2022 NBA Mock Draft: A Shakeup at No. 1, Plus Full 1st-Round Projections
The top of the 2022 NBA draft is looking stronger by the month. And as conference play moves along, scouts are learning about new prospects worth tracking.
They are still in guess mode trying to predict who'll go first between Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero.
The next month will be key for NBA evaluators, who'll be shaping their boards before the predraft process. February could determine where many prospects stand heading into workouts and interviews.
1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith (Auburn, PF, Freshman)
The Orlando Magic could enter next season focused on building around Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, Franz Wagner and Jabari Smith.
For the Magic, Smith's shooting and defense can give him an edge over Paolo Banchero. And at 18 years old with an easier-to-project body, Smith may look preferable over Holmgren, who's 195 pounds and turns 20 in May.
The Auburn freshman added another impact performance to his resume over the weekend with 23 points and 12 boards against Oklahoma. The threes and isolation moves into dribble jumpers continue to be persuasive for a 6'10" freshman at his age and floor.
Hitting 40.4 percent of his threes and 41.9 percent on pull-ups while averaging over a steal and block per game, Smith is the best player on the nation's No. 1 team with a skill set and strengths that the NBA values.
2. Detroit Pistons: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga, PF/C, Freshman)
Chet Holmgren's 74.2 percent two-point percentage and 45.6 percent three-point shooting would clearly help the NBA's No. 29-ranked offense.
He'd give Cade Cunningham a second star, another threat around the arc and a spectacular finishing target with a 7'5" wingspan.
We've never seen Holmgren's type or level of two-way skill. The freshman is on pace to become the only NCAA player ever to average this many threes (1.4) with a block rate over 12.0 percent.
The nation's leader in true shooting percentage and box plus-minus, Holmgren would likely be the clear No. 1 pick if it weren't for a frame that leaves some scouts nervous and a strength of schedule that's nowhere near Jabari Smith's at Auburn or Paolo Banchero's at Duke.
3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero (Duke, PF, Freshman)
Based on the current draft picture, whichever team picks third might not have much to think about other than listening to trade offers. The Houston Rockets will presumably take whoever falls to them among the group of Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero.
Banchero would give Houston an immediate option to feature in the half court, where he can create from the post, off the dribble or in ball-screen situations. He's been outstanding rising up in the mid-range, converting 25-or-44 two-point jumpers.
And he's put more of an emphasis lately on using his gravity to pass and set up teammates.
Banchero isn't as convincing of a three-pointer shooter or defender as Jabari Smith or Chet Holmgren, but his combination of 6'10", 250-pound size, self-creation and shot-making skill points to star-caliber scoring potential.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jaden Ivey (Purdue, SG, Sophomore)
Once the big three are off the board, Jaden Ivey has become the popular answer for next-best-prospect as he continues to show dramatic improvement as a shooter.
He's coming off a near buzzer-beater that sunk Ohio State, which was the 15th time he hit multiple threes this season.
Ivey's explosiveness and change of direction are still his bread and butter for pressuring defenses and scoring. But he's starting to knock down jumpers off pull-ups and screens. And he's flashed enough passing skill on his 3.0 assists per game for the Oklahoma City Thunder to envision a useful secondary playmaker.
5. Sacramento Kings: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, SG, Sophomore)
Improved creation/shot-making skills and numbers are fueling Johnny Davis' rise up draft boards, but the struggling Sacramento Kings could put extra stock into the impact he's had on winning.
During Wisconsin's win over Minnesota on Sunday, Davis once again took over late when his team needed a basket.
Scouts wouldn't mind if he attempted more threes, but he's been tough on long twos (16-of-32), a dangerous pull-up threat (40 makes) and accurate from the line (78.2 percent).
Otherwise, Davis' rebounding (7.9 per game), defensive activity and leadership highlight his ability to impact games in multiple ways.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: AJ Griffin (Duke, SF/PF, Freshman)
Up to 50.0 percent from three, A.J. Griffin continues to strengthen his case as a shooter, a label scouts weren't willing to give him entering the season.
