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2022 NBA Draft: amNewYork staff predicts first round selections

NBA Draft
Former Auburn player Jabari Smith talks to the media following a pre-draft workout with the Orlando Magic at Amway Center, on Thursday, June 9, 2022. The Orlando Magic have the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming June 23rd NBA Draft. Smith is the first of three major prospects the team plans to work out in the coming days/weeks.
Ricardo Ramirez Buxeda/Orlando Sentinel via AP

The NBA draft is finally set to get underway on Thursday night at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. 

While the NBA club that calls the building home won’t have a pick this year, but there is still plenty of intrigue for this year’s draft with the Knicks reportedly trying to move up. There is also plenty of excitement around the first five picks, but the talent level drops off after that and the experts are divided about who could go where. 

amNewYork’s sports staff took a crack at projecting who will go where in this year’s draft. Jabri Smith, the projected No. 1 overall selection, is expected to go first according to our experts, and Jaden Ivey is still expected to go 4th. 

The projections are based on the current draft standings. 

1. Orlando: Jabari Smith, PF, Auburn: This shouldn’t be all that difficult of a selection for Orlando, who has the No. 1 pick in the draft for the fourth time in franchise history. Smith provides the promise of developing into a superstar — something that has eluded the franchise since the departure of Dwight Howard. A two-way forward at 6-foot-10 that offers range and above-average defense, Smith catapults Orlando’s talent pool in the frontcourt, which already features Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr., and Jonathan Isaac.

2. Oklahoma City: Paolo Banchero, PF, Duke: Oklahoma City has many needs, so they should be drafting the best player available. After Jabari Smith Jr., who went 1st overall, Paolo Banchero is the best bet to reach stardom in the NBA. He’s 6’ 10” and has incredible playmaking skills, and he’s perfectly situated to carve out a solid role in the modern-day game, where positions are fluid. He needs to improve on the defensive end, but he makes up for any flaws with elite interior scoring and the ability to control the ball in tight spaces.

3. Houston: Chet Holmgren, PF/C, Gonzaga: After trading Christian Wood, the Rockets are definitely looking for help in the frontcourt. I think Banchero fits what they do better, but he’s not an option here, so they’ll go with Holmgren and hope that he can put on enough muscle to not get pushed around in the NBA. 

4. Sacramento: Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue: It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t project Ivey to go fourth overall at this point, regardless of who is picking, and that’s for good reason. Ivey is viewed as one of the most explosive finishers in this year’s draft and he certainly has the goods to make it at the NBA level. He might come in just a hair shy of 6-foot-5, but his 6-foot-10 wingspan and frame are sure to give him a boost at the next level. 

5. Detroit:  Keegan Murray, F, Iowa: Murray averaged 23.5 points per game to go along with over 8 rebounds and three blocks. He’s as safe a pick as they come in this draft and could give Detroit a solid scorer on a team that was 28th in the league in points per game. Murray’s ability to score anywhere will be an added bonus for Detroit. 

NBA Draft
FILE – Iowa forward Keegan Murray (15) drives past Rutgers forward Ron Harper Jr. (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis, March 11, 2022. Murray is one of the top forwards in the upcoming NBA draft.(AP Photo/Michael Conroy

6. Indiana: Shaedon Sharpe, SG, Kentucky: Arguably the biggest wild card in the 2022 draft, Sharpe was the No. 1 high school recruit before joining Kentucky, but he never played a game for them. The fact that he’s still being considered a top-10 pick is a testament to the intangibles that he possesses. He might be the most athletic prospect out there with a devastating arsenal to supplement his downhill attacking style toward the basket. He’ll be a major work in progress, though, as his court vision and shooting need more consistency. For a Pacers team with a number of questions to address this offseason, including the future of Malcolm Brogdon, Sharpe would create an intriguing pair in Indiana’s backcourt with Tyrese Haliburton. 

7. Portland: Bennedict Mathurin, F, Arizona: The Blazers have their star point guard in Damian Lillard, and solid front-court options with Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington, but they could use help on the wings — and Mathurin would provide them with a hyper-athletic scorer that can take the load off of Lillard. His defense can be lackluster, and his passing ability needs work, but he is lights-out from the perimeter and has all the tools to excel in the pros. 

