Updated 2022 NBA Mock Draft: Why Teams Are Nervous About Chet Holmgren

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterMay 31, 2022

Updated 2022 NBA Mock Draft: Why Teams Are Nervous About Chet Holmgren

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    Bleacher Report now has a clearer picture of how the 2022 draft may go after talking to NBA front-office members and agents and watching days worth of testing and games. 

    Teams are currently hosting weekly workouts and thinking up trade proposals as we approach the three-week mark until June 23. 

    Here's a look at our latest mock, with analysis tailored to the latest draft buzz.

Top Five

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

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

    3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero (Duke, PF, Freshman)

    4. Sacramento Kings: Jaden Ivey (Purdue, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    5. Detroit Pistons: Keegan Murray (Iowa, PF, Sophomore)


    Smith the presumed favorite at No. 1; teams nervous about Holmgren

    Assumptions by scouts and executives all lean toward the Orlando Magic taking Smith. Shooting and defense give him an edge over Banchero, and there is some fear from teams when it comes to the 195-pound Holmgren, who's also a year older than Smith. Scouts also expect Smith to help close the deal with the Magic during interviews and his likely visit to Orlando. After making 79 threes (42.0 percent) and 42 pull-ups (40.0 percent), per Synergy Sports, he has a case as the best shooting freshman big to ever enter a draft. And that's an obvious draw to a Magic team that finished No. 28 in three-point percentage.

    Rival teams suspecting OKC may have interest in Ivey

    We've heard to keep an ear out for OKC's potential interest in Ivey at No. 2. While Holmgren has been perceived as a top-three pick all season, some scouts prefer Ivey. His fit isn't ideal for a roster that already has Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, but a team who sees Ivey as a surefire star won't pass on him due to fit questions. Of course, there is a difference between OKC being high on Ivey and actually making the pick with Holmgren and Banchero on the board. 

    Houston Rockets looking at stress-free decision at No. 3

    Sources say Houston isn't feeling pressure at No. 3. While there is no indication of what their top three looks like, the Rockets are operating in best-player-available mode, and it sounds as if they'll be happy with whomever falls to them. 

Nos. 6-14

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    6. Indiana Pacers: AJ Griffin (Duke, SF, Freshman)

    7. Portland Trail Blazers: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona, SG/SF, Sophomore)

    8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers): Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite, PG/SG, 2003)

    9. San Antonio Spurs: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, SG, Sophomore)

    10. Washington Wizards: Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

    11. New York Knicks: Malaki Branham (Ohio State, SG, Freshman)

    12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): Jalen Duren (Memphis, C, Freshman)

    13. Charlotte Hornets: Jeremy Sochan (Baylor, PF, Freshman)

    14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Ochai Agbaji (Kansas, SG/SF, Senior)


    Daniels surging into top-8 mix

    Teams are under the impression that the Daniels buzz is real. His draft ceiling has been said to have risen into the Nos. 4-8 range after he measured like a wing (6'7½" in shoes), recorded the combine's fastest shuttle run, put on a convincing shooting clinic at his pro day and impressed in interviews. The fact that he's so versatile and interchangeable between positions 1-4 also eliminates fit concerns with most teams. 

    Branham's draft range now looking like Nos. 8-14

    Daniels' name is hotter, but Branham's is also trending. Not everyone is convinced, but there is still a lot of interest in the freshman who's a year younger than Johnny Davis, measured longer and was more efficient from three, the mid-range and at the rim. Teams think that he can go as high as No. 8 and that he's a better bet to go in the lottery than be on the board at No. 15.  

    Teams watching old film of Shaedon Sharpe

    The Pistons and others are going back to the AAU tape of Sharpe, who didn't play a minute this season. He looked good at his pro day, but teams acknowledge that his athleticism and shot-making were made for the one-on-none workout, and his agency did a good job of putting Sharpe in position to showcase his strengths. Talent alone right now has him in the mix for lottery teams, including Detroit at No. 5. However, despite an enticing mix of bounce and shooting skills, the film shows a player who struggles to create going north-south and relies heavily on low-percentage dribble jumpers. Limited confidence in Sharpe's feel or ability to make teammates better could lead to teams feeling more comfortable with prospects like Murray, Griffin, Davis and Mathurin. 

Nos. 15-20

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

    16. Atlanta Hawks: Tari Eason (LSU, PF, Sophomore)

    17: Houston Rockets (via Nets): Jalen Williams (Santa Clara, PG/SG, Junior)

    18. Chicago Bulls: EJ Liddell (Ohio State, PF, Junior)

    19. Minnesota Timberwolves: MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite, SF, 2000)

    20. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors): Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand Breakers, SG/SF, 2003)


    Jalen Williams climbing

    Williams' potential rise was a hot topic in Chicago at the NBA combine. Some scouts have mentioned him as a top-20 or even potential lottery pick. And some of that talk started even before scrimmages, where he helped further validate the buzz. It's difficult to pinpoint what's caused the sudden spike in interest, although it happens with certain prospects every predraft process. Last year it was Trey Murphy III and Chris Duarte. Williams measuring a 7'2¼" wingspan certainly stood out. But with the value of versatility at an all-time high, the amount of boxes he checks is obviously appealing, as Williams projects as an interchangeable guard and wing who can run pick-and-rolls, pass and catch-and-shoot.

