2022 NBA Lottery Simulation + Mock Draft: Who Would Wizards Take No. 1?

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterMay 12, 2022

2022 NBA Lottery Simulation + Mock Draft: Who Would Wizards Take No. 1?

0 of 6

    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    Recent trades and draft picks have signaled that the Washington Wizards remain focused on competing. Rebuilding doesn't seem to be part of the plan. Would winning the 2022 NBA draft lottery make them more or less likely to restart from scratch?

    That conversation continues to swirl around Bradley Beal and his current value to the franchise. All indications are he'll be re-signing to team back up with Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma.

    The Wizards hitting on their 3.0 percent chance of getting the first pick (or even their 13.9 percent of landing top-four) would likely raise the team's immediate ceiling. We just saw rookie Evan Mobley play a key role in elevating the Cleveland Cavaliers, for example.

    And the main No. 1 overall candidates—all projected power forwards—each seem like they'd be dangerous next to Krisptaps Porzingis, who played 97.0 percent of his possessions in Washington at the 5. Kyle Kuzma, Deni Avdija, Rui Hachimura and Corey Kispert are also relatively interchangeable, so the logjam problems don't feel as worrisome. 

    To become a realistic playoff threat, Washington will still needs its previous picks of Kispert, Avdija and Hachimura to stay healthy and make jumps. 

    Still, how much would Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith or Chet Holmgren actually move the team's needle? Enough to make the Wizards a threat to win playoff series? If they're still middle-of-the-pack after Beal inevitably signs his new deal, it may make sense to blow it up and build around their 2022 first-round pick.

    This is Part 4 of a five-part series of mock drafts with a different team winning the lottery each edition, courtesy of Tankathon. Part 1: New York KnicksPart 2: Portland Trail Blazers; Part 3: New Orleans Pelicans; Part 5: Oklahoma City Thunder.

1. Washington Wizards: Paolo Banchero (Duke, PF, Freshman)

1 of 6

    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    If the Washington Wizards are committed to winning now and capitalizing on their window with 29-year-old Bradley Beal, they could favor the draft's most pro-ready scorer.

    Paolo Banchero would give the team another go-to option to build around, one the Wizards can run offense through, use to create and look for in late-game situations. 

    While Jabari Smith would have a compelling case at No. 1 with Washington picking, he and Kristaps Porzingis up front might lack a degree of toughness inside. Chet Holmgren may also be deemed the draft's best prospect, but the Wizards have zero margin for error based on their situation, and the risk tied to his 195-pound frame and limited half-court creation may be too much to absorb. 

    At 6'10", 250 pounds, Banchero would bring physicality and power to Washington's starting lineup. Having Porzingis at center should create useful spacing for the incoming rookie—something he often didn't have while playing next to non-shooting centers at Duke.

    The Wizards' lack of a legitimate NBA starting point guard should make Banchero even more attractive given his playmaking flashes in high school and college. He averaged 4.1 assists over Duke's final 14 games, showing the ability to handle in ball-screen situations, dish on the move and make the right passes from around the perimeter. 

    A starting lineup with Beal, Porzingis and Banchero offers a balanced mix of creation, shooting and inside scoring. Plugging holes with defensive-minded players would become a priority for the front office. Using Kyle Kuzma off the bench could be appealing, as it would give Washington an edge against other second units. 

    Adding Banchero or even Smith or Holmgren should activate some level of trade discussion in Washington regarding the team's surplus of wings and forwards. The Wizards will have holes to fill (ball-handlers) and weaknesses (defense) to improve. Avdija would seem like a candidate for the team to shop given his lack of production, tough-to-picture role and the fact that the 21-year-old former lottery pick should still hold trade value. 

2. Houston Rockets: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga, PF/C, Freshman)

2 of 6

    Craig Mitchelldyer/Associated Press

    As promising as Jalen Green has been with the Houston Rockets, the franchise still needs some type of game-changer. And no prospect has the chance to make more of a two-way impact than Chet Holmgren.

    He became the only NCAA player with at least 40 threes, 100 blocks and 60 assists, and he did it playing just 26.9 minutes per game as a freshman. 

    The Rockets could view Holmgren as a complement to Christian Wood, with both players appearing interchangeable at the 4 and 5, and Holmgren providing the defense and rim protection. Or, Houston could view Holmgren as Wood's replacement and a long-term fit next to Alperen Sengun, the more physical inside scorer. 

    Regardless of fit, Houston just needs to think about drafting the most valuable asset. While Jabari Smith has a case at No. 2, there could be too much potential reward of Holmgren hitting his ceiling as a 7-footer who can handle, pass, shoot threes, finish at an elite level and be a first-team All-Defensive player.

3. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith (Auburn, PF, Freshman)

3 of 6

    Wade Payne/Associated Press

    Landing the third pick should lead to a stress-free decision for the Orlando Magic. They'll take whichever big falls to them between Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith, as any of them would fit well with their current core.

    Smith would give the league's 28th-worst three-point shooting team an immediate weapon after he buried 79 threes at a 42.0 percent clip at Auburn. Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs would appreciate a target like Smith to find off drives.

    In the long term, flashes of one-on-one creation and unchallengeable post shots suggest the 6'10" forward could offer more go-to scoring potential. He should eventually take pressure off of Anthony as another player Orlando can run offense through. 

    Between Smith and Franz Wagner, the Magic would have a pair of forwards who can guard bigs and slide with wings.

4. San Antonio Spurs: Jaden Ivey (Purdue, PG/SG, Sophomore)

4 of 6

    Matt Rourke/Associated Press

    Would there be a faster NBA backcourt than Dejounte Murray and Jaden Ivey? Pairing the two could help the San Antonio Spurs solidify an identity built around speed and pace.

    Given Murray's development as a facilitator, San Antonio would be a good landing spot for Ivey. He'd play to his strengths as a scorer while still being valued for his ability to create opportunities for others off the dribble. 

    The Spurs do need to address their frontcourt, so landing this close to a top-three pick—and a chance to draft Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith—would probably lead to trade calls about moving up. The other option is trading down and grabbing a second asset while targeting bigs like Jeremy Sochan or Jalen Duren, who could give San Antonio a defensive cornerstone.

5. Detroit Pistons: AJ Griffin (Duke, SF, Freshman)

5 of 6

    John Minchillo/Associated Press

    After finishing 29th in three-point percentage, the Detroit Pistons could show extra interest in shooters. That would put AJ Griffin in the conversation at No. 5, though he's also this high on boards for his 6'6", 222-pound frame, flashes of creation, shot-making versatility and age (18). 

    Griffin would presumably come off the bench behind Saddiq Bey and Jerami Grant. But assuming Grant isn't in the team's long-term plans, the idea would be to eventually pair two shooters like Griffin and Bey on the wings with Cade Cunningham.

    Ideally, Griffin continues developing as an on-ball threat to give the Pistons another option they can feature.

Late Lottery

6 of 6

    Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

    6. Oklahoma City Thunder: Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

    Sharpe checks the right boxes for the Thunder in terms of scoring/shooting and upside. They can easily play him on the wing with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey doing the creating. 

    7. Indiana Pacers: Keegan Murray (Iowa, PF, Sophomore)

    Murray would win the starting power forward job in Indiana after developing into a well-rounded on- and off-ball scorer. He's an older, perceived-safe lottery pick who figures to produce, make plays defensively and play hard.

    8. Portland Trail Blazers: Jalen Duren (Memphis, C, Freshman)

    With Jusuf Nurkic entering free agency, the Blazers could draft Duren to improve their defense. He'll give Portland's guards an easy-basket target, but his main value to the team will be his 7'5" wingspan, strength and athleticism in rim protection.

    9. Sacramento Kings: Jeremy Sochan (Baylor, PF, Freshman)

    After drafting Davion Mitchell, the Kings can continue adding defense with Sochan, who offers unmatchable versatility with his ability to comfortably guard ball-handlers, wings and bigs.

    10. New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers): Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, SG, Sophomore)

    The Pelicans could add another scoring weapon in Davis, who made serious strides as a self-creator and shot-maker. He could either start next to CJ McCollum or strengthen the Pelicans' bench.

    11. New York Knicks: Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite, PG/SG, 2003)

    The Knicks may see a point-guard experiment worth attempting with Daniels, a 6'8" playmaker and impact defender whose shooting development could unlock top-10 upside.

    12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona, SG/SF, Sophomore)

    Oklahoma City would be a strong landing spot for Mathurin, who could focus on finishing and shot-making while Gilgeous-Alexander and Giddey create the offense.

    13. Charlotte Hornets: TyTy Washington (Kentucky, PG, Freshman)

    There is likely to be plenty of talk about adding a rim protector like Mark Williams, but the Hornets could view Washington as the better prospect and an equally important addition for his passing, touch and defensive flashes behind LaMelo Ball.

    14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tari Eason (LSU, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    The Cavaliers can continue to stack their defense by drafting Eason, a switchable forward who'd bring toughness and scoring versatility behind Evan Mobley.