Twenty-eight franchises were deep in offseason preparation as an exciting NBA Finals progressed. Deals have already been struck as teams jockey for position in Thursday’s NBA draft.
Similar to the NFL Mock Draft Consensus, numerous NBA draft projections were pored over to gauge the most popular opinions for the first round. Due to the recent trades involving late first-round picks, the focus for this initial consensus has been narrowed to the first 14 selections.
The top three picks appear to be set. The fun is expected to begin at No. 4 with several talented guards and wings available. Here is how the lottery looks with the draft just six days away.
1. Orlando Magic: Jabari Smith, forward, Auburn
It's nearly unanimous that the Magic should draft the 6-foot-10 Smith, whose shooting stroke and defensive skills are ready for the NBA, over Chet Holmgren, an agile 7-foot unicorn who will need time to fulfill his potential.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, center, Gonzaga
OKC is searching for its next superstar, and mock drafters overwhelmingly believe Holmgren — with exceptional ball-handling and vision and a 7-6 wingspan to affect the game on both ends — is the Thunder’s best bet at No. 2.
3. Houston Rockets: Paolo Banchero, forward, Duke
Houston traded Christian Wood to Dallas, clearing the way for the talented big it will happily draft. Banchero figures to be the beneficiary as the Rockets' rebuild continues.
4. Sacramento Kings: Jaden Ivey, guard, Purdue
If they keep the No. 4 pick, the Kings are expected to go the “best player available” route and add Ivey, who’s regarded as the top backcourt prospect of the 2022 class, despite the presence of De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell.
5. Detroit Pistons: Keegan Murray, forward, Iowa
Dyson Daniels, Shaedon Sharpe and Bennedict Mathurin also appear here in the latest mock drafts, but the majority of them have the Pistons selecting the 6-8 Murray as the much-needed shooter to partner with 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham.
6. Indiana Pacers: Shaedon Sharpe, guard, Kentucky
Mock drafts forecast Mathurin, the athletic Arizona forward, just as much as Sharpe, who never played a game at Kentucky but projects as a point guard who can score. The nod here goes to Sharpe.
7. Portland Trail Blazers: Dyson Daniels, guard, G League Ignite
Murray, Sharpe and Mathurin appear in this spot, too. The 6-7 Daniels would be a perfect fit as the apprentice point guard learning his craft under the tutelage of franchise star Damian Lillard.
8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Los Angeles Lakers): A.J. Griffin, forward, Duke
The rationale for drafting the 6-6 Griffin, who’s 18, over the 6-6 Mathurin, who’s 19, is the Pelicans’ need for shooting around Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram and C.J. McCollum. Griffin, a 44.7% 3-point shooter as a freshman, ticks that box.
9. San Antonio Spurs: Bennedict Mathurin, guard, Arizona
Finally! We have a landing spot for Mathurin, whose ability to knock down 3s and defend the perimeter will be a welcome addition. Forwards Jalen Duren and Ousmane Dieng are being projected to the Spurs at No. 9, too.
10. Washington Wizards: Ochai Agbaji, forward, Kansas
The Wizards need immediate help, which is why mock drafters have targeted NBA-ready prospects Agbaji and Johnny Davis. The proponents for the 6-6 Agbaji believe he can provide scoring punch off the bench right away for head coach Wes Unseld Jr.
As one mock drafter so accurately put it, the Knicks backcourt is “a mess right now.” The cleanup begins with the drafting of the 6-5 Davis, the Big Ten Player of the Year who can impact games as a rookie with his ballhandling and playmaking.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Los Angeles Clippers): Ousmane Dieng, forward, New Zealand Breakers
Grabbing the draft’s surest thing in Smith at No. 1 allows the Thunder to opt for upside at No. 12. General manager Sam Presti can add another long, bouncy forward prospect in Dieng, the 6-10 Frenchman who had a breakout season in New Zealand, and wait for him to blossom.
13. Charlotte Hornets: Mark Williams, center, Duke
Forwards Jeremy Sochan and Tari Eason are also mentioned as options, but the Hornets need a post presence. In the 7-2 Williams, they can add a big man who'll protect the rim and set screens for LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers: Malaki Branham, guard, Ohio State
Agbaji is projected to the Cavs at No. 14 as much as Branham. The backers of drafting Branham view the 6-5 shooter as a backup plan to Collin Sexton’s upcoming restricted free agency.