NBA Draft 2022: Warriors, Kings among the biggest winners, losers


NBA Draft 2022: Warriors, Kings among the biggest winners, losers

Unsurprisingly, the 2022 NBA draft was delivered with rapidly exploding mock drafts and confusing trade details that had us waiting for the next Twitter notification.

But in the end 58 selections were made and we have a better sense of what the teams wanted to do with their respective selections.

Which teams stood out and which failed to impress? Let’s rank the winners and losers of the 2022 NBA Draft:

Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder

Well, we know General Manager Sam Presti loves racking up draft picks, but he’s parted from it three future first-round picks to add another first rounder this year. Oklahoma City entered the lottery with two picks but added one more after winning the 11th pick overall from the New York Knicks. The Thunder rotated those picks in Chet Holmgren at No. 2 overall, Ousmane Dieng at No. 11, and Jalen Williams at No. 12.

Oklahoma City has a working core of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and Luguentz Dort while its other treasure trove of youth continues to develop, but all three lottery picks on paper were fantastic picks. Holmgren is the team’s center going forward, Dieng’s advantage is one of the highest in this class and Jalen Williams is a highly versatile 3-and-D winger who is also a multi-level scorer.

In the second round, Oklahoma City picked Arkansas big man Jaylin Williams, a scholar who draws charges and is a high-IQ player at both ends of the parquet. The Thunder have plenty of youngsters who will be fighting for a roster spot next year, but this group of four prospects is a massive haul on paper.

Losers: Sacramento Kings

No, this isn’t intended to jump into the team with the longest playoff drought in the league, and that spot could have gone to the New York Knicks had they not acquired several first-round picks for 2023. The Kings got their man in Keegan Murray at No. 4, but after jumping into the top five in the lottery, one might think why not swing for Jaden Ivey, who seems to have the explosive star on his head? If the Kings couldn’t find a partner to trade back a few spots to get Murray, that’s one thing, but they also patrolled the rest of the draft.

They traded pick #37 for that Dallas Mavericks and the No. 49 to the Cleveland Cavaliers for 26-year-old Euro contender Sasha Vezenkov. Sacramento doesn’t have much cash to spare and the roster isn’t ready to contend for a playoff spot, barring internal jumps from the likes of De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell. Undrafted free agent Keon Ellis might become the pick of the draft, but the Kings should have been more aggressive when it came to adding young talent to build a roster, and tonight could have been better.

Winner: Detroit Pistons

A potential star fell into their laps as the Pistons went back and traded for their future center. After the Kings selected Murray, Purdue guard Jaden Ivey dropped to Detroit and formed a tempting backcourt with 2021 No. 1 overall Cade Cunningham. Cunningham’s ability to create and control a game will seamlessly combine with Ivey’s explosiveness as a 1-2 pairing.

Then the Pistons returned to the back end of the lottery, acquiring 13th-ranked Jalen Duren, another explosive middle-place athlete from Memphis — all it took was a 2025 first-round pick owned by Milwaukee, which most likely will be the case will be closer to a second round pick than a lottery pick. Add Saddiq Bey to the core and The Motor City gets a spin.

In the second round, Detroit grabbed Gabriele Procida in 36th place. He played overseas in Italy and shot well from deep, albeit at low volume, but he just turned 20 and is a nice hideout.

Losers: EJ Liddell, Kendall Brown

Not usually a fan of calling players losers, but EJ Liddell and Kendall Brown were the two biggest drops of the draft. The Ohio State forward was widely considered to be mid to late in the first round but fell back to 41st in the second round.

Liddell improved his numbers every three years in college, particularly with his ability to shoot from deep as a small-ball big-man. In the end, the New Orleans Pelicans snapped him up after bringing in Dyson Daniels with the number 8, adding to their impressive burgeoning collection of young talent.

Brown is a 19-year-old small forward, measuring 6ft 8, who was also considered a possible first-rounder due to his potential. But he dropped down to 48th where the Indiana Pacers picked him up after he landed Bennedict Mathurin in 6th. Brown has yet to prove he can extend his reach beyond the perimeter, but these two players unfortunately fall into that category.

Winner: Houston Rockets

Houston creates a problem. With three first-round picks in the form of Jabari Smith Jr. (No. 3 overall), Tari Eason (No. 17) and TyTy Washington Jr. (No. 29), the Rockets can field five from the last two drafts if one Jalen Green – who took off in the final months of the 2021/22 campaign – and Alperen Sengun are considered. And that’s before we get to Usman Garuba, who has yet to show what he can do.

The Rockets still have a long way to go to assert themselves, but they’re fielding a plethora of young, versatile players in the post-James Harden era, making it an exciting time for the franchise. Next up is ending John Wall’s contract.

Honorable Winners

That Warriors of the Golden State Drafted Patrick Baldwin Jr. at number 28, a perfect hiding and development project for next year. Baldwin was supposed to be a top 10 guy this year, but his freshman campaign in Milwaukee didn’t go as planned. But he ends up in a perfect position as Golden State can set him up behind the scenes, much like 2021 lottery winners Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.

Jeremy Sochan (No. 9), Malaki Branham (No. 20) and Blake Wesley (No. 25) were all very San Antonio Spurs-like picks. Spurs are still building their next core after the Tim Duncan-Manu Ginobili-Tony Parker days, and those three first-rounders could do well with 2021 All-Star Dejounte Murray at the helm.

Both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Toronto Raptors addressed big needs. Minnesota picked Walker Kessler at number 22, a defensive center who will help with the rotation alongside offensive bigs Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid. Then, Toronto picked Christian Koloko in No. 33, a 7-foot shot blocker who has solid lateral quickness considering the Raptors’ love of switchable players.

The Cleveland Cavaliers drafted Evan Mobley’s older brother Isaiah at USC No. 49. The 6-foot-10 tall man could end up as a rotational support for a budding young team that narrowly missed the playoffs last season.

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