With just five hours before the draft is set to begin, we release our updated 8.1 version with explainations forr the picks that have changed. it was a wild night in the online Sportsbooks as the odds swung like it was election night!
Is Jabari still a lock at No. 1? Could Jaden Ivey really fall outside the top four? What to do with the high-potential project picks? What moves will contenders that fell short make? Find out our takes on all the above and more as we deliver the final extended mock draft of the season with the draft, finally, just hours away. Enjoy!
1. Orlando: Jabari Smith 6-10 220 PF Auburn Fr.
Auburn’s standout forward possesses special talent as a shotmaker at 6-10 and often appears unfazed with a hand in his face due to his long arms and high release. It’s not easy to make the first pick in a class with parody at the top, but Smith offers the “safest” combination of floor and ceiling due to his two way versatility with unique shooting ability and relentless defensive effort. it also helps that Smith is on board with playing for Orlando, which is not necessarily the case with Holmgren and Banchero.
Why the Magic take Smith: Jabari is the safest option of the four elite prospects in this year’s class and should fit in well with a pass first point guard in Suggs. Ever since the lottery went their way a few weeks ago, Orlando has appeared to have Smith as the top prospect and now appears locked in to make him their face of the franchise and hope for the future for the fan base. Despite a wild night before the draft in which Banchero became a 2-1 odds on favorite to become the top pick for a few hours in Sportsbooks. But ultimately order has been restored and it appears there won’t be any shake up with a trade or surprise pick here.
NBA Comparison: Rashard Lewis
2. Oklahoma City: Chet Holmgren 7-0 195 PF/C Gonzaga Fr.
Holmgren is a potential unique talent with sensational ball-handling and passing for a seven-footer. He’s the upside play and Oklahoma City needs a new Durant to build for the future. Can he be Durant good? Unlikely as he isn;t quite the scorer and doesn;t have the guard like speed off the dribble. While strength doesn;t factor as much in today’s game, Chet’s height/length could make it a struggle to be a Durant like perimeter player, and he may slow down and become more of a traditional big with time and some additional weight. The potential for him to be special is there. But there are durability and strength question marks that could factor into his long term success.
Why the Thunder take Holmgren: Holmgren and the Thunder have always felt like a match made in heaven, and the special talents listed above are exactly the reasons why. He has the potential to be one of the most special players in the league, but it will require patience, a virtue that Sam Presti and the Thunder have had plenty of by trading anyone with a semblance of value to rack up future assets. With another lottery pick later on, it could be time to turn that corner and start bringing in players to make winning not so far out of sight.
NBA Comparison: Kristaps Porzingis
3. Houston: Paolo Banchero 6-10 250 PF/C Duke Fr.
With so much on the line and few sure bets in this year’s class, Banchero offers nearly the same ceiling and floor value as Smith. He’s not as talented a defender but has ever more playmaking certainty and should be a near franchise level talent for many years to build around. With point-forward skills and elite athleticism, Banchero can elevate any offense and make everyone around him better, which he did frequently for the Blue Devils this season.
Why the Rockets take Banchero: Banchero blew the doors off the arena with his workout and he has been the guy the Rockets have wanted all along. He join the Rockets and instantly becomes their best player as he joins Jalen Green to form a solid one two punch to build around for the future.
NBA Comparison: Julius Randle
4. Sacramento: Jaden Ivey 6-4 195 PG/SG Purdue So.
This pick has been targeted by a number of teams in a possible trade and Sacramento is certainly weighing there options. Keegan Murray remains a possibility here but Ivey is the best value and seems to be the obvious choice here. Ivey brings the type of upside that can change a team’s fortunes around if he hits. granted the Kings have proven to be an organization that makes it difficult for players to maximize their abilities. So the hope will be tat Ivey is able to function and grow within a system that already has two point guards in place.
Why the Kings take Ivey: There is a reason the entire league wants to trade to get your pick and unless you acquire a king’s ransom of future picks and players who can help now, it’s not worth it to give up a young potential superstar like Jaden Ivey. Does Ivey have the make up and mental fortitude to turn around a struggling franchise like Sacramento? A tough question as he’s not a refined player and needs time, but if you’re Sacramento, it’s the wise choice considering the potential he possesses.
NBA Comparison: Russell Westbrook
5. Detroit: Keegan Murray 6-8 225 PF Iowa So.
The 21-year-old forward is an outstanding two-way player with a smooth shooting stroke and self-creation skills at all three levels. His late season surge and dominance in the Big Ten Tournament solidified his status as a lottery pick and we even think it could jump him into the top-four of this draft. We’re hearing the worst-case scenario for Murray would be the sixth pick as the Pacers are desperate to bring him to town.
Why the Pistons take Murray: With the top-four elite prospects off the board, Keegan Murray gives the Pistons a polished scorer with a great feel for the game having proven the ability to carry a college team and be one of the top players at the NCAA level. He can create for himself in the low post and on face-ups, and showcased a terrific perimeter jumper, which should put Detroit a few notches up within the Eatern Conference and a step closer to being a playoff team.
