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Draft day is finally here, and the expectation is that things could begin to get wild once the Kings are on the board with the fourth overall pick. But that may be a bit late, as on Wednesday it was reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Pistons and Trail Blazers have agreed to a trade centered around Jerami Grant. In exchange for Grant, the Pistons will receive a 2025 first-round pick (via Milwaukee; top-4 protected) and a 2025 second, with the two teams also exchanging 2022 second-round picks (Detroit’s 36th overall for Portland’s 46th overall). And this isn’t all, either. Denver will receive a 2025 second-round pick from Portland, with Detroit receiving the most favorable 2026 second-round pick between Portland and New Orleans.
The exchange of 2022 second-round picks isn’t a huge deal here. What is? Portland holding onto the 7th overall pick, which could be included in another trade. According to Yahoo’s Chris Haynes, that selection could be used in an attempt to acquire Raptors wing OG Anunoby. With the Trail Blazers rebuilding around Damian Lillard, time is obviously of the essence with regard to building a contender. It’s quite clear that the front office is going all out in its quest to construct a rotation that can be a factor in the West.
With that bit of business cleared up, let’s get into the final pre-draft mock, with the betting lines offering up a major curveball in the early hours of Thursday morning. Paolo Banchero, whose odds of going first overall improved earlier in the week, was being listed on multiple sportsbooks as the favorite to hear his name called first (-200 on PointsBet, with Jabari Smith second at +120). To say that shift is interesting would be a major understatement. Do the sportsbooks know something? Or is Smith still the player most likely to go first overall? Good luck trying to figure this one out.
1. Orlando: PF Jabari Smith (Auburn)
Smith was the betting favorite to be selected first overall, with PointsBet listing his odds at -450 as of Wednesday night. But then the shift mentioned above happened, so what should bettors do? I’m sticking with Smith here. The former Auburn standout’s offensive skill set is enticing, even with the need to continue to improve his scoring in the mid-range, and he’s also a solid defender whose motor cannot be questioned. Depending upon the matchup, Smith can be used at either the four or the five, and in time the three may be included if the young phenom can tighten up his handle. With there still being no concrete timetable for a Jonathan Isaac return to the court, adding Smith to the fold can help in that regard as well.
2. Oklahoma City: C/PF Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)
Many have viewed Holmgren as the most likely alternative to Smith to be the first overall pick, but that may not be the case based on the shift that occurred early Thursday morning. PointsBet has the former Gonzaga center at -130 to be selected second overall, and Oklahoma City would be a very good fit for Holmgren. Being able to have him progress alongside Aleksej Pokuševski would make for a very interesting watch in Oklahoma City, and the Thunder also have young frontcourt players such as Darius Bazley and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl on the roster. Fantasy-wise, the biggest concern would be Oklahoma City not hesitating to shut Holmgren down late in the season, as they did with Josh Giddey.
3. Houston: PF Paolo Banchero (Duke)
As noted above, Banchero’s odds of going first overall experienced a boost earlier in the week, and there has now been another shift in his favor. Banchero was the betting favorite to go first overall as of early Thursday morning, but Wojnarowski reported that the top three picks were “increasingly firm”: Smith, Holmgren, and Banchero. The former Duke standout heading to Houston would make him an incredibly valuable fantasy rookie due to his playmaking ability, and the fact that the Rockets have been operating without a “traditional” point guard, with Kevin Porter Jr. filling that role last season.
4. Sacramento: PF Keegan Murray (Iowa)
This is where things could get fun. It’s been reported that the Kings could be interested in moving this pick if the price is right, with Jaden Ivey (-171 to go 4th overall on PointsBet) being targeted by multiple teams. If not, who will be the best available player on Sacramento’s board? A case can certainly be made for Ivey, but there are questions regarding the fit due to the presence of De’Aaron UKTN and Davion Mitchell. Another option would be Murray, a versatile forward who was one of college basketball’s most improved players this past season. Murray’s listed at +150 go be selected here by PointsBet.
5. Detroit: PG/SG Jaden Ivey (Purdue)
As noted in the introduction the Pistons have already been active, making the deal that will send Grant to Portland. Ivey would be an interesting fit here with the Pistons having selected Cade Cunningham last season. The partnership of Cunningham and Killian Hayes did not work, with both playing their best basketball down the stretch, as Dwane Casey did more to stagger their minutes. Ivey would be a better fit alongside Cunningham due to the combination of athleticism and perimeter shooting ability, as Hayes has lacked the latter in his two NBA seasons.
