For the 14 teams in the NBA Draft Lottery, this random evening in May feels like a holiday. It's a chance for the course of a team's history to shift with the bounce of a ping-pong ball (of course, they don't actually use a ping pong ball anymore. It's 2022—we all have computers.) Still, it's important for every team to consider who they will pick at their most-likely draft position. That's where the third version of Air Alamo's 2022 NBA Mock Draft enters the chat.
The San Antonio Spurs are locked into the ninth odds with picks 20 and 25 confirmed by post-season tie-breakers. While there were encouraging developments in the first official year of this rebuild, San Antonio needs to reach for the stars. A balanced roster can only take a team so far without a star engine to accelerate it.
This year's class is stuffed with captivating prospects whose boundless upside can be buoyed by translatable core skills. Not everyone will reach their top-end outcome, but there are a wealth of players with a chance at successful NBA careers.
Keep in mind that every team has different intel and draft philosophies to decide its picks. As such, the point of this mock isn't to guess who will go where—but why each player makes sense for their new team.
There doesn’t appear to be a wrong selection in the top tier of the 2022 NBA Draft class, which is headlined by four stud prospects boasting very different skill sets. However, Jabari Smith Jr., a 19-year-old freshman out of Auburn, has the most clearly translatable skill from the top tier: Elite 3-point ability. His shooting stroke is smooth, reliable, and can be deployed in just about every playstyle.
Smith couples a strong, stout build with finesse that blends in a framework that beautifully suits the modern NBA. This could be considered a safe pick since Smith’s floor projects to be higher than some of his competition, but if he reaches the peak of his potential, Smith could be a terrorizing offensive threat and formidable defender at the four-spot.
Where Smith can truly skyrocket to the top of this class is through individual shot creation and ball-handling. When set up or asked to get a shot off in ideal spacing, Smith can fill a box score with ease. However, unassisted buckets that don’t come from straight-line drives to the basketball won’t always come naturally to Smith.
Unlike other teams near the top of the draft, Houston has a clear foundation to build around with Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., Alperen Sengun and Josh Christopher all showing promise in their young careers. Sliding Smith into this lineup should be relatively seamless since he doesn’t need the ball in his hands on every possession to make a winning impact.