The Kings Beat Mock Draft 1.0

A deep dive into the 2022 NBA Draft

James Ham
May 25, 2022

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It’s mock draft time!

In a change from past years, we are trying something new when it comes to the first few versions of the Mock Draft. Instead of shooting darts at a dartboard during the process, we are using a consensus list from Brett Huff, who has been refining his process for the last five or so years.

We started with a top 15 and now that the lottery is over and done with, we have a draft order and the opportunity to shine a light on all 30 potential picks.

The first mock was only a partial, so we’ll call this The Kings Beat Mock Draft 1.0. Here is how the draft board lays out as of May 25. Expect plenty of changes between now and draft night.

  • Secondary note, due to the length of Mock Draft 1.0, you may need to view the post on the, instead of newsletter format. Also, please excuse any typos in this nearly 7,000 word post.

1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith Jr., PF, Auburn

Measurables: 6-foot-10, 210 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs 

Orlando has stocked up on young talent over the last few seasons, but they still can’t seem to put it all together. They have a ton of guards and they seem to be in love with Franz Wagner at the three and Wendell Carter Jr. at the five. Injuries have slowed the progress of Jonathan Issac, which means the Magic have a hole at the four. There just happens to be a couple of good ones here on the board at No. 1. 

Why Smith?

The Magic were the big winners in the lottery. The consensus, as well as early intel, has Smith Jr. going No. 1, but there is still plenty of time for that to change. 

The son of former Sacramento Kings big man Jabari Smith, this is a young player without a true ceiling. He can shoot the 3-ball at an incredible clip for a player his size and there is potential for him to grow into a Jaren Jackson Jr. type player. 

He didn’t put up the shot blocking numbers that you would have expected for a player with his athleticism, but he played alongside a crazy rim protector in Walker Kessler at Auburn. A frontline of Smith, Carter and Wagner would be interesting to watch. 

2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, PF/C, Gonzanga

Measurables: 7-foot, 195 pounds Draft Age: 20

Team Needs

Who is a keeper and is not in OKC? The Thunder have a lead scorer in Shai Gilgious-Alexander, a slick wing in Josh Giddey and a defensive stopper in Lou Dort. They also have three first round picks in this year’s draft and nine more in the next two drafts. The lottery gods delivered a top 3 pick in this year’s draft, which opens up a ton of possibilities. 

Why Holmgren?

Holmgren is a unicorn. He can do everything, like score inside, shoot the 3-ball, rebound, distribute and play defense. He’s also considered one of the top defensive players in this year’s draft, despite his wiry frame, and there is more to his game than what he showed at Gonzaga. 

He may not have the pure athleticism of Jabari Smith Jr. or the refined offensive game of Paolo Banchero, but the upside here is limitless. Adding Holmgren would give OKC another elite building block, with crazy size and defensive acumen. He’ll need time to get stronger and fill out, but this could be a true game changer in two or three years.

There is early chatter that the Thunder might look to move down a few picks. That’s tough to imagine, but if the right package comes along, there is always a chance.

3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, PF, Duke

Measurables: 6-foot-10, 250 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

Houston has a pair of young studs to build around in Jalen Green and Alperen Sengun. Outside of these two, they have a lot of long term holes to fill. When you’re selecting this high, you go for the best player available, regardless of position. This is a big-heavy top end of the draft, which should suit the Rockets just fine. They’ll likely just wait to see who of the big three falls to this spot and then make an easy selection.

Why Banchero?

Holmgren is the defensive star. Smith Jr. is the prototypical modern four. Of the three, Banchero is likely to be the one who adjusts to the league first and finds success. 

Despite his age, Banchero has an elite feel for the game on the offensive end. He needs to work on his 3-point shot, but this looks like a player with all of the tools to be a 20-point per game scorer early in his career. He’s also a solid passer and there is potential for his defense to translate to the NBA level as well.

If OKC isn’t sold on Holmgren, there is a possibility that they look to Banchero instead at No. 2, but the top three seem set a little over a month away from the draft. Banchero could be a very nice long term scoring partner for Green. 

4. Sacramento Kings: Jaden Ivey, SG, Purdue

Measurables: 6-foot-4, 200 pounds Draft Age: 20

Team Needs

Winners. Defenders. Length. 3-point shooting. General manager Monte McNair took a swing at the deadline when he landed Domantas Sabonis via trade. He’ll pair the two-time All-Star with De’Aaron Fox moving forward, which means the Kings need long, versatile shooters at the two, three and four. At No. 4, the focus is on finding the highest ceiling player possible. Fit doesn’t matter.

