2022 NBA Mock Draft: Rounding Up Expert Picks Heading into Final Day of Season

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 10, 2022

2022 NBA Mock Draft: Rounding Up Expert Picks Heading into Final Day of Season

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    Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    The team that lands the No. 1 overall pick in the 2022 NBA draft has four prospects to choose from. 

    Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero and Jaden Ivey formed the clear elite group of players in the talent pool.

    Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman and ESPN's Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz have the four players in the first four positions in their latest mock drafts.

    The Houston Rockets come into Sunday with the worst record in the NBA. The Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons are in line to receive the same top draft lottery odds to land the No. 1 overall pick.

    Those three franchises enter the offseason with different needs, which is why the No. 1 overall pick is not set in stone.

Chet Holmgren Could Have Edge for No. 1 Overall Pick

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Chet Holmgren was the No. 1 overall pick in the latest mock draft from ESPN's experts.

    The seven-foot forward displayed all sorts of raw talent in his lone season with the Gonzaga Bulldogs.

    Holmgren can run the court in transition, knock down a few three-point shots and be a menace down low against smaller opposition.

    However, the Gonzaga product must add to his frame to deal with the rigors of an 82-game season in the NBA. Every strength coach in the league is aware of that situation, though, and will be set to do their best to get Holmgren physically ready to play in the NBA.

    Houston, Orlando and Detroit would welcome Holmgren's size and skill set into their lineups. Orlando might be the least willing of those three teams to select the Gonzaga big man because it already has Wendell Carter Jr. and Mo Bamba on the roster.

    Orlando might be more inclined to go after Jabari Smith or Paolo Banchero to add another scoring option alongside its stable of young ball-handlers.

Jabari Smith Has Case to Be No. 1 Pick

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    Chris Carlson/Associated Press

    Jabari Smith's ideal path to the No. 1 overall pick involves the Orlando Magic winning the NBA draft lottery.

    Orlando is not in desperate need of a big man, and it has three strong on-ball guards in Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs.

    The Magic have Franz Wagner to fill the off-ball scorer role, but Smith would likely do that job better.

    Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman broke down the NBA view of Smith during his latest mock draft, in which he had the Auburn product at No. 1:

    "NBA teams view his elite shooting skill and defensive versatility as a translatable, valued combination. Throw in his age and room for growth, recent rebounding and passing and reputable character, and Smith may have the most going for him."

    Smith averaged 16.9 points per game and shot 42 percent from three-point range in his lone season in the SEC with the Auburn Tigers.

    All of the teams with high odds to land the No. 1 pick should consider Smith, but Orlando feels like the best it based on franchise needs.

Duke Should Have 3 Lottery Picks

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    The final roster Mike Krzyzewski coached at Duke will likely produced a trio of NBA draft lottery selections.

    Paolo Banchero was the most notable star on the Blue Devils roster. He is expected to be one of the top three or four picks this summer.

    Banchero's place in the top four will be dependent on the order of franchises and the team needs. For example, he could be a strong fit in Orlando but maybe not in Houston because Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. have had success this season as backcourt scorers.

    AJ Griffin and Mark Williams launched themselves into the lottery discussion with their performances throughout the men's college basketball season.

    Griffin shot 49.3 percent from the field and 44.7 percent from three-point range, while Williams averaged 11.2 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. He had one double-double and two eight-rebound games in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.

    Wasserman has Griffin at No. 6 and Williams at No. 12 in his latest mock, while the ESPN draft experts have Griffin dropping to No. 8 and Williams at No. 11.

    The Sacramento Kings and New Orleans Pelicans could be among the teams interested in Griffin because of his spot-up shooting ability. Williams, meanwhile, may be intriguing to the Portland Trail Blazers and New York Knicks toward the back end of the lottery since both teams could use paint depth.