6. Indiana: SG Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)
The Pacers are another team that could be active beyond the draft on Thursday, as veteran guard Malcolm Brogdon’s name has come up quite often in trade rumors. Given his recent injury issues, and the arrival of Tyrese Haliburton at the trade UKTN, moving Brogdon and freeing up cap space could be appealing. Mathurin is a highly athletic off-guard who has made notable strides as a scorer. He defends his position well, and the tools that Mathurin brings to the table would help the Pacers account for Brogdon’s exit if they were to make a deal.
7. Portland: SG/PG Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite)
The Blazers have already made one deal in an attempt to rebuild their roster around Damian Lillard; could this pick be moved in order to make another? Daniels’ defensive ability is his calling card right now, but he did show signs of promise offensively as his lone season in the G League reached its conclusion. With this being a point in the draft where it may be tough to find players capable of helping a playoff hopeful immediately, it would not come as a surprise if the Blazers used this pick in order to sweeten another trade. In fact, Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes reported Wednesday night that Portland could look to use the 7th overall pick in an attempt to acquire Raptors wing OG Anunoby.
8. New Orleans (from Los Angeles Lakers): PG/SG Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky)
Sharpe is the “mystery man” of this draft class, due to the fact that he did not play at all after joining the Kentucky program in January. New Orleans has a young, talented roster that will only get better with the return of Zion Williamson, and there may not be a lot of pressure on a lottery pick to contribute immediately for that reason. Reports of how Sharpe performed in pre-draft workouts have been all over the place, with some saying that he didn’t exactly set himself apart from the field, and others being highly complimentary of the young guard. Being able to learn the ropes from a guard like C.J. McCollum wouldn’t be the worst thing for Sharpe, and it should also be noted that Kira Lewis Jr. is still working his way back from a torn ACL.
9. San Antonio: C Jalen Duren (Memphis)
Duren is an athletic center who does the majority of his damage on both ends of the floor in the paint. He runs the floor well and is also a good rim protector, but the effort level has been an issue at times. San Antonio would be a good spot for him to land, between the presence of Gregg Popovich and the way in which the team makes use of its G League affiliate. With Jakob Poeltl heading into a contract year, and backups Zach Collins and Jock Landale both on partially guaranteed contracts for next season, that could factor into San Antonio’s thinking there.
10. Washington: SG Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)
The status of Bradley Beal, who pushed back on recent reports that he has opted out of the final season of his contract, is the biggest storyline for Washington heading into draft night. Regardless of what happens with the Wizards’ star, there is a clear need for more help on the perimeter. Davis, who does have some work to do as a perimeter shooter, is capable of getting to his spots off the dribble, and he is also a solid defender. Adding Davis to the fold could also open the door for the Wizards to have the ball in Beal’s hands even more, but there will still be a need to sign a more established point guard in free agency.
11. New York: SF Ousmane Dieng (New Zealand Breakers)
The Knicks are in need of a point guard, something that’s been said about the franchise for quite some time now. With that being the case, would the team entertain the possibility of trading this pick in an attempt to shore up that position? Dallas’ Jalen Brunson will be a free agent, and the expectation is that New York will make a run for him. As for possible trades, either moving up in the draft or looking to add a veteran like the aforementioned Brogdon could also be in play. If New York holds onto this pick Dieng wouldn’t fit that mold, but the improvement that he showed as a scorer during the latter portion of this past season was encouraging. He will need to be a more consistent offensive option but, in New York, he would not be in a position where he’d be asked to do too much scoring on the wing right away.
12. Oklahoma City (from LA Clippers): PF Jeremy Sochan (Baylor)
Sochan’s defensive versatility is his biggest selling point at this stage in his development, but there is a lot of work to be done offensively. Landing with the Thunder would put the former Baylor forward in a place where he wouldn’t lack for opportunities to make mistakes in game situations, as Oklahoma city’s rebuild is going to take some time. It’s likely that Oklahoma City will select a frontcourt player with the second overall pick, and Darius Bazley, Aleksej Pokusevski, and Jeremiah Robinson-Earl are already on the roster. But that should not be a concern here given the defensive tools that Sochan brings to the table, and the fact that Oklahoma City is essentially in “talent acquisition mode” with regard to its rebuild.