Why Ivey?

Ivey is on the outside looking in on the top 3 at this point, but there is plenty of time for that to change. He has electric speed, quickness and athleticism and looks like the shooting guard version of Ja Morant. 

He’ll need to get stronger, refine his shot and work on his defensive acumen, but this is an elite talent who will sell tickets with his flair for the dramatic. 

It might be a toss up between Ivey and Shaedon Sharpe here at No. 4. All things considered, Ivey is probably a safer pick, especially when considering the two are in the same tier, but Sharpe would likely be a better fit next to Fox. This is a complicated equation, but the Kings moving up in the draft has opened up so many different options, including making the selection, moving up or even moving completely out of the draft.

5. Detroit Pistons: Keegan Murray, PF, Iowa

Measurables: 6-foot-8, 225 pounds Draft Age: 21

Team Needs

The Pistons landed a star in the making in Cade Cunningham and they have a pair of solid forwards in Jeremi Grant and Saddiq Bey. They have a ton of needs, but at the top of that list is a star scorer to pair long term with Cunningham, regardless of position. 

Why Murray?  

Position of need? Maybe. Mature college prospect? Check. This is a little high in my book for Murray, but that doesn’t mean he won’t hear his name called in the Top 5. 

Murray might be the safest pick in the lottery. He looks like a long term NBA rotational player with the upside somewhere between Harrison Barnes and Trevor Ariza. He can defend multiple positions, shoot the three, rebound and even block a few shots. 

Whether he can be a plus starter is still in question, but he’s shown the ability to improve each year and there is still room to grow, even if he is an older sophomore. Murray would pair well on the front line with Bey long term and making this selection could have a domino effect on the rest of the Pistons’ roster, especially for a player like Grant.

6. Indiana Pacers: Shaedon Sharpe, SG, Kentucky

Measurables: 6-foot-5.25, 198 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

Indiana is a team in flux. They made a big move at the trade deadline to add Tyrese Haliburton in a swap for Domantas Sabonis, which might trigger more moves in the coming months. The No. 6 spot is still a point in the draft where you value the highest ceiling over anything else and Haliburton and even Myles Turner are easy players to build around. 

Why Sharpe?

Sharpe is the mystery man of this year’s draft. He has to hope that scouts caught enough of him in person during his high school years, especially if he plans to get selected before players like Benedict Mathurin and AJ Griffin in the top seven. 

At 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-11.5 wingspan, Sharpe has the tools to defend multiple positions at the NBA level. He’s worked on his shot and off the dribble creation, but he’s raw and lacks experience above the high school level. 

There are much safer picks here and the fact that no one has really seen Sharpe play in a year is a concern. He left the combine early and has only worked out at pro-day style exhibitions playing 1-on-0. But the talent and potential is incredible and may be too difficult to pass on. Is this the future backcourt mate for Haliburton?

7. Portland Trail Blazers: AJ Griffin, SF, Duke

Measurables: 6-foot-6, 220 pounds Draft Age: 18

Team Needs 

Are the Blazers in rebuild or reset mode? After trading away CJ McCollum and shutting down Damian Lillard, the focus shifted to Anfernee Simons and Nassir Little. Little injured his shoulder in January and missed major time, but he is still part of the core moving forward. Will Portland shop this pick to add immediate help for Lillard? Will they look for a veteran college player who can play rotational minutes in year one? Or will they start over completely and go with the best young talent available? Lots of options in the Pacific Northwest.

Why Griffin?

Griffin, Johnny Davis and Bennedict Mathurin are all in the same grouping of players. We are still in the range where you take the highest ceiling player and hope for the best and Griffin may have a slight edge in potential over the other two.

This is an elite shooter with NBA pedigree. He can play the two or the three and has the tools to become a very good 3-and-D wing. He has shown flashes of elite athleticism, but it’s not always functional. He is strong enough to play through contact and there is plenty to build on, but he’s young and will need time to develop his overall game.

Portland will shop this pick heavily as they try to expedite their build. That means that this is a wide open point in the draft where teams will be trying to move up to draft a player of intrigue. 

