NBA

NBA mock draft 2022: Updated first round projection after March Madness

The college basketball season is officially in the books with Kansas Jayhawks cutting down the nets as national champions on the men’s side. That means it’s a natural time to look ahead to the 2022 NBA Draft. The draft will be held on Thursday, June 23, with the draft lottery taking place on Tuesday, May 17.

This mock draft was mostly crafted off our personal big board, but fit was taken into consideration for a few of the selections. We’ve been covering the 2022 draft class since the day after the 2021 draft was held, with our first board debuting in July. While a lot has changed since the preseason, the top two players on our board remain in the same order.

There are four players who have emerged at the top of this draft class. Which players are the biggest risers and fallers on the board after the NCAA tournament? Here’s our complete first round projection, with notes on the picks after the table.

2022 NBA mock draft: Post-NCAA tournament edition

Pick

Team

Player

From

Position

Age

Pick

Team

Player

From

Position

Age

1 Orlando Magic Paolo Banchero Duke Forward Freshman
2 Houston Rockets Chet Holmgren Gonzaga Forward/Big Freshman
3 Detroit Pistons Jabari Smith Jr. Auburn Forward/Big Freshman
4 Oklahoma City Thunder Jaden Ivey Purdue Guard Sophomore
5 Indiana Pacers AJ Griffin Duke Wing Freshman
6 Portland Trail Blazers Jalen Duren Memphis Center Freshman
7 Sacramento Kings Shaedon Sharpe Kentucky Guard Freshman
8 New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers) Ben Mathurin Arizona Guard Sophomore
9 San Antonio Spurs Keegan Murray Iowa Forward Sophomore
10 Washington Wizards Tari Eason LSU Forward Sophomore
11 Portland Trail Blazers (via Pelicans) Johnny Davis Wisconsin Guard Sophomore
12 New York Knicks Jeremy Sochan Baylor Forward Freshman
13 Houston Rockets (via Nets) TyTy Washington Kentucky Guard Freshman
14 Charlotte Hornets Malaki Branham Ohio State Guard Freshman
15 Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers) Ousmane Dieng France Wing Born 2003
16 Atlanta Hawks Dyson Daniels G League Wing Born 2003
17 Indiana Pacers (via Cavs) Ochai Agbaji Kansas Wing Senior
18 Minnesota Timberwolves Jaden Hardy G League Guard Freshman
19 Chicago Bulls Patrick Baldwin Milwaukee Forward Freshman
20 San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors) Nikola Jovic Serbia Forward Born 2003
21 Memphis Grizzlies Blake Wesley Notre Dame Guard Freshman
22 Denver Nuggets Kendall Brown Baylor Guard Freshman
23 Milwaukee Bucks EJ Liddell Ohio State Forward Junior
24 Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers) Bryce McGowens Nebraska Wing Freshman
25 Dallas Mavericks Mark Williams Duke Center Freshman
26 San Antonio Spurs (via Celtics) Kennedy Chandler Tennessee Guard Freshman
27 Golden State Warriors Harrison Ingram Stanford Wing Freshman
28 Miami Heat MarJon Beauchamp G League Wing Fresbhman
29 Memphis Grizzlies Jean Montero Overtime Elite Guard Born 2003
30 Oklahoma City Thunder (via Suns) Christian Braun Kansas Guard Junior

Paolo Banchero is our top prospect, but three other players also deserve consideration with the No. 1 overall pick

We published a lengthy breakdown of why Duke forward Paolo Banchero is our top player in the 2022 NBA draft class over the weekend. Banchero has been No. 1 for us since our initial board in July, and we believe he should be the first overall pick for most teams depending on how the lottery shakes out. At the same time, the gap between Banchero and the next three best prospects is close enough that any of the four could be justified as the first pick.

