2022 NBA Mock Draft: Rounding Up Experts' 1st-Round Predictions After Lottery

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 18, 2022

2022 NBA Mock Draft: Rounding Up Experts' 1st-Round Predictions After Lottery

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    The Orlando Magic are on the clock.

    The big winners of Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery now have their choice of the biggest and best prospects from the 2022 class.

    While the party might still be rocking in the home of Disney, it's already business time for the mock-drafting world. So, let's examine what the experts are saying now that the draft board has been set.

No Consensus at the Top

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    If you've tracked this class for any amount of time, then you'd know two things about it.

    First, there is a clear-cut trio of frontcourt prospects atop it. Second, there are debates over which of those players should go first.

    In their post-lottery mocks, both B/R's Jonathan Wasserman and The Athletic's Sam Vecenie have the Magic selecting Auburn's Jabari Smith. However, The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor has Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren in that spot instead.

    "The Magic are back at No. 1 for the first time since 2004 when they took Dwight Howard, and another franchise center could be falling into their laps," O'Connor wrote. "Holmgren would thrive next to Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner as a supporting piece around the rim, and if [Jonathan] Isaac is able to return healthy they'd have the upside to have a formidable defense."

    At No. 2, the order is just reversed, with Wasserman and Vecenie going Holmgren there and O'Connor mocking Smith to the Oklahoma City Thunder. All three experts have the Houston Rockets using the No. 3 pick on Duke's Paolo Banchero.

The Top-10 Debates

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    For much of this draft season, the same player has followed the Holmgren-Smith-Banchero trio: Purdue's Jaden Ivey.

    That's still how Wasserman and Vecenie see this playing out, as both mocked Ivey to the Sacramento Kings at No. 4. O'Connor, though, plugged Kentucky's Shaedon Sharpe into that spot.

    "Jaden Ivey is generally projected as the fourth pick, but the Kings just drafted Davion Mitchell last season and De'Aaron Fox averaged 28.9 points following the Tyrese Haliburton deal," O'Connor noted. "I could see them going a different direction."

    Again, the experts made the same pivots at No. 5, with Sharpe being the Detroit Pistons' pick for Wasserman and Vecenie, while Ivey was the choice for O'Connor. All three experts have the Indiana Pacers grabbing Iowa's Keegan Murray with the sixth pick.

    This is where the debates really get rolling. Baylor's Jeremy Sochan goes as high as No. 7 (Vecenie) and as low as No. 12 (Wasserman). Wisconsin's Johnny Davis is the eighth pick for O'Connor and the final lottery pick for Vecenie.

The Wild Cards

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    As Vecenie put it, "this is an eye-of-the-beholder draft." Once you move past the top 10, there are some dramatically different projections.

    For instance, Kentucky's TyTy Washington Jr. lands just outside the lottery for Wasserman (No. 15) and Vecenie (No. 17) but doesn't crack the top 20 for O'Connor (No. 23). Ousmane Dieng of the New Zealand Breakers is the No. 12 pick for both O'Connor and Vecenie, but Wasserman doesn't have Dieng going until No. 21.

    Wasserman, meanwhile, has Leonard Miller of Fort Erie International as the 17th overall pick. Vecenie didn't mock Miller until the 33rd pick, and O'Connor didn't include Miller in his first-round mock.

    There is a similarly wide split on Santa Clara's Jalen Williams. Vecenie is highest on Williams and has him going 21st overall. Wasserman didn't mock Williams until No. 33. O'Connor split the difference and had Williams 26th overall.

    These debates start near the back end of the lottery and continue through the rest of the draft, which should make this a fascinating talent grab.


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