2022 NBA Mock Draft: 1st-Round Predictions on Day 1 of College Basketball
NBA teams have their scouts on the road for the start of college basketball. But they'll also be paying visits to the G League to watch the Ignite as well as the new Overtime Elite league.
There are potential stars participating in each of these pathways to pros ahead of the 2022 draft.
But who's going to catch scouts off guard and break out like Davion Mitchell and Chris Duarte? This year's class has a handful of coveted high-profile names, and it's bound to produce more. We'll be watching all year to identify them.
We based this mock draft order on FanDuel's projected win totals and previous trades.
1. Orlando Magic: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga, PF/C, Freshman)
Over/under wins: 22.5
The 2022 lottery would be a good one for the Orlando Magic to win. After adding Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner and R.J. Hampton, the core could use a big man like Chet Holmgren, a stretch-big shooter, ball-handler and passer, shot-blocker and switchable defender.
As long as no major concerns pop up about Holmgren's thin frame or durability, there could be too much upside for a team to pass on his positional skill versatility and potential defensive impact.
Scouts will have plenty of quality chances to evaluate Holmgren with Texas, UCLA, Duke, Alabama and Texas Tech on Gonzaga's non-conference schedule.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Paolo Banchero (Duke, PF, Freshman)
Over/under wins: 22.5
The Oklahoma City Thunder could be looking at an easy decision by June if they wind up picking second. The current assumption is Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero will emerge as the draft's top prospects, and both seem like fits for a lineup in need of a frontcourt cornerstone.
Banchero, who could flash enough power, skill and defensive versatility to build a No. 1 case, would give the Thunder a post option, grab-and-go threat, improving shot-creator and potential shooter.
Comfortably hitting threes and avoiding questions about explosiveness for separating could allow Banchero to become the draft's top prospect.
3. Detroit Pistons: Jabari Smith (Auburn, PF/C, Freshman)
Over/under wins: 25.5
With questions about Killian Hayes' trajectory and whether Jerami Grant makes sense for the Detroit Pistons' timeline, team needs won't factor into general manager Troy Weaver's draft decision. Jabari Smith, an inside-out, interchangeable big, has a chance to look like the best player available after Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero.
At 6'10", 220 pounds, the 18-year-old's physical profile should pop along with a skill set to create in the post and shoot the three.
The Pistons should ultimately see a half-court scorer they can feature around the key and in the pick-and-roll/pop game. Assuming he's a plus defensively in terms of shot-blocking and sliding his feet away from the basket, Smith figures to finish as a consensus top-seven pick.
4. Houston Rockets: Jaden Hardy (G League Ignite, PG/SG, 2003)
Over/under wins: 25.5
Any inefficiency in the G League won't mask Jaden Hardy's obvious scoring potential and shooting skills.
Scouts are in wait-and-see mode when it comes to his point-guard play, playmaking and decision-making. They're banking on his high-level shot-making off the dribble or catch.
Whether he goes top three or later in the lottery will come down to how easily he's able to create separation, and if he flashes the type of passing/playmaking IQ teams want from a lead ball-handler.
Logo range and a convincing jumper should influence scouts to stay patient with the rest of Hardy's development.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee, SF/PF, Freshman)
Over/under wins: 27.5
Building credibility as a shooter since early in high school should give Patrick Baldwin Jr. an edge on draft night. But he's also now 6'9", 220 pounds, and though there are questions about his athleticism and quickness, more teams than not figure to value his shot-making from a frontcourt position.
Baldwin will be one of the easiest fits offensively with his ability to score off the ball, thrive on spot-up opportunities and drill jumpers curling around screens.
He should also possess enough ball-handling skill to capitalize as a driver in transition and space.
As long as scouts aren't stumped when trying to picture who he'll defend, Baldwin could look like one of the draft's safer picks in the mid-lottery range.
6. San Antonio Spurs: Jalen Duren (Memphis, C, Freshman)
Over/under wins: 29.5
Logjams at center and limited shooting range could allow Jalen Duren to be available for teams in the mid-lottery.
Even without a three-ball or ball-handling ability, he'll sway teams with overpowering strength, length and mobility for finishing, shot-blocking and defensive versatility.
Still, flashes of post-scoring moves and passing should create enough hope around his offensive trajectory and skill development.
Only 17 years old, Duren looks to be in an ideal setting to play to his strengths surrounded by Memphis' creators and shot-makers.
