How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

A breakdown of the first 14 picks of Thursday's draft

By
We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images

Last year’s draft is already looking like an all-time great. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t gems to be had in the 2022 NBA Draft. Analysts have said this is a four-person draft. But with the league experiencing greater parity than it has in the last two decades, the need for high-impact role players is at a premium. As a result, there are a plethora of three and D perimeter players to be had in the first 14 picks. We’ve broken down how the Draft should go, including each player’s strengths, player comps, and best fits. We’ve even included a blockbuster trade, including a team trading up into the lottery.

This might not be a draft with many future superstars, but the teams who have lucked out to pick one through 10 are a player or two away from rising out of the Lottery and into Play-In tournament contention. None of the 10 teams picking this year can afford to screw it up. So let’s break down the best fits for each.

Advertisement

2 / 16

1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith (Auburn)

1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith (Auburn)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

Jabari Smith is what a computer would spit out if you tried to write the perfect power forward as an algorithm. Smith is huge, strong, athletic, innovative, and knocks down three-pointers at 42% in college. He has a pure jump shot which creates massive separation from defenders, allowing him to hit the J or use his explosive first step at the rim. On defense, he can switch on-ball to all five positions. In a draft full of high upsides and low floors, he’s the safest bet of the top 10. He should be able to provide the Magic with a post option, allowing their roster of shooters and playmakers to create more space. He might not turn into a superstar but could be a multiple-time All-Star and elite second option on a contending team. He will need an elite guard to unlock his full potential.

Advertisement

3 / 16

2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)

2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

Holmgren is a pure Presti pick. The mad genius behind Oklahoma City’s relevance loves to swing for the high upside pick, as he did the last draft when he shocked everyone by selecting Josh Giddey with the sixth pick. Holmgren’s upside is insane. At 7’0, he’s equipped with elite shot-blocking, rebounding, and three-point shooting, which the Thunder needs. He would round out the goofiest looking starting five in the NBA and fulfill Presti’s grandiose vision of positionless basketball. Few execs possess Presti’s eye for talent. All signs point to him selecting Holmgren, which would vault the Thunder officially out of rebuild mode and into Play-In Tournament contention. Few teams possess the level of playmaking OKC has on their roster, putting Holmgren in a perfect position to succeed.

Advertisement

4 / 16

3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero (Duke)

3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero (Duke)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

Since trading away James Harden in 2021, the Rockets have built around high-upside kids with unknown potential. Jalen Green, Alperen Şengün, Kevin Porter Jr., Kenyon Martin Jr., and Usman Garuba. What they need is a bonafide star on the team. Paolo Banchero fits the bill and some. At 6’10, Banchero will be ready to contribute offensively on day one. Banchero will bring an ability to shoot off the catch or create for himself off the bounce. He can thrive as a trail man shooting the three or attacking late closeouts. His fadeaway was impossible to defend in college and should also translate to the NBA level. His instincts will allow him to play multiple positions and score from almost every angle, giving the Rockets a valuable point of attack.

Advertisement

5 / 16

4. Sacramento Kings: Jaden Ivey (Purdue) (Traded to New York Knicks)

4. Sacramento Kings: Jaden Ivey (Purdue) (Traded to New York Knicks)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

No team in this year’s draft feels more poised to trade up than the New York Knicks. They are looking to fill their two-decade-long drought at lead guard, and Ivey is worth doing it for the future star. There are too many past drafts to examine and argue “what if?” No more. The time is now for Leon Rose to take a massive swing in the draft and do whatever it takes to nab Ivey, who looks to have the most upside in this class. He gives you size, underrated playmaking, penetration, and athleticism, similar to Derrick Rose’s game with the Bulls. Tom Thibodeau also coached that team. Destiny awaits.

Advertisement

6 / 16

5. Detroit Pistons: Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky)

5. Detroit Pistons: Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

The Detroit Pistons are in the perfect position to take a home run swing with the fifth pick and throw the rest of the draft into chaos. They have developed stability with youngsters Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, and Isaiah Stewart. Head coach Dwane Casey knows exactly what he’s going to get out of all four of those guys on a nightly basis. So why not swing for the fences on the high-upside Sharpe? The tape is limited on Sharpe playing against top talent, but the potential is there for him to be one of the best players in this year’s draft. Every year there seems to be a super high-upside guy. This year it’s Sharpe. Kentucky wouldn’t have recruited him if the potential wasn’t there. If he hits and the injuries are behind him, he could be the superstar this already talented Pistons team is missing.

Advertisement

7 / 16

6. Indiana Pacers: Keegan Murray

6. Indiana Pacers: Keegan Murray

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

Indiana Pacers coach Rick Carlise prefers veterans over young players unless they come out the gate NBA-ready. Of the players left on the board, that describes Murray the best. Murray will be 22-years-old by the time the next season starts and can immediately slide into a role similar to how Carlise played Dorian-Finney Smith in Dallas. You can never have switchable enough three and d wings on the perimeter. Murray can fill the minutes left by the Domantas Sabonis trade and add floor spacing and agility next to Pacers center Myles Turner. His shooting would make him a more natural fit next to Turner, who would no longer have to fight for room in the post.

