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2022 NBA mock draft: Early look at the top prospects

With the most recent NBA Draft in the books, we’re looking ahead to a 2022 NBA mock draft, made specially for those who believe their teams are at least another year away from playoff contention.

Based on the hype following next year’s top prospects, and with some projection as to how they’ll fare this coming season, here’s a full mock of the first round for the 2022 NBA Draft.

Note: Draft order based on Sportsnaut’s most-recent power rankings

2022 NBA mock draft: Lottery picks

1. Houston Rockets: Chet Holmgren, forward, Gonzaga

With four first-round picks, headlined by two-guard Jalen Green, from the 2021 draft, there’s no telling what the Rockets’ rotation will look like this coming season. It’s obvious that they’re rebuilding, but landing a slam-dunk No. 1 prospect like Chet Holmgren to team with Green, John Wall and Christian Wood could turn things around quickly.

2. Detroit Pistons: Jaden Hardy, guard, G-League

The pro player comparison 247Sports posits for their No. 1 combo guard in the class of 2022 is Washington Wizards star Bradley Beal. Imagine if Jaden Hardy lives up to that billing, and gets to play next to Cade Cunningham in Detroit.

3. Orlando Magic: Paolo Banchero, forward, Duke

If you like explosive leaping ability, strong finishing at the rim, wildly advanced passing instincts and a fundamentally-sound shooting stroke from a 6-foot-9 forward, you’ll like what Paolo Banchero brings to the hardwood. Plugging him into a Magic lineup led by Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony would give Orlando a legitimate trio to build around.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jabari Smith, forward, Auburn

It’ll be exciting to see Jabari Smith develop at Auburn, because he’s already an excellent power forward with a great face-up game and the length to be a top paint defender. Smith is a smooth athlete with an offensive arsenal that’s already quite advanced, and this pick could mark the start of an earnest effort by the Thunder to build a winning team.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Hunter Sallis, guard, Gonzaga

Playing alongside Chet Holmgren might cause Hunter Sallis to be overshadowed, but he should still be an early lottery pick with ease. Sallis is a classic floor general who always seems to make the right play, and Cleveland may be in the market for another guard with Ricky Rubio on an expiring contract and Collin Sexton probably to be traded soon.

6. Sacramento Kings: Brandon Huntley-Hatfield, forward, Tennessee

Most power forwards still have lots of room to grow into their frame especially as they enter college, which is why it’s so impressive that the 6-foot-9 Brandon Huntley-Hatfield will hit Tennessee’s campus already at a sturdy 230 pounds. Huntley-Hatfield has a great motor and competitive streak, is a strong ball-handler and passer and would give Sacramento necessary help in the frontcourt.

7. Toronto Raptors: Peyton Watson, forward, UCLA

The wiry 6-foot-8, 190-pound Peyton Watson has a lot of swagger about him, and is a very capable facilitator who glides to the rim with ease and can finish strong considering his slight frame. Watson’s ceiling is extremely high, and if he goes to a team like the Raptors, with their track record for strong player development, he could evolve into an All-Star-caliber player.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves: Mark Williams, center, Duke

2022 nba mock draft: mark williams
Mar 10, 2021; Greensboro, North Carolina, USA; Duke Blue Devils center Mark Williams (15) looks to shoot against Louisville Cardinals forward JJ Traynor (12) during the second half in the second round of the 2021 ACC tournament at Greensboro Coliseum. The Duke Blue Devils won 70-56. Mandatory Credit: Nell Redmond-USA TODAY Sports

Although he averaged only 15 minutes per game as a freshman, Mark Williams made a strong impression at Duke last season. His per 40-minute averages came out to 18.7 points, 11.8 rebounds and 3.7 blocks with only 3.9 fouls, so you can see the appeal of him slotting next to Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns.

9. Chicago Bulls: JD Davison, guard, Alabama

He may be a point guard by trade, yet JD Davison’s ability to absolutely destroy the rim as a dunk artist and rise up to block shots is what pops out the most when you watch him. With respect to Coby White, picturing Davison and Zach LaVine in the same Bulls backcourt just makes this potential match between prospect and team so much fun.

10. New Orleans Pelicans: Caleb Houstan, forward, Michigan

Not quite the explosive athlete of some other prospects from this class, whatever Caleb Houstan lacks in that area, he makes up for as an absolute dead-eye shooter from three-point range. Houstan is a great stretch four who should benefit from Juwan Howard’s coaching at Michigan, and is a great fit for the Pelicans’ current personnel.