NBA Comparison: Otto Porter
6. Indiana: Bennedict Mathurin 6-6 205 SG/SF Arizona So.
Mathurin may not be Indiana’s preferred option at their pick, but in the long run he may end up being jthe best player they could have hoped for at 6. The athleticism and pure shooting stroke of Mathurin at 6-6 could elevate him above the rest and it helps that he is unafraid of the spotlight as he showed in the NCAA Tournament.
Why the Pacers take Mathurin: Mathurin gives Indiana the most value at their pick and at a position of need. Mathurin feels like an Indiana type of pick as he has a no nonsense approach to the game, He lets his play do the talking and has proven to be an emotional leader, despite a quiet off court demeanor.
NBA Comparison: Jason Richardson
7. Portland: Dyson Daniels 6-7 195 PG/SG G-League Ignite Intl.
Despite teammates that came in with more hype, it was Daniels who finished the season with the highest draft capital. With unique playmaking talent at 6-7 and defensive versatility, Daniels is a position-less shot creator and defender who can exploit any matchup offensively and defend almost any player outside of the paint defensively.
Why the Trail Blazers take Daniels: Damian Lillard continues to insist that he wants to win in Portland, but even a superhero like Dame Time can’t do that without some help around him. Daniels would seem to be a solid fit but at the same time a reach here at 7, so perhaps the Blazers are in a difficult position of trying to maximize the value of the pick but also take a player that fits the current construction of the team. The addition of Grant probably means they don’t take a forward here.
NBA Comparison: Malcolm Brogdon
8. New Orleans (via LAL): Shaedon Sharpe 6-5 200 SG Kentucky Fr.
A huge discrepancy between his ceiling and floor, you say? No, not Chet Holmgren, Shaedon Sharpe, who some believe could ultimately become the best player to emerge from this draft, while others citing his reluctance to put on a uniform and actually play basketball contend that he is a bust waiting to happen. Did someone doctor his transcripts? Did someone doctor his highlight reels? He obviously is a freak athlete, but is what is seen on tape to be believed (and have the same results against pros), and is Sharpe going to deliver on such lofty expectations? His popularity among trusted recruiting analysts should be higher if he is as good as advertised.
Why the Pelicans take Sharpe: If Sharpe does end up in New Orleans, we’ll need investigations after every game to see if there’s a trampoline under the hardwood with the dunks and vertical leaps that Sharpe and Williamson will show off in transition, provided either are healthy enough and willing to go out on the floor. In all seriousness, the Pelicans already have an intriguing core of starters and role players and made noise after trading for CJ McCollum, winning a play-in spot and putting a scare into Phoenix in their first round series, putting New Orleans in the position to take a chance on one of the highest upside players in the draft. Ousmane Dieng is seen as a possibility here, but would be a reach. There’s also a chance that New Orleans looks to add a second pick to grab him in the next few selections.
NBA Comparison: JR Smith
9. San Antonio: Jeremy Sochan 6-9 230 PF Baylor Fr.
The freshmen wings from Baylor are heading in different directions as Sochan leaps into the top-10 in our final mock. Sochan is one of the youngest prospects in the draft and flashes perhaps the intriguing defensive versatility along with athleticism and offensive potential making him a highly sought after prospect.
Why the Spurs take Sochan: San Antonio has an abundance of skilled shooting guards/small forwards, but they lack true power forwards and rim-runners. Sochan can fill that hole and provide Dejounte Murray with an off-ball cutting threat who can make himself available with relentless energy on both ends. The Spurs could go in a number of directions including swinging for the fences with a player similar to one they coveted years ago in Nicolas Batum with Ousmane Dieng. Jalen Duren has been mentioned here, but doesn;t feel like a Spurs type of player, but could potentially be molded into a player if he buys in.
NBA Comparison: Kyle Kuzma
10. Washington: Johnny Davis 6-5 195 SG Wisconsin So.
The defensive effort and intensity of Davis make him a candidate for the best wing defender in the draft and he has the scoring skills to be a secondary ball-handler and star as a combo guard during his prime. Additionally, his perimeter shooting stroke in workouts looks better than it ever did at Wisconsin and should be a reliable part of his game in no time with how hard he works and how much he improved in one summer last year.
Why the Wizards take Davis: Provided they keep the pick and don;t move it for a player like Malcolm Brogdon, the Wizards are reportedly not going to let Davis get past them at the tenth pick. He is a great perimeter defender with length and intensity. The Wizards are also said to be very high on Ochai Agbaji, so if Davis is off the board, look for them to take the experienced Kansas star here.
