2022 NBA First Round Mock Draft-Part I

2022 NBA First Round Mock Draft

The NBA Draft is nearly here as we’re about a month away (June 23). This is a pretty deep draft, but there isn’t a certain star like a Ja Morant or Anthony Davis. Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren and Paulo Banchero are skilled big men who are intriguing. This is my first mock draft with just first-round picks. My last write-up was a compilation of my top 30 picks. Here, I’ll take a look at who I think will go in the first round based on needs, best player available, intangibles, fit and more.

1)Orlando Magic, Jabari Smith, Auburn, PF, (6-10, 220)

The 6-10 freshman is a safe pick because he can flat-out shoot it. Many have compared him to another former Magic player who is 6-10 in Rashard Lewis. His career was derailed due to injuries, but in this era of bigs who can shoot threes, Lewis would have been a much more effective player. Orlando has a very young roster that needs as much talent as possible. They didn’t hit a home run with Jalen Suggs last season at five, but Smith is a safer pick than Chet Holmgren, who has more upside.

2)Oklahoma City Thunder, Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga, PF/C (7-1, 190)

There are some concerns about Holmgren, because he’s so thin. But Kevin Durant was also very thin coming out of Texas and he turned out to be pretty good. Holmgren is not Durant in terms of accurate shooting, but he handles the ball extremely well and could be a much better defender due to his length and shotblocking skills. If he adds 30-40 pounds in the next year or so, the sky is the limit. It also helps to have a 7’5 wingspan. Defensive, shooting and length makes him special. The Thunder have a lot of young talent and picks. They also could trade down after this pick.

3)Houston Rockets, Paolo Banchero, Duke, PF (6-10, 250)

There’s no denying Banchero’s size and skill level. He can play all three frontcourt positions in the NBA, but for him to become a star, he needs to improve on the defensive end. His passing skills are outstanding he relied on overpowering smaller defenders. That will be more difficult in the NBA where he won’t be able to beat quicker defenders off the dribble. Houston is another team with a ton of young talent and adding Banchero with Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood is a nice building blocks.

4)Sacramento Kings, Jaden Ivey, Purdue, G, (6-4, 200)

Ivey is not a pure point guard. If he was, he might go even higher. Terrific athlete who will fit well in the pros with his speed and size. Will need to improve as a shooter and decision-maker to play point guard full-time. Right now, he’s a combo guard or even a tweener. Also not a bad defender due to huge wingspan, but needs to be more engaged on that end. A De’Aaron Fox and Ivey backcourt should be the fastest in the league. But with this organization, you never know.

5)Detroit Pistons, Keegan Murray, Iowa , F, (6-8, 225)

Last year, the Pistons took Cade Cunningham with the first pick. He showed flashes, but what they can use is a scorer with him. Murray has a good feel for the game and can shoot it from deep (40%). He’s a pretty good defender and should be able to play power forward in the NBA with so many small-ball lineups.

6)Indiana Pacers, Dyson Daniels, G League Ignite, PG (6-7, 200)

The Pacers traded away Domanta Sabonis and got Tyrese Haliburton in exchange. Haliburton is a combo guard who can play the point. Malcolm Brogdon is another big point guard, who might end up getting traded. Daniels is another long point guard in the mold of Cade Cunningham, though he’s not a big-time scorer. He should fit in with Haliburton, who is a better shooter. But at 19, they can bring him along slowly. He is excellent passer and defender. The rest should come as he looked as though he could potentially be a solid shooter. At that size and when he gains more weight, he’ll be able to play four positions and defend all four.

7)Portland Trailblazers, Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky, G, 6-6, 200

Another polarizing pick, because Sharpe didn’t play in Kentucky and there’s very little film on him. Teams will have to figure him out during individual workouts. Sharpe is a ridiculous athlete who is just 18 and can score. Shot selection and ball-handling is a concern, but you would think there would be flaws for someone who hasn’t played college ball. Portland is in flux right now with Damian Lillard taking up a lot of caps space with what looks like a rebuilding team. A lot of boom or bust potential with this pick.

8)New Orleans Pelicans, Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona, SF/SG (6-6, 210)

Mathurin is a scorer, but he was poor on the defensive end of the floor. He’s also not a creator or a playmaker, but has the explosiveness and stroke to become a solid scorer. He can play shooting guard with Brandon Ingram at small forward and Zion Williamson (if he’s healthy) at power forward. They do have C.J. McCollum so he can start slowly off the bench, but in the rotation. This squad could be outstanding if Zion can stay healthy.

