2022 NBA Mock Draft: Players to watch as college basketball season tips off

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With the Champions Classic tipping off on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. ET, college basketball is officially back!

While we’re only a few weeks into the 2021-22 NBA season, it’s never too early to get familiar with the 2022 NBA Draft hopefuls who are looking to raise their stock every time they take the floor.

MORE: Sporting News’ 2021-22 college basketball preseason All-Americans

Because there have only been a handful of games played in the new NBA season, there is no real way to dictate what the final draft order might be. To compensate, we used the reverse order of Fan Duel’s over/under win totals heading into the 2021-22 season to get a rough estimate on where teams may finish out.

Without further ado, the first pick in the 2022 NBA Draft is…

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2022 NBA Mock Draft

1. Oklahoma City Thunder: Paolo Banchero, Duke

(Getty Images)

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-10, 235 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

Banchero was the No. 4 ranked prospect in his class but his skillset and NBA-ready body project him to be everything a team would look for in the No. 1 pick. He’s powerful inside with elite athleticism, but can also step out to the perimeter on both sides of the ball, displaying switchability on defense and a soft shooting touch on offense. He’s in line for a monster freshman season at Duke.

2. Orlando Magic: Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

Position: F/C

Height and weight: 7-foot-1, 190 lbs.

Age: 19, Freshman

Don’t let Holmgren’s slender frame fool you – the No. 1 prospect in his class has all the talent and skills to be a great NBA player. He handles the ball like a guard and defends the rim like a center. He can shoot from the outside, he’s a capable passer and he plays with an attitude. He’ll be must-see-TV at Gonzaga.

3. Houston Rockets: Jalen Duren, Memphis

Position: C

Height and weight: 6-foot-10, 235 lbs.

Age: 17, Freshman

Duren came in at No. 7 in his recruiting class, and aside from Banchero, no one can match his physicality. Built like Dwight Howard, Duren should dominate the collegiate level with his strength and athleticism. He’ll be a force in the paint on both sides of the ball and playing alongside five-star recruit Emoni Bates (who isn’t draft eligible until 2023) will only make it harder for teams to send multiple bodies at the 6-foot-10, 235-pound big.

4. Detroit Pistons: Jaden Hardy, G League Ignite

(Getty Images)

Position: G

Height and weight: 6-foot-4, 185 lbs.

Age: 19

The No. 2-ranked prospect in his recruiting class, Hardy elected to take his talents to the G League, forgoing offers from countless Power 5 schools. He’s a bursty combo guard with elite shot creation skills, flashing an ability to score from all three levels. He’s also a capable playmaker, making him one of the most well-rounded offensive threats in his class.

5. Cleveland Cavaliers: Patrick Baldwin Jr., Milwaukee

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-9, 220 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

The No. 5-ranked player in his class, Baldwin elected to play at Milwaukee under his father, so you might not see him on national TV as much as some of these other prospects. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s everything you’d look for in a forward in today’s NBA, possessing a blend of size, length and fluidity to go with a smooth shooting stroke and a knack for getting a bucket.

6. San Antonio Spurs: Caleb Houstan, Michigan

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-8, 205 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

The No. 8-ranked player in his class, Houstan is another lengthy forward who can shoot it from the perimeter. He’s raw as a shot creator but he’s well-rounded as a passer, defender and cutter, and his upside is undeniable.

7. Washington Wizards: Peyton Watson, UCLA

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-8, 200 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

Watson was the No. 12-ranked player in a talented recruiting class, but he’s one of my favorite prospects of this bunch. As a 6-foot-8 forward, he’s an above-average playmaker, a versatile defender and glides around with a smooth scoring ability, whether it be as a cutter or shooter. Joining a UCLA team loaded with returning players, Watson should thrive for a team with championship aspirations.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves: Jabari Smith Jr., Auburn

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-10, 210 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

The No. 6-ranked prospect in his class, Smith is an offensive-minded forward with a soft shooting touch from the post and midrange. Even at 6-foot-10, Smith has the lateral quickness to defend away from the basket while his length allows him to be a solid help-side defender. He should be Auburn’s go-to scoring option.

9. Sacramento Kings: AJ Griffin, Duke

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-6, 220 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

Griffin is already built like a pro with wide shoulders and a strong frame. He’s an impressive shot creator off the dribble and can score from all three levels of the floor. He is the son of former NBA player and current Toronto Raptors assistant coach Adrian Griffin.

10. Toronto Raptors: Yannick Nzosa, Unicaja (Liga ACB), Democratic Republic of Congo

Position: C

Height and weight: 6-foot-11, 175 lbs.

