We're finally here, folks: the 2022 NBA Draft will be happening this Thursday, and we're at our final mock draft of the season. Draft rumors have been flying around for the past several weeks now and smokescreen season is in full effect, so before this Thursday's draft, we want to take one last shot at breaking down some of the best candidates for each pick.
Mock drafts are often either based on who the writer thinks should go to each team or who the writer predicts each team to select. This mock draft can be thought of as somehwere in the middle of that spectrum. For each selection, I've taken recent rumors into account, who I believe to be the best players available at each pick, and team fit/circumstances.
As for the San Antonio Spurs, they are in possession of the 9th, 20th, and 25th overall picks coming into draft night along with the 38th overall pick in the 2nd round. While we think that a trade-up or trade-out is more likely than the Spurs rostering three, let alone four rookies, we also think that the Spurs will have eyes on multiple players coming into Thursday and that we should all be expecting the unexpected.
So without further ado, this is our final mock draft of the 2022 NBA Draft cycle.
Smokescreen season is well underway at this point, and while there have been rumors linking Jabari Smith to the Magic at #1 overall—including a reported pre-draft workout—other reports suggest the team is still undecided. In this mock draft, I have the Magic pulling a bait-and-switch and selecting Duke’s Paolo Banchero.
I make this selection for the Magic due to one core belief: out of the top three teams in the draft, the Magic will be under the most pressure to come away with a long-term piece of their core. Franz Wagner proved himself to be a steal of a draft pick this past season and Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, and Wendell Moore all appear to have plenty of room to grow into high-quality role players at the very least. While teams like the Thunder and Rockets could easily end up back in the top end of the lottery next season, the Magic may begin to turn the corner sooner rather than later.
While any of Banchero, Holmgren, or Smith could certainly fill that cornerstone role, Banchero is likely the player with a ceiling high enough to warrant selecting him 1st overall, yet he also has a floor high enough to make the team more confident that the pick won’t fall flat. His ball-handling relative to his size, playmaking ability, and upside as a three-level scorer should serve as a highly-desirable base of skills to build on.