With the trade deadline and now the all-star break in the rearview mirror, a good amount of NBA teams are gearing up towards a playoff push. For others that are on the outside looking in, the focus has been steadily gravitating towards the upcoming NBA Draft. The Houston Rockets are one of the organizations in the latter category and unsurprisingly are looking to speed up their rebuild this coming offseason. Let’s take a look at the post all-star break NBA mock draft, with lottery picks explained.
*Note: a mock draft and a big board are different things; the former is merely a prediction rather than personal rankings of prospects. Draft order accurate as of 2/25/22.
1. Orlando Magic: Duke F Paolo Banchero
Even though Banchero has struggled shooting the ball throughout the month of February, the talent is there. He’s a three-level scoring big with solid vision and handles; this is a no-brainer for the Magic.
2. Detroit Pistons: Auburn F Jabari Smith
The Pistons selected their point guard of the future in Cade Cunningham last June. and now elect to address the frontcourt. Jerami Grant’s time in the Motor City seems to coming to an end sooner rather than later. Regardless, Detroit should be in ‘best-player-available’ mode and Smith’s upside is extremely high.
3. Houston Rockets: Gonzaga C Chet Holmgren
Admittedly, I’m starting to warm back up to the idea of Holmgren in Houston. The seven-footer would provide rim protection instantly next season and his offensive potential is sky-high. The defensive fit between him and Alperen Sengun may cause some concerns, but that’s something to be figured out at a later time.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: Duke F AJ Griffin
Griffin’s stock has risen considerably since conference play and the Thunder seemingly have their backcourt of the future already in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. If OKC can develop his offensive skill set, there’s no telling how good that trio can be.
5. Indiana Pacers: Purdue G Jaden Ivey
Trading for Tyrese Haliburton was a homerun for the Pacers; pairing an advanced scorer with one of the league’s best facilitators is the right move for Indiana, regardless if Malcolm Brogdon is in the future plans or not.
6. Sacramento Kings: Iowa F Keegan Murray
I went back-and-forth here with a couple of different prospects, but ultimately opted to go with offensive upside. Murray is one of the draft’s best scorers and impacts the game beyond the box score. The defensive fit with Domantas Sabonis is questionable, but the benefits outweigh the drawbacks in this case.
7. Portland Trailblazers (via New Orleans Pelicans): Kentucky G Shaedon Sharpe
I find it hard to believe that Sharpe wouldn’t declare if he received a top-10 grade from scouts, but John Calipari has gone on record stating that he believes Sharpe will be playing for Kentucky next season. If he declares, a team in the top-10 will take a chance on a prospect with one of the highest upsides in the class. Portland will use this offseason to try to put a championship-caliber supporting cast around Damian Lillard and Sharpe would be a great start.
8. San Antonio Spurs: Memphis C Jalen Duren
Jakob Poeltl has continued to progress, but the Spurs use this pick to address their frontcourt needs for the future. Duren’s two-way impact, efficiency around the rim, and athleticism are too much to pass up on at pick number eight.
9. Portland Trailblazers: Arizona G Bennedict Mathurin
I’m higher on Mathurin than most, and believe his high floor and NBA-readiness would be what Portland needs. The Blazers are in win-now-at-all-costs mode and the Arizona product’s perimeter-shooting capabilities would land him a spot in the rotation almost immediately.
10. New York Knicks: Kentucky G TyTy Washington
Simply put, the Knicks need a point guard to build around and Washington is the best available. His court vision and perimeter shooting are exactly what the doctor has ordered in the Big Apple.
11. Memphis Grizzlies (via Los Angeles Lakers): Wisconsin G Johnny Davis
The Grizzlies are built to be in the playoffs for years to come, but the Lakers’ debacle gives them a lottery pick to bolster their rotation. This spot feels too low for Davis and he definitely may end up in the top 10; in this mock, Memphis goes with an advanced scorer that excels in rebounding for his size.
12. Washington Wizards: Baylor F Kendall Brown
The Wizards take a swing for the fences by selecting an electric and athletic two-way wing. Brown projects as a rotational player with the potential to be a sure-fire starter in the NBA.
13. Atlanta Hawks: G-League G Dyson Daniels
Daniels has shown the ability to impact all facets of the game during his time in the G-league; giving Atlanta another ball-handler that possesses an improving scoring repertoire would be a smart move for the Hawks.
14. Charlotte Hornets: Duke C Mark Williams
This is an extremely good value pick here for Charlotte considering their main need is interior defense. Williams won’t be relied upon to handle much scoring responsibility, but instead will allow the seven-footer to focus on rim protection and rebounding.
15. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Los Angeles Clippers): Auburn C Walker Kessler
16. Houston Rockets (via Brooklyn Nets): LSU F Tari Eason
The Rockets elect to take one of the best defenders in the class that can guard multiple positions. Houston already has an athletic, versatile defender that has shown offensive improvement in Jae’Sean Tate, so why not have another?
17. Minnesota Timberwolves: Intl F Nikola Jovic
18. San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors): G-League G Jaden Hardy
19. San Antonio Spurs (via Boston Celtics): Milwaukee F Patrick Baldwin Jr
20. Denver Nuggets: G-League G/F MarJon Beauchamp
21. Indiana Pacers (via Cleveland Cavaliers): Baylor F Jeremy Sochan
22. Dallas Mavericks: Arizona C Christian Koloko
23. Milwaukee Bucks: Kansas G Ochai Agbaji
24. Brooklyn Nets (via Philadelphia 76ers): Tennessee G Kennedy Chandler
25. Memphis Grizzlies (via Utah Jazz): Duke F Wendell Moore
26. Miami Heat: Ohio State F EJ Liddell
27. Chicago Bulls: Notre Dame G Blake Wesley
28. Memphis Grizzlies: Kentucky F/C Oscar Tshiebwe
29. Golden State Warriors: Overtime Elite G Jean Montero
30. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Phoenix Suns): Stanford F Harrison Ingram