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2022 NBA Mock Draft: 2-Round Predictions and Latest Buzz

Jonathan Wasserman

While NBA teams hold final workouts, solidify their boards and brainstorm trade ideas, they're also calling around to gather intel about what rivals are thinking. 

The top three might not be set the way it seemed after the lottery. Even the Orlando Magic are still doing homework before deciding on their No. 1 pick.

Teams are also creating hypothetical situations to best prepare for June 23. Multiple top-10 teams should have picks up for sale in hopes of acquiring win-now veterans. 

This mock draft reflects what we think NBA teams will do, not what we would do.

Top 5

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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, G, Sophomore)

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


Updated Top-3 Discussion

Since lottery night, the assumption around the NBA has been that Orlando will take Smith. That's still whom NBA staffers would bet their money on at No. 1, but we're also hearing from teams that the Orlando Magic isn't out on Holmgren. 

Compared to Smith, Holmgren was far more effective at the rim, and he projects at the higher-impact defender and passer. It's that skinny frame that's the root of scouts' nerves. And teams are still wondering if Holmgren will take a physical. 

Holmgren has also been linked to the Thunder at No. 2, and most around the league are hearing that he'll be the Oklahoma City Thunder's pick if Orlando takes Smith. Meanwhile, there is belief from multiple rival teams that the Thunder figure to be enticed by Ivey as well. 

Almost every scenario has Banchero available to the Houston Rockets at No. 3. 


Growing Speculation Around Kings Trade

Teams believe the Sacramento Kings will be hoping to find a partner that will make a big offer for the No. 4 pick. Their decision to trade Tyrese Haliburton for Domantas Sabonis signaled a sense of urgency to start winning, and acquiring an older, productive starter could be more appealing than adding a rookie.

If the Kings keep the pick, history suggests they won't factor in fit or needs much. Ivey is widely regarded as the prospect to draft after the big-three freshmen. An Ivey-De'Aaron Fox pairing figures to give the Kings a more exciting feel no matter. 

Nos. 6-14

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6. Indiana Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona, SG/SF, Sophomore)

7. Portland Trail Blazers: Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite, PG/SG, 2003)

8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers): Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky, SG, Freshman)

9. San Antonio Spurs: Jalen Duren (Memphis, C, Freshman)

10. Washington Wizards: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin, SG, Sophomore)

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

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): AJ Griffin (Duke, SF, Freshman)

13. Charlotte Hornets: Mark Williams (Duke, C, Sophomore)

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


Sharpe's Draft Range: Nos. 4-10

If a surprise name can shake up the top four, we're hearing it is Sharpe. There is some buzz about a team in the top four showing extra interest, though it is difficult to picture him going that high, considering general managers are evaluating Sharpe on 2021 AAU tape and workouts.

The Sacramento Kings would make the most sense, given how his shooting/shot-making would fit next to De'Aaron Fox. He's in the conversation for the Detroit Pistons at No. 5 and likely every team picking sixth to 10th. It's difficult to picture him getting past both the San Antonio Spurs and Washington Wizards.


Daniels Becoming Desirable, Safe Play

By June 23, Daniels will have worked out for every team picking Nos. 4-11. Between his age (19), versatility and maturity, which has become evident to teams during the interview process, Daniels is being viewed as a can't-lose selection in the mid-lottery.

The draft has been perceived to have four potential stars—Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey. In the next tier, Daniels has become the desirable star role player with a high floor that suggests a team can't go wrong. The fact that he could be used in so many different ways—either at point guard or off the ball as a wing or forward—allows teams to not have to worry about fit.


Who Bites on 1st True Center?

Duren worked out for the Portland Trail Blazers, who seem like a best-case outcome for the projected first true center taken. The Blazers need to improve defensively, and rim protection is Duren's selling point.

He doesn't seem like a realistic target for the New Orleans Pelicans at No. 8, assuming they want more spacing with Zion Williamson returning. The Spurs make sense for Duren. The Wizards played Kristaps Porzingis at center with Kyle Kuzma and Rui Hachimura in the rotation. And the New York Knicks' need for offense makes it difficult to imagine they will grab a 5 who can't shoot or create, even if they lose Mitchell Robinson.

The lowest he could fall figures to be to the Charlotte Hornets at No. 13. For the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 12, the idea of pairing defensive aces in Holmgren and Duren has to be appealing.

Nos. 15-30

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15. Charlotte Hornets (via Pelicans): Jeremy Sochan (Baylor, PF, Freshman)

16. Atlanta Hawks: Jalen Williams (Santa Clara, PG/SG, Junior)

17. Houston Rockets (via Nets): Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand Breakers, SG/SF, 2003)

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

19. Minnesota Timberwolves: Tari Eason (LSU, PF, Sophomore)

20. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors): Dalen Terry (Arizona, PG/SG, Sophomore)

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

22. Memphis Grizzlies (via Jazz): Walker Kessler (Auburn, C, Sophomore)

23. Philadelphia 76ers: Jaden Hardy (G League Ignite, SG, 2003)

24. Milwaukee Bucks: Blake Wesley (Notre Dame, SG, Freshman)

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

26. Dallas Mavericks: Nikola Jovic (Mega, SF, 2003)

27. Miami Heat: MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite, SF, 2000)

28. Golden State Warriors: Jake LaRavia (Wake Forest, PF, Junior)

29. Memphis Grizzlies: Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee, PG, Freshman)

30. Denver Nuggets (via Thunder): Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke, SG/SF, Junior)


Tracking Terry

Terry has gotten workouts for teams with top-10 picks, including the Indiana Pacers (who also own No. 31) and Portland Trail Blazers (who also own No. 36). He's becoming an intriguing sleeper to track given his clear predraft rise, unique game and statistical profile.

