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NBA Mock Draft: Jabari Smith remains safe bet for Magic at No. 1

By Jason McIntyre
FOX Sports Betting Analyst

The 2022 NBA Draft is lower than 48 hours away, and there’s no thriller at the highest.

For a month, the highest three picks have been locked into place, however after that, chaos reigns. Here’s our remaining mock draft, with no modifications within the high six from Mock Draft 2.0.

1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, ahead, Auburn

When I wrote about Smith going first after the Magic gained the lottery, he was +100. He’s now sitting at -154 to be the primary choose. I’ve maintained that I’d take Paolo Banchero first total, as his relentless motor is all the time on show and he’s extra various offensively. But the Magic are going to trip measurables and Smith’s 3-point taking pictures and seize him first.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, F/C, Gonzaga

There are a couple of situations by which Holmgren slides out of this spot and the Thunder shock the world by grabbing Purdue’s Jaden Ivey. You may evaluate Ivey’s athletic means to that of Russell Westbrook, one other guard taken by Sam Presti again in 2008. Holmgren is -150 to be taken second; Ivey is +2200, so it will be an enormous upset. Holmgren provides OKC a robust, younger trio alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey.

3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, ahead, Duke

Houston’s commerce of Christian Wood final week cleared room for the Rockets to start out Alperen Sengun and Banchero up entrance. Houston won’t be superb defensively, however between these two and Jalen Green, there gained’t be a crew within the NBA with three extra proficient gamers below the age of 21.

4. Sacramento Kings: Keegan Murray, ahead, Iowa

Not solely is Murray a greater total offensive participant than Jaden Ivey — the Iowa star had the best offensive score of any participant in school basketball final yr, per Ken Pomeroy, a metric topped by Zion Williamson in 2019 and Damian Lillard in 2012 — however he’s additionally vastly superior at the defensive finish. Murray ranked fifth within the Big Ten in block proportion and was 18th within the convention in steal proportion. Ivey ranked exterior the highest 30 in each. 

The Kings ranked twenty seventh in defensive effectivity final season. Harrison Barnes is below contract for another yr, after which Murray may be the crew’s small ahead for a decade.

5. Detroit Pistons: Bennedict Mathurin, wing, Arizona

Dare to dream, Pistons followers: Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Mathurin may develop right into a model of Boston’s TatumBrownSmart. One cause I give an edge to Mathurin over Ivey is his means to maneuver with out the ball and rating off the ball.

6. Indiana Pacers: Jaden Ivey, guard, Purdue

This is a house run when it comes to a regional match for the Pacers. It’s doable that in three years Ivey is one of the best participant from this draft, as he’ll have room to function within the NBA as an alternative of getting the paint clogged with bigs because it was within the Big Ten. Ivey may very well be destined to be a star on mediocre groups, as he dominates the ball offensively.

7. Portland Trail Blazers: Mark Williams, middle, Duke

The Blazers are a mysterious crew as a result of they need to commerce the choose to seize a veteran, however ought to they? It’s not like Portland is one wing or large away from being a playoff crew within the loaded West. As for Williams, in case you watched Boston’s Robert Williams III within the NBA playoffs, why can’t that be Mark Williams in a few years?

8. New Orleans Pelicans (through Los Angeles Lakers): Shaedon Sharpe, guard, Kentucky

Sharpe is the largest boom-or-bust prospect within the draft. He didn’t play a second of faculty basketball, and now he’s going high 10 based mostly on highschool tape? The Pelicans, after catching a break moving into the playoffs (Paul George COVID) and pushing the Suns to 6 video games (Devin Booker damage), are feeling like a jolt of Zion will push them into top-four competition subsequent yr. And Sharpe is a wild card — the kind of participant who pops in two years to place them excessive.

9. San Antonio Spurs: Dyson Daniels, wing, G League

Over the previous few weeks, Daniels has emerged as one of the best G League participant on this draft. The Australian-born wing sneaks into the highest 10 to play for a crew that has had a superb run of undervalued Australians (Patty Mills, Jakob Poeltl). If you squint, are you able to see Boston’s Jaylen Brown?