Each of the top four players in this class has the talent to be a multi-time NBA All-Star, but team context and how they improve their flaws will ultimately determine their pro ceiling. Here’s how we’d rank the “Tier 1” prospects in this class right now:

  1. Paolo Banchero, F, Duke: The best shot creator for himself and others in this class at 6’10, 250 pounds. Banchero displays incredible passing and ball handling at his size, but there are legit concerns for how he fits into certain team contexts if he doesn’t improve his three-point shooting. While he should be a solid defender, he doesn’t project to be as impactful on that end as Holmgren or Smith. Read our full breakdown on Banchero here.
  2. Chet Holmgren, F/C, Gonzaga: An elite rim protector who can anchor a defense despite his thin frame. Holmgren’s scoring is a concern, but his excellent finishing at the rim and capable three-point shooting gives him a pathway to offensive value. Holmgren’s outside shot is vital to his offensive projection. The swing factor in his NBA translation will be how much of a scoring load he can carry. Orlando, who has the No. 1 pick in this mock, might actually be a team that prefers Holmgren at No. 1 to help elevate the defense (the Magic also love length, and Chet’s 7’6 wingspan should be appealing). Read our full breakdown on Holmgren here.
  3. Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue: Ivey has incredible burst with the ball and is an explosive athlete around the rim. He has the potential to develop into a primary offensive option, but he needs to continue improving his manipulation of pace, his pull-up three ball, and how he reads the second level of the defense.
  4. Jabari Smith Jr. F, Auburn: One of the best 6’10+ three-point shooters to ever enter the NBA, Smith also shows impressive ability to defend on the perimeter. The question will be what he can do inside the arc: Smith shot only 43.5 percent on two-pointers and often struggled to create his own look. He needs to improve his rim finishing and ball handling, but there’s a pathway here for No. 1 value. We put Smith ahead of Ivey in this mock based on fit with the Pistons.

I’ve been lucky enough to cover every NBA draft since 2014, and this is the first time I’ve ever had four players in the top tier. I guess I’ve learned some humility over the years — having the public receipts on all your hits and misses will do that to a man. We think Banchero should go No. 1, but we won’t bash a team for preferring any of the other top three players. It’s close.

A.J. Griffin and Jalen Duren are alone in Tier 2

Duke wing A.J. Griffin and Memphis center Jalen Duren have established themselves as the best prospects in the class outside the top-four because of their combination of youth, physical tools, and translatable fit to the NBA.

Griffin won’t turn 19 years old until late August, but already has a grown man’s body. At 6’6, 222 pounds, with a 7-foot wingspan, Griffin has an elite frame for a wing and NBA bloodlines as the son of long-time pro Adrian Griffin. He’s a deadeye outside shooter, canning 44.7 percent of his 159 attempts from three on the season. Griffin’s shooting is a bankable skill, but the rest of his offensive value appears less certain. He looked a little stiff as a north-south driver, and posted a lowly 17.9 percent free throw rate this season. Part of that is because Duke rarely let him create off the dribble. It’s also possible he’s still getting back to full strength health-wise after a history of knee injuries. If Griffin can become more flexible and agile athletically, he feels like an excellent off-ball wing who should bring serious gravity around the arc.

Duren doesn’t turn 19 years old until mid Nov., and like Griffin already has a man-child frame. At 6’10, 250 pounds, with a 7’5 wingspan, he projects as a center who play multiple coverages defensively and boasts an improving offensive skill set. Duren should be a versatile pick-and-roll defender in the NBA because he moves well on the perimeter and has excellent length. He finished top-30 in the country with a 9.9 percent block rate this season as one of the nation’s youngest freshmen. On offense, Duren threw some impressive passes in short roll situations and should make an impact punishing teams on the offensive glass and catching catching lobs. He showed a nice little face-up jumper at times, but only made 62.5 percent of his free throws and attempted only one three-pointer all year. There’s an argument that centers in Duren’s archetype typically aren’t worth a top-six pick, but his awesome physicality, keen defensive instincts, and flashes of offensive skill at such a young age make him a safe bet.