NBA Comparison: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
11. New York: AJ Griffin 6-6 220 SF Duke Fr.
Griffin is one of the best, if not the best, shooter in this class and that is often an indicator of a lottery pick in today’s NBA. Griffin is more than just a shooter, though. He has excellent size and strength on the wing and flashes exceptional ball-handling and athleticism, although those features are far less consistent than his jump shot. He’ll be ready to start opening night and has the potential to be one of the best shooters in the league if he builds on his impressive freshman season in Durham.
Why the Knicks take Griffin: It wasn’t too long ago that Griffin was a candidate to be a top-five selection, but due to some injury prone concerns it’s more likely that he falls outside the top ten. He is still an interesting prospect and after one of the best shooting seasons from a freshman in many years, the Knicks will love to add him and what he can bring as a young, 3-and-D wing with phenomenal length. tyty Washington has been mentioned here but would likely be a let down for many Knicks fans as he’s seen as too similar to Immanuel Quickley.
NBA Comparison: Devin Booker
12. Oklahoma City (via LAC): Ousmane Dieng 6-9 185 SG/SF France Intl.
Dieng is one of the players with the highest ranges in the upcoming draft. He could go as high as 8 or fall into the 20s. if a team buys into his massive upside, or potentially fall late into the first round, if the post-lottery playoff teams are looking to win now more than win later. The buzz about Dieng’s upside generates from the fact that he is already a smooth playmaker at 6-9 who has a solid jump shot and range already after just turning 19 in late May.
Why the Thunder take Dieng: Dieng is another high upside pick who has the potential to be a superstar, but has a ton of question marks surrounding him. Sam Presti and the Thunder front office love shooting for the stars and that doesn’t change here. The philosophy behind drafting the highest upside picks makes a lot of sense, and Dieng could certainly find playing time in OKC.
NBA Comparison: Nicolas Batum
13. Charlotte: Malaki Branham 6-5 195 SF Ohio St. Fr.
Branham didn’t start the season in the upper echelon of incoming freshmen, but it didn’t take long to establish himself into this elite group. The star freshman attacks defenses from all three levels and ranked as one of the best 3-point shooters in the Big Ten at 41% on three attempts per game. His 50/41/83 slash line is indicative of his shooting prowess from all over the floor and he promises to be one of the better scoring wings in this rookie class.
Why the Hornets take Branham: There could be a lot of turnover in the next two seasons in Charlotte and a lot of money handed out to their young stars, which makes these two first-round picks this season all the more important. Branham can slide in alongside LaMelo in the backcourt and provide a secondary P&R ball-handler who can get his own shot both inside and outside the arc to take pressure off Charlotte’s emerging playmaker in the backcourt.
NBA Comparison: Khris Middleton
14. Cleveland: Ochai Agbaji 6-6 215 SG Kansas Sr.
Agbaji was among the most improved players in all of college going from second rounder to now possibly cracking the lottery. Agbaji looks every part of an NBA player with improved ball-handling and finishing around the rim to catapult his projection from a 3-and-D wing to a two-way three-level scorer and an accomplished one at that.
Why the Cavaliers take Agbaji: With Darius Garland running the point, an elite frontcourt duo and Colin Sexton hitting free agency, there is just one area that needs to be addressed – alternative scorers. Agbaji is a mature wing-defender with good size at the 2, who can ensure tall ball is here to stay in Cleveland. They also have some of the worst perimeter shooting guards in the league and desperately need a boost from a player like Agbaji to make the jump to the postseason in 2023.
NBA Comparison: Desmond Bane
15. Charlotte (via NO): Jalen Duren 6-11 250 PF/C Memphis Fr.
The Tigers season easily could have easily imploded after a tumultuous start, but Jalen Duren began to play to his abilities and helped lead a second-half surge that nearly led the Tigers past Gonzaga in the Round of 32 in the NCAA Tournament. Duren has an athletic package that few humans are blessed with a frame and athleticism that reminds some of Dwight Howard.
Why the Hornets take Duren: The Hornets desperately need a center to protect the rim and finish off lobs from LaMelo and Duren seems to be the highest center on draft boards heading into the draft. Charlotte appears to be in a good position to add one of the draft’s top two centers (Williams or Duren) at this spot.
NBA Comparison: Andre Drummond
16. Atlanta: Jalen Williams 6-6 210 SG/SF Santa Clara Jr.
The star of the NBA Draft Combine may not be done at just cementing a spot in the first round. Don’t be overly surprised if Williams hears his name called in the lottery, similar to Joshua Primo who went 12 in last year’s draft. The former prep point guard has the draft biggest ape index with a 7-foot-2 wingspan on a 6’5 foot barefoot frame. His playmaking and finishing around the rim have really caught the eye of teams and his skill set is highly coveted in today’s NBA as teams truly value versatile ball-handlers and shot creators.
Why the Hawks take Williams: The Hawks are reportedly all-in on Williams with the 16th pick and it’s easy to see why. He was the biggest winner of the pre-draft process and provides backcourt relief for Trae Young as another P&R ball-handler and shot-creator for an offense that needed a second-hand man alongside Young, much like how the Mavericks excelled with Jalen Brunson and Spencer Dinwiddie alongside Doncic.
