With the 2022 NBA Draft around the corner, the Daily Wildcat's sports editor Ryan Wohl and sports reporter Ari Koslow made predictions for each team's first round picks. See their analysis below, including where they believe three Arizona Wildcats–Bennedict Mathurin, Dalen Terry and Christian Koloko–are projected to go.
All odd numbered picks were predicted by Koslow, while Wohl made predictions for the even picks. Selections are formatted in the following order:
Pick number, NBA team: Player name, height, position, year out of college (if applicable), university or league
1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, 6'10", F, Fr., Auburn
It sounds like the Orlando Magic is between Smith and Chet Holmgren here with the No. 1 overall pick. I personally believe Paolo Banchero is the safest player in this class, but it sounds like Smith is the favorite as of now to go No. 1 overall.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, 7'0", F-C, Fr., Gonzaga
Securing Holmgren at the second pick would be a perfect scenario for the Oklahoma City Thunder. He is the best fit next to young star guards Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, possessing elite shot-blocking ability along with an above-average jump shot.
Holmgren was a five-star recruit when he went to Gonzaga University and had to play a smaller role than Smith and Banchero, but his 40-minute stats tell a different story. He averaged 21 points, 14.7 rebounds, 5.4 blocks and 2.8 assists per 40 minutes on 60% shooting from the field and 39% from deep.
3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, 6'10", F, Fr., Duke
As my No. 1 player in this class, Banchero should fit in nicely with the Houston Rockets core of Kevin Porter Jr., Jalen Green and Christian Wood. As a solid scorer in the post, defender, capable playmaker and passer, I like this landing spot for Banchero.
4. Sacramento Kings: Keegan Murrary, 6'8", F, Fr., University of Iowa
I know most mock drafts that you see have Jaden Ivey projected to go here, but I am not very confident that the fit alongside De'Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell will work. Murray would be an excellent fit next to Fox, Mitchell and Domantas Sabonis as he provides a versatile scoring threat from all three levels while being able to guard multiple positions on defense.
5. Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey, 6'4", G, Soph., Purdue
I can see Ivey going anywhere from No. 4-7 overall in this draft. Here, I have him joining Cade Cunningham in the Detroit Pistons backcourt. As an extremely explosive playmaker, Ivey holds huge upside at the NBA level, but there is also some downside.
Ivey's shooting ability remains the biggest concern for many. He shot 35.8% from deep this past season, which was a pretty big step up from shooting 25.8% his freshman year; however, he can still see improvement as a shooter.
6. Indiana Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin, 6'6", G, Soph., University of Arizona
After an incredible season at Arizona where Mathurin won Pac-12 Player of the Year, his stock has continued to rise. The Indiana Pacers' future core is unknown right now, but if they decide to keep Malcolm Brogdon alongside Tyrese Haliburton, Mathurin looks to be a good fit next to them on the wing. From his first season at Arizona to his sophomore year, he has continued to improve on both sides of the floor while being an all-around consistent player with 17.7 points, 5.6 rebounds, 2.5 assists per game and hitting 36.9% of shots from the 3-point line.
7. Portland Trail Blazers: Dyson Daniels, 6'6", G, NBA G League Ignite
With Anfernee Simons being a restricted free agent this offseason, I have the Portland Trail Blazers hedging a little here in case they lose him to another team. Coming from the G League Ignite, Daniels is an intriguing guard in this class.
Daniels is a fantastic playmaker who possesses great court vision as a passer. His upside in the pick and roll game is also what can lead to his play style translating well at the NBA level.
8. New Orleans Pelicans: A.J. Griffin, 6’6”, F, Fr., Duke
It is currently unknown if the Trail Blazers will trade this pick for a more developed player to pair with Damian Lillard or keep the pick. If they keep the pick, going with Griffin is a great choice because he has the most upside at this spot in the draft. He was a five-star prospect before going to Duke this past season but became the third to fourth option on a loaded Blue Devil offense.
9. San Antonio Spurs: Jalen Duren, 6'11", C, Fr., University of Memphis
The San Antonio Spurs have a plethora of guards, but they don't seem totally set on Jakob Poeltl at the center position. I have them taking Duren here, a high upside big man out of Memphis who can bring a lot more to the table for San Antonio.
