2022 NBA Mock Draft: Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren has highest ceiling, goes No. 1 ahead of Duke’s Paolo Banchero

The 2022 NBA Draft is now less than two months away. Unlike some years, there is still no consensus projected No. 1 overall pick as franchises seem genuinely split on whether the first player off of the board should be Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, Duke’s Paolo Banchero, Auburn’s Jabari Smith or Purdue’s Jaden Ivey. They’re all very different players with different bodies and skill sets. I could make an argument in favor of any of them. But, at this point, after watching each player perform for an entire season of college basketball, I’m leaning slightly toward Holmgren because he’s the most unique of the group and, I think, the prospect with the highest ceiling.

Yes, I know he’s very thin.

No, I’m not sure that’ll ever significantly change.

But focusing too much on Holmgren’s slight frame feels a little like how so many people focused too much on Luka Doncic’s lack of athleticism in advance of the 2018 NBA Draft. Was it something to be considered? Sure. But locking in on that led to some discounting the fact that Doncic was doing unprecedented things for a player his age in Europe, which is my way of saying that locking in on Holmgren’s body can distract from the fact that the 7-foot center just did unprecedented things for a player his age in college. He’s an incredible rim-protector who can, on the offensive end, bounce it and shoot it comfortably and confidently. It’s not a stretch to suggest we’ve never seen a prospect quite like Holmgren. So I’m just going to trust that his slight frame won’t keep him from being the kind of NBA star his talent indicates is possible. If the Houston Rockets do indeed win the lottery, they should select Holmgren first.

