2022 NBA Mock Draft: A New No. 1 Pick, and Full 2-Round Predictions
With conference play starting up, we've seen enough games to make two-round projections for the 2022 NBA draft.
However, there is no clarity on who's the favorite to go No. 1. If anything, it's even tougher to predict now that there are three candidates with seemingly equal chances.
Auburn's Jabari Smith, Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren and Duke's Paolo Banchero are likely No. 1 on different boards across the league.
The draft order was based on the standings heading into the week of Monday, January 3.
1. Detroit Pistons: Paolo Banchero (Duke, PF, Freshman)
Each of the three No. 1 candidates would fit the Detroit Pistons' roster. Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith both have legitimate cases. And it sounds as though some scouts have already flip-flopped since November and now prefer Smith.
But there also seems to be more of sure-thing factor with Banchero that could give him an edge over both. His shot creation is more advanced. He's totaled 26 made field goals between isolation and post-ups. Smith has 12 of those buckets combined. He's the tougher two-point scorer and finisher thanks to his mid-range game and 6'10", 250-pound frame.
With Cade Cunningham and Banchero, the Pistons would have two young cornerstones they could run offense through. Smith is the better shooter, but he's not as dangerous one-on-one, and Banchero has still shown promise with 12 threes in 12 games and an 82.5 percent free-throw stroke.
Smith is gaining serious momentum, however, and between his age (18), improved body (220 lbs), 42.9 percent three-ball and flashes of speciality shot-making, he figures to be a legitimate option for Detroit or whoever wins the lottery.
2. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith (Auburn, PF, Freshman)
The Orlando Magic are in position to pair stud rookie Franz Wagner with another star forward. Jabari Smith has scouts picturing a potential No. 1 pick with his 6'10" size, 42.9 percent three-point shooting, dribble-jumper flashes, transition ball-handling and 1.7 steals per game.
A full year younger than Chet Holmgren, the Auburn freshman is averaging 16.2 points while burying defenses with high-release shooting and shot-making versatility. He's hit 15 half-court pull-ups in 13 games, plus a handful more in transition after bringing the ball up.
If there is a concern with Smith, it's his 46.0 two-point percentage and 53.8 percent clip at the rim, numbers that reflect a need to be stronger and tighter with the ball while creating and finishing. But it's not alarming enough for an 18-year-old with his body, production, perimeter game, passing, defensive foot speed and reputable character.
3. Houston Rockets: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga, PF/C, Freshman)
While scouts acknowledge Chet Holmgren's rare skill set and upside, there is a sense that the risk tied to his frame could allow Jabari Smith to move ahead on draft boards. That could cause Holmgren to fall to No. 3, where the Houston Rockets would have an easy decision.
Despite questions about strength, he's shooting 75.8 percent inside the arc while blocking 3.3 shots in just 25.2 minutes per game. He's an incredible weapon around the basket and has extraordinary mobility, length and instincts for finishing and shot-blocking.
But he's also handling the ball in transition, adding value as a passer, making a three-pointer per game (on 35.1 percent shooting) and scoring from the post. In addition, he is ranked third in the nation in box plus-minus.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jaden Ivey (Purdue, SG, Sophomore)
The Oklahoma City Thunder will presumably make every attempt to trade up for one of the star bigs. Missing out one one of them should activate best-player-available strategy, given how far away they are in their rebuild.
And Jaden Ivey has become the name scouts mention first after the draft's projected top three.
Explosiveness is Ivey's signature strength, but he's improved his skill level dramatically, averaging 3.1 assists while making 44.8 percent of his 4.8 three-point attempts per game.
Between his athleticism, scoring/playmaking versatility and rapid development, he already has a strong case to be the nation's fourth-most appealing prospect.
5. New Orleans Pelicans: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, SG, Sophomore)
NBA scouts are buying Johnny Davis' breakout. After a quiet U19 World Cup over the summer, he's scoring 20.8 points while more than doubling his assist rate to 20.1 percent from last year's 7.8, a reflection on his improved creation skills.
In 11 games, he's also surpassed his freshman three-point total of 14 by two.
Davis looks the part of an NBA guard with sharper handles and footwork off the dribble, a pull-up game and more shot-making ability to back up a 6'5" frame and explosiveness.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Jalen Duren (Memphis, C, Freshman)
Needing to improve defensively, the Portland Trail Blazers may already have eyes on Jalen Duren.
