2022 nba mock draft
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Jabari Smith Jr. is starting to solidify his spot at the top of the 2022 NBA Draft

The 2022 NBA Draft is still a long way away, but there are three prospects separating from the pack. Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith Jr. are ESNY’s top three prospects right now.

Let’s take a look at how the rest of the draft class shakes out. This NBA mock draft is according to records as of Dec. 11.

1. Detroit Pistons
Paolo Banchero, F, Duke (2002)

There is nothing that has happened between now and a few weeks ago that would make me change my mind at No. 1. Paolo Banchero is battling cramps during games, but that doesn’t sound like a long-term concern.

2. Orlando Magic
Chet Holmgren, F/C, Gonzaga (2002)

The same goes for Chet Holmgren. Although Holmgren might not be the most physically dominant guy out there, he can still protect the paint. He’s averaging 3.8 blocks per game.

3. New Orleans Pelicans
Jabari Smith Jr., F, Auburn (2003)

Jabari Smith Jr. is firmly entrenching himself in the top tier of this draft class. It’s tough to put him over Banchero or Holmgren, but if he continues to shoot 44% from three, it’s going to be a conversation. Out of the top three picks, Smith is by far the most versatile.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue (2002)

Jaden Ivey is the first guard to go off the board. He is a true lead guard who can run the break or operate in the halfcourt. Purdue was on the wrong end of a buzzer-beater against Rutgers, but they will continue to improve as Ivey does.

5. Houston Rockets
Patrick Baldwin Jr., SF, Milwaukee (2002)

Patrick Baldwin Jr. isn’t on the national stage for college basketball, but he’s averaging 17.4 points and 8.0 rebounds per game on efficient numbers for Milwaukee. The 6-foot-9 wing dropped 36 points on 6-for-6 from deep against Robert Morris earlier this week.

6. San Antonio Spurs
Jalen Duren, C, Memphis (2003)

Jalen Duren is one of the younger prospects in this draft with tremendous upside as a rim-to-rim big man. His floor is a rim-running second unit center, but he has the potential to be much more than that. Adding another wrinkle to his game like a jumper, passing out of the short roll, or great perimeter defense would make Duren an elite prospect.

7. Minnesota Timberwolves
Bennedict Mathurin, SG, Arizona (2002)

Bennedict Mathurin is one flying up my draft board. Arizona is one of the hottest teams in the country for a lot of reasons, but Mathurin might be No. 1. His best games have come against the best competition the Wildcats have faced. He had 25 points and 10 boards against Wichita State and 16 points and five rebounds against Michigan.

8. Portland Trail Blazers
Jaden Hardy, G, Ignite (2002)

Guys who go the way of the G League don’t have the national spotlight like some of these prospects at top colleges. However, that won’t necessarily hurt their draft stock. Hardy’s shooting splits are woeful (.331/.283/1.000), but he’s cutting his teeth against professionals. He’ll figure things out before long.

9. Sacramento Kings
Kendall Brown, F, Baylor (2003)

Kendall Brown is a bouncy wing with the ability to go from coast to coast in the blink of an eye. It shouldn’t be surprising to see another Baylor prospect who is a top-notch defender. Although his offensive game is a bit raw, he has all the tools to become a star on both sides of the ball.

10. Indiana Pacers
Kennedy Chandler, PG, Tennessee (2002)

Although Kennedy Chandler will be a bit undersized at the next level, he makes up for it in speed and wingspan. Chandler is lightning quick in transition and his length helps him corral ballhandlers at the point of attack. Poised and in control with the ball in his hands as well.

11. New York Knicks
Keegan Murray, F, Iowa (2000)

An ankle injury sidelined Keegan Murray last week against Purdue, but he returned the next game to drop 19 against Illinois. Murray is one of the older prospects in this draft who should be able to make an immediate impact.

12. Toronto Raptors
Caleb Houstan, F, Michigan (2003)

Caleb Houston is starting to heat up after a slow start to his career at Michigan. He’s averaging 13.8 points and 7.0 rebounds on .514/.571/.875 shooting splits.

13. Boston Celtics
AJ Griffin, F, Duke (2003)

AJ Griffin continues to slide. The freshman is only playing about 10 minutes per game for Duke. He still has all the skills and makeup of a top prospect, but we need to see something on the floor eventually.

14. Atlanta Hawks
Ochai Agbaji, F, Kansas (2000)

Ochai Agbaji is in the same category as Keegan Murray. They are both older prospects who are shining in a starring role. Agbaji is putting up Player of the Year numbers at Kansas.

