With the NBA Lottery behind us, the league saw the Orlando Magic receive the first overall selection for the fourth time in franchise history. It was also the first time the Magic received the first overall pick since 2004; a year in which they selected Dwight Howard. Other notable headlines included the New Orleans Pelicans receiving the rights to the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round selection, which resulted in the eighth pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder will make two selections within the first 12 picks of the first round.
The NBA Draft, scheduled for June 23rd, will introduce a new class of prospects hoping to make an immediate impact on the league. Here, we discuss the projected outcome of the NBA Lottery teams.
1. Orlando Magic: C Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
The Orlando Magic should target the best player available, which happens to be a 7’0″ freshman from Gonzaga in this case. Alongside Paolo Banchero and Jabari Smith Jr, Chet Holmgren is considered one of the few early first-round talents with massive upside.
Last season with Gonzaga, Holmgren averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game across 32 contests. Despite his lengthy frame, Holmgren shot 39% from beyond the arc and hit multiple shots from deep on 14 occasions. On the defensive end, he finished with 3.7 blocks per game and was named as a finalist for the Naismith Defensive Player of the Year. His 117 blocked shots tied a program record. Holmgren has the tools to be successful at the next level, as this should be a straightforward selection by Orlando.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder: F Jabari Smith Jr, Auburn
The Oklahoma City Thunder have never selected from the No. 2 position before and will surely use the first of their three first-round selections on Jabari Smith Jr. The All-American averaged 16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds, and two assists per game last season with Auburn. Last season, Smith set a program record in points (576) and three-pointers made (79).
Oklahoma City is already sporting two young talents in Josh Giddey (19-years old) and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (23). With Smith in the fold, the the Thunder will also have cap space flexibility to move closer to being considered competitive in the Western Conference.
3. Houston Rockets: F Paolo Banchero, Duke
Paolo Banchero has quickly risen to the top of draft boards among NBA front offices, which isn’t a surprise. Last season with Duke, Banchero averaged 17.2 points and 7.8 rebounds per game across 39 contests. With the need to improve defensively and his lack of success from three-point range during his freshman season, Banchero should fall behind both Holmgren and Smith.
The Houston Rockets have a variety of players that will require ball usage such as Jalen Green, but Banchero has remained efficient from both the post and the perimeter. At the age of 19, Banchero becomes a prospect that is just too promising for Houston to pass up on.
4. Sacramento Kings: G Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky
The Sacramento Kings have shifted into win-now mode since acquiring Domantas Sabonis last February in a trade with the Indiana Pacers. After being projected at the No. 7 pick in the 2022 Draft, the Kings became winners by moving up to the No. 4 position. Sharpe was a five-star prospect that ultimately left Kentucky to prepare for the NBA Draft.
Sacramento already used a top-10 selection in the 2021 Draft on Davion Mitchell, while De’Aaron Fox averaged 28.9 points per game following the Sabonis trade. While a prospect such as Purdue’s Jaden Ivey is the better available player, Sharpe molds into more of a compliment for the Kings’ current roster.
5. Detroit Pistons: G Jaden Ivey, Purdue
Pairing Jaden Ivey with the likes of Cade Cunningham will pay dividends for the Detroit Pistons over the next few years. Alongside Paolo Banchero, Ivey was one of two players in the nation to record 600 points, 175 rebounds, 100 assists, 30 steals, and 20 blocks. As a two-way prospect, Ivey will fit nicely with the defensive-minded system the Pistons have built.
As an All-American talent with Purdue, Ivey averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists per game across 36 contests. The Pistons permitted significant minutes to young players such as Saddiq Bey (23-years old), Cunningham (20), Killian Hayes (20), and Isaiah Stewart (20) last season, leading us to believe whoever they draft from the No. 5 position will also receive an immediate role.
6. Indiana Pacers: F Keegan Murray, Iowa
After leading Iowa to a Big Ten title, Keegan Murray finished the regular season as the nation’s top scorer. Along with 822 total points, however, Murray recorded over 300 rebounds, 60 blocks, and 50 assists. Towards the top of this specific draft class, Murray is one of the safest selections for the Indiana Pacers.
With Tyrese Haliburton solidified as the future of the point guard position for the Pacers moving forward, Murray should be established as a reliable compliment to the roster. With shot creation upside and the ability to defend at an elite level, this will turn into a bargain selection for Indiana.