10. Washington Wizards: Tari Eason, ahead, LSU

I stay excessive on the tireless ahead who was a highschool star in Seattle, first enjoying for coach Brandon Roy, then enjoying alongside Jaden McDaniels (presently of the Timberwolves). The superior defensive stats for Eason at LSU final season are among the many better of any first-round prospect, and his 80% effectivity from the road probably portends nice issues to come back as he shoots extra 3-pointers. He’s low on mock drafts solely as a result of he already turned 21. 

11. New York Knicks: Johnny Davis, wing, Wisconsin

The Knicks aren’t going to get a direct affect participant right here, and the Kyrie Irving stuff is a pipe dream, so that they’re attempting to deal this choose — good luck. They’ve obtained to seize one of the best participant on the board, and although Davis was injured late within the season and struggled within the NCAA Tournament, he had 9 video games of 25-plus factors final season en path to being an All-American. He’s an excellent tradition man for a franchise that has gained one playoff collection this century.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (through LA Clippers): Jeremy Sochan, ahead, Baylor

Can you draft a participant this excessive who is barely a defensive pressure and intensely restricted offensively? Herb Jones went within the second spherical and was an affect participant for the Pelicans. Sochan is way youthful (solely 19), however his 58% free-throw taking pictures is worrisome. I see bizarro Kyle Kuzma, right down to the wacky hair.

13. Charlotte Hornets: Jalen Duren, middle, Memphis

The Hornets are caught firmly within the center: not adequate to win a spherical within the playoffs and all the time on the again finish of the lottery. Duren is the youngest participant within the draft, and with the correct teaching and dedication, he may very well be a Zach Randolph-type pressure. For now, Charlotte would settle for some inside protection.

14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Ousmane Dieng, F/C, New Zealand Breakers

The Cavs have three front-court gamers locked in: Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and Lauri Markkanen. It’s doable they attempt to package deal Collin Sexton and Kevin Love‘s expiring contract to land an All-Star, however for now, we’ll pencil within the 6-foot-10, 19-year-old French prospect to take Love’s spot on the roster as LeBron’s former teammate goes to a contender.

15. Charlotte Hornets (through New Orleans Pelicans): AJ Griffin, wing, Duke

Once a celebrity recruit on the top-five monitor, Griffin suffered accidents in his remaining two seasons of highschool, and his prospects dimmed a bit. He may go anyplace from seventh to twenty, relying on what medical staffs suppose. The 44% 3-point taking pictures ought to preserve him within the high 20. Griffin isn’t even 19 years previous, so he may very well be undervalued a bit.

16. Atlanta Hawks: Ochai Agbaji, SF, Kansas

The oldest participant with an opportunity to crack the lottery is the 22-year-old Agbaji, the Kansas sharpshooter who hit six 3s within the Final Four towards Villanova. He had 5 video games with at least 5 3-pointers this season.

17. Houston Rockets (through Brooklyn Nets): Malaki Branham, guard, Ohio State

As just lately as January, Branham wasn’t a candidate to enter the draft; by March, he was the Buckeyes’ greatest participant. A clean wing guard, he appears to solely be scratching the floor as a scorer (49/41/83 taking pictures splits). It wouldn’t be a shock if he landed simply exterior the highest 10.

18. Chicago Bulls: Jaden Hardy, guard, G League

Hardy’s inventory has dipped a bit from a yr in the past, when he was thought of a top-five choose after a monster junior season in highschool (30 PPG) adopted by a McDonald’s All-American sport choice. Still, he’s simply 19. Being dinged for competing — whereas a participant resembling Shaedon Sharpe advantages from not enjoying — appears foolish. Hardy put up 17 PPG within the G League however shot solely 35% from the sector and 26% from deep.

19. Minnesota Timberwolves: Blake Wesley, guard, Notre Dame

Like Branham, Wesley is an enormous (6-foot-5) scoring guard who can rating at all three ranges and has advanced from an early second-round prospect to at least one who would possibly simply land exterior the lottery. 

20. San Antonio Spurs (through Toronto Raptors): Nikola Jović, ahead, Serbia

The Spurs are loaded with wings, and their solely bigs are Jokob Poeltl and Zach Collins. Jovic is at least a yr away from being an element, however at 6-foot-11, he’s the graceful sort of European the Spurs traditionally have liked.