MOCK DRAFTROUND 1

Round 1 – Pick 1team logo Chet Holmgren CGONZAGA • FR • 7’0″ / 195 LBSPROJECTED TEAMHoustonPROSPECT RNK2ndPOSITION RNK1stPPG14.1RPG9.9APG1.93P%39%I understand the concerns about Holmgren’s slight frame — but he’s such a unique talent that I’d be uncomfortable passing on a 7-foot legitimate rim-protector who can also bounce it like a guard and reliably make 3-pointers. I was somewhat skeptical before his one year with the Zags but saw enough in 32 games to become a believer.
Round 1 – Pick 2team logo Paolo Banchero PFDUKE • FR • 6’10” / 250 LBSPROJECTED TEAMOrlandoPROSPECT RNK3rdPOSITION RNK1stPPG17.2RPG7.8APG3.23P%33.8%Banchero is probably the safest option at the top of this draft. He’s a big, strong and skilled forward who could be the key to quickly returning the Magic to a place of relevance.
Round 1- Pick 3team logo Jabari Smith PFAUBURN • FR • 6’10” / 220 LBSPROJECTED TEAMDetroitPROSPECT RNK4thPOSITION RNK2ndPPG16.9RPG7.4APG23P%42%Smith still needs to develop in lots of ways because at this point he’s mostly just a 6-10 shooter on the offensive end of the court. But he’s such a great shooter for a player his size, and a great athlete and competitor in general, that there’s no reason to seriously doubt the idea that he could create an incredible duo with Cade Cunningham in Detroit.
Round 1 – Pick 4team logo Jaden Ivey SGPURDUE • SOPH • 6’4″ / 195 LBSPROJECTED TEAMOklahoma CityPROSPECT RNK1stPOSITION RNK1stPPG17.3RPG4.9APG3.13P%35.8%Ivey is an explosive athlete who plays big and is capable of attacking the rim in a variety of ways. As the Thunder continue to add interesting young pieces, the former Purdue star would be a great option at this point in the draft.
Round 1 – Pick 5team logo Keegan Murray PFIOWA • SOPH • 6’8″ / 225 LBSPROJECTED TEAMIndianaPROSPECT RNK9thPOSITION RNK3rdPPG23.5RPG8.7APG1.53P%39.8%Murray is a switchable big who can guard in space and consistently make shots from the perimeter. What he does, at his size, is perfectly suited for the modern NBA and would fit well with an Indiana franchise that needs to add talent in the frontcourt.
Round 1 – Pick 6team logo Shaedon Sharpe SGKENTUCKY • FR • 6’6″ / 200 LBSPROJECTED TEAMPortlandPROSPECT RNK5thPOSITION RNK2ndEven though he enrolled in January and was eligible to compete, Sharpe never played at Kentucky in part because the people around him wanted to protect his status as a projected top-10 pick. Unless he really bombs in workouts, it’s hard to imagine the explosive athlete going much lower than this considering he’s a gifted scorer with the physical tools to be a disruptive defender on the wing.
Round 1 – Pick 7team logo Ochai Agbaji SGKANSAS • SR • 6’5″ / 215 LBSPROJECTED TEAMSacramentoPROSPECT RNK8thPOSITION RNK3rdPPG18.8RPG5.1APG1.63P%40.9%I’m higher on Agbaji than most simply because I don’t understand what’s not to like about a 6-5 athlete who is a plus-defender on the wing and excellent 3-point shooter. Once you get past the top-tier prospects in this draft, the Kansas star makes as much sense as anybody.
   From Los Angeles LakersRound 1 – Pick 8team logo Johnny Davis SFWISCONSIN • SOPH • 6’5″ / 194 LBSPROJECTED TEAMNew OrleansPROSPECT RNK10thPOSITION RNK2ndPPG19.7RPG8.2APG2.13P%30.6%Davis went from a mostly anonymous power-conference player to a candidate for national player of the year in his sophomore season at Wisconsin. An ankle injury limited the 6-5 guard down the stretch, but he showed enough before that to justify his status as a projected lottery pick.
Round 1 – Pick 9team logo Jalen Duren CMEMPHIS • FR • 6’11” / 250 LBSPROJECTED TEAMSan AntonioPROSPECT RNK12thPOSITION RNK2ndPPG12RPG8.1APG1.3FG59.8%BPG2.1Duren isn’t really the type of floor-spacing big franchises prefer these days, but he’s such a physical specimen and great athlete that there’s probably a place for him in the top 10 of this draft. At worst, he should be a terrific rim-running and rim-protecting center who alters shots and dunks everything.
Round 1 – Pick 10team logo Bennedict Mathurin SGARIZONA • SOPH • 6’6″ / 210 LBSPROJECTED TEAMWashingtonPROSPECT RNK11thPOSITION RNK4thPPG17.7RPG5.6APG2.53P%36.9%Mathurin was the star of Arizona’s team that won the Pac-12 and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The 6-6 wing is an impressive athlete and above-average shooter who could lighten the scoring load on Bradley Beal in Washington.
