2022 Fantasy Basketball Mock Draft
Sure, we’re not even to Christmas let alone the All-Star Break, but when is it too early to start speculating on next season’s fantasy hoops outlook? Never, I say! So, here we are. In this article, I’m going to name my top-24 picks for the 2022-23 fantasy basketball season and explain my reasoning. Some names are first or second-round stalwarts, while others have ascended quickly to the upper echelon of fantasy basketball. Enough with this intro, let’s get down to business!
1. Nikola Jokic
What do you get when you cross a seven-footer with a point guard? The answer of course is Nikola Jokic, the guy who’s averaged 22.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, and 7.1 assists over the last five seasons. The Joker shoots better than 50% from the field and 80% from the charity stripe and has the ability to step out for a three and contribute in the defensive categories as well. He’s a fantasy unicorn and unlikely to fall out of No. 1 next season.
2. LaMelo Ball
Jokic was a familiar pick at the top of the draft, but it’s time for a new name at No. 2 – LaMelo Ball. Ball was a popular 2nd-3rd round pick in fantasy drafts this season and sits as the 5th ranked player at the time of this writing. He’s averaging 20/8/8 with 2.9 triples and 1.9 steals while shooting better than 90% from the free-throw line. Ball’s numbers are quite similar to James Harden’s, and we’re only in Year 2. We’ve surely not seen Ball’s best play yet, and another step forward in 2022 wouldn’t be surprising.
3. Steph Curry
Just like this season, there’s a case to be made for Curry as the No. 1 overall pick in 2022. He’s fantasy’s top-ranked player in 9-cat formats at the time of this writing thanks to his elite scoring, assists, rebounds, steals, FT%, and triples. Curry’s 5.5 three-pointers per game are nearly two more than the next closest player, Buddy Hield (3.6). Will the return of Klay Thompson eat into Curry’s fantasy value? Klay will get his, but Curry is too elite to fall out of the top-3 in next year’s draft.
4. James Harden
Harden is a permanent fixture in the top-5 of any fantasy draft, thanks to his perpetually elite assists, rebounds, FT%, and steals. His triples and scoring have come down a bit since teaming up with Kevin Durant, but Harden does more than enough across the board to compensate for that decline in offensive potency.
5. Kevin Durant
Perhaps the greatest pure scorer of all time, Durant is leading the NBA in that category once again, dropping 28.4 points a night in his first full season on the court for Brooklyn. He’s doing it at the most efficient clip of his career, shooting 53.0% from the floor and 87.3% from beyond the arc. Durant contributes meaningfully in assists and rebounds, while his production is serviceable in threes and defensive categories. The only category in which he offers negative value is turnovers.
6. Karl-Anthony Towns
A center who can pass, shoot well from the free-throw line, and shoot threes is a cheat code in fantasy hoops, which is why KAT slots in at No. 6. The big man is one of only three players in the NBA averaging at least 20 points, nine rebounds, three assists, one block, and one steal (Anthony Davis, Giannis Antetokounmpo). Unless he’s playing for a team other than Minnesota when the new season rolls around, Towns should be firmly entrenched as a top-10 selection.
7. Joel Embiid
Embiid is a walking double-double with huge upside as a blocker and passer. He can also step outside to make a three, though he thrives in the paint. Health has been the major hindrance to Embiid’s continued success in the world of fantasy hoops, but when he’s on the court, he can take over a game like few other players. Over the last 14 days, Embiid is fantasy’s top-ranked player thanks to a 28/14/5 line that includes 2.9 combined blocks/steals. Selecting him earlier than this certainly wouldn’t be a crazy idea.
8. Trae Young
For the fourth season in a row, Young is averaging at least 25 points and nine dimes, though he’s taken a major step forward in efficiency in 2021. His shooting splits of 46/89/39 are the highest of his career, and he’s draining 2.8 triples per contest. Young has kept the momentum going from his spectacular playoff run to close last season, and his best basketball is still in front of him. Expect him to go inside the top-10 in all fantasy drafts next season.
9. Anthony Davis
Rumors of AD’s demise were greatly exaggerated, and the big man has bounced back spectacularly from last season’s injury-plagued letdown campaign. On the season, Davis is a top-10 player behind averages of 24.1 points, 10.3 boards, 3.1 assists, 2.2 blocks and 1.3 swipes. The now oft-injured LeBron James will be another year older in 2022, and Davis should continue to take on more of the workload for a very top-heavy Los Angeles roster.
10. Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis would be the consensus No. 1 pick each and every season if not for his abysmal free-throw shooting and general lack of threes. The big man is a virtual lock for 25/10/5 with at least one block and one steal, though his negative value in those two categories stifles his value significantly. For teams punting FT%, he’s a top-3 selection, but if we’re talking overall fantasy value, he’s a solid selection near the end of the first round.
11. Jimmy Butler
Jimmy Buckets is always in the top-12 mix thanks to his fantasy-friendly skillset. Sure, he doesn’t shoot threes, but that’s a category that can easily be found in the later rounds of drafts or on the waiver wire. Butler provides solid shooting percentages, points, rebounds, and assists, and he’s typically among the league leaders in steals. The addition of Kyle Lowry and the emergence of Tyler Herro hasn’t dampened Butler’s fantasy value this season, as he currently sits at No. 7 in per-game average.