10. Washington Wizards: Shaedon Sharpe, 6'6", G, Fr., University of Kentucky
Sharpe is the biggest mystery of the draft because he is the only player that didn’t play competitive basketball last season. He was ranked as the 3rd best player in this recruiting class a year ago but didn’t step on the court as a Wildcat. On top of that, the Washington Wizards are an unpredictable team because of rumors that Bradley Beal might get traded.
If the Wizards do make this selection, Sharpe is an excellent choice because he has a top-5 upside. He is a 6-foot-6 player who can play 1-3 on the offensive end while being able to score the ball at all three levels. This would be a steal for the Wizards as I have him in my top five prospects.
11. New York Knicks: Mark Williams, 7'0", C, Fr., Duke
It sounds like Mitchell Robinson is heading elsewhere this offseason in free agency, so I have the New York Knicks snagging his replacement in Williams, who showed the promise of a high ceiling at Duke last season.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ousmane Dieng, 6'10", F, NBL
For a team like OKC who is trying to get the most upside players for the future of their team, Dieng makes a ton of sense. He has the potential to be a high-level playmaker and scorer if he can develop his jump shot.
13. Charlotte Hornets: Jeremy Sochan, 6'9", F, Fr., Baylor
I believe the play style of Sochan fits the current NBA very well as a super versatile player who has size and can guard almost any position. He is a solid shooter as well and could make for an interesting pairing alongside Miles Bridges.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Malaki Branham, 6'5", G, Fr., Ohio State
Branham shot the ball over 41% from the field as a freshman at Ohio State University and would fit in perfectly next to all-star Darius Garland in Cleveland's backcourt. At 19 years old, he could prove to be a smart short and long-term investment, impacting the game right away off the bench and also growing into a high-level player in the years to come.
15. Charlotte Hornets: Ochai Agbaji, 6'5", G, Sr., University of Kansas
Making their second selection in three picks, I have the Hornets grabbing another scorer here in Agbaji to go along with the defensive ability of Sochan. He adds depth to a Charlotte front court that can use the help given the injury concerns and inconsistency of Gordon Hayward and Kelly Oubre.
16. Atlanta Hawks: Johnny Davis, 6'5", G, Soph., University of Wisconsin - Madison
There are a ton of rumors of the Atlanta Hawks trading this pick away, but if they decide to hold on to this selection, Davis would be a great fit next to Trae Young. Davis averaged 19 points a game this past season at Wisconsin and could give the Hawks a needed scoring boost immediately off the bench.
17. Houston Rockets: TyTy Washington Jr., 6'3", G, Fr., Kentucky
This is somewhat of an intriguing fit that would likely move Porter Jr. and Green to shooting guard and small forward for the Rockets. As a former five-star prospect out of high school, Washington holds a huge ceiling as a guard at the NBA level, but there are also concerns after an inconsistent freshman season at Kentucky. I like his playmaking ability at this spot for Houston.
18. Chicago Bulls: E.J. Liddell, 6'7", F, Jr., Ohio State
Liddell had a very impressive junior season for the Buckeyes scoring 19.4 points a game to go along with 7.9 rebounds, 2.6 blocks and 37% shooting from deep. I believe he will be in the league for a long time because he can impact the game in so many different ways with his incredible defensive ability.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves: Nikola Jovic, 6'9.5", F, Mega Basket
We saw Tim Connelly draft Nikola Jokic in Denver. He is now the president of basketball operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves where they’ll draft another Nikola, a Serbian professional basketball player. He is a super solid shooter, and though he is a little raw, he is joining a solid backcourt to where he’ll have time to find his groove.
20. San Antonio Spurs: Dalen Terry, 6'7", G, Soph., Arizona
This would be a great situation for Dalen Terry to grow and develop over the next few years. It is unknown how much longer head coach Gregg Popovich will continue in his role, but any time together will benefit Terry as Popovich has continued to develop under-the-radar prospects in the past. Terry was a key piece in Arizona’s Sweet 16 run this past season while showing his ability to affect the game with his playmaking, defense and improved shooting effort.
