Here are three winners and three losers in the 2022 NBA draft, a night that will change the trajectory of several teams. Some for the better and others…not so much.
1. Detroit Pistons
The Pistons need a lot of things right now, but a dynamic second ballman who can take on scrimmage duties and score goals from Cade Cunningham’s plate may be the most important short-term hole. When Jaden Ivey fell in their lap at number 5, the Detroit front office probably started making wheels; he was (probably) the best player available and the perfect player to put him next to last year’s number 1 overall.
Ivey can fill in for Cunningham in the half court and help Detroit pick up the pace. This is also a great situation for hiswhere instead of going to the No. 4 Kings and joining a notoriously dysfunctional organization that already has a ball-dominant point guard and hasn’t made the playoffs in 16 years, Ivey finds himself in a relatively pressure-free situation. next to a selfless, intelligent leader who can operate both on and off the ball.
The Pistons then traded a future first-round pick they got from Jerami Grant earlier this week for Jalen Duren, who picked the No. 12 pick — exactly the kind of athletic athlete this growing team needs to prove himself in the paint on both finishes. . (The cost was Kemba Walker, who they will reportedly buy out.) What that means for Isaiah Stewart is a question for another day, although moving him to a backup role would probably be better for everyone.
Detroit still has a lot of work to do before it becomes a competitive playoff team, but its future backcourt has been determined. It may also have a new franchise center. And after Grant moved to the Blazers, the Pistons still have tons of money to spend on free agency. They shouldn’t be excluded from the Deandre Ayton draw just yet, but it would be a little surprising if Jalen Brunson was still on their radar.
2 Oklahoma City Thunder Fan Base (and Shai Gilgeus-Alexander)
Cashing in a few first-round picks to get the No. 11 from the Knicks, it looks like the Thunder are finally poised to speed up a recovery that has been stuck at neutral. Having already selected Chet Holmgren with the second pick in the draft, Sam Presti then added Usman Dieng and Jalen Williams at No. 12. That’s three lottery picks plus Jaylin Williams at No. 34.
The Thunder won’t make the playoffs next year, but they won’t be trifled with either. Shai Gilges-Alexander, Josh Giddy and Chet Holmgren form the core of the Big Three. And with a bunch of cap spots and a few young talents waiting to emerge, Oklahoma City’s promising future could start to take shape next season.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers made one of the most noteworthy trades of the night, trading an injured Danny Green and their 23rd pick to Memphis for De’Anthony Melton. TL;DR Analysis: Philadelphia should win right now and Melton is good enough to help a team that is winning right now.
He also has a contract for next season under a team-friendly deal that pays $8.25 million in 2023 and $8 million in 2024 (only $1.5 million of which is guaranteed). If needed, Philadelphia can easily get rid of that salary or tie it to something else in a larger deal. But that’s not why they took this step. Melton is a competent shotmaker who needs nothing more than to focus on Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyreese Maxey on offense. He will throw open shots (more open than the Grizzlies) and drive hard closes.
In addition, he is only 24 years old, and he is a bumbling defender who lives to force losses. It’s still unclear what this roster will look like at the premiere, but two-sided depth has been a major issue for them in the playoffs. Melton is a modest step towards solving some of these problems.
1. New York Knicks
It’s hard to judge the Knicks before August because their draft activity was too closely tied to who they might sign in the summer. But they’re listed here as underdogs because, as a deeply flawed team that probably should have just used their lottery picks to build around young talent like R.J. Barrett and Obie Toppin, New York decided to target to free will.
First, they traded the 11th pick to the Thunder for three heavily defended future first round picks. Then, in a three-team deal with the Hornets and Pistons rumored to be after Jayden Ivey, New York threw Kemba Walker and 13th pick (Jalen Duren) to Detroit for another protected first. player. in 2025 (via Milwaukee, courtesy of the Pistons, who got him for Jerami Grant earlier this week). it’s dirty.
Now, even though the Knicks probably should have just picked who they had first on their 12th spade board, their thought process is clear: take a new batch of spades, turn them into trading assets, and keep going. cut even longer. – urgent salary (like Evan Fournier and Alec Burks). Free will is what they care about. Now they will go to war with the Mavericks over Jalen Brunson, whose father, Rick, has just been hired by the Knicks as an assistant coach. (See: Brunson’s agent is Sam Rose, son of Knicks president Leon Rose.)
Brunson is coming off an incredible playoff streak and makes enough sense as New York’s starting point guard. But he’s not a star and for the price he can’t cure everything. If he goes to the Knicks, it’s hard to see what path that organization has to go to win a playoff series, let alone a championship fight for the foreseeable future. For the 15th year in a row, this franchise’s problems can’t be solved with free space.
2. Sacramento Kings
There’s a chance Keegan Murray has an amazing career, positioning himself between De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis and helping make their lives easier for the foreseeable future. It’s less of an indictment of his game than a critique of the Sacramento process and that choosing a late bloomer who turns 22 in August because he’s willing to contribute now only makes the most sense because they want to win now.
Ignoring talent (by multiple accounts, Jaden Ivey was the top prize available) for fitness (the Kings already had multiple defensemen on their roster) is rarely the right thing to do, especially when the fourth overall pick is in play for a franchise that just won. 30 games. Again, this doesn’t detract from Murray’s potential. Maybe his polished all-round game is exactly what Sacramento needs. Maybe their front office thinks he’s better than everyone else in the pool in a vacuum. But it’s just hard to give the Kings any doubt here when such dynamic options were also available.
3. To everyone who wanted to see the splash screen
In the days leading up to the draft, there were constant rumors about the trade of several significant NBA players. But instead of seeing a surge in activity, names like John Collins, Malcolm Brogdon, Rudy Gobert, Miles Turner and more have not been sold. There were no major surprises to jump-start the offseason and revive free agency. All the talk about Kyrie Irving stopped when the draft actually started.
That’s not to say that free agency won’t be exciting, or that some or all of the aforementioned names, as well as a high-profile restricted free agent like DeAndre Ayton, won’t be moved. But if you tuned in to the draft hoping to see fireworks, they never went off.
More NBA coverage:
- 2022 NBA Draft: Evaluating Each First Round Pick
- 2022 NBA Draft: Best Rookie Landing Spots
- 2022 NBA Draft: Top 5 steals