TOLEDO, Ohio — It’s draft season, and that means lives will change, dreams come true, and memories never forgotten for young athletes around the world.
On Thursday, the 2022 NBA Draft is set to begin, and the draft class is filled with star-studded talent, including a couple of familiar names to northwest Ohio.
Let’s take a look at WTOL 11’s own personal mock draft for the first round.
1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, 6’10" F, Auburn
There have been a lot of differing opinions on who should head to Orlando. Here, we have Jabari Smith, a freakishly athletic forward who averaged nearly 17 points a game for the Tigers. Smith not only fits into the Magic's organizational emphasis on length and versatility, but he can also put the ball in the basket — something Orlando desperately craves. There's reason to believe Smith will eventually develop into a number one scoring option, and a number one defensive option.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, 7’ F, Gonzaga
Holmgren could easily go to Orlando at one, but the Thunder do not pass on him at two. At seven feet tall, Holmgren has incredible shot blocking capabilities and a sweet shooting stroke. There are concerns about his frame and strength to guard forwards, but his potential is too high to leave. He becomes a franchise player alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
3. Houston Rockets: Jaden Ivey, 6’4" G, Purdue
A lot of mocks have the next draft choice being chosen here, but Ivey feels like the best option. Houston last year selected Jalen Green to solidify the two-guard spot, but Ivey becomes the franchise point guard. With John Wall’s future in Houston being uncertain, Ivey comes to H-town and adds to a young core that features Green, Kevin Porter Jr, and Toledo native Jae’Sean Tate.
4. Sacramento Kings: Paolo Banchero, 6’10" F, Duke
As stated earlier, I could easily see Banchero going to Houston, but with Ivey off the board, the Kings take Banchero to create a formidable duo with De’Aaron Fox. Banchero’s characteristics are incredible: 6’10, 250 pounds, with incredible versatility and is a strong defender. He may have some shortcomings with his perimeter offense, but with some time and patience, Banchero becomes a star.
5. Detroit Pistons: Shaedon Sharpe, 6’6" G, Kentucky
This is where the fun begins. There are many options here for Detroit, and this could be a pick that gets traded, but the Pistons settle in on Sharpe. The product of John Calipari, Sharpe is a dynamic two-guard who will form a excellent young backcourt alongside last year’s number one pick, Cade Cunningham. I could see others, but the shooting ability and playmaking prowess is too good for Detroit to pass on.
6. Indiana Pacers: Keegan Murray, 6’8" F, Iowa
In an era of basketball that relies on big men shooting threes, Murray is the dictionary definition. With the Hawkeyes, he averaged over 23 points a game, and matches well with a team full of young guards like the Pacers have in Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield. He fills the void that Domantas Sabonis has left in Indy.
7. Portland Trail Blazers: Dyson Daniels, 6’6" G, G League Ignite
With Damian Lillard’s future being in question, Daniels is the pick here for the Blazers. A Stallworth defender at 6’6", Daniels can play either role in the backcourt and will be either the face of the franchise, or a nice complement to the future hall of famer. If his shooting eventually comes around, you're looking at a Lonzo Ball-type impact on both ends of the floor.
8. New Orleans Pelicans: Johnny Davis, 6’5" G/F, Wisconsin
New Orleans could use a big man here, even with Zion Williamson set to return next season. However, having a solid six man is important in the NBA today. Enter Johnny Davis, a dynamic scorer from Wisconsin who can play in the pick and roll, along with being a catch and shoot perimeter shooter. Averaging over 19 points a game in a rugged Big Ten conference, Davis has star potential, and will be a great asset to a young and promising Pelicans’ squad.
9. San Antonio Spurs: Bennedict Mathurin, 6’6" F, Arizona
The Spurs get themselves a day one starter at number nine with Mathurin. The versatile forward has reportedly blown away teams in workouts and in interviews, and has All-Star upside given his shooting ability, defensive versatility and motor. He feels like a player that San Antonio’s development staff can craft into a star for the foreseeable future.
10. Washington Wizards: A.J. Griffin, 6’7" F, Duke
A sharpshooter with shot-creating abilities and playmaking upside, Griffin fits nicely on a Wizards team that lacks shooting from the wing. He could play the power forward in a five-out attack featuring Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis or could slide down to the small forward when Washington wants to go big. With a 6’11 wingspan and only being 19 in August, his upside is thoroughly enticing.
