Updated: Sep 21, 2022
Now that the NBA Draft lottery is complete and the draft order is set, it’s time to mock the entire 1st round! From pick #1 to pick #30, who will your team be taking on June 23rd?
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Now with the lottery complete and the draft order set, we’re going to start mocking out the 2022 NBA Draft! As always, we will not be mocking trades (although I expect there to be significant movement on draft night); it’s just too difficult to predict who may make trades on top of who teams may pick, so we keep it standard here!
#1 Orlando Magic- Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga, Big)
This is a three-person draft and then it gets a bit dicey. While Jabari Smith might be the better fit in the sunshine state, Holmgren needs to be the pick here; he was high school teammates with Magic guard Jalen Suggs, and that type of team-building landed the Bengals in the Super Bowl. Comps: More Athletic Shawn Bradley, Skinnier Ben Wallace
#2 Oklahoma City Thunder- Jabari Smith (Auburn, Stretch 4)
This is less about Smith being better than the other guy, but more about the fit in OKC. With Giddey and SGA already with the Thunder, they don’t need a ball handler in Banchero, but a shooter in Smith. Comps: More athletic Antawn Jamison, Better shooting Rasheed Wallace
#3 Houston Rockets- Paolo Banchero (Duke, Point-Forward)
If I were putting money on this, Banchero would be my bet to be the best player in this class. I see him evolving into the point-forward for a contending team, like LeBron has become (but not NEARLY as good as LeBron, to be crystal clear). Banchero won’t be the defender Holmgren will be, or the scorer Smith will be, but he will win more than either of them. Playmaking Chris Webber, Bizarro Ben Simmons
#4 Sacramento Kings- AJ Griffin (Duke, Wing)
This is probably a tad high for Griffin, but I just love the fit for him and the Kings; they don’t need another guard, and Sabonis is one of the best bigs in the league. They need a 3-and-D player who is smart and can compete, which is exactly what Griffin is. Comps: Better-shooting Justise Winslow, Smarter JR Smith
#5 Detroit Pistons- Jaden Ivey (Purdue, Guard)
I’m not completely sold on Ivey. I think it matters that his team had an entire week to prepare for #15 seed St. Peter’s and still lost; it’s one thing for a #2 seed to lose, but a #3 seed should never lose to a #15 seed on the second weekend, that concerns me. But he can shoot and is athletic, so he should fit well next to Cade Cunningham. Comps: Tyrese Maxey, More-athletic Jalen Brunson.
#6 Indiana Pacers- Keegan Murray (Iowa, Wing)
The Pacers just need talent. Drafting Murray gives them someone who can come in and immediately help lift their offense, and someone who can grow with Halliburton. Does this make them a playoff team in 2023? No. Does it help them make the playoffs in 2025? I think so.
#7 Portland Blazers- Jeremy Sochan (Baylor, Wing)
Portland is an impossible situation. They will never win a championship with Lillard, and you can quote me on that. Yet they refuse to trade him and fully go into rebuild mode, so they’re trapped in NBA hell. Going with Sochan here, they can give Dame an athletic wing who has a high basketball IQ and really cares about winning. Does it make them drastically better? No, but no one at this pick would.
#8 New Orleans Pelicans- Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, Guard)
Letting Lonzo Ball go was not a good decision, even with his injuries. This pairing might be a little clunky with Davis and McCollum in the backcourt, but point guard is their biggest weakness right now (with all due respect to Jose Alvarado, whom I love). Davis can help the Pelicans offense be even better, and could be a nice building block for when the team relocates to Seattle after Zion bolts. Sorry New Orleans.
#9 San Antonio Spurs- Dyson Daniels (G-League, Guard)
The Spurs always roll the dice on someone and then they end up being a hall of famer. I don’t think Daniels will be that good, but he does feel like a Spur.
#10 Washington Wizards- Mark Williams (Duke, Big)
The Wizards don’t really need a big, but who really knows what they need? If they refuse to trade Beal, then they really just need any talent at all to put around him. Williams could provide immediate rim protection for when Beal’s man goes by him like a traffic cone.
#11 New York Knicks- TyTy Washington (Kentucky, Guard)
Could TyTy be the Knicks point guard they’ve been searching for for 50 years? I doubt it, but he could be a nice fit with RJ Barrett and Julius Randle (and Donovan Mitchell and Zion Williamson in 18 months).
#12 Oklahoma City Thunder- Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky, Guard)
Who knows with this guy. Didn’t play in college, but went to Kentucky so he must be great, right? Since Presti has accumulated approximately 89 picks over the next 5 years, why not take a chance on Sharpe.
#13 Charlotte Hornets- Ochai Agbaji (Kansas, Guard)
Agbaji just feels like a Hornet. Jordan always loves to draft the two-guard that is overrated at a big college program (Malik Monk, James Bouknight). I don’t think he’ll be very impactful, but with two picks in the first round why not?