He buried all five of his attempts on Saturday against Louisville. But he's also flashed some off-the-dribble scoring with his pull-up (43.3 percent) and mix of strength and body control finishing around the key.
Though Griffin isn't the most explosive athlete, his tremendous physical profile (6'6", 222 pounds, 7'0" wingspan), jumper and comfort level putting the ball down create a strong two-way foundation for an 18-year-old. It's all upside from there.
7. Indiana Pacers: Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
Scouts are hoping for a chance to evaluate Shaedon Sharpe, who was recently deemed eligible for the draft after enrolling early at Kentucky and spending the last few months just practicing.
He hasn't announced whether he plans to return for a full NCAA season or declare in 2022, but there will be plenty of NBA interest in him this June even if he doesn't suit up for the Wildcats at all.
Sharpe led the EYLB circuit in scoring with a tantalizing mix of shot-making skill and bounce at the rim, which also happens to be a favorable combination for draft workouts. He'll likely fill gyms with unfamiliar, high-ranking executives during his pro days.
And chances are, mystery and perceived upside will work in his favor during the predraft process.
8. San Antonio Spurs: Keegan Murray (Iowa, PF, Sophomore)
The San Antonio Spurs could find Keegan Murray's versatility, improvement/production and fit too enticing in the late lottery.
He's cooled off over the past two weeks, although that seemed inevitable after his start. He's still the nation's fifth-leading scorer while averaging a combined 3.5 steals and blocks.
At 6'8", he's second in the country in transition points while grading in the 98th percentile as a post scorer. His mobility, motor and two-point skill development have translated to easy baskets and half-court scoring.
Shooting will be an obvious swing skill for the Spurs to unlock Murray's upside, but he's on the right track, having made 32 threes in 20 games. And flashes of self-creation (12-of-26 isolation) hint at the 21-year-old becoming more of a one-on-one threat down the road.
9. Portland Trail Blazers: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)
Teams will buy Bennedict Mathurin's fluid shooting stroke instead of nitpicking at percentages. There has been enough evidence over the years of dangerous shot-making.
And at 6'6" with explosive burst, he seems like a lock to provide easy baskets in transition and the defensive tools to adequately guard both wing spots.
He can still improve on his off-the-dribble creation and execution, but consider that room for growth. His high floor and fit will earn him looks from late-lottery teams who'll be valuing his three-and-D floor.
10. Washington Wizards: TyTy Washington Jr. (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)
TyTy Washington Jr. has made a strong case to NBA teams as a guard who can receive reps as both a lead ball-handler and scoring wing.
He's shooting 44.1 percent off the dribble, 40.5 percent off the catch, 56.7 percent on floaters/runners and 72.0 percent at the rim. And he's totaled 88 assists to 33 turnovers, looking comfortable and willing in a facilitator/passer role.
Scouts have expressed some concern over Washington's athleticism for separating, but he's made up for it at Kentucky with his change of speed, shot-making skill and feel.
11. New York Knicks: Marjon Beauchamp (G League Ignite, SF, 2001)
12. Memphis Grizzlies (via Lakers): Jalen Duren (Memphis, C, Freshman)
13. Atlanta Hawks: Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee, SF/PF, Freshman)
14. Boston Celtics: Jaden Hardy (G League Ignite, SG, 2002)
15. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): Tari Eason (LSU, PF, Sophomore)
16. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kendall Brown (Baylor, SF, Freshman)
17. Toronto Raptors: Ochai Agbaji (Kansas, SG/SF, Senior)
18. Charlotte Hornets: Jeremy Sochan (Baylor, PF, Freshman)
19. Dallas Mavericks: Max Christie (Michigan State, SG/SF, Freshman)
20. Denver Nuggets: Christian Braun (Kansas, SG/SF, Junior)
Considering the preseason top-five hype for Hardy, scouts have been mostly underwhelmed by his feel and athleticism. This past week, they've seen the best and worst from the 19-year-old, who followed an 0-of-11 dud against the Long Island Nets with a 31-point, nine-assist game versus the Capital City Go-Go.
