2022 NBA Mock Draft: Shake-Up in the Top 5, Full 2-Round PredictionsMarch 2, 2022
2022 NBA Mock Draft: Shake-Up in the Top 5, Full 2-Round Predictions
The arrival of March signals a key stretch for both prospects and NBA teams' lottery odds.
The Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons and Houston Rockets are each favorites to finish with a bottom-three record and a 14.0 percent chance of winning the first pick. And as of now, there is still no consensus answer for who that should be, though scouts sound excited about the candidates.
We're reaching a point where it seems like the top-four prospects are set, albeit in no set order.
Otherwise, the board remains fluid in the late-lottery range on down, and results from this upcoming March could move the needle for dozens.
Players with write-ups either deserved mentions for their recent play or haven't been talked about enough lately in the draft discussion.
1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith (Auburn, PF, Freshman)
The Orlando Magic are in a good spot with multiple, quality No. 1 overall candidates who'd each fit the team's current roster and rebuild. Chet Holmgren has put together a strong case, but with Jabari Smith, the Orlando Magic may detect similar upside, no questions about body type and a player who's better suited to initiate offense as a No. 1 option.
A full year younger than Holmgren, Smith is averaging 25.3 points over Auburn's last four games, showcasing spectacular shot-making skills using self-creation moves and a high, unchallengeable release point. At 6'10", he's already made 65 threes (41.9 percent) this season, as well as 35 dribble jumpers in the half court.
Orlando remains dependent on the development of Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony. But adding a potential All-Star scorer and versatile defender like Smith next to Franz Wagner would really help jumpstart the Magic rebuild.
2. Detroit Pistons: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga, PF/C, Freshman)
Jabari Smith off the board means the Detroit Pistons will be choosing between Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero and Jaden Ivey.
There is just too much upside tied to Holmgren's 43.8 percent three-point shooting, 3.5 blocks in 26.8 minutes, 72.7 percent finishing inside the arc, passing IQ and the fact he's recorded 18 field goals initiating fast breaks as a transition ball-handler at 7'0".
He just had two games in February with at least 20 points, 15 boards and five blocks.
His thin frame would be more concerning if he spent more time posting up or he struggled to bounce above the rim. But Holmgren compensates for limited strength with unique perimeter skill, length and mobility.
The Pistons wouldn't want to overthink and pass on such a rare, two-way big who can handle, shoot, dish and change games defensively.
3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero (Duke, PF, Freshman)
Against Syracuse on Saturday, Paolo Banchero put together one of his most compelling pitches of the season with nine assists and four three-point makes.
Those flashes of passing and shooting could help paint the 6'10", 250-pound forward as the draft's most complete offensive player.
While Jaden Ivey has made a legitimate push for top-three looks in the draft, Houston may find him redundant with Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and Josh Christopher. The Rockets could look at Banchero as a long-term replacement for Christian Wood, who'll be entering the final year on his deal.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jaden Ivey (Purdue, SG, Sophomore)
Set in the backcourt with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, the Oklahoma City Thunder seem likely to make calls to try and jump into the top three. Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren or Paolo Banchero each seem like ideal options for this particular roster. But it's still a roster that can't afford to choose needs over the best player available, and at No. 4, that should lead the Thunder to another guard in Jaden Ivey.
Scouts see star potential tied to his special explosiveness, though it's the improved shooting and playmaking skills that have launched Ivey into the top-three discussion.
The Thunder have shown a willingness to play three-guard lineups with either Luguentz Dort or Tre Mann. And Ivey offers the defensive tools to guard bigger wings and the offensive versatility to be used in a combo or changing role.
5. Indiana Pacers: Keegan Murray (Iowa, PF, Sophomore)
The Indiana Pacers could plug and play Keegan Murray after dealing Domantas Sabonis.
We're reaching a point where Murray's age (21) or suspect one-on-one scoring are holding less and less weight in the scouting equation. Coming off a 26-point, 18-rebound, three-assist, two-steal, two-block game against Northwestern, the 6'8" sophomore continues to produce at an astounding rate.
