2022 NBA Mock Draft: Updated 1st-Round Predictions

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterDecember 15, 2021

2022 NBA Mock Draft: Updated 1st-Round Predictions

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    Changes are being made to NBA scouts' 2022 draft boards as we approach the new year. 

    The No. 1 overall conversation initially included two prospects. Now there are three. A handful of breakout sophomores have also made needle-moving impressions and jumps into the top 10.

    Some other big storylines to monitor:

    • The Detroit Pistons are in play once again to win the lottery.
    • The New Orleans Pelicans will also have another good chance at a top pick with the news that Zion Williams will continue to miss time.
    • The Memphis Grizzlies and Oklahoma City Thunder are each looking at three first-round picks. 

    Here's an updated look at how the draft might shake out as of mid-December.

1. Detroit Pistons: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    As the Detroit Pistons begin to see results from 2021 No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham, it's becoming increasingly likely that they'll wind up with a 14.0 percent chance to win the draft lottery again. 

    The No. 1 discussion right now includes three bigs, with Auburn's Jabari Smith gaining steam on preseason favorites Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero. We're still giving Holmren the edge, however, as Detroit and others may see too much upside and two-way impact tied to his scoring versatility and defensive tools. 

    He's shooting a ridiculous 78.6 percent on two-point attempts with nine three-point makes. Aside from his special finishing tools and promising shooting range, Holmgren also adds value as a fast-break initiator and passer.

    In only 253 minutes, Holmgren already has an incredible 38 blocks, while Banchero and Smith have 10 blocks combined. The Gonzaga freshman ranks second nationwide in box plus-minus.

2. Orlando Magic: Paolo Banchero (Duke, PF, Freshman)

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    Gerry Broome/Associated Press

    While Jabari Smith's draft case has gotten stronger by the week, the Orlando Magic will be drawn to Paolo Banchero's creation for their frontcourt. 

    Banchero doesn't have Smith's shooting stroke, but he's the bigger threat to get his own shot or bucket in the half court. Aside from his isolation game (83rd percentile), he's also generated at least 20 points off post-ups, spot-ups, cuts and transition.

    While Wendell Carter Jr. has taken a promising step forward in Orlando, he doesn't offer the same level of scoring versatility or offensive upside as Banchero. Bigs in the 6'10", 250-pound range don't usually self-create and shoot off the dribble (41.7 percent) like the Duke freshman, who has also made nine threes in eight games and is shooting 83.8 percent from the line.

3. New Orleans Pelicans: Jabari Smith (Auburn, PF, Freshman)

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    Hakim Wright Sr./Associated Press

    No. 3 overall is starting to look like the lowest Jabari Smith will go. Scouts are beginning to wonder if he's a legitimate No. 1 overall candidate after his fifth 20-point game of the season on Saturday.

    The 6'10" forward is now shooting 44.7 percent on 5.2 three-point attempts per game and 84.6 percent from the charity stripe. Even as a 19-year-old NBA rookie, he'd give the New Orleans Pelicans' frontcourt a sure-thing shooter given how convincing and translatable his range and touch appear.

    But flashes of grab-and-go ball-handling and shot-making versatility suggest Smith offers far more creation potential and scoring upside. An 18.0 assist percentage and 3.7 steal rate are just extra NBA indicators.

    Elite shooting, strong passing IQ and defensive mobility help paint Smith as an easy NBA fit. 

4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jaden Ivey (Purdue, SG, Sophomore)

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Improved shooting, playmaking and open-floor play have Jaden Ivey in the top-five discussion and Purdue at No. 3 in the latest Associated Press poll.

    Explosiveness still separates Ivey from most guards and projects as his most translatable strength. He's using it more effectively this season, ranking among the top 10 nationwide in transition points per game.

    He's also shooting 39.1 percent on 4.6 three-point attempts per game while averaging 3.4 assists.

    The Oklahoma City Thunder should see a guard or wing who can apply pressure with his attacking and defense, but Ivey's jump in skill level as a ball-handler and shot-maker is what fuels the optimism over his development and upside.

