2022 NBA Mock Draft: Zak's Draft 2.0

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The NBA Draft is just two weeks away. Seriously, we’re that close! In honor of the big day, I’m rolling out my second (and penultimate) mock of the season. The withdrawal deadline passed last week, and the incomparable Raphielle Johnson posted his second mock that includes all 58 picks. Make sure to check that out!

You can find my first mock here if you’d like to compare it to the latest. We've got a number of risers, including a shakeup in the top-3, a big move into the lottery for a certain Kentucky point guard and a replacement option for Bradley Beal. Let's get after it!

1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith | Auburn | Forward | Freshman | 6’10, 220

No change at the top. Smith is the consensus favorite to go first overall, and PointsBet has his odds at -300 compared to Chat Holmgren at +300 and Paolo Banchero at +1500. The books can be wrong, but the clear favorite is typically selected first. The long and athletic Smith has a gorgeous stroke from beyond the arc and is naturally gifted on offense. He’ll fit in well with a rebuilding Magic team that’s still desperate for a go-to scorer. There’s a good possibility Mo Bamba leaves in free agency, leaving Wendell Carter at center and Smith at PF in another jumbo frontcourt lineup. Smith’s excellent offense should make him a valuable fantasy option right away, and his perimeter defense means he’ll likely see plenty of minutes.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Paolo Banchero | Duke | Forward | Freshman | 6’10, 250

The Thunder are usually a wild card. They’re the proverbial caterpillar in the buttermilk to guys like me who try to predict who will be taken and when. There’s a good chance they go with Chet Holmgren, but they could also pivot to Jaden Ivey, a player with whom they’ve apparently grown quite fond. And then there’s Maude Banchero. I had Banchero in a tier clearly below Holmgren and Smith in my first mock because I wasn’t as impressed with his play following the season. The more I rewatch his tape (especially in the NCAA tournament), the more I realize that there weren’t any eye-popping SC Top-10 moments because he’s a blue-collar player who makes the game look easy. His offense is effortless, and his power and athleticism were nearly unmatched. I think OKC takes a long, hard look and ultimately takes Banchero with the second pick. The landing spot is phenomenal for fantasy purposes.

3. Houston Rockets: Chet Holmgren | Gonzaga | Forward/Center | Freshman | 7’0, 195

From a fantasy standpoint, managers have got to be drooling over the prospect of landing Holmgren in their redraft leagues and especially excited about nabbing him in dynasty formats. Despite me mocking him third, he should be the most impactful rookie for fantasy purposes thanks to his unique three-point and shot-blocking abilities. Guys like Jaren Jackson, Kristaps Porzingis, Myles Turner and Mo Bamba showed that big men with those skills are fantasy cheat codes, and Holmgren is the next of that ilk to join the NBA. Houston can play him at power forward or center alongside Christian Wood for a projected lineup that would include Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. Suddenly, H-Town is suddenly looking a lot more exciting!

4. Sacramento Kings: Shaedon Sharpe | Kentucky | Guard | Freshman | 6’6, 200

Much like the Thunder, the Kings never fail to surprise us. This pick could be Jaden Ivey or Keegan Murray, but I’ve still got a hunch they shoot for the stars with Sharpe, a player who didn’t log a single minute of playing time at Kentucky. Limited tape might be a concern, but Sharpe’s high school highlights and impressive Pro Day show that he’s an unbelievably talented athlete deserving of a top-5 pick. Sharpe has a 7’0 wingspan and ridiculous hops, and he should fit in well alongside De’Aaron Fox as an off-ball scorer. He’ll need to work on improving his shooting range and getting teammates involved, but he’s ready to contribute from Day 1, something that’s important to this Sacramento team that traded away Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield for Domantas Sabonis at last year’s trade deadline. Sharpe could be an enticing points-league play.

5. Detroit Pistons: Keegan Murray | Iowa | Forward | Sophomore | 6’8, 225

Ivey? Ivey? Paging Jaden Ivey. The Pistons could very well draft the talented Boilermaker guard, but they’d be doing themselves a favor by taking Murray and letting Cade Cunningham run the offense and develop in Year 2. Jerami Grant is almost certainly on his way to another team next season, and Murray could take his spot as a score-first forward who’s got an even better offensive game. Murray shot 40.2% from beyond the arc at Iowa last season while averaging 23.6 points and 8.6 boards. This would be a great landing spot for fantasy, and I love the NBA fit too.