    Dieng buzzing, but not everyone on board

    Dieng's rise became a common talking point after a late-season breakout in the NBL. The idea of a 6'9" wing who can handle and shot-make is obviously enticing, and his productive stretch from March to April came at a time when teams were looking/hoping for new talent to emerge. But not every team is buying the hype. Some think he's merely an idea, or that he's too raw and underdeveloped physically to confidently invest in. All it takes is one team to see upside that's worth spending a few years trying to unlock. It wouldn't be a total shock if Dieng went in the late lottery. But he's not a sure thing to land there. He may make more sense for a team that has multiple first-round picks to gamble with.

Nos. 21-30

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    21. Denver Nuggets: TyTy Washington (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)

    22. Memphis Grizzlies (via Jazz): Dalen Terry (Arizona, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    23. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Walker Kessler (Auburn, C, Sophomore)

    24. Milwaukee Bucks: Jake LaRavia (Wake Forest, PF, Junior)

    25. San Antonio Spurs (via Bucks): Ismael Kamagate (Paris Basketball, C, 2001)

    26. Dallas Mavericks: Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee, SF/PF, Freshman)

    27. Miami Heat: Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee, PG, Freshman)

    28. Golden State Warriors: Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke, SG/SF, Junior)

    29. Memphis Grizzlies: Kendall Brown (Baylor, SF, Freshman)

    30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Suns): Blake Wesley (Notre Dame, SG, Freshman)


    Washington candidate to slip

    One general manager at the combine expressed disappointment in Washington not scrimmaging. Confidence in him has faded, despite the possibility that an ankle injury had something to do with his underwhelming second half the year. In some scouts' minds, Washington is closer to the late first round than the late lottery. 

    LaRavia has fans

    After some convincing shooting during Wednesday's combine drills, LaRavia backed out of scrimmaging. While there is no indication of a promise, interest is snowballing and teams are gaining confidence in his NBA fit. Scouts see a pro, especially those who buy his jump shot. We're also hearing positive feedback regarding his workout performances. Despite scouts acknowledging that he isn't the greatest athlete, "he's just a really good basketball player" has been a commonly expressed sentiment.

Nos. 31-40

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    31. Indiana Pacers (via Rockets): Nikola Jovic (Mega, SF, 2003)

    32. Orlando Magic: Bryce McGowens (Nebraska, SG, Freshman)

    33. Toronto Raptors (via Pistons): Jaden Hardy (G League Ignite, SG, 2002)

    34. Oklahoma City Thunder: Christian Koloko (Arizona, C, Junior)

    35. Orlando Magic (via Pacers): Andrew Nembhard (Gonzaga, PG, Senior)

    36. Portland Trail Blazers: Christian Braun (Kansas, SG/SF, Junior)

    37. Sacramento Kings: Trevor Keels (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)

    38. San Antonio Spurs (via Lakers): Trevion Williams (Purdue, PF/C, Senior)

    39. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Spurs): Jean Montero (Overtime Elite, PG, 2003)

    40. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Wizards): Ryan Rollins (Toledo, PG/SG, Sophomore)         

    Unlucky break for Montero in Chicago

    Teams praised Montero for scrimmaging when so many other fringe first-rounders declined to participate. But he got injured quickly into the opening game, ruining a chance for him to change some minds after a mixed showing in Portland at the Nike Hoop Summit. Not being able to help himself in Chicago when others did could lead to another mini slide down the board. Scouts remain skeptical about his thin frame and limited athleticism for finishing and defense, though there should be optimism about his handles for creation, passing and streaky shot-making translating to offense in some capacity in the NBA.

    Nembhard rising

    Nembhard was a clear winner on Friday in Chicago, when he finished with 26 points and 11 assists after being forced to sit out Thursday with a minor injury. Multiple general managers Bleacher Report spoke with took notice. While he spent most of the season focused on facilitating offense for Chet Holmgren, Drew Timme and Julian Strawther, Nembhard got to be more aggressive as a scorer during the scrimmage, and his improved shooting and pull-up game was evident. 

    Trevion Williams becoming outlier worth betting on

    On paper, it's tough to picture an NBA fit in a 265-pound big who is a limited shooter and defender. But Williams looks easier to buy after scrimmaging in Chicago. He opened with a 14-point, 13-rebound, five-assist line on Thursday. It's well known that he's one of the draft's most skilled passers, but he also flashed some wiggle off the dribble and touch, both around the post and behind the arc.     

