NBA Mock Draft 1.0
Our first Mock Draft for the 2022 NBA Draft: Picks 1-15
Note: This Mock Draft was updated to Mock Draft 1.1 on Thursday to reflect the news that Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe is eligible for the 2022 NBA Draft. Click here to read the most recent Mock Draft 1.1.
Our first Mock Draft of 2022 is here!
The three worst NBA teams will each have a 14% chance of landing the overall top pick. This season, it looks like four teams — Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder — will be duking it out for those three slots.
Bigs dominate the very top of the lottery. I wrote in Big Board 3.0 that a consensus is starting to form that Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. should be the No. 1 pick in the draft. Among the lottery teams I surveyed, he’s become a pretty big favorite among most of them.
But it’s not unanimous: Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero still have support, too.
After the top three, the lottery is filled with wings and guards.
While scouts aren’t as bullish on this year’s draft as they were in 2021, there is still a lot of intriguing talent here to be had — just not as many sure things as the potentially historic 2021 class provided.
This Mock Draft does not replicate the Big Board. For the Mock Draft, I’m trying — based on a combination of intel, player quality and team needs — to find the best prospect for each particular team.
To determine the order for the NBA’s 30 teams in this Mock Draft, I am using 538’s NBA forecast to project each team’s final W-L record. Where there was a tie in projected records, I went with the actual record of each team.
As a reminder, the new NBA lottery percentages changed in 2019, so that the three teams with the worst records in the NBA will each have a 14% chance of getting the top pick, a 13.42% chance of getting the second pick and a 12.75% chance of landing the third pick. After that the scale starts to slide: The team with the fourth-worst record has a 12.5% chance of jumping up to get the top pick, the fifth-worst team has a 10.5% chance, and so on.
Current projected lottery odds are noted in the Mock Draft as well as any draft-pick trades that could affect who is drafting where.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s my early take on how the lottery of the 2022 NBA Draft could play out this summer:
1. Orlando Magic
Projected record: 19-63
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 14%
6’10” | 210 | Wingspan: 7’1”
Age on draft night: 19.1
2022 Draft Projection: 1-3
Magic president Jeff Weltman and GM John Hammond have done well in the past couple of drafts and just got extensions that run through 2025-26. Franz Wagner is a Rookie of the Year candidate. After a slow start, Jalen Suggs is coming on strong, and second-year guard Cole Anthony has shown dramatic improvement. Markelle Fultz is still just 23 years old and Jonathan Isaac is 24, and the Magic have other intriguing young players, including Mo Bamba, Wendall Carter Jr. and R.J. Hampton. Orlando might have the worst record in the league, but it appears to be building something special.
The luxury of having so many young players filling every position is that it allows the Magic to completely ignore fit and just grab the player they think has the biggest upside.
Right now that player for most teams — including the Magic, I believe — is Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. He’s not as polished as Banchero or a rim-protecting unicorn like Holmgren, but he’s got an elite combination of size, athletic ability and one of the sweetest jumpers in the draft. The Magic rank 28th in the league in 3-point percentage and could use Smith’s ability to stretch the floor.
2. Detroit Pistons
Projected record: 21-61
Odds of winning the No. 1 pick: 14%