2022 NBA Mock Draft & Betting Odds: Value on Chet Holmgren at No. 1 to Orlando Magic?
Abbie Parr/Getty Images. Pictured: Chet Holmgren of the Gonzaga Bulldogs.
The 2022 NBA Draft Lottery is in the books, and the Orlando Magic have won the No. 1 pick. The Thunder will pick second, while the Rockets settled in at third and the Kings will pick fourth.
The NBA Draft is barely a month away, so what could the lottery look like now that we’ve got the final draft order down?
Below is my initial mock draft for the first 14 picks of the draft, based on my own scouting from the college season and early intel from NBA Draft Twitter and draft experts like Mike Schmitz, Sam Vecenie, and Jeremy Woo.
Who will be the No. 1 pick in the draft, and which players are worth betting? That plus other early names to watch, along with a few guys I’m targeting for over/under draft slots once odds start to post.
2022 NBA Draft Odds: No. 1 Overall Pick
Click the dropdown to see the current odds for the top pick via BetMGM
|Jabari Smith Jr.||-125|
2022 NBA Mock Draft
No. 1 Magic — PF Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
The word unicorn gets thrown too often in modern basketball, but Chet Holmgren is a true unicorn at 7-foot-1 with a plus wingspan and a 190-pound frame that needs a lot of work. Holmgren is an absolute beanpole, but you’d never know it in his game.
On a single play, Holmgren can defend the rim ferociously on defense, tap the ball to himself and grab the rebound, take four or five long strides down the court, dribble behind his back on a spin move, and dunk on the other end — or pull up and swish a 3-pointer, if you prefer.
Holmgren can do a little bit of everything. He’s an elite shot blocker and rim protector with incredible instincts and DPOY upside. On offense, Holmgren will probably never be a big time scorer, but he’s amazingly efficient with 74% on 2s and 39% on 3s. He’s a connector and should be easily scalable on any NBA offense with his vertical and horizontal spacing.
For me personally, it’s Holmgren alone atop the draft, regardless of team. You don’t fit a guy like Holmgren into an existing team, you just draft him and build around a multiplier who will make everyone around him better.
Worry about the frame all you want, but Holmgren has been a winner at every level. He won four high school championships, led Team USA to the under-19 FIBA world championship, and helped Gonzaga to the No. 1 ranking as a freshman.
I liked Evan Mobley best in last year’s draft, but he got dinged with similar frame concerns and he sure worked out just fine for the Cavs, though it’s worth noting that he did drop to the No. 3 pick too.
I still believe talent wins out above all else in the end, so Holmgren would be my best bet for the No. 1 pick at +155.
The big question is whether the Magic will agree, or if they’ll go with betting favorite Jabari Smith. Smith is an easier face of the franchise for a team that badly needs one, and he’d fill a big scoring hole on the wing for Orlando. But the Magic have tended to gamble on size and upside.
John Hammond, remember, is the General Manager who drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo. He took a shot on Thon Maker, Jonathan Isaac, and Mo Bamba too, all in the lottery. Holmgren fits the bill as another long, gangling, upside plays loaded with potential.
While Isaac and Bamba are still on the roster along with Wendell Carter Jr., we saw a blueprint with the Cavs for Holmgren starting his career at the four a la Evan Mobley, with the protection of a bulkier center next to him.
Hammond has shown he’s willing to take huge draft risks for the ultimate payout, and a defense built around Holmgren, WCJ, Bamba, Isaac, and last year’s lottery rookies Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs could be nasty. Holmgren also played high school ball with Suggs in Minnesota, and Suggs helped recruit him to Gonzaga, so that’s an obvious connection.
Smith is another choice that makes plenty of sense here, and honestly the Magic could use Banchero’s shot creation and hide him behind all that defense already in tow too, but I’ll stick my neck out early and back Chet Holmgren as the No. 1 overall pick to the Magic. I already bet it, and you should too.
No. 2 Thunder — PF Jabari Smith, Auburn
Perhaps more than anyone else in the draft, Jabari Smith practically oozes stardom. His body, his handle, his jump shot, his swagger — everything about Smith just screams future superstar. At 6-foot-10 and just 18 years old, Smith is a big man who plays like an oversized wing.