Shaedon Sharpe and Ousmane Dieng are this draft’s lottery tickets

Want to take a swing for the fences after the top-six? A pair of 18-year-old wing prospects with international pedigrees offer raw but enticing upside that could be tough to turn down in the lottery.

Shaedon Sharpe enrolled at Kentucky in Jan. as next year’s No. 1 recruit, but didn’t play a game for the Wildcats this season. ESPN reported that he may be eligible to enter this draft, and if it happens he’ll be the No. 7 prospect on our board. Sharpe is a 6’6 wing with a 7-foot wingspan from Ontario who rapidly rose into the top player in his class because of his combination of size, shooting, and athleticism. Sharpe has a pure shooting stroke with deep range and loves to fire off the dribble. He’s also an explosive and agile athlete who should be able to attack closeouts and defend his position. While his high school footage is filled with amazing highlights, Sharpe remains rough around the edges and can be prone to poor shot selection. It’s also hard to know exactly how good of a shooter and how efficient of a scorer he can be without any college experience. If he crushes workouts, expect him to draw consideration as early as No. 5 based on his pedigree and physical tools.

Dieng is a 6’10 French wing who is opening eyes with his recent play for the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL. A smooth, lanky forward who can handle the ball and displays shot-making touch, Dieng has intrigued evaluators by running pick-and-rolls and hitting floaters in the same pro league that produced LaMelo Ball, Josh Giddey, and R.J. Hampton. He got off to a slow start that tanked his numbers — right now, he’s shooting 35.6 percent from the field, 23.5 percent from three, and 63.6 percent from the foul line — but he’s looked much more comfortable and more productive over his past 10 games. Dieng remains rail thin and needs to develop quickly as a shooter, but his height and flashes of perimeter skill make him a worthy upside swing.

Which NBA prospects rose in the 2022 NCAA tournament?

  • Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor: It’s impossible to take your eyes off Sochan because of the incredible energy he plays with defensively. The 6’9 freshman forward raised the level of intensity every time he took the floor, showing the ability to switch onto smaller players, wall up around the rim, and cover a ton of ground with his mobility. Sochan also has some juice off the dribble. If his jumper comes around — he made 24 threes but shot 29.6 percent from deep and 58.9 percent from the foul line — he’ll have a long and lucrative career.
  • Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas: Agbaji was always a big-time athlete on the wing, but it took him four years at Kansas to grow into the shooter he needed to be to attract serious NBA attention. The whole country saw his shooting improvement on display when he went 6-for-7 from three against Villanova in the Final Four. At 6’5 with a 6’10 wingspan, he has similar physical dimensions to Bulls rookie Ayo Dosunmu. If teams think he can be an instant impact defender like Dosunmu, he could be a worthy rotational wing in the late lottery. The fact that he was excellent in the Final Four on his way to winning Most Outstanding Player on the national title winner will only help his stock.
  • Malaki Branham, G, Ohio State: A 6’5 wing with a 6’10 wingspan, Branham is an excellent shooter who hit 41.6 percent of his threes and 83.3 percent of his free throws as a freshman. He also showed serious ability as a pick-and-roll ball handler, finishing in the 94th percentile in the country (which made up 27 percent of his possessions, the highest of any play type). Branham closed the season on a tear — including 23 points against a tough Villanova defense in Ohio State’s round of 32 tournament loss — taking him from a likely returner to a possible lottery pick.
  • Mark Williams, C, Duke: Williams is a 7-foot center with an enormous 7’7 wingspan who was a vital part of Duke’s march to the Final Four. Williams projects as a lob threat on offense and rim protector on defense who knows how to leverage his length to impact the game. While Williams fell a bit since our pre-tournament mock, it feels like he’s put himself ahead of his peers in a similar archetype like Walker Kessler and Christian Koloko.

We’ll have another NBA mock draft before and after the lottery

We can’t wait to see how the draft order shakes out. Draft season is heating up, and we’ll be following this class all the way until draft night.

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