Every year there are winners and losers in the NBA Draft. However, sometimes, teams that everyone thought did really well, didn’t do so well at all, and vice-versa. Our opinions don’t always mirror reality. Last season, a few of the biggest “reaches,” Josh Giddey and Ziaire Williams, contributed a substantial amount as rookies and looked like incredibly promising NBA players. Meanwhile, seemingly surefire “Day One” contributors have not panned out as such and barely even saw the floor in their rookie seasons. This unpredictability is what makes professional sports so beautiful: you never know!
NBA Draft Winners
Analysis: No team came out of the 2022 NBA Draft in better shape than the Detroit Pistons, and it’s hard to fathom second place being that close, either. The Pistons selected Jaden Ivey with the No. 5 overall pick after Sacramento opted not to trade back in the lottery and acquire additional assets. This selection already warrants an A or A+ as Jaden Ivey is the perfect backcourt complement to a big-time playmaker and creator like Cade Cunningham; however, things only got sweeter later in the lottery when Detroit nailed down a three-way deal with the Charlotte Hornets and New York Knicks. Detroit gave up a marginal amount to grab a potentially generational big man in Jalen Duren. This was an absolute heist, and Detroit now has its young core for the future.
New Orleans Pelicans
Analysis: New Orleans is closer to being playoff-relevant than most people think. After adding C.J. McCollum at the trade deadline, the Pels surged and found themselves in the playoffs, despite not having Zion Williamson. Once in the playoffs, they scared the No. 1 seed Phoenix Suns, who were likely counting their blessings after the series ended. The main issue that needed to be addressed in New Orleans was adding another ball handler that could compete at a high level on both ends of the floor. Dyson Daniels is precisely that. Daniels impressed scouts and execs this past season playing for G-League Ignite. His defensive prowess is elite, and he mirrors Josh Giddey in many ways on the offensive end. It may not be this season, but the Pels should have a shot to go deep in the playoffs over the next few years.
Analysis: Houston fans may not want to hear this, but Jabari Smith Jr is likely a better fit in Houston than Banchero would have been. Banchero will be such a premier scorer in this league that it would be hard to imagine three alpha scorers (Bachero, Jalen Green, and Kevin Porter Jr) coexisting long-term. Smith should be more of a secondary scorer who will excel in Houston due to its fast-paced play and talented guards, which he did not have at Auburn. Additionally, the Rockets added two more first-rounders in Tari Eason and TyTy Washington. When filling out mock drafts, I usually had Houston only grabbing one of these guys, and by the end of the night, it ended with both! Washington should help alleviate lead guard duties from Green and KPJ, while Eason is a superbly athletic and defensive-centric forward with a high upside.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Analysis: Oklahoma City flexed its muscles (more like draft capital) to pull in the No. 11 overall pick from the New York Knicks, giving it three lottery picks. The Thunder selected unicorn Chet Holmgren with the second pick and then traded for Ousmane Dieng, a 6-foot-10 forward with solid playmaking and defensive abilities, especially for as young as he is right now. Additionally, OKC grabbed Jalen Williams from Santa Clara with the 12th pick. Williams skyrocketed draft boards after more people got their hands on his footage and an impressive combine showing in the 5v5s. OKC also had an early second-round pick and used it to select Jaylin Williams from Arkansas, who was a steal that late in the draft. The Thunder are building a talented core, and they just added four quality players in one draft.
Attention @okcthunder fans. You've got another good one ⚡️
— The NBL (@NBL) June 24, 2022
NBA Draft Losers
Analysis: Sacramento managed to have an underwhelming draft once again. It selected Keegan Murray with the fourth overall pick instead of acquiring more assets and trading back in the lottery with a team desperate for Jaden Ivey, a potential superstar guard. Most of us can agree that the Kings never seem to have a consistent direction, constantly shifting between rebuilding and attempting to win now; this only further validates that thinking. Murray could be a solid, high-floor NBA player and may even fit in nicely with Domantas Sabonis, an excellent passing big man; however, the Kings missed an opportunity to bully other desperate teams into overpaying for the pick.
Los Angeles Lakers
Analysis: Los Angeles decided to trade for an early second-rounder so that it could take Max Christie? Christie could turn into a solid contributor at the NBA level, but it won’t be soon enough. At least, it won’t be soon enough. LeBron’s window is closing, and the Lakers needed to move the needle in the right direction here. I’m afraid that this did not do it.