6. Indiana Pacers: Jaden Ivey | Purdue | Guard | Sophomore | 6’4, 195

Speed. Athleticism. Highlight plays. The ability to bring a crowd to its feet. Which guard comes to mind when you read those adjectives? For most, it’s Ja Morant, a pretty instant comp when you watch Ivey play basketball. He’s a score-first point guard, but with Tyrese Haliburton in the backcourt with him, there won’t be much pressure to contribute as a playmaker right away. If Malcolm Brogdon is moved, Ivey could be a Day 1 starter where he’d be a great points league option. There’s a lot of buzz around this guy, so don’t be surprised to see him taken sooner than sixth.

7. Portland Trail Blazers: Dyson Daniels | G League Ignite | Guard | 6’6, 170

Speaking of guys who could go inside the top-5, Daniels has generated plenty of buzz as of late thanks to a great Pro Day and strong team interviews. The G-League vet will certainly have plenty of suitors, and if he’s still here at No. 7, Portland won’t pass him up. Daniels isn’t a score-first guard, but he won’t need to be at the next level thanks to his strong passing and rebounding abilities. Portland appears to be in rebuild mode unless the Blazers can attain another high-profile player to pair with Damian Lillard. That means Daniels should see plenty of minutes right out of the gate, and his all-around game will translate well to the fantasy hoops world.

8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers): Bennedict Mathurin | Arizona | Guard/Forward | Sophomore | 6’7, 210

Second-round pick Herbert Jones was a fantasy stud as a rookie thanks to his tremendous defense and all-around contributions for New Orleans. Mathurin can provide more of the same with tenacious defense and hustle. He’s a bit more athletic than Jones and posterized more than one opponent in college with some highlight-reel dunks. He’s a three-and-D wing with incredible length, athleticism and hops. Playing time might be hard to come by right away, especially with the late-season addition of C.J. McCollum, a surge from Jose Alvarado and the hopeful return of Zion Williamson.

9. San Antonio Spurs: A.J. Griffin | Duke | Forward | Freshman | 6’6, 220

Griffin shot a blistering 44.7% from beyond the arc last season at Duke, including an unfathomable 48.9% mark in ACC contests. If the shooting doesn't get your motor running, he’s a quality scorer and rebounder to boot. Concerns over his knee and limited shine behind Banchero and Wendell Moore might push him further down in the draft, but Griffin could be a huge steal at No. 9, providing a nice one-two scoring punch alongside Dejounte Murray. At 6'6, 220, he's got the physical tools to be a quality 3-and-D option at the next level.

10. Washington Wizards: Johnny Davis | Wisconsin | Guard | Sophomore | 6’5, 195

Davis is an insanely creative scorer and shot-maker who can put the ball in the basket seemingly without effort. He’s got it all, from one-on-one Iso situations to shooting off the dribble, to catch-and-shoot and running the break. Don’t think he’s just a finesse scorer. Oh no, the former Badger is scrappy on defense and hustles after rebounds and loose balls. With the Bradley Beal era in its twilight in the nation’s capital, expect the Wiz to take a prolific scorer like Davis to fill his shoes. Washington’s current scoring options outside of Beal are blander than toast you eat while dealing with an upset stomach, so Davis has a realistic path to big minutes and fantasy relevancy.

11. New York Knicks: TyTy Washington | Kentucky | Guard | Freshman | 6’3, 195

I had the Knicks taking Mark Williams in my first mock, but it’s a well-known fact that New York is in desperate need of a point guard. Taking Washington here feels like a bit of a reach, but hey, so did extending Tom Thibodeau’s contract. Washington is yet another score-first guard, but he showed off his rebounding and playmaking capabilities at Kentucky, meaning there’s plenty of room to grow. Washington heads to New York in one of the biggest surprises of the lottery. More of a score-first guard but has the ability to find teammates and rebound effectively. The “Mecca” of basketball is more of a “Blechha” of basketball from a fantasy standpoint thanks to Thibodeau’s unwavering love of giving veterans 80 minutes a night. Don't go overboard on the fantasy hype.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Clippers): Ousmane Dieng | New Zealand | Forward | International | 6’9, 185

Dieng’s star continues to rise, and if Oklahoma City doesn’t use this pick to trade up for a second top-10 selection, he’ll be the guy. The international stud still has some question marks on offense, but at 6’9 with plenty of length, he can be a versatile defender in the NBA while developing the rest of his game. He’s raw now, but the long-term upside is tremendous, and Dieng fits OKC’s timeline perfectly. Don’t expect him to be fantasy relevant in Year 1, but make sure to get him on your dynasty rosters wherever you can.

