2022 NBA Mock Draft: Sixers, Nuggets trade shakes up first round

2022 NBA Mock Draft: Sixers, Nuggets trade shakes up first round

The 2022 NBA Draft is officially less than a week away, a thrilling moment for those who watch prospect film for hours, days, weeks, and months on end. It’s not quite the NFL Draft, but a lot of work goes into this stuff!

After another disappointing postseason exit, the Sixers need to improve their scoring depth while navigating big-money contracts. The draft would seem ideal for that predicament… except they don’t have a huge championship window to wait for guys to develop, and not everyone is on the Tyrese Maxey Timeline.

Do they make their pick at No. 23? Do they move it? Let’s jump into a full first-round mock and see what happens:

1. Magic: PF Jabari Smith, Auburn

Smith’s recent rise up draft boards, along with buzz about front offices falling in love with his potential, seem to have the long, shot-making 19-year-old ticketed for Orlando. His combination of sturdy defense and athleticism could be All-Pro worthy.

2. Thunder: C Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

The tall, skinny guy from the NCAA tournament you couldn’t take your eyes off of! I’m not sold on Holmgren as a pro prospect – the frame (7-foot, 195 pounds) is concerning – but his length will make him a terror in the paint on both ends from Day 1.

3. Rockets: PF Paolo Banchero, Duke

Another NCAA tournament star, Banchero is a bucket-getter (30.6 points per 100 possessions as a freshman at Duke) who should only improve at the next level. His defense is keeping him from being the first overall pick, but that’s why coaching exists.

4. Kings: SG Jaden Ivey, Purdue

Ivey seems to be a polarizing prospect among some NBA Draft fans. The Kings may be log-jammed at guard, but they’re not exactly in a place to be drafting for need so they take the offense-minded guard who can shoot from deep. Get good players, then figure it out later.

 

5. Pistons: SG Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky

Detroit already has its star point guard in Cade Cunningham, and now they have his backcourt partner in crime. Sharpe is a devastatingly exciting scorer with a deep bag, and will thrive with someone as creative as Cunningham. Bump up the defense a bit and we’re cooking.

6. Pacers: PF Keegan Murray, Iowa

Talk about a glow-up. Murray went from forgettable role guy to First Team All-Big Ten, posting an exceptional 61.4% eFG% on nearly 16 attempts per game and grabbing more than eight boards each night. Indiana finds a great running mate for Tyrese Haliburton.

7. Blazers: SG Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona

I wouldn’t be surprised if Portland trades this pick in search of immediate upgrades to keep Damian Lillard happy. If they keep the pick, Mathurin is a strong creator who shot 38% from deep in two years at Arizona. He can probably help most teams.

8. Pelicans: SF AJ Griffin, Duke

Our first pick who’s more projection than production, Griffin was solid but not spectacular at Duke. His main attraction is his eye-watering 44.7% three-point percentage as a freshman. The goal here is probably to become a dead-eye catch-and-shoot weapon who excels on defense, and then see if there’s more potential.

9. Spurs: SG Johnny Davis, Wisconsin

How many draft picks spent on young guards is too many? The Spurs are going to find out! They need to keep swinging until they find Dejounte Murray a proper backcourt pairing. The Big Ten Player of the Year is hard to pass up, even with Joshua Primo and Devin Vassell (and Lonnie Walker, and Romeo Langford…) waiting in the wings.

10. Wizards: SF Ochai Agbaji, Kansas

Agbaji is a little older than you’d want for the 10th overall pick, but the leap he took as a senior was electric: he posted career-highs in eFG% (57%), 3P% (40.7%), FT% (74.3%), and points per game (21.4). The hope here is his game keeps growing in that vein.

11. Knicks: C Jalen Duren, Memphis

The Knicks Renaissance was a lie, so they’re back to the drawing board — which means it’s time to take big swings! Mitchell Robinson will get paid this offseason. Instead of doing that, the Knicks gamble on a 6-foot-10 supremely athletic 18-year old who could become a two-way paint monster. 

12. Thunder: SG Dyson Daniels, G League Ignite

This would be a huge win for Oklahoma City. Daniels, a playmaker with defensive upside, could be a Top 10 talent and OKC is still all about potential during their eternal rebuild. Daniels alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be a buzzy, dynamic backcourt duo for years.

13. Hornets: C Mark Williams, Duke

It’s the upgrade button meme where you start with Mason Plumlee failing to post someone up and you wind up with Mark Williams slamming lobs from LaMelo Ball. The dream here is eventually reaching an Evan Mobley-style game if he can find his shot in the pros.

14. Cavaliers: SF Jalen Williams, Santa Clara

Williams is a play-making guard/wing with range from deep and vision to find his teammates. Teaming up with bucket-getter Darius Garland could form a pretty strong one-two punch for the Cavs. Depends a bit on their plans for Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio.

 

15. Hornets: PF Jeremy Sochan, Baylor

I’ve seen a range of projected slots for Sochan, in large part because his offensive game is still coming into focus — he shot just 29% from three and his eFG% (53%) is a bit low for a 6-foot-9 forward. But he’s big and rangy and young, all good things in the modern NBA.

