Skip to main content

The Orlando Magic were awarded the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft via the Draft Lottery last week and the NBA Draft Combine has concluded, which means the 2022 NBA Draft is right around the corner!

Set to take place on June 23 in Brooklyn, this year’s draft will usher in a new era of talent, some of which are already being projected to be All-Stars at some point in their careers. So many prospects are getting ready to begin the next chapter of their basketball lives in the NBA, but the question that remains for all of them revolves around where they will ultimately end up.

Some prospects have received promises by teams in the first-round, but others are still giving it their all in pre-draft workouts, looking to prove that they have what it takes and looking to get just one team to take a gamble on them. There are so many talented players deserving of being drafted this year, but only 30 will go in the first-round and only 58 prospects overall will hear their name called on draft night.

With the draft order set and teams already beginning to formulate their plans ahead of June’s draft, here is my 2022 NBA Mock Draft 1.0 filled with projections for all 58 picks based on intel from scouts, agents and executives from around the league:

USATSI_17940001_168388303_lowres (2)

#1 Orlando Magic - F Jabari Smith Jr. (Auburn - Freshman)

Nailing the first overall pick in this year’s draft is a must for the Orlando Magic, especially since they already have a ton of talented, youthful pieces in place on their roster. Adding a player like Jabari Smith Jr. who not only has star-like potential on both ends of the floor, but fills an immediate scoring void on the wing is something the Magic must consider.

Chet Holmgren could definitely be a building block for them in the frontcourt, but Orlando has not count out bringing back Mo Bamba yet and Wendell Carter Jr. could easily be the team’s starting center in a rotation alongside Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner and Jabari Smith Jr.

While there is still some internal discussion amongst the Magic’s front-office on who to go with, the general consensus around the league points to them going ahead and selecting the Auburn freshman first overall. Size, length, scoring and a winner’s mentality is what Orlando gets with Smith here with the No. 1 overall pick.

USATSI_17915971_168388303_lowres

#2 Oklahoma City Thunder - F/C Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga - Freshman)

Owning the rights to 21 first-round picks and 34 total draft picks through 2028, the Oklahoma City Thunder are expected to be very aggressive in the 2022 NBA Draft. They currently own the 2nd, 12th, 30th and 34th picks this year, giving them plenty of options to potentially hop around and continue adding high-level talents to their roster.

GM Sam Presti and this Thunder front-office have done a fantastic job of assembling young, core pieces over the years and now, it is time for them to take the next step as a rebuilding franchise. Drafting a player of Chet Holmgren’s caliber not only solidifies their frontcourt, something they must address in the draft, but Holmgren gives them another player next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with star-like potential.

A strong defender with the ability to cause a ton of headaches offensively in pick-and-roll sets, Chet Holmgren fits in perfectly as a stretch big man for the Oklahoma City Thunder. Some will say the Thunder will explore trade opportunities for this pick, but unless they get a deal they cannot turn down, Oklahoma City will be holding onto this selection.

USATSI_17803114_168388303_lowres

#3 Houston Rockets - F Paolo Banchero (Duke - Freshman)

Houston Rockets GM Rafael Stone has said that the Rockets will be “available to talk” in regards to hearing trade offers for the No. 3 overall pick, but rival executives around the league fully expect Houston to keep this pick and draft either Jabari Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren or Paolo Banchero, whichever of the three falls their way on draft night.

In this scenario, Paolo Banchero falling to third overall in the hands of the Rockets is the best case scenario for Houston since Banchero is a player that has been linked to them throughout the college basketball season.

The Rockets need a lengthy playmaker at either forward position and alongside both Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green, Banchero would immediately thrive as an instant source of scoring and playmaking. Adding another skilled scorer is exactly what Houston needs right now, hence why the Duke product makes sense for them.

USATSI_17523602_168388303_lowres (1)

#4 Sacramento Kings - G Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky - Freshman)

As of right now, there is a strong chance that this pick gets traded, as the Sacramento Kings have already begun some initial discussions with teams that have shown interest in the pick. Of course, no trade is imminent, but leading up to the draft, expect Sacramento to be very aggressive in trade talks as they look to pick up “win-now” pieces to pair alongside De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.

Should they keep the pick, the Kings will have plenty of options to choose from. Already having De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell in the backcourt, they may trend away from drafting the top overall guard in this year’s draft class in Jaden Ivey and instead, take a chance on one of the biggest boom/bust prospects in Shaedon Sharpe out on the wing.

The Kings need scorers and difference-markers on the offensive-end of the floor and this is exactly what Sharpe projects to be in the NBA should he reach his full potential. In time, Shaedon Sharpe could very well end up being one of the best players from this draft class, but the Kings would definitely be rolling the dice taking the young wing here.