NBA Comparison: Joshua Primo
17. Houston (via BKN): Tari Eason 6-8 215 SF/PF LSU So.
If you’re looking for defenders to fill out a roster, look no further than Tari Eason. The Cincinnati transfer resurrected his career in Baton Rouge and enjoyed a standout defensive season from a block and steal standpoint. His excellence in a complicated defensive system that prides itself on chaos and communication gives his perceived basketball IQ a shot in the arm. It’s not easy to find elite defenders like Eason who can also stretch the floor and knock down threes at a 36% clip at 6-8.
Why the Rockets take Eason: The Rockets were easily the worst defense in the league last season, so it makes sense to target the most versatile and impressive defender in this year’s class. Don’t think of Eason as a Matisse Thybulle type defensive player either, because there is plenty of offensive talent in this kid, given his 17-point per game average in a brutal SEC.
NBA Comparison: Marcus Morris
18. Chicago: Mark Williams 7-1 240 C Duke So.
Williams has leapfrogged Jalen Duren, as the best center in this class after seeing him become a dominant force for the past year and a half with elite size, length and strength on the interior. Defending on the perimeter comes naturally to Williams, who has the athleticism and lateral quickness defensively to survive outside the painted area. He also knows how to stay in position to block and alter shots while staying in the paint and get position offensively to throw down lobs and receive entry passes for easy dunks and layups. He might not go ahead of Duren, but don’t be surprised if he ends up just as successful, or even more.
Why the Bulls take Williams: The Bulls are either looking to move out of this pick or take a center. Williams being here at 18 would be a dream scenario for Chicago as he could go as early as 10. Chicago was a bottom-half team in shots blocked last season and could really use a rim-protector to come in when Nikola Vucevic is getting attacked relentlessly on the defensive end. There is also plenty of offensive upside to tap into for Chicago and Williams could be a long-term solution at the 5 when Vucevic’s time is up for them.
NBA Comparison: Clint Capela
19. Minnesota: Wendell Moore 6-5 215 SG/SF Duke Jr.
After two disappointing seasons in Durham, Wendell Moore finally figured things out as a junior and helped lead the Blue Devils back to the Final Four. With improved outside shooting and more polished ball-handling, the former five-star recruit burst onto the scene and finally lived up to his lofty expectations. He’ll compete for a first-round selection because of it and should see solid minutes as a rookie depending on his situation.
Why the Timberwolves take Moore: The T-Wolves ranked 24th in scoring defense a season ago and could use a more natural ball-handler and initiator alongside Anthony Edwards if D’Angelo Russell is ultimately shopped like the rumors suggest he will be. Moore helps in both of these areas and his improved 3-point jump shot is just another reason why he can be an immediate impact player for a team looking to build on its momentum from the 2022 season. Moore gives them solid versatility as more of a facilitator alongside the offensive minded superstar in the making Anthony Edwards.
NBA Comparison: Caleb Martin
20. San Antonio (via TOR): Nikola Jovic 6-11 225 PF/C Serbia Intl.
Jovic is one of the most fascinating prospects in this class as his offensive game oozes polish and potential as a smooth-moving 6-11 point forward. He is not afraid to pull-up from well-beyond NBA range or whip passes into tight windows to create open shots for teammates. His defense needs a considerable amount of work, but the flashes of unique offensive talent are worth the chance at some point in the first round, especially to get those extra two years on his rookie contract.
Why the Spurs take Jovic: The Spurs are known for their affinity and success in drafting and developing European players. Nobody does it better. The team could be headed for a rebuild if they pull the trigger and trade Dejounte Murray and that’ll create the perfect atmosphere for Jovic to flourish with no immediate pressure and plenty of time for patience as he develops.
NBA Comparison: Hedo Turkoglu
21. Denver: Blake Wesley 6-4 185 PG/SG Notre Dame Fr.
Wesley rose into the lottery early in the season, dropped to the end of the first round for a time, and now is back in the lottery as the draft finally nears with a number of teams said to be hot on his heals following an impressive pro day at Impact. From unheralded recruit to Notre Dame superstar, Wesley has made a meteoric rise to stardom with elite speed and athleticism. He has the tools and potential to become a star at the next level as he continues to develop.
Why the Nuggets take Wesley: Injuries decimated the Nuggets roster this season and it left them often looking for who they were going to get points from when Nikola Jokic wasn’t on the floor. Wesley might not be an immediate answer, but he has all of the tools to be a premier scorer if he improves his perimeter jumper and builds on the strides he made as a playmaker under Mike Brey in South Bend as a freshman.
