Best and Worst Landing Spots for Every Projected 2022 NBA Lottery Pick

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterApril 21, 2022

Best and Worst Landing Spots for Every Projected 2022 NBA Lottery Pick

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    Young Kwak/Associated Press

    Team fit plays a key role in a prospect's early development after the NBA draft.

    Landing with the right franchise can jump-start a player's career. The wrong fit could derail it.

    Based on the strengths and weaknesses of the projected lottery picks in our latest mock draft, plus the rosters of their potential suitors, we picked the most and least desirable destinations for each.

    We only named teams that we deemed will have a realistic chance, based on the lottery odds, to select each prospect.

Ochai Agbaji (Kansas, SG, Senior)

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    David J. Phillip/Associated Press

    Best landing spot: New Orleans Pelicans

    The Pelicans would find early minutes for Ochai Agbaji after the Kansas senior buried 103 triples and New Orleans finished 27th in three-point percentage.

    The fact that he's interchangeable between the 2 and 3 should help maximize his opportunities, even with Trey Murphy III and Herbert Jones already cracking the rotation.

    It will be best for Agbaji to go to a team that already has scorers and playmakers given his limitations as a creator and off-the-dribble shooter. With New Orleans, he could have a valued three-and-D role for a rising team.


    Worst landing spot: San Antonio Spurs

    Agbaji could get lost in the shuffle of San Antonio's surplus of off-ball scorers and wings. He'd be a backup specialist for a team that seems far away from competing for anything serious.

Paolo Banchero (Duke, PF, Freshman)

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    Best landing spot: San Antonio Spurs

    Few teams could use a frontcourt scorer more than San Antonio. As polished offensively as anyone in this draft, Paolo Banchero could slide right into a high-usage role at the 4 and benefit from an elite playmaker in Dejounte Murray.

    Banchero, who averaged 4.1 assists over Duke's last 14 games, could also give the Spurs a second playmaker, something they lost when they traded Derrick White.

    And while Banchero's shooting and defense were up-and-down, the Spurs finished in the middle of the pack in three-point percentage and defensive rating.


    Worst landing spot: Sacramento Kings

    A defensive pairing of Banchero and Domantas Sabonis would limit the Kings' ceiling. The 6'10" forward, who blocked only 0.9 shots per game, should want to avoid a team such as Sacramento, which ranked 27th in defensive rating and 24th in three-point shooting.

Malaki Branham (Ohio State, SG, Freshman)

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    Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

    Best landing spot: New Orleans Pelicans

    Though the Pelicans offense would run through three others veterans, Malaki Branham still possesses scoring and passing versatility that could be useful to New Orleans in a supporting role.

    He was a strong spot-up player for Ohio State, hitting 45.1 percent of his catch-and-shoot jumpers and 15 of 30 pull-ups when run off the three-point line. His efficiency running pick-and-rolls (94th percentile) and shooting, both on and off the ball, could give him an edge in the rotation over the inefficient Devonte' Graham.

    New Orleans is on the rise, even without Zion Williamson, and Branham would get a chance to be a first-unit shooter or bench creator.


    Worst landing spot: Charlotte Hornets

    Guards and wings will want to avoid Charlotte if they're set on playing. There are too many veterans that Branham would have to jump on the depth chart, especially for a team trying to make a playoff run.

Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, SG, Sophomore)

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    Best landing spot: New York Knicks

    Despite New York's down year, Johnny Davis should still be drawn to the idea of landing with the Knicks over some of the other late-lottery teams.

    He'd come off the bench to start his career, but he's also a strong enough prospect to beat out Evan Fournier and Quentin Grimes during his rookie contract. And both the New York fans and coach Tom Thibodeau would embrace his confident scoring and defensive toughness.

    In the half court, Davis converted 76 shots at the rim and 60 pull-ups, and he attempted 196 free throws. A Davis-RJ Barrett duo on the wing could put serious pressure on defenses with physical driving and a knack for getting downhill. But Davis also showed numerous times with Wisconsin that he's capable of carrying a team as a lead option and taking over late in tight games.


    Worst landing spot: Oklahoma City Thunder

    The Oklahoma City backcourt is set with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, making it difficult to picture Davis' long-term fit. It also seems problematic for a 30.6 percent three-point shooter to join the league's worst offensive and long-range shooting team (32.3 percent).

Jalen Duren (Memphis, C, Freshman)

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    Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images

    Best landing spot: Charlotte Hornets

    Jalen Duren should want to land with Charlotte, even if it means slipping a few spots in the draft. He'd have a quick path to a young, improving starting lineup led by LaMelo Ball, one of the league's most skilled passers.

