2022 NBA Mock Draft 1.0: Jabari Smith Heads To Houston

Welcome to the first edition of the Lineups.com 2022 NBA Mock Draft. We covered the entire first round and evaluated the Top 10 picks further, discussing their potential landing spots and fits with the respective organization. The draft order was randomly generated on a lottery simulator, and this order will change throughout the season based on how specific teams perform. We will re-run the lottery simulator for every edition, thus inevitably changing the order every time.

Our top four players, Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren, Jaden Ivey, and Paolo Banchero, are fairly unmovable in that tier, at least right now. Smith looks like the best overall prospect at the moment, but he is not a lock to be the top pick by any stretch of the imagination. Jaden Ivey is the most explosive combo guard in college basketball, with the ability to shoot, be a playmaker, and score. Chet Holmgren is putting together an impressive year on the west coast, stuffing the stat sheet on offense and defense. Holmgren’s shooting nearly 45% from behind the arc, which is borderline outrageous for a young, 7-foot-1 prospect. Lastly, Paolo Banchero has been an offensive force for the Duke Blue Devils. Banchero’s skillset is arguably the most advanced out of all these players, as well as pretty much any other player eligible for this draft.

Below, I cover the Top 10 picks based heavily on organizational fit and potential/upside. Make sure to bookmark this page and check back regularly for updated versions of the Lineups.com 2022 NBA Mock Draft to see who has moved up and who has dropped off!

1. Houston Rockets – Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn

Smith barely eclipses the other players (Holmgren, Ivey, and Banchero) as the top pick in the first edition of the Lineups.com 2022 NBA Mock Draft. This could certainly change between editions, but Smith’s potential is too interesting to pass up right now. Firstly, Smith projects as a potential future 50/40/90 candidate at 6-foot-10. He’s one of the smoothest shooters in this draft, regardless of size or position. By no means is Smith one-dimensional on offense, either. We have seen him get it and go in transition or take opposing bigs off the dribble on the wing all season long. His upside as a shooter off-the-dribble and a playmaking scorer could give him the highest ceiling in this draft. Additionally, Smith is a bothersome defender. His length, footwork, and ability to time up shots give him an inherent advantage on that end.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder – Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Chet Holmgren is one of those unicorn basketball players that you absolutely hate to pass on in the draft, and that’s precisely where the Oklahoma City Thunder are in this case. While a case for Paolo Banchero could 100% be made here, I think the Thunder value uniqueness. Look at Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, for instance. Those two players are not your usual prototype. Holmgren also immediately provides an update defensively and a legitimate stretch-big weapon who can shoot at a 40+% clip from behind the arc (nearly 45% this season in college.)

3. Indiana Pacers – Jaden Ivey, Purdue

The entire Pacers fan base has been calling for the organization to do whatever they have to secure Ivey in the draft. And interestingly enough, the fit works. Pairing Ivey next to newly acquired Tyrese Haliburton, who does not seek his shot first and represents a true point guard in a league filled with combo guards that do not excel at any one position, allows the Pacers to have a decisive 1-2 punch in the backcourt. Ivey, a sophomore product out of Purdue, would give the Pacers someone that has spent time in Indiana and developed a hometown relationship with the basketball fans in the state. This is important to that fan base, and between that fact and the extraordinary explosiveness and upside that Ivey boasts, he would be an ideal pick for the Pacers.

4. Detroit Pistons – Paolo Banchero, Duke

Describing Banchero is quite simple: think of the power forward version of Carmelo Anthony. While Banchero may not entirely be on that level, he’s certainly not far off of it. Banchero and Anthony make up in skill what they lack in high-level athleticism; however, they are powerful jumpers off of two feet. This is by no means to undermine Banchero’s athleticism at 6-foot-10, but to explain that he won’t look like Jaden Ivey off the dribble or off one foot, nor should he at his size. The Pistons need someone who can be a reliable primary scorer and are blessed beyond comprehension that Banchero falls to them here.

5. Orlando Magic – Keegan Murray, Iowa

There are several different directions that the Orlando Magic could go, but since the clear-cut, top four players are off the board, they should go with the next best scorer since the Magic are 28th in points per game in the NBA. Keegan Murray has catapulted from averaging seven points per game to being a legitimate Wooden Award candidate, averaging over 23 points per game this season. Murray’s rise can be attributed to a few different factors, but all that matters is that generally when you make massive leaps like that, you still have plenty of room before you hit your ceiling. It’s like calculus and limits, right? Now, let’s look at Murray’s game. Murray is a born scorer, evidenced by his high field goal percentage, touch around the rim, and fundamental shooting form. He knows how to get to the free-throw line and use his athleticism and sneaky strength to finish around the basket. When you look at Murray’s footwork and occasional catch-and-shoot three-ball off of movement, it makes you wonder what his upside could be as a scorer in the NBA. I think Murray could be similar to Kyle Kuzma with more upside in every way. That may not sound like much if you are a casual, Twitter-roaming NBA fan; however, I can assure you that it is worth a shot.

