It’s never too early to start looking ahead to the 2022 NBA Draft, as teams will always be trying to add that next franchise-changer. Rebuilding teams like the Detroit Pistons and play-in contenders like the Toronto Raptors will both look to add players that can reinvent the organization.
This draft is widely starting to be regarded as a three-player draft, as any one of Duke’s Paolo Banchero, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, or Auburn’s Jabari Smith could conceivably be picked with the top selection. Given their potential on both ends, it’s easy to see why.
Teams that are positioned to miss out on these players shouldn’t shove their heads in the palms. Dozens of players could be available near the end of the lottery and first round that could eventually evolve into some quality pro players with a year or two of seasoning.
With the new year upon us and conference play starting to ramp up, let’s take a look at this full first-round mock draft. Which franchises will zig when everyone expects them to zag? Which ones will change the direction of their team by drafting a franchise cornerstone?
2022 NBA Mock Draft 2.0
Banchero gets the edge over Holmgren here, as Banchero looks like the player who may end up hitting the ground running with less friction. With Cade Cunningham in place as a future star in Detroit, they could form a lethal 1-2 punch in the paint with Banchero and Isaiah Stewart.
Players that are 6-10 shouldn’t be able to possess the smooth scoring from all three levels that Banchero has. Throw in a mind-bending handle, premium athletic ability, and terrific instincts in the post, and Banchero could easily end up becoming an All-Star before his rookie contract is up.
NBA Mock Draft: Paolo Banchero beat out Chet Holmgren.
Holmgren won’t have to wait too long to hear his name called, as Orlando will add him to a young core that already features Wendell Carter in the paint along with Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs near the perimeter. If everything clicks for Holmgren, he will make multiple All-Star teams.
Holmgren is alarmingly skinny for a 7-footer, but he pairs that with guard-line handles and shooting and some very impressive shot-blocking. If he can put on 20 or 30 pounds, Holmgren should be the centerpiece around which the Magic can build a consistent playoff team.
Smith is emerging as a do-it-all player who could make an impact on both ends. On top of the fact he’s nearly averaging two steals per game, Smith is averaging 16.6 points per game and making 42% of his 3-pointers. Capable of playing above the rim or on the wing, Smith is starting to distance himself from the rest of the pack.
Houston has a backcourt led by Jalen Green and a dynamic frontcourt duo of Christian Wood and Alperen Sengun. With Smith and his limitless athletic ability coming into town, the Rockets could finish constructing a young core more than capable of making the postseason in the West.