    And at this stage, Duren isn't sharp enough to demand post-ups or receive a green light to shoot jumpers. He'd play to his strengths as a finisher off Ball, waiting in the dunker's spot, rolling after screens and running in transition.

    Duren could also help take the Hornets to the next level by raising their defensive ceiling with his power, 7'5" wingspan and rim protection.


    Worst landing spot: Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Cavaliers are suddenly an appealing team, but not if you're Duren. He needs minutes and wouldn't get many behind Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley, who figure to be long-term cornerstones.

AJ Griffin (Duke, SF/PF, Freshman)

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Best landing spot: Sacramento Kings

    AJ Griffin finished as one of the draft's most productive and efficient spot-up players (191 points, 1.17 points per possession, 91st percentile). And with Sacramento, which already has De'Aaron Fox's speed and Domantas Sabonis' post skill, Griffin would be set up to catch and score from the wings.

    He can keep it simple early as a 19-year-old rookie, playing off Fox and Sabonis as a shooter and opportunistic driver. The Kings also shot 34.4 percent from three, so they'd benefit from adding a forward who just buried 44.7 percent of his 159 deep attempts.

    Eventually, there would be enough opportunities for Griffin to receive more ball-handling reps and grow as a creator. It also wouldn't hurt to have a mentor such as Harrison Barnes, who is a similar combo-forward archetype.


    Worst landing spot: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Joining the league's worst offense wouldn't help Griffin. He'd be better off with a team that has talent instead of one for which he'd frequently be forced to create something out of nothing around the perimeter.

Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga, PF/C, Freshman)

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    Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    Best landing spot: Oklahoma City Thunder

    If there is a concern with Chet Holmgren, it's his ability to create for himself in the half court. He should love the idea of teaming up with Josh Giddey, one of the league's smartest, most promising setup passers.

    With Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Holmgren would have a pair of guards who can draw attention and create finishing opportunities and rhythm jumpers for him.

    And after playing with Drew Timme, a high-usage post scorer who lived in the paint, Holmgren would have more room to attack against closeouts or operate in the post. The Thunder need Holmgren's offensive efficiency and defensive impact, and Holmgren could use Oklahoma City's high-IQ, crafty guard play and its green light for young players.


    Worst landing spot: Houston Rockets

    Of all the teams with a great chance of picking first, the Rockets would offer Holmgren the weakest point guard play. Jalen Green looks poised to compete for a scoring title, and Kevin Porter Jr. has made strides as a playmaker, but until the roster includes a proven facilitator with a knack for setting up teammates, Houston will be a tough sell for Holmgren, who would also lose paint touches to Alperen Sengun.

Jaden Ivey (Purdue, PG/SG, Sophomore)

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    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Best landing spot: Detroit Pistons

    Between Cade Cunningham's creation, shot-making and IQ and Jaden Ivey's explosive speed, the Pistons backcourt would have everything.

    It wouldn't be necessary to label either with a position. Detroit would offer Ivey a starting job and get another ball-handler to lean on for running offense and creating in the half court.

    While Ivey did make an impressive skill jump this season, he is still reliant on getting downhill to score or using his burst to collapse defenses before passing. With Detroit, he could play to his athletic strengths while letting Cunningham run offense and create and facilitate in the half court.


    Worst landing spot: Orlando Magic

    The Magic simply have too many ball-handlers who need reps. Adding Ivey would give Orlando three score-first guards, as it already has Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs.

Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona, SG, Sophomore)

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    Best landing spot: New Orleans Pelicans

    A core featuring Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum is an obvious selling point for Bennedict Mathurin. And his off-ball scoring skills would fit well in either wing spot. Mathurin and Kansas' Ochai Agbaji finished as the only Division I players with at least 35 dunks and 80 threes. The Arizona product would give New Orleans a jolt of explosiveness for easy baskets that Trey Murphy III and Devonte' Graham don't—while providing equal shot-making skill that's not quite part of Herbert Jones' repertoire.

    With New Orleans, Mathurin could focus on playing to his strengths as a transition weapon and shooter next to McCollum, Ingram and Williamson.


    Worst landing spot: Charlotte Hornets

    James Bouknight barely played as a rookie, so it's difficult to picture Mathurin getting an early chance with Charlotte. The Hornets are overflowing with wings, and Mathurin doesn't offer enough creation skill to separate himself from Miles Bridges, Kelly Oubre Jr. or Gordon Hayward.