Grading in the 80th percentile or better in transition, post-ups, spot-ups, putbacks, isolation and pick-and-rolling, Murray has a special knack for finding different ways to score using his tools, motor, instincts and improving shot-making.
Though not the sharpest creator, he's not the type of player who regularly needs plays run for him.
6. Sacramento Kings: AJ Griffin (Duke, SF/PF, Freshman)
The Sacramento Kings could target AJ Griffin for some wing shooting between De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. He's been unusually consistent for a freshman, finishing over 40.0 percent from three in 12-of-17 games since the new year.
Coming off six three-point makes against Syracuse, Griffin is up to 49.1 percent on the season. But he's also been efficient off the dribble with an in-between game, having hit 44.7 percent of his pull-ups and 7-of-16 floaters.
His 6'6", 222-pound frame, shooting stroke and shot-making versatility create a high floor and valued archetype. But at 18 years old, Griffin still has plenty of room to expand his creation and add to his scoring repertoire.
7. San Antonio Spurs: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, SG, Sophomore)
Johnny Davis would give the San Antonio Spurs another guard and scorer who can get his own shot alongside Dejounte Murray.
In February, he went for at least 25 points in wins over Michigan, Indiana and Michigan State. Scouts sound willing to look past his limited three-point volume, given how tough he is attacking the rim, scoring in the mid-range and activating takeover, shot-making when Wisconsin needs it most in crunch time.
The Spurs already have a handful of guards and wings, but the front office hasn't been known to take needs or fit into account during the draft. If they do feel it's time to start plugging holes, Memphis' Jalen Duren figures to get strong consideration.
8. New York Knicks: Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)
Shaedon Sharpe won't suit up this year for Kentucky, but that won't stop lottery teams from convincing him to declare and stay in the draft.
They're already going through film from Peach Jam, where he averaged 21.6 points with dynamic shot-making and explosive bounce around the rim.
Possessing the athleticism and shooting stroke to look highly enticing in a workout setting, Sharpe figures to make fans during the predraft process, assuming he's persuaded to test the process.
9. Portland Trail Blazers: Jalen Duren (Memphis, C, Freshman)
Currently projected to pick twice in the lottery, the Portland Trail Blazers figure to be thinking about Jalen Duren with one of those selections.
Their No. 28-ranked defense would benefit from adding a rim protector like Duren, who offers a unique mix of power, length and bounce around the basket.
He's also been more productive offensively over Memphis' last seven games, averaging 14.6 points on 65.1 percent shooting and 71.4 percent from the line. The hope is that he has the room to improve his low-post footwork and mid-range touch, considering he's still just 18 years old. In the meantime, Duren will be used as a finishing target, offensive rebounder and defensive presence.
10. Portland Trail Blazers (via NOP): Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona, SG/SF, Soph.)
With the New Orleans Pelicans pick, the Portland Trail Blazers could grab Bennedict Mathurin to add athleticism and shooting to their wing.
One of the draft's purest shot-makers, he just rattled off four consecutive 20-point games in February for the top-three Arizona Wildcats. And at 6'6", 210 pounds, he's earned 32 dunks while shooting 53.6 percent inside the arc.
Mathurin could improve his off-the-dribble and mid-range game, but in Portland alongside Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons, he'd be in a good spot to play to his strengths as a catch-and-score weapon.
11. Memphis Grizzlies (via Lakers): Tari Eason (LSU, PF, Sophomore)
12. Washington Wizards: Ochai Agbaji (Kansas, SG, Senior)
13. Charlotte Hornets: MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite, SF, 2000)
14. Atlanta Hawks: TyTy Washington Jr. (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)
15. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): Blake Wesley (Notre Dame, SG, Freshman)
Once the star power starts to fade in the late lottery range, Wesley seems like a good bet to sway a team with his athleticism, shot-making and defensive length. After slumping through early February, he's now hit 16 threes over Notre Dame's last five games.
