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Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s what ESNY’s 2022 NBA Mock Draft looks like before the big conference tournaments start.

The 2022 NBA Draft is inching closer every single day. There is a clear group of four players at the top of the draft, but what happens after those four is anyone’s guess.

Let’s take a deeper dive into this year’s draft class with a full first-round mock draft. This NBA mock draft is according to records as of March 5.

1. Houston Rockets
Jabari Smith Jr., F, Auburn (2003)

Jabari Smith Jr. is one of four guys in the top tier of this draft. He is a potential superstar with a very high floor. As long as his shot creation develops, he will turn into a star. However, even if he fails to develop that part of his game, Smith projects as a lockdown defender who can cover all five positions while knocking down threes on the other end.

2. Orlando Magic
Paolo Banchero, F, Duke (2002)

Paolo Banchero has been at the top, or at the very least near the top of every mock draft we have done at ESNY. He could drop as far as four in this draft, but that still seems unlikely. He has a dynamic offensive game that should translate well to the NBA.

3. Detroit Pistons
Chet Holmgren, F/C, Gonzaga (2002)

Chet Holmgren is similar to Banchero in the sense that they have both been near the top of mock drafts for the last few years. Although he has a slight frame, his offensive skill set and defensive instincts are intriguing.

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

Jaden Ivey might be the most exciting player in college basketball when he starts attacking downhill. He might be more of a two-guard rather than a true point guard, but if his pick-and-roll game develops, he could be a legitimate lead ballhandler.

5. Indiana Pacers
AJ Griffin, SF, Duke (2003)

AJ Griffin’s stock fell toward the beginning of the season, but he’s starting to look better and better now that he’s healthy. Although Griffin’s elite athleticism makes scouts drool, his 49% three-point shooting might be the biggest reason for his recent surge.

6. Sacramento Kings
Bennedict Mathurin, SG, Arizona (2002)

At the very least, Bennedict Mathurin is going to be a legitimate rotation player at the next level. His length and athleticism make him a pest on defense and he has a deep offensive bag as well. Mathurin has the potential to be a star in the NBA, but if not, he should slot in as a productive role player on a winning team.

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

Jalen Duren won’t be the first big man off the board, but he will be the first true “rim-running” center to hear his name called. With Dejounte Murray starting to flourish as a lead guard, Duren should be a perfect fit.

8. New York Knicks
TyTy Washington, PG, Kentucky (2002)

The Knicks have needed a point guard for umpteen years and TyTy Washington might be the guy. There is the obvious Kentucky-Knicks connection that makes this pick all the more likely.

9. Portland Trail Blazers
Keegan Murray, F, Iowa (2000)

The next two guys on this list are the best examples of using the college basketball season to improve draft stock. Keegan Murray was not on anyone’s radar for the lottery before the season started, but his improved play this year is undeniable. Murray is an immediate impact guy.

10. Portland Trail Blazers (via Pelicans)
Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin (2002)

Fittingly, another Big Ten riser is going to the Trail Blazers here. Johnny Davis is poised, can make shots, defend, and do everything that a team wants its two-guard to do. He has the potential to be a special player.

11. Memphis Grizzlies (via Lakers)
Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite (2003)

Dyson Daniels is a tall, young guard with the playmaking chops to develop into a lead guard. If he is drafted by the Grizzlies, he won’t have to worry about that because well, there’s Ja Morant. However, Daniels still has upside as a secondary ballhandler and distributor. He projects as a versatile defender at the next level as well.

12. Washington Wizards
Kendall Brown, SF, Baylor (2003)

If there wasn’t a roof in gymnasiums, Kendall Brown would run the risk of jumping out of the building. The Baylor product is the most electric athlete in the draft. Although he still needs to add polish to his offensive game, a lottery team is going to take a chance on his upside.

13. Charlotte Hornets
Ochai Agbaji, SF, Kansas (2000)

Ochai Agbaji is another player who used this college basketball season to improve his draft stock. The Kansas star projects into a great 3-and-D player at the next level.

14. Atlanta Hawks
Patrick Baldwin Jr., SF, Milwaukee (2002)

Patrick Baldwin Jr. was originally projected to go in the top five of this draft class, but his freshman season at Milwaukee didn’t go according to plan. With that said, he has a ton of translatable skills at the next level. He’s too talented to drop out of the lottery.