9)San Antonio Spurs, A.J. Griffin, Duke, SF, 6-6, 222

Another team that needs talent. Griffin has all the physical tools and the size, but lacks consistency. He can flat-out shoot the ball, but the rest of his game needs to catch up. Has the length to be a very good 3-and-D player. The Spurs could use another strong perimeter shooter who made nearly 45% of his three-point attempts last season.

10)Washington Wizards, Johnny Davis, Wisconsin, SG, (6-5, 195)

The Wizards need a point guard, but don’t see them drafting one this high. They could trade down here. Davis is one of the best mid-range shooters in the draft. He was a better three-point shooter as a freshman. The issue here is with Brad Beal expected to get the “supermax”, they won’t need a shooting guard. If he can bulk up some and play the three with Beal and a bigger point guard. He’s a dynamic scorer who could take pressure off of Beal and Kristaps Porzingis. Also, a strong defender and has playmaking instincts.

11)New York Knicks, Jalen Duren, Memphis. C (6-11, 250)

The Knicks have plenty of options here. Quality options. Duren is another rim protector with long arms and great physical tools. He’s also very young at 18 and not super skilled. Needs to use his size and strength better, though offensively he is raw. The fact that center Mitchell Robinson is an unrestricted free agent makes some sense here at 11.

12)Oklahoma City Thunder, Ousmane Dieng, New Zealand Breakers, G/F (6-10, 205)

Will the Thunder keep this pick? Probably not, but I can pick for some invisible team. Dieng is a player you can groom and the Thunder aren’t going anywhere for awhile. He just added two inches of height and has guard sills. Needs to add strength and his shooting form needs work. The fact that he can shoot, pass and dribble at 6-10 like a point guard is something to work with. But will need a year or two to get acclimated.

13)Charlotte Hornets, Jeremy Sochan, Baylor, F, (6-8, 220)

There are some players that you can’t define by numbers. Sochan is a modern-day Dennis Rodman with his colorful hair and ability to rebound and defend and Michael Jordan (even if he’s not making this pick), has to realize this team needs defense and intangibles. He’s probably more of a power forward because his offense is a work-in-progress, but he’s not far away. He just turned 19 and he’s a solid pick for those who want defense-first. Should fit in well with Miles Bridges, but they can also bring him along off the bench next season.

14)Cleveland Cavaliers, Malaki Branham, Ohio State, SG (6-5, 180)

Hey, a local pick just like…LeBron James. Well, he’s not LBJ, but Branham is a solid prospect because he will get bigger and stronger. Not a great athlete but is a decent defender and can score off the dribble. Does have good length which helps and should win up in the late lottery. The Cavs have a need for perimeter players considering they have all the size up front led by Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

15)Charlotte Hornets, Mark Williams, Duke, C (7-0, 240)

Will they keep this pick? If the Hornets can get Williams and he can put Mason Plumlee on the bench, why not? Williams is the ultimate rim protector with incredible length and a standing reach of 9’9. Robert Williams has made a big difference for the Celtics while only dunking on offense, but if he becomes even a poor man Rudy Gobert or something close, who cares?

16)Atlanta Hawks, Ochai Agbaji, Kansas, SG (6-6, 215)

I would think this is more of a need pick, because Atlanta has a lot of 6-6 to 6-8 wings. Agbaji doesn’t have to sit because he’s a senior. He’s an outstanding shooter and is a solid 3-and-D guy who is an exceptional athlete. Not a lot of upside nor is he much of a playmaker. But you pretty much know what you’re getting and he's an NBA athlete with an NBA body already.

17)Houston Rockets, Tari Eason, LSU, F, (6-8, 217)

Assuming, they keep the pick. Sure, Houston can use another raw and athletic player. Why not? Very long and athletic defender who has a solid upside. Has a 7’2 wingspan and also handles the ball well so he can create. He needs work on his left hand and his jumper is questionable so he’ll probably be drafted later in the first round. Nothing wrong with a 6-8 athlete who can play several different positions.

18)Chicago Bulls, Jalen Williams, Santa Clara, SG (6-6, 209)

A steal here. Williams could be moving up in the next few weeks. He’s what the Bulls could use as a 2-3 who can do a lot of things well. Williams has a 7’2 wingspan, which is incredible for his size. He also has a good feel for the game. He averaged 4.2 assists per game so he can play multiple positions, which is always a play.

19)Minnesota Timberwolves, Nikola Jovic, Serbia, F (6-10, 222)

Minnesota can take a chance on a young player who is still developing. He’s more of a wing player with his skills. An excellent passer and playmaker. Needs to get stronger.

