NBA Mock Draft: Predicting Top 10 Picks

NBA Mock Draft: Predicting Top 10 Picks

Barry Devoe
2 years ago
5 min read
Boilermakers guard Jaden Ivey controls the ball against St. Peter's Peacocks

Even though the NBA Finals just ended, the league is wasting no time getting the ball rolling for next season. The first order of business is the 2022 NBA Draft, which is set for this Thursday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

Most reasonably-informed basketball fans know the top-three players expected to hear their names called on stage. However, the order is still up for debate. Not to mention, picks 4-10 provide lots of mystery and intrigue, as well.

Factoring in team fits, previous mock drafts, and up-to-date rumors, here’s how we think the first ten picks will go on Thursday. While there’s a possibility we’ll see a few draft-night trades, there are no trades listed in these predictions.

1. Orlando Magic - Jabari Smith Jr.

Despite a late odds push for Paolo Banchero, the general feeling is that the Magic are deciding between Auburn’s Jabari Smith Jr. and Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren. While there’s a case for Holmgren, Smith looks like the play for Orlando.

The 6-foot-10 Smith is a great athlete that possesses a killer shot and impressive defensive work ethic. He’ll be an immediate contributor at the 4 for Orlando and help bring some much-needed star potential to the team.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder - Chet Holmgren

In all likelihood, the Thunder are going to select either Smith or Holmgren — whoever Orlando decides to pass on. In this case, that means Holmgren will become the next young player to join OKC’s youth movement.

There’s a strong argument that if Holmgren weighed more, he’d be the consensus top pick. Even with a slender frame, the 7-footer is an elite defender who can also shoot and pass to a surprising degree. The decision to take him won’t be a difficult one for the Thunder.

3. Houston Rockets - Paolo Banchero

There’s perhaps no safer pick than the Rockets’ selection at third overall. Assuming Smith and Holmgren go off the board as expected, Houston will almost certainly add Banchero to its intriguing frontcourt mix.

In his one season at Duke, the 6-foot-10 Banchero displayed the ideal size and strength needed to succeed at the professional level. If his outside shot can eventually fall, he’ll have a chance to be the best player in this class when it’s all said and done.

4. Sacramento Kings - Keegan Murray

This is where the draft really begins. The Kings are armed with the fourth pick, but rumors persist about another team trading up, most likely for Purdue’s Jaden Ivey. However, if Sacramento stays put, Iowa’s Keegan Murray is the best bet.

After drafting point guards with three of their last four first-round picks, the Kings would be wise to take the 6-foot-8 Murray. The former Hawkeye would be a huge addition to Sacramento’s forward group now and in the future.

5. Detroit Pistons - Bennedict Mathurin

If Sacramento stays put and selects Murray, the Pistons would face a very difficult decision. Would they target Ivey and make him Cade Cunningham’s new backcourt partner, or would they go with a knockdown shooter in Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin? Right now, we’ll say the latter.

Mathurin might be the biggest riser in recent weeks. The 6-foot-6 wing is a great shooter with an NBA-ready body and off-ball skills better than the majority of this draft class. Passing on Ivey might be tough, but Mathurin’s skill set and toughness will make up the difference.

6. Indiana Pacers - Jaden Ivey

In a perfect world, the Pacers would select Murray or Mathurin. With the two of them off the board, perhaps Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe makes sense here. However, we’re predicting Ivey’s slide ends at sixth overall.

Ivey, an Indiana native, boasts some serious star potential. The 6-foot-4 guard is an elite scorer who can get buckets near the basket and 25 feet away from it. That said, Indiana may have to move someone like Malcolm Brogdon for Ivey to immediately slide into the lineup.

7. Portland Trail Blazers - Dyson Daniels

Next to Sacramento’s fourth-overall pick, the Trail Blazers’ seventh selection might be the pick most commonly linked to a trade. Should Portland stay put, drafting a lengthier player next to Damian Lillard makes the most sense. For now, that’s the G League’s Dyson Daniels.

Scouts view the 6-foot-7 Daniels as a combo guard/forward due to his unique passing ability. The Australian is also a strong defender, something the Blazers definitely need. The upside of someone like Sharpe is intriguing, but Daniels feels like the slight favorite here.

8. New Orleans Pelicans - Ochai Agbaji

The Pelicans are in a unique position with this spot. New Orleans made the playoffs this year but owns the eighth pick due to the Anthony Davis trade with the Los Angeles Lakers. So in terms of adding win-now help, Kansas’ Ochai Agbaji is a decent pick.

Agbaji is one of the draft’s older lottery picks, but the 22-year-old is a potent shooter and scorer. The Pels don’t need a star here, considering their trio of Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, and CJ McCollum. But the 6-foot-6 wing would be a solid contributor from day one.

9. San Antonio Spurs - Ousmane Dieng

At this point in the draft, it might be hard to predict how the dominos will fall. Especially with a team like the Spurs, who usually play by their own rules. But based on the first eight picks, the NBL’s Ousmane Dieng would be a likely target at ninth overall.

The 6-foot-10 Frenchman is a jump shot away from being a top-five pick. He offers elite size, passing abilities, and defense that any team would covet. It wouldn’t be surprising if San Antonio drafts Dieng with the expectation of him becoming the lead playmaker very soon.

10. Washington Wizards - Shaedon Sharpe

There’s always one player who seems to fall further than many expect on draft night. If there’s one guy who screams “slide,” it’s Kentucky’s Shaedon Sharpe. However, the Wizards won’t let him escape the top ten.

Sharpe didn’t play a minute of basketball for the Wildcats, but that doesn’t mean his potential isn’t high. The 6-foot-6 boasts immense offensive upside and can give the Wizards some much-needed star power if he reaches that potential.

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