5. Houston Rockets: Jalen Duren (Memphis, C, Freshman)

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    Thomas Graning/Associated Press

    Jalen Duren's pitch to lottery teams revolves mostly around his defensive projection. 

    At 6'11" and 250 pounds with a 7'5" wingspan, he's blocking 3.0 shots in only 24.0 minutes per game. Duren reaches points high above the cylinder to make plays on the ball, while his strong paint presence helps change opponents' shots below the rim.

    Duren's offensive skill level is lagging, but he still offers value as an enormous finishing target and putback machine. 

    The Houston Rockets will see translatable rim protection and easy baskets, but he's also one of the draft's youngest prospects, turning 19 next November. Duren's age and flashes of post play and passing should make his offensive development worth betting on.

6. San Antonio Spurs: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona, SG/SF, Sophomore)

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    The San Antonio Spurs have a history of drafting wings, and they could look to add another one in 2022 with Bennedict Mathurin. 

    He's averaging 27.7 points over Arizona's last three games, torching defenses with a combination of shooting and explosiveness. The NCAA's only player with at least 20 threes and 15 dunks, Mathurin offers an efficient scoring package plus the defensive tools to guard either wing position. 

    The Spurs may want to trade up for one of the top-four bigs in Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith or Jalen Duren. Otherwise, after Mathurin's 30 points against Illinois, he's starting to look like one of the most projectable wing prospects in the draft.

7. Sacramento Kings: Kendall Brown (Baylor, SF, Freshman)

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    Emil Lippe/Associated Press

    Despite being a limited creator and shooter for a wing, Kendall Brown has flashed outlier potential with impact athletic ability and defensive activity.

    The 18-year-old has the highest box plus-minus on a Baylor team that's currently ranked No. 1 in the nation.

    Playing only 23.6 minutes per game with a 19.7 percentage usage rate, Brown is within the top 20 nationwide in dunks with 17 in nine games. He's shooting 69.6 percent from the floor and is grading in the 90th percentile or better in transition, spot-ups and cuts. 

    Brown should wind up drawing lottery interest for his easy-basket explosiveness, defensive projection (3.2 steal percentage) and potential to build on the flashes of open shot-making and passing. 

8. Portland Trail Blazers: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, SG/SF, Sophomore)

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    John Fisher/Getty Images

    Unless Johnny Davis hits a wall that makes his hot start appear fluky, he appears headed toward the 2022 lottery based on his early production, improved skill level and NBA tools.

    Davis has scored at least 20 points in six of Wisconsin's last seven games. He has flashed explosiveness driving right and left, and he's emerged as one of the nation's most prolific pull-up shooters, having already hit 21 jumpers off the dribble at a 44.7 percent clip. 

    Grading in the 91st percentile as a pick-and-roll handler, he's become dramatically sharper in creation situations. And at 6'5" with a strong build, defensive IQ and competitive edge, NBA teams could think about Davis as an interchangeable, two-way wing.

9. Indiana Pacers: Jaden Hardy (G League Ignite, SG, 2003)

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    David Becker/Getty Images

    Averaging 17.8 points in the G League, Jaden Hardy has shown off his three-level scoring package despite not hitting shots at an efficient rate.

    His track record from high school suggests his threes will eventually start falling more frequently. A pro shot-maker off the catch and dribble, Hardy has deep range and the ability to hit contested pull-ups. He's 19-of-19 from the free-throw line, which is an indication of his shooting touch.

    He's had some trouble creating separation and finishing in traffic, which may lead some teams to hesitate with a top-five pick. But he does deserve a semi-pass playing against 2021 first-rounders and pros.

    Hardy is producing similar numbers to Jalen Green's (17.9 points) and Jonathan Kuminga's (15.9 points) from last year with the Ignite.

10. New York Knicks: TyTy Washington (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)

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    Robert Franklin/Associated Press

    TyTy Washington has been one of the more versatile freshmen shot-makers, having hit 45.5 percent of his catch-and-shoot chances, 39.4 percent on dribble jumpers and 52.9 percent of his floaters.