11. New York Knicks: Malaki Branham, 6’5" G, Ohio State
If the Knicks ever want to take the next step towards being a contender, they will need a scorer in the backcourt. Malaki Branham is their guy here at 11. At Ohio State, fans saw as Branham’s mid-range game and three point shot continued to get better and better as the season went on. He is not the most explosive athlete and will need to get better defensively, but the Knicks need the scorer in him more.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Ousmane Dieng, 6’10" F, France
The second of their two lottery picks, Dieng is a project. At 6’10", he runs like a gazelle, and has incredible offensive potential. However, the product of France is going to need to craft his body to be more durable. This is just fine for the Thunder, who will continue to build their young talent and are not in a position to compete for a title this year. Expect him to be in the starting lineup in two to four years.
13. Charlotte Hornets: Jalen Duren, 6’10" F, Memphis
The backcourt in Charlotte is really promising with LaMelo Ball headlining it. What do the Hornets need? A true big man. Duren is a freak athlete who can block shots, run rim-to-rim for dunks, and is a ferocious rebounder. Pair all that with a ridiculous 7’5 wingspan, Charlotte gets their hands on their center for the future.
14.Cleveland Cavaliers: Ochai Agbaji, 6’6" G/F, Kansas
The Cavaliers are in need of a young 3 and D forward, and the national champion Kansas Jayhawks have one for them. Agbaji has proven himself to be the prototypical 3 and D forward who averaged nearly 19 points a game, and his 6’10" wingspan allows him to be a menace on defense. Cleveland will fall in love with him.
15. Charlotte Hornets: Tari Eason, 6’8" F, LSU
Charlotte is going to most likely need a replacement for Miles Bridges, who enters unrestricted free agency and is due for a big pay day. Eason is a cheaper, but equally talented option for the Hornets. Averaging almost 17 points a game for the Tigers, Eason will be a formidable third option on offense, but will be highlighted for his defense. With his insane wingspan at 7’2", he can also finish above the rim and become an everyday starter for a playoff-hungry Hornets squad.
16. Atlanta Hawks: Jeremy Sochan, 6’10" F, Baylor
The Hawks stumble into the potential steal of the entire draft. At 6’10", Sochan is a offensive player’s nightmare. His offensive game is going to be an uphill battle, as he only averaged about nine points a game for the Bears. However, with the veterans Danilo Gallinari and Clint Capela on the roster, Sochan will be in good hands with a Hawks team looking to get back to the top of the eastern conference.
17. Houston Rockets: Mark Williams, 7’ F, Duke
After drafting their franchise point guard at number three, they grab their franchise center at 17 with Williams. An absolute beast at seven-foot-tall and a 7’7" wingspan, Williams is one of the most ferocious dunkers in the country, and is tailor made to be a rim protecting extraordinaire for the Rockets. With him in the starting lineup, the youth and athleticism in Houston could be scary for years to come.
18. Chicago Bulls: Jalen Williams, 6’6" G, Santa Clara
Zach Lavine’s future is up in the air in Chicago, and because of that, the Bulls will need some help at shooting guard. Williams should be ready to contribute immediately, with his 7-2 wingspan allowing him to guard multiple positions. He's a knock-down 3-point shooter, averaging 18 points a game and shooting 39% from the perimeter, and can also be a secondary creator with his passing and pick-and-roll proficiency, which will come in handy.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves: Nikola Jovic, 6’10" F, Serbia
This is more of a need pick than a want pick. With the interior anchored by Karl Anthony Towns, and the backcourt made up of Anthony Edwards and D’Angelo Russell, the need is at the wing spot. The near seven-footer Jovic has handles like a guard, incredible downhill quickness, and can be the space creator that Minnesota desperately needs. He will need time to get stronger, and may be a defensive liability, but he adds significant value on the offensive end.
20. San Antonio Spurs: Jaden Hardy, 6’4" G, G League Ignite
Averaging 17 points and five rebounds a night in the G League, Hardy has an obvious skill set that will be maximized by Gregg Popovich and the Spurs staff. He will need some serious help on defense, but he has one of the longest three point shot ranges in the entire class and should be an added scorer to a young and promising San Antonio backcourt.
21. Denver Nuggets: Dalen Terry, 6’7" G/F, Arizona
With Jamal Murray set to return from injury this coming season, most would think that a point guard is the last position they need. Good thing Dalen Terry is not just a point guard, as he is a versatile combo guard with elite handles and lockdown defensive traits. Denver loves players who can guard multiple positions, and Terry should be able to do that, while also taking over the second-team offense at point guard.
22. Memphis Grizzlies: Blake Wesley, 6’5" G, Notre Dame
Wesley is an extremely quick shot-creator who might start his NBA career off the ball but can eventually develop into a lead guard. His poor shooting percentages at Notre Dame are the product of isolation-style offense that he won't have to do in NBA as much. Recently, Wesley has been shooting the ball well from 3-point range in workouts and has tremendous defensive upside, something Memphis will love to add to their backcourt.