USATSI_17966530_168388303_lowres (1)

#5 Detroit Pistons - G Jaden Ivey (Purdue - Sophomore)

A lot of what the Detroit Pistons plan to do with this pick is predicated on what happens with the Sacramento Kings pick, especially since they could trade out of the four-spot for a team looking to take Jaden Ivey. If he is available fifth overall, this should be a no-brainer pick for the Pistons, even though they do have some talent in their backcourt.

The Pistons need a playmaker right now and someone that can facilitate alongside Cade Cunningham since he alone will not be able to carry this franchise. Jerami Grant could be moved, opening up the possibility for Detroit to replace his production at either forward position, but Jaden Ivey alongside Cade Cunningham suddenly creates a very athletic and high-scoring “one-two” punch in Detroit. Killian Hayes has struggled to emerge as the key starting caliber point guard the Pistons have wanted him to be and Cory Joseph is not a long-term option, hence why bringing in Ivey makes sense here.

Detroit has shown interest in Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Bennedict Mathurin and Shaedon Sharpe early on in the pre-draft process. If Ivey is off the board at fifth overall, Sharpe will certainly be an option for the Pistons, but GM Troy Weaver could also be interested in moving down a couple of spots in the lottery in order to gain more future assets.

USATSI_18290802_168388303_lowres

#6 Indiana Pacers - F Keegan Murray (Iowa - Sophomore)

The Indiana Pacers are approaching the 2022 NBA Draft with the mindset of taking the best player available to them with the sixth overall pick. Bennedict Mathurin, Shaedon Sharpe and AJ Griffin could all be options for them, but if he is available, Keegan Murray is the name that sticks out the most and would fit in immediately.

Turning 22 in August, Murray is more NBA-ready than many in this draft class and he would provide the Pacers with everything they are missing at either forward position alongside Tyrese Haliburton, who will be leading this backcourt heading into the 2022-23 season. Keegan Murray also fits in nicely alongside center Myles Turner given that the 6-foot-8 forward can play out on the perimeter, opening up more space on the interior for Turner. All options are on the table here for the Pacers as they look to quickly turn things around.

USATSI_17962316_168388303_lowres

#7 Portland Trail Blazers - G/F AJ Griffin (Duke - Freshman)

Jerami Grant continues to be linked to the Portland Trail Blazers and this seventh overall pick could very well be on the move in a package for Portland to acquire the forward from Detroit. The Blazers are looking to fill gaps in their roster with players that can help them progress back to being a playoff team right away, hence why holding onto this pick may not make much sense for them in the short-term.

Many around the league feel as if Portland is going to make a move ahead of the draft, trading this 7th overall selection in the process, but should they keep it, the Blazers are going to be looking to add a player that can bring more energy for them on the offensive-end of the floor.

AJ Griffin checks off all the boxes for being an elite-level offensive wing moving forward and being just 18-years-old still, there is plenty of room for growth here. Portland took Anfernee Simons a few years back as a young, high-potential guard and he has turned into a star for them in the backcourt alongside Damian Lillard. Griffin could follow a very similar route if drafted by the Trail Blazers.

USATSI_18304117_168388303_lowres

#8 New Orleans Pelicans - G Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, Sophomore)

Some have projected Johnny Davis slipping in the draft, but plenty of teams have shown interest in him over the last couple of weeks and one of those teams is the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans could use a little bit more depth at the shooting guard position, but they are in a spot where they could easily trade up or down in this year’s draft.

The Pelicans have proven they are not far off from being a real threat in the Western Conference and as a result, packaging this Top-10 pick in a trade could land them another impactful talent to pair with Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson. Keeping the pick though and taking Davis, someone who is comfortable creating space for himself off-the-dribble and providing instant offense, could take a lot of pressure off of McCollum, Ingram and Williamson to have to do everything for the Pelicans.

USATSI_17954686_168388303_lowres

#9 San Antonio Spurs - Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona, Sophomore)

The San Antonio Spurs are always a major question mark in the draft, as you never know what to expect from them. Last year, they shocked everyone by taking Joshua Primo, the youngest player in the draft with one of the biggest upsides on the offensive-end of the floor.

Still looking to find their identity and form a long-term, youthful core, San Antonio could be obligated to go after another high-potential guy like Bennedict Mathurin on the wing to pair with Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson.

Being able to play off another high-motor talent like Murray, Mathurin could really evolve as a primary scoring option on the wing for the Spurs and at 20-years-old, he still has plenty of room for growth on both ends of the floor. A strong three-point shooter with a high understanding for the game offensively, Bennedict Mathurin is a player San Antonio has been linked to in the pre-draft process and he would fill a void they currently have out on the wing. Mathurin is the best available talent on the board here for the Spurs in this scenario.