13. Charlotte: C Mark Williams (Duke)
The question regarding the Hornets is a simple one: will the team use one of its two firsts in order to free up additional money to aid in the quest to re-sign Miles Bridges? There have been reports this week that the front office could entertain such an approach, as it’s going to cost a good amount of money to keep Bridges in the fold. As for the pick here, Charlotte also has a need to address in the middle. Mason Plumlee’s contract for next season isn’t fully guaranteed, and Montrezl Harrell will be a free agent. Add in Nick Richards not offering much in the way of production in his first two seasons, and Kai Jones appearing in just 21 games as a rookie, and the Hornets may be willing to use a first on a big man. Williams was elite as a defender this season, protecting the rim and also moving relatively well on the perimeter in ball-screen situations.
14. Cleveland: SF Ochai Agbaji (Kansas)
After falling short of the postseason, the Cavaliers are in a position to rectify that in 2022-23. Where they’ll need to get better is on the wing, especially when it comes to perimeter shooting. Even if Caris LeVert can be the scorer that Cleveland was hoping to receive when he arrived from Indiana, there will still be a need for wings who can both knock down shots consistently and defend. Agbaji, who made great strides as an offensive weapon throughout his four seasons at Kansas, certainly fits that mold.
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15. Charlotte (from New Orleans): SF Jalen Williams (Santa Clara)
Williams, who has a 7-foot-2 wingspan, was one of the stars of the NBA Draft Combine and he stands to be a top-20 pick (at minimum) Thursday night. The junior wing improved throughout his three seasons at Santa Clara, developing into a versatile scoring option who can also be used at multiple positions defensively. As noted above, Charlotte could move one of their firsts before the draft ends. If not, adding Williams to the mix could give the Hornets a bit of a buffer if they were to move a veteran without having to attach a draft pick to said player’s contract. And, if worst comes to worst, Miles Bridges were to sign an offer sheet that the front office would be unwilling to match.
16. Atlanta: SF A.J. Griffin (Duke)
Possessing good size for an NBA wing, but the true selling point here is Griffin’s ability to knock down shots. He shot nearly 45% from three on 4.1 attempts per game this past season, and the free-throw percentage (79.2%) is another sign that Griffin’s perimeter shooting ability will translate to the pro level. With regard to Atlanta’s roster makeup, Trae Young and De’Andre Hunter may be the only players whose names are not expected to be considered for possible trades. The Hawks did have a bit of a logjam on the wings before they traded Cam Reddish, but Griffin offers a bit more in the perimeter shooting department at this stage in his career.
17. Houston (from Brooklyn): PG/SG TyTy Washington (Kentucky)
Washington was used both on and off the ball during his lone season at Kentucky, with his late-season struggles occurring in large part as a result of his not being healthy. Houston, which handed the keys to Kevin Porter Jr. for much of this season, may be willing to go with a “project” here, especially if that player can offer more as a lead guard. And even if Houston is “all in” on Porter as its point guard of the future, there is still the need to improve the options behind him. There shouldn’t be too much concern regarding Washington’s career progression, as it would line up with the timeline of the young talents that the Rockets added in last year’s draft.
18. Chicago: SF/PF Tari Eason (LSU)
While Eason has strides to make as a perimeter shooter, he scored well inside of the arc and was also one of the SEC’s best defensive players. Some may wonder why Chicago would do this when they still have former lottery pick Patrick Williams on the roster. For one, you can never have too many versatile forwards capable of defending either position. Also of note here was the fact that Williams missed a large chunk of this season due to a wrist injury, which left Chicago very light at that position. If Eason can make strides as a perimeter shooter, this will turn out to be a solid value pick for the Bulls.
19. Minnesota: PG/SG Malaki Branham (Ohio State)
If Branham is on the board here, he could potentially be one of the steals of this draft. He does have some strides to make as a creator for others, but the Ohio State freshman possesses good size for a lead guard at 6-foot-5, and he can score on all three levels. What’s interesting here is that D’Angelo Russell and Patrick Beverley are both heading into contract years, with the former set to make nearly $31.4 million. Those two veterans (along with Jordan McLaughlin) would give Branham the time needed to learn the ropes without much pressure, with an eye toward taking a step forward in 2023-24.
20. San Antonio (from Toronto): PG/SG Blake Wesley (Notre Dame)
At 6-foot-5, 185 pounds, Wesley offers size similar to that of current Spurs star point guard Dejounte Murray. Similar to the aforementioned Branham, Wesley does need to become more consistent with regard to his decision-making and perimeter shooting, but playing behind Murray would give him time to develop in those areas. San Antonio has also made good use of its G League affiliate when it comes to developing its young players, so Wesley could see some time there if the Spurs use one of their three first-round picks on him.