NBA Comparison: Latrell Sprewell
22. Memphis (via UTAH): TyTy Washington 6-3 195 PG Kentucky Fr.
If injuries didn’t exist, we’d be talking about the next great Kentucky guard in the NBA with TyTy Washington. Rumors are that Washington is falling some from his previous draft range in the late lottery. Washington has an elite feel for the game and knows exactly what to do with the ball in his hands. He possesses a reliable mid-range jumper, which was one of the most efficient in the nation, and displays excellent court vision while also taking care of the ball. Look for Washington to excel at the next level in relation to his draft spot.
Why the Grizzlies take Washington: Tyus Jones is going to earn a nice contract that the Grizzlies can’t afford to offer with all their star power and a terrific young core. Jones was an exceptional change of pace guard who ran an efficient and productive offense without Morant on the floor. Washington is the perfect player to fill this same role and could even play alongside Morant at the same time as a solid off-ball shooter who played in a two PG starting lineup at Kentucky. Kansas’ Christian Braun is a name Memphis is targeting with their picks as well as Kennedy Chandler, so either of those players could hear their names called here.
NBA Comparison: Andre Miller
23. Philadelphia: Jaden Hardy 6-4 200 SG G-League Ignite Fr.
The Ignite season didn’t quite go to plan for Jaden Hardy, but the growth he made as a player cannot be overstated and his stat comparison from the first half of the season to the second half illustrates that. He is more NBA ready than a lot of people think and could definitely enter into a starting lineup before long, although his efficiency and stats might take a season or two to .
Why the 76ers take Hardy: It’s been no secret that the Sixers are trying to shop this pick with Matisse Thybulle to clear up some cap space, but if they can’t find a trade partner, Hardy would be a terrific fit in Philadelphia. He is a talented scorer and shooter who came in and worked out for the team, and is mentioned as one of the players being considered at their pick as well as Houston’s.
NBA Comparison: Gary Harris
24. Milwaukee: Jaylin Williams 6-10 235 PF/C Arkansas So.
Williams is one of the most frustrating players to play against because of his intelligence on the floor and his uncanny ability to make winning plays whenever you need him to. Anyone who played against Williams can vouch that he checks the first box of causing frustration as he drew more charges than he had steals or blocks, and he had plenty of those, too.
Why the Bucks take Williams: Well, we know the Bucks love Bobby Portis already so why not bring in another similar type of competitive big, especially if Portis declines his player option, which is reportedly going to happen. Williams is a passionate and instinctive defender with the range to spread the floor and bury perimeter jumpers while Giannis does his thing off the bounce. There’s no player more fitting to replace Bobby Portis in Milwaukee than another former Razorback with a similar style.
NBA Comparison: Bobby Portis
25. San Antonio (via BOS): Walker Kessler 7-1 255 C Auburn So.
After transferring from North Carolina and blocking five shots per game in conference play, Kessler is ready to emerge as an NBA starter or rotational rim-protector at the next level. He is long and physical in the post, which allows him to compete with the stronger centers and contest the more athletic bigs who try to shoot over him on the perimeter and in the high post. It sure isn’t pretty, but he also infrequently showed he can knock down threes, but he’ll need some time to make that a consistent and reliable threat.
Why the Spurs take Kessler: This is the final of three first-round picks for the Spurs, and they have yet to address a pressing need at the center position. Jakob Poeltl is a free agent next season and there isn’t any depth behind him, making way for Kessler to be the center of the future in San Antonio with offensive upside and generational talent as a rim-protector. The Spurs are said to be very high on Israel kamagate of France. He’s rumored to be a possibility at 25 as a stash guy, but could also fall to their second pick at 37.
NBA Comparison: Cole Aldrich
26. Houston (via DAL): MarJon Beauchamp 6-6 195 SG G-League Ignite So.
A green room invite is always a solid indication that a player is fairly high on draft boards and while Beauchamp could easily fall to the second round, we boosted him late into the first here after the Rockets acquired the 26th pick. It’s been a long journey to get here with COVID-19 doing everything it could to threaten Beauchamp’s career, but here he is on the cusp of a first-round draft pick just two years later.
Why the Rockets take Beauchamp: We know they aren’t afraid to go after a G-League Ignite player, and Beauchamp can provide them with another athletic slasher and scorer on the wing alongside Jalen Green. It might be a risky pick in the first-round given his age and lack of national spotlight, but it’s a chance you’re allowed to take with so many first-round picks in the bag in one season. Ignite teammate Jaden Hardy is mentioned as a possibility here as well.
NBA Comparison: MarShon Brooks
27. Miami: Dalen Terry 6-7 195 SG Arizona So.
Terry is an intriguing defensive standout with obscene length who can defend 1-4 with ferocity and disruption while also knocking down triples and initiating some of the offense as a capable ball-handler and playmaker. While struggling from a scoring standpoint, the fact that Terry can find ways to impact games without scoring is intriguing to teams, especially ones that feel they can work wonders with his shot.
Why the Heat take Terry: Terry figures to find a spot in the 21-35 range, and would give the Heat a versatile defender while he develops his shooting and body. Terry can operate as a secondary ball handler and often initiated the offense for the Wildcats, even when Kerr Kriisa was on the floor. He also fits the mold of a Pat Riley player with impressive intangibles and defensive effort that will never go unnoticed in South Beach.