USATSI_17925932_168388303_lowres

#10 Washington Wizards - F Tari Eason (LSU - Sophomore)

Much like a few other early picks, the Washington Wizards 10th overall selection is definitely going to be involved in some trade chatter leading up to the draft as GM Tommy Sheppard looks to add some more high-level talents around All-Star Bradley Beal.

Should they keep this pick, Washington will have a ton of options on who to draft and they really could go anywhere with this pick given that they have a ton of needs as a franchise. Going after a high-potential, young prospect does make sense long-term, but the Wizards really need to try and do everything they can to try and win in the short-term, especially with Beal’s future drawing question marks leading up to free agency and a possible contract extension.

Tari Eason is not the best prospect available here with the No. 10 overall pick, but he is a guy that gives it his all defensively and can really get things started in terms of pushing the pace and running in transition. He can score either on the wing or in the low-post and Eason can really give this Washington team a boost on defense, as they ranked 25th in the league in defensive rating this past season.

USATSI_17596357_168388303_lowres

#11 New York Knicks - F Jeremy Sochan (Baylor, Freshman)

The New York Knicks need to get back to being a strong defensive team, hence why Jeremy Sochan at 11th overall would be a wise selection. Sochan is a prospect many have linked to the Knicks because of his defensive skillset and he would fill a need on the wing the Knicks have.

This offseason is going to be very important for New York simply because they need to figure out the direction of their franchise moving forward. Mitchell Robinson is a free agent, Julius Randle's future is in question, Obi Toppin put together a dazzling second season in the league and the team still does not have a franchise point guard.

All of these question marks cannot and will not be addressed on draft night, but getting back to their roots defensively and taking a player like Jeremy Sochan allows the Knicks to continue building on what has been successful the last couple of seasons and that is their defense.

USATSI_18113271_168388303_lowres

#12 Oklahoma City Thunder - F Ousmane Dieng (France)

Already having Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr. or Paolo Banchero at this point, the Thunder and GM Sam Presti can look to get aggressive with this 12th overall selection and really dig in on their philosophy of building for the future.

Standing 6-10 with a 7-0-plus wingspan, Ousmane Dieng has a lot of upside for growth at just 19-years-old and could very well end up being one of the best players from this draft class. Out on the wing, Dieng uses his athleticism to his advantage to blow past smaller, less athletic defenders and has a good feel for when to pull up for a jump-shot when attacking the rim.

In time, Dieng could develop into a high-impact two-way player and with other high-level, youthful talents around him like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort and Josh Giddey, not to mention whoever they draft second overall. This truly is the best situation for Ousmane Dieng in the draft, especially since the Thunder have one of the best developmental teams out of any franchise in the league.

USATSI_17973651_168388303_lowres

#13 Charlotte Hornets - C Mark Williams (Duke, Sophomore)

The Charlotte Hornets are not far off from being a playoff team in the Eastern Conference, but they must find their starting center moving forward in this draft. Whether they take him with the 13th or 15th overall selection, Mark Williams should definitely be the Hornets choice, even though Jalen Duren is still on the board.

Williams emerged at Duke being a high-level rim-protector and possessing a 7-7 wingspan, there are few NBA players that will be able to get a shot up over him! Williams is not a liability on offense and tends to move really well either going to screen or cutting to the basket off of pick-and-roll sets, which makes him look like the perfect fit in a Hornets system that revolves around LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier getting their bigs involved in pick-and-roll sets.

There is always the possibility that Charlotte packages both of their first-round picks this year for an All-Star center like Rudy Gobert, but in the long-run, there is more upside by drafting either Mark Williams or Jalen Duren instead of going after Gobert.

USATSI_17271446_168388303_lowres

#14 Cleveland Cavaliers - G Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite)

Collin Sexton’s future with the Cleveland Cavaliers is in question due to him being a restricted free agent this offseason and even if the team retains him, adding another high-level ball-handler and facilitator behind All-Star Darius Garland is not a bad thing. The Cavaliers have done a fantastic job of assembling young, core pieces through the draft over the years and Dyson Daniels could be yet another really good fit in this system.

In the G League, Daniels really stood out as a primary on-ball defender and being 6-8 with a near 6-11 wingspan, he could really stretch his game out to become an all-around perimeter stopper against multiple positions. Many teams fell in love with Daniels during the interview process at the NBA Draft Combine and the Cleveland Cavaliers were said to be one of these teams.

