Tuesday, July 5, 2022

2022 NBA Mock Draft: Jabari Smith goes No. 1 to Magic ahead of Chet Holmgren; Bennedict Mathurin into top five

2022 NBA Mock Draft: Jabari Smith goes No. 1 to Magic ahead of Chet Holmgren; Bennedict Mathurin into top five

Smith edges out Holmgren and Paolo Banchero for the top pick


The NBA Finals are upon us, which means that 28 teams are now focused on the next major event on the calendar — the NBA Draft on June 23. This class has long been hyped for its potential franchise players at the top, and that hasn’t been oversold. The debate generally rages around the consensus top three — Jabari Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero (our own college basketball experts Matt Norlander and Kyle Boone did a great job explaining why each has a case to be the top pick) — but players like Jaden Ivey, Shaedon Sharpe, Keegan Murray and Bennedict Mathurin also have the potential to become multiple-time All-Stars down the road.

As an NBA writer, I tend to look at fit more than some other draft analysts, and that’s partly what led me to choose Smith as the Orlando Magic’s No. 1 pick. He fits the modern NBA on both ends of the floor and would give the Magic the scoring that they sorely lack. Holmgren is probably the most tantalizing prospect, but, to me, Smith is more of a sure thing.

Banchero, in my opinion, is a clear third in the hierarchy. Shooting is such an essential skill in the NBA, and unless you’re Giannis Antetokounmpo it becomes incredibly difficult to become a superstar if you can’t consistently knock down 3-pointers. That being said, Banchero’s rare combination of build and skill set makes him worthy of a look at No. 1, and the shooting could definitely come along with work.

This is my first mock draft of the season so I won’t get too far into the weeds, but here are a few players I’m relatively high on: Mathurin, Dyson Daniels, TyTy Washington, Blake Wesley and Jalen Williams. You can read more about why I like them so much in the mock draft below. Enjoy, and remember that this will continue to evolve as pre-draft workouts are conducted.

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