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The Five Most Interesting Teams in the 2022 NBA Draft

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With the 2022 NBA Finals, the Warriors championship parade and Clay Thompson, let’s just say violent maneuvering through the streets of San Francisco now in the rearview mirror pay attention to Brooklyn. No, not because Kyrie Irving and the Nets reportedly stalled in contract negotiations– well no fully because of that, if anything, but because the NBA is going to town on Thursday for the 2022 NBA draft, which will feature high-profile prospects and plenty of trade-related intrigue.

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Before Adam Silver officially unveils the lottery-winning Orlando Magic, let’s take a look at five of the most interesting teams in the draft, given the state of their current rosters, their available draft capital, and the questions that define the franchise. that you encounter and all the possibilities that their answers may open up. As always, these are the most interesting teams to me; After all, tastes don’t argue.

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We’ll start, as you might expect, with a command whose name is reminiscent of a coming storm:

Oklahoma City Thunder

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No franchise in the NBA has more flexibility to take any path that tickles its fancy than Oklahoma City, which controls the total 19 first round pick for the next seven years – an overflowing closet that includes rooms. 2nd, 12th, and 34th picks in this year’s draft. Grom also owns the rights to Serbian defender Vasile Mičić. Mark Stein reports may finally try to make the jump to the US after two consecutive Euroleague Final Four MVP campaigns. In addition, they have $31.8 million in salary cap burning a hole in their pocket to ease deals…until July 1, when rising star Shai Gilges-Alexander extends his contract with a maximum rookie salary, and that flexibility goes bye bye.

Questions are flying from NBA watchers everywhere: Will general manager Sam Presti decide to cash out some of these chips? And if so, which team does Presti represent, which has created an eternal rival by drafting Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and James Harden in three years, but perhaps not nailed drafted since Stephen Adams in 2013 (and even then Giannis Antetokounmpo came three positions late) – really want to build?

Gilges-Alexander (who averaged over 30 points and seven assists since the All-Star break) and Josh Giddy (a preternaturally level-headed playmaker who began to thrive before a season-ending injury) give Oklahoma City a couple of bona fide building blocks in the backcourt. No. The 2nd pick in this draft is likely to give one forward: his last draft, RingerOKC’s Kevin O’Connor selected 7ft Gonzaga Chet Holmgren, a Scottish shotter who could defend the rim and break the glass for a young team that had almost top 10 defense before starting the tank in earnest during the last six weeks of the season. However, head coach Mark Degno does not yet have a striker; it will be interesting to see how (or if) Presti uses its purchasing power and project capital to fill the gaps between these bookshelves.

This was reported last week by ESPN correspondent Jonathan Zhivoni. that Oklahoma City was “aggressively seeking” an additional mid-lottery pick in exchange for a no. 12 picks and future assets or current OKC players. Such a deal could allow them to pick another backcourt prospect like Jayden Ivey or Shaydon Sharp. If Presti wants to enlist the support of the veterans, he could go back to the Chris Paul/Al Horford/Kemba Walker script, using all that space under his cap to gobble up a talented but expensive and unpopular player – maybe Tobias Harris? — who could benefit from rehab in Oklahoma City and help develop the growing young core of the team.

With a plethora of intriguing youngsters — from curious projects like Alexey Pokusevski and Darius Bazley to ready-made role players like Lou Dort and Kenrich Williams — plus extras like Derrick Favors’ $10.2 million option and that bushel of spades The Thunder enters the 2022 offseason teeming with opportunities. The true multiverse stretches from Presti’s war room in Bricktown; it remains only to choose the timeline.

Houston Rockets

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that a few hours after Paolo Banquero was brought to Houston for a pre-draft visit, the Rockets traded current starting big man Christian Wood to Dallas. Then again maybe it’s not: product Duke is 6’10” tall and weighs 250 pounds (which KOC charted for Houston with third pick) was one of the most impressive hitters in college basketball last season. A scorer and playmaker with this size, tactile feel, and tactile feel feels terribly fitting compared to the 2021 number. 2 picks Jalen Green as the Rockets continue the recovery that began when James Harden looked askance at his way out of Texas.