    He's also flashed enough playmaking IQ for NBA teams to picture a lead ball-handler who can set the table for teammates.

    Washington has managed to remain consistent since opening night despite playing in a veteran lineup alongside a ball-dominator in Sahvir Wheeler. With three-level scoring skills and playmaking ability at 6'3" and 197 pounds, Washington could be the next Kentucky guard worth betting on to shine with more freedom to create in the NBA.

Late Lottery

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    David Purdy/Getty Images

    11. Minnesota Timberwolves: JD Davison (Alabama, PG, Freshman)

    Playing behind a veteran backcourt, Davison has managed to improve his draft stock since the preseason, particularly by showcasing more playmaking than most scouts expected. Though he's turnover-prone, he's averaging 7.0 assists per 40 minutes, adding value to Alabama's rotation by creating for others. Still, explosiveness for a ball-handler had always been his signature trait, and he's consistently made plays above the rim despite standing 6'3".


    12. Atlanta Hawks: Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee, SF/PF, Freshman)

    Baldwin has struggled against stiffer competition, but there has been enough evidence of special shot-making ability dating back to high school. There is still plenty of value tied to his shooting and ball-handling for a 6'9" forward, even if he struggles to create in the half court.


    13. Toronto Raptors: Jean Montero (Overtime Elite, PG, 2003)

    Montero has looked like Overtime's top prospect with his shiftiness off the dribble, shooting versatility and playmaking. He isn't too strong or explosive, but it's easy to picture his creation, shot-making and passing translating to offense in the NBA.


    14. Boston Celtics: Keegan Murray (Iowa, PF, Sophomore)

    Murray has blown up into one of the most productive players in the country, averaging 22.2 points, 7.9 boards, 2.2 blocks and 1.6 steals. Versatility remains the 6'8" forward's selling point. He's improved his self-creation and open shooting, but NBA teams will still find him most useful as a transition weapon and off-ball contributor who crashes the glass, cuts and adds defensive activity.

Nos. 15-20

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    Adam Hunger/Associated Press

    15. Charlotte Hornets: Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee, PG, Freshman)

    Concerns about size may cause teams to pass on the 6'0" Chandler, but he's too quick, skilled and competitive to ignore outside of the lottery. A ball-screen standout in high school, he grades in the 94th percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler for Tennessee while shooting 37.1 percent from three. And despite his physical limitations, he's converting 59.5 percent of his shots around the rim while causing problems on defense (2.0 steals per game).


    16. Dallas Mavericks: Nikola Jovic (Mega Leks, SF, 2003)

    Fresh off a 25-point game, Jovic has now made 14 of his last 33 three-point attempts. If this shooting streak is a sign of real development, his perimeter skills for a 6'10" forward could push him into the top-20 conversation.


    17. Denver Nuggets: Ochai Agbaji (Kansas, SG/SF, Senior)

    Some team figures to see an NBA-ready contributor and value pick in Agbaji. He leads college basketball in points per game in transition while shooting 49.1 percent from three. Even if he offers limited creativity, a playoff team could see him as a useful three-and-D rookie. 


    18. Washington Wizards: Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke, SF, Junior)

    It took until Moore's third season to look comfortable, but he's still the age (20) of most sophomores, and he's developed coveted versatility for a wing. Averaging 5.6 assists, he's become Duke's most effective facilitator with 6'5", 216-pound size for slashing, finishing (72.0 percent at rim) and defending (2.0 steals per game). His shooting must keep improving, but making eight of his first 19 pull-ups feels like a promising sign.


    19. Philadelphia 76ers: Caleb Houstan (Michigan, SF, Freshman)

    Shooting 37.3 percent on 5.1 three-point attempts per game, Houstan should lock in first-round interest with his 6'8" positional size and shot-making alone. His creation skills appear limited, but his shot, passing IQ and tools for an 18-year-old form an NBA foundation.


