The 2022 NBA draft is in the books with a number of surprises across the board.
As always in the immediate aftermath of a draft, it’s nearly impossible to say how good or bad a decision each team made was.
With that said, it is still very possible to make a call on the winners and losers of the draft based on the current information available.
The Rockets had the best news they could have at the start of the draft when the Orlando Magic chose to lead Duke’s No. 1 forward Paulo Banchero overall.
With the Oklahoma City Thunder closing in at Gonzaga Chet Holmgren Center, that left the door open for Houston in third to take on multi-faceted Auburn man Jabari Smith, a player who was expected to go first overall for months until about a year ago a week ago when rumors began creeping into Orlando that Perhaps she was leaning in the direction of Banchero.
To be clear, this isn’t a hit against the Blue Devil and Magic’s decision as it has the kind of high offensive package any team would want, but for the Rockets Smith it makes more sense as he looks to be a perfect fit with them.
Smith is a player with true All-Defensive potential as an edge protection center with the ability to switch all over the ground, as well as an emerging offensive perimeter game that could make him an interesting candidate with promising young Houston guard Galen Green.
Add the fact that the Rockets secured another solid defensive prospect in LSU forward Tari Eason at age 17 and then a big-looking steal at TyTy Washington, Kentucky’s points guard turned 29th overall pick and you have a recipe for a good night in the draft.
The Sixers made what seemed to be the most immediately impactful move of the night when they managed to strike a deal with the Memphis Grizzlies for the acquisition of De’Anthony Melton.
All that was required of Philly to get the troublesome high-level goalkeeper still at 24 was pick number 23 and Danny Green – who is 35 and has just suffered a terrible injury that may have his ACL and LCL in his left knee during Playoffs in his last legs.
This is an incredible value for the Sixers who don’t need to bring in and try to develop a first-round player into a potential contributor. Instead, the 76ers were able to bring in Melton’s aa player who’s already proven to be a good player as a solid defender who can take down three open when he gets the chance (he’s shot 41.2 and 37.4 percent from his depth the past two seasons).
Milton is exactly the kind of complementary piece Philadelphia needs around the likes of Joel Embiid and James Harden.
Canadian Basketball (again)
In what has now become a simple fact of life in the NBA draft, Canadian basketball had another great evening.
First, for the second time ever, a pair of Canadians were taken into the top 10 of the draft, with Montreal’s Benedict Mathurin going to the Indiana Pacers and Shydon Sharp from London, Ont. Even more amazing is that both young men were selected back-to-back at No. 6 and 7.
Mathurin and Sharp joined Andrew Wiggins (No. 1) and Nick Stauskas (No. 8) in 2018 as the only Canadians to be selected in the top 10 picks in the same draft.
That wasn’t the end of the big Canadian basketball night, but a few hours later, at the start of the second round, there were two Canadians in Andrew Nymbard (Aurora, Ontario) and Caleb Hustan (Mississauga, Ont.) also back as Nymbard also relegated with Indiana at 31, and Hustan went to Orlando at 32.
A pair of Canadians each get one back in the NBA draft. It really doesn’t get much better than that.
And the Kings seemed to dissipate their influence over the Detroit Pistons when they picked only Iowa forward Keegan Murray with the fourth pick.
It was widely reported that Detroit was very interested in Purdue explosive guard Jaden Ivey, who was shown by every mock draft and big board as a player to finish fourth.
So, from the outside looking in, the ball was in Sacramento’s court to try and cut a deal with Detroit and still roll down to get Murray, who seems to be more suited to the Kings than Ivey does.
Instead, Sacramento chose to go straight to Murray, leaving open the door for the Pistons to pounce on Kid Cunningham and pair Kid Cunningham with their top target at no additional cost.
New York Knicks
On paper, turning the Knicks to pick No. 11 into three different first-round picks doesn’t look that bad, but when you consider the fact that New York came out of the sweepstakes for draft picks that probably wouldn’t exist for the lottery it gets a lot hazy.
Plus, the move to unload the Kemba Walker nodes in an effort to open up the cover space is also a bit baffling.
Is New York really all that desperate to try to run in Kyrie Irving and all the baggage it’s going to bring? Or, more realistically, Galen Bronson?
Sure, Bronson is a good player, but he doesn’t look like a superstar. That, until Knicks pays him as one.
Fake Drafts and the bettors who profited from them
As per usual, the many hours that many draft experts and associated insiders put in making mock drafts are torn to shreds. Some were probably caught straight away as the magic moved on with Banchero in first place.
That’s old hat at this point. Most interesting, however, is the intrusive effect that these expert spoofs are likely to have on the now legal betting audience who is likely to use resources such as published photo drafts and big boards to help influence where they put their money.
This includes the potential for big deals with rumors circulating everywhere, including one fairly loud about OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors and Trail Blazers.
Nothing went nearly as it was supposed to. Regular bettors who are just looking to add a little extra excitement to the draft are likely to lose out as information as to what’s to come, they end up turning out pretty big in a short amount of time.