NBA Comparison: Todd Day
28. Golden State: Max Christie 6-5 190 SG Michigan St. Fr.
Christie is one of the more talented shooters in this class, although he didn’t always show it in a frustrating freshman year in East Lansing. He showed flashes of the high school brilliance we saw when plays were designed for him to come around screens and shoot from beyond the arc and in the mid-range, but it was never a consistent result. His mechanics, overall flow of his motion and frame are all easy to work with, so he can make the jump back to an elite shooter given less pressure and more time to improve.
Why the Warriors take Christie: When you win your fourth championship in less than a decade without the help of your second-overall pick from two years ago and limited help from both of your lottery selections last year, you have some leeway on your draft pick. Their last championship celebration hangover pick was Jacob Evans, so they will look to improve upon that by going with a shooter. Max Christie could end up being this year’s Jordan Poole, as a underrated, underdeveloped freshman with great potential. If there is any place where Christie can refine the knockdown 3-point jumper that he displayed in high school it’s in the Bay.
NBA Comparison: Kevin Martin
29. Memphis: Christian Braun 6-7 210 SG Kansas Jr.
Braun has a championship pedigree and a 6’7 guard who displayed solid athleticism and toughness. He is one of the more mature players available in the bubble first round area and is mentioned as a possibilty to Memphis at 22 but they could gamble with another player that slides like TyTy and look to grab Braun here at 29 with their second pick.
Why the Grizzlies take Braun: Few teams will be able to match the transition speed and athleticism that the Grizzlies will throw at them if Christian Braun is sharing the floor with Ja Morant. At 6-7, Braun has terrific size on the wing and is an even better athlete who soars above the rim to throw down lobs or emphatic dunks of his own in transition. If he can develop a more consistent perimeter jumper, this will be another terrific first-round pick by the Grizzlies.
NBA Comparison: Chase Budinger
30. Denver (via PHX): Kennedy Chandler 6-1 170 PG Tennessee Fr.
Feast your eyes on the best point guard in college basketball during the second half of the season. Anyone who watched his late season surge, including angry Kentucky fans like myself, understand that this five-star was unstoppable once conference play rolled around. It made Tennessee a popular sleeper pick in the NCAA Tournament and despite not reaching the second weekend, the heart and passion Chandler played with was a great sign for NBA scouts looking for a committed point guard with the desire to be great.
Why the Nuggets take Chandler: The Nuggets traded into this pick, and it could very easily be to package it with the 21st pick to move up potentially into the lottery (or just outside), but if they keep both picks it would make a lot of sense to go with Chandler here. They have two chances to get it right and getting a five-star at the end of the first round who started to flourish late in the season is terrific value.
NBA Comparison: Mario Chalmers
31. Indiana (via HOU): EJ Liddell 6-7 245 PF Ohio St. Jr.
There aren’t many wing/forwards who can score at all three levels consistently and efficiently, but Liddell is able to do so with length and athleticism and strength to get to his spot and create separation to knock down shots inside the lane. He is also an excellent defender who brings one of the most NBA ready packages of maturity and experience.
32. Orlando: Jake LaRavia 6-8 225 SF/PF Wake Forest Jr.
As I covered the ACC this past season, it was easy to see why Wake Forest fans raved about their new transfer from Indiana State. LaRavia is an exceptional playmaker and slasher at 6-8 and really knows how to score from beyond the arc as well. He dominated the 3-point shooting drill at the combine and if his withdrawal from further drills is any indication of a promise, We might see him sneak into the first round in the 24-30 range.
33. Toronto (via DET): Andrew Nembhard 6-4 195 PG Gonzaga Sr.
Nembhard is one of the most accomplished players in this class and it’s because of how efficient and productive he was as a lead guard for Florida and Gonzaga in his four collegiate seasons. His passing accuracy and vision allowed him to be a finalist for the Bob Cousy award and a developing 3-point jumper gives him the opportunity to be a reliable starter for many years at the next level. This is one name to monitor as a potential riser into the first round due to his track record of success and poise running an offense at any speed. Toronto is said to be targeting Nembhard with their pick.
34. Oklahoma City: Christian Koloko 7-0 220 C Arizona Jr.
Koloko is a physical and fluid big man who, as a sophomore, actually accomplished more than the top two centers (Williams and Duren) who are competing for lottery spots this season. He is a highly sought after big, with a chance to grab a first round spot, who can be selected with much better value than the lottery centers and provide similar production as well as the length to be a factor as a rim protector.