    20. Memphis Grizzlies (via Lakers): Harrison Ingram (Stanford, SG/SF, Freshman)

    An out-of-the-box prospect, 6'8", 230-pound Ingram operates as a ball-handler and off-ball wing. He isn't the quickest or most explosive, but the freshman's combination of passing (3.6 assists per game), shooting potential (36.7 percent 3PT) and strength for rebounding and defense is awfully unique. His versatility screams easy fit and role-player potential.

Nos. 21-30

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    Rick Scuteri/Associated Press

    21. Houston Rockets (via Heat): Mark Williams (Duke, C, Sophomore)

    Williams' elite rim-protection numbers and 7'7" wingspan will help teams brush off his lack of modern skills. His 15.9 block percentage and 16.4 offensive rebounding percentage are unmatchable among first-round prospects, while his wheels in transition and hands around the rim suggest he'll continue racking up easy baskets.


    22. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): AJ Griffin (Duke, SF/PF, Freshman)

    Teams that have done their homework on Griffin in high school may be willing to forget this year at Duke. He's fallen out of the Blue Devils' loaded rotation, but between the 18-year-old's time with USA basketball, his play at the Iverson Roundball Classic and the brief flashes of shot-making last month, one team figures to take a flier on a 6'6", 222-pound scorer.


    23. Cleveland Cavaliers: Bryce McGowens (Nebraska, SG, Freshman)

    McGowens is averaging 16.2 points despite shooting only 20.4 percent from three. Given his high school tape, stroke and 84.1 percent free-throw mark on 6.3 attempts per game, his shot is bound to start falling and make him look like a more believable NBA wing scorer.


    24. Memphis Grizzlies: Trevor Keels (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)

    Averaging 1.6 threes, 3.4 assists and 2.3 steals, Keels has quickly entered the first-round discussion with flashes of shooting, passing and defensive strength. Scouts will have their eyes on his falling three-point percentage, however, given his athletic limitations for two-point scoring.


    25. Milwaukee Bucks: Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite, PG/SG, 2003)

    Daniels just had his best game in the G League on Monday, finishing with 23 points, nine boards, six assists and four steals against the Salt Lake City Stars. His three-point shooting and ball-handling need to improve, but he's a capable shot-making and playmaker, and at 6'6", he's still a scoring threat with his downhill attacking into touch shots and body-controlled finishes.


    26. Chicago Bulls: Michael Foster Jr. (G League Ignite, PF, 2003)

    Averaging 16.1 points while leading the Ignite in rebounds and shot-blocking, Foster has stood out for his mix of strength and skill. He isn't a true deep threat yet, but scouts could buy his power and touch working as a post scorer, roll man and offensive rebounder.


    27. Miami Heat (via Nets): Christian Koloko (Arizona, PF/C, Freshman)

    Koloko has been a defensive difference-maker during his breakout season, blocking 3.3 shots in only 23.3 minutes per game while holding his men to 2-of-21 on jump-shot attempts. He's also improved in the post, but NBA teams will value Koloko for his finishing, rim running, rim protection and defensive versatility.


    28. Memphis Grizzlies (via Jazz): Terrence Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech, SG/SF, Junior)

    Shannon returned to Texas Tech needing to improve his shooting and creation, and so far, he's made 11 threes in five games, scoring at least 15 points in each. His identity still revolves around explosiveness for slashing and defense, but becoming a more credible shot-maker and ball-handler should lead to added NBA interest in 2022.


    29. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Suns): Hugo Besson (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)

    Three games into his NBL career, Besson has already hit the 25-point mark twice. Though he's undersized for an NBA scoring 2-guard at 6'3", NBA teams could picture a shot-making specialist who can shoot off the dribble or movement with confidence and strong shot preparation.


    30. Golden State Warriors: Jabari Walker (Colorado, PF, Sophomore)

    Walker has struggled from behind the arc, but he's remained productive by rim running, scoring in the post and crashing the glass. His NBA upside shows the most when he's knocking down threes, pulling up into shorter jumpers and handling the ball in the open floor.


    Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports Reference.