7. Washington Wizards: AJ Griffin (Duke, SF/PF, Freshman)
Over/under wins 34.5
For a 6'6", 220-pound forward, scouts will put more stock into the AJ Griffin flash plays of self-creation and shot-making skill than inconsistency or so-so percentages.
He won't lead Duke in scoring or get used often in ball-screen and isolation situations. He'll still light up in any role with his powerful frame and skill versatility to create from the post and separate into pull-ups, step-backs and drives.
Playing at the 4 could really help Griffin look enticing. NBA teams could see a mismatch at power forward based on his strength for contact, face-up game/shooting and defensive tools.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves: TyTy Washington (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)
Over/under wins: 35.5
TyTy Washington should occupy the role that Jamal Murray, Devin Booker, Tyler Herro and Tyrese Maxey excelled in for Kentucky—scoring and secondary playmaking next to a lead ball-handler.
The addition of Georgia transfer Sahvir Wheeler might limit Washington's assist upside this season. But he still figures to receive enough creation reps to sell scouts on his passing and shooting off the dribble.
Rising into the lottery will call for Washington to show scouts he can be a full-time point guard, rather than a 6'3" combo or 2. He should have the skill and feel to pull it off.
9. Sacramento Kings: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona, SG/SF, Sophomore)
Over/under total: 36.5
A breakout could catapult Bennedict Mathurin into the 2022 lottery, with NBA teams likely to show interest in a 6'6" wing that's explosive and shoots.
He'll have to flash more off-the-dribble offense in terms of creation and pull-up scoring. But his role and opportunities should increase this season, and his play at the U19 World Cup suggests he's taken a step.
Athleticism, a projectable jumper and defensive tools prop up Mathurin's floor and should keep him relevant in the draft discussion until June.
10. Toronto Raptors: Peyton Watson (UCLA, SF, Freshman)
Over/under wins: 36.5
Peyton Watson will be a potential/upside play for some lottery team willing to wait on results.
He won't have crazy usage playing with veteran wings Johnny Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. A limited offensive role right now may be better suited for the freshman, who'll showcase his 6'8" size and wing agility off the ball on slashes, cuts, transition and finishes.
At this stage, his tools and defense appear ahead of his skill development. But Watson could emerge as a top-10 pick with persuasive flashes of ball-handling for creation, passing and shot-making.
11. New Orleans Pelicans: Caleb Houstan (Michigan, SF, Freshman)
Positional 6'8" size, shooting and shot-making versatility should keep Houstan locked into the first-round discussion. How much creation he shows will determine how high he climbs draft boards.
12. Charlotte Hornets: Daimion Collins (Kentucky, PF, Freshman)
Collins checks a combination of boxes the NBA values, being a 6'9" finisher and shot-blocker who can also hit catch-and-shoot threes. That archetype should remain attractive, regardless of how much strength he'll need to add.
13. Memphis Grizzlies: Jean Montero (Overtime Elite, PG/SG, 2003)
High schools won't slow down Montero, who's played pro ball overseas and FIBA tournaments since 2017. He's currently producing with a balanced mix of scoring, shooting, playmaking, plus the quickness it takes for his skills to translate. Overtime's level of competition and Montero's defense are the main questions worth asking.
14. New York Knicks: Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee, PG, Freshman)
At 6'0", 171 pounds, Chandler could be sharp enough with the ball to sway scouts to look past the size limitations. Teams may still question if there is any star upside, but they should also feel confident in his potential to improve their rotation with his passing, scoring off the dribble and peskiness on defense.
15. Indiana Pacers: Max Christie (Michigan State, SG/SF, Freshman)
Once the prospects with star potential come off the board, Christie could look like an appealing, safe, three-and-D option. He's not overly creative on the ball, but at 6'6", he's a shot-maker and slasher with rebounding and defensive tools.
16. Chicago Bulls: Matthew Cleveland (Florida State, SF, Freshman)
Positional 6'7" size and scoring instincts should get Cleveland noticed with a program that's consistently churning out NBA contributors. At his best in transition, slashing through gaps and cutting, the freshman wing could become a popular riser by convincing scouts to be hopeful about his shooting.
17. Chicago Bulls (via Blazers, protected 1-14): Jaden Ivey (Purdue, SG, Sophomore)
Freshman flashes and an impressive followup showing at the U19 World Cup point to an Ivey breakout. There will still be a need for shooting improvement by the draft, but he'll earn fans for his versatility to score inside the arc, make plays and bring athleticism and energy at both ends of the floor.