8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers): Bennedict Mathurin, SG/SF, Arizona

Measurables: 6-foot-6, 205 pounds Draft Age: 20

Team Needs

Adding CJ McCollum at the deadline was a stroke of genius. He’s the right veteran for a squad that desperately needed more shooters and more leadership. Brandon Ingram is a star at the three and Jonas Valanciunas is an anchor in the post. Add to this core a stellar rookie in Herb Jones and a complete unknown in Zion Williamson and this team has a core on the rise. The Pelicans still need more pieces, but they have taken a leap ahead with their play-in victories and first round playoff appearance.

Why Mathurin?

There are a lot of quality sophomores in this year’s draft and Mathurin is one of the better ones. He turned heads with a couple of big time performances in the NCAA tournament, including a 30 point outburst against TCU where he showed the ability to put a team on his back and hit big shots. 

A three-level scorer, Mathurin has great size for an NBA two and there is a possibility he can shift to the three for stretches. He also plays with an edge that usually translates well to the next level. 

New Orleans made a splash to add backcourt depth, but they could use more shooting and another scorer. Mathurin has an NBA frame and might be able to help out earlier than some of the players around this range. 

9. San Antonio Spurs: Dyson Daniels, SG, G League Ignite

Measurables: 6-foot-7.5, 195 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

San Antonio won’t commit to a full rebuild, so they will perpetually be stuck in the middle, at least for the next few seasons. DeJounte Murray took a tremendous step forward this year, not only becoming an All-Star, but also a nightly triple-double threat. Keldon Johnson is a player on the rise and the team’s patient approach to Devin Vassel should pay dividends down the road. Overall, the Spurs just need more talent, regardless of position.

Why Daniels?

Selecting Daniels is a move for the future. The 19-year-old Australian has a good feel for the game and potential on both ends of the court, although his defense is ahead of his offensive game at this point. 

He needs to improve greatly as a shooter, but his form isn’t horrible. He has solid athleticism, can finish through contact and his measurements came back better than expected at the combine. 

The Spurs might be searching for backcourt depth with Derrick White gone and Lonnie Walker’s pending free agency. This isn’t an instant plug-and-play prospect, but the Spurs need talent at almost every position. Daniels is a riser with a month left in the draft process.

10. Washington Wizards: Jalen Duren, C Memphis

Measurables: 6-foot-11, 250 pounds Draft Age: 18 

Team Needs

Washington is one of those teams that seems to value raw stats over fit. They usually have plenty of talent and rarely live up to expectations. They have a star in Bradley Beal and they added Kristaps Porzingis at the deadline. Kyle Kuzma looks like a keeper and the young forward tandem of Deni Avdija and Rui Hachimura still has upside. 

Why Duren?

Duren is likely the first true center to come off the board in this year’s draft. At just 18 years old, he is raw and needs plenty of development, but he already has an NBA body that draws comparisons to Dwight Howard. 

His 7-foot-5+ wingspan and rangy athleticism may have earned him a top 3 selection a decade ago. He’s a bit of a throwback, but every team needs a rim runner and shot blocker. 

The Wizards are a team caught in the middle. They have talent, but it hasn’t seemed to mesh. They made a big move for Porzingis, but the center position has been an issue for a while. This is an investment for the future.

11. New York Knicks: Jeremy Sochan, SF/PF, Baylor

Measurables: 6-foot-9, 230 pounds Draft Age: 19 

Team Needs

After a really solid 2020-21 campaign, the Knicks fell back to Earth this season, missing the playoffs for the eighth time in nine years. Like the Wizards, they have talent, but the sum of the parts is greater than the whole. Julius Randle is either a franchise player or a man on his way out, depending on the month. RJ Barrett is a keeper, but the rest of this roster should have a price sticker on it. 

Why Sochan?

Sochan’s versatility is his best asset. He can defend both forward positions, handle the ball, defend and rebound. 

There are major concerns about his ability to hit the 3-ball (29.6%) and his free throw shooting numbers (58.9%), which are a solid indicator for long range shooting improvement, but don’t build confidence. 

Every team needs a swiss army knife type player and there is potential that Sochan’s game translates well to the NBA, even if he isn’t a major scoring threat. The Knicks stuck with Tom Thibodeau after a very rocky season, so they should probably go get him defensive players that fit his schemes. Sochan’s versatility and upside makes him an easy selection.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): Johnny Davis, SG, Wisconsin

Measurables: 6-foot-5.75, 196 pounds Draft Age: 20

Team Needs

The Thunder are almost always in this same position. They have a top tier pick that they can swing for the fence with and then another selection around the middle of the draft that they can play a little safer. OKC has some pieces, but what they need is talent at almost every position. Eventually they will try to go for wins, but for now, this is a franchise that is mining for talent and has plenty of draft capital to work with. 

