CLEVELAND — The 2022 NBA Draft is less than 10 days away, and the Cleveland Cavaliers have the 14th overall selection.
The Cavs could go a number of different directions with that pick, including trading the rights to the player after a pick is made. Much of this, obviously, is dependent on who is selected in the first 13 selections.
Let's dive into that.
1. Orlando Magic – Jabari Smith Jr., forward, Auburn
There's been a bit of steam for the Magic to select Chet Holmgren with the top overall pick, but as of this moment, Smith still feels like the safer pick and the more likely one. The betting markets still reflect that, too, as Smith is the favorite to go No. 1 overall at -220 on FanDuel.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder – Chet Holmgren, big, Gonzaga
Holmgren has been in the limelight of NBA Draft followers for years, really since crossing over Golden State's Stephen Curry during a basketball camp in 2019. Holmgren has the tools to be great in the NBA, but concerns about his frame are justified.
3. Houston Rockets – Paolo Banchero, forward, Duke
Banchero represents the end of a top three that seems to be pretty solidified in terms of which players will be picked. The order is still uncertain, but it would be a surprise to see any of these first three players fall down the draft board at all.
4. Sacramento Kings – Jaden Ivey, guard, Purdue
Ivey is one of the quickest players in the draft. He may not be the best defender for his position, but he is one of the best athletes available and does everything well offensively.
5. Detroit Pistons – Shaedon Sharpe, guard, Kentucky
Sharpe will be an interesting prospect to watch. He never actually played for Kentucky, but has every tool to become a high-level NBA player. Sharpe and last season's top overall pick, Cade Cunningham, could make an electric duo for Detroit.
6. Indiana Pacers – Keegan Murray, forward, Iowa
Murray feels like a typical pick for the Pacers. He's a guy that has a bit higher of a floor than most at this spot, but his ceiling isn't all that high, either. He'll step in and be a solid role player, although he may never be much more than that.
7. Portland Trail Blazers – Bennedict Mathurin, forward, Arizona
Mathurin is going to be able to score at a high level in his career. He may not be much more than that as his defense and playmaking need quite a bit of work, but pairing him with Damian Lillard in Portland would allow him to fill it up offensively with easy looks.
8. New Orleans Pelicans – Dyson Daniels, guard, G League Ignite
Daniels has risen up draft boards throughout the process. He declined to play in college, instead spending a season in the NBA G League. Daniels can run an offense and will make those around him better. If his jumper improves, he could find himself as an All-Star one day.
9. San Antonio Spurs – Ousmane Dieng, forward, New Zealand Breakers
If the Spurs can help improve another shooting stroke—as they have in the past—with Dieng, then he's going to be really good in the NBA. If they can't, then he'll still be able to stick in the league, but in a much smaller bench role.
10. Washington Wizards – AJ Griffin, forward, Duke
Griffin is a very strong shooter out of Duke that can also handle the ball relatively well. He shot close to 50% from 3-point range at Duke as a freshman. The biggest knock on him right now is his health, after he's dealt with a number of lower body injuries during his high school and college years. How he checks out medically will be a big factor in where he's drafted.
11. New York Knicks – Johnny Davis, guard, Wisconsin
Davis has the feel of a lead guard that never becomes an All-Star but has a nice, lengthy career that ends up being much longer than anyone anticipated. He'll be a strong floor general offensively and routinely guards the opposing team's best guard or small forward.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Jeremy Sochan, forward, Baylor
The Thunder love crazy athletes that may not yet be all the way there as basketball players. Sochan is precisely that. His jump shot needs quite a bit of work, and he won't be viewed as a threat offensively for quite some time, but he's going to do everything else well.
13. Charlotte Hornets – Jalen Duren, big, Memphis
Duren is a terrific athlete that will likely never be able to create offense for himself (or anyone else), but playing alongside LaMelo Ball in Charlotte could create some absolutely electric highlights. He'll also be able to help shore up that defense for the Hornets, too.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers – Malaki Branham, guard, Ohio State
The Cavaliers could go in a number of different directions here with this pick. The way the board has fallen for them seems to be pretty close to ideal. If the team wants a bigger wing, like LSU's Tari Eason or Kansas' Ochai Agbaji, those guys are still available. If they want to take the best player on the board that can help the team improve its 3-point shooting and perimeter defense, Ohio State's Branham is the answer.
The St. Vincent-St. Mary alum shot over 42% from deep in his only season in Columbus, and that was backed up by an 82% mark from the charity stripe. Branham is a good defender thanks to his length. He'll be able to defend both backcourt players and certain small forwards in the NBA, too.
The downside for the Cavs here is that it doesn't necessarily fix their issue on the wing, and this pick could be a tell as to what happens with the team and restricted free agent Collin Sexton this summer.