18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): Kendall Brown (Baylor, SF, Freshman)
Brown's defensive impact could allow scouts to feel more patient about his offensive development. He's a disruptor with his tools, athleticism and anticipation, and he shows enough slashing, scoring improvisation and shooting potential to bet on improving long term.
19. Boston Celtics: JD Davison (Alabama, PG/SG, Freshman)
Scouts will see upside in Davison's explosiveness for a ball-handler. Improving his shooting and decision-making will be keys for his draft stock all season. He showed signs of both the last time scouts were able to see him in May (Iverson Roundball Classic).
20. Atlanta Hawks: Yannick Nzosa (Unicaja, PF/C, 2003)
Nzosa may be too raw offensively for the lottery, but a team in the teens or 20s could see value and the chance to add a defensive specialist. For a 7-footer, he covers an unusual amount of ground and airspace with his feet, quickness and length.
21. Denver Nuggets: Trevor Keels (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)
Paolo Banchero and AJ Griffin are Duke's headliners for scouts, but Keels figures to make an impression with his shooting and feel for the game. He possesses the type of complementary, well-rounded skill set and intangibles that scouts could see working in a supporting role.
22. Golden State Warriors: Matthew Mayer (Baylor, SF/PF, Senior)
Certain NBA teams will value Mayer's versatility and the easy fit it creates at the next level. Though not an advanced scorer, coaches will be drawn to the fact that they can use a 6'9" forward to handle in pick-and-rolls, catch-and-shoot from three, attack closeouts, pass and finish above the rim.
23. Dallas Mavericks: Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite, PG/SG, 2003)
Daniels is receiving good experience playing with the Ignite and against G League competition. It could expose him as a project who needs to improve his handle and shooting, but there is obvious potential tied to his 6'6" size for a combo guard, strength and athleticism attacking downhill, playmaking flashes and shot-making potential.
24. Houston Rockets (via Heat):Nikola Jovic (Mega Bemax, SF, 2003)
Jovic is struggling to make shots right now, but they're bound to starting falling eventually, assuming his U19 World Cup performance wasn't a complete fluke. He'll draw scouts to Adriatic League games all season with his face-up scoring skills for a 6'10" forward.
25. Philadelphia 76ers: Bryce McGowens (Nebraska, SG/SF, Freshman)
Scouts are bound to show interest in McGowens' package of 6'7" size, shooting and scoring off drives. He may need two years to improve his body and off-the-dribble game, but teams may also show a willingness to reach early on a wing with advanced shot-making skill.
26. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Suns, protected 1-12): Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand Breakers, SG/SF, 2003)
Many scouts will be getting their first extended look at Dieng this season in the NBL, where he should stand out with 6'9" size and wing skills. Though he hasn't shot well the past two years in France's third division, Dieng's handle and shot-making at his age (18) will remain tempting despite low shooting percentages.
27. Memphis Grizzlies (via Lakers, protected 1-10): Roko Prkacin (Cibona, PF, 2002)
After withdrawing from last year's draft, presumably because of no first-round assurance, Prkacin is back in Croatia and the Adriatic League trying to strengthen his draft case with his scoring versatility. Scouts are still looking for one bankable skill, but at 6'9", his skill set covers ground with an ability to handle, drive, finish and make set threes.
28. Memphis Grizzlies (via Jazz, protected 1-6): Jabari Walker (Colorado, PF, Sophomore)
Building on last season's flashes of shooting, face-up drives and activity at the rim could earn Walker NBA looks in 2022. He'll need to become a more productive player, but for a 6'8" forward, he has the type of skill set and potential defensive versatility that should register on NBA radars.
29. Milwaukee Bucks: Andre Curbelo (Illinois, PG, Sophomore)
Teams looking for playmaking could target Curbelo, who'll have a green to light at Illinois to sell scouts on the value of his creativity. Shooting is an obvious concern, though there could be teams willing to accept it as a weakness knowing how effective he is at setting up teammates and finding ways to score inside the arc.
30. Miami Heat (via Nets): Mark Williams (Duke, C, Sophomore)
A 7'7" wingspan for finishing and shot-blocking will earn Williams minutes and NBA attention. But he could start to climb draft boards if last season's late breakout snowballs into regular post baskets and mid-range jumpers.