21. Denver Nuggets: Jalen Williams, 6'6", G, Jr., Santa Clara University
After averaging 18 points per game at Santa Clara, I like this fit for Williams joining a Nuggets backcourt that can use the depth, especially with Jamal Murray working his way back from an injury. Williams is a solid scorer who can create his own shot and become an immediate producer for a playoff team in Denver.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Jaden Hardy, 6'4", G, G League Ignite
Hardy is one of the most interesting prospects in this year's draft because he was a top-five prospect before this basketball season but decided to play on the NBA G League Ignite team. He showed flashes of his elite athleticism and scoring ability but shot a poor 27% from deep during 12 contests. He might take a few years to develop, but when ready, he could be a great fit next to Ja Morant for years to come.
23. Philadelphia 76ers: MarJon Beauchamp, 6'5.25", G-F, G League Ignite
Coming from the G League, Beauchamp is a bit of a project so I could see the 76ers wanting to draft a bit of a safer player here. I do like this fit though, as Beauchamp is a solid defender and scorer that would join a 76ers front court that just lost Danny Green to a torn ACL late in the playoffs.
24. Milwaukee Bucks: Christian Koloko, 7'1", C, Jr., Arizona
Milwaukee's starting center Brook Lopez is getting older (currently 34 years old) and is a free agent on June 30, leaving a big gap on the Bucks' roster. The Milwaukee Bucks played Giannis Antetokounmpo at the center position during their last playoff run but will need a true center that can handle some of those minutes.
Adding Koloko to the mix of a championship group will be a huge boost because of his elite shot-blocking ability and capacity to guard all positions on defense. Not only did he improve his offensive game at Arizona this season, but he also had a very impressive workout at his agency pro day a few weeks ago where his improved jump shot was on display.
25. San Antonio Spurs: Blake Wesley, 6'5", G, Fr., Notre Dame
After addressing the center position earlier in the round, I have the San Antonio Spurs taking Wesley here as a solid scorer who can create his own shot alongside Dejounte Murray. He is a little raw, but the upside is solid.
26. Dallas Mavericks: Christian Braun, 6'6", G, Jr., Kansas
Dallas is in desperate need of players that can complement their star Luka Dončić, and Braun has a ton of qualities that would benefit this Mavs group. He is a proven winner, a high-level shooter and a very aggressive defender standing at 6-foot-6.
27. Miami Heat: Kennedy Chandler, 6'0", G, Fr., University of Tennessee - Knoxville
I don't see any glaring holes or weaknesses on the Miami Heat's roster, but they could use some insurance for an aging Kyle Lowry in the backcourt. That is what I have them addressing here, taking Chandler as a solid playmaker to add depth to the point guard position.
28. Golden State Warriors: Trevor Keels, 6'4", G, Fr., Duke
There have been rumors that the Golden State Warriors may try to trade this pick because they already have a very good young core group of players, among which include Jonathan Kuminga, Jordan Poole, James Wiseman and Moses Moody.
If the team does decide to retain this selection, Keels would be a good choice. He could provide a tough, physical presence on the defensive side of the floor while being their floor general and getting their other scorers involved.
29. Memphis Grizzlies: Tari Eason, 6'8", F, Soph., Louisiana State University
Eason is a player who is going much earlier in most mock drafts, oftentimes inside the lottery. With that being said, it seems like every year there are one or two players who fall much later than expected in round one, so we have Eason being that player here. He joins a Memphis Grizzlies roster looking to make another deep run in the playoffs.
30. Denver Nuggets: Patrick Baldwin Jr., 6'9", F, Fr., University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
The Denver Nuggets recently acquired this pick from the Thunder and are looking to add high upside players to their already solid core. Baldwin had offers from many elite college programs but decided to go play for his father at the Milwaukee Panthers after being the No. 8 best prospect in the 2021 class.
Baldwin shot a poor 26% from 3-point range in only 11 games after battling injuries but showed a ton of potential at his workout in front of NBA teams at the combine.
The NBA Draft will take place in Brooklyn, New York on June 23. The first round will be televised live on ABC and ESPN.