Why Davis?

Davis was an early riser in the 2022 NBA Draft cycle, but he came back down to Earth a little bit over the last week or so.  

There is a ton to like about his skill set and his ability to backpack a team, like he did at Wisconsin. His 3-point numbers weren’t great in his sophomore season, but there is hope that he will improve. 

Davis is a quality defender and solid all around prospect that should be able to help a team early in his career. He’s another high basketball IQ player and if his skill set translates, he could be a steal at this point. OKC needs to make a splash at the top of the draft, hit a solid base hit here at the back of the lottery and they still have one more shot to find talent at No. 30.

13. Charlotte Hornets: Malaki Branham, SG, Ohio State

Measurables: 6-foot-5.5, 195 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

Charlotte is one of the teams on the cusp of being really good. They are young, exciting and have talent with more room to grow. They are going to have to fork out a ton of cash to keep Miles Bridges and then LaMelo Ball two years later, but this is a group on the rise and they have solid players at almost every position. Taking a swing with a veteran college player who can help right away is one approach that might work here. There is also potential for this pick to be moved for a veteran player or two that can help them take the next step. 

Why Branham?

After a slow start to his freshman season, Branham really got it going down the stretch. He’s very young and needs a ton of work on the defensive end, but at this point in the draft, you are trying to balance upside and fit. 

Branham helped himself at the combine, posting solid length and athleticism for an NBA two. He’s one of those three-level scorer types that uses craftiness to create opportunities for himself.

Charlotte is a team on the rise, but they also have to be careful about their build. They made two selections in the first round last season and are still waiting for either one to pan out. THis is another stab in the dark for the future, but one that could pay dividends if he’s developed properly. 

14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Mark Williams, C, Duke

Measurables: 7-foot-2, 242 pounds Draft Age: 20

Team Needs

The biggest need for Cleveland is a fast forward button. They have incredible young talent at almost every position and they are already taking major steps forward, including Darius Garland, Isaac Okuro and Evan Mobley. They need depth in the backcourt, more shooting on the perimeter and a veteran or two to help accelerate the growth of their youth. 

Why Williams?

Williams is your standard rim runner at the NBA level, which always has value. He posted a 7-foot-6.5 wingspan at the combine and an incredible 9-foot-9 standing reach. 

He has the size and athleticism to be an elite shotblocker, although he will likely struggle with foul trouble early in his career. Williams also has a mature body for a 20-year-old and should be able to play minutes early on. 

He isn’t a shooter from the perimeter, which limits his overall upside, but his skill set should translate directly to the league. Cleveland has way too many bigs to make a selection like this, but Williams will go somewhere around this point in the draft.

15. Charlotte Hornets (via Pelicans): Tari Eason, PF, LSU 

Measurables: 6-foot-8, 217 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

The Hornets had a difficult time getting young players like James Bouknight and Kai Jones minutes on the court last season. The fact that they have picks No. 13 and No. 15 this season gives them a lot of flexibility to make a move. If they stay here, there are plenty of options, but they might be better suited either packaging the picks to move up or even move out of the draft.

Why Eason?

Eason is fun. He’s a super athlete that flies all over the court causing problems. He’s erratic and needs to sure up his 3-point shot, but there is a lot to like about the energy and force he brings to the court. 

There is a good chance that Eason goes higher than this. He needs to convince teams that he’s more Josh Smith than Thomas Robinson, but his body of work should land him in the lottery.

Charlotte could use a few more shooters, but with a player like Ball on the roster, adding another big that can run the floor and finish in transition, like Miles Bridges, would be a plus. Mark Williams falling to this spot would also fill a big need for the Hornets. 

16. Atlanta Hawks: Ousmane Dieng, SF, New Zealand

Measurables: 6-foot-9, 185 pounds Draft Age: 18

Team Needs

The Hawks made it to the Eastern Conference Finals a year ago and then came crashing back down this season. Trae Young is still the centerpiece to their system, but the rest of the parts could be shuffled dramatically over the offseason. They have major injury issues and some huge decisions about how to move forward. They have talent at every position, but when it doesn’t work, like it didn’t this season, it’s time for change.

