2022 NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Jabari Smith making the case for No. 1

·12-min read

We're still six months away from the 2022 NBA draft, but a new player has entered the conversation for the No. 1 overall pick. 

Auburn's Jabari Smith has been phenomenal early in the season and is a serious contender for the top spot. Duke's Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren continue to impress NBA scouts in the first two months of the season.

Other players — like Iowa's Keegan Murray and Wisconsin's Johnny Davis — have started to fly up NBA draft boards with their versatile scoring ability and consistency. 

Here's Yahoo Sports' latest look at the first round of the 2022 NBA draft.

(Draft order is from Tankathon as of Dec. 19.)

Duke forward Paolo Banchero guards Gonzaga forward Chet Holmgren.
Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga forward Chet Holmgren are among the top prospects for the 2022 NBA draft. (Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

1. Detroit Pistons: F Paolo Banchero

Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 250 pounds

Class: Freshman

Duke: 16.5 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 2.1 apg

In the head-to-head matchup in November between Banchero and Chet Holmgren, Banchero was the better prospect on the court. He was hitting 3-pointers in transition with confidence and finding ways to score at the rim around 7-foot Holmgren. The 6-foot-10 forward has a grab-and-go style off a missed shot and is a lot more versatile on defense, sitting down and guarding the pick-and-roll very well.

Banchero ranks above the 76th percentile in every offensive category, according to Synergy Sports, and his most impressive stat comes as a spot-up shooter where he’s rated “excellent” and averages 1.2 points per possession.

Yes, there were concerning reports early in the season about consistent cramping during games and losing seven pounds of fluid per game, but the training and medical staff has since helped him get his excessive cramping under control and there will be little concerns from NBA teams come draft evaluation time.

Auburn guard Wendell Green Jr. and forward Jabari Smith celebrate a win.
Auburn forward Jabari Smith has shot up draft boards. (Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports)

2. Orlando Magic: F Jabari Smith

Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 220 pounds

Class: Freshman

Auburn: 16.5 ppg, 6.9 rpg, 2.3 apg

In terms of who could make the most impact as an NBA player, Smith has the potential to be the best long-term prospect. He has great length and size and has excellent footwork in the post and off the dribble. Smith is one of the most productive bigs in college basketball and has shown NBA scouts early he can score at every level. Smith is averaging 44% from 3-point range on at least five attempts per game and is shooting confidently in the pick-and-pop. Smith has much more confidence getting to the rim and isn't afraid to bang down low, averaging 1.1 points per possession in post-up situations.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder: C Chet Holmgren

Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 196 pounds

Class: Freshman

Gonzaga: 12.7 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 3.6 bpg

Holmgren is a unique prospect in the draft and could easily go No. 1 overall. He’s one of the best rim protectors in the country, recording 41 blocks so far this season.

"Chet's a game-changer on defense, and there were a couple of layups that I would usually make with no problem, but with him at the rim, that wasn't happening tonight," Banchero said after matching up against Holmgren last month.

Holmgren needs to show a little more consistency against tougher opponents to prove to scouts that he’s the No. 1 pick. He had an underwhelming two points early in the season against No. 17 Texas and only five points on seven attempts against Texas Tech on Saturday. If he drops to No. 3, Holmgren and Aleksej Pokusevski are a dream frontcourt duo as the Thunder rebuild.

4. New Orleans Pelicans: G Jaden Ivey

Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 195 pounds

Class: Sophomore

Purdue: 16.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.3 apg

Ivey is an excellent 3-point shooter and went 6-for-6 from deep in a win over Butler on Saturday. He cuts well off the ball, and his first step on the wing is extremely quick. Ivey has great length on defense, keeps his man in front consistently and contests at the rim. The Indiana native is a prime example of what can happen when players return for their sophomore season and go from a possible second-round pick to a potential top-five pick.

The Pelicans might have missed the mark when they drafted Zion Williamson instead of Ja Morant, and they could make up some ground by drafting Ivey. Morant and Ivey have worked out together and there are glimpses of Morant’s game in Ivey.