21. Denver: PF E.J. Liddell (Ohio State)
Liddell shot 37.4% from three on nearly four attempts per game this season, and the free-throw percentage (76.5%) is another indication that Liddell can be an effective perimeter shooter at the NBA level. Something else that shouldn’t be overlooked is his defensive ability, as Liddell blocked 2.6 shots per game. Liddell may be considered to be small by conventional power forward standards, but he has the length and defensive instincts required to make up for that. Denver has already traded JaMychal Green to Oklahoma City (this will become official after the draft), and there may be a desire to add another frontcourt player to the mix for that reason.
22. Memphis (from Utah): PG Kennedy Chandler (Tennessee)
Backup point guard Tyus Jones likely earned himself some money in free agency this summer, be it in Memphis or elsewhere. Selecting Chandler, who was excellent in his lone season at Tennessee, would offer the Grizzlies some cover just in case Jones’ asking price gets a little too steep. He isn’t the biggest point guard, but Chandler’s ability to create shots for himself and his teammates should not be overlooked. Also, he shot better than 38% from three on nearly four attempts per game. Five of Memphis’ top eight players in 3-point attempts per game this season shot 34.4% or worse from beyond the arc, so this is an area where Chandler could potentially help one of the NBA’s rising teams.
23. Philadelphia: SF Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke)
It’s been reported that the 76ers have been gauging trade interest in multiple players, including Tobias Harris and Matisse Thybulle, and this pick. The team is clearly in “win now” mode, and the ACL tear suffered by Danny Green could influence Philadelphia’s thinking if they hold onto this pick. Moore defends his position well, and he also made solid improvements as a perimeter shooter throughout his three seasons at Duke. This past season Moore shot 41.3% from three on 3.2 attempts per game, and he was also a career 81.4% shooter from the charity stripe. For a team that has seen players struggle to consistently provide both requirements of the “3-and-D” wing role, Moore could be a good fit for Philadelphia.
24. Milwaukee: C Walker Kessler (Auburn)
Kessler was an elite rim protector during his lone season at Auburn, and he was also able to do more offensively than he did as a freshman at North Carolina. While the Bucks will have Brook Lopez back in the fold after he missed much of this season due to a back injury, there’s a need for more depth in the post. Serge Ibaka, who was a midseason addition, will be a free agent, and Bobby Portis has a player option. Even if Portis does opt in to the final season of his contract, he’s more of a power forward/center than a true pivot. Adding Kessler to the mix would give the Bucks another quality rim protector, which would help the team’s perimeter defenders as well.
25. San Antonio (from Boston): SG Jaden Hardy (G League Ignite)
Similar to G League Ignite teammate Beauchamp, consistency is the key for Hardy with regard to his chances of being a successful NBA player. While he can be a player who scores in bunches, Hardy was a bit streaky as far as the accuracy is concerned. And as one would expect of many players his age, decision-making was also an area in which Hardy showed that there was room for growth. The Spurs have relied on the 3-point shot to the level that other teams have, most recently ranking 25th in attempts per game (and 18th in percentage) this past season. If he can improve the shot selection, Hardy is capable of being an asset offensively, which would help improve the Spurs’ spacing overall.
26. Houston (from Dallas): SG/SF MarJon Beauchamp (G League Ignite)
Consistency is the key for Beauchamp, who has shown flashes as both a scorer and defender. The 21-year-old wing can get to his spots off the dribble, the effort has never been an issue, and his length will help on the defensive end of the floor. With Houston in the midst of a rebuild, landing with the Rockets would give Beauchamp the opportunity to sharper his skills at a “comfortable” pace. What would also help here is the Rockets’ successful G League affiliate, which affords young players the opportunity to get more game reps if the playing time in the NBA is lacking.
27. Miami: PG/SG Dalen Terry (Arizona)
With Terry spending much of his two seasons at Arizona playing off the ball, it does not feel like we got to see all that he can do offensively. He had the ball in his hands a lot as a high school standout, so the potential is certainly there for him to be that kind of player as a pro. The combination of length and athleticism served Terry well defensively, making it possible for him to defend all three perimeter positions. Miami has Kyle Lowry at the point, and Jimmy Butler also has the ball in his hands a lot due to his ability to serve as a playmaker. But, if anything was learned from Miami’s postseason experience, it’s that the team has a need for more perimeter players who cannot be hunted defensively. Terry would definitely help in that regard.