Why Dieng?

This is a mystery man in the middle of the draft. Dieng has the physical tools and all kinds of potential, but he’s a project on almost every front. He’s long, athletic, and has good size at the three, which might be enough to get his name called in the top 20 of the draft.

What do you get for a team that has depth at every position? A draft and stash candidate? Maybe a project who will need plenty of time to develop who can learn from watching and playing in the G League? Dieng might be too intriguing to pass on.

17. Houston Rockets (via Nets): TyTy Washington, PG, Kentucky

Measurables: 6-foot-3.75, 196 pounds Draft Age: 20

Team Needs 

Houston has very few commitments moving forward. Green is a keeper and Sengun has potential. The rest of this roster is wide open. The Rockets are slated to select at the top of the draft with their first first-rounder. This is another strong selection that could add a rotational piece for the future.

Why Washington? 

Shockingly, this is the first true point guard expected to come off the board in the 2022 NBA Draft. A series of ankle injuries slowed Washington in the second half of the season, but he showed enough early on to be considered a lottery selection. 

He has good size, speed and length for the lead guard position and he has a good feel for the game. The Rockets are a really young team. They have a top tier pick to add to the mix, but they need as many pieces as possible to work with. A long term back court of Washington and Green might work. 

18. Chicago Bulls: Ochai Agbaji, SG/SF, Kansas

Measurables: 6-foot-5.5, 217 pounds Draft Age: 22

Team Needs

So close, yet so far away. The Bulls are a team on the brink of contention, but some of it feels like a house of cards. They made savvy moves to bring in DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso. They had a setback with Patrick Williams due to injuries this season, but it opened the door for Ayo Dosunmu to develop. Zach LaVine is a free agent, which could set this team back if he leaves, but this is a deep and talented roster on the rise.  

Why Agbaji?

Every team in the league needs 3-and-D wings and Agbaji might be the most sure bet in the middle of the draft. With his 6-foot-10 wingspan, he can defend three positions. He also shot an impressive 40.7 percent from three point range. 

There are players with higher upside, but if you are looking for a mature role player who can help with your culture and fit in right away, Agbaji is the guy. The Bulls are close to competing. They need players who can help out now, especially with a couple of crucial wing players entering free agency.  

19. Minnesota Timberwolves: Blake Wesley, SG, Notre Dame

Measurables: 6-foot-4.25, 187 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

TheT-Wolves are all grown up. After struggling with the expectations that come with top tier talent, Minnesota took a huge leap forward this season. Chris Finch is building something and he has plenty of elite young players with upside to continue to grow this team. The Timberwolves have a few free agents coming into the offseason and will likely look for upgrades. They could use another long wing defender, a shot blocker to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns and more 3-point shooting, since they love to hoist it from deep.

Why Wesley?

Wesley is an interesting prospect. He has length, athleticism and he plays with incredible energy. He’s raw and will need to hone most of his skills to find real success at the NBA level, but there might be something here.

Like most of the teams at this point in the draft, Minnesota is looking to make a leap forward. They could go for a more mature and developed prospect, but it’s hard to find an immediate impact player here. Instead, they can search for budget veterans to help pick up wins now while taking a gamble on a draft and develop player for the future, like Wesley. 

20. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors): E.J. Liddell, PF, Ohio State

Measurables: 6-foot-7, 243 pounds Draft Age: 21

Team Needs

This is the second of three first round selections for the Spurs, but there is a chance they use all of them, instead of trading out or consolidating. The roster is wide open and in need of just about everything. San Antonio has spent plenty of development time on players who haven’t taken the big leap. They might need to start over with a fresh young crop, regardless of position.

Why Liddell?

Will it translate? There is an entire group of prospects that come into the draft every year and the question is whether their college stats will hold up when they are facing more athletic, stronger, grown men at the next level. 

Liddell plays much bigger than his 6-foot-7 frame and his ability to fill the stat sheet is impressive. Will his 3-point shooting carry over? Will he be able to block shots at the same clip? Is he really an undersized five? He can hoop and that might be all that matters for a Spurs franchise that knows how to mine for talent.