16. Houston Rockets (via Nets): Kendall Brown (Baylor, SF, Freshman)
Without creation reps or reliable shooting, Brown has been vulnerable to quiet games offensively. Against Kansas (nine points, three assists, two blocks), however, he showed off what still makes him an appealing prospect by tapping into his speed and explosion for transition finishing and defensive playmaking. He even hit a pull-up three and delivered a few passes that reflect his quick processing. At 6'8", Brown will be one of the draft's best athletes while possessing enough slashing, cutting, IQ and defense to help offset his limitations as a creator and shot-maker.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jeremy Sochan (Baylor, PF, Freshman)
The idea of Sochan is more appealing than his numbers, though he recently scored 17 points twice in wins over Kansas and TCU. Scouts value his archetype as a 6'9" forward who can handle, pass, make spot-up threes and defend multiple positions. Shooting remains an obvious swing skill, but NBA teams should be willing to remain patient with an 18-year-old who possesses this type of two-way versatility.
18. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors): Walker Kessler (Auburn, C, Sophomore)
19. San Antonio Spurs (via Celtics): Christian Braun (Kansas, SF, Junior)
20. Indiana Pacers (via Cavaliers): Mark Williams (Duke, C, Sophomore)
21. Dallas Mavericks: EJ Liddell (Ohio State, PF, Junior)
22. Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jovic (Mega Leks, SF/PF, 2003)
23. Milwaukee Bucks: Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite, PG/SG, 2003)
24. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee, SF/PF, Freshman)
25. Chicago Bulls: Bryce McGowens (Nebraska, SG, Freshman)
McGowens' 25 points against Penn State marked the 10th time this season he scored at least 20. Despite poor shooting percentages, at 6'7", he has a valued ability to self-create and convert runners and pull-ups. McGowens is getting to the foul line 6.3 times per game, while his 83.5 free-throw percentage, floater touch (10-of-22) and shot-making are reasons to look past his inconsistent three-point shooting.
26. Memphis Grizzlies (via Jazz): Jean Montero (Overtime Elite, PG, 2003)
27. Miami Heat: Jaden Hardy (G League Ignite, SG, 2003)
28. Memphis Grizzlies: Malaki Branham (Ohio State, SG, Freshman)
A 35-point game at Nebraska in January caught scouts' attention, but Branham started playing his way into the 2022 draft during February. The 18-year-old took over at Illinois, scoring 31 points in a road win after going for 27 points against Indiana and 22 points versus Iowa. Though not an explosive athlete, Branham passes the eye test with 6'5" size and three-level scoring skills, most notably a strong mid-range pull-up game and accurate three-point shooting (44.1 percent).
29. Golden State Warriors: JD Davison (Alabama, PG, Freshman)
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Suns): Trevor Keels (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)
31. Orlando Magic: Ismael Kamagate (Paris Basketball, C, 2001)
32. Toronto Raptors (via Pistons): Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky, PF/C, Junior)
One team figures to look past Tshiebwe's limitations for the likelihood that his incredible rebounding and activity can carry over. He's averaging 21.6 points, 16.4 boards, 1.6 blocks and 1.4 steals over Kentucky's last five games, punishing opposing front lines with physicality and effort. Teams willing to forget about modern skills or upside may see a value pick in Tschiebwe, who has the body and nose for the ball to continue producing low-post buckets and second-chance points.
33. Indiana Pacers (via Rockets): Max Christie (Michigan State, SG/SF, Freshman)
34. Oklahoma City Thunder: Christian Koloko (Arizona, C, Junior)
35. Orlando Magic (via Pacers): Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee, PG, Freshman)
36. Sacramento Kings: Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke, SG/SF, Junior)
37. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Spurs): Caleb Houstan (Michigan, SF, Freshman)
Houstan is coming off consecutive 21-point efforts after failing to score 20 through Michigan's first 25 games. This could be a crucial stretch for the freshman, who hasn't been too convincing this season but still possesses an appealing combination of 6'8" size and shooting (36.6 percent 3PT) for a 19-year-old.
38. Charlotte Hornets (via Pelicans): Jaylin Williams (Arkansas, PF/C, Sophomore)
Williams went for 16 points and 12 boards in Arkansas' win over Kentucky, marking his sixth consecutive double-double. His passing IQ is a differentiator strength for the position, but flashes of face-up drives and shooting touch also point to some extra scoring versatility.