Hardy's skill level as a creator, shot-maker and passer is too high for a serious draft-night slide. His lack of explosion and decision-making could allow teams in the late lottery or teens to have a shot at grabbing him later than most expected in October.
Shooting 51.6 percent from three over Michigan State's last eight games, Christie now has scouts attention after an off start to the season. Between his 6'6" size, mechanics, shot-making versatility and discipline, it's easy to picture his fit as an off-ball scorer and interchangeable wing.
Agbaji's 37-point outburst against Texas Tech felt like a needle-mover, with scouts now expecting the senior to wind up cracking the top 20. Even if he's still a limited creator, his shot-making appears potent enough for teams to see a rotation off-ball scorer.
Agbaji has made an incredible 64 threes in only 20 games (46.4 percent), and he's managed to average 20.9 points despite converting one isolation basket all season.
21. Memphis Grizzlies (via Jazz): Walker Kessler (Auburn, C, Sophomore)
22. Houston Rockets (via Nets): Jean Montero (Overtime Elite, PG, 2003)
23. Milwaukee Bucks: Mark Williams (Duke, C, Sophomore)
24. Cleveland Cavaliers: E.J. Liddell (Ohio State, PF, Senior)
25. Philadelphia 76ers: Nikola Jovic (Mega Leks, SF, 2003)
26. Miami Heat: Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite, PG/SG, 2003)
27. Chicago Bulls: Ismael Kamagate (Paris Basketball, C, 2001)
28. Memphis Grizzlies: Bryce McGowens (Nebraska, SG, Freshman)
29. Golden State Warriors: JD Davison (Alabama, PG, Freshman)
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Suns): Blake Wesley (Notre Dame, SG, Freshman)
Blocking 4.0 shots in just 24.6 minutes per game, Kessler hit two threes and scored 21 points over the weekend against Oklahoma. He's always shown confidence in his shot dating back to high school.
A 7-footer who moves/anticipates like Kessler suddenly hitting threes would be a huge development. He'll go first round if the shooting continues to occasionally show up.
With 20-plus-points in three consecutive games, McGowens has made his strongest pitch to scouts over the past two weeks. His three-ball is falling more frequently, and he's routinely showcased creativity that's getting him to the rim and line (6.1 attempts per game). High school tape, the eye test and his 82.9 percent free-throw clip says he's a better shooter than his current 28.3 three-point mark suggests.
Scouts have entertained the idea of Wesley rising up in the 20s or late teens. He's currently in a brutal slump that's exposed questions about his shooting and finishing (44.6 percent at rim, zero made floaters). However, there's still plenty to like about his three-level scoring skills, point-of-attack burst and defensive tools. Depending on how the next month goes, he may be better suited to return to school and shoot for the 2023 lottery.
31. Orlando Magic: Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke, SG/SF, Junior)
32. San Antonio Spurs (via Pistons): Harrison Ingram (Stanford, SG/SF, Freshman)
33. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Rockets): Justin Lewis (Marquette, SF/PF, Redshirt Freshman)
34. Oklahoma City Thunder: Christian Koloko (Arizona, C, Junior)
35. Sacramento Kings: Caleb Houstan (Michigan, SF, Freshman)
36. Charlotte Hornets (via Pelicans): Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee, PG, Freshman)
37. Orlando Magic (via Pacers): Jaylin Williams (Arkansas, C, Sophomore)
38. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Spurs): Julian Champagnie (St. John's, SF/PF, Junior)
39. Portland Trail Blazers: Dereon Seabron (NC State, SF/PF, Sophomore)
40. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Wizards): Michael Foster (G League Ignite, PF, 2003)
Having hit 12-of-19 threes over Michigan's four games, Houstan's shot is falling after a rough monthlong stretch. His lack of creation, wiggle and explosion is evident, but he just turned 19 in January, and NBA teams should still see value in a 6'8" shooter with defensive tools for guarding wings and forwards.
Shooting has been viewed as the obvious swing skill for Lewis. So it was encouraging to see him hit 15-of-27 thees during a four-game span against Seton Hall (twice), Xavier and Villanova. Come June, his sales pitch to scouts will presumably lead with highlight film from last week's 33-point, nine-rebound, six-assist game against the Pirates.