23. Philadelphia 76ers: TyTy Washington Jr., 6’4" G, Kentucky
James Harden’s long-term future in Philly is up in the air, and right now, the Sixers need a true backup point guard. Washington is an excellent off-ball shooter, and in the NBA, he'll play more pick-and-roll, where he had success as both a scorer and distributor at Kentucky. He made floaters his specialty, which is going to be crucial since he's not the best space-creator on his own. He is a solid spark plug off the bench for the title contenders.
24. Milwaukee Bucks: Christian Braun, 6’6" G/F, Kansas
When the Bucks traded away Donte DiVincenzo, a lot of people were at least mildly surprised. The lack of outside shooting got exposed in the semis against Boston, and because of that, Braun is the pick here. Averaging nearly 15 points a game for the Jayhawks, Braun is a scrappy combo player who can shoot the lights out, while also help out in the rebounding category. With a little time to improve his quickness and isolation game, Braun will be a solid piece to add around perennial MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo.
25. San Antonio Spurs: E.J. Liddell, 6'7" F, Ohio State
The last of their three first round picks, the Spurs go for the best available player at 25 with Liddell. Liddell is a versatile, defensive-minded forward who gets a ton of blocks and steals due to his 7-foot wingspan and instincts. Offensively he can space the floor as a 3-point shooter and operate as a back to the basket playmaker in short pick and roll situations. He is a steal at 25.
26. Houston Rockets: MarJon Beauchamp, 6’6" G, G League Ignite
The Rockets are going to need some defense around all their young offensive potential, and Beauchamp should be able to bring that. He's a very strong athlete who profiles as a solid on-ball defender and can also get out in transition. The difference-maker will be his 3-point shooting, which didn't look great in his year with Ignite. At the very least, he has the size, speed and strength to be a rotation NBA wing, with tremendous upside.
27. Miami Heat: Jake LaRavia, 6’8" F, Wake Forest
Smart, scrappy, athletic forwards? Sounds like a Pat Riley pick to me. LaRavia is a Swiss Army knife-caliber player who can do everything solid. He does have a tendency to give up a lot of positioning inside to bigger players, but he will receive tutoring from the likes of Udonis Haslem. He feels like a Miami guy, and Miami will be the right place for LaRavia.
28. Golden State Warriors: Kennedy Chandler, 6’1" G, Tennessee
As tough as it is for Warriors’ fans to hear, Stephen Curry is starting to age a little bit. Chandler enters the locker room of the defending champions as a quick, high volume scorer who can also facilitate the basketball at a high level. He has some size concerns against the bigger point guards across the league, but at least at the start of his career, he will be a backup. With arguably the greatest point guard of all time mentoring him, Chandler is a surprise at 28, and turns out to be a solid NBA point guard.
29. Memphis Grizzlies: Patrick Baldwin Jr., 6’9" F, Milwaukee
Baldwin was one of the top recruits coming out of high school, but his draft stock plummeted after a horrific season at Milwaukee. If you look past the stats, you see a 6'9" bucket-getter with a 7'2" wingspan who has advanced shooting and scoring potential to go along with a "best player on the floor" type of confidence.
30. Denver Nuggets: Jaylin Williams, 6’10" F, Arkansas
The Nuggets have the two time MVP in Nikola Jokic, but even the best of us need some rest. Therefore, Williams is the choice here to round out the first round. An athletic, defensive-minded forward who will only stop when the whistle blows, Williams reenergizes a Denver team that put too much pressure on Jokic. Expect Williams to be a name that hovers around the all-NBA defensive teams for years to come.
While the mock above does not mention them, a couple of prospects from northwest Ohio are eager to hear their name called, those being VCU Ram Vince Williams, and University of Toledo's Ryan Rollins.
Williams is a prototypical 3 and D-wing who has been flying under the radar ever since he declared. The 21-year-old alumni of Toledo St. John’s High School is a menace on the defensive end, who held his opponents to just 4-for-29 (13.8%) on jumpers off the dribble on possessions when Williams was the nearest defender, per Synergy.
On one mock on slcdunk.com from June 21, the mock had Williams going at No. 30 overall to the Denver Nuggets.
For Ryan Rollins, his stock has skyrocketed over the past few months, as he has impressed many NBA scouts during workouts and interviews. The sophomore guard averaged 18.9 points per game and had four double-doubles during the 2021-22 season.
In multiple mocks, Rollins has been seen getting drafted in the second round, with Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report having him go at No. 40 overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
For those interested in the draft, tune in at 8 p.m. EST Thursday night on ESPN/ABC.