Dyson Daniels has a chance to be the best guard from this draft class and with the Cavaliers entering the 2022 NBA Draft with the mindset of just adding athletic talent, selecting Daniels here is a no-brainer if he is available.

USATSI_17930982_168388303_lowres

#15 Charlotte Hornets - G Ochai Agbaji (Kansas, Senior)

With their second first-round pick, the Hornets could really go anywhere. If a team wants to move up a couple of spots and give Charlotte some more future value, GM Mitch Kupchak and this front-office will likely be very willing to move down a couple of spots given that they have numerous options here.

Finding a player that can come in and contribute right away is what the Hornets will be gunning for with their second pick here after the lottery and Ochai Agbaji is certainly an experienced talent that can really help fortify Charlotte’s bench. He won a championship with Kansas this past college basketball season and needing another reliable ball-handler behind LaMelo Ball, Agbaji is the safest choice for the Hornets.

USATSI_17869959_168388303_lowres

#16 Atlanta Hawks - G Malaki Branham (Ohio State, Freshman)

The Atlanta Hawks are in a position where it would not be shocking to see them move up in the draft. Things didn't go as planned during the 2021-22 season following their magical run to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals and as a result, big changes are coming to this roster. No matter who the Hawks look to move on from this offseason, it is apparent that the Hawks need scoring talent on the wing, especially coming off of their bench.

With Tari Eason gone at this point as a high-level defensive player, targeting a young scorer like Malaki Branham brings a lot of positives to Atlanta, especially since he is another three-point shooter they can play around with in their rotations. Not to mention, Branham provides the Hawks with another reliable ball-handler behind Trae Young, something they don’t really have right now. Already being a strong three-point shooting team, the Hawks could look to add yet another shooting weapon on the perimeter with this pick.

USATSI_17914848_168388303_lowres

#17 Houston Rockets - C Jalen Duren (Memphis, Freshman)

This pick for Houston will be heavily influenced by who they end up with third overall in the draft, but should they not end up with Chet Holmgren, adding a big man later in the first-round suddenly becomes a “must” for this franchise given that Christian Wood is on the trade block and in the final year of his contract entering the 2022-23 season.

They did take Alperen Sengun in the first-round last year, but the Rockets need depth in their frontcourt and where Sengun is more of an offensive-focused prospect, Jalen Duren is more of an avid rim-protector and shot-blocker.

He is not the “modern-day” big man in terms of shooting for the perimeter and being a playmaker, but Duren can block shots, he can rebound and will be a high-level finisher in the paint, possibly even leading this rookie class in field goal percentage his first year in the league if given a handful of playing time. Don’t count out the Rockets looking to play Alperen Sengun alongside a rookie big man this year in their frontcourt, especially if they move on from Christian Wood.

USATSI_18304145_168388303_lowres

#18 Chicago Bulls - F E.J. Liddell (Ohio State, Junior)

E.J. Liddell will enter the NBA as one of the older prospects from this draft class, but he is also ready to contribute in multiple ways. The Chicago Bulls are in a position where their championship window is very small in the Eastern Conference and with them looking to maximize their potential with Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic, adding experienced depth is what matters most.

Coming into the league from Ohio State, Liddell has really improved as an all-around defender and has become a strong rim-protector even though he is only 6-7. Offensively, Liddell can back his opponents down in the post and he also has a perimeter game, making him a viable “small-ball” frontcourt option behind Vucevic for the Bulls.

USATSI_17387992_168388303_lowres

#19 Minnesota Timberwolves - G Jaden Hardy (G League Ignite)

Addressing the future of D’Angelo Russell is priority number one for the Minnesota Timberwolves in the offseason, especially since he is entering the final year of his contract. With new ownership taking over and Tim Connelly recently being hired to be the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations, Connelly is going to look to build a new identity for this franchise predicated around the play of Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Drafting Jaden Hardy, a high-potential guard that has shown flashes of being a primary ball-handler gives Minnesota a possible long-term replacement for Russell should they look to move on from him in the near future. While not a traditional guard, Hardy has no problem creating for himself or others and there are definitely aspects of his game that resemble traits of an NBA All-Star.

Having their core under contract for the 2022-23 season, Hardy could prove to be a very valuable bench player for the Timberwolves right away and this could end up being the best scenario for him given that he gets to learn from All-Stars and other high-level talents this team has. Keep an eye on Jaden Hardy’s draft stock heading into June.

USATSI_18041945_168388303_lowres

#20 San Antonio Spurs - F Nikola Jovic (Serbia)

Having three first-round picks this year, it is hard to believe that the Spurs will look to utilize all three without at least trying to move up and down the draft board. No matter who they take in the lottery, San Antonio still has multiple needs on their roster and they could look to address the same position twice.