35. LA Lakers (via IND): Caleb Houstan 6-8 205 SF Michigan Fr.
Houstan is a talented freshman shooter who didn’t quite live up to the hype in Michigan. He had a solid season, but there were larger expectations for a team with a solid core returning and a bigtime recruiting class. The 6-8 freshman is a terrific shooter on the move and although he didn’t produce consistently, he started every game and helped lead an 11-seed to the Sweet 16 in his only season in college. Lakers GM Rob Pelinka has an affinity for his fellow Wolvarines and Houston is thought to have a good chance to land in the 25-35 area.
36. Detroit: Bryce McGowens 6-6 180 SG Nebraska Fr.
Outside of the elite prospects and recruits, McGowens might have been the best freshman in college basketball during conference play. He started to take much better shots and relied more on his slashing and quickness to score than his shaky perimeter jumper. He’ll need time to work on this outside jumper, but if he can improve to a 35-40% shooter from the perimeter, McGowens has the potential to be an all-star and a steal in the second round.
37. Sacramento: Ryan Rollins 6-3 180 PG/SG Toledo So.
One player who could make a jump into the first round is the tall, agile point guard from Toledo. When he turns the switch on defensively and works tirelessly on this end, he is an exceptional defender, but the problem is getting him to lock in. He has the vision, handles and slashing skill to create for others and get his own shot offensively and I trust him to figure out his jump shot with the range and mechanics he showed off while averaging 19 points in his sophomore campaign for the Rockets.
38. San Antonio (via LAL): Ismael Kamagate 6-11 230 C France Intl.
The French center is turning heads late in the first round and could rise as high as there, but a more realistic scenario involves Kamagate as a second-round pick due to the uncertainty if he can make the difficult jump to the NBA, especially without a more modern style and average size for a traditional center. Keep an eye on the Spurs at pick 25 who could be the one team in the first round to go after Kamagate. if he’s available here, the Spurs will be ecstatic, and they may even take him at 25.
39. Cleveland (via SA): Peyton Watson 6-8 205 SF UCLA Fr.
Watson won’t play right away, but he is an athletic wing with the potential to be a consistent role player and/or starter for many years once he develops back into the player we saw in high school. With patience and the right coaching, Watson can be an exceptional second round pick, but he simply isn’t ready yet, which means a team with a long term plan in place will need to be patient with him.
40. Minnesota (via WAS): Justin Lewis 6-7 235 PF/C Marquette Fr.
Lewis jumps into the final mock of the season as an enticing stretch-four who is athletic enough for the modern game and efficient enough from the perimeter to become a floor-spacer and wing rebounder off the bench as a cheap role player. There ‘s a chance that Detroit grabs him at 36, but he could also slide into the 40s.
41. New Orleans: Kendall Brown 6-7 200 SF/PF Baylor Fr.
Brown continues to slide in our mock as he was a first-round projection no more than a week ago and even looked to be competing for a lottery selection before the season. He hasn’t done much to help improve his stock in recent weeks and this isn’t the time to be fading off of scouts’ radars with the draft less than a week away. The fear is that he is simply and athlete with no developed skill set. So a team that feels they can improve his abilitites could land a project worth developing.
42. New York: John Butler 7-1 175 PF/C Florida St. Fr.
This 7-1 stretch-four oozes with untapped potential and has the rare athleticism and outside shooting that you just never see from seven-footers (until this draft class apparently). It’ll be easy to forget about him this season as he fades into the G-League or deep into the bench, but in time Butler can be a valuable selection late in the first or early second round if he ever lives up to his immense potential. The Knicks are said to be interested in him.
43. Los Angeles Clippers: Jean Montero 6-2 170 PG/SG Overtime Elite Intl.
There is a large cloud of uncertainty hovering around Montero after leading Overtime Elite into a new generation of high school basketball and skipping the scrimmages at the NBA Combine. Based on his play in Portland at the Hoop Summit and a season at Overtime Elite, Montero has a chance to catch on as a small, score first lead-guard with a very high ceiling.
44. Atlanta: Patrick Baldwin 6-10 220 SF/PF Wisconsin-Milwaukee Fr.
It hasn’t been the greatest calendar year for Baldwin who went from a highly touted, five-star recruit to a fringe first-round prospect due to injuries and an inefficient shooting season with Wisconsin-Milwaukee, which is to be expected with the amount of volume he took on. It might not have worked out in college, but Baldwin has all of the tools to be an all-star, but it’s going to take some time and some good fortune from an injury perspective.
45. Charlotte: Ron Harper Jr. 6-5 240 SF Rutgers Sr.
After an extended absence on our 58-man field, Harper is back into the second round after further evaluation. With beaming confidence and a winning mentality, any team would be lucky to have him in the locker room and pushing teammates in practice. He’s not too shabby of a player on the court as well, as he averaged 16 points on 40% shooting from 3-point range. He’s not Draymond, but he brings some of the same dynamics to the table with his dimensions, experience and intangibles.
