation.

1.2 — Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)

Chet Holmgren 2022 NBA Mock Draft

This is a dream scenario for the Thunder. Adding the upside of Holmgren to the young core of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and Luguentz Dort is proof that Sam Presti’s hoarding of draft picks is starting to pay dividends. Holmgren could take this team from scrappy to elite on the defensive end sooner rather than later, and adding a 7-footer with above-average passing skills who shot 39% from three last year at Gonzaga could do wonders for the Thunder’s efficiency on that end. This is one of two first-round picks held by Oklahoma City coming into draft night. 

1.3 — Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, Duke

Banchero has jumped to the top of the betting odds to be the first overall pick as of Thursday morning.

The writing is on the wall at pick three after Houston shipped Christian Wood to Dallas last week. Although I’m sure Houston would have loved to win the lottery and have their pick of the three top-tier prospects, they’re still getting amazing return on their 2021-22 tank job by nabbing Banchero at three. Pairing the talented forward prospect with the explosive 2021 first-round pick Jalen Green provides Houston with considerable offensive firepower for the foreseeable future. It remains to be seen if the Rockets brass can provide the young duo and coach Stephen Silas enough defensive talent to turn things around in Houston. It’s unlikely that can happen this year with $47 million tied up with John Wall’s player option. As a top propagandist of the young Turkish big man who was also a 2021 first-rounder, expect a notable boost to Alperen Sengun’s outlook in both daily and season-long fantasy going forward as well with Wood out of the picture.

1.4 – Sacramento Kings: Jaden Ivey, Purdue

This is where the draft gets interesting. Sure, there are smaller gaps between the outlooks on the remaining prospects and the three already off the board, but the fact Sacramento is the one who gets first crack at the rest of this draft class is fitting. History tells us that this pick will have us screaming “KANGZ” on Twitter immediately following the pick, but I choose to believe they will do the right thing and pick Ivey here. I don’t care the Kings just picked Davion Mitchell last summer, only the athleticism/shooting combo of Ivey could somewhat soften the blow dealt to fans of the team after the franchise shipped Tyrese Haliburton out at last year’s trade deadline. He may actually turn out be a much better fit alongside De'Aaron Fox than Haliburton was, especially on the offensive end. There is lots of buzz about the Kings potentially trading this pick as well.

1.5 – Detroit Pistons: Keegan Murray, Iowa

Somewhat of a late bloomer, Murray is an “old” sophomore nearing his 22nd birthday. After being unranked in high school, he exploded on the offensive end in his second season with the Hawkeyes, averaging 23/9/1.5 on 55/40/75 shooting splits. He’s a well above-average defender as well who can guard multiple positions and has a high hoops IQ. He averaged over two blocks and one steal per game last season. The Pistons moved on from Jerami Grant Wednesday, paving the way for Murray. Even though Detroit took a shot on Marvin Bagley in the trade market last season, he’s not a reliable option moving forward without showing more consistency. Murray could be the future of this Pistons frontcourt, and if everything breaks right he could turn into a small-ball center option for this team with the size they have in the backcourt with Cade Cunningham and Killian Hayes.

1.6 – Indiana Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona

Bennedict Mathurin 2022 NBA Mock Draft

When the Pacers were able to snag Tyrese Haliburton at the trade deadline last season, it gave the rebuild a jump start that was about as strong as Pacers fans could have hoped for. Getting Mathurin to pair with him seems like a fantastic next step, as the former Kings guard isn’t exactly thinking score-first when he’s on offense. Mathurin is a pure scorer who also possesses above-average athleticism. That translated to some solid work on the boards last season at Arizona, where he sported a 9.5% rebound rate. He will need to improve defensively for this pick to fully pay off, but he just turned 20 years old so there’s plenty of time for Indiana to mold him into the perfect backcourt mate for their new stud guard Haliburton.

1.7 – Portland Trail Blazers: Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky

Once we hit pick five in this draft, there are seemingly infinite ways this first round could play out. I would not be surprised to see Sharpe get picked higher than seven, but it would be an eyebrow raiser to see him slip past the Blazers here. Portland didn’t go full rebuild, choosing to hold onto Damian Lillard. They’ve got holes to plug at essentially every other position, and after only being able to secure the seventh pick they’d have to consider getting their hands on Sharpe as a win. The upside is immense with Sharpe, who did not actually suit up at Kentucky, opting to sit out and prepare for this moment. He's got the profile of a star-caliber player, but we haven’t seen him play in so long it may be a few years until he gets up to speed at the NBA level. It would be cool for my own fandom if the uncertainty surrounding Sharpe caused him to fall two more spots, but as I mentioned before I think Portland is the absolute lowest he will go. (Portland trading a 2025 first-round pick to Detroit for Jerami Grant doesn’t affect my thinking on this pick.)