Houston’s post-Harden stronghold has led to a build-up of supplies in the frontcourt (2021 trailblazers Alperen Sengun and Usman Garuba, and whoever ends up in third) and the backcourt (Greene, Kevin Porter Jr., Josh Christopher). However, like Oklahoma City and many other NBA teams, the Rockets need help on the wing; and, as with these teams, how Houston can get it is an open question. Might Rockets GM Raphael Stone is looking to pack the team’s two non-lottery first results – No. 1. 17 and 26 – to try to jump in and take a swing at a latecomer to the lottery swingman?

Can they find any advantage in a deal with Eric Gordon, who remains supremely accessible and looks great for the playoffs hoping he needs an experienced combo guard, albeit on a tough and widely publicized asking price first round pick? Pot may sweeten some young feet: Scheming young forward Kenyon Martin Jr., perhaps sensing his options dwindling in a crowded frontcourt, recently approached Rockets management about a trade, according to Kelly Iko from Athletic. Also unresolved is the question of what to do with John Wall, who did not play last season and who just received a $47.4 million player option for 2022-23; short of something dramatic and unforeseen, it seems extremely unlikely that it will be played before Thursday, which means ransom talks could resume soon for the 31-year-old former All-Star.

Missiles are not have click on the gas here; Wall’s giant deal ends after this season whether they buy him out or not; if they can move Gordon in addition to Wood, their pay structure will be void of long-term commitment and look pretty untouched for the next few years. (Music, we’re sure, for Tilman Fertitta’s ears.) But if they believe Green is ready to build on the eye-popping flashes he showed in the second half, and that Banchero (or Jabari Smith Jr., or Holmgren) is ready to hit the ground running, this could be an opportunity for them to accelerate their recovery as they look to break out of their post-Harden fall and chart a new course back to the top of the West, fueled by a boatload of young offensive talent.

Sacramento Kings

If the draft plays out the way most scoffers and forecasters suggest – Smith, Holmgren and Banchero go to Orlando, OKC and Houston in one order or another – then the draft, in a sense, may not start until the Kings show up. on the clock at zero time. . 4. On the other hand, the draft began before Game 6 of the Warriors-Celtics, when ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski revealed that a fourth pick was well within reach for trade discussions thanks to widespread interest in Purdue’s electric quarterback Ivey. :

If you’re wondering why there’s so much interest in Ivey, who averaged 17.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game for the Boilermakers last season… well, look at this shit:

Put a dude with that kind of explosion on an NBA floor where he doesn’t have a big man (or two) constantly hammering the lane, and it’s easy to see why Ja Morant’s fees came fast and furious. (Hair probably doesn’t hurt either.)

Issue #1: The Kings already have De’Aaron Fox on a max contract, they drafted Davion Mitchell in the lottery last season, and they just traded Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Heald to Indiana to better balance a roster loaded with defensemen . Issue #2: Zhivoni reported last week that “Kings are not Ivy’s preferred destination”, which doesn’t seem like a particularly auspicious start to a relationship. Problem #3: Sacramento has not been in the playoffs for 16 years. longest postseason drought in league historyas well as desperately wants to end this streak. This would seem to make the idea of ​​auctioning off to a groom willing to provide Vivek Ranadive & Co. a lot of more tempting offer for the kings than just taking another guard (even if he seems to be rather pleased).

As you would expect, then, KOC reported that “a large number of teams were interested in the trade before the fourth pick,” including the Pacers, Knicks, Thunder, and Hawks. Other reports have suggested Pistons, Wizards, spursas well as Grizzly also showed interest in participating, presumably for Ivey. (Note: if over a quarter of the league wants to trade a guy who they think will give up your seat because they think he rules, maybe you just take that guy…


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