20)San Antonio Spurs, Jaden Hardy, G League Ignite, (6-4, 190)

If the Spurs keep this pick. Hardy makes some sense here. Hardy is a talented guard, but he didn’t test or scrimmage at the combine. He can flat-out score and is about to turn 20. There is some upside though he’s not a very athletic player, which is why he probably didn’t test.

21)Denver Nuggets, TyTy Washington, Kentucky, PG (6-3, 200)

Denver should get Jamal Murray back from an ACL injury that kept him out the entire season. But why take a chance? They need depth and drafting Kentucky guards usually work out. He also suffered an ankle injury that limited his effectiveness in conference play. Does have a good IQ and a solid touch from inside and out.

22)Memphis Grizzlies, Walker Kessler, Auburn, C (7-1, 245)

Nothing wrong with taken the best player or big man available at this spot. Memphis doesn’t need a lot. Kessler has some upside because big guys that can block shots and protect the rim are useful. He’s also a legit 7-footer with a 7’4 wingspan and has the potential to become a three-point shooter sort of like Brook Lopez (or if not Robin). Can help elevate the defense of the reserves.

23)Philadelphia 76ers, E.J. Liddell, Ohio State, PF (6-7, 240)

Philly doesn’t need a project here. Liddell is Paul Millsap 2.0 with more explosiveness or similar to Grant Williams. He’s an outstanding athlete and had the highest standing vertical in Chicago. Very smart player who will figure it out on defense. Offensively, he’s developing a three-point shot but his strength is his athleticism at power forward to make up for his lack of size.

24)Milwaukee Bucks, Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee, PG (6-1, 171)

Chandler is not a big point guard, but his length can make up for it. There is a little Ja Morant in his game because he’s long (6-5 wingspan) and is an outstanding athlete. That upside makes him an interesting pick, but the lack of size could be a concern on the defensive end, especially when it comes to switching during a pick-and-roll. They can use some depth behind Jrue Holiday.

25)San Antonio Spurs, Jake LaRavia, Wake Forest, PF (6-8, 235)

If the Spurs keep this pick, they probably go with a stash-and-dash-type of pick, but I think they will trade it. LaRavia moved up to the first round by making 18-of-25 from three-point range in Chicago. Even though he spent three years in college, he’s just 20 and showed at the combine that he’s fairly athletic. Very good passer and highly skilled will get him a long look as a possible first-rounder.

26)Dallas Mavericks, MarJon Beauchamp, League Ignite, SG/SF (6-7, 185)

Dallas needs some help for Luka Doncic. A point guard here might make sense or combo guard if Jalen Brunson doesn’t return. A long and athletic wing (7-1 wingspan) who is a solid mid-range shooter and should eventually become a decent three-point marksman. Not much of a shot creator and limited explosion. Needs more strength.

27)Miami, Jean Montero, Overtime Elite, PG (6-2, 180)

Montero is working out with a bunch of teams right now so he could be moving up on some boards. The Heat need some help behind Kyle Lowry, who is near the end of the line. Montero is a bit of a mystery, which is why so many teams are working him out. He’s athletic and can attack the rim, which is something Miami can use.

28)Golden State Warriors, Wendell Moore, Duke, G/F (6-5, 215)

There won’t be a lot of room here, but there’s always some turnover even with great teams.l A big guard who finally became a more reliable player as a junior. More of a 3-and-D player who shot 41.3% from three-point range at Duke last season and also had 4.4 assists. Not much of a shot creator, but a smart player and the Warriors don’t mind high IQ guys.

29)Memphis Grizzlies, Kendall Brown, Baylor, F (6-8, 205)

A good future pick. Another youngster who is an elite athlete and can finish. He is a work-in-progress on offense. His lack of ballhandling means that he’s more of a project than Sochan, but has the frame and potential if a team wants to wait.

30)Oklahoma City Thunder, Blake Wesley, PG (6-5, 185)

A lanky point guard who can play both guard spots. He won’t have to play much with Ja Morant around, but if the Grizzlies can’t re-sign Tyus Jones, he will likely be the backup point guard (unless they sign a veteran). Wesley has all the potential of becoming an excellent playmaker.

Author Profile
Ben Hayes

Ben has been a sports writer for over 35 years, dabbling in college and pro basketball, college and pro football, baseball, college lacrosse, minor league baseball and even college gymnastics. He's also been involved in the gaming industry for nearly 30 years and has been looking to beat the books since he was 13! Ben has had great success in handicapping college football, the NFL, college basketball, the NBA and MLB for 27+ years. His Twitter handle is @BenHayesWAW