8. New Orleans (from Los Angeles Lakers): Dyson Daniels, PG/SG G-League: New Orleans needs a playmaker in the backcourt to work with CJ McCollum. Daniels is the perfect type of combo guard to slot alongside him. He has really good length as a defender and has shown tremendous basketball IQ, which will make him a great complement to big-time scorers like McCollum and Brandon Ingram. 

9. San Antonio Jalen Duran, C, Memphis: At only 18 years old Duran already has the athleticism and size to be successful at the next level. His 6-foot-11, 250 lbs frame means that he can go toe to toe with just about anyone down low. He’s already shown that he can do that successfully at the collegiate level, where he averaged 12.0 points per game and 8.1 rebounds for Memphis in his freshman season. While the Spurs have a few big men in Jakob Poeltl and Zach Collins, there are still some questions, and having the depth there couldn’t hurt. 

10. Washington: Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin: NBADraftNet compares Davis to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and I think that’s pretty fair. At 6’5” Davis will have the chance to grow his game on a team clearly looking to begin a rebuild. While he needs to improve his overall shot, his athleticism and tenacious motor will set him up well for a nice NBA career. 

11. New York: Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas: In selecting Ochai Agbaji, New York would get a solid outside shooter who plays with such ease that he would fit in any scheme — which is perfect for the Knicks as they work to unclog the logjam of talent currently aboard their roster. Agbaji also projects to be a solid defender and can pair nicely alongside RJ Barrett on the wing. It may not address the team’s biggest needs, but Agbaji is the best player left on the board, and the Knicks should pull the trigger here.

12. Oklahoma City (from LA Clippers): Ousmane Dieng, F, New Zealand Breakers: It wouldn’t hurt the Thunder one bit to use their second first-round pick to continue focusing on their frontcourt. While Banchero is a more concrete option that should find success sooner rather than later at the NBA level, Dieng could be a long-term project that could develop into a dynamic big. A 6-foot-10 wing with major upside should always be an appealing option.

13. Charlotte: Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor: Charlotte needs a starting big man who can defend multiple positions, which is exactly what Sochan can be. His stock improved during the Combine as he showcased a consistent jump shot which could make him a dangerous option in the pick-and-roll game. 

14. Cleveland: Malaki Branham, G/F, Ohio State: This would be a fun story to watch play out as the hometown kid gets drafted by his hometown team. Branham grew up in Columbus, Ohio, and played high school ball at  St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron and returned to Columbus to play for Ohio State. The natural progression would just make sense for the Cavs to draft him for the future. Bramham became the focal point of the Buckeyes’ offense as the season went on and he shot 49.8% from the field and 41.6% from beyond the arc. 

15. Charlotte (from New Orleans): AJ Griffin, F, Duke: One of the best shooters coming into the NBA, Griffin will have a nice career if he shoots with the same efficiency as he did at Duke. Charlotte was one of the best teams shooting-wise and can absolutely double down here to make their offense lethal. Griffin pairing with Lamelo Ball would be a dream come true for the Hornets who are looking to finally get out of the Play-In Tournament. 

16. Atlanta: Tari Eason, F, LSU: The Hawks need a Robin to Trae Young’s Batman, but that likely isn’t coming with the No. 16 pick. However, this is a prime chance to address some defensive versatility issues as they search for a talent that can guard multiple positions. Enter 6-foot-8 Tari Eason, who has shown the ability to guard down low and on the wing — a solid option for an Atlanta team that finished 26th in defensive rating last season.

17. Houston (from Brooklyn): Jalen Williams, G, Santa Clara: The Rockets are in desperate need of help at nearly every position, so the scheme doesn’t factor much into this pick. Instead, Houston goes here with Williams, who is a raw talent that has shown improvement in his game, which will likely continue as his frame fills out and he uses his natural gifts to improve on defense. He’ll take some time to develop, but Williams can already shoot well, and he’s got all the necessary ingredients to become a solid glue guy in the league. 

18. Chicago: Mark Williams, C Duke: This would be a worst-case scenario for Chicago, who really needs an athletic wing that can defend at multiple positions. They really love all six guys who just went before them, but they can use depth in the frontcourt and Williams is an athletic big who can run in transition. 

19. Minnesota TyTy Washington Jr., G, Kentucky: Aside from having the best name in this year’s draft, the former Kentucky Wildcat has been regarded by some as one of the best guards in the draft. He played 31 games  – missing portions of the season due to a severe ankle sprain – where he averaged 12.5 points a game and 3.9 assists. He shot 45.1% from the field and even set a Kentucky record for most assists in a single game when he recorded 17 against Georgia. Washington is all over the draft board, but his playmaking skills would be an asset for the Timberwolves.

