2022 NBA Mock Draft: How 3 Trades Can Shake Up the Top 10
The 2022 NBA draft is roughly two weeks away and could feature a number of trades that would impact several teams near the top.
We could even see action in the top three picks, as the Orlando Magic, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets try to navigate around and get the big man they want while also capitalizing on assets in a potential move back.
Other teams that have major positional needs (Charlotte Hornets at center, Washington Wizards at point guard) could lead to some trading in the top-10 picks as well.
Here's how three deals near the top of the 2022 draft could impact the rest of the first round.
1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, F, Auburn
While Chet Holgrem is the best defender and Paolo Banchero the most advanced isolation scorer of the draft's top big men, Smith is the safe choice here with his ability to do a little of everything.
Smith will have an impact in Orlando from Day 1 with his jump shooting and perimeter defense, and his versatility at 6'10" and 220 pounds will allow him to share the floor in two-big lineups, or he can play an undersized five if the Magic prefer a guard-heavy rotation.
Just 19 years old and coming off an impressive freshman season at Auburn, Smith will be the focal point that all of Orlando's other young talent will gravitate around.
TRADE at 2. Houston Rockets (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Chet Holmgren, PF/C, Gonzaga
Houston Rockets Receive: No. 2 overall pick, No. 34 overall pick
Oklahoma City Thunder Receive: No. 3 overall pick, No. 17 overall pick
While the Rockets could sit and wait for Paolo Banchero to fall to them at three, Holmgren would be a far more seamless fit with his roster as an elite defender next to offensive-minded bigs like Christian Wood and Alperen Sengun. Trading up ensures that Houston gets their guy, even if means falling back 17 spots for its next selection.
Holmgren shot 39.0 percent from three as a freshman at Gonzaga and could space the floor for Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. far better than Banchero as well. He's the best big man for this roster and one the Rockets should try to trade up and get.
TRADE at 3. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Houston Rockets): Paolo Banchero, PF, Duke
If the Thunder really like Banchero as much as Chet Holmgren, then agreeing to trade down a spot still guarantees OKC one of the elite big men in the draft while also turning one of its second-round selections into the 17th overall pick.
Banchero would become an offensive hub in the Thunder frontcourt, something they simply don't have yet. It's easy to envision him playing a pick-and-roll game with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey or operating from the elbow while using both as cutters or spot-up shooters.
4. Sacramento Kings: Jaden Ivey, SG, Purdue
The Kings' pick is probably one of the most likely to get traded, as Sacramento has more pressure to return to the playoffs than most teams picking around here. However, staying put and selecting Ivey may be too good to pass up.
Pairing Ivey in a backcourt with De'Aaron Fox would be a nightmare for opponents to try and contain, especially with Domantas Sabonis on board as a playmaking big.
Ivey may not be enough to push the Kings into the 2023 playoff picture, but this is now the best young core Sacramento has had in a long time.
5. Detroit Pistons: Shaedon Sharpe, SG, Kentucky
If the Pistons are looking for a second star next to Cade Cunningham, Sharpe has the highest upside of anyone left on the board.
As a 6'6" guard who can pull up from anywhere, Sharpe also has the tools to become a lockdown defender at the NBA level.
He may get off to a slow start after electing not to play at Kentucky, but Detroit would be smart to play the long game here with Sharpe, who just turned 19. With he and Cunningham, the Pistons could have one of the best backcourts in the East in a few years.
6. Indiana Pacers: Keegan Murray, PF, Iowa
After averaging 23.5 points per game as a sophomore, Murray should be able to play big minutes immediately for a Pacers team looking to get back to the playoffs.
Murray is a good three-point shooter (39.8 percent last season) and defender who pairs well with Myles Turner and could run the pick-and-roll with Tyrese Haliburton.
While he doesn't have the upside of some of the players taken above him, Murray is a cerebral player who can do a little bit of everything for Indiana.
TRADE at 7. Charlotte Hornets (via Portland Trail Blazers): Jalen Duren, C, Memphis
Charlotte Hornets Receive: No. 7 overall pick, No. 36 overall pick
Portland Trail Blazers Receive: No. 13 overall pick, No. 15 overall pick
It's no secret that the Hornets could use an upgrade at center, even after taking Kai Jones in the first round last year. For a team that came just short of a playoff appearance, Charlotte shouldn't be afraid to package their mid-first round picks together to snag the draft's best remaining center prospect.