11. Indiana Pacers: Daimion Collins, forward, Kentucky

Similar in build to Peyton Collins, it’s clear that Daimion Collins needs to bulk up as his career continues. The likely latest one-and-done at Kentucky would enter a great situation with the Pacers, being coached by Rick Carlisle and learning from big men who’ve made huge strides since entering the NBA in Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.

12. Charlotte Hornets: Nikola Jovic, forward, Serbia

Projecting international prospects is becoming easier as the years go on, and the Hornets could get a late-lottery steal here if they play their cards right. Nikola Jovic has the upside to be a perennial All-Star with his ability to score at all three levels and dictate the pace of the game at 6-foot-10, which could be a nice complement to what Charlotte is building around reigning NBA Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball.

13. San Antonio Spurs: Bennedict Mathurin, guard, Arizona

nba mock draft: bennedict mathurin
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

The 6-foot-7 guard started 12 of 26 games for the Wildcats in 2020-21, and made the most of his chances. After the Spurs reached at 12th overall in this year’s draft for Arkansas’ Josh Primo, Bennedict Mathurin is a sensible pick who has the type of high-level perimeter shooting ability San Antonio glaringly lacks right now.

14. Memphis Grizzlies: Max Christie, guard, Michigan State

Getting to play for Tom Izzo is great for any player who aspires to be in the NBA, and Max Christie should benefit from even a one-year stint with the Spartans to remain in the draft lottery. The Grizzlies have done an outstanding job in the draft in recent years, and if they’re picking in this range, Christie is a sensible addition to their deep guard platoon.

NBA mock draft: Non-lottery picks

15. Washington Wizards: Taevion Kinsey, guard, Marshall

Soon to be a senior at Marshall, Taevion Kinsey isn’t someone who the Wizards would have to wait on to be a contributor off the bench. Kinsey took a huge step forward as a shooter from the three-point line and the charity stripe during his junior campaign, which bodes well for his projection to the pro level.

16. New York Knicks: Jaden Ivey, guard, Purdue

nba mock draft: jaden ivey
Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports

A 6-foot-4 defensive-minded two-guard, Ivey still needs to be more consistent shooting the ball on the offensive end. He shot just 26% from three-point range as a freshman for the Boilermakers. Should the athletic guard improve this coming season, the Knicks would be getting an absolute steal in the middle of Round 1.

17. Boston Celtics: Patrick Baldwin, forward, Wisconsin

A five-star recruit and ESPN’s No. 4 player in the Class of 2020, Baldwin turned down offers from Duke, Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina to remain close to home. The 6-foot-9 forward. What makes Baldwin an intriguing prospect for Boston is the fact that he can shoot the ball and play both forward positions. A lack of elite athleticism pushes him down in our initial 2022 NBA mock draft.

18. Portland Trail Blazers: Avery Anderson, guard, Oklahoma State

nba mock draft: avery anderson
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

The 6-foot-3 Anderson was obviously overshadowed by No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham for Oklahoma State last season. This doesn’t mean the 6-foot-3 guard can’t hold up as a draft prospect. He averaged 12.2 points and 4.0 rebounds on a resounding 48% from the field as a sophomore. If Anderson can develop a perimeter game, he’d be an absolute steal for Portland at 18.

19. Houston Rockets (from Miami): Aminu Mohammed, guard, Georgetown

High upside with elite athletic ability. That’s the be way to describe this 6-foot-4 wing. While Mohammed lacks a perimeter game, this athleticism and high-upside ceiling will be enticing should he perform well for Georgetown as a freshman. Think a smaller-framed Jonathan Kuminga. The rebuilding Rockets would take this in a heartbeat with the 19th pick in our initial NBA mock draft for 2022.

20. Golden State Warriors: A.J. Griffin, forward, Duke

This New York native was ESPN’s 27th-ranked recruit for the class of 2021. He’s a lanky wing at 6-foot-7 who grew up around the NBA with his father, Adrian, playing in the Association from 2000-08. Griffin makes for an interesting option at 20 given his two-way ability. It’s something Golden State focused on with its two lottery picks in 2021. Don’t expect that to change next summer.

