Let’s be honest about this thinking exercise: we don’t know who the winners and losers are in the NBA Draft 2022 and we won’t know for another three or four years.
Should the Magic actually have lined up? Jabari Smith about Paulo Banchero? Should the kings have taken? Jaden Ivey instead of Keegan Murray† While I like Ivey better as a prospect, we probably won’t know the answer to that question until around the 2025 draft. Much of what follows is my perception and opinion, which could be incorrect in a few years.
With that caveat, here are my winners and losers from the 2022 NBA Draft. Just take this (and everyone’s analysis) with a grain of salt.
Winner: Paulo Banchero and his gamblers
When the betting markets have undergone a dramatic shift just over 24 hours before the draw started – the money started pouring in on Paulo Banchero who became the number 1 overall – suffice it to say that media members and their sources within the competition were confused. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Even Posted a Final Tweet just over 12 hours before draft said Jabari Smith would go first, Chet Holmgren second and Banchero third.
It turns out that the keen gamblers were on to something. About an hour before the draft, the tune of Wojnarowski and other news breakers started to change. By the time Adam Silver said they were on time, it was clear that the… Magic would take Banchero† Some keen gamblers made a lot of money.
It was a brilliantly executed deception by the Magic, who clearly intended to take Banchero but put out a perfect smoke screen. The bigger question is, why perform the deception? No one bit their man in front of them. Was it to try and do a trade for Smith so they could trade a few spots and still get their man (ala Danny Ainge giving up the #1 spot so Philadelphia could take Markelle Fultzthen get Jayson Tatum at no. 3)? Maybe it was just because they could. Whatever the motivation, the plan worked.
Winner: Detroit Pistons
For my money, Detroit was the big winner and had the best draft night of any team.
Part of that was luck – Jalen Ivey fell for them at number 5. Ivey’s explosive athleticism is a perfect one-two punch with Cade Cunningham, which is the backcourt of the future, one that could be the best backcourt in the league in a few years. Then they traded for the center of the future Jalen Duren, from Memphis. (Does that matter? less likely to chase them Deandre Ayton at liberty?)
The Pistons are a team to watch.
Losers: Knicks fans
New York didn’t do anything terribly wrong, it was just boring. The Knicks continued with Leon Rose‘s pattern of patience and cleared a little space for the cap that went on from Kemba Walker†
However, patience is never what Knicks fans want. They wanted their team to trade and put a star in Jaden Ivey, or keep the No. 13 pick from that first trade and take the center of the future in Jalen Duren (now a Piston) or do something else daring. Instead they got a little more cap room to run on Jalen BrunsonWho is almost certainly stay with the Mavericks?†
The Knicks can appease their fans with free agency moves, but on draft night, the Knicks were boring and their fans didn’t like it.
Winner: Houston Rockets
Paulo Banchero would have been good in Houston (he would be good anywhere), but Jabari Smith fits better next Jalen Green†
Smith doesn’t take as good pictures for himself as he does for Banchero, but Green and Kevin Porter Jr. already do that for the Rockets. Smith shoots the ball really well and defends his position – two things the Rockets need. Smith will thrive in his role in Houston, and that’s what makes the Rockets winners.
Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder
They ended the evening with lottery picks, one of whom to trade to get, which could/should be a critical part of the core being built in OKC.
They got the potential cornerstone of the franchise in Chet Holmgren at number 2 – even after the Magic chose Banchero the Thunder to stay with Gonzaga’s big man – plus traded with the Knicks to land Ousmane Diengand then used their own choice to Jalen Williams (not to be confused with Jaylin Williamswhich they got in the second round).
These are all players that are assumed to take some time to develop, but you can see what kind of team Sam Presti is starting to build. Combine those three with Shai Gilgeous-AlexanderLou Dort and Josh Giddey† this will be an interesting team to watch grow.
Loser: Fans rooting for NBA chaos
NBA fans expect bold and aggressive off-season moves — and those may be coming in the coming weeks — but the 2022 NBA Draft was a slow night for the agents of chaos.
Outside the surprise at number 1there were no big trades, no record scratch moments that shocked everyone. John Collins is somehow still a member of the Atlanta Hawks. Rudy Gobert is still with the Jazz. No huge trades, no insane picks out of the blue (even the Kings who passed Ivey on for Keegan Murray was expected, if not something someone else would have done). Up and down the draft board, teams took players who matched pretty well.
Now it’s on Kyrie Irving to bring the chaos† Which he is fully capable of.
View more about the NBA Draft
2022 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of rosters, trades Paolo Banchero is now favorite as number 1 choice PBT Podcast: Preview of NBA Draft Prospect in 2022
Winners, Losers of the 2022 NBA Draft originally appeared on NBCSports.com