Nikola Jovic is arguably the best international prospect in this draft class and he is a versatile forward that can do a little bit of everything on the floor. Pick-and-roll sets are where Jovic flourishes on the court and he is just a very smart player with the ball in his hands. San Antonio has found a lot of success with international prospects in the past and being a 6-10 forward, Jovic has a lot of potential to grow into a two-way factor for any team that takes a chance on him.

USATSI_17533065_168388303_lowres

#21 Denver Nuggets - G Bryce McGowens (Nebraska, Freshman)

With their core expected to be healthy and ready to go for the 2022-23 season, the Denver Nuggets are going to be looking to continue adding viable talents and scorers on their bench. They do not necessarily need another ball-handler, but Bryce McGowens can continue to develop in a lot of other ways off-the-ball offensively.

Standing about 6-5, McGowens could very well be viewed as a possible replacement for Will Barton in Denver, as the team continues to explore all options for the 31-year-old shooting guard in the offseason given that he is in the final year of his contract. While there are other options for them here at 21st overall, Bryce McGowens is one of the more well-polished and ready to contribute freshmen in this draft class.

USATSI_18304118_168388303_lowres

#22 Memphis Grizzlies - G TyTy Washington (Kentucky, Freshman)

Tyus Jones is going to be a free agent this offseason and at this point, it is a long-shot that the Memphis Grizzlies will be able to retain him unless they are willing to offer him a ton of money. Drafting Jones’ replacement and someone that can be a primary ball-handler and facilitator behind Ja Morant is essential here for Memphis.

TyTy Washington is just 20-years-old and still has plenty of room for growth, especially if he is able to sit behind Morant and learn from him as the 2022-23 season progresses. Developing a consistent jump-shot from the perimeter will be key for Washington, as he tends to play more downhill and rely on his mid-range game than anything else, but the former Kentucky Wildcat is still projecting to be a reliable backup point guard right away because of his playmaking and ball-handling abilities.

USATSI_18304068_168388303_lowres

#23 Brooklyn Nets - G MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite)

NOTE: This pick could be deferred by Brooklyn until 2023 and end up back in Philadelphia’s possession. The Nets have until June 1 to decide.

As teams get more familiar with him in the pre-draft process, I truly believe that MarJon Beauchamp has a chance to rise up many team’s draft boards. Making a name for himself in the G League being a strong on-ball defender and someone that has a high understanding for where to be on the floor, Beauchamp really just needs to improve as a perimeter shooter to become a more well-rounded prospect on the wing.

MarJon Beauchamp is NBA-ready and with the Brooklyn Nets needing some help defensively, he could slide in to be a very valuable bench player should they keep this pick. However, there is a strong belief right now that Brooklyn will defer the Philadelphia 76ers’ 2022 first-round pick until 2023, meaning that this 23rd overall selection will likely belong to Philadelphia.

USATSI_17932400_168388303_lowres

#24 Milwaukee Bucks - G Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee, Freshman)

The Milwaukee Bucks have a ton of options for what to do in the NBA Draft this year and GM Jon Horst could once again look to add experienced depth to his roster via a draft night trade. They traded for Grayson Allen in the offseason last year and it would not be surprising to see a similar move made here with this 24th overall selection, especially if the Bucks do not see value with who is still available at the top of their draft board.

Should he be available, Kennedy Chandler would be a good value pick for Milwaukee not only because he supplies them with much-needed guard depth behind Jrue Holiday, but because Chandler showed flashes of his playmaking and facilitating potential at Tennessee. Being a very poised guard, he did not really turn the ball over much his freshman year and Kennedy Chandler is a strong pick-and-roll ball-handler, something that could sit well with Bucks' management. 

USATSI_17922631_168388303_lowres

#25 San Antonio Spurs - C Walker Kessler (Auburn, Sophomore)

With Mathurin and Jovic already heading to San Antonio in this mock draft, the Spurs will likely go ahead and draft for value with their third first-round pick that will almost definitely be moved. They could look to add backcourt depth, but having Joshua Primo and Tre Jones, it likely makes more sense to take one of the bigs that has fallen a little bit.

Being a strong looking shot-blocker that also has great footwork around the rim offensively, Walker Kessler is definitely an intriguing center prospect for the Spurs to add not only for depth behind Jakob Poeltl, but possibly as his replacement in the near future. As reported by HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto this season, the Spurs did hold some trade discussion centered around Poeltl, so it is possible he could be on the move at some point during the 2022-23 season.

USATSI_18295687_168388303_lowres (1)