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2022 NBA Mock Draft 1.0: Surprises Sneak Into Top 10

2022 NBA Mock Draft - Jabari Smith
2022 NBA Mock Draft - Jabari Smith / Todd Kirkland/GettyImages
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2022 NBA Mock Draft
Jabari Smith - Alabama v Auburn / Michael Chang/GettyImages

38. Auburn. 2. player. . Jabari Smith Jr.. .

With the second overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select Auburn freshman Jabari Smith Jr. 

Smith’s shot-making as a 6’10” forward is totally unmatched in this draft class, and I’d argue that it’s unmatched even in the past several Draft cycles. On a high volume of shots, he’s currently shooting a staggering 43% from beyond the arc and 81% from the free-throw line; these numbers make his shooting very believable and projectable in the NBA. 

On the other end of the floor, his on-ball defense on the perimeter is his biggest strength. His lateral movement and reaction speed are elite to the point that he reminds me a bit of a super-sized Davion Mitchell on occasion. Smith isn’t necessarily a big-time shot-blocker but is completely stifling when on-ball, is switchable, and will almost certainly be able to guard four positions and likely some stretch 5s too. 

Once he reaches the league, Smith will need to dramatically improve his ball-handling skills as it’s his most glaring weakness at this point. Despite still being impressive for someone of his size, his handle becomes very loose after two dribbles. That, in unison with his inability to finish around the rim, is undoubtedly concerning, but if he can even develop an average game in those areas, he’ll be one of the most dangerous two-way players in this draft.

I think the Magic would take a serious look at Chet Holmgren if he were on the board but would be more enamored with Smith regardless. At the very worst, he will likely be a very high-level 3-and-D option that will be a serious floor-raiser. On a team that desperately needs more 3-point shooting, Smith would be a fantastic long-term option to develop alongside Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner.

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