28. Golden State: SF/PF Jake LaRavia (Wake Forest)
GM Bob Myers said in the aftermath of the Warriors’ winning the title that money isn’t an issue with regard to what the team does with this pick. There’s no rush to trade it, even with Golden State’s incredibly high luxury tax number. LaRavia is a versatile forward who also has some playmaking ability, and he’s capable of defending either the four or the five (against smaller lineups). How much he’d play as a rookie would depend upon what some of Golden State’s veterans do, most notably Kevon Looney (who will be a free agent). That wouldn’t be a “like for like” switch, but adding LaRavia to the fold would give the Warriors some cover if they were to lose a frontcourt veteran.
29. Memphis: SF/PF Nikola Jovic (Mega Mozzart)
Jokic began his formative years as a guard, which has paid dividends as he’s grown into a 6-foot-10 NBA prospect. He can attack defenses off the dribble and is also a more than capable perimeter shooter. With Kyle Anderson set to hit free agency, adding Jovic to the mix could give Memphis some room should they lose “Slo-Mo.” However, it should be noted that there have been reports that the Grizzlies could be willing to use their two firsts in order to move up in the draft, so don’t be surprised if that happens.
30. Denver (from Oklahoma City via Phoenix): PG Andrew Nembhard (Gonzaga)
In the aftermath of the Nuggets acquiring this pick from the Thunder, it was reported that Denver could be targeting a point guard, and the team was also entertaining trade conversations involving Monte Morris. Nembhard would certainly fit the point guard mold, as he had the best season of his college career in 2021-22. Starting all 32 games that he appeared in, the former Gonzaga guard averaged 11.8 points, 3.4 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.6 steals, and 1.6 3-pointers in 32.2 minutes per game. Nembhard shot better than 38% from three and 87.3% from the foul line, and the ability to knock down perimeter shots is key due to the attention that opposing defenses pay two-time MVP Nikola Jokić.
31. Indiana (from Houston via Cleveland): SG/SF Christian Braun (Kansas)
32. Orlando: PG/SG Trevor Keels (Duke)
33. Toronto (from Detroit via San Antonio, Washington, and Chicago): SF Caleb Houstan (Michigan)
34. Oklahoma City: C Christian Koloko (Arizona)
35. Orlando (from Indiana via Milwaukee): SF Bryce McGowens (Nebraska)
36. Detroit (from Portland): SF Kendall Brown (Baylor)
37. Sacramento: PF/C David Roddy (Colorado State)
38. San Antonio (from Los Angeles Lakers via Chicago and Washington): SF/PF Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee)
39. Cleveland (from San Antonio via Utah): SG Ryan Rollins (Toledo)
40. Minnesota (from Washington via Cleveland): PG/SG Hugo Besson (New Zealand Breakers)
41. New Orleans: SG Max Christie (Michigan State)
42. New York: SF/PF Justin Lewis (Marquette)
43. LA Clippers: SF Peyton Watson (UCLA)
44. Atlanta: C Khalifa Diop (Gran Canaria)
45. Charlotte: PG JD Davison (Alabama)
46. Portland (from Detroit via Brooklyn): C Ismael Kamagate (Paris) C Jaylin Williams (Arkansas)
47. Memphis (from Cleveland via New Orleans and Atlanta): C Jaylin Williams (Arkansas)
48. Minnesota: PF Josh Minott (Memphis)
49. Sacramento (from Chicago via Memphis and Detroit): SG Dereon Seabron (NC State)
50. Minnesota (from Denver via Philadelphia): C Trevion Williams (Purdue)
51. Golden State (from Toronto via Philadelphia): PG/SG Jean Montero (Overtime Elite)
52. New Orleans (from Utah): PF/C Dominick Barlow (Overtime Elite)
53. Boston: PF Michael Foster Jr. (G League Ignite)
54. Milwaukee (forfeited)
55. Miami (from Philadelphia via Denver; forfeited by Miami)
56. Washington (from Dallas): C Yannick Nzosa (Uncaja Malaga)
57. Golden State: SG Gabriele Procida (Fortitudo Bologna)
58. Cleveland (from Miami via Indiana): PG/SG Alondes Williams (Wake Forest)
59. Portland (from Memphis via Utah): PG Ziga Samar (Fuenlabrada)
60. Indiana (from Phoenix): SF Ron Harper Jr. (Rutgers)