He's used his 250-pound frame and 7'5" wingspan to shoot 67.6 percent from the floor and block 2.6 shots in 24.5 minutes per game. His skill level is lagging, but he's also one of the draft's youngest prospects at 18 years old. And he'll always be valued for his easy baskets and rim protection over his scoring.
Flashes of passing and post footwork do hint at a player who can eventually add more than just finishing on offense.
7. Indiana Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)
An explosive 6'6" wing averaging 18.9 points and 2.5 threes per game, Bennedict Mathurin seems locked into the pool of lottery prospects.
There is a sense of safety tied to his body, athletic ability, shooting and off-ball scoring, a combination that points to a high floor, easy fit and useful player (even if he doesn't improve much from here).
The upside kicks in if he improves his off-the-dribble game and pull-up shot. Regardless, with breakout expectations entering the season, the sophomore has delivered, scoring at least 25 points in five games already. He's thriving in a more featured role, mostly by using his catch-and-shoot stroke and athleticism for transition, cuts and offensive rebounds.
8. San Antonio Spurs: Keegan Murray (Iowa, PF, Sophomore)
After putting up at least 23 points in each of Iowa's first six games, Keegan Murray is back to dominating, using mostly his physical tools and scoring instincts.
He's put together two 35-point games in his last four, averaging 29.8 points over that span.
For a 6'8" forward, his incredible production has scouts talking, but it's the flashes of versatile shot-making, shooting and defensive playmaking that will help teams look past his limited handles and athletic abilities. After hitting five three-pointers against Maryland on Monday, he's up to 35.6 percent from deep while also blocking 2.1 shots per game.
9. Sacramento Kings: Kendall Brown (Baylor, SF, Freshman)
Improving defensively will be an obvious goal for the Sacramento Kings in the offseason. They could start by drafting Kendall Brown.
He may possess the most impactful athletic ability of any prospect, as he has wild speed for playmaking, acts on instincts and possesses elite explosiveness that's already translated to 27 dunks in 13 games.
He's converting an incredible 72.1 percent of his two-point attempts playing as a wing. And though his ball skills are behind his movement skills, Brown still flashes glimpses of passing and capable set shooting when left open.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves: AJ Griffin (Duke, SF/PF, Freshman)
AJ Griffin shouldn't need production to draw lottery interest, just like Ziaire Williams and Josh Primo didn't last draft.
For a 6'6", 222-pound 18-year-old, Griffin shows flashes of creation and shot-making skill that hint at enticing upside. Following a preseason knee injury, he's starting to receive more minutes and opportunities to showcase his tough mix of physicality and three-level scoring.
He's made 65.4 percent of his twos and 13 of 29 threes, demonstrating promising discipline (54.5 percent field-goal percentage, three turnovers in 168 minutes) in an off-ball role for player who'd always been a featured option.
11. Atlanta Hawks: TyTy Washington (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)
12. New York Knicks: Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee, SF/PF, Freshman)
13. Toronto Raptors: Jaden Hardy (G League Ignite, SG, 2002)
14. Boston Celtics: Jean Montero (Overtime Elite, PG, 2003)
15. Memphis Grizzlies (via Lakers): Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke, SG/SF, Junior)
16. Washington Wizards: Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee, PG, Freshman)
17. Dallas Mavericks: MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite, SG/SF, 2001)
18. Charlotte Hornets: Tari Eason (LSU, PF, Sophomore)
19. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): Christian Braun (Kansas, SF, Junior)
20. Denver Nuggets: JD Davison (Alabama, PG, Freshman)
Washington looking steady, efficient
Washington has done an effective job of selling his game to lottery teams as an interchangeable combo guard. He's been efficient in key areas, shooting 41.3 percent from three, 41.0 percent on pull-ups, 72.2 percent at the rim and 47.8 percent on floaters while totaling 51 assists against 21 turnovers. Washington isn't the most explosive, and at 20, he's a year older than most freshmen. But those are easy question marks to look past, thanks to a strong 6'3" frame and versatile skill set for three-level scoring and playmaking.