Age: 17

6-foot-11 at 17-years-old, Nzosa is long and thin but he plays with a ton of energy. He’s quick and mobile and finishes well around the basket, taking little time to elevate as a lob threat or roll man. He’s an elite defender with active hands and great anticipation, using his 7-foot-4 wingspan coming up with steals and blocks often. At 175 pounds, he needs to put on size. 

11. Charlotte Hornets: Jaden Ivey, Purdue

Position: G

Height and weight: 6-foot-4, 200 lbs.

Age: 19, Sophomore

Ivey is an explosive scoring guard with a lightning first step and a knack for getting to the rim. He’s a physical on-ball defender with quick hands, but the consistency of his jumpshot during his sophomore season will dictate how he truly projects as a pro.

12. New Orleans Pelicans: TyTy Washington, Kentucky

Position: G

Height and weight: 6-foot-3, 185 lbs.

Age: 19, Freshman

Washington is the definition of a combo guard. He has tight handles, a good change of pace and sees the floor at a high level as a playmaker. He moves well without the ball in his hands and has crisp shot mechanics, capable of scoring from all three levels.

13. Memphis Grizzlies: Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona

(Getty Images)

Position: G

Height and weight: 6-foot-6, 195 lbs.

Age: 19, Sophomore

Mathurin is a sharpshooter with good length to project as a quality 3-and-D player at the NBA level. He knocked down 42 percent of his threes as a freshman at Arizona and showed improvement as a shot creator, something to build on during his sophomore season.

14. New York Knicks: Dyson Daniels, G League Ignite

Position: G

Height and weight: 6-foot-6, 180 lbs.

Age: 19

Daniels is a wiry defender and slashing scorer who will have the chance to put his skillset to the test against other professionals during his one season with the G League Ignite.  He takes pride on the defensive side of the ball with quick hands and a ton of energy. He’s a solid playmaker and has promising shot mechanics to one day become a consistent perimeter shooter.

15. Indiana Pacers: Jean Montero, Overtime Elite, Dominican Republic

Position: G

Height and weight: 6-foot-2, 170 lbs.

Age: 18

Montero is looking to become the first player drafted from the newly established Overtime Elite program. He’s a confident ball handler who changes speed and direction well, letting the game come to him in terms of when to pass or when to score. His quickness helps him create space to pull up or find a passing lane and he’s one of the better point guards in his draft class.

16. Chicago Bulls: Ousmane Dieng, NZ Breakers (NBL), France

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-9, 185 lbs.

Age: 18

Dieng will take his talents to the NBL’s Next Stars program, following the path of LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton. At 6-foot-9, he’s a creative scorer on the perimeter with good ball handling skills to create his own shot and a solid eye for passing. It will be intriguing to see how he handles the physicality of Australia’s premier pro league.

17. Chicago Bulls (via POR): JD Davison, Alabama

Position: G

Height and weight: 6-foot-3, 175 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

Davison is the most explosive player in this draft class with elite speed, burst and jaw-dropping athleticism. His jumpshot is still in question but he’s a sound playmaker and will have plenty of talent around him at Alabama to bring the best out of that part of his game. I can guarantee you that you will see Davison on SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays at some point this season with a thunderous dunk.

18. Oklahoma City Thunder (via LAC): Nikola Jovic, Mega Basket (ABA), Serbia

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-10, 210 lbs.

Age: 18

Jovic moves exceptionally well for a 6-foot-10 forward and has a great feel for the game. He’s at his best playing on the perimeter as a point-forward with crafty passing skills, but also has great touch around the basket as a slithery finisher. His jumpshot is still inconsistent and lateral quickness is a cause for concern on defense but the potential is there as a well-rounded offensive threat.

19. Boston Celtics: Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee

Position: G

Height and weight: 6-feet, 170 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

Chandler is a pure floor general. He’s a bit undersized but he has great downhill speed and elevates everyone around him with his playmaking and court vision. He’s a quality shooter, trusty decision-maker and digs in on the defensive end, everything you would want in a point guard.

20. Atlanta Hawks: Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA

(Getty Images)

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-6, 220 lbs.

Age: 20, Junior

Jaquez was one of the breakout stars of last year’s NCAA Tournament run and after testing the NBA Draft waters, elected to return to UCLA for another season. He’s a three-level scorer and All-Conference-level defender who plays with a high motor and winning mindset.

21. Denver Nuggets: Roko Prkacin, Cibona (ABA), Croatia

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-9, 210 lbs.