#14 Cleveland Cavaliers- Benedict Mathurin (Arizona, Guard)
This is probably too low for Mathurin, but a steal for the Cavs! Mathurin is an athletic pit bull; someone who has an incredible drive to win, which is something Cleveland could use.
#15 Charlotte Hornets- Jalen Duren (Memphis, Big)
While Agbaji is something Charlotte doesn’t really need, Duren is the thing they need the most; a big. Cody Zeller, Mason Plumlee, Bismack Biyombo, etc… yikes. Duren could finally be the answer for Charlotte at center!
#16 Atlanta Hawks- Malaki Branham (Ohio State, Guard)
I honestly don’t think Branham will make it in the league. Whenever I watched Ohio State this season, I noticed EJ Liddell, but I never once noticed Malaki Branham was on the court. Maybe he’ll work out, but I don’t see it.
#17 Houston Rockets- Ousmane Dieng (France, Big)
The Rockets need talent, so a swing on a potential franchise big could be worth it.
#18 Chicago Bulls- Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee, Guard)
Chandler could provide insurance for Chicago with Lonzo’s knee. He has a lot of heart, as displayed in their tourney loss to Michigan, so that makes me believe he could help them down the line.
#19 Minnesota Wolves- Tari Eason (LSU, Big)
The Wolves are mistakenly going to go into the 2023 season thinking they are contenders in the west, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded this pick for a “win-now” player. They’re going to miss the playoffs, so I suppose Eason could help with that. He probably won’t hurt that.
#20 San Antonio Spurs- Nikola Jovic (Serbia, Wing)
Another late first round pick on a European? Sound familiar? The Spurs will turn Jovic into an All-NBA player by 2027. Mark my words. Plus, his name sounds like Nikola Jokic. The NBA karma gods are on his side.
#21 Denver Nuggets- Ej Liddell (Ohio State, Wing)
Like I said at #16, Liddell is someone I always noticed watching Ohio State. The Nuggets will most likely be Finals contenders next season, so I don’t think he’ll contribute much early on, but could develop into something down the road.
#22 Memphis Grizzlies- Kendall Brown (Baylor, Wing)
I loved this Baylor team. Full of high IQ guys who were athletic and competitive, and Brown is no exception. The Grizzlies need athleticism on the wing, and Brown could make an instant impact in Memphis.
#23 Brooklyn Nets- Walker Kessler (Auburn, Big)
BEN SIMMONS WILL NEVER PLAY FOR THE NETS. I have felt this since the day they traded for him. SIMMONS WILL NEVER PLAY AN NBA GAME AGAIN. Because of this, they need some defense and rim protection desperately, so they should absolutely take the best shot-blocker in the nation.
#24 Milwaukee Bucks- Patrick Baldwin (Milwaukee, Wing)
This dude was supposed to be a top-5 pick, but his choice to play for Milwaukee got rid of any hopes he could go in the lottery. This seems like a perfect fit for Baldwin, not just because he could stay in the same city; he gets to learn behind Giannis, Middleton and the rest of that championship core.
#25 San Antonio Spurs- Jaden Hardy (G-League, Guard)
How many picks do the Spurs have? Taking both the notable G-League rookies seems like a good idea, right?
#26 Dallas Mavericks- Blake Wesley (Notre Dame, Guard)
Wesley could help provide some non-Luka offense for Dallas, especially if Brunson leaves this summer. Late in the first round, you just need to go with someone who could provide any sort of help.
#27 Miami Heat- Wendell Moore (Duke, Wing)
Moore came up big in the tournament, and I think he could fit in pretty well with Heat Culture. Plus, they need some athleticism on the wings, so Moore can definitely help with that.
#28 Golden State Warriors- Christian Koloko (Arizona, Big)
The Warriors have everything they need on their roster… if Wiseman hits. But so far, he hasn’t. Assuming he continues to wear street clothes more frequently than a uniform, the Warriors need to draft a big who can give them even 10 minutes in a playoff game. Koloko is athletic enough to give them that.
#29 Memphis Grizzlies- Christian Braun (Kansas, Wing)
What can Braun do for you? While his last name is still perplexing (why is it pronounced Brown??? I think his family is wrong), he is a hyper-athletic wing who has a high basketball IQ and a will to win that carried Kansas to the national championship. Many people focused on Agbaji and McCormack, but Braun is the reason they won. He can space the floor for Memphis and give them more toughness and athleticism.
#30 Oklahoma City Thunder- Marjon Beauchamp (G-League, Wing)
They have so many picks, so why not?
There you have it! My complete first round mock of the 2022 NBA Draft. How many will I get right? More importantly, how many will I get wrong? Make sure to check out all my NBA posts and everything else at The Circuit!