For a point guard, Terry's measurements (6'7¼" in shoes, 7'0¾" wingspan) popped at the combine. He's being viewed as a positionless player who can handle and play-make and defend forwards. It's still extremely uncommon to see a guard-wing type generate first-round attention after averaging just 11.5 points per 40 minutes. But his unconventional archetype and versatility seem to be playing to his favor.


Sochan's Range Becoming Clear

Sochan is getting looks in the late lottery, as his defensive versatility should be attractive to a number of teams in that range. He has scheduled workouts with the Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans and Oklahoma City Thunder, while the Washington Wizards and Charlotte Hornets seem like potential suitors based on their need to improve defensively. 

He also worked out for the Sacramento Kings this week, though they'd be more of a trade-down team. While scouts acknowledge Sochan's shooting as a weakness, they also sound too excited by the idea of a five-position defender who just turned 19, finishes and passes and can still hit an open three. 

Nos. 31-45

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31. Indiana Pacers (via Rockets): Christian Braun (Kansas, SG/SF, Junior)

32. Orlando Magic: Andrew Nembhard (Gonzaga, PG, Senior)

33. Toronto Raptors (via Pistons): Bryce McGowens (Nebraska, SG, Freshman)

34. Oklahoma City Thunder: Trevor Keels (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)

35. Orlando Magic (via Pacers): Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee, PF, Freshman)

36. Portland Trail Blazers: Christian Koloko (Arizona, C, Junior)

37. Sacramento Kings: Kendall Brown (Baylor, SF, Freshman)

38. San Antonio Spurs (via Lakers): Jaylin Williams (Arkansas, PF, Sophomore)

39. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Spurs): David Roddy (Colorado State, PF, Junior)

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

41. New Orleans Pelicans: Max Christie (Michigan State, SG/SF, Freshman)

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

43. Los Angeles Clippers: Jean Montero (Overtime Elite, PG, 2003)

44. Atlanta Hawks: Josh Minott (Memphis, SF/PF, Freshman)

45. Charlotte Hornets: JD Davison (Alabama, PG, Freshman)


Braun, Nembhard in 1st-Round Mix

Braun seems to be on the first-round fence. Scouts see a pro, even if there isn't a visible path to upside. In the 20s, it will come down to a team's willingness to settle on adding a rotational player versus swinging bigger.

He helped himself at the combine, where he continued to strengthen his case as a wing who can make plays for teammates on ball screens. It's worth watching how the first few years of his career go if he lands with a playoff team rather than a rebuilding one such as the Oklahoma City Thunder.

There is plenty of evidence teams put stock in combine scrimmages. Nembhard's 26-point, 11-assist performance in Chicago caught everyone's attention given the freedom he had compared to the facilitator role he played for Gonzaga. He's generating buzz as an option in the 20s. Playoff teams could see an NBA-ready backup they can trust to run offense and make good decisions and enough open shots.


Players Slipping

Rising prospects mean others have to fall. Brown, Baldwin and Montero sound like the most vulnerable among players who were projected to be selected in the first round.

Brown's lack of offense became more alarming as the season went on, and his defense didn't appear strong enough to make up for his lack of creation and poor shooting. His speed and quickness testing results in Chicago were underwhelming.

Baldwin has scouts nervous about his brutally inefficient season, historically low vertical numbers and seemingly casual approach.

Feedback on Montero has been mostly about scouts' desire to see more and hear more positives from the Overtime staff.

Nos. 46-60

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

47. Memphis Grizzlies (via Cavaliers): Dereon Seabron (NC State, SF, Sophomore)

48. Minnesota Timberwolves: Gabriele Procida (Bologna, SF, 2002)

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

50. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Nuggets): Michael Foster Jr. (G League Ignite, PF, 2003)

51. Golden State Warriors (via Raptors): Peyton Watson (UCLA, SF, Freshman)

52. New Orleans Pelicans (via Jazz): Hugo Besson (New Zealand Breakers, SG, 2001)

53. Boston Celtics: Moussa Diabate (Michigan, PF/C, Freshman)

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: Jabari Walker (Colorado, PF, Sophomore)

58. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Heat): Yannick Nzosa (Unicaja, C, 2003)

59. Portland Trail Blazers (via Grizzlies): Trevion Williams (Purdue, PF/C, Senior)

60. Indiana Pacers (via Suns): Ron Harper Jr. (Rutgers, SF, Senior)


What to Do with Watson

Anyone we talked to at the combine sounded baffled by Watson's decision to skip scrimmages. There will be teams who don't have him in their top 50s. But all it takes is one that's willing to bet on potential and blame his bad season on a poor fit at UCLA. Watson averaged just 3.3 points in 12.7 minutes per game, looking too raw for the one-and-done conversation. His range could be from No. 31 to No. 60 or even undrafted.


Prodica Staying In

Prodica is staying in the draft, a sign his camp feels comfortable after having discussions with second-round teams. He has sleeper potential after measuring 6'7¾" in shoes and shooting over 38.0 percent from three in consecutive years overseas. Procida is a stash play in all likelihood, though it does feel like he's secured a spot in the 40s or 50s.


Sleeping on Foster

Foster was in great shape at the combine (6.2 percent body fat), an encouraging sign for a big whose defense and conditioning had been question marks. He almost feels slept on considering he averaged 14.8 points on 49.0 percent shooting as an 18- and 19-year-old in the G League.

His fit will be tougher to picture if he struggles to make threes or guard away from the basket. But for a second-rounder, his physical profile, scoring skill level and production could generate more interest than what's being reported or projected.


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