21. Denver Nuggets: Kendall Brown, SF, Baylor

Measurables: 6-foot-7.5, 201 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs 

The Nuggets biggest need is some better luck with injuries. Nikola Jokic is one of the NBA’s best, but he can’t do it all on his own. Denver desperately missed Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. and they could use more depth overall in case the injury bug continues to be an issue. They have solid veterans throughout the rotation and Bones Hyland was a true find. At this point, they can choose the best player available and not truly concern themselves with positional fit.

Why Brown?

Baylor has a pair of promising young forwards that are drawing interest. Sochan is listed to go a few picks before Brown, but it’s early. Long, athletic and defensive-minded, Brown has fallen a bit due to a lack of offensive arsenal. 

He has a lot of potential and a prototypical NBA body for a modern forward, but there are players further along in their development. A team like Denver that has the depth to be patient could find a mid first round steal.

22. Memphis Grizzlies (via Jazz): Nikola Jovic, SF, Mega Bemax (Serbia)

Measurables: 6-foot-11, 223 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

More of the same. Memphis is building something and it looks very sustainable. The team is built around a young superstar in Ja Morant, but Jaren Jackson Jr. is becoming that second guy and the team has another 5-6 guys that are that third guy. This is a machine that has a chance to become a contender in the next year or two, without even adding through the draft.

Why Jovic?

Rarely do you see a player with this type of size and skill set fall this far in the draft. Jovic can shoot, pass and handle the ball. He’s a high basketball IQ player who should be able to stick at the small forward position at 6-foot-11. There are questions about his defensive acumen and he may not be an elite athlete, but this seems like a no brainer for NBA teams. 

In a draft that isn’t known for its top end depth, Jovic, especially this late, might be one of the easiest decisions. You have options with a player like this. You can draft and stash. You can bring him over and let him grow up on the bench. With multiple picks, Memphis might be a perfect landing spot.  

23. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee

Measurables: 6-foot-.5, 172 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

This is a mess. Brooklyn flamed out in the playoffs in ugly fashion and Kyrie Irving’s status with the team moving forward is almost a complete unknown. And then there is the Ben Simmons situation. This team is in cap hell and they have holes to fill all over the roster.

Why Chandler?

Chandler isn’t a big guy, but he posted a 41.5-inch vert at the combine and his 6-foot-5 inch wingspan may have earned him a bump up draft boards for a sub-6-footer. Chandler can shoot the rock and he’s a solid distributor. 

The Nets need a lot of everything. They found a player in Cam Thomas around this range last season, but they need to continue to find talent that can play now due to their dire salary cap situation. Chandler would be a nice insurance policy in case Patty Mills decides to opt out of his player option. 

24. Milwaukee Bucks: Walker Kessler, C, Auburn

Measurables: 7-foot-1, 256 pounds Draft Age: 20

Team Needs

If it wasn’t for some bad injury luck with Khris Middleton, the Bucks could still be playing in the 2022 NBA playoffs. They have All-Star level players all over the court and one of the greatest players in the world to build everything around in Giannis Antetokounmpo. They need more shooters and maybe another scorer off the bench, but this team is a title contender next season and this pick might not matter all that much. 

Why Kessler?  

You can’t teach 7-foot. Kessler isn’t just a tall guy, he’s a tall guy with a superpower. The sophomore center blocked an incredible 4.6 shots per game this season in just 25.6 minutes a night. Will it translate to the NBA game? There is a possibility that Kessler has more offensive game than he was able to show at Auburn, but even if he is limited on that end, he should be able to earn time as an elite rim protector. 

The Bucks don’t have a ton of needs, but every team can use a shot blocking giant. Kessler and his 7-foot-4 wingspan is flat out intriguing. Milwaukee values length. They love defensive players. This could be a sneaky great pickup. 

25. San Antonio Spurs (via Boston Celtics): Bryce McGowens, SG, Nebraska

Measurables: 6-foot-6.5, 181 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

This is the third first round pick for the San Antonio Spurs and with their current roster, all of them matter. Outside of Murray, the Spurs need help everywhere. Can Popovich and Co. build out a roster for one more run? 

Why McGowens?

McGowens is one of those players who looks like he should be much better than he is. He has good size. He has good form. He has solid athleticism. It didn’t work at the NCAA level, so obviously, it’s time to go pro.

The Spurs have the development staff in place to convert potential into production. It doesn’t happen with every single player (see Lonnie Walker), but if you take players with high-end potential and hand them to the right staff, you might find gold. McGowens could land in a dream situation. Whether he takes advantage of that opportunity or not is up to him. 

