This year’s 2022 NBA draft included an intriguing set of picks due to the uncertainty among the top three picks and the rest of the field of players.
With the first overall pick in the NBA draft, the Orlando Magic selected Paolo Banchero out of Duke University. Although he will help a Magic squad that has struggled offensively, pundits wonder how the team will shape up with Banchero, Wendell Carter Jr., and Franz Wagner.
The Oklahoma City Thunder had the second pick, and were rightly ecstatic that their future center was available. Chet Holmgren was drafted to the Thunder at pick two, and the Thunder also made two more splashes in the first round drafting Ousmane Dieng and Jalen Williams at picks 11 and 12. Dieng is a pick for the future with raw skills, while Williams was taken earlier than most expected by Oklahoma City.
The next three picks were Jabari Smith Jr. to the Rockets, Keegan Murray to the Kings and Jaden Ivey to the Pistons. Smith to the Rockets was the best player of the big three picks, as the Rockets would have taken Holmgren or Banchero, most likely. Murray to the Kings was as expected, seeing their team not offer a workout to Ivey, but many wondered if they would regret not taking the high upside guard.
A steal in the first round came when the Portland Trail Blazers picked up dynamic offensive playmaker Shaedon Sharpe in the hopes of pairing him with star point guard Damian Lillard. Although Sharpe didn’t play at the University of Kentucky this past season, the skilled guard showed enough to get him drafted in the lottery.
The Cleveland Cavaliers made some selections throughout the draft that fitted their mold of defense while adding some shooting along the way. First, they drafted Ochai Agbaji who led his Kansas University squad to the national championship. They also drafted Isaiah Mobley, brother of star rookie player Evan Mobley, creating an interesting defensive tandem in the paint.
Following Banchero, a significant number of Duke players were picked in this year’s draft.
Mark Williams was drafted to the Charlotte Hornets in the 15th round, and A.J. Griffin to the Atlanta Hawks at pick 16. Trevor Keels was drafted to the New York Knicks in the second round.
There were a number of undrafted players who many assumed would be drafted based on pedigree or rankings. Scottie Pippen Jr., son of the legendary small forward, who had an impressive Vanderbilt career that didn’t end up getting him drafted as an undersized guard, was not picked. Kenneth Lofton Jr. and Ron Harper Jr. – two forwards that many thought would get drafted – ultimately didn’t hear their name called.
As always the NBA draft is only speculative, so with many athletes being drafted and signed, there will always be the busts and steals of every draft.