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
Malakai Branham - Michigan State v Ohio State / Emilee Chinn/GettyImages

. 20. . . player. 29. Ohio State. Malaki Branham

The Spurs are back up for their final 1st round pick, and with the 20th pick, they select Ohio State Freshman Malaki Branham.

Sorry, Spurs fans. If you thought that you’d make it out of this mock draft without the Spurs selecting a guard, then I hate to be the bearer of bad news. I urge those of you that see this as a curveball and don't know much about Branham to pay strong attention to him if the Buckeyes make the NCAA Tournament and as we inch closer to the pre-draft process too.

Ever since his 35-point, 6-rebound game this past January against Nebraska and Bryce McGowens, he’s been stringing together some highly impressive games and he’s deservedly shooting up draft boards.

I think of the Spurs in this draft similarly to how I think of the Thunder and Hornets; they want and need a high-quality big man, but in this case, they all aren’t thrilled with their options at their draft positions and opt to pick one later on, possibly well into the second round.

While Mark Williams, Ismael Kamagate, Christian Koloko, and others are available at this pick, the Spurs may opt to select a higher upside player in the first round like Branham to pair with Josh Primo in their bench backcourt and wait to draft a project center later. 

Branham can find his own shot, has some untapped athleticism that we haven’t gotten to see much of during his time on the Buckeyes, and has 49/44/82 shooting splits on a decent volume of shots. Branham going to a team that desperately needs an injection of self-creation on offense could be a very good thing for both parties if he’s given some opportunities.

I think there's a good chance that the Spurs take a look at several other players with this pick, including Bryce McGowens, Alondes Williams, Max Christie, or if you want to go way left field, even Moussa Diabate.