Drafting in the NBA is extremely hard. Every general manager makes mistakes on his resume, and there can be severe consequences for blowing a pick.
Luckily, there are no consequences whatsoever for grading winners and losers. There are going to be some misses here, too, so let’s try to have fun with it.
Here’s the instant gratification winners and losers column that you’re seeking from the 2022 NBA Draft.
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NBA Draft 2022 winners
Banchero was sitting at No. 3 on most big boards. He did show up as the top prospect in a few places, though, notably on the boards of The Sporting News’ Kyle Irving, SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell and The Box and One’s Adam Spinella. He’s my top prospect, too, and a great selection for the Magic.
I got to see Banchero up close at the Final Four, talk to his teammates and interview the people that were around him dating back to his middle school days. He comes from a great family of former athletes, and he has impressed me with his leadership skills during games. He has the intangibles needed to reach his full potential once he gets into the league.
I’m a sucker for big men who can pass, and Banchero checks that box. He’s probably the best passing big man outside of one of my favorite sleeper picks, Purdue’s Trevion Williams.
That passing acumen is indicative of a high feel level. Combine Banchero’s natural talents, size, work ethic and understanding of the game, and I believe that he’s going to be a star for the Magic.
Everybody suspected that the Kings would take Jaden Ivey at No. 4. After they passed on Ivey in favor of Keegan Murray, the Pistons made the obvious selection at No. 5.
Ivey has garnered comparisons to Ja Morant for his elite athleticism and wonky jumper. Shot creation is one of the hardest skills to find, and Ivey will be able to do that.
Cade Cunningham and Ivey should make an extremely interesting backcourt combination. The Pistons now have two shot creators that get their looks in completely different ways — Cunningham with craft, and Ivey with speed and athleticism.
Trading for Jalen Duren, originally taken by the Hornets at No. 13, was also a nice move. He’s a great athlete, shot blocker and rim runner.
New Orleans Pelicans
Dyson Daniels seems like a great fit for the Pelicans at No. 8. He’s a fantastic defender, and he should fit in nicely with the current group.
The Pelicans already have shot creators in CJ McCollum, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. They need a player that can pass and defend alongside those three, and Daniels fits that mold.
Daniels’ biggest weakness is an inconsistent 3-point shot. The Pelicans have one of the premier shooting coaches in the league in Fred Vinson. He has helped remake the shaky jumpers of players like Lonzo Ball and Herb Jones.
Putting aside fit, Daniels was also the best talent available at No. 8. This was a nice pickup for the rising Pelicans.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers buying No. 35 from the Magic in exchange for cash and a future second-rounder isn’t a giant move in the grand scheme of things. But this franchise was criticized for being too cheap to bring back key veterans last season. (Hello Alex Caruso!)
They’ve painted themselves into a corner without many assets to overhaul a roster that badly needs augmenting. They did what they could on draft day to get better, using that pick to select Max Christie.
All second-rounders aren’t created equal. The 35th pick has decent value, netting players like Herb Jones last year. This is a move on the margins, but it’s a good one.
NBA Draft 2022 losers
Much of the intrigue around the NBA Draft has been lost because of the phenomenon of NBA newsbreakers getting the picks from agents before they are made. For once, that trend (kind of) ended.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, usually rock-solid with his information, tweeted that “the 1-2-3 of the NBA Draft is increasingly firm,” listing Jabari Smith Jr. as the No. 1 pick on Thursday morning.
That was obviously proven incorrect. Wojnarowski backtracked as the Magic’s selection grew closer.
Yahoo’s Chris Haynes incorrectly announced Jabari Smith Jr. as the second overall pick before deleting his tweet. Smith was later picked third.
Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer got the win by announcing“To be honest, I don’t know where [Jalen] Duren is going” while trade details were still unclear. The Athletic’s Shams Charania, in a race to be first, got the initial details wrong, routing Duren to the Knicks. Fischer’s honesty was refreshing.
Newsbreaking is a tough business, and I don’t envy those that do it. But their loss was the viewers’ gain. A little mystery is a nice thing.
Every year, some owner whose college basketball viewing consists only of the NCAA Tournament decides to overdraft one of its stars. This year, that player was Ochai Agbaji, and that team was the Cavs.
Agbaji had a great tournament run, but six nationally televised games shouldn’t supersede the other 116 games of his career. He’s a solid player that fits a high-need role in the NBA as a 3-and-D wing. The upside isn’t really there, which is what you should shoot for when drafting in the lottery.
The 22-year-old is a good-but-not-great defender, a good-but-not-great 3-point shooter and pretty limited in every other category. That should keep him on the floor for the Cavs, but it’s hard to envision how he has major positive impact.
Agbaji has shown in four years that generating offensive advantages is not part of his game. That is the most valuable NBA skill to have. He will help a team and carve out a nice role for himself, but there were more exciting players available in this draft slot.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Sure, the Thunder have a ton of extra first-round picks, but each one was farmed through the tears of some young fan.
For a franchise that has tortured its fanbase in the name of the draft, it’s a tough sell to trade three first-round picks to the Knicks for Ousmane Dieng. Those picks include a 2023 top 14-protected first-rounder from the Wizards, a 2023 top 18-protected first-rounder from the Pistons and a 2023 top 14-protected first-rounder from the Nuggets, per Charania and ESPN’s Bobby Marks.
We can’t be sure exactly where those picks end up landing, but this is probably going to be a loss from a value perspective. This seems like an easy win for the Knicks and a loss for the Thunder.