12. Dejounte Murray
Heading into the season, Murray was regarded as a high-upside sleeper, though his production thus far has exceeded even the loftiest expectations. On the year, he’s averaging 18/8/8 with 2.0 steals and 1.4 triples. He’s a drag on your shooting percentages which can be problematic, but Murray’s multi-category upside makes him a player who should generate interest at the end of the first round.
13. Damian Lillard
Lillard is sure to have already left a bad taste in fantasy managers’ mouths this season, so that sentiment will only be stronger in next year’s drafts. That should cause Dame’s value to drop out of the first round, but as long as he’s healthy and (presumably) on a new team, he can easily return top-5 value. Don’t let this season’s ab injury and his open unhappiness with Chauncey Billups and Blazers management scare you off a highly-valuable fantasy player.
14. DeMar DeRozan
DeRozan’s MVP-type season should have fantasy managers quite excited. On the year, DeRozan is a top-5 scorer who contributes positively in nearly every category except triples. He should enjoy a similar role next season, especially if the Bulls continue to win this season. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
15. Luka Doncic
Doncic is still going to get drafted inside the top-15 picks, even though he might not be deserving of such a high selection. Though he’s a nightly triple-double threat who consistently excels in points, rebounds, and assists, his dreadful FT% and many turnovers sink his value significantly. Still, name recognition and gaudy counting stats will keep his price tag inflated, especially for those managers punting FT%.
16. Paul George
PG13 was a top-20 player a season ago with Kawhi Leonard in the fold, and he’s providing top-12 value this season with Leonard out of action. In both scenarios, George has been an elite fantasy play thanks to his strong production in all categories except FG% and turnovers. Those deficiencies aren’t too concerning for a high-usage wing.
17. Evan Mobley
Maybe I’m valuing the sensational rookie a bit too high, but his production speaks for itself. On the season, Mobley has averaged 14/8 with 1.8 blocks, and he’s been serviceable with assists and shooting percentages. His outside game isn’t there just yet, but Mobley has shown glimpses of a player who will eventually be able to hit threes with relative consistency. Jarrett Allen has been the better fantasy player this season, but it’s clear as day that Mobley will be a first or second-round stud for years to come.
18. Fred VanVleet
FVV isn’t an efficient shooter, but if you don’t mind the poor FG%, he’s a solid second-rounder. The Wichita State product is an elite scorer, three-point shooter, and facilitator who’s typically at the top of the leaderboard for steals. There’s nothing to suggest his role or lofty production will change in 2022-23.
19. Anthony Edwards
Edwards is another emerging superstar who’s ready to take another step in 2022-23. This season in Year 2, he’s averaging 22/6/4 with 2.9 triples and 2.4 combined blocks/steals. Edwards’ deficiencies are the same as most other high-usage wings – low FG% and high turnovers. The phenomenal play and sky-high upside of the 20-year-old should drive his draft-day price into the top-20.
20. Chris Paul
Paul has apparently drunk from the fountain of youth because his play as of late has been truly remarkable. CP3 finished as a top-20 fantasy player in 2020-21, and he’s on track to do so again in 21-22. The 36-year-old currently leads the NBA in assists per game and is always a reliable source of dimes, steals, and shooting percentages.
21. Kristaps Porzingis
If he can finish this season with at least 60 games under his belt, KP is sure to crack the top-20 in next season’s fantasy drafts. On the year, the “unicorn” is averaging 19.5 points, 8.3 boards, 1.6 blocks, and 1.6 triples while shooting 45.2% from the field and 88.2% from the charity stripe. Health is the biggest reason Porzingis hasn’t lived up to his massive fantasy potential, though that could certainly change if he’s able to stay on the court more consistently.
22. Rudy Gobert
Gobert finished as the 26th-ranked fantasy player in 2020-21, and he’s No. 14 early into this season. Gobert certainly isn’t an exciting guy to watch on the court, but his numbers are consistently elite year-in and year-out. When you draft the Stifle Tower, you know you’re getting a double-double average with elite blocks and FG%. Gobert doesn’t give you anything in the way of three-pointers or FT%, but 14 rebounds and 2.2 blocks while shooting better than 65% from the field is more than enough to make up for the aforementioned deficiencies.
23. Jayson Tatum
Tatum is enjoying another productive season, averaging 25.5 points, 3.7 assists, 2.8 triples, and a career-high 8.8 rebounds. Unfortunately for fantasy managers, he’s shooting 41.3% from the floor and 33.5% from long-range, both career lows by a significant margin. Tatum’s shooting percentages won’t be this bad forever, and there’s absolutely no way this talented young star should be taken outside the top-24 in 2022-23 drafts.
24. Ja Morant
After his electric start to the season, there’s no way Morant makes it out of the second round of fantasy drafts. The Murray State product has averaged 24/7/5 with 1.6 swipes and 1.6 triples through 19 games this season. Most impressively, he’s improved his shooting efficiency in a big way. As long as Morant finishes the season strong when he eventually returns from injury, he’ll be a top-24 pick.
Others in consideration: Miles Bridges, Lonzo Ball, Jonas Valanciunas, Domantas Sabonis, Mo Bamba, Jaren Jackson, Bradley Beal, Myles Turner, Zach LaVine, Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Richaun Holmes, Cole Anthony