Duren has a 7'5" wingspan that allows him to protect the paint at a high level while also switching out to the perimeter. For a Charlotte team that already possesses so much offensive talent, Duren would be the perfect prospect to build a defense around.
With teams like the San Antonio Spurs (No. 9), New York Knicks (No. 11) and Oklahoma City Thunder (No. 12) all potentially eyeing Duren as well, a trade up to No. 7 would make sure the Hornets get the guy they need.
8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Los Angeles Lakers): AJ Griffin, F, Duke
The Pelicans ranked just 27th in three-point shooting this season (33.2 percent), so adding potentially the best shooter in the draft makes too much sense here.
Griffin nailed 44.7 percent of his threes and has the defensive potential to be a standout on that side of the ball as well. With Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and hopefully Zion Williamson drawing so much defensive attention, Griffin will get plenty of open looks from outside the arc.
While he's not much of a playmaker, Griffin wouldn't need to be on this roster.
9. San Antonio Spurs: Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite
If the Spurs miss Derrick White after trading him to the Boston Celtics at the deadline, they could take the next closest player to him now—one with an even higher ceiling.
Daniels is a good pick-and-roll facilitator that can see over opponents with his near 6'8" frame. He's not a very good outside shooter but can be a high-level defender.
He'll take some of the ball-handling pressure off of Dejounte Murray and fill every role that the Spurs ask of him.
TRADE at 10. Indiana Pacers (via Washington Wizards): Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin
Indiana Pacers Receive: No. 10 overall pick, G/F Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, PG Ish Smith
Washington Wizards Receive: PG Malcolm Brogdon, No. 31 overall pick, 2023 second-round pick (via San Antonio Spurs)
The Wizards could stay put here and take Davis themselves, but this is a team that needs to win now to keep Bradley Beal happy as he enters free agency. Washington opts for a veteran point guard in Brogdon while moving back 21 spots and picking up an extra second next year.
For the Pacers, this is about building a young backcourt that can grow together, one that now features Davis and Tyrese Haliburton
Davis, the Big 10 Player of the Year, should be ready to play a big role immediately on a team that now features Keegan Murray, Haliburton, Myles Turner and Co. The Pacers don't pick in the top 10 often, and after this draft haul, it may be a while before they do so again.
11. New York Knicks: Bennedict Mathurin, G/F, Arizona
The Knicks go with the best player available in Mathurin, who can play multiple positions at 6'6" and gives New York another perimeter scoring threat. While not a true point guard, Mathurin can handle the ball at times or hit threes as a spot-up threat.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): Ousmane Dieng, SG/SF, New Zealand Breakers
The Thunder aren't afraid to go with high-ceiling prospects who could take a few years to develop (see Aleksej Pokusevski), which is the case with Dieng here. While the 6'10" forward can handle the ball, his outside shot is still very much a work in progress.
TRADE at 13. Portland Trail Blazers: Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor
Portland gets two of the next three picks here after our hypothetical trade with the Charlotte Hornets, with the chance to get a pair of high-level prospects.
At 6'9" and 230 pounds, Sochan can defend all over the court, a must for a Blazers team that ranked 29th overall in total defense last year. He's also a talented playmaker who Portland can use to get Damian Lillard more spot-up looks from three.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Malaki Branham, SG, Ohio State
The Cavs needed more ball-handling down the stretch after injuries ultimately hurt their chance at the playoffs, and Branham has considerable offensive upside.
Branham—who was born in Columbus and played his high school basketball at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron—would be a good backcourt fit alongside Darius Garland.
TRADE at 15. Portland Trail Blazers: Ochai Agbaji, G/F, Kansas
If the Blazers feel they can re-sign center Jusuf Nurkic, adding more perimeter talent is the right move here. The 22-year-old Agbaji can contribute immediately as a three-and-D wing, a la what Dorian Finney-Smith is doing for the Dallas Mavericks.
16. Atlanta Hawks: Tari Eason, F, LSU
Finding wings who can shoot and defend around Trae Young will forever be a goal for Atlanta, and Eason fits the bill for both. He nailed 35.9 percent of his threes as a sophomore and can guard anyone from point guards to power forwards.