Nos. 41-50

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    41. New Orleans Pelicans: Jaylin Williams (Arkansas, PF, Sophomore)

    42. New York Knicks: Justin Lewis (Marquette, SF, Redshirt freshman)

    43. Los Angeles Clippers: Leonard Miller (Fort Erie Academy, SF, 2003)

    44. Atlanta Hawks: Max Christie (Michigan State, SG/SF, Freshman)

    45. Charlotte Hornets: Josh Minott (Memphis, SF/PF, Freshman)

    46. Detroit Pistons (via Nets): Caleb Houstan (Michigan, SF, Freshman)

    47. Memphis Grizzlies (via Cavaliers): Hugo Besson (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)

    48. Minnesota Timberwolves: John Butler Jr. (Florida State, PF, Freshman)

    49. Sacramento Kings (via Bulls): Dominick Barlow (Overtime Elite, PF, 2003)

    50. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nuggets): Dereon Seabron (NC State, SF, Sophomore)


    Scouts confused by Houstan declining combine invite

    Houstan declining an invite to the combine has led to suspicions about a promise, though scouts are still weary. It would be early in the process for teams to deliver such an assurance to a player, particularly one who shot 38.4 percent. It's possible he got a promise from a team that has multiple first-round picks. Maybe a team offered guaranteed money with a second-round pick. Or maybe his agency was trying to hide him. Houstan wouldn't have fared well during athletic testing, and he probably wouldn't have taken the risk of participating in scrimmages.

    Waiting on decision from Butler

    Butler (7'0¾" in shoes) weighing in at 174.4 pounds drew some laughs. However, his shooting fluidity opened eyes. He hit five threes between the two scrimmages, which was obviously noteworthy for a player his height who also shot 39.3 percent from deep as a freshman. He also flashed some open-floor ball-handling after grabbing defensive boards. Butler is still viewed as more of a second-rounder if he stays in, as it's just too difficult to feel confident in a power forward who weighed 2.2 pounds heavier than 6'0½" Kennedy Chandler. But scouts are intrigued nonetheless. He wouldn't have received a combine invite if they weren't. 

    Scouts watching Minott's shot

    Scouts noticed Minott making some tweaks to his jump shot in Chicago. He attempted only 15 threes at Memphis, and shooting will be a key swing skill for his offensive development. Athleticism, defensive activity and passing have helped Minott draw second-round interest. But for a non-creator, becoming a threatening catch-and-shoot forward will be key. His shooting results in Chicago were mixed, but still encouraging.

Nos. 51-60

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    51. Golden State Warriors (via Raptors): JD Davison (Alabama, PG, Freshman)

    52. New Orleans Pelicans (via Jazz): Ron Harper Jr. (Rutgers, SF, Senior)

    53. Boston Celtics: Marcus Sasser (Houston, PG, Junior)

    54. Milwaukee Bucks: Forfeited

    55. Miami Heat (via 76ers): Forfeited

    56. Washington Wizards (via Mavericks): Alondes Williams (Wake Forest, PG/SG, Senior)

    57. Golden State Warriors: Michael Foster Jr. (G League Ignite, PF, 2003)

    58. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Heat): Gabriele Procida (Bologna, SF, 2002)

    59. Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies): Tyrese Martin (Connecticut, SG, Senior)

    60. Indiana Pacers (via Suns): Jabari Walker (Colorado, PF, Sophomore)        

    Davison's stock falling

    Davison was one of the prospects teams were disappointed in for not scrimmaging. "What is he thinking?" one scout asked. Another exec thought it would be the perfect setting for Davison to shine and improve his stock. He didn't help himself during measurements or testing, having come in at 6'2½" in shoes (strangely two inches taller than his height in socks) and only put up average athletic numbers in the verticals and quickness drills. Being labeled a potential backup point guard who isn't a shooter and can't play/guard the wing position will drop him further into the second round. 


    Martin, Sasser the next to go from G League Elite Camp to NBA?

    Martin and Sasser played their way into the combine after stellar showings at Elite Camp. Now they're looking like potential draft picks or at least players who'll get quick invitations to teams' summer-league teams and training camps. The NBA success of Max Strus, Jose Alvarado and Oshae Brissett—former Elite Camp participants—should only make teams more willing to take a chance on Martin and Sasser. Martin was productive and active through four games in Chicago. He was seemingly involved in every play, either as a passer, shot-maker or rebounder. Sasser appeared to be having a breakout season at Houston before suffering a foot injury. His self-creation and shooting at the combine popped, and teams may see a buy-low opportunity in a player who'd have gone earlier had he not missed most of the season.


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