26. Dallas Mavericks: Patrick Baldwin Jr., SF/PF, Milwaukee

Measurables: 6-foot-10.25, 231 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

Shooters. Defenders. Players that can fit with Luka Doncic. This franchise is on the rise. They likely won’t erase a 3-1 advantage and make it to the Finals, but there is still a lot to like about where they are headed. 

Why Baldwin Jr.?

The size is there. The wingspan is there. Athleticism is a major question mark. Baldwin has become one of the tumblers in this year’s draft. Can he rebound and live up to his tremendous hype?

Dallas can use a player like this. So can 29 other teams, if Baldwin recovers and becomes an actual prospect again. When you are drafting this late, you have to take calculated risks. This kid could be a diamond in the rough if a team is willing to spend some reclamation time. 

27. Miami Heat: Jaden Hardy, SG, G League Ignite

Measurables: 6-foot-4, 190 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

Miami is in a battle to make it back to the finals, which means that they have a deep and talented roster. They still have plenty of holes they could fill long term, but this late in the draft, a team like the Heat are focused on either finding talent to stash at the G League or searching for veteran college players with one or two NBA skills.  

Why Hardy?

Hardy will battle with MaJon Beauchamp to become the second G League Ignite player off the board. He is super raw as a prospect and despite putting up nearly 18 points per game this season, he isn’t refined from any spot on the floor. Hardy isn’t a great defender, has poor shot selection and turned the ball over 3.5 times per game. 

This is a gamble on the future, and one that will take a lot of development time. Miami knows how to bring along a prospect, but will they go with one that needs so much refinement?

28. Golden State Warriors: Terquavion Smith, SG, NC State

Measurables: 6-foot-3.75, 165 pounds Draft Age: 19

Team Needs

Golden State is doing a bang-up job of competing for titles with veteran players while peppering in young talent. They typically keep their picks, regardless of how deep it is in the first round. They also mine for talent as well as any team in the league. They need more shooting and some size in the middle, but this far down the board, you’re just hoping for a player that sticks in the league.

Why Smith?

Smith has some length and definitely some bounce. He’s an offensive weapon and at 19, he’s just getting started. The freshman shot 36.9 percent from 3-point range this season and looks a bit like a Jordan Poole clone. His downfall is on the defensive end, where he is a non-factor. 

Gary Payton Jr. is looking for a pay day in free agency, so the Warriors will need depth at the point. Smith doesn’t play defense like Payton…or at all…but he’s very young and has time to develop. It should also be noted that Poole is a year away from a massive bump in pay and might be tough to retain for the Warriors. 

29. Memphis Grizzlies: MarJon Beauchamp, SG, G League Ignite

Measurables: 6-foot-6.5, 197 pounds Draft Age: 20

Team Needs

This is the second pick in the first round for Memphis and with a jam packed roster and plenty of other young players already in the fold, they may not keep this selection. If they do, they can use more depth overall, including another shooter or two. 

Why Beauchamp?

Like Hardy, Beauchamp needs a ton of developmental time. He has the size and athleticism for a modern NBA two/three, but his 3-point shot is all over the board and so is his overall offensive game. He has a strong motor and finds ways to be impactful, even when the shot isn’t falling or his number isn’t being called. 

You would hope he would be further along at this point, but he could be one of those players who figures things out after a year or two on an NBA bench. This is probably low for Beauchamp, but it could be a blessing in disguise because Memphis understands how to develop players.

30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Suns): Jalen Williams, SF, Santa Clara

Measurables: 6-foot-5.75, 209 pounds Draft Age: 21

Team Needs

The Thunder are still  wandering aimlessly through their own version of “The Process.” They’ve collected so many draft picks over the last few years that eventually they will run out of roster spots. This pick likely has a bargain basement price tag on it, especially with OKC selecting at No. 2 and No. 12. 

Why Williams?

Why not Williams? There will be plenty of names that come up for this pick, but this might be one of the more intriguing ones. A combine riser, Williams measured in at just under 6-foot-6 with a 7-foot-2.25 wingspan and a 39-inch max vert. Add in that he hit 39.6 percent from 3-point range and you have a prospect worthy of kicking the tires on. 

There is a good chance that Williams goes higher than this. There is also a good chance that the Thunder move this pick…for more future picks. Williams looks like a guaranteed contract player, whether it’s with the Thunder or elsewhere.

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