Watch Smith and it’s easy to fall in love. He’s a walking bucket, with the size and ability to get his jumper anytime anywhere and a silky sweet shot to die for. He hit 42% of his 5.5 3-point attempts per game as a freshman in the SEC, and he had a midrange pull-up he can always get off. Smith is a fluid athlete with a confident handle. A couple glimpses of that shot will have you dreaming of a 25 PPG scorer, a more polished Michael Porter Jr.
Smith will have to answer questions about his ability to put pressure on the rim and finish near the basket, especially after a brutal end to his college career in March. There are also deserved questions about how much he elevates his teammates outside of his obvious shooting and spacing, and there’s debate about Smith’s defensive instincts and upside. But the scoring is so easy, and it’s why Smith remains the favorite to go No. 1 overall.
Instead, Smith falls to No. 2 here and is an easy fit for the Thunder. I’d love to see Holmgren next to Aleksej Pokusevski in an Oklahoma City uniform, but Jabari Smith’s scoring is a heck of a consolation. It’s hard to see him falling out of the top-two the way the lottery played out since he fits so seamlessly on both teams. Smith along with Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander would be a real Thunder core worth building around.
No. 3 Rockets — PF Paolo Banchero, Duke
Banchero is a smooth, talented NBA-ready big man who will probably be the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. Banchero was the early favorite to go No. 1 in the draft too and could still end up there if the Magic fall in love.
Banchero has the size of a modern center with the skill set of a wing. He can handle and pass, and his standout ability is his shot creation — both for himself and for others. Shot creation is as coveted as any NBA skill, and Banchero is at his best with the ball in his hands, using his size, shiftiness, and ability to ball the ball on the court and attack, take the smooth jumper, or beat the double team by feeding the open man.
Think Julius Randle or Carmelo Anthony, perhaps a modernized LaMarcus Aldridge. Banchero is big and strong, physically gifted and more ready to step into a high-usage face-of-the-franchise type role than anyone else in the draft. His shot will need some work, and there are questions about his defense and scalability at the next level, but Banchero has obvious star potential.
Will Banchero stay inside the top three though?
This is not a perfect fit. Houston already invested a lot in big men Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba in last year’s draft, and Banchero doesn’t fit like a glove next to them. He’s not an ideal fit next to Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. either, since all three need a lot of the ball and none of them do much on the defensive end.
Could Houston opt for Jaden Ivey instead and pair him with Green to make one of the league’s most exciting young perimeter duos? I’ve rated A.J. Griffin rated near Banchero too, and he could be a strong fit as the top wing shooter in the draft and a guy who can play off the ball.
Banchero gets the spot for now, but this feels like the early pivot point in the draft, and it could be a trade-up spot if Houston finds a dance partner.
No. 4 Kings — SF A.J. Griffin, Duke
Griffin is the most ready-made wing prospect and shooter in the draft. He hit 46% of his 3s this year with consistent form and footwork, and his jumper and pull-up game on the wing are reminiscent of Devin Booker or Jimmy Butler.
Griffin is a scalable player whose game should translate well to the NBA, especially in the playoffs where his iso scoring will be more valuable. The big draft question is his health, though. Griffin has a significant injury history that limited his final high school years and cut his explosiveness at Duke. If Griffin gets a clean bill of health, he could be a high riser on draft boards.
Every NBA team needs a wing who can shoot, defend, and create his own shot like Griffin. The Kings badly need wing help, especially after trading Buddy Hield. Sacramento will likely look for a more NBA-ready player as they push for a play-in spot with De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis next season, and Griffin is ready to step in and contribute immediately.
It’s a weird spot for the Kings, who of course managed to move up in the lottery and still end up fourth in what’s widely regarded as a three-player draft. Ivey isn’t a good fit with Fox, and Banchero sliding probably wouldn’t help either since it’s tough to see him and Sabonis fitting well together. Shaedon Sharpe could be the upside swing, but the Kings are focused on making a push now and he doesn’t really fit the timeline.
Griffin could be the right compromise if his health is cleared. Our Matt Moore has tabbed Griffin as a potential high riser early in the draft process. This could also be an Ivey trade-up spot if the Kings can get a playable veteran for the pick.