6. Sacramento Kings – A.J. Griffin, Duke

Sacramento made the entire NBA gasp in awe when it traded its best young player in Tyrese Haliburton for Domantas Sabonis in one of the most surprising trades of the 2021-22 season. Griffin has too much potential to pass up in the 6-to-8 pick range. For one, Griffin gives the Kings a boost in shooting and scoring. He is one of the most fluid forwards in the draft, with the ability to create his shot anytime, anywhere. It’s clear that Griffin is still not where he was athletically before his knee injury in 2020 and following knee sprain last fall, but he has so many offensive tools that he can still be incredibly effective. On the other end of the floor, Griffin has shown flashes of brilliance on the defensive end. He’s a player that could help on the defensive end, which everyone knows, is something that Sacramento needs.

7. San Antonio Spurs – Johnny Davis, Wisconsin

Like Keegan Murray, Johnny Davis is another sophomore who has blown up between years one and two in college. Last season, Davis merely scored seven points per game and now posts roughly 21 points per game. Davis projects as one of the better two-way players in this draft. As with many Wisconsin prospects, Davis has strong projectability on the defensive end. He has quick feet, flexible hips, and strong anticipation skills, providing the premium of switchability and allowing him to stay in front of quicker defenders.

8. Portland Trail Blazers (via NOLA) – TyTy Washington Jr., Kentucky

The Portland Trail Blazers should go with TyTy Washington over Shaedon Sharpe with this pick because they should likely be more focused on who their point guard of the future will be than adding another scoring combo guard. They have Simons already as an elite scoring combo guard, so chemistry-wise, I don’t think they will go with Sharpe. Washington is explosive and can get to his spots on the floor; he gets paint touches and makes everyone around him better. Portland needs that. Period.

9. Portland Trail Blazers – Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona

Bennedict Mathurin is another player who has had a breakout sophomore season for a robust Arizona Wildcats squad. Mathurin’s shooting mechanics are as smooth as butter; he limits shooting slumps by keeping the upper body and lower body active. Sometimes streaky shooters will use more arms when they are tired or shoot off their heels. When you look at Mathurin, he’s robotic in his mechanics, which you love to see in prospects coming out of college. Mathurin is also what some of us in the business, or perhaps just me, call an “eye-level athlete,” which means he’s athletic enough to get his eyes to the rim level. If Mathurin can become a bit more consistent on the defensive end, he could be one of the steals of the 2022 NBA Draft.

10. New York Knicks – Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky

It’s time. The New York Knicks are fortunate enough to find a game-changing and explosive guard who can score in bunches at the tenth pick. Shaedon Sharpe is eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft and could decide to go. Sharpe is one of the biggest wild-cards in the lottery because we have not seen him play a college game. Luckily, Sharpe has an NBA-ready body and size, but it does concern me that he has not seen the collegiate floor yet. Let me give you a recent example that could give you a slightly different opinion if you are dead-set on Sharpe being an NBA Superstar. Consider Khristian Lander, who reclassified to be college-bound at Indiana one year sooner. He ranked 27th in the reclassified class of 2020 and was a top five-star recruit for the class of 2021. Despite being in his second year at Indiana, Lander has still not even cracked the rotation, much less smelled any sort of interest from NBA organizations. Now, this is not an apples-to-apples comparison for obvious reasons (size, stature, skill, defense, etc…) but it does give us enough doubt that Sharpe drops from an obvious Top 5-7 pick to No. 10.

11. Washington Wizards – Jaden Hardy, G League Ignite

12. Memphis Grizzlies (via LAL) – Jalen Duren, Memphis

13. Atlanta Hawks – Patrick Baldwin Jr., UW-Milwaukee

14. Charlotte Hornets – Mark Williams, Duke

15. Oklahoma City Thunder (via LAC) – Dyson Daniels, G League Ignite

16. Houston Rockets (via BRK) – MarJon Beauchamp, G League Ignite

17. Minnesota Timberwolves – Ochai Agbaji, Kansas

18. Denver Nuggets – Trevor Keels, Duke

19. San Antonio Spurs (via TOR) – Tari Eason, LSU

20. San Antonio Spurs (via BOS) – Caleb Houstan, Michigan

21. Dallas Mavericks – Kendall Brown, Baylor

22. Brooklyn Nets (via PHI) – Harrison Ingram, Stanford

23. Indiana Pacers (via CLE) – Nikola Jovic, Mega

24. Milwaukee Bucks – Christian Koloko, Arizona

25. Memphis Grizzlies (via UTAH) – J.D. Davison, Alabama

26. Chicago Bulls – Jeremy Sochan, Baylor

27. Miami Heat – Justin Lewis, Marquette

28. Memphis Grizzlies – Wendell Moore Jr., Duke

29. Golden State Warriors – E.J. Liddell, Ohio State

30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via PHX) – Bryce McGowens, Nebraska

Drew is a lead NBA writer at Lineups.com where he has been covering in-season basketball coverage to the NBA Draft. He is a former collegiate player who now spends time diving into NBA prospects and evaluating the analytics of the NBA.

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