1.8 – New Orleans Pelicans: Dyson Daniels, Ignite (from LAL)

Daniels is the next big-time Aussie prospect to come to the NBA. He took advantage of the opportunity to play with Ignite last season and more than held his own. A long and lanky guard standing at 6-foot-6, he’s an elite passer and a versatile backcourt and wing defender. The Pelicans would do well to add Daniels to the mix at the one, a position David Griffin completely bungled over the past 18 months. Just don’t expect Daniels to come out firing from deep, the young Aussie converted on just 26% of his three-point attempts last season. The silver lining is that Daniels plays within himself, as evidenced by him taking just 51 threes with Ignite. He doesn’t need plays called for him to make an impact on offense, which is perfect for this Pelicans team that is already flush with scoring in their starting lineup. That type of self-awareness isn’t too common among 19-year-old prospects. 

1.9 – San Antonio Spurs: Ousmane Dieng, NZ Breakers

All right, homer time. This is higher than I have seen anyone mock Dieng, but the Spurs have a recent track record of making some major reaches in the first round, taking Josh Primo at 12 last season and Luka Samanic (who is out of the league) at 19 in 2019. The Spurs will eventually move on from Jakob Poeltl (most likely after this season, potentially even at the trade deadline) and while Dieng is far from a similar profile outside of his height, I think the Spurs make the reach here and as a fan I feel great about it. He’s an exceptional ball handler for his size and can defend one through four. He also made huge strides with his offensive efficiency between the first and second halves of his season with the Breakers. I think he can blossom into a small-ball five man down the road as the Spurs have the physicality at the other four positions. He’ll need to get a bit stronger and improve his outside shooting for this pick to really pay off. And hey, the Spurs have done well with French players over the last 20 years in Tony Parker, Boris Diaw and even Nando DeColo (we don’t talk about Livio Jean-Charles).

1.10 – Washington Wizards: Johnny Davis, Wisconsin

Bradley Beal should sign his max deal this summer, and after that your guess is as good as mine in regard to him actually remaining with the club through the season. Davis brings a solid scoring ability, above-average defensive ability and awareness to the table. At 6-foot-4, he has combo guard size, and while I don’t think he’ll ever match Beal’s scoring prowess he seems, like the best option for Washington at ten, who desperately need backcourt help regardless of whether Beal is on the team.

1.11 – New York Knicks: A.J. Griffin, Duke

Pairing Griffin with fellow Duke Blue Devil RJ Barrett on the wing in New York seems like a match made in heaven. Knicks fans should be excited to see Griffin’s name called Thursday night, as he could likely go shot for shot (maybe at the bars too, who knows?) with Barrett in a three-point shootout (Griffin shot 48.3% on 120 attempts last season at Duke). But it’s his defensive upside that should have the New York faithful salivating. He’s not overly reliable on that end yet, but he boasts a 7-foot wingspan while standing just 6-6. His medicals are a little concerning after he missed two years in high school due to injury, but at the 11th pick the upside is too high for a team to pass on. For what it’s worth, he’s an NBA legacy guy as well, the son of 10-year NBA veteran Adrian Griffin. 

1.12 – Oklahoma City Thunder: Jeremy Sochan, Baylor (from LAC)

Presti strikes again! Sochan will struggle to score in his first few seasons wherever he ends up, but he’s NBA ready on the defensive end with the ability to defend all five positions. Once he gets his feet under him at this level, he’s got the potential to be just as much of a matchup problem on the offensive end as well, and he won’t be called on to do much on that end if he lands with OKC. I would not be surprised to see Sochan jump up and be snagged as early as nine to San Antonio, but similar to Sharpe and Portland at seven, I don’t think he makes it past Presti and OKC at 12. If they keep the pick that is. Sochan ending up here would be bad news for the future outlook of Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and Isaiah Roby with the club.

 

1.13 – Charlotte Hornets: Tari Eason, LSU

Maybe the biggest reach on my board so far outside of Dieng to San Antonio. I love the potential that Eason displays as a two-way player. He’s an above-average athlete and drives to the rim with no regard for potential contact at the rim, getting to the free throw line more than five times a game last season with the Tigers. He attacks the boards on both ends (15.9% rebound rate) and can also step out and shoot at a high clip (37.1% from three). The Hornets frontcourt is a logjam, but I don’t see that as a reason to pass on the upside of Eason, who could be a great running mate for LaMelo Ball for years to come. 

