Sunday Musings: 2022 NBA Mock Draft .5

Projecting the first 15 picks of the 2022 NBA Draft

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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 early on in 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’ll start with a top 15 and then build from there. As we move past the lottery and approach the June 23rd NBA Draft, the Mock Draft will adjust and shift toward projecting the actual draft itself. 

Since we’re only starting with the top 15, we’ll call this The Kings Beat Mock Draft 0.5. Here is how the draft board lays out as of April 24. Expect plenty of changes between now and draft night. 

*** Huff's draft board includes ESPN, Sam Vecenie (The Athletic), Kevin O'Connor (The Ringer), Jeremy Woo (Sports Illustrated), Jonathan Wasserman (Bleacher Report), Matt Pennie (Game Theory Podcast), Bryant West, Tankathon, Cosmis, Hoop Intellect and Basketball News. 

    1. Houston Rockets: Chet Holmgren, PF/C, Gonzanga

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

    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 just need to make the right choice between three very distinct talents. 

    Why Holmgren?

    Holmgren is a unicorn and one of the biggest outliers in recent draft memory. He can do everything, like score inside, shoot the 3-ball, rebound, distribute, block shots and play defense. He’s considered the top defensive player 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 the Rockets an 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.

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

    Measurables: 6-foot-10, 210 pounds, 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. 2.

    Why Smith?

    The consensus has Smith Jr. going No. 2, but that could 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. 

    3. Detroit Pistons: Paolo Banchero, PF, Duke

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

    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 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. Don’t count Banchero out from being a riser in this year’s draft, but if he is here and the Pistons are on the clock, this might be a perfect partner for Cunningham.

    4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jaden Ivey, SG, Purdue

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

    Team Needs

    Who is and who is not a keeper 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. If the lottery gods don’t deliver a top 3 pick in this year’s draft, they should probably use some of their draft capital to move up and secure one of the potential stars at the top. 

    Why Ivey?

    Ivey is on the outside looking in at 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. In OKC, he could play off the ball alongside Gilgious-Alexander and Giddey and add a new element to the Thunder’s attack. 

    5. Indiana Pacers: Shaedon Sharpe, SG, Kentucky

    Measurables: 6-foot-6, 200 pounds, 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. 5 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 Keegan Murray, Benedict Mathurin and AJ Griffin in the top six. At 6-foot-6 with a reported 7-foot 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. If he enters the draft, there could be a team that falls in love with his potential and he isn’t expected to drop out of the top 10. 

    6. Portland Trail Blazers: Keegan Murray, PF, Iowa

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

    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 Murray?  

    Position of need? Check. 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 6. A jack of all trades, master of none prospect, Murray looks like a long term NBA rotational player. 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.

    7. Sacramento Kings: AJ Griffin, SF, Duke

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

    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. 7, you still need to value the best player over fit. There are plenty of players that fit both, but choosing the right one might not be that simple.

    Why Griffin?

    This is a bit of a toss up. Griffin, Johnny Davis and Bennedict Mathurin are all in the same grouping of players that could help the Kings. Griffin 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.  

    8. New Orleans Pelicans (Via Lakers): Johnny Davis, SG, Wisconsin

    Measurables: 6-foot-5, 195 pounds, 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 Davis?

    Davis is an early riser in the 2022 NBA Draft cycle. He may not end up this high when draft night rolls around, but 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. He’s a quality defender and solid all around player who should be able to help a team early in his career. 

    9. San Antonio Spurs: Jalen Duren, C Memphis

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

    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 Murry 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 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. San Antonio has Jakob Poeltl under contract next season, but this is about finding a long term answer at the five. Duren is moldable clay and the Spurs have a knack for building up young players. 

    10. Washington Wizards: Bennedict Mathurin, SG/SF, Arizona

    Measurables: 6-foot-7, 195 pounds, Age: 20

    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 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, if his measurements prove out at the combine. He’s not a natural fit for a team like Washington, but Beal may not stick around forever and this is a quality upside player who plays with force and energy. 

    11. New York Knicks: Dyson Daniels, SG, G League Ignite

    Measurables: 6-foot-6, 199 pounds, 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 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 good athleticism and can finish through contact. New York continues to search for a starter at the point and there is potential for Daniels to grow into a strong lead guard. Patience is needed, but this could be another find from Down Under. 

    12. Oklahoma City Thunder (Via Clippers): Jeremy Sochan, SF/PF, Baylor

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

    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 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, 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. 

    13. Charlotte Hornets: Ochai Agbaji, SG/SF, Kansas

    Measurables: 6-foot-5.5, 215 pounds, Age: 22

    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 Agbaji?

    Every team in the league needs 3-and-D wings and Agbaji might be the most sure bet in the top end 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 as a senior at Kansas. There are players with higher upside, but if you are looking for a mature role player who can help with your culture and fit right away, Agbaji is a safe bet. 

    14. Cleveland Cavaliers: TyTy Washington Jr., PG, Kentucky

    Measurables: 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, 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 the youth on the team. 

    Why Washington Jr.? 

    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. Cleveland has a young point guard to build around, they added Caris LeVert at the deadline and Collin Sexton is still on the roster, but you can never have enough playmakers. 

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

    Measurables: 6-foot-8, 216 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. Charlotte could use a few more shooters, but with a player like Ball on the roster, adding a big who can run the floor and finish in transition would be a plus. 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. 

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