Keegan Murray (Iowa, PF, Sophomore)

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    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    Best landing spot: Orlando Magic

    An outstanding off-ball scorer, Keegan Murray could play off Orlando's handful of ball-handling guards and wings in Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Markelle Fultz, Franz Wagner and R.J. Hampton.

    Creating facing up isn't Murray's forte, as he lacks the necessary ball-handling skill and wiggle. However, he thrived as a spot-up shooting big who also scored 88 combined field goals curling off screens, cutting and putting back misses. The nation's leader in transition points per possession (minimum 3.0 possessions/game), Murray could play to his strengths for a Magic team that also ranked top 10 in pace.


    Worst landing spot: Oklahoma City Thunder

    Turning 22 years old in August, Murray doesn't make too much sense for a team rebuilding from scratch. Plus, the less creation responsibility the better for Murray. Except for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the Thunder don't have enough scorers or creators for him to play off.

Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Best landing spot: Portland Trail Blazers

    The Blazers did a nice job developing Anfernee Simons, who, like Shaedon Sharpe, also entered the draft without playing a college game. 

    It feels safe to assume Sharpe may need time, and in Portland, he could take it slower behind Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons. Still, at 6'6", Sharpe should be relatively interchangeable from the wings, and there will be available minutes and room to blow up based on the current roster. 

    With Lillard and Simons, Sharpe could work as a second-unit scorer or more of a shooting weapon in the starting lineup.


    Worst landing spot: Orlando Magic

    While it's not a big deal that Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony and Franz Wagner would limit Sharpe's immediate opportunities, they may block his path to a breakout. It will be tough for him to approach his ceiling in Orlando if Suggs, Anthony and Wagner continue to develop as the Magic planned.

Jabari Smith (Auburn, PF, Freshman)

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    Best landing spot: Indiana Pacers

    By trading Domantas Sabonis, the Pacers landed a special passer in Tyrese Haliburton while opening up a spot at power forward. And this draft happens to have three potential stars at the position, especially Jabari Smith, an elite pick-and-roll/pop big (92nd percentile) and budding self-creation scorer. 

    Between Haliburton and Malcolm Brogdon, the Pacers have something rare: Two starters who generate at least 1.0 points per possession as pick-and-roll handlers. Between Smith's rolling (19-of-34) and popping (14-of-28), plus his ability get his own shot, he'd be an ideal fit for a team with high-IQ guard play that needs more frontcourt offense.


    Worst landing spot: New York Knicks

    Smith won't want the Knicks to hit on their 9.4 percent chance of jumping into the top four. Neither he nor Julius Randle offers much rim protection, though the roster's lack of point guard play might be the bigger concern for Smith.

TyTy Washington Jr. (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)

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    Sean Rayford/Associated Press

    Best landing spot: Washington Wizards

    There is an open starting position waiting for Washington with the Wizards. TyTy Washington Jr. would have a chance to play alongside a star guard in Bradley Beal (assuming he re-signs) and other established veterans. It would be a great opportunity for Washington to get experience in a full-time point guard role after having to split it with Sahvir Wheeler at Kentucky.

    Between Washington's 17-assist game against Georgia when Wheeler sat, teammates shooting 51.1 percent off his ball-screen passes and his overall 120 assists to 51 turnovers, he showed enough for NBA teams to feel confident in his potential as a facilitator. 

    With Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, Kyle Kuzma and more shooters in Corey Kispert and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Wizards are a favorable landing spot for Washington's point-guard development. 


    Worst landing spot: Oklahoma City Thunder

    There wouldn't be any room for Washington to grow in Oklahoma City, playing behind Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. The emergence of Tre Mann would make it even more difficult for Washington to get the reps he needs.

Mark Williams (Duke, C, Sophomore)

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    Tony Avelar/Associated Press

    Best landing spot: Charlotte Hornets

    Finishers and rim protectors should want to be drafted by the Hornets, who have scorers and passers but need more easy baskets and defense. Williams could help Charlotte by anchoring the paint, and he'd obviously benefit offensively from playing with LaMelo Ball.

    He'd be a defensive upgrade over Montrezl Harrell and a long-term replacement for Mason Plumlee. Williams would have a path to the starting lineup sooner than later.


    Worst landing spot: Cleveland Cavaliers

    Williams would have to accept a backup role for the foreseeable if he ended up in Cleveland. He doesn't offer enough versatility to play the 4, and Jarrett Allen offers similar rim protection with more offensive skill.


    Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports, Sports Reference and