1.14 – Cleveland Cavaliers: Ochai Agbaji, Kansas

If you think Collin Sexton is on the Cavaliers much longer, then this pick makes a lot less sense. But if you’re with me on Sexton’s days in Cleveland being numbered, then I love Agbaji to close out the lottery. He just turned 22 years old and played all four years at Kansas, which means he played in a ton of high-intensity games year in and year out. He wasn’t an elite shooter until this past season, converting on 41.1% of his threes. He’s a great option to pair with Darius Garland, allowing the All-Star to take over the point guard spot full time. I see Cleveland playing in some big games and playoff series in the coming years and Agbaji’s experience with the Jayhawks should help him be more ready for the bright lights of the NBA playoffs than most other players in this class. 

1.15 – Charlotte Hornets: Jalen Duren, Memphis (from NOP)

These blurbs will shorten as we exit the lottery portion of the draft. Duren is mocked most often to the Spurs at nine, and I could certainly see that coming to pass. But if San Antonio doesn’t go with Duren, I could see him sliding even further than this. I know the Hornets took Kai Jones last season but getting the upside of Duren outside of the lottery is a solid pick. Elite shot blocker standing at 6-foot-10 with a 7-5 wingspan.

1.16 – Atlanta Hawks: Mark Williams, Duke

So close to nabbing the upside of Duren, the Hawks will settle for Williams, who is no slouch himself as a prospect. Clint Capela was given a two-year extension before last season, meaning the Hawks control his rights through 2025. But given the modest salary, he could certainly find himself on the trade block if Atlanta stumbles out of the gate once again. The frontcourt depth chart is crowded for the Hawks, so I could see many turning their nose up at this pick. Williams strikes me as a high-floor/low-ceiling type of asset, which is fine for what the Hawks need at the position if they do move on from Capela or any of their other frontcourt assets like Onyeka Okongwu or John Collins.

1.17 – Houston Rockets: TyTy Washington, Kentucky (from BKN)

With the Green/Banchero combo in tow, Houston moves to replace the volatile (on and off the court) Kevin Porter. This may be considered a reach by some, but I like the fit. Washington excelled at creating shots for his teammates at Kentucky, which complements the scoring ability of their two young stars. If he improves his three-point shooting this could be a true steal for Houston as the rebuild plays out over the next few seasons.

1.18 – Chicago Bulls: Malakai Branham, Ohio State

Who knows what’s going on with Zach LaVine. We’ve heard both sides of the extremes come through the rumor mill over the last few months, and I tend to side with the idea that he’s looking to jettison himself from Chicago. Branham can do a decent LaVine impression, with the athleticism to score at the rim and the consistency (42.5%) from deep to keep defenses guessing. 

1.19 – Minnesota Timberwolves: Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee

The Patrick Beverley era in Minnesota may be going better than we all thought, but he’s not long for this team if they have aspirations of advancing past the first round in the coming years. Bringing in Chandler, who is slightly undersized standing a tad under 6-foot, will give the Wolves an option once Beverley is gone. It will also help Chandler to have D'Angelo Russell around as another ball handler, as Chandler has displayed capable shooting and above-average slashing ability, finding success attacking rotating defenses in the SEC. 

1.20 – San Antonio Spurs: Walker Kessler, Auburn (from TOR)

The Spurs grab their Poeltl replacement here, adding Kessler to the mix down low. Kessler isn’t going to be an All-Star, but San Antonio doesn’t need him to be. Clearly the club wants to at least have the option to play a traditional center significant minutes. Kessler was the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year last season, averaging 4.5 blocks per game. He’s also able, albeit at a low clip, to step out and bang a three, something that Poeltl does not bring to the table.

1.21 – Denver Nuggets: Jalen Williams, Santa Clara

Denver has question marks at nearly every position except center, and Williams provides them a safety blanket on the wing in case Michael Porter continues to struggle to stay on the court. His upside isn’t really close to Porter’s, but at 21 the Nuggets would be happy to have Williams, who has some real two-way upside, fall into their laps this late.

