NBA Draft Recap: Winners and Losers, Top Storylines, Bold Predictions

The top storylines on the 2022 NBA Draft

While+no+Cougs+were+selected+in+the+2022+NBA+Draft%2C+five+players+with+ties+to+the+state+of+Washington+were+selected+on+June+23%2C+2022

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While no Cougs were selected in the 2022 NBA Draft, five players with ties to the state of Washington were selected on June 23, 2022

TREVOR JUNT, Evergreen Reporter

The NBA draft took place on Thursday and in predictable fashion it was quite unpredictable.

The top three prospects in the draft were selected, as expected in the top three: Seattle native Paolo Banchero of Duke, Chet Holmgren from Gonzaga and Jabari Smith of Auburn.

However, they went in a bit of a surprising order. About 12 hours before the draft NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski tweeted quite definitively that the order would be Smith to Orlando at one, Holmgren to Oklahoma City at two, and Banchero to Houston at three.

Turns out Orlando was throwing out smoke screens the entire time to try and get a trade. Banchero went first to them, Holmgren second to OKC and Smith third to Houston.

Winners & Losers: 

Winners:

Detroit Pistons – The Detroit Pistons were massive winners in this year’s draft. Adding Jaden Ivey at the number five spot is the best thing that could have happened to the Pistons. When Sacramento skipped over him, the front office broke out in laughter over the gold that fell to them.

Ivey will pair well with Cade Cunningham to comprise a lethal backcourt. Cunningham’s situational awareness will give Ivery and the Pistons plenty of scoring opportunities.

Detroit was also able to effectively trade Jerami Grant for the 13 overall draft selection. They grabbed Jalen Duren, the 18-year-old center from Memphis. He is 6-foot-11 and will be a good roll and lob threat with Cunningham. He also adds some physicality to a young Pistons team.

This draft could end up helping make the Detroit Pistons truly relevant for the first time in over a decade. 

Oklahoma City Thunder – OKC was able to do exactly what they wanted coming into this draft: Land Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren at the number two spot.

The Thunder are deep into a rebuild themselves allowing General Manager Sam Presti to play with this draft a bit. Not in any hurry to get their team to be title contenders right away Presti added more players to his extremely young core.

The Thunder grabbed three lottery players. They drafted Holmgren at two. They were able to make a trade with the Knicks to take the 11 overall pick off their hands where they selected 6-foot-10 forward Ousmane Dieng. Dieng played in the Australian league and averaged 8.9 points per game, 3.2 rebounds and shot 51 percent from the field.

With the 12th pick they selected Jalen Williams from Santa Clara. Williams is a natural scorer and will play into their rotation nicely, being a safe pick and pro-ready.

At 34 they picked Jaylin Williams a 6-foot-10 center who averaged 10.9 points per game, 9.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists. Along with 1.3 steals per game and 1.1 blocks. A solid pick at 34.

These were all good selections for OKC, and breaking out of the draft with three lottery picks is obviously great. Building an NBA team is a difficult task and picking in the draft is quite literally like what they call it: a lottery. Sometimes you get lucky and picking all players with higher upsides can lead to a higher likelihood of success.

Presti likes collecting first-round picks because of this process. This draft is no different and as long as he is the GM the rebuild will continue to be like that until they start finding more success.

Losers:

New York Knicks – The Knicks draft-wise were awful. Plain and simple, their moves did not make sense.

The haul for the Knicks is quite interesting as the only draft pick they kept was the 42nd pick, where they selected Trevor Keels, a guard from Duke.

The entire draft was the Knicks basically salary dumping and picking up poor draft picks just so they can save up and prepare for free agency.

They traded their 11 pick for three heavily-protected picks from the Thunder who chose Dieng. They then had a three-team trade with the Hornets and Pistons where Duren got sent to the Pistons and the Knicks gave up a first-round pick they got from the Thunder to the Hornets along with four second-round picks. They also dumped off Kemba Walker to the Pistons to get rid of his salary. They received a Milwaukee first-round pick from the Pistons.

Essentially, they received two heavily (I mean extremely) protected picks from OKC, Milwaukee’s first-round pick from Detroit, and an extra $18 million in cap space, drafting nobody in the first round. 

The Knicks should have just picked the best player available at 11 and kept building around RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin. However, they have their eyes set on free agency where there is a possibility that nothing could happen for them. They have hopes of Kyrie Irving, or more realistically, Jalen Brunson.

This draft was an absolute mess for the New York Knicks.

Sacramento Kings – The Kings broke a cardinal rule of drafting for most GMs. Instead of picking the best player available they picked the better fit for their team at this moment.

They drafted Keegan Murray a 21-year-old guard standing 6-foot-8 from Iowa instead of the higher ceiling player Ivey. Ivey is almost two years younger and is a consensus better player than Murray.

Murray may have a great career for the Kings but he will always be compared to Ivey. The Kings always seem to have something awful happen to them a pick after them at the draft. In 2011 they drafted Jimmer Fredette at 10 and Klay Thompson went next at 11. In 2012 they drafted Thomas Robinson at 5 and Damian Lillard went after at 6. More recently, in 2018 they drafted Marvin Bagley at 2 and then Luka Doncic went next at 3.

The Kings have a bad history when it comes to drafting and this could continue with this draft deciding to make the more win-now decision rather than the highest potential.

Bold Predictions:

Rookie of the Year –  My Rookie of the Year favorite is Banchero at the moment however I believe that Smith will win the award. Although Banchero or Holmgren will put up great numbers I think that Smith’s numbers will stand out to voters.

The 6-foot-10 forward averaged 16.9 points per game, 7.4 rebounds and 43% shooting from the field with 42% from three. Smith can score from anywhere and will be asked to do a lot of pick and rolling where he can spot up and take a mid-range shot. He will put up high-scoring numbers that will convince the voters.

True Contenders – The New Orleans Pelicans came out of this draft with Dyson Daniels with the eighth overall pick. He is a high-IQ player who can immediately come in and make a difference. 

A team with a healthy Zion Williams, Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum will be contenders in the West. Still a young team, I can see them competing all the way up for the five or six seed in the playoffs.

The Dallas Mavericks also came out of this draft much better than before. They were able to package salary-filling players with the 26th pick to trade for Christian Wood from the Rockets. Doncic was missing a true big man that can throw lobs or who can score for themselves. This fills a massive need for the Mavericks and makes them a much better team contending for the title.

If the Mavericks are able to keep Jalen Brunson or obtain a second ball-handler they push this title-contending further. Also drafting Jaden Hardy who was a five-star prospect and was supposed to be one of the best players in the 2021 class is a low-risk/high-reward move, and if he is able to play like he did in high school the Mavericks will have a great core.

Time will tell which teams benefitted the most from the 2022 NBA Draft.