No. 5 Pistons — PG Jaden Ivey, Purdue
Ivey is the top lead guard in the draft class, and there’s not much of a competition. He’s a hyper-elite athlete who electrified crowds at Purdue, a walking highlight reel who made at least one jaw-dropping play per game that screams NBA. Ivey has incredible acceleration and outstanding ability to change directions on a dime, and he can get downhill in a hurry attacking the rim.
You’ve surely seen more than a few Jaden Ivey highlights by now, and you’re forgiven if you get a faint whiff of Ja Morant. Ivey is more of a scorer than a passer for now, though Purdue’s offense limited some of his creation upside by playing through its big men. He’ll need to work on his jump shot too. Still, Ivey has all the makings of the next exhilarating NBA scoring guard.
This wasn’t an ideal lottery outcome for Ivey. Some scenarios might have seen Ivey with a real chance to go No. 1 as the top lead guard in the class, but it’s tough to see him going top-two now with Orlando set on Suggs and Cole Anthony while OKC has Giddey and Gilgeous-Alexander. Houston and Sacramento are tough fits too.
Even the Pistons aren’t a perfect fit, but this is just a talent grab. The Killian Hayes experiment looks like a bust, and Cade Cunningham may or may not be a point guard, but his shooting and Ivey’s slashing and attacking pair well together. One of Cunningham’s shortcomings is his inability to get to the rim consistently with a lack of athletic burst, so it’s actually a pretty nice attacking combo.
The Pistons were losers on lottery night, but they can still come out winners in this scenario. Ivey’s over/under will be an interesting watch. He’s not a great fit in the top four, but a player with his talent probably can’t slip too far and this could be a great landing spot. An under 5.5 at plus money could be very tempting.
No. 6 Pacers — SG Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky
Shaedon Sharpe is this draft’s mystery man. There’s no elite Euro prospect as everyone awaits France’s Victor Wembanyama, but Sharpe is an international mystery himself. The Canadian wing won’t turn 19 until later this month, and he might be the highest-upside wing scorer in the draft. The only problem is he never suited up for Kentucky and hasn’t played organized ball in the last year.
Sharpe stands 6-foot-6 with a near-7-foot wingspan, and he’s an elite athlete with an outrageous vertical. He has a feathery touch on his jumper and could be a 20 PPG scorer in the NBA once he develops, though this type of player tends to be more of a long-term project. Sharpe is the sort of guy some team is going to fall in love with, so he could be a riser in the draft process for a team looking to draft this year’s Jalen Green.
The Pacers haven’t had a pick in the top-nine since George McCloud at No. 7 way back in 1989. Indiana doesn’t get many cracks at a true franchise player star, so the Pacers need to swing big with this rare opportunity. Sharpe fits the bill and would be a great young piece to add next to Tyrese Haliburton.
No. 7 Blazers — SG Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona
Mathurin is a smooth three-level scorer with a silky jumper and a smooth athleticism. The Canadian guard exploded last summer in international play, then led Arizona to the top of the college ranks much of the season.
He’s a movement shooter with athletic pop and good defensive engagement, and he profiles as a prototypical NBA two-guard. Think something like Lou Williams.
The Blazers are stuck in between worlds, with one foot building around Damian Lillard and the present and another focused on Anfernee Simons and the future.
A playable wing like A.J. Griffin would be an ideal compromise, but this isn’t a wing-heavy draft. Mathurin would add a great scoring punch and set up a Simons-Mathurin-Josh Hart trio going forward once it’s time to move on from Lillard.
No. 8 Pelicans — G Johnny Davis, Wisconsin
Johnny Davis was one of the stars of college basketball after a breakout sophomore season. He’s a combo guard with more of an old school game. Davis doesn’t have elite burst or athleticism, but he plays the game at his speed and gets to his speed repeatedly with a deadly midrange pull-up.
Davis is a scalable winning player who makes the right play on both ends, and he’s a tenacious defender. His game reminds a bit of Austin Rivers or Josh Hart. That doesn’t sound sexy, but that sort of player has a long NBA career.
The Pelicans lucked into this pick when the bottom fell out on the Lakers season. The team is set at the wing now with CJ McCollum joining Brandon Ingram, Herb Jones, and Trey Murphy III, and Zion Williamson should be back next season.