15. Dallas Mavericks
TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky (2002)

Kentucky is a factory for any kind of player, but they have had recent success with guards at the next level specifically. TyTy Washington is a model of consistency for Kentucky.

16. Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jovic, PF, Mega Soccerbet (2003)

It would be pretty confusing for broadcasters if Nikola Jovic ends up on the same team as Nikola Jokic. It would be confusing for defenses as well. Jovic is a point forward who is great in transition.

17. Memphis Grizzlies (via Los Angeles Lakers)
Dyson Daniels, G, Ignite (2003)

Dyson Daniels is a tall guard who is playing point for the G League Ignite, but he has the length to play either guard spot.

18. Charlotte Hornets
JD Davison, PG, Alabama (2002)

JD Davison is a joy to watch. On a team with a ton of guys who can handle the ball, Alabama seems to operate at peak performance when Davison has the rock. He put up 20 points in Bama’s most recent game, a win over Gonzaga.

19. Philadelphia 76ers
MarJon Beauchamp, G/F, Ignite (2001)

There could be a lot of G League highlights at the 2022 NBA Draft. MarJon Beauchamp is the third Ignite player taken in our mock draft here. He’s shooting over 50% from the field while averaging 14.3 points and 7.2 rebounds.

20. Oklahoma City Thunder (Los Angeles Clippers)
Andrew Nembhard, PG, Gonzaga (2000)

Andrew Nembhard might not have the high ceiling of some of the other guards in this draft, but he has a high floor. Nembhard is one of the most poised point guards in the country and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to showcase his talent on the big stage at Gonzaga.

21. Cleveland Cavaliers
Roko Prkacin, PF, Cibona (2002)

Although Roko Prkacin was eligible for the 2021 NBA Draft, he pulled out to return to Europe for another year of seasoning. The skilled forward should be a first rounder this time around.

22. Washington Wizards
Yannick Nzosa, C, Unicaja (2003)

Yannick Nzosa is an NBA ready defender with enough athleticism to competently defend on the perimeter as well. If he can develop any kind of offensive game, he’ll become a legitimate NBA big man.

23. Houston Rockets (via Miami Heat)
Trevor Keels, G/F, Duke (2003)

Although Trevor Keels is only 6-foot-4, he is built like a mini truck. His physicality helps him on both ends of the floor. Once he starts knocking down shots, we might see him rise up draft boards.

24. Memphis Grizzlies
Bryce McGowens, G/F, Nebraska (2002)

It might be a long year for Nebraska in the Big Ten, but Bryce McGowens can serve as a bright spot for the Cornhuskers. They are asking him to do a lot and he’s delivering. The freshman still needs to deliver against better competition.

25. Milwaukee Bucks
Max Christie, SG, Michigan State (2003)

Max Christie entered the season as a fringe lottery prospect, but he’s struggling to shoot the three. We still need to see improvements on that

26. Chicago Bulls
Ron Harper Jr., G/F, Rutgers (2000)

Ron Harper Jr. is having a better week than pretty much anyone in college basketball. His 30 points, 10 rebounds, and buzzer-beater heave were key in Rutgers’ upset of No. 1 Purdue. It would be fitting for Junior to go to the team where his father won three championships.

27. Miami Heat (via Brooklyn Nets)
Jean Montero, PG, Overtime Elite (2003)

It’s hard to get a good read on Jean Montero. He’s young and possesses tons of talent, but he’s going up against the unknown competition of Overtime Elite. It’s much easier to evaluate players who are playing in college, the G League, or overseas. Overtime Elite is new territory.

28. Memphis Grizzlies (via Utah Jazz)
Peyton Watson, G/F, UCLA (2002)

Peyton Watson doesn’t have a huge role for UCLA yet. The Bruins are deeper than your neighborhood pool. But don’t be surprised if Watson takes advantage of a bigger opportunity as the season progresses.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Phoenix Suns)
Keon Ellis, G/F, Alabama (2000)

Keon Ellis is a key contributor on one of the best teams in the country. A bit of a late bloomer after attending JUCO Florida SouthWestern State College, Ellis is 35-for-68 from three in his two seasons at Alabama.

30. Golden State Warriors
Mark Williams, C, Duke (2001)

Mark Williams probably won’t develop into an elite NBA big man, but he has the tools to become a serviceable backup in the league. Every fanbase wants to draft a star with every pick, but a rotation player would be a win with the 30th pick.

NY/NJ hoops reporter (NBA/NCAA) & sports betting writer for XL Media. Never had the makings of a varsity athlete.