Lewis isn't the defensive stopper scouts hope for in a 6'7", 245-pound combo forward. But his physicality as a scorer and improving shot-making and passing should help him secure plenty of second-round interest.
Averaging 14.5 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 2.7 steals and 1.5 blocks over Arkansas' last six games, Williams is earning a spot on scouts' watch lists. For a 6'10", 245-pound center, he possesses outstanding mobility and quickness that translates to constant activity. But he separates himself further with standout passing skills, and his shot (when left open) seems promising.
41. New York Knicks: Matteo Spagnolo (Cremona, PG/SG, 2003)
42. San Antonio Spurs (via Lakers): Trevor Keels (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)
43. Atlanta Hawks: Hugo Besson (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)
44. Los Angeles Clippers: Johnny Juzang (UCLA, SF, Junior)
45. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand Breakers, SG/SF, 2003)
46. Boston Celtics: Jordan Hall (Saint Joseph's, SG/SF, Sophomore)
47. Golden State Warriors (via Raptors): Alondes Williams (Wake Forest, PG/SG, Senior)
48. Charlotte Hornets: Orlando Robinson (Fresno State, C, Junior)
49. Dallas Mavericks: Gabriele Procida (Fortitudo Bologna, 2002, SF)
50. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nuggets): Peyton Watson (UCLA, SF, Freshman)
Spagnolo is on roll in Italy with three consecutive games of at least 17 points and four assists. A crafty scorer and passer who spent the last few years in Real Madrid's youth system, the 6'4" Italian guard has been highly efficient this season in Italy, averaging 12.4 points on 51.1 percent shooting and 46.2 percent from three.
On the draft radar since 2018, Spagnolo has emerged as a clear second-round prospect. He should move up if he continues to produce against pros and former draft picks/college standouts.
There are concerns over Juzang's quickness and athleticism for the NBA, but his shot-making is too tough for teams to keep passing on the 6'7" wing. He's back up to 39.5 percent from three after averaging 22.6 points over UCLA's last five games.
Scouts aren't sure what to make of Watson, who recently flashed his defensive potential against Arizona (two blocks, two steals) and some scoring versatility versus California (12 points). But overall, he hasn't proven enough for NBA teams to feel comfortable investing a first-round pick in him.
Scouts sound hopeful that he'll return to school, especially if Juzang and Jaime Jaquez Jr. both declare for the draft. He may be in jeopardy of sliding deep into the second round otherwise.
51. New Orleans Pelicans (via Jazz): Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana, PF/C, Junior)
52. Detroit Pistons (via Nets): Trevion Williams (Purdue, C, Senior)
53. Milwaukee Bucks: Forfeited
54. New Orleans Pelicans (via Cavaliers): Iverson Molinar (Mississippi State, PG/SG, Junior)
55. Miami Heat (via 76ers): Forfeited
56. Indiana Pacers (via Heat): Jahvon Quinerly (Alabama, PG, Junior)
57. Sacramento Kings (via Bulls): Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky, PF/C, Junior)
58. Utah Jazz (via Grizzlies): Isiaih Mosley (Missouri State, SG, Junior)
59. Golden State Warriors: Matthew Mayer (Baylor, SF/PF, Senior)
60. Phoenix Suns: Roko Prkacin (Cibona, PF, 2002)
With four games of at least 30 points over Missouri State's last seven, Mosley has finally caught some scouts' attention. His scoring craft and touch are special, and they help offset his complete lack of speed and burst. Some team may decide it's worth gambling on his unique college success with a second-round pick.
Molinar put up 30 points against Kentucky to continue his standout junior year. Teams should assume his shooting is better than his 28.8 three-point mark suggests, based on last year's 43.6 percent mark and this season's 87.0 free-throw percentage. Between his two-point scoring efficiency and improved playmaking, he's entered the second-round discussion.
Mayer hasn't had the breakout season scouts were hoping for, but this late, teams figure to see through the lack of production and toward shoot-dribble-pass versatility that's suited for the NBA. He's shot better as of late, making 40.0 percent of his threes over Baylor's last five games.