21. Denver Nuggets: TyTy Washington, guard, Kentucky

Washington doesn’t fairly fall into the “undervalued Kentucky guard” bucket like Jamal Murray and Devin Booker. But Washington deferred lots in Lexington, and we haven’t seen the child who was a dynamic highschool level guard and among the best gamers within the nation.

22. Memphis Grizzlies (through Utah Jazz): Kennedy Chandler, guard, Tennessee

Given the damage historical past of Ja Morant and the probability of Tyus Jones leaving in free company, the Grizzlies would possibly draft some extent guard. Chandler is a tenacious defender, and his help price was fifth within the SEC.

23. Philadelphia 76ers: Dalen Terry, wing, Arizona

I’m unsure why I’m so enamored with two Arizona wings on this draft, however right here we’re. Terry is the 3-and-D wing the 76ers thought they had been getting in Matisse Thybulle. He was anticipated to take an enormous step for the Wildcats subsequent yr and maybe be an All-American, however the NBA is excessive on his talent set, so he made the leap.

24. Milwaukee Bucks: Caleb Houstan, F, Michigan

Houstan is an elite highschool recruit who had a quiet season on a veteran Michigan crew, however he’s a younger 19. I may see him attempting to play some small-ball 5, as he’s lengthy defensively and might area the ground (35% on 3-pointers). Strangely, he didn’t attend the NBA Combine, so the place he’ll go within the draft is one thing of a thriller.

25. San Antonio Spurs (through Boston Celtics): Jalen Williams, ahead, Santa Clara

Toiling in relative obscurity within the WCC with the Broncos, Williams has crushed the draft course of, beginning together with his 7-foot-2 wingspan. He initiatives as a probably elite defender and is an above-average passer (18 factors, 10 rebounds vs. Saint Mary’s). He additionally shot 39% on 3-pointers.

26. Houston Rockets (through Dallas Mavericks): Walker Kessler, middle, Auburn

The 7-foot-1 middle is a defensive menace. Kessler led the nation in block shot proportion and shot 70% from the sector. Twenty years in the past, he’s a top-10 choose, however now? It’s powerful to see the place he matches, given the shortage of perimeter taking pictures. He’s a legal responsibility at the foul line, too (59%).

27. Miami Heat: E.J. Liddell, ahead, Ohio State

When you watched Grant Williams come off the bench for the Celtics within the playoffs, you would envision that function because the best-case situation for the 6-foot-7 Liddell.

28. Golden State Warriors: Jaylin Williams, middle, Arkansas

If the Warriors can’t afford to maintain Kevon Looney, they’ll want a backup for James Wiseman, who can’t appear to remain wholesome. Williams was a shock draft entrant and will sneak into the primary spherical. At 6-foot-10, 240 kilos, he’s lengthy and an excellent defender — he led the SEC in prices taken — and in case you roll the tape towards Gonzaga, he held his personal towards Drew Timme and Chet Holmgren, going for 15 factors, 12 rebounds and three assists, together with a clutch late 3-pointer.

29. Memphis Grizzlies: Marjon Beauchamp, guard, G League Ignite


Beauchamp attended 4 completely different excessive faculties, then dominated group school ball (30 PPG, 10 RPG) earlier than leaping to the G League, the place he averaged 15 PPG. Of concern is his 24% 3-point taking pictures. He’s at least a yr away from contributing within the NBA, however the deep Grizzlies can afford that.

30. Denver Nuggets (through Phoenix Suns): Jake LaRavia, ahead, Wake Forest

Never heard of him? LaRavia began at Indiana State, transferred to Wake Forest after two years and morphed into a professional prospect. He’s a wise participant with good defensive instincts who can rating towards one of the best of them. He had 31 factors and 10 rebounds in a blowout of UNC and 19 factors and 10 rebounds in a slender loss to Duke.

Jason McIntyre is a FOX Sports betting analyst, and he additionally writes concerning the NFL and NBA Draft. He joined FS1 in 2016 and has appeared on each present on the community. In 2017, McIntyre started producing playing content material on the NFL, school soccer and NBA for FOX Sports. He had a playing podcast for FOX, “Coming Up Winners,” in 2018 and 2019. Before arriving at FOX, he created the web site The Big Lead, which he bought in 2010.

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