Chandler vs. Montero
This will be an interesting debate inside NBA front offices. Chandler lacks size (6'0") and explosion, but he's a crafty, efficient finisher, a 37.2 percent three-point shooter and a polished facilitator (5.3 assists to 2.2 turnovers) averaging 2.0 steals per game. Montero is 6'3", a high-level creator, flashy passer and versatile shot-maker, but he's wilder and not as pesky on defense. There already seems to be a divide among scouts over who's the better point guard prospect.
Averaging 20.2 points over Kansas' last six games, Braun looks like a classic midseason riser. The production is bound to result in NBA attention, given his 6'7", 218-pound size and athleticism. While it's still worth questioning his shooting numbers (34.2 percent from three) for a junior, he's making enough threes (1.1 per game) and free throws (85.4 percent) for scouts to see a gamble worth taking.
21. Philadelphia 76ers: Trevor Keels (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)
22. Cleveland Cavaliers: Harrison Ingram (Stanford, SG/SF, Freshman)
23. Houston Rockets (via Heat): Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite, PG/SG, 2003)
24. Memphis Grizzlies: Nikola Jovic (Mega Leks, SF, 2003)
25. Milwaukee Bucks: Blake Wesley (Notre Dame, SG, Freshman)
26. Miami Heat (via Nets): Jeremy Sochan (Baylor, SF/PF, Freshman)
27. Chicago Bulls: Ochai Agbaji (Kansas, SG, Senior)
28. Memphis Grizzlies (via Jazz): Dereon Seabron (NC State, SF/PF, Sophomore)
29. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Suns): Christian Koloko (Arizona, C, Junior)
30. Golden State Warriors: Bryce McGowens (Nebraska, SG, Freshman)
Assessing Daniels' potential and stock
Shooting will be an obvious swing skill for Daniels, who averages 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals per game and converts 56.3 percent of his two-pointers. He has the 6'6" size and skill set to score and play-make and comfortably play and guard either backcourt position. But he's also just 13-of-51 from three. And he could improve his handle when pressured. Age (18), tools, versatility and G League production are selling points. Poor shooting and questionable creation skill could trigger hesitation.
Sochan's value and fit
Sochan's value was on full display Saturday versus Iowa State, when the combo forward went for 12 points, seven rebounds, three blocks and two steals. At 6'9", his package of shooting potential (36.4 percent), off-ball production, passing and defensive versatility/playmaking have been highly intriguing, even if he isn't an explosive scorer or sharp creator. The 18-year-old checks an appealing combination of boxes. NBA teams may be able to picture him excelling in the same supporting, defensive-oriented role that he's currently playing for Baylor.
Though not a great athlete or advanced in any specific area, Keels has the skill set and versatility NBA scouts see fitting for a complementary role. The fit is contingent on his shooting becoming a strength, but there is enough optimism over his 1.6 three-point makes per game. Otherwise, Keels grades in the 96th percentile as a pick-and-roll passer, averages 1.9 steals per game and features a strong, 221-pound frame to harass guards and wings.
31. San Antonio Spurs (via Pistons): Mark Williams (Duke, C, Sophomore)
32. Orlando Magic: Aminu Mohammed (Georgetown, SG, Freshman)
33. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Rockets): Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand Breakers, SG/SF, 2003)
34. New Orleans Pelicans: Walker Kessler (Auburn, C, Sophomore)
35. Oklahoma City Thunder: EJ Liddell (Ohio State, PF/C, Junior)
36. Portland Trail Blazers: Jabari Walker (Colorado, PF, Sophomore)
37. Orlando Magic (via Pacers): Julian Champagnie (St. John's, SF/PF, Junior)
38. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Spurs): Hugo Besson (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)
39. Sacramento Kings: Jaime Jaquez Jr. (UCLA, SF, Junior)
40. Minnesota Timberwolves: Trevion Williams (Purdue, C, Senior)
Sleeping on Mohammed
Scouts are still trying to get a read on Mohammed, but it's tough to ignore his production for a 6'5", 210-pound freshman guard. Averaging 14.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, he mixes physical scoring, crafty shot-making and capable three-point shooting (9-of-23). Questions over his athleticism, limited three-point volume and creation could make it difficult for him to rise too high. However, with an NBA body for finishing and defending, and three-level scoring flashes, teams could see a pro.
Split on Walker
Opinions vary on Colorado's Walker. Some see upside tied to his shooting potential, off-the-dribble flashes and motor. Others question whether his jumper and creation are translatable. Squashing concerns over his 24.3 percent three-point shooting will be his best chance at cracking the first round.