16. Hawks: SG Jaden Hardy, G League Ignite

The Hawks might try to move this pick, but Hardy would be a welcome addition to Atlanta’s roster. Outside of Trae Young and Sharife Cooper, the Hawks need more solo creation from their backcourt (though Kevin Huerter flashed that ability last season) and Hardy’s ceiling in that arena is high.

17. Rockets: SF Ousmane Dieng, France

The Rockets are certainly in no rush to compete, which means it’s time to take some chances. Dieng is long, he’s young, and scouting reports have him as a smooth-dribbling, playmaking small forward. Sounds like someone who would slide perfectly into a lineup with Jalen Green and Paolo Banchero.

18. Bulls: F E.J. Liddell, Ohio State

If they don’t blow things up this summer, the Bulls are in win-now mode. Liddell is older for a first-round prospect (21) but has win-now capabilities: he blossomed into a self-assured scorer from basically every level this past season and can help Chicago immediately off the bench.

19. Timberwolves: G Malaki Branham, Ohio State

Back-to-back Buckeye selections! The Wolves are reportedly shopping D’Angelo Russell. If that era is over, why not choose another OSU guard to help pilot the backcourt? He’s a silky scorer with touch from deep, an ability to get to the line, and an efficient streak. The sky’s the limit.

20. Spurs: F Nikola Jovic, Serbia

(No, not that guy.) The Spurs taking a foreign player with a pass-first mentality is basically parody at this point, but it’s also just honestly very Spurs-y. Jovic is young and still growing as a player, but San Antonio isn’t competing right now so that’s fine. Could wind up being a real steal.

21. Nuggets: F Tari Eason, LSU

The Nuggets could use a boost to their team defense, and Eason is an extremely good defender. He’s fast laterally and he’s also physical, and would immediately help on that end. He also gets to the free throw line, but the rest of his offensive game needs refinement.

22. Grizzlies: G TyTy Washington, Kentucky

With Tyus Jones potentially on the way out, Washington would be a fascinating fit alongside Ja Morant. His passing and command of the floor are two of his biggest pluses, though he’d need to learn to operate better without the ball and also develop a more consistent shot from deep.

23. Nuggets (via PHI): SG Blake Wesley, Notre Dame

TRADE ALERT.

This pick will be announced as the Sixers’ selection, but national reporters will quickly inform us that the player has been flipped to the Nuggets in a draft-night swap.

 

DEN receives: Blake Wesley, Danny Green, Matisse Thybulle

PHI receives: Will Barton

For Denver, who landed 15th in defensive rating last season, adding Thybulle’s defensive prowess would be a boon. We all know that team can score, and Nikola Jokic can get anyone open looks. Can they stop anyone? With Thybulle, things should improve. Danny Green’s money can likely be repurposed, and they get a draft pick as well.

For the Sixers, they trade a player they’re ready to move on from in Thybulle and acquire more offensive depth while also moving off of Green’s contract next season. Addition by subtraction in multiple arenas.

Barton counts for $14.3M against the cap next season, a reasonable deal for a player who has shot 37% from deep over his last three seasons, adds five boards and 3.5 assists, and had a 56.1% effective field goal percentage on catch-and-shoot attempts last year.

24. Bucks: C Walker Kessler, Auburn

Brook Lopez isn’t getting any younger, so Milwaukee looks to the future at the center position and adds size (7-foot, 258 pounds, 7-foot-5 wingspan) who can add to the Bucks’ already-smothering interior defense. The Bucks are gigantic.

25. Spurs: SG Christian Braun, Kansas

Braun feels like a fairly Spurs-y pick: he’s a strong three-point shooter, he prides himself on defense, and he likes to do the little things. You probably remember him from Kansas’ title run as the scrappy dude who can shoot. He needs to get better at creating, but there’s no rush.

26. Rockets: SF Dalen Terry, Arizona

Dalen Terry has a nice, NBA-ready three-point shot and will help a Houston team looking for defenders while contributing on offense. He should be reliable enough to earn solid playing time as a rookie. He also added nearly four assists per game as a sophomore. Not bad!

27. Heat: F Patrick Baldwin Jr., Milwaukee

Baldwin Jr. didn’t play much during his freshman year with Milwaukee because of a nagging ankle injury, and when he played he was underwhelming. But there’s still the five-star pedigree, the undeniable athleticism, and the size (6-foot-9, 220 pounds) to entice the Heat to take a swing at a high-potential wing late in the first round.

28. Warriors: SF Kendall Brown, Baylor

Despite its obvious postseason success, Golden State needs to improve in a few key areas. Brown brings immediate size (6-foot-8) to a small roster and jump-off-the-page athleticism to an aging core. He’s an extremely efficient scorer, albeit on a relatively small sample size. Overall, he could fit the Warriors’ present and their future.

29. Grizzlies: WING MarJon Beauchamp, G League Ignite

Besides obviously having the best name in the draft, Beauchamp is fits the Grizzlies’ style — fast, attacking, physical — and brings more athleticism to one of the more freakish teams in the league. His shot needs work, but he would absolutely supplement Memphis’ already-deep rotation.

 

30. Nuggets: SF Jake LaRavia, Wake Forest

The Nuggets could look to trade this pick away after already making two picks and generally being in win-now mode. But LaRavia could still be a strong addition to the Nuggets, bringing both shot-making and playmaking to the offense and versatility to the defense.

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