Age: 18

It was a bit of a surprise when Prkacin elected to pull his name from the 2021 NBA Draft player pool. Projected as a first-rounder last year, the 18-year-old Croatian will surely hear his name called somewhere in the first round this year. He has strong playmaking skills and a great court sense as a point forward but will have to knock down jumpers with more consistency to give opposing defenders trouble.

22. Golden State Warriors: Keegan Murray, Iowa

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-8, 215 lbs.

Age: 21, Sophomore

Murray has all the makings of a late-first-round steal. He’s a good perimeter shooter and intelligent cutter to make up his primary sources of offense. He’s a long and versatile defender who can guard multiple positions at the next level. He should step into a much larger role for Iowa this year with National Player of the Year Luka Garza and sharpshooter Joe Wieskamp no longer on the roster.

23. Houston Rockets (via MIA): Daimion Collins, Kentucky

Position: C

Height and weight: 6-foot-9, 200 lbs.

Age: 18, Freshman

Collins is a hybrid center who poses a threat as a lob catcher and rim protector, but will also float out to the perimeter and spot up for 3. He’ll thrive as a rim-runner with a 7-foot-5 wingspan and his perimeter shooting ability adds intrigue, but his frame and raw skillset make him more of a project at the next level.

24. Dallas Mavericks: Michael Foster, G League Ignite

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-9, 220 lbs.

Age: 18

Foster has the body of a power forward but scores from the perimeter like a wing. He can give you a bucket in a variety of ways, more than comfortable creating for himself off the dribble to pull up for a jumper or get all the way to the rim. Offense is his calling card, but his development in other areas of his game will define how he projects as a pro.

25. Philadelphia 76ers: Andre Curbelo, Illinois

Position: G

Height and weight: 6-foot-1, 175 lbs.

Age: 20, Sophomore

Curbelo might not be projected in the first round on many Mock Draft boards entering the season, but the 2021 Big Ten Sixth Man of the Year is ready for his close up. Returning to Illinois for his sophomore season, Curbelo should find himself in a much larger role, handling all playmaking duties with Ayo Dosunmu now in the NBA. He’s a feisty defender and good decision-maker, but his 3-point shot needs improvement to be a more well-rounded offensive threat.

26. Oklahoma City Thunder (PHX): Terrence Shannon Jr., Texas Tech

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-6, 215 lbs.

Age: 21, Junior

Shannon tested the draft waters last season but elected to return to Texas Tech for his junior year instead. He’s super explosive and drives to the basket like a wrecking ball. His 3-point shot improved to a 35.7 percent clip as a sophomore, looking more confident in his stroke. Athletically gifted, he can also defend multiple positions.

27. Memphis Grizzlies (via LAL): Marcus Bagley, Arizona State

Position: F

Height and weight: 6-foot-8, 215 lbs.

Age: 20, Sophomore

Bagley also tested the draft waters last season before deciding to go back to college. He’s a reliable catch-and-shoot 3-point shooter with a smooth release and his size projects him to be a 3-and-D player at the NBA level. He’s a plus-athlete who runs the floor well in transition, knowing when to cut to the basket or fade out to the perimeter. Brother of former No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley.

28. Memphis Grizzlies (via UTA): Kofi Cockburn, Illinois

(Getty Images)

Position: C

Height and weight: 7-feet, 285 lbs.

Age: 22, Junior

Cockburn is in a similar light as Luka Garza last season – he’ll be up for every end-of-season award possible, but he might not draw an equal amount of NBA attention. He’s a physical specimen at 7-feet tall, 285 pounds and will be a dominating interior force for his third-straight college season. He’s an intimidating rim protector, but there are fair concerns about his switchability on the perimeter in pick-and-rolls, hindering his potential at the next level.

29. Milwaukee Bucks: Johnny Juzang, UCLA

Position: G

Height and weight: 6-foot-6, 215 lbs.

Age: 20, Junior

Juzang was another breakout player during UCLA’s Cinderella tournament run. He’s a pure shooter and scorer, leaving little doubt about his offensive game translating to the NBA. The defensive side of the ball is a different story, as Juzang will have to prove he can guard this season to really draw the attention of pro scouts.

30. Miami Heat (via BKN): Mark Williams, Duke

Position: C

Height and weight: 7-feet, 245 lbs.

Age: 19, Sophomore

Williams is an interior big who can protect the rim and finish around the basket. His 7-foot-4 wingspan makes him an elite shot blocker and lob catcher, even if he’s not uber-athletic. He came on strong at the end of his freshman season and will look to build on that momentum into becoming a true NBA prospect.



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