13. Charlotte Hornets: Mark Williams | Duke | Center | Sophomore | 7’2, 243

I had Tari Eason slotted in at 13 in my first mock, but Charlotte can ill-afford to risk losing a high-caliber center. Williams has a 7’7 wingspan and 9’9 standing reach, meaning he’ll be one of the tallest centers in the NBA next season. The Hornets’ Achilles heel has been its frontcourt play, and Williams should be the solution. He’ll be able to use his size effectively as a shot-blocker, and it will be exciting to watch him hammer home lobs from LaMelo Ball. Williams will be a clear upgrade to Mason Plumlee and the undersized Montrezl Harrell.

14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Tari Eason | LSU | Forward | Sophomore | 6’8, 216

If the Hornets don’t take him, Cleveland will have a hard time passing on the “Bucket from the Bayou” (trademarked). Eason averaged 25 points per 36 last season at LSU, using his imposing frame to throw down powerful dunks. He altered shots and disrupted opposing offenses with 1.1 blocks and 1.9 steals and turned that defense into fast-break offense quite frequently. Cleveland excelled on defense a season ago and used a jumbo lineup effectively for most of the season. The team still needs some more effective scorers, and with Eason, they’ll get the best of both worlds - a high-motor defender with a sweet offensive touch.

15. Charlotte Hornets (via Pelicans): Jeremy Sochan | Baylor | Forward | Freshman | 6’9, 230

No, he’s not Dennis Rodman, but Sochan has the hair color and defensive intensity of the Hall-of-Famer. The Baylor product impressed last season thanks to his hustle and tenacity when going after rebounds and loose balls and hounding opponents. He's also a capable three-point scorer. Sochan impressed at the combine, so it wouldn’t be shocking to see him climb into the lottery or even the top-10. He’s a great fit for a Charlotte team that ranked 23rd in defensive rating in 2021-22 and lacked quality frontcourt depth.

16. Atlanta Hawks: Malaki Branham | Ohio State | Guard | Freshman | 6’5, 180

It’ll be tough for Atlanta to pass on Branham if he’s still available here. The former Buckeye averaged 13.7 points per game on impressive 49.8/41.6/83.3 splits last season, and his efficient scoring makes him an attractive option for a team loaded with depth on the wing that has struggled to stay healthy over the last two seasons. He could be a quality option in 9-cat formats thanks to his excellent shooting and intriguing athleticism especially if guys like Kevin Huerter and Bogdan Bogdanovic continue to miss time.

17. Houston Rockets (via Nets): Jalen Williams | Santa Clara | Guard | Junior | 6’5, 209

Williams’ stock continues to rise after he impressed as arguably the best player at the Combine, scoring 30 points on 12-of-16 shots across two scrimmages. He was tremendous at Santa Clara last season, averaging 18.0 points, 4.4 boards and 4.2 dimes while shooting 39.6% from beyond the arc. Houston is known for taking chances in the draft, and they’ve got time to develop Williams at the next level. The Rockets may be reaching a little, but at this point, they’ve already come away with a top-3 pick and can afford to swing on a high-upside talent like Williams.

18. Chicago Bulls: Jalen Duren | Memphis | Center | Freshman | 6’11, 250

Viewed by some as a surefire top-10 option, Chicago gets a steal here with one of the best centers in this draft class. Duren was huge for Memphis as a freshman, using size and strength to establish himself as an elite rebounder and rim protector. He should fit in well behind Nikola Vucevic, and he could be an outstanding streamer any time Vooch is unavailable.

19. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ochai Agbaji | Kansas | Guard | Senior | 6’5, 215

Agbaji’s got great size for a guard, and it should serve him well in the NBA. He improved his efficiency in each of the last three years and averaged 18.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.7 triples per contest in his senior season with Kansas. Agbaji impressed in the NCAA Tournament with his all-around game and 42.3% shooting from beyond the arc to earn MOP honors. With Patrick Beverley and D’Angelo Russell headed for free agency in 2023 or the trade block in the offseason, drafting Agbaji here makes a ton of sense. He could be an outstanding fantasy contributor in this high-octane offense.

20. San Antonio Spurs (via Raptors): Nikola Jovic | Serbia | Forward | International | 6’10, 205

Jovic is the type of player the Spurs love to draft. He’s an international prospect with a ton of upside as a point forward or point center who can shoot threes and shine as a playmaker. He’s still quite raw offensively, but San Antonio has a proven track record of development. I won't take him in redraft leagues, but he's got a sky-high ceiling that makes him an excellent selection in dynasty rookie drafts.

