Pippen Ain’t Easy’s 2022 NBA Mock Draft: Final two-round forecast

Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, 2022 NBA Mock Draft (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)
Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, 2022 NBA Mock Draft (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images) /
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Jabari Smith Jr., 2022 NBA Mock Draft
Jabari Smith Jr., 2022 NBA Mock Draft (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

PF. Orlando Magic. Jabari Smith Jr.. 1. player. 38.

While winning the draft lottery is usually cause for celebration, the pressure on the Orlando Magic to draft a clear-cut franchise cornerstone is slowly coming to a boil. For a team with seven former top 10 picks on the roster, it’s surprising to see that no one has risen to the challenge of becoming the primary option on offense.

As the most accomplished shooter in this draft, Jabari Smith just may be up to that challenge. Smith averaged 16.9 points and 7.4 rebounds as a freshman at Auburn, impressing many with his three-point stroke. He shot 42% from deep and displayed a range that should have no problem translating to the NBA level.

One of the biggest knocks on Smith’s game is his perceived lack of superstar potential; although this is a fair criticism, it’s also something you could say about any player in this draft as there isn’t a clear-cut top option like in years past. His ability to create his own shots is lacking somewhat, but that’s nothing that can’t be worked on as he builds more confidence in the league.

Jabari’s floor, however, appears to be higher than other prospects in this class. Even if he doesn’t become a true superstar, it’s difficult to envision his shooting and defensive abilities not helping him become an elite complementary player.

As we’ve seen with players like Jaylen Brown, Khris Middleton, and Michael Porter Jr., this skillset is highly valued in the modern NBA and would make Jabari a great top selection for Orlando. The Magic should be thrilled to slide him between recent All-Rookie First Team selection Franz Wagner and Wendell Carter at the four slot.

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