Round 1 – Pick 11team logo AJ Griffin SFDUKE • FR • 6’6″ / 222 LBSPROJECTED TEAMNew YorkPROSPECT RNK7thPOSITION RNK1stPPG10.4RPG3.9APG13P%44.7%It took Griffin a little while to get comfortable at Duke because of a preseason knee injury that seemed to affect his ability to show his athleticism. But the wing eventually showed glimpses of why he’s a lottery talent, mostly by proving to be a fantastic 3-point shooter who made 44.7% of his 4.1 attempts from beyond the arc per game.
   From Los Angeles ClippersRound 1 – Pick 12team logo Jeremy Sochan PFBAYLOR • FR • 6’9″ / 230 LBSPROJECTED TEAMOklahoma CityPROSPECT RNK13thPOSITION RNK4thPPG9.2RPG6.4APG1.83P%29.6%Sochan is the rare sub-100 high school recruit who could be a one-and-done lottery pick. His ability to guard multiple positions in multiple ways is among the reasons he’s a tantalizing prospect who is one of the most versatile players available in this draft.
Round 1 – Pick 13team logo Mark Williams CDUKE • SOPH • 7’0″ / 242 LBSPROJECTED TEAMCharlottePROSPECT RNK14thPOSITION RNK3rdPPG11.2RPG7.4APG0.9FG%72.1%BPG2.8Williams, like fellow projected lottery pick Duren, is more of a traditional big than a modern big. But any franchise in need of a rim-protector and lob-catcher — like Charlotte — would have to consider him at this point in the draft.
Round 1 – Pick 14team logo Malaki Branham SFOHIO STATE • FR • 6’5″ / 180 LBSPROJECTED TEAMClevelandPROSPECT RNK19thPOSITION RNK4thPPG13.7RPG3.6APG23P%41.6%Branham is a shooting guard with good size and great length who really flourished in the second half of the season. While shooting 41.6% from the 3-point line, the one-and-done standout became the Big Ten’s Freshman of the Year and a legitimate lottery option for his home-state franchise.
   From New Orleans PelicansRound 1 – Pick 15team logo Tari Eason PFLSU • SOPH • 6’8″ / 216 LBSPROJECTED TEAMCharlottePROSPECT RNK15thPOSITION RNK5thPPG16.9RPG6.6APG13P%35.9%Eason was a breakout star at LSU after transferring following a so-so first season at Cincinnati. He’s a versatile frontcourt option — i.e., somebody very different than the player I have projected to Charlotte with the 13th pick — who can guard multiple positions and punish defenses in transition opportunities.
Round 1 – Pick 16team logo headshot-imageOusmane Dieng SFFRANCE • 6’9″ / 185 LBSPROJECTED TEAMAtlantaPROSPECT RNK35thPOSITION RNK10thDieng is a long and skilled prospect who still needs to develop but is worth a serious look anywhere outside of the lottery. He might not contribute immediately but definitely projects as an interesting long-term investment with undeniable potential.
   From Brooklyn NetsRound 1 – Pick 17team logo headshot-imageDyson Daniels SGG LEAGUE IGNITE • 6’6″ / 175 LBSPROJECTED TEAMHoustonPROSPECT RNK16thPOSITION RNK5thPPG11.3RPG5.9APG4.43P%25.5%Daniels isn’t quite the prospect previous Ignite stars have been but is still a fascinating guard with size who can play with or without the ball. His jumper, at this point, is the biggest area of concern.
Round 1 – Pick 18team logo Walker Kessler CAUBURN • SOPH • 7’1″ / 245 LBSPROJECTED TEAMChicagoPROSPECT RNK26thPOSITION RNK4thPPG11.4RPG8.1APG0.93P%20%Kessler was arguably the best defensive player in college basketball this season while averaging 4.6 blocks per game. He’s an incredible rim-protector with the potential to develop into a comfortable perimeter shooter.
Round 1 – Pick 19team logo TyTy Washington Jr. PGKENTUCKY • FR • 6’3″ / 197 LBSPROJECTED TEAMMinnesotaPROSPECT RNK6thPOSITION RNK1stPPG12.5RPG3.5APG3.93P%35%Washington mostly played off the ball in his one season at Kentucky but projects as a lead guard in the NBA. Ankle injuries limited him in the second half of the season but the one-and-done Wildcat showed enough before he was hampered to solidify his status as a top-20 pick.
   From Toronto RaptorsRound 1 – Pick 20team logo headshot-imageJaden Hardy SGG LEAGUE IGNITE • 6’4″ / 185 LBSPROJECTED TEAMSan AntonioPROSPECT RNK18thPOSITION RNK6thPPG17.7RPG4.6APG3.23P%26.9%Hardy didn’t do much over the past year to help his draft stock — but he’s still an obvious first-round talent capable of developing into a special player. Being drafted by a franchise like San Antonio would probably be the best thing for the trajectory of his career.