1.22 – Memphis Grizzlies: Marjon Beauchamp, Ignite (from UTA)

Adding Beauchamp to the already loaded bench rotation on this Memphis team just seems unfair. He will fit right into the “Grit N’ Grind” culture, and if he’s ever able to become even an average three-point shooter (just 24.2% with Ignite last year), this could be a pick we talk about a few years down the road wondering how he slipped this far. Oh yeah, he’s 6-foot-5 with a 7-1 wingspan. 

1.23 – Philadelphia 76ers: E.J. Liddell. Ohio State

I could see Liddell being targeted by any of these teams in the early 20s. He’s a versatile defender who played a lot of center for the Buckeyes despite being just 6-foot-7 and contributes across the box score on offense. If Daryl Morey makes a big move that ships out Tobias Harris this summer, Liddell could be in for a sizable role in his rookie season. 

1.24 – Milwaukee Bucks: Blake Wesley, Notre Dame

If Liddell is still available here, I think the Bucks snap him up. If not, Wesley isn’t a bad consolation prize. I think he could end up winning the backup point guard job with George Hill getting phased out. Even if that doesn’t come to pass, the scoring he can provide the Bucks bench unit could really help their depth, something they have struggled with the last two seasons despite winning the title in 2021. 

1.25 – San Antonio Spurs: Jaden Hardy, Ignite (from BOS)

The Spurs thing to do here is take Nikola Jovic. But I refuse to give in to the stereotype! After bolstering the frontcourt with their first two picks, the Spurs take a high-upside swing here with Hardy. Unless he signs a team-friendly deal, I expect Lonnie Walker to be on his way out of town in free agency. Hardy fills that role somewhat seamlessly for a 25th pick as the team continues to build for the future. 

1.26 – Houston Rockets, Dalen Terry, Arizona (from DAL)

This is a value at 26 for Houston. He improved on his catch-and-shoot three ability (36.8%) in his sophomore season. While that’s not elite, his defense should be NBA ready, and he fits what the club is trying to do on the wing (defend) absent a trade for an All-Star.

1.27 – Miami Heat: Max Christie, Michigan State

Who knows what the Miami depth chart will look like next season. Pat Riley’s scheming is quite literally always at the forefront of the rumor mill, and I would be surprised if there’s not a significant move from the Heat this summer. Christie is young and relatively unproven but brings upside on the wing from both a shooting and playmaking standpoint. He needs to get stronger, but that will come as the 19-year-old progresses through the first few years of his career. 

1.28 – Golden State Warriors: Nikola Jovic, Mega Basket

The Warriors are the early betting favorite to win the title again in 2023.

I won’t be surprised if Jovic comes off the board in the early 20s, but if he’s still around for the champs at 28 I think Bob Myers will take the shot on him. He’s an inconsistent and unremarkable player when it comes to efficiency at this point, but the 19-year-old grew up as a guard and a growth spurt now has him standing at 6-foot-10. I think he’ll be a G-League stash no matter where he goes, but the potential is enticing. 

1.29 – Memphis Grizzlies: Christian Koloko, Arizona

Memphis grabs a high-upside defensive center late in the first round. Koloko is on the older side in this class at 22 years old, but he primarily played soccer until he was 17 and added significant weight at Arizona. A great addition to the Grizzlies frontcourt depth and overall defensive prowess. 

1.30 – Denver Nuggets: Wendell Moore, Duke (from OKC)

More wing depth for the Nuggets to close out the first round. Moore was at Duke for three seasons but still hasn’t turned 21. He can be a secondary playmaker on the bench unit with Bones Hyland, or even allow Jamal Murray to play off the ball at times. He’s another guy with a massive wingspan (nearly 7-foot while standing just shy of 6-5) and he has the athleticism to put it to good use at the NBA level.

 

NBA Draft Best Bets

Keegan Murray 5th Pick

(+135, DraftKings Sportsbook)

With the trade of Jerami Grant Wednesday evening, this pick feels even stronger now. One of my favorites on the board.

Ousmane Dieng Top 10 pick

(+110, DraftKings Sportsbook)

Obviously, I think my Spurs take him at 9, so we get a little extra value here at plus money. 

Dyson Daniels O 7.5 pick

(+140, DraftKings Sportsbook)

The juice on the under was a little heavier than I thought it would be, but I’m confident in my top 7 picks and Daniels is on the outside looking in.

Shaedon Sharpe U 7.5 pick

(+150, DraftKings Sportsbook)

If he slips past the seventh pick with Portland, I can only hope he dips one more pick to my team in San Antonio. I think this is good value for how talented he is — even with the limited tape, it’s hard to see him slipping that far. I’ve seen some make the argument he’s the fourth-best prospect in the class.