Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren battle for No. 1

(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

The 2022 NBA Draft will take place on June 23, which is right around the corner. There’s a lot of talent in this year’s class, from the dynamic and dominant top-3 to a well-rounded batch of late first round prospects. For the Sixers in particular, the No. 23 pick offers the opportunity to add another affordable contributor to the second unit.

This NBA Mock Draft will focus on predictive picks — meaning each selection is based on what the teams are most likely to do. These are not necessarily the picks I would make in each GMs’ shoes.

So, with the first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Orlando Magic select…

Jabari Smith Jr.

F, Orlando Magic

2022 NBA Mock Draft — 1. Jabari Smith Jr., Magic

The Magic are widely expected to select Jabari Smith Jr. with the first overall pick. At 6-foot-10, Smith is one of the draft’s most dynamic perimeter shooters. Combine that with elite defensive versatility, and it’s not hard to see the appeal for Orlando. He fits right in next to Wendell Carter Jr. and Franz Wagner in the frontcourt, giving the Magic one of the brightest futures of any rebuilding franchise.

Chet Holmgren

C, Oklahoma City Thunder

2022 NBA Mock Draft — 2. Chet Holmgren, Thunder

Chet Holmgren is my personal No. 1 prospect and he would fit perfectly in OKC. The Thunder already have two high-level playmakers in Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, while Holmgren is an elite finisher at the rim who can run the floor in transition and make impressive passes for his size. The 7-footer is also one of the best defensive prospects in recent memory, and would really give the Thunder an identity on that end.

Paolo Banchero

F, Houston Rockets

2022 NBA Mock Draft — 3. Paolo Banchero, Rockets

Paolo Banchero might take over as Houston’s go-to player on day one. He’s an elite playmaker for his position, combining strength and footwork in the post with brave passing and a budding perimeter game. It might take time for Banchero and Jalen Green to strike the right balance in Houston’s offense, but the Rockets’ future would look quite bright.

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