Kessler is coming off one of the best individual performances of the season: a 16-point, 10-rebound, 11-block triple-double against LSU. His 20.6 block percentage this season is spectacular and a reflection of unteachable timing and a quick jump. Any signs of offensive development could be enough for a team to take a chance in the first round. So far this season, he's just four of 22 from three and shooting 57.1 percent from the line.
41. Atlanta Hawks: Ismael Kamagate (Paris Basketball, C, 2001)
42. New York Knicks: Yannick Nzosa (Unicaja, C, 2003)
43. Golden State Warriors (via Raptors): Jordan Hall (Saint Joseph's, SG/SF, Sophomore)
44. San Antonio Spurs (via Lakers): Michael Foster (G League Ignite, PF, 2003)
45. Boston Celtics: Allen Flanigan (Auburn, SG/SF, Junior)
46. Dallas Mavericks: Tristan Vukcevic (Real Madrid, C, 2003)
47. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Wizards): Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana, PF/C, Junior)
48. Los Angeles Clippers: Justin Lewis (Marquette, SF/PF, Redshirt freshman)
49. Charlotte Hornets: Terrence Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech, SG/SF, Junior)
50. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nuggets): Johnny Juzang (UCLA, SF, Junior)
Averaging 11.4 points 1.7 blocks in the Jeep Elite league, 20-year-old Kamagate has impressed with his finishing, rim protection and touch around the key. Between his production, 6'11" size/mobility and flashes of post scoring, he's looking like a surefire draft pick.
Scouts noticing Hall
Scouts like Hall's game and potential as a playmaking forward. The 6'7" point wing is averaging 16.3 points 6.7 rebounds and 6.5 assists, though it's the improved shooting could help him earn a spot on draft boards. Hall is making 2.3 threes per game, a promising develop that eases some concern over his limited burst and explosion.
Foster's quiet success
For an 18-year-old, Foster has had impressive offensive success in the G League despite shooting poorly from behind the arc. His 230-pound frame has been effective around the basket, where he also demonstrates good hands and skill. Enticing flashes of mid-range creation and shot-making skill should also help Foster draw first-round interest. Scouts biggest question asks who he'll guard, given his limited quickness around the perimeter.
51. Miami Heat (via 76ers): Forfeited
52. New Orleans Pelicans (via Cavaliers): Roko Prkacin (Cibona, PF, 2002)
53. Utah Jazz (via Grizzlies): Drew Timme (Gonzaga, C, Junior)
54. Indiana Pacers (via Heat): Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky, C, Junior)
55. Milwaukee Bucks: Forfeited
56. Detroit Pistons (via Nets): Orlando Robinson (Fresno State, C, Junior)
57. Sacramento Kings (via Bulls): Zach Edey (Purdue, C, Sophomore)
58. New Orleans Pelicans (via Jazz): Jahvon Quinerly (Alabama, PG, Junior)
59. Phoenix Suns: Keon Ellis (Alabama, SG/SF, Senior)
60. Golden State Warriors: Jamaree Bouyea (San Francisco, PG/SG, Senior)
Tshiebwe's specialist potential
Tshiebwe is averaging a ridiculous 5.7 offensive rebounds per game. Only two players have ever finished a season matching that number, and one was Kenneth Faried. But he's also improved his touch (75.0 percent free-throw percentage) and defensive activity (1.5 blocks, 1.3 steals per game). Teams won't be banking on Tshiebwe's scoring translating, but in the second round, they could see value in his potential to be a specialist whose job is to create second-chance opportunities and add physicality.
Take a chance on Timme
One team figures to take a chance on Timme. Despite no shooting improvement or promising defensive traits, the 6'10" junior might still be worth adding for his high skill level for post scoring and passing. He played well in each of Gonzaga's key nonconference games, having gone for 37 points against Texas, 18 points and eight boards vs. UCLA, 17 points and five assists in a loss to Duke and 23 points, 10 rebounds and four assists against Alabama.
Ellis becoming three-and-D option
Ellis has already surpassed his three-point total from a year ago with 25 threes in 13 games. For a 6'6" interchangeable wing, his shooting and defensive tools could be enough to make a roster. The former junior college player has evolved into a draftable three-and-D prospect.