21. Denver Nuggets: E.J. Liddell | Ohio State | Forward | Junior | 6’7, 240

Denver gets an excellent two-way player in Liddell at No. 21. He averaged nearly 20 points per game at Ohio State last season and used his physical tools to make a big impact on defense. Being without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter showed that the Nuggets need another reliable scorer, and Liddell can certainly offer that and much more.

22. Memphis Grizzlies: Kennedy Chandler | Tennessee | Guard | Freshman | 6’2, 170

Memphis grabs a strong backup point guard at No. 22 in anticipation of Tyus Jones’ upcoming free agency. Chandler is a speedy guard with plenty of moves on offense, but he’s also a great passer who can run Memphis’ second unit while Ja Morant is on the bench. The biggest concern in Year 1 will be playing time on such a deep team.

23. Philadelphia 76ers: Wendell Moore Jr. | Duke | Forward | Junior | 6’5, 213

You can never have too many three-point shooters, and after trading Seth Curry to the Nets in the James Harden deal, Philly could really use a guy like Moore. The 6’5 wing nailed over 41% of his shots from beyond the arc last season and played solid defense for the Blue Devils. The Sixers aren't a deep team, and they could certainly use an offensive spark and floor spacer off the bench. There's certainly a world in which Moore gets meaningful minutes as a rookie, and quality three-point shooters always have relevance in fantasy hoops leagues.

24. Milwaukee Bucks: Kendall Brown | Baylor | Forward | Freshman | 6’8, 205

Brown is at his best in the paint, making tough shots in traffic or soaring through the air for a rebound or powerful dunk. The size and athleticism should be appealing to Milwaukee, and the Bucks grab him at 24. Milwaukee isn’t particularly deep at forward, so Brown could get a chance to make an impact as a rookie and show off his personal highlight reel.

25. San Antonio Spurs: Walker Kessler | Auburn | Center | Sophomore | 7’1, 245

Kessler’s stock has fallen since the NCAA season ended, but as one of the best shot blockers in the country, he’s not going to fall much lower than this. Kessler used his imposing frame to swat 2.1 shots per game as a sophomore at Auburn, and he’ll provide some much-needed depth for San Antonio at the center position.

26. Dallas Mavericks: Bryce McGowens | Nebraska | Guard | Freshman | 6’7, 179

McGowens is one of the most underrated sleepers in this draft and a guy we could look at in five years as the biggest steal of the first round. The Mavs need more offense to take some of the burden off of Luka Doncic, and they’ll get that from McGowens, who averaged nearly 17 points per game for the Huskers as a freshman last season.

27. Miami Heat: Blake Wesley | Notre Dame | Guard | Freshman | 6’4, 187

It’s impossible to say how many times we saw Wesley steal an errant pass or poke the ball away from an opponent and then glide down the court for a fastbreak finish last season. The lanky guard turned defense into offense on a regular basis for the Irish a season ago, and he’ll a welcomed addition to a Heat team that ranked 22nd in fastbreak points per game in 2021-22.

28. Golden State Warriors: Christian Braun | Kansas | Guard | Junior | 6’6, 218

Braun’s performance for the NCAA champion Jay Hawks and at the NBA Combine has likely secured a spot for him in the first round of the draft. He finished his two Combine scrimmages with 23 points, 11 rebounds, seven assists and six steals and has made a name for himself as an excellent three-and-D prospect. Long-range shooting and strong defense are the Warriors’ hallmarks, so the fit here is obvious. Don’t expect a strong fantasy performance in Year 1, as Golden State is loaded at guard.

29. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaden Hardy | G League Ignite | Guard | 6’4, 200

Hardy’s stock has tumbled after an unimpressive season in the G-League, but he can still offer quality offense and physicality that will serve him well as a member of the Grizzlies. It’s a tough fantasy fit because of the deep roster, but there's some long-term appeal if he can carve out a rotational role or land on another team with a bigger opportunity.

30. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jake LaRavia | Wake Forest | Forward | Junior | 6’8, 227

LaRavia can do a little bit of everything, and he averaged 14.6 points, 6.6 rebounds, 3.7 dimes, 1.7 steals and 1.0 blocks at Wake Forest last season. He moves well without the ball, he’s able to drive into the lane and find teammates for easy buckets, and he excels on defense. The Thunder close out the first round in style with another player who may go down as a steal. His well-rounded game should translate very well to fantasy hoops.

Just missed: Dalen Terry, Trevor Keels, Patrick Baldwin, MarJon Beauchamp, Christian Koloko, Leonard Miller, Max Christie, Jean Montero