Advertisement

8 / 16

7. Portland Trailblazers: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)

7. Portland Trailblazers: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

After trading away All-Star CJ McCollum and many other rotation players last season, the Trailblazers need scoring. The roster they previously built around Damian Lillard lacked athleticism and two-way potential. Mathurin would be a welcome change of pace. After Ivey, Mathurin is the next most explosive and athletic perimeter player in the Lottery. His clutch play against TCU in the Dance, dropping 30 points, including a pivotal three in Arizona’s 85-80 overtime win, made him an NCAA legend. His dawg mentality would fit in perfectly next to Lillard, who deserves a running mate capable of getting his own.

Advertisement

9 / 16

8. Orleans Pelicans: Dyson Daniels (G-League Ignite)

8. Orleans Pelicans: Dyson Daniels (G-League Ignite)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: AP
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

Daniels possesses the rare combination of handles, passing, and height that has made scouts drool since 1980. He’s a craftier playmaker than Shaun Livingston, an obvious comp, but not nearly the athlete LaMelo Ball is. But he possesses a high IQ and facilitation awareness that makes me intriguing to any team, including those already set at point guard. Since he lacks elite athleticism and explosive first step, he might be best suited as a secondary playmaker. His ability to guard all five positions and an impressive draft combine performance has vaulted him into the top 10, and he would be the perfect guard to grow into a starting role with the Pelicans. His pass-first approach would complement Jose Alvarado’s rough and unpolished attack.

Advertisement

10 / 16

9. San Antonio Spurs: A.J. Griffin (Duke)

9. San Antonio Spurs: A.J. Griffin (Duke)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

The Spurs are quietly building back a competitive team after fading into obscurity post-Kawhi Leonard. One of the things they could use is shooting. Which is precisely the skill Griffin excels at. With Duke last season, he shot 45.4% from range. He possesses a pure shooting stroke, with excellent mechanics and rotation on his shot. Not much to the rest of his game. He hasn’t shown to be an above-average defender and has difficulty scoring when crowded on the perimeter. But he does have the ability to be an elite scorer. If he continues to work on his handle and footwork, he could develop into an All-Star level player on the offensive.

Advertisement

11 / 16

10. Washington Wizards: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)

10. Washington Wizards: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

The Wizards desperately need shooting and scoring from the perimeter. Their roster consists mainly of Bradley Beal and dudes too small to play the four and too slow to play the three. They could use Davis’ ability to get into his sweet spots and score off-the-dribble. He has elite footwork, which allows him to roam defenses until he finds openings. He has an innate ability to get to the line as well, as he took the fifth-most free throws in the Big Ten last season, averaging 6.3 a game. He’s an underrated defender as well, another attribute Washington is in dire need of.

Advertisement

12 / 16

11. New York Knicks: Jalen Duren (Memphis) (Traded to Sacramento Kings)

11. New York Knicks: Jalen Duren (Memphis) (Traded to Sacramento Kings)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

As the other part of the hypothetical Draft day trade, Duren heads to Sacramento, a team in dire need of rim protection and athleticism at the center position. The franchise has never had athletic, raw potential at the five in the last two decades. DeMarcus Cousins, Vlade Divac, and Brad Miller were all finesse players with elite footwork and range. Willie-Cauley Stein was a bust. Duren projects to be at least an effective defender and efficient lob threat. Playing with passing bigs like Sabonis and an electric guard like De’Aaron Fox should help him get plenty of action in the pick and roll. After that, it will be on him to develop as a player since the Kings organization has shown little ability in the past towards maximizing player development.

Advertisement

13 / 16

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Malaki Branham (Ohio St.)

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Malaki Branham (Ohio St.)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

The Thunder’s roster could use a bit of everything. With their second pick of the Lottery, seeing they don’t trade up or down with it, they should be best used for taking the best player available, no matter the position. Tree Mann is undersized, and Theo Maledon is a bum, so that they could use some scoring punch off the bench. Presti has been so so at identifying players outside of the top 10. Selecting Branham would give them a project the Thunder U development staff could develop. He comes with size, height, and shooting percentages to become a dependable shooter from beyond the arc eventually. He shot 41.6 percent from three-point range and 83.3 percent from the line, indicating his shooting metrics have room to grow.

Advertisement

14 / 16

13. Atlanta Hawks: Ochai Agbaji (Kansas)

13. Atlanta Hawks: Ochai Agbaji (Kansas)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

Agbaji projects to become a high-level role player. That limited ceiling doesn’t mean he won’t impact the team that takes him. He comes equipped with the two skills most teams value the highest, shooting and defense. With Atlanta, they have a ton of shooting but little defense beyond Clint Capela, John Collins, and De’Andre Hunter. Agbaji would give them a three and D skill set on the perimeter where they lack the guards to keep up with smaller, quicker defenders. Agbaji will come into the NBA at 22 years old. His age should only help a young team like Atlanta, whose young core has already surpassed expectations.

Advertisement

15 / 16

14. Indiana Pacers: Jeremy Sochan (Baylor)

14. Indiana Pacers: Jeremy Sochan (Baylor)

Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition
Image: Getty Images
Image for article titled How the 2022 NBA Draft will go — Lottery Edition

Perhaps no more than any other team, the Pacers are stuck in a strange, self-made purgatory. Half their roster are players under 26 with an unmet ceiling, while the other are grizzled veterans who could use a change of scenery. Which way do they go? No one knows which makes their selection of a player that fits into both routes the right choice. Sochan can glide around the court, guiding all five positions with tenacity and intelligence. Sochan is one of those players who came off the bench for his college team, providing efficient but limited statistics, but figures to grow into a more productive role in the NBA. To reach that goal, he will need to improve his outside shooting, as he only nailed 30% with Baylor.

Advertisement

16 / 16