A lot of speculation goes into who will get drafted where every year at the NBA Draft. Sometimes the pick is easy to figure out and at other times it’s not. In the 2022 draft, the most popular choice appeared to be Jabari Smith out of Auburn going #1. Smith would not go number one but fall to #3 going to the Houston Rockets. Instead, the Orlando Magic would use the #1 pick to choose Paolo Banchero out of Duke. Chet Holmgren out of Gonzaga would go at #2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Paolo Banchero F (6’10” 250 pounds) – #1 Orlando Magic
A young forward that still has room to grow. He has so much ability and can pass for a big man. What is in question is his defensive skills and how long it will take for him to adjust to the NBA game. For his age, he has a keen understanding of the game of basketball. He has shown the desire to put in the work. He has the knack for hitting the big shot and having the big game when it is needed most. But he has also shown he can lose his focus and intensity on the court. We will see what the Magic saw in this kid to make him the surprise pick at #1
Chet Holmgren F (7’0″ 195 pounds) – #2 Oklahoma City Thunder
The youth movement is on in OKC and the Thunder wasted no time in getting Holmgren in the mix. There are those that wondered why the pick was not Smith but you cannot argue with this pick. Holmgren has so much upside and shows the potential to have the skill to become a special NBA player in the future. He should become a really good rim protector and effective on the offensive glass. He can create his shot and shows a nice little jumper he can improve on. The one thing we can all agree on is that he will have to gain weight and add size to bang down low in the NBA.
Jabari Smith F (6’10” 220 pounds) – #3 Houston Rockets
Okay, let’s get this out of the way before anything. I did not see any joy from Smith being picked by Houston and am not sure if that it was because it was the Rockets, or because he fell to the third pick in the draft. Yet, he was projected by most to be the top pick for many reasons. He is a really good shooter from the three-point range for a guy his size (42%). He has this knack for making shots a player should not take and has a nice pull-up shot off transition. He is very versatile and has great footwork for a player that is just 19 years old. But like all the youngsters, he will need to work on his game to be a star at the next level. He will have to improve his shooting percentage from two-point range as well.
Once Smith was gone it was widely speculated that the Sacramento Kings would make Jaden Ivey (6’4″ 200 pounds) the next pick. Instead, they chose Keegan Murray (6’8″ 225 pounds) out of Iowa. The consensus is that Murray will be a better fit and that Ivey did not want to go to Sacramento and did not hide that fact. But the question will be around why the Kings did not trade the pick for assets since so many teams were interested in Ivey at #4. For the Pistons, getting Ivey at #5 was a no-brainer and really elevates hopes in a city that will see him team up with Cade Cunningham to form a dynamic backcourt. Detroit added Memphis center Jalen Duren in a move that gives the Pistons a solid young core for their future.
A.J. Griffin (6’6″ 222 pounds) was an expected lottery pick that fell all the way to #16 to the Atlanta Hawks. A terrific shooter from the perimeter, he saw his stock drop with a weak March where he was very ineffective in the ACC tournament as well as the NCAA Tournament. A 46% shooter from three, he saw his defense and decision-making in question down the stretch. He has also shown an ability to be overwhelmed by double teams and needs to improve his passing ability. All in all, you can see why he feel from the projections he had.
The New York Knicks seem to find a way to get things wrong for the most part. Yes, by the time pick #11 came around, all of the talent they wanted was gone. But what they got makes no sense. They picked Ousmane Dieng (6’10” 205 pounds) from the New Zealand Breakers and the pick went to the Thunder. The Knicks would get three conditional first-round picks and one of them comes from Milwaukee. With the Giannis Atentokumpo making the Bucks a perennial winner, that pick will be in the 20s at best. It is crystal clear that the Knicks are looking to make a splash next week in NBA free agency. That better produce a big name or the city of New York will be giving the team the business come next season.
In the end, it was not one of the most exciting drafts one can remember. There was lots of chaos and not many teams could be chosen as big winners. It will be a couple of years before one can really determine who were the winners and losers of this draft. Only time will tell the whole story. For now, the young players will enjoy knowing they are now officially in the NBA. That the dream they have dreamed for so long has come true.
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