What they’re missing now is what guys like Lonzo Ball and Hart gave this team as glue guys who could play without the ball, defend well, and help the team win. That’s Davis in a nutshell.
No. 9 Spurs — SG Dyson Daniels, G League Ignite
Jaden Hardy was supposed to be the crown jewel of this year’s G League Ignite team, but Dyson Daniels is the player who stood out as the season went along. Daniels simply makes winning plays.
He’s a smart passer with terrific natural instincts and a knack for being in the right place on both ends. Daniels makes good, quick decisions, rebounds well for his position, and projects as a complementary glue guy who will make his teammates better.
Does all of that sound like a Spurs player to you? Sure sounds like a guy Gregg Popovich will love, if you ask me. Daniels feels like a nice Derrick White replacement and a guy who would get immediate playing time as a strong defender and intelligent player.
The Spurs also pick at 20 and 25, so they’re in position to take a swing early.
No. 10 Wizards — SF Keegan Murray, Iowa
Keegan Murray is a combo scoring forward who did a bit of everything for the Hawkeyes, keeping Iowa at the top of the Big Ten even after the loss of Luka Garza. Murray has an incredibly versatile scoring skill set. He can score in the post or hit the jumper and he moves well without the ball, constantly getting himself good scoring opportunities. He played like Tobias Harris at Iowa.
This would be a bit of a slide for Murray from early expectations, but he’ll be 22 on opening night and I wonder if he’ll be passed up in the draft process by some of these younger, rawer prospects. I’ll be looking to bet over on Murray’s draft pick early. But the Wizards have spent high lottery picks on older players with major college accolades — think Corey Kispert and Rui Hachimura — so Murray fits the bill.
No. 11 Knicks — C Jalen Duren, Memphis
Duren might be the most tantalizing true center in the draft. Duren has a huge frame and he’s a bouncy athlete and immediate lob threat anytime he steps on the court. His offensive game is a bit of a work in progress, but his defensive potential has scouts drooling. If Duren can get his fouls and positioning right, his rim protection and quickness should make him a versatile, switchy defender. Think something between James Wiseman and Bam Adebayo.
The Knicks tumbled out of the playoffs this season, in part because the defense fell apart. It feels like New York needs a better long-term answer than Mitchell Robinson or Nerlens Noel, and Duren is the sort of guy Tom Thibodeau could mold into a great defensive anchor.
No. 12 Thunder — PF Jeremy Sochan, Baylor
Jeremy Sochan is an early candidate to be this year’s Scottie Barnes or Patrick Williams. Sochan is strong as an ox and is the exact sort of stocky, switchable defender every modern NBA team is looking for. He has elite defensive instincts and may be able to switch 1-to-5 at the next level, even playing some small ball center at times. The offense will be a work in progress, but Sochan is a nifty handler and a smart passer.
The Thunder are always a wildcard spot, especially since they’ll draft second and again at No. 30. Think of this as mostly a placeholder — a bet on Sochan getting himself into the lottery, if not higher, by the time the draft rolls around. Other names that could be in contention here as fringe lottery picks are Sochan’s Baylor teammate Kendall Brown, Ohio State freshman Malaki Branham, and Kentucky star TyTy Washington.
No. 13 Hornets — C Mark Williams, Duke
Williams may have improved his draft stock about as much as anyone in the NCAA tournament. He’s an NBA-ready center with plenty of size, outstanding rebounding, passing and shot blocking skills, as well as a soft touch near the rim. He should defend well and post efficient offense.
Williams may not have star potential, but he’s a high floor prospect ready to make an immediate impact. The Hornets badly need a difference maker in the middle, and Williams is the sort of prospect who could anchor their defense.
No. 14 Cavs — SG Ochai Agbaji, Kansas
Abgaji is another player who helped himself during March Madness after leading the Kansas Jayhawks to a national championship as the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. The consensus All-American averaged 18.8 PPG for the champs and hit 40.7% of his 3s with a consistent, compact jumper.
Agbaji is a four-year senior with a lower ceiling but established floor, and every NBA team needs shooting. We’ve seen older shooters like Cam Johnson and Chris Duarte slip into the back of the lottery as strong value propositions, and Agbaji would make a ton of sense for a Cavs team that might be a shooter away from making a real run next season if healthy.
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