The 2022 NBA Draft will take place Thursday, June 23, with franchises staking their futures on young prospects looking to make their mark on the game. The Orlando Magic hold the first overall pick for now and have their choice of anyone on the board.
Here’s a look at the player who fits best with the team’s current roster moving forward. This doesn’t necessarily mean that player will get selected or is a better player than those projected to go after him. This is simply slotting a prospect into a team’s current configuration to get what we believe would be the most optimal outcome.
NBA Draft 2022 best pick for each team
No. 1 Magic - Jabari Smith (Auburn)
The Magic have a lot of young players at multiple positions, which makes it tough to determine a best fit. Getting a strong perimeter shooter who can grow into a No. 1 offensive option is the best way to go for Orlando as it tries to determine which players are part of the core going forward.
No. 2 Thunder - Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)
Oklahoma City missed out on a chance to pick a big man last year and won’t do so again. Holmgren has a thin frame, but would be an excellent player to pair with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey.
No. 3 Rockets - Paolo Banchero (Duke)
With Jalen Green, Alperen Sengun and Kevin Porter Jr. in the fold, the Rockets have some young pieces going forward. Banchero slots well in the frontcourt next to Sengun and can play some small forward minutes if Porter Jr. doesn’t work out.
No. 4 Kings - Keegan Murray (Iowa)
Murray might not be the best player available here, but the Kings cannot take another guard here with De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell in prominent roles. Murray has great offensive upside and fits well next to Domantas Sabonis and Harrison Barnes in the frontcourt.
No. 5 Pistons - Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky)
Detroit wants Cade Cunningham on the ball as much as possible, and it’s clear Killian Hayes is not the right fit alongside him. Sharpe has some time to develop here with the Pistons playing the long game, and slots in well as an off-ball player.
No. 6 Pacers - Jaden Ivey (Purdue)
The Pacers are set at the wing spots, and have made it clear they want to move Malcolm Brogdon. Ivey fits perfectly as a lead guard and has some goodwill with Indiana fans after starring at Purdue for two seasons.
No. 7 Trail Blazers - Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)
Portland has to make a decision on Damian Lillard. Mathurin can play off the ball regardless of whether Lillard or Anfernee Simons is leading the offense. He’s a strong rebounding guard who will also help Portland defensively right off the bat.
No. 8 Pelicans - AJ Griffin (Duke)
Adding another lights-out perimeter shooter will help the Pelicans a ton, especially if Zion Williamson comes back healthy. Griffin offers New Orleans some lineup flexibility and can contribute right off the bat offensively.
No. 9 Spurs - Jalen Duren (Memphis)
The Spurs have a lot of backcourt players, so some of the other prospects don’t really fit here. Duren emerged during the second half of the season and has the potential to become a two-way frontcourt star.
No. 10 Wizards - Jaden Hardy (G-League)
Bradley Beal is likely to leave the franchise, creating a massive hole in the shooting guard spot. Even though Hardy struggled in the G-League, he has more upside than some other prospects here and can grow with the rest of Washington’s young core.
No. 11 Knicks - TyTy Washington (Kentucky)
The Knicks need a point guard who can carry this team offensively, and Washington fits the bill. He had some down moments at Kentucky, but should help push this offense to the next level.
No. 12 Thunder - Jeremy Sochan (Baylor)
OKC can afford to play the long game here, and Sochan immediately raises the team’s defensive profile. Pairing him with Holgrem and Gilgeous-Alexander could make this team tough to score on in 2022-23.
No. 13 Hornets - Tari Eason (LSU)
Charlotte has a type based on its recent drafts. Eason has upside and athleticism, but isn’t really slotted into a position and needs some development. That’s why he works in this spot for this team.
No. 14 Cavaliers - Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)
The Cavaliers can use some punch off the bench right away, and Davis fits that mold. He can immediately make an impact as a microwave scorer and rebounder.
No. 15 Hornets - Walker Kessler (Auburn)
The Hornets need a man in the middle who can protect the rim and Kessler is the best bet here. He’s going to help the team tremendously defensively, which is what Charlotte needs.
No. 16 Hawks - Ochai Agbaji (Kansas)
Atlanta has plenty of combo players on the perimeter, but Agbaji makes sense for them as a more seasoned player who can contribute immediately. He’s also a good fit in Atlanta’s system and should help the team defensively.
No. 17 Rockets - Dyson Daniels (G-League)
Daniels has a unique blend of size and skills, but he needs time to refine his game. The Rockets are throwing a lot of young prospects together to see who clicks, so Daniels is a good fit for this environment.
No. 18 Bulls - Mark Williams (Duke)
The Bulls were overmatched in the interior during the playoffs, although Williams doesn’t do much outside of protect the basket. He’ll have to grow into the game, but should help Chicago on the interior.
No. 19 Magic - Bryce McGowens (Nebraska)
Even though Orlando has an excess of guards, McGowens makes sense as he can slot in as a shooting guard in the long-term plan. The upside is there, although he’ll likely come off the bench to start the year.
No. 20 Timberwolves - Blake Wesley (Notre Dame)
Even with D’Angelo Russell and Patrick Beveley in the rotation, the Timberwolves don’t know that either player is the answer at the position going forward. Wesley could take over as the lead guard with Russell moving off the ball.
No. 21 Nuggets - Malaki Branham (Ohio State)
Branham is a good fit in Denver’s offense, and he comes at a position of need with Jamal Murray’s status up in the air. He can make immediate contributions as a perimeter shooter and is capable of delivering in a larger role if needed.
No. 22 Grizzlies - Max Christie (Michigan State)
Christie doesn’t have to be an immediate contributor with the Grizzlies, and he can develop in an environment that helped Desmond Bane become of the league’s rising shooting guards.
No. 23 76ers - Kendall Brown (Baylor)
Philadelphia learned the importance of having multiple perimeter defenders in the series loss to Miami. Brown can step into that role right away while developing his overall offensive game behind the scenes.
No. 24 Bucks - Dalen Terry (Arizona)
With Milwaukee re-shuffling the roster around its “Big 3”, Terry makes sense as a combo guard/forward who can attack the basket with intensity. He improved as a shooter this season and could reasonably space the floor around the Bucks stars.
No. 25 Spurs - Ousmane Dieng (France)
With San Antonio already grabbing Duren early, Dieng makes sense on the wing. He’s more of a project player which fits the Spurs profile.
No. 26 Rockets - Nikola Jovic (Serbia)
The Rockets can’t pass on Jovic here, especially with them dealing Christian Wood to the Mavericks. Jovic offers them a similar player in terms of position while being on a more team-friendly contract.
No. 27 Heat - E.J. Liddell (Ohio State)
Miami needs better backup frontcourt players immediately, and could be losing PJ Tucker in free agency. Liddell showed improvement on both ends of the floor and works well for the Heat at this draft slot.
No. 28 Warriors - Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Milwaukee)
Given how Andrew Wiggins has fit in with Golden State, Baldwin Jr. is the right play here. The Warriors have built themselves on having versatile players, and the Milwaukee forward fits the organizational mantra.
No. 29 Grizzlies - Wendell Moore Jr. (Duke)
Moore Jr. has become a capable three-point shooter, and Memphis can use more of those guys going forward. The Duke product can help off the bench immediately.
No. 30 Nuggets - Caleb Houstan (Michigan)
The Wolverine projects as a 3-and-D player but he needs refinement. He can get work in behind the scenes in Denver before contributing on the wing. With JaMychal Green gone, Houston is a potential replacement pick.