46. Portland (via BKN): Trevor Keels 6-4 225 PG/SG Duke Fr.
Keels was another surprise to leave his name in the draft despite not having much first-round buzz. He was overhyped early in the season and it may have led to an overconfidence in his draft stock. He is a spitting image of Lu Dort with his strong safety physique. He isn’t an exceptional playmaker or shooter, but he has proven to be a clutch performer and he showed that from his very first collegiate game at Madison Square Garden against Kentucky.
47. Memphis (via CLE): Iverson Molinar 6-3 185 PG Mississippi St. Jr.
Molinar could easily be a first-round prospect if he didn’t experience such a steep dip in his 3-point percentage in his junior season. After dropping from 43% to 25% on the perimeter, Molinar still earned All-SEC First Team honors ahead of Kennedy Chandler. If he can rediscover his outside jumper and continue to improve in the other facets of his game, a team will get a first-round talent with plenty of potential in the middle of the second round.
48. Minnesota: Josh Minott 6-8 205 SF/PF Memphis Fr.
Minott is a massive wing with plenty of potential considering he looked like he could be a lottery pick before the season started. His 3-point shot never translated to Memphis, but if he can find it again, he’ll be a matchup nightmare at 6-8 with plus athleticism.
49. Cleveland (via Sac, CHI): Jamaree Bouyea 6-2 180 PG San Francisco Sr.
Bouyea is a super senior who is older than your average draft pick, but in turn should be an impactful addition to any roster as a rookie. The 6’2 point guard possesses elite quickness and uses long strides to blow by defenders and create separation for himself on his stepback jumper that has incredible range extending well beyond the 3-point arc.
50. Minnesota (via DEN): Michael Foster 6-9 235 PF G-League Ignite Fr.
After ranking as one of the best prospects in the 2021 freshman class, Foster decided to join fellow recruits with the Ignite. He is an athletic stretch-four who can play immediately due to good size, strength and a jump shot that can translate efficiently from day one.
51. Golden State (via TOR): Jordan Hall 6-7 215 PG/SG Saint Joseph’s So.
It seems that lengthy playmaking wings will always have a place late in the second round to hear their name called. Hall is no different and it’s easy to see why when watching his college tape. He is such a smooth ball-handler and shooter at 6-7 and raised the level of the not so great players around him at Saint Joseph’s.
52. New Orleans (via UTAH): JD Davison 6-2 190 PG/SG Alabama Fr.
There might not be a guard outside the lottery with more potential than JD Davison. A frustrating season filled with turnovers and benching pushed the five-star away from Tuscaloosa and into the pros as he took a chance on himself to prove the doubters wrong. His rookie season will most likely be spent in the G-League, but if he can show patience and poise in the backcourt while displaying his freakish athleticism in transition, he could earn a call-up sooner rather than later.
53. Boston: Gabriele Procida 6-7 195 SG Italy Intl.
Procida is a smooth-shooting Italian wing with a ton of offensive talent and potential. He has great size at shooting guard at 6’7, but his wingspan is less than ideal to play as a wing as it is just 6’8. He projects as a floor spacing wing who can score in a multitude of ways off the ball, but needs to improve as a shot-creator to truly reach his potential.
54. Forfeited Pick
55. Forfeited Pick
56. Washington (via DAL): Julian Champagnie 6-7 210 SF St. Johns Jr.
I know they’re twins, but it’s scary how similar Julian is to his brother Justin, who went undrafted and signed with the Raptors last season. In a weaker class, Julian has a better chance to hear his name called with NBA length and a 19 PPG average in his sophomore and junior seasons with the Red Storm.
57. Golden State: Karlo Matkovic 6-9 240 PF/C Croatia Intl.
An intelligent and athletic center with good size for a four, but plays more like a traditional center without the range to extend to the 3-point line. A classic tweener who plays with the style of a center, but only has the size of a four making his potential significantly lower than most other foreign bigs. Still could provide valuable and energetic bench minutes instantly for a competitor.
58. Cleveland (via MIA): Isaiah Mobley 6-10 240 PF USC Jr.
This is probably the easiest projection to make outside of the top-10 as Evan Mobley gets his brother back with the late second round pick that the Cavaliers possess. He isn’t the same talent as Evan, but Isaiah is an exceptional big man who started alongside his brother at USC and could share the floor with him once again in the NBA.
59. Portland (via MEM): Jabari Walker 6-8 215 SF/PF Colorado So.
A sensational freshman season put Walker on draft radars, but he decided to return to school and nearly doubled his points per game in the process. He projects as an athletic, position-less forward who can rebound at an elite level while shooting and defending most players on the floor. He is more ready for the NBA after an additional year at Colorado and could even start late in his rookie season if he lands with the right team.
60. Indiana (via PHX): Kenneth Lofton 6-7 280 PF Louisiana Tech So.
An outstanding summer with USA Basketball put him on the map and an impressive season with Louisiana Tech follwoed by his combine heroics cemented his status as a 2022 NBA Draft prospect. While he may be better suited as a star in Europe than an NBA bench player, he overcomes the lack of athleticism with great intangibles and old school post play.