5. Houston Rockets: G Jaden Hardy

Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 198 pounds

G League Ignite: 18 ppg, 3.1 apg

The Rockets are in rebuild mode and will most likely take the best available prospect if they end up with a top-five pick. Hardy was the best scorer in the country as a high school senior and is one of the best at creating separation off the dribble to create a shot. His shot selection needs to improve; that’s the one area that could cause him to fall a few draft spots. He’s very physical on defense and is more than holding his own in the G League while playing against professionals.

Memphis center Jalen Duren blocks a shot attempt by Western Kentucky's Jairus Hamilton.
Memphis center Jalen Duren blocks a shot attempt by Western Kentucky's Jairus Hamilton during a game in November. (Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

6. San Antonio Spurs: C Jalen Duren

Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 250 pounds

Class: Freshman

Memphis: 10.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 3.1 bpg

Duren is one of the most physically ready players in this draft class and is settling in nicely to the pace of the college game after a slow start. Duren reclassified and should technically be a high school senior. He was the No. 1-ranked player coming out of high school. He’s made great reads off the ball as a passer and has improved on his pick-and-roll defense. Duren has attempted only one 3-pointer this season, but is shooting an impressive 67% from the field. The Spurs do a phenomenal job at developing young talent and Duren would be a nice addition to Josh Primo as the future duo of the franchise.

7. Sacramento Kings: F Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 220 pounds

Class: Freshman

Milwaukee: 15 ppg, 7 rpg

The Kings have selected guards in the lottery the past two drafts and need some help in the frontcourt. Baldwin Jr. is an athletic forward who would run the court well alongside De’Aaron Fox. He has the ability to step out and knock down the 3-point shot and has a high basketball IQ. Baldwin Jr. has been a little inconsistent early, and Milwaukee is struggling to win games. NBA scouts need to see Baldwin Jr. take over games if he expects to remain a potential top-10 pick.

8. Portland Trail Blazers: G Bennedict Mathurin

Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 210 pounds

Class: Sophomore

Arizona: 17.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg

Mathurin is one of the best defenders in this draft class and rebounds the ball extremely well as a guard. Offensively, he’s second in the Pac-12 in points per game and is ranked in the 100th percentile (meaning no other player ranks above him) in offensive rebounds for putbacks, according to Synergy Sports.

He’s originally from Montreal, Canada, and became the first Canadian-born student-athlete to join the NBA Academy Latin America team in high school. Mathurin tested the NBA waters last season, but elected to come back for his sophomore season.

Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis is guarded by Ohio State guard Malaki Branham.
Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis has improved his draft stock more than any other player in this class. (Joseph Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports)

9. Indiana Pacers: G Johnny Davis

Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 194 pounds

Class: Sophomore

Wisconsin: 20.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg

No other player has improved his draft stock more than Davis. He was incredible during the Maui Invitational where he finished with 30 points, four rebounds and four steals in a win over No. 12 Houston. Davis is a high-level scorer who can knock down 3-pointers with a defender in his face and has great body control at the rim when getting in the lane. The guard matchup of the season will take place Jan. 3 when Wisconsin plays Purdue. NBA scouts will be in West Lafayette to see Davis go head-to-head with Ivey.

10. New York Knicks: G Kendall Brown

Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 205 pounds

Class: Freshman

Baylor: 12.8 ppg, 3.5 rpg

Brown led No. 1 Baylor in a close win over Oregon on Saturday night. He finished with 17 points in 18 minutes and did a little bit of everything from catching alley-oop dunks to finishing and-one plays at the rim. He has great size at 6-foot-8 and is one of the most exciting players to watch in the open court. Baylor fans better enjoy watching Brown play now with his draft stock rising in each game this season.

11. Toronto Raptors: G TyTy Washington

Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 197 pounds

Class: Freshman

Kentucky: 13.3 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 3.4 apg

Washington is mostly playing off the ball at Kentucky, which could help him at the next level. He’s had a meteoric rise as a prospect from being an under-the-radar player in high school to a five-star his senior season. He was originally committed to Creighton before decommitting and heading to Kentucky. Washington looks very comfortable on the court playing against older, bigger guards and is tough to guard due to his consistent 3-point jumper and quick first step if he gets a defender in the air.

