NBA Mock Draft 2022: Latest Projections and Comparisons for Underrated Prospects

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 26, 2022

NBA Mock Draft 2022: Latest Projections and Comparisons for Underrated Prospects

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    NBA teams pour massive amount of resources into predraft research, and they still don't always get things right.

    Regardless how much scouting, studying and interviewing gets done, this is still—at best—a process of making educated guesses.

    Well, we have some hunches of our own, so after running through a mock first round, we'll spotlight two prospects who we don't think are being valued enough ahead of the 2022 talent grab.

First-Round Mock

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    1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, PF, Auburn

    2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, PF/C, Gonzaga

    3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, PF, Duke

    4. Sacramento Kings: Shaedon Sharpe, SG, Kentucky

    5. Detroit Pistons: Keegan Murray, PF, Iowa

    6. Indiana Pacers: Jaden Ivey, PG/SG, Purdue

    7. Portland Trail Blazers: AJ Griffin, SF/PF, Duke

    8. New Orleans Pelicans (via LAL): Bennedict Mathurin, SG, Arizona

    9. San Antonio Spurs: Jalen Duren, C, Memphis

    10. Washington Wizards: Dyson Daniels, PG/SG, G League Ignite

    11. New York Knicks: TyTy Washington Jr., PG/SG, Kentucky

    12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via LAC): Jeremy Sochan, PF/C, Baylor

    13. Charlotte Hornets: Johnny Davis, SG, Wisconsin

    14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Malaki Branham, SG, Ohio State

    15. Charlotte Hornets (via NOP): Mark Williams, C, Duke

    16. Atlanta Hawks: Ochai Agbaji, SG/SF, Kansas

    17. Houston Rockets (via BRK): Nikola Jovic, SF, Mega

    18. Chicago Bulls: Jake LaRavia, PF, Wake Forest

    19. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tari Eason, PF, LSU

    20. San Antonio Spurs (via TOR): Ousmane Dieng, SG/SF, New Zealand Breakers

    21. Denver Nuggets: MarJon Beauchamp, SF, G League Ignite

    22. Memphis Grizzlies (via UTA): Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee

    23. Brooklyn Nets (via PHI): E.J. Liddell, PF, Ohio State

    24. Milwaukee Bucks: Wendell Moore Jr., SG, Duke

    25. San Antonio Spurs (via BOS): Blake Wesley, SG, Notre Dame

    26. Dallas Mavericks: Jalen Williams, SG, Santa Clara

    27. Miami Heat: Terquavion Smith, PG/SG, North Carolina State

    28. Golden State Warriors: Andrew Nembhard, PG, Gonzaga

    29. Memphis Grizzlies: Walker Kessler, C, Auburn

    30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via PHO): Kendall Brown, SF, Baylor

Jeremy Sochan, PF/C, Baylor

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    We know what you're thinking. How can a prospect be mocked in the lottery and still underrated?

    Great question—though, the answer is kind of simple. Jeremy Sochan is mostly being mocked in the back half of the lottery and has a chance to become the best NBA player in this class.

    Granted, a lot of things must go right for that to happen. His stat line from his solo season didn't exactly scream inevitable superstardom—9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds in 25.1 minutes—but it didn't need to. If he pans out, he could be the kind of player who makes a star-level impact on the game even if he doesn't always put up star-level numbers in the box score.

    As The Ringer's Kevin O'Connor put it, Sochan has "limitless potential" if he adds a three-ball to his arsenal. Even without one, Sochan could live up to predraft comparisons to Ben Simmons and Draymond Green as an elite, all-purpose defender and jumbo-sized playmaker (6'9", 230 lbs). He can tally steals or blocks, grab defensive rebounds and go, feed open teammates and ditch defenders off the dribble.

    He isn't a major scoring threat yet, but he has shown great touch around the rim and the explosion to finish above it. His shooting might be the biggest swing skill in this draft, but his ceiling is tantalizingly high if he ever finds one.

Andrew Nembhard, PG, Gonzaga

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    Maybe a savvy front office proves us wrong, but it seems a near certainty Andrew Nembhard will fall through the cracks on draft night. It's a coin-flip whether he'll land in the first round or not.

    His 22nd birthday is behind him. He isn't armed with great length (6'5.75" wingspan, per NBA.com) or elite explosion (26.5" standing vertical). His four-year college career, split evenly between Florida and Gonzaga, produced a 10-point scoring average and a bunch of other numbers that could be easily overlooked.

    That would be a mistake. While Nembhard doesn't have the highest ceiling in this draft, his elevated floor diminishes the chances of failure. He has the handles, vision and IQ to be an offensive caretaker, and he grinds defensively. When asked to give an NBA comparison for himself, Nembhard offered up the similarly rock-solid Tyus Jones.

    "I think that's someone I can emulate early in my career off the bench as a secondary point guard," he told The Athletic's Mike Vorkunov. "He just wins games. Has a high-assist-to-turnover ratio. He's solid."

    Granted, fanbases don't salivate over solid players, but there isn't a better way to add depth than spending a late first- or early second-round selection on a capable role player who can grow into a starting spot. He will never be the best player on an NBA team, but he has paths to become the kind of player who makes everyone around him better.

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