 

20. San Antonio (from Toronto): Patrick Baldwin, F, Milwaukee: A solid shooter with good size at 6’10”, Baldwin could be exactly what the Spurs are looking for here with the 20th overall selection. San Antonio has a long history of developing late-round talent into solid NBA careers and Baldwin can be another example. While his shot selection in 2022 left much to be desired, with the Spurs coaching staff, he’s in a prime spot to flourish. 

21. Denver: Jaden Hardy, SG, G League Ignite: The Nuggets’ need for quality wing shooting depth was shown when the injury bug struck last year. Despite Nikola Jokic being the major focus of opposing defenses, thus creating an abundance of quality looks from deep, the Nuggets finished 16th in three-point shooting last year. Don’t let Hardy’s G-League stats fool you, this is a player with catch-and-shoot capabilities along with the versatility to create space for himself on the perimeter. 

22. Memphis (from Utah): Nikola Jovic, PF, Serbia: The nearly 10-foot Serbian can handle the ball extremely well at just 19 years old, and plays with a comfort level as a playmaker that should make him a solid role player on offense (as long as he can improve his lackluster 3-point shooting). His biggest weakness comes on defense, where he’ll need significant progress and a bigger frame to take on NBA bigs, but the 6’ 10” wing is a solid option for the Memphis team that doesn’t need to ask too much from him right out of the gate. 

23. Philadelphia: Andrew Nembhard, PG, Gonzaga: One of the hero’s for Gonzaga over the last few years, Nembhard is a true floor general that can stabilize the bench for the 76ers. Philadelphia lost to Miami mainly because of Embiid’s health and a lack of depth. Nembhard would be a piece that can certainly help you win right away. His improved shooting will only help as well.  

24. Milwaukee: Blake Wesley, SG, Notre Dame: Lots of upside in the 19-year-old shooting guard. He’s a strong passer and explosive athlete. If he can improve his shooting, he has some real upside but he can make plays in the backcourt, which the Bucks need. 

25. San Antonio (from Boston): Dalen Terry, G/F, Arizona: The former Arizona guard has a lot of potential after a solid sophomore season. He appeared in all 37 games for the Wildcats and averaged 8.0 points per game, 4.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists. Terry has been viewed as a player that could have upside as a 3-and-D prospect.

26. Houston (from Dallas): Kendall Brown, F, Baylor: The Rockets have an avenue here to create a young, exciting frontcourt with Holmgren (No. 3) and Brown. The Baylor product, standing at 6-foot-7, shot 34.1% from three-point range during his lone college season while exhibiting an aggressive defensive game that could see him become an imposing presence on the perimeter, should he find the consistency needed to maintain his efforts. 

27. Miami: Bryce McGowens, F, Nebraska: Miami doesn’t have many glaring holes in their roster, which allows them to take the best player available, and to take a swing on the high-upside product from Nebraska. At 6’ 5” and 180 pounds, McGowens already boasts a solid handle and elite athleticism, and his slick shooting stroke suggests he can potentially develop into an ideal player to take the load of Heat stars during the long NBA season. He needs to improve as a passer, and develop better defensive habits, but if he reaches his potential, other GMs will be kicking themselves for letting him slide to 27th. 

28. Golden State: MarJon Beauchamp, SG/SF, G League: The Warriors could use a 3-and-D wing off of the bench that has the ability to guard multiple positions in the frontcourt for when they go small. Beauchamp has also been putting in a lot of work on his jump shot and has the kind of upside that the defending champions can take a risk on, knowing that he will provide defense at minimum right out of the gate

29. Memphis: Kennedy Chandler, G, Tennessee:  Projected as a late first-round pick, Chandler has a lot of things going for him that would make the Grizzlies an ideal fit for him. Chandler is from Memphis and is close with NBA star Ja Morant. The Grizzlies also could see backup point guard Tyus Jones hit free agency.  

30. Oklahoma City (from Phoenix): Tyrese Martin, SG, UConn: OKC is just looking for ball players right now and Martin would certainly be one of them. A classic 3-And-D athlete, Martin is a strong rebounder and defender who will look to continue to improve his jump shot. OKC has a number of picks in the next few years and a late first-round pick will be for developmental players. Martin would be a solid pick here.

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