7. Portland Trail Blazers: G Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona
The reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year lands with the Portland Trail Blazers following a season in which he averaged 17.7 points and 5.6 rebounds per game across 37 contests. Mathurin was efficient from the floor on the offensive end, shooting 45% from the field and 37% from three-point range.
Mathurin, 20, becomes an immediate fit with the Trail Blazers roster. While a prospect such as Jalen Duren is the player with higher upside, Mathurin is more of a compliment as Portland continues to try and build around 31-year old Damian Lillard.
8. New Orleans Pelicans: G/F A.J. Griffin, Duke
There is injury concern surrounding Griffin among NBA front offices, but his jump shot is too promising to pass on. At the age of 18, Griffin is one of the youngest prospects in this respective draft class. During his freshman season at Duke, he shot 44.7% from three-point range. With a 7’2″ wingspan, the build is there for Griffin to find success at the next level.
The New Orleans Pelicans are still a young team, with the average age of 25 on the active roster. Griffin is arguably the best shooter in this draft class, while New Orleans finished among the bottom of the league last season in three-point rate (24th), three-point percentage (27th), and three-point attempts per game (27th).
9. San Antonio Spurs: G Dyson Daniels, G League
As a G League talent, Daniels stuffed the box score with 11.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 1.9 steals per game with the Ignite last season. While there are concerns surrounding his offensive impact, especially from three-point range, Daniels is one of the few elite perimeter defenders in this draft class.
If Head Coach Gregg Popovich remains with the San Antonio Spurs next season, then a prospect such as Daniels becomes an interesting fit. At the age of 19, Daniels is well-rounded and will become a project pick for San Antonio.
10. Washington Wizards: G Johnny Davis, Wisconsin
As the reigning Big 10 Player of the Year, Johnny Davis brings intangibles that will immediately support the Washington Wizards. He finished third in the conference in scoring, despite his biggest weakness being his lack of consistency from the field.
The Wizards offense will continue to surround Bradley Beal, pending his $36.4 million player option for the 2022-23 season. Regardless, the two-way versatility of Davis results in him becoming the best available player on the board for Washington.
11. New York Knicks: C Jalen Duren, Memphis
As the most gifted pure center in the draft class, the New York Knicks find themselves with a bargain selection in Jalen Duren. There are concerns surrounding his consistency on the offensive end, but Duren provides a presence inside the paint on both ends of the floor that the Knicks desperately need moving forward.
This offseason, Mitchell Robinson becomes a free agent for New York, while other big men such as Nerlens Noel and Julius Randle left a lot to be desired last season. Duren, 18, is one of the draft’s youngest prospects and will be worth the investment.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: F Jeremy Sochan, Baylor
Jeremy Sochan is a promising talent in this draft class, and at the age of 19, he becomes a fascinating project selection for the Oklahoma City Thunder. After being named as the Big 12 Sixth Man of the Year, he averaged 9.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game last season across 30 contests.
With this selection, the Thunder become instant winners from the NBA Draft by adding defensive talents in both Holmgren and Sochan. In reality, there are plenty of scenarios in which Sochan is selected within the top 10 of the first round based on his ability to add to any franchise with an upwards trajectory.
13. Charlotte Hornets: C Mark Williams, Duke
Another Duke prospect flies off the board, as Mark Williams addresses the Charlotte Hornets’ immediate need at the center position. Listed at 7’0″, Williams would quickly benefit from pick-and-roll scenarios alongside LaMelo Ball. Williams led the NCAA in dunks last season and also won ACC Defensive Player of the Year.
This is a rich investment for Charlotte, as their current depth chart lists Mason Plumlee as the only other pure center with Montrezl Harrell expected to hit free agency. With a young roster, the addition of Williams puts the Hornets back in contention for a sport in the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers: G Malaki Branham, Ohio State
With Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley established as the future of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ frontcourt, their draft needs shift into adding depth into the backcourt. Branham, an Ohio native, would provide explosiveness off the bench for the Cavaliers in his rookie season after averaging 13.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game last season with the Buckeyes.
The Big Ten Freshman of the Year added roughly 15 pounds since the start of the season and is developing nicely before the NBA Draft. The ability for Branham to score has not gone unnoticed, and if the Cavaliers eventually move on from Collin Sexton, who becomes a restricted free agent in 2023, then Branham could receive a more significant role with this team.