Round 1 – Pick 21team logo Kendall Brown SFBAYLOR • FR • 6’8″ / 205 LBSPROJECTED TEAMDenverPROSPECT RNK17thPOSITION RNK3rdPPG9.7RPG4.9APG1.93P%34.1%Brown never really became more than a role player in his one season at Baylor, which is notable and somewhat concerning. But the 6-8 wing still has the physical tools to make him worthy of a first-round pick from a Denver franchise desperate to put more talent around Nikola Jokic.
   From Utah JazzRound 1 – Pick 22team logo Kennedy Chandler PGTENNESSEE • FR • 6’0″ / 171 LBSPROJECTED TEAMMemphisPROSPECT RNK32ndPOSITION RNK3rdPPG13.9RPG3.2APG4.73P%38.3%The possibility of Tyus Jones leaving via free agency might have Memphis in the market for a point guard. At this point in the draft, the best option would be Chandler — the Memphis-raised product who has won at every level and already has a close relationship with Grizzlies’ star Ja Morant.
   From Philadelphia 76ersRound 1 – Pick 23team logo E.J. Liddell PFOHIO STATE • JR • 6’7″ / 240 LBSPPG19.4RPG7.9APG2.53P%37.4%Liddell is the type of player who could help Brooklyn’s core of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons theoretically compete for a title next season. He’s undersized but undeniably effective.
Round 1 – Pick 24team logo Wendell Moore Jr. SFDUKE • JR • 6’5″ / 213 LBSPROJECTED TEAMMilwaukeePROSPECT RNK28thPOSITION RNK7thPPG13.4RPG5.3APG4.43P%41.3%Moore shot above 40% from 3-point range in his final season at Duke. The bet here is that his jumper is a translatable skill, which would be valuable in a place like Milwaukee, where chasing championships is the goal for the foreseeable future.
   From Boston CelticsRound 1 – Pick 25team logo Christian Braun SGKANSAS • JR • 6’6″ / 218 LBSPROJECTED TEAMSan AntonioPROSPECT RNK42ndPOSITION RNK12thPPG14.1RPG6.5APG2.83P%38.6%Braun is a wing with size who can guard his position, reliably make jumpers and finish in transition. He’s the type of prospect who could flourish in the culture San Antonio has established.
Round 1 – Pick 26team logo JD Davison PGALABAMA • FR • 6’3″ / 195 LBSPROJECTED TEAMDallasPROSPECT RNK30thPOSITION RNK2ndPPG8.5RPG4.8APG4.33P%30.1%Jalen Brunson’s pending free agency could lead to a departure from Dallas, which might have the Mavericks targeting a point guard with this pick. If so, Davison, a big-dunking one-and-done athlete, would be a reasonable option.
Round 1 – Pick 27team logo Blake Wesley SGNOTRE DAME • FR • 6’5″ / 181 LBSPROJECTED TEAMMiamiPROSPECT RNK21stPOSITION RNK8thPPG14.4RPG3.7APG2.43P%30.3%Adding a young athlete to the backcourt wouldn’t be the worst idea for a Miami franchise that just recorded the best record in the Eastern Conference. Wesley is exactly that and would be a steal at the bottom of the first round if his jumper becomes more consistent.
Round 1 – Pick 28team logo Christian Koloko CARIZONA • JR • 7’1″ / 230 LBSPROJECTED TEAMGolden St.PROSPECT RNK40thPOSITION RNK5thPPG12.6RPG7.3APG1.4FG%63.5%BPG2.9With James Wiseman’s potential unclear, the Warriors could target a center with their lone first-round pick. Koloko is the reigning Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year with better mobility than most bigs his size.
Round 1 – Pick 29team logo Patrick Baldwin Jr. PFMILWAUKEE • FR • 6’9″ / 220 LBSPROJECTED TEAMMemphisPROSPECT RNK34thPOSITION RNK8thPPG12.1RPG5.8APG1.53P%26.6%Baldwin was a projected top-10 pick before he more or less disappeared for a year after choosing to play for his father at Milwaukee. The Grizzlies could afford to take a big swing here and see if they hit on another pick late in the first round.
   From Phoenix SunsRound 1 – Pick 30team logo headshot-imageNikola Jovic SFSERBIA • 6’10” / 210 LBSPROJECTED TEAMOklahoma CityPROSPECT RNK25thPOSITION RNK5thOklahoma City remains very much in rebuild mode with a young core of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort and Josh Giddey. Adding an 18-year-old international prospect like Jovic to the franchise could be a nice long-term move.

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