NEW YORK — Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith were the big winners on Thursday night, finishing #1-3 in the NBA draft 2022† The Orlando Magic had the No. 1 pick for the first time since 2004, selecting Duke’s Banchero, making him Duke’s second number 1 pick in the past four years (Zion Williamson became #1 in 2019). Oklahoma City remained patient with the rebuild, adding the most polarizing player in the draft, 7-foot-1, 195-pound center Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith is heading for the Houston Rockets.
Many thought Smith would become No. 1, but the Magic preferred to build around Banchero. The Duke forward has an NBA-ready 250-pound body, and the Magic felt comfortable with the size he immediately placed next to Wendell Carter Jr. into orbit, rather than projecting how Smith and Holmgren’s bodies would be filled in.
Banchero is one of the best transition bombs in design with great vision on the court and the ability to start the attack more fluidly with a missed shot. Yes, Smith is a better three-point shooter and the Magic need help in that area, but Banchero isn’t poor perimeter shooter and has great shooting mechanics that it can develop.
There were a few surprising choices, most notably Patrick Baldwin Jr. who was 28th to the Golden State Warriors, and Jaden Ivey got his wish and avoided the Sacramento Kings. Below are the winners and losers of the NBA draft.
NBA draft winners
Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic
The Magic had the No. 1 choice of design for the first time since 2004, when they selected Dwight Howard. It worked well for the franchise at the time when Howard led Orlando to the finals. Before that, the Magic selected Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, so it’s clear that the Magic have had success drafting great men with the best pick.
Banchero entered the draft as the most suitable large in the draft with his 6-foot-10, 250-pound frame. The odds in Las Vegas skyrocketed from +1600 to +200 earlier this week for Banchero to go number 1 overall over the favorite Smith.
The Magic was one of the worst 3-point shooting teams last season, with only 33% of tries from deep. While Banchero didn’t make as many three-pointers as Smith did last season, he feels more than comfortable stepping into threes in the transition and outside the pick-and-roll option.
Jaden Ivey gets wish, and Detroit Pistons are added to elite young roster
Ivey, sitting as the fourth best prospect on the board, didn’t want to be drafted by the Sacramento Kings with the fourth choice. The Kings went with a team need rather than the best player available and selected Iowa forward Keegan Murray.
That gave the Pistons the go-ahead to take Ivey and add him alongside Cade Cunningham, creating one of the most athletic young backcourts in the league. Cunningham is a great facilitator and draws defenses with the way he reads players off the pick and roll. That will create space for Ivey to swing down from the wing and attack the baseline.
The Pistons also struck gold in the middle of Jalen Duren. from 6 feet-11 in a three-way trade involving the 13th overall design pick† Duren was the No. 1 player to drop out of high school before reclassifying and signing a year earlier to play for Penny Hardaway in Memphis. Duren has an NBA-ready body and is a fantastic passer, especially when the defense crashes.
Duren and Ivey will join an already elite young roster of Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes.
San Antonio Spurs and first round trio
The Spurs entered the draft with three first-round selections, benefiting from the roster of Jeremy Sochan at number 9, Malaki Branham at number 20 and Blake Wesley at number 25. All three players are young and athletic with a huge advantage.
Sochan is one of the best defenders in this draft class who can guard any position on the field at 6-foot-9 and sit down and defend the perimeter. Branham was the most improved guard in the Big Ten and continued to improve his 3-point shot through the pre-draft process. Wesley was the first to emerge from Notre Dame and is a highly skilled passer-by with untapped potential.
All three players took time to develop, but they had the most potential in this draft class. The Spurs have a solid young squad with Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker and Devin Vassell, and San Antonio has a stellar track record of developing players.
NBA draft losers
Sacramento Kings make another lottery mistake
The Kings have had a lottery pick every year except one since 2007 and are still trying to build a playoff team. Ivey was the best candidate available at number 4, with slight comparisons to Ja Morant, but with a full backcourt and Ivey very publicly voicing he didn’t want to go there, the Kings lined up Murray, the 6-foot-8 forward out of Iowa.
The Uninspiring Picks Of Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies already have an established playoff team led by Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane. On Thursday, they drafted Wake Forest wing Jake LaRavia with the 19th pick and Colorado State forward David Roddy at number 23. Roddy struggled at times during 5-on-5 play on the NBA draft combo, and LaRavia is a solid role player.
The Grizzlies passed on young players like TyTy Washington and Wesley. LaRavia and Roddy plan to be good secondary role-players, but they’re very uninspiring choices.
The Mysterious Transactions of New York Knicks
The Knicks entered the draft with the number 11 pick and instead of taking a shot at a positionless player like 6 foot AJ Griffin (who fell to the Atlanta Hawks at number 16), the Knicks traded the pick in to OKC. Then the Thunder traded three protected first-round picks to the Knicks.
New York then traded No. 23 to Denver and four future picks in the second round to Charlotte for the 13th pick (Jalen Duren)† The Knicks then split 13th pick and Kemba Walker to Detroit for the Milwaukee first round in 2025.
So to recap, the Knicks traded the 11th pick, along with Walker, and four second-round picks on Thursday, and they got three future first-round picks. It wasn’t a terrible night for the organization as there is a lot of value in next year’s draft, but instead of trying to get help this season after 34-48 in 2021-22, the Knicks are taking over a page from Thunder general manager Sam Presti’s book and collection of future picks.