With the beginning of a new calendar year, more and more attention will continue to shift towards the upcoming NBA draft. There are just around three months left in the college basketball season and prospects have more than enough time to improve their stock before the nets are cut down in April. Conference play across the country is getting into the full swing of things, so let’s take a look at the next installment of the ApolloHOU 2022 NBA mock drafts. (Note: draft order is determined by the records on 1/3).
1. Detroit Pistons: Duke F Paolo Banchero
The Pistons have found the organization’s centerpiece of the future in 2021 top-overall pick Cade Cunningham. Insert another top selection into Detroit’s squad and there is something interesting forming in the Motor City. Banchero hasn’t wowed the nation like he did in November, but he’s still a 6-foot-10 big with an NBA-ready frame and three-level scoring capabilities.
2. Orlando Magic: Gonzaga F/C Chet Holmgren
Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner look to be successful draft picks early into their respective rookie campaigns, while a handful of other players have stood out too. Wendell Carter Jr’s extension should not affect this pick as Holmgren’s shot-blocking and high two-way ceiling make him a no-brainer for Orlando.
3. Houston Rockets: Auburn F Jabari Smith
Smith is making a real case to be the number-one overall prospect in this class; his ball-handling and scoring upside coupled with his length and athleticism has a lot of people tuning in to watch the Tigers play every game.
As it pertains to the Rockets, this is a home-run selection. Christian Wood’s days are seemingly numbered in Houston and the organization needs another centerpiece to place alongside Jalen Green. Not to mention, Smith can stretch the floor and affect the game without having the ball in his hands, which bodes well for co-existing in the same frontcourt with Alperen Sengun.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Memphis C Jalen Duren
Admittedly, I’m lower on Duren than most; I have my concerns with how his skillset translates to the NBA and his ceiling overall, but he’s a force around the rim. Duren’s efficiency in the paint and shot blocking are exactly what the doctor ordered for the Thunder. Just because I have some concerns doesn’t mean that I think he’ll be a bad player, either. OKC needs true big man for the future and Duren is one of the best in the country.
5. New Orleans Pelicans: Purdue G Jaden Ivey
For the Pelicans, this season has been…an interesting one. Zion Williamson has been dealing with a foot injury and there have been rumors swirling that he is not happy in New Orleans. Not to mention the team just has not been that good. NOLA should be in “best player available” mode and Ivey fits what the team needs. The 6-foot-4 sophomore is averaging 16.7 PPG on 53/45/74 splits. The perimeter shooting concerns have been alleviated and he’s a tremendous athlete with an explosive first step.
6. Portland Trail Blazers: Arizona G Bennedict Mathurin
Full transparency, I have doubts that CJ McCollum will be in Portland next season as the organization will likely make moves to maximize Damian Lillard’s prime. This pick could be used in a trade for an already established NBA player, but if they use it, Mathurin should be the selection. The 6-foot-7 sophomore is currently fifth on my recent draft big board. He has shown three-level scoring capabilities while being active on defense and on the glass.
7. Indiana Pacers: Baylor F Kendall Brown
TJ Warren and Jeremy Lamb are both free agents and the Pacers could use some athleticism at the wing position. The 6-foot-8 freshman is averaging 12.3 PPG on a stacked Baylor squad, and his defensive upside fits the identity of this Indiana squad.
8 San Antonio Spurs: Iowa F Keegan Murray
Murray currently leads the nation in scoring at 23.7 PPG and has likely since the largest rise in draft stock since the beginning of the season. He’s not a great three-point shooter and his size poses some concerns, but he has tremendous length and strength, along with a great feel for the game. Pair him with the Spurs’ development team and who knows how good he can end up being.
9. Sacramento Kings: Milwaukee F Patrick Baldwin Jr
I’m uneasy about this selection because Baldwin Jr has not been all that great this season. I understand that every team is specifically game planning for the former five-star recruit. But he’s been extremely inconsistent and is only shooting 36.8% from the field. Keep in mind that this is merely just a projection and not a reflection of my own big board, but PBJ could start slipping down the board if he can’t turn it around. The good news is that the talent is there, it’s just a matter of unlocking it.
10. Minnesota Timberwolves: Overtime Elite G Jean Montero
This might be a bit of a reach on Montero here due to competition concerns, but he is one of the better passers in the class. Allowing D’Angelo Rusell to focus more on scoring and adding a solid facilitator into the Minnesota backcourt would be a solid move. It’s also worth mentioning that Montero is a microwave scorer as well.
11. Atlanta Hawks: G-League G Jaden Hardy
Even though he is averaging 17.7 points per game in the NBA G-League, Hardy has struggled shooting the ball from the perimeter. The name of the game for Atlanta is surrounding Trae Young with more backcourt scoring and who knows what the organization plans to do with Cam Reddish. There aren’t many opportunities to find stars late in the lottery and the Hawks elect to swing for the fences.
12. New York Knicks: Kentucky G TyTy Wahington
Washington has been solid to begin the 2021 season as both a scorer and facilitator. The Knicks need an upgrade at point guard and the Kentucky freshman fits that mold. Wahington possesses good size with his six-foot-three frame and shoots over 40% from behind-the-arc.
13. Toronto Raptors: Alabama G JD Davison
We’ve seen the organization swing for the fences on potential, and Davison possesses a ton of it. His averages will not win you over considering that he’s only playing 23.9 minutes per game in a loaded Alabama backcourt. However, he has athleticism, quickness, good vision, scoring upside, and a high motor.
14. Boston Celtics: Wisconsin G Johnny Davis
Electric scoring has allowed Davis to rise up the majority of draft boards this season and the Celtics are in need of a tertiary scoring option. He can create his own offense anywhere inside the halfcourt and he crashes the boards extremely well for his size. With that being said, this seems king of low for Davis at this time and I would not be surprised to see him get drafted in the top ten.
15. Washington Wizards: Tennessee G Kennedy Chandler
16. Memphis Grizzlies (via Los Angeles Lakers): Duke G Wendell Moore Jr
17. Dallas Mavericks: G-League G Dyson Daniels
18. Charlotte Hornets: Duke C Mark Williams
19. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Los Angeles Clippers): Duke F AJ Griffin
20. Denver Nuggets: LSU F Tari Eason
21. Philadelphia 76ers: Duke G Trevor Keels
22. Cleveland Cavaliers: Michigan G/F Caleb Houstan
23. Houston Rockets (via Miami Heat): Kansas G Ochai Agbaji
If you remember my initial 2022 NBA mock draft, the Rockets took Agbaji with this pick in that simulation as well. The 6-foot-5 senior is continuing to score the ball well, averaging 20.6 PPG on 54/46/71 shooting splits. It’s all about finding role players at this stage for Houston and Agbaji is an NBA-ready prospect with solid perimeter shooting and two-way ability.
24. Memphis Grizzlies: Colorado F Jabari Walker
25. Milwaukee Bucks: Ohio State F EJ Liddell
26. Miami Heat (via Brooklyn Nets): Nebraska G Bryce McGowens
27. Chicago Bulls: Intl F Nikola Jovic
28. Memphis Grizzlies (via Utah Jazz): G-League G MarJon Beauchamp
29. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Phoenix Suns): Stanford F Harrison Ingram
30. Golden State Warriors: Notre Dame G Blake Wesley