12. Boston Celtics: G Jean Montero

Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 172 pounds

Overtime Elite: 18.9 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 7.3 apg

Montero is the best player on the inaugural Overtime Elite team. He’s an offensive threat with his shooting versatility and playmaking ability, averaging better than seven assists per game. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Montero’s game translates to the NBA in the way he turns defense to offense and the ease he has creating for others.

13. Atlanta Hawks: G/F Keegan Murray

Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 215 pounds

Class: Sophomore

Iowa: 23.5 ppg, 7.8 rpg, 2.1 bpg

Murray is leading the country in scoring and flying up draft boards. He’s not as explosive as other players in this draft class, but he’s been one of the most productive players in college basketball and his game translates well to the next level. Murray cuts very well off the ball, averaging 1.5 points per possession and is showing more versatility in his shot selection in the last few games.

Alabama guard JD Davison dribbles the ball during a game against Gonzaga.
Alabama guard JD Davison dribbles the ball during a game against Gonzaga. (Jacob Snow/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

14. Minnesota Timberwolves: G JD Davison

Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 195 pounds

Class: Freshman

Alabama: 9.1 ppg, 5 apg

Davison is coming off the bench and playing behind a veteran backcourt but continues to find ways to impact the game. His first double-double of the season came in a win over Miami (13 points and 10 assists). He’s a solid playmaker with speed and shiftiness in the lane and loves to finish above the rim, despite his 6-foot-3 size.

Post Lottery

15. Dallas Mavericks: G Kennedy Chandler

Ht./Wt.: 6-0, 171 pounds | Class: Freshman | Tennessee: 14.6 ppg, 5.4 apg

16. Denver Nuggets: G Wendell Moore

Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 213 pounds | Class: Junior | Duke: 16.9 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 5.1 apg

17. Washington Wizards: G Ochai Agbaji

Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 215 pounds | Class: Senior | Kansas: 22 ppg, 4.2 rpg

18. Philadelphia 76ers: G Dyson Daniels

Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 200 pounds | Australia | G League Ignite: 11 ppg, 4.4 apg

Mark Williams reacts after being called for a foul.
Duke's Mark Williams during a game in November. (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

19. New York Knicks: C Mark Williams

Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 242 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Duke: 9.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3 bpg

20. Oklahoma City Thunder: G/F Caleb Houstan

Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 205 pounds | Class: Freshman | Michigan: 10.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg

21. Memphis Grizzlies: G Trevor Keels

Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 221 pounds | Class: Freshman | Duke: 12.6 ppg, 3.2 apg

22. Houston Rockets: F Nikola Jovic

Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 205 pounds | Serbia | Mega Basket: 10.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg

23. Cleveland Cavaliers: G Bryce McGowens

Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 179 pounds | Class: Freshman | Nebraska: 15.8 ppg, 6 rpg

24. Memphis Grizzlies: F E.J. Liddell

Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 240 pounds | Class: Junior | Ohio State: 20.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg

25. Chicago Bulls: F Jabari Walker

Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 200 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Colorado: 13.3 ppg, 8.1 rpg

26. Milwaukee Bucks: G/F Harrison Ingram

Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 230 pounds | Class: Freshman | Stanford: 12.8 ppg, 6.9 rpg

Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley reacts after a 3-pointer.
Notre Dame guard Blake Wesley reacts after a 3-pointer against Kentucky. (Matt Cashore/USA TODAY Sports)

27. Miami Heat: G Blake Wesley

Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 185 pounds | Class: Freshman | Notre Dame: 13.1 ppg, 2.7 rpg

28. Memphis Grizzlies: G/F MarJon Beauchamp

Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 175 pounds | G League Ignite: 14.6 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.3 apg

29. Oklahoma City Thunder: G Max Christie

Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 190 pounds | Class: Freshman | Michigan State: 8.7 ppg, 3.2 rpg

30. Golden State Warriors: G Terrence Shannon Jr.

Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 210 pounds | Class: Junior | Texas Tech: 14.3 ppg, 2.2 apg

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