The 2022 NBA draft is not regarded as being populated by absolute, can’t-miss, future superstars. That said, it isn’t short on overall talent, either.
And as it turns out, the Utah Jazz not having a single pick in this draft turned out to be an insufficient reason for commissioner Adam Silver to just go ahead and cancel the whole thing. So, since it’s taking place this Thursday in Brooklyn after all, we might as well enjoy the intrigue.
1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, Auburn
The Magic need a sure thing. A 6-foot-10 forward who shoots 42% from 3, shows competitiveness, a high motor, and defensive versatility is that. And at 19 years old, he can improve, too.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
No, he’s probably not physically ready yet for the league. But there is significant defensive potential there, and if his 3-point shooting translates and he can handle the boards, he’s a great rebuild piece.
3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, Duke
Houston traded away Christian Wood to clear the way for whichever young big man falls to them. Banchero’s shot isn’t great, and he needs work as a defender and rebounder, but he’s a Day 1 scorer and passer.
4. Sacramento Kings: Jaden Ivey, Purdue
He’s not necessarily looking to play in Sacramento, and the Kings aren’t necessarily looking to keep the pick. Whoever lands him will get a guard whose speed and athleticism make him a scary downhill force.
5. Detroit Pistons: Keegan Murray, Iowa
If Detroit moves on from Jerami Grant, they’ll have ready-made replacement. Murray is not a fantastic athlete, but he’s good enough. He’s also a brilliant shooter and a better-than-solid defender with a high hoops IQ.
6. Indiana Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona
Indy needs some wings, and Mathurin’s a great two-way option. Really good catch-and-shoot guy who’s a willing passer but not always a smart one. He also competes hard defensively. Rising up the boards.
7. Portland Trail Blazers: Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky
A short wing (6-4) with a 7-foot wingspan, he’s a bit of a risk after not playing this past season. But he’s regarded as a tremendous athlete with a good shooting stroke, so there’s enough upside to take a swing.
8. New Orleans Pelicans: Dyson Daniels, G League Ignite
He’s not particularly fast or athletic, but he’s a tall, smart playmaker and a willing, switchable defender. He also plays very well off the ball. The one question is his inconsistent shot, though he showed some progress.
9. San Antonio Spurs: Jalen Duren, Memphis
Jakob Poeltl is in the final year of his deal, so the Spurs grab the freakiest big man here as his successor. Duren’s got a 7-5 wingspan, and is an instant lob threat and shot-blocker, but his motor and IQ must improve.
10. Washington Wizards: Johnny Davis, Wisconsin
The Wiz just need guard help in the worst way. The All-American isn’t a good 3-point shooter, but he’s efficient in the midrange, is a good playmaker and defender, and does all the dirty work that impacts winning.
11. New York Knicks: AJ Griffin, Duke
He’s a pure 3-and-D guy — arguably the best shooter in the class, and a pest on the other end due to a 7-foot wingspan. His inability to put the ball on the floor is problematic, and his medical history is troubling.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ousmane Dieng, New Zealand Breakers
At 6-10, 200, he’s a wing expected to fill out into a four. He’s a project, given his total inability to shoot, but OKC could be willing to take a chance on a smooth playmaker and versatile defender.
13. Charlotte Hornets: Jeremy Sochan, Baylor
His overall shooting isn’t great, and his free-throw shooting (59%) is downright bad, but he’s a tone-setter on defense capable of guarding almost anyone. Besides that, Sochan is a willing and adept playmaking passer.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Ochai Agbaji, Kansas
A senior? A senior! He’s considered at or near his ceiling, but having an aggressive defender who shot 39% from 3-point range for his college career would be some instant impact for a team needing backcourt depth.
15. Charlotte Hornets: Mark Williams, Duke
The Hornets are just gonna keep taking swings at center until they find one who can supplant a Plumlee. Williams is a drop-big rim protector and a great rebounder. He’s also known for having a great motor.
16. Atlanta Hawks: Tari Eason, LSU
The Hawks are looking to upgrade a middling defense, and the über-intense Eason was known for flying around collecting blocks, steals, and rebounds while legit defending 1 through 5. Foul trouble is an issue.
17. Houston Rockets: Jalen Williams, Santa Clara
Houston is in pure talent-acquisition mode, and Williams has been impressing front offices of late with his do-it-all approach. He’s more athletic than you’d think, and has good scoring and court vision, and solid defense.
18. Chicago Bulls: E.J. Liddell, Ohio State
Bulls need defense in general, and forwards who can defend, specifically. Liddell checks those boxes. He could stand to be in better shape, but he’s a Swiss Army knife defensively and improving as a shooter.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee
The Wolves need some guard depth regardless of what they do with D’Angelo Russell. TyTy Washington might’ve been the guy, but tanked his stock a bit. Chandler is small but incredibly quick and creative.
20. San Antonio Spurs: Malaki Branham, Ohio State
He’s a bit anti-Spursian in that he’s something of a gunner, but frankly, they can use a wing with size and length who’s a bit more aggressive in his scoring instincts. Question is, can he improve defensively?
21. Denver Nuggets: Nikola Jovic, Serbia
It has to happen, doesn’t it? Plus, it’s not like Denver couldn’t use a 6-10 forward with handles and passing. The defense is bad, the shooting needs work, but another big who can involve teammates would be stellar.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: TyTy Washington, Kentucky
With Tyus Jones heading for free agency, the Grizz take a chance on a guy who underwhelmed in college and the predraft process, but who’s shown legit skill as a facilitator in both pick-and-roll and transition.
23. Philadelphia 76ers: Jaden Hardy, G League Ignite
If Philly keeps the pick (which it reportedly isn’t keen on), there are worse ways to got than adding a young, high-upside wing with great shooting ability. Decision-making and pick-and-roll offense need to improve.
24. Milwaukee Bucks: Blake Wesley, Notre Dame
He needs some development work, especially with his shooting, but he’s an explosive athlete with length and speed and mobility and a high motor. He’s definitely a high-upside play at this point of the draft.
25. San Antonio Spurs: Dalen Terry, Arizona
He’s been rising up the boards throughout the predraft process thanks to showing off improved shooting, multipositional defending, and, reportedly, preternatural maturity for a not-yet 20-year-old.
26. Houston Rockets: MarJon Beauchamp, G League Ignite
If the Rockets keep all their picks, may as well take a big swing this late. If nothing else, he’s a high-energy guy with a rep for defensive versatility. When he goes from transition to halfcourt, he struggles offensively.
27. Miami Heat: Walker Kessler, Auburn
Miami could use some big-man depth, and Kessler is considered perhaps the best rim-protecting big man in this draft. He’s also shown a bit of 3-point touch. The knocks are his lack of versatility and nastiness.
28. Golden State Warriors: Jake LaRavia, Wake Forest
A wing/forward known for good outside shooting, switchable defense, unselfish playmaking, and off-ball movement? Sounds like a good fit for the Warriors. Body needs work, but he brings swag to the equation.
29. Memphis Grizzlies: Bryce McGowens, Nebraska
Memphis goes for a backcourt/wing upside play, going for a guy who’s not much of a distributor at this point, but who’s got size and the ability to at least get a shot for himself. But right now, he lacks consistency.
30. Denver Nuggets: Trevor Keels, Duke
The Nuggets close out the proceedings with an 18-year-old, 6-5 combo guard who didn’t particularly excel as a freshman, but who showed flashes of paint penetration and defensive toughness.