39. Portland Trail Blazers: Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand Breakers, SG/SF, 2003)
40. New York Knicks: Justin Lewis (Marquette, SF/PF, Redshirt Freshman)
41. San Antonio Spurs (via Lakers): Harrison Ingram (Stanford, SG/SF, Freshman)
There are games and stretches where Ingram flashes the type of shooting and passing NBA teams look for in role players. But his lack of athleticism and consistent execution has raised questions about how far away he is and whether he's quick enough. Ingram has an interesting decision after the season. His chances of going first round seem slim at the moment, but if he returns to Stanford and showcases consistent shot-making, improved half-court creation and a slimmer frame, Ingram could look like a 2023 lottery pick.
42. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Wizards): David Roddy (Colorado State, SF/PF, Junior)
Scouts sound split on what to make of Roddy, who skeptics wish was a few inches taller to play power forward. Instead, he projects as a 6'6", 255-pound wing with limited athletic ability. Still, it's becoming harder not to think of Roddy as a potential outlier, given his 47.3 percent three-point shooting and outstanding feel for the game. He finished three games in February with at least 26 points and eight boards.
43. Charlotte Hornets: Matteo Spagnolo (Cremona, PG/SG, 2003)
44. Atlanta Hawks: Alondes Williams (Wake Forest, PG, Senior)
45. Los Angeles Clippers: Dereon Seabron (NC State, SF/PF, Redshirt Sophomore)
46. Detroit Pistons (via Nets): Orlando Robinson (Fresno State, C, Sophomore)
Robinson put together some dominant performances in February, most recently going for 28 points, 10 boards and four assists against New Mexico and 26 points on 12 shots against Air Force. He's not the most explosive or overwhelming shot-blocker, but his offensive skill level, touch and production for a 7-footer should draw second-round looks.
47. Minnesota Timberwolves: Mike Miles (TCU, PG, Sophomore)
48. Golden State Warriors (via Raptors): Jordan Hall (Saint Joseph's, SG, Sophomore)
49. Boston Celtics: Gabriele Procida (Fortitudo Bologna, 2002, SF)
50. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nuggets): Iverson Molinar (Mississippi State, PG/SG, Junior)
51. Washington Wizards (via Mavericks): Julian Strawther (Gonzaga, SF, Sophomore)
Gonzaga's third-leading scorer, Strawther may be a potential draft riser to watch during an NCAA tournament run. A 6'7", 38.5 percent three-point shooter, productive cutter (82nd percentile) and off-screen scorer (97th percentile), he possesses an off-ball scoring skill set that NBA teams could see as a fit.
52. New Orleans Pelicans (via Cavaliers): Johnny Juzang (UCLA, SF, Junior)
53. Milwaukee Bucks: Forfeited
54. Miami Heat (via Sixers): Forfeited
55. Sacramento Kings (via Bulls): Julian Champagnie (St. John's, SF,/PF Junior)
Champagnie bounced back from a rough January to score 27 points against Georgetown, 27 against Xavier, 31 against Butler and 26 against DePaul. In the second round, his shot-making versatility and defensive playmaking (1.9 steals, 1.2 blocks) should be enough for teams to look past his limited creation and athleticism.
56. New Orleans Pelicans (via Jazz): Hugo Besson (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2000)
57. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Heat): Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana, PF/C, Junior)
58. Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies): Keon Ellis (Alabama, SG, Senior)
Ellis' scoring fluctuates, but games like the Kentucky one (28 points, 7-of-11 3PT) should keep his name in the draft discussion. Averaging 2.0 threes and 1.9 steals, the 6'6" senior wing has emerged as a second-round three-and-D option.
59. Golden State Warriors: Ziga Samar (Urbas Fuenlabrada, PG, 2001)
60. Indiana Pacers (via Suns): Terrence Shannon Jr. (Texas Tech, SG/SF, Junior)
Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports, Sports-Reference.com