21. Dallas Mavericks: N’Faly Dante, center, Oregon

nba mock draft: n'faly dante
Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

This 6-foot-11 Mali native was super impressive as a sophomore for Oregon last season, averaging 8.2 points and 5.8 rebounds on 66% shooting. He also showed out big time on the defensive end of the court. That’s a need for Dallas with Kristaps Porzingis’ struggles on defense and the possibility that he’s traded this summer.

22. Philadelphia 76ers: Justin Powell, guard, Tennessee

nba mock draft: justin powell
John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

There’s a decent chance that some combination of Shake Milton, Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle will be traded this summer to find Joel Embiid more help. However that plays out, getting another young guard could make sense. There’s was some thought given to the idea of Powell going pro after his freshman season. He shot 44% from three-point range for the Tigers in 2020-21 and averaged 11.7 points per game.

23. Memphis Grizzlies (from Utah): Hason Ward, forward, Virginia Commonwealth

nba mock draft: hason ward
Mar 5, 2021; Richmond, Virginia, USA; VCU Rams forward Hason Ward (20) dunks the ball against the Dayton Flyers in the second half of a quarterfinal in the Atlantic 10 conference tournament at Stuart C. Siegel Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

At this early stage in the NBA mock draft process, it’s all about eyeing talent. It’s not necessarily about the production we saw a season ago. Ward averaged only 6.4 points in 21.5 minutes of action last season. But the 6-foot-9 forward boasts a tremendous amount of raw upside. That makes sense for a young Grizzlies team.

24. Denver Nuggets: Will Richardson, guard, Oregon

nba mock draft: will richardson
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Yet another player who thought about going pro in 2021, the 6-foot-5 Richardson opted to return for his senior season. It’s now vital that he takes that next step after a down 2020-21 campaign for the Ducks. But the fit is here for a Nuggets squad that needs help at the two-guard spot.

25. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Los Angeles Clippers): Allen Flanigan, guard/forward, Auburn

nba mock draft: allen flanigan
Julie Bennett-USA TODAY Sports

Talk about taking that next step. Flanigan averaged a mere 3.2 points as a freshman before jumping on to the scene big time last season. He averaged 14.3 points and 5.5 rebounds on 57% shooting from two-point range. The one thing holding up this 6-foot-6 wing from being a lottery pick in our initial NBA mock draft are his struggles from the perimeter.

26. Atlanta Hawks: Bryce Thompson, guard, Oklahoma State

nba mock draft; bryce thompson
Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

A consensus five-star recruit in the class of 2020, Thompson opted to transfer from Kansas to Oklahoma State after his freshman season. That’s primarily due to a lack of playing time. He averaged just 4.6 points in 17.1 minutes of action. Depending on how he performs in the same backcourt as Avery Anderson, this could be a tremendous fit for Atlanta in our first 2022 NBA mock draft.

27. New Orleans Pelicans (from Los Angeles Lakers): Johnny Juzang, forward, UCLA

nba mock draft: johnny juzang
Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

After a stellar run with the Bruins in the NCAA Tournament (all-tourney honors), there was some thought given to the idea that Juzang would turn pro in 2021. That did not happen. He now enters his junior season as a player of the year candidate following a 2020-21 campaign that saw the wing average 16.0 points and 4.1 rebounds. This would be the definition of New Orleans getting Zion Williamson some help.

28. Brooklyn Nets: Andrew Nembhard, guard, Gonzaga

nba mock draft: andrew nembhard
Grace Hollars/IndyStar via USA TODAY Sports

Now that the likes of Jalen Suggs and Corey Kispert have gone pro, the expectation in Gonzaga is that Nembhard will be among those ready to step up. He averaged 9.2 points and 4.4 rebounds on 48% shooting for the Bulldogs last season after transferring from Florida.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Phoenix): Keion Brooks, forward, Kentucky

nba mock draft: keion brooks
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With the third of three projected first-round picks in this NBA mock draft, Oklahoma City goes forward once again. It comes in the form of a five-star recruit back in 2019. Brooks (6-foot-7) was darn good for Kentucky as a sophomore. He averaged 10.3 points and 6.8 rebounds in 16 games. Let’s see what he can do as a junior.

30. Milwaukee Bucks: Micah Peavy, guard, Texas Christian

nba mock draft: micah peavy
Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

A top-40 recruit in 2020, Peavy was not happy with what he saw from Texas Tech as a freshman. After averaging under six points per game, he decided to transfer to Texas Christian. Given the guard’s splits last season (47% shooting, 3.1 rebounds in a mere 20 minutes), there’s upside here. Milwaukee would be more than happy to tap into that.