TRADE at 17. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Houston Rockets): Mark Williams, C, Duke
OKC gets to move up from No. 34 by swapping the second overall pick for the third, giving them three selections in the top 17. After taking a power Paolo Banchero with the third overall pick, the Thunder add his Duke teammate at center. The ACC Defensive Player of the Year should also catch plenty of lobs from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey on the other end.
18. Chicago Bulls: EJ Liddell, PF, Ohio State
With so much backcourt and perimeter talent (assuming Zach LaVine re-signs, that is), Chicago should be looking to add frontcourt help. Liddell averaged 19.4 points per game as a junior and made a significant leap as a three-point shooter, all the way up to 37.4 percent this past season from 30.2 percent over his first two years combined.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves: TyTy Washington Jr., G, Kentucky
With D'Angelo Russell and Patrick Beverley both on expiring deals next season, the Wolves should look at point guards in the draft to start developing. While he's not a true floor general, Washington can handle the ball and has a nice floater and mid-range game.
20. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors): Nikola Jovic, F, Mega Mozzart
Jovic is a 6'10" forward who can handle the ball and gives the Spurs another big playmaker who can do a little bit of everything. Playing for San Antonio should help him develop as a defender as well.
21. Denver Nuggets: Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest
The Nuggets used 35-year-old Jeff Green as their starting power forward for 63 games last year. Even with the hopeful return of Michael Porter Jr., Denver could use some forward depth here with LaRavia. At 6'9", he can shoot from the outside (38.4 percent this year) and is a talented passer who would play well off of Nikola Jokic.
22. Memphis Grizzlies (via Utah Jazz): MarJon Beauchamp, SF, G League Ignite
Potentially losing Kyle Anderson in free agency opens up the need for a wing defender for Memphis, and Beauchamp can guard all over the floor with a 7'1" wingspan. He won't need to score much for a talented Grizzlies team, who will need Beauchamp to become a defensive-minded role player.
23. Philadelphia 76ers: Walker Kessler, C, Auburn
The Sixers desperately need center depth, and Kessler is the best available at this point. The Naismith Defensive Player of the Year blocked 4.6 shots in just 25.6 minutes per game and should become a solid backup behind Joel Embiid.
24. Milwaukee Bucks: Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee
Milwaukee needs playmakers around Giannis Antetokoumpo, and Chandler would help keep starting point guard Jrue Holiday fresh for the postseason. The freshman guard averaged 13.9 points and 4.7 assists, knocking down 38.3 percent of his threes.
25. San Antonio Spurs (via Boston Celtics): Christian Koloko, C, Arizona
After adding some perimeter help in Dyson Daniels and Nikola Jovic, the Spurs spend their third first-rounder on paint protection. Koloko is a mobile big man who gets to learn behind Jakob Poeltl and could eventually earn the starting center job in San Antonio as early as next year.
26. Dallas Mavericks: Jalen Williams, SG, Santa Clara
A 6'6" wing who shot 39.6 percent from three as a junior, Williams gives the Mavs another outside threat next to Luka Doncic. A 7'2" wingspan and high energy level should help turn him into an NBA-ready defender soon as well.
27. Miami Heat: Jaden Hardy, SG, G League Ignite
This is a home-run pick for Miami, with Hardy representing the best star potential of anyone left on the board. If Tyler Herro joins the starting lineup next year, the Heat could use Hardy's scoring pop off the bench, even if his outside shooting needs work.
28. Golden State Warriors: Blake Wesley, SG, Notre Dame
Getting Wesley this late would be a terrific value for the Warriors, as he can become an athletic ball-handler off the bench. He's not a plug-and-play option yet at 19, but after seeing what Jordan Poole became with a few years of development in Golden State, Wesley could become a rotation member soon.
29. Memphis Grizzlies: Andrew Nembhard, PG, Gonzaga
With Tyus Jones becoming an unrestricted free agent this summer, Nembhard could fill his role as a backup to Ja Morant. The 6'5" point guard averaged 5.8 assists and 1.6 steals and, at 22, should be able to contribute right away.
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Phoenix Suns): Wendell Moore Jr., SG, Duke
OKC was the worst three-point shooting team in the NBA last season (32.3 percent) and could use Moore's outside prowess. The junior drilled 41.3 percent of his triples for Duke last season while also showing off an improved playmaking ability.