15. Houston Rockets (via Nets)
Tari Eason, F, LSU (2001)

Tari Eason is a mover and a shaker who wasn’t this high on early mocks. However, it’s hard to ignore his defensive versatility. His offense is coming around as the season has progressed.

16. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers)
Walker Kessler, C, Auburn (2001)

Continuing the theme of fast-risers, here we have Walker Kessler. The fact that he’s playing on one of the best teams in the country helps Kessler’s draft stock, but he’s doing more than just riding the wave. He can rim-roll on offense and protect the rim on defense. Those are two requirements for every NBA center.

17. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors)
MarJon Beauchamp, SG/SF, G League Ignite (2001)

The G League Ignite is quickly becoming a major success story for the NBA. MarJon Beauchamp is too talented to fall to the bottom of this draft. Look for him to finish somewhere in the late teens.

18. Minnesota Timberwolves
Nikola Jovic, PF, Mega Soccerbet (2003)

Can you imagine Nikola Jovic leading the break alongside D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Anthony Edwards? The Timberwolves could use a dynamic player at the four-spot, even if Jovic is a bit undersized.

19. Indiana Pacers (via Cavaliers)
Mark Williams, C, Duke (2001)

The Pacers are presumably setting things up to make Myles Turner their center of the future, but they still need a solid backup. Mark Williams has shown enough at Duke to earn his spot here. He also provides some insurance if Indiana ends up moving on from Turner.

20. San Antonio Spurs (via Celtics)
Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor (2003)

Long, athletic, versatile — these are all words that come to mind when thinking about Jeremy Sochan. These are also three qualities that NBA scouts dream about. As long as Sochan’s offense can improve over time, this 18-year-old brings a ton of upside.

21. Denver Nuggets
Christian Braun, SF, Kansas (2001)

Christian Braun is benefiting from playing on one of the best teams in college right now. He is efficient from the field while also providing the little things like rebounding and secondary creation. Braun could be a very valuable role player on a good team at the next level.

22. Dallas Mavericks
Jaden Hardy, G, G League Ignite (2002)

Jaden Hardy is the third and final G League Ignite player to go in the first round. Once looked at as a top-10 prospect, Hardy’s star is falling a bit. With that said, there is too much talent there to be overly concerned with his G League numbers.

23. Chicago Bulls
Harrison Ingram, SG/SF, Stanford (2002)

Harrison Ingram is a tough guy to project at this point. He isn’t overly athletic and his offensive game doesn’t pop when it comes to scoring. But if he does enter the draft, someone will take a chance on his high basketball IQ and overall potential.

24. Milwaukee Bucks
Trevor Keels, G, Duke, (2003)

Although Trevor Keels has been overshadowed by some of his Duke teammates, he’s still a first-round talent. Inefficiency on offense has been his Achilles heel.

25. Memphis Grizzlies (via Jazz)
Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame (2003)

Blake Wesley is a scorer’s scorer. Although he’s struggling at times with teams keying in on him, Wesley’s future is likely as a microwave off an NBA bench. Think Cam Thomas out of LSU last year.

26. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers)
E.J. Liddell, F/C, Ohio State (2000)

Although E.J. Liddell is a bit undersized at 6-foot-7, he is beefy at 240 pounds. The Nets could use a little more size and strength in the frontcourt. After three productive seasons at Ohio State, Liddell is ready to be a contributor at the next level.

27. Miami Heat
JD Davison, PG, Alabama (2002)

JD Davison has been all over the map this season, rising as high as 18 in our earlier mocks. His shiftiness as a penetrator and ability to see the entire floor make him an interesting late first-round option. He could slot in nicely as a backup point guard for the Heat next season.

28. Memphis Grizzlies
Jean Montero, PG, Overtime Elite (2003)

Jean Montero’s story hasn’t changed much this year. He’s playing in Overtime Elite, which makes it difficult for scouts to evaluate him. Still, he left high school with a ton of hype and has too much talent for every first-round team to pass.

29. Golden State Warriors
Bryce McGowens, SG/SF, Nebraska (2002)

The biggest concern with Bryce McGowens is his 28% three-point shooting. Although he’s not shooting it with a ton of efficiency, he’s the top option on a bad team in a great conference. The talent is there.

30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Suns)
Julian Champagnie, F, St. John’s (2001)

This is a New York bet on Julian Champagnie being a late riser in the draft. He is more of a wing than a power forward, but he has the size and strength to cover multiple positions. Champagnie is a three-level scorer who can provide punch off the bench at the next level.

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