Takeaways from the 2022 NBA Draft by DJ Hamilton

    The 2022 NBA Draft is in the books, and boy was it a wild one that saw a surprise at the top of the Draft with Duke forward Paolo Banchero going No.1 overall to the Orlando Magic in a shocking turn of events that shook up the draft because many thought they would select Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr https://www.cbssports.com/nba/news/2022-nba-draft-odds-and-prop-bets-jabari-smith-favored-to-go-no-1-over-paolo-banchero-chet-holmgren/  or Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren at the top spot. 

    But, Vegas odds flipped dramatically a day or two before the draft and had Banchero at one, which shocked everyone. So now as the 2022 NBA Draft has concluded, let's get into some of my takeaways from last night. 

1. Banchero to the Magic was a shocker, but is the most NBA Ready   

   The Magic shocked the entire world at No.1 when they selected Banchero as the top overall selection. The Duke forward has a NBA ready frame at 6-foot-10, 255 lbs of chiseled muscle with skills of a guard, being a manchild who can punish opponents in the paint, shoot the three, can put it on the deck, and can face you up to hit the midrange. He’s joining a Magic team that has young guards such as Cole Anthony, former No.1 pick Markelle Fultz, and R.J. Hampton. In the frontcourt they have forward Franz Wagner, who was one of the best rookies in a loaded class last season that saw him make the All-Rookie First Team.

They also have Mohamed Bamba, who will be a restricted free agent this summer, and Wendell Carter as their starting center. Banchero was a shock because he didn’t workout for the Magic like Holmgren and Smith did, but he should fit nicely at the four with the Magic who can play Carter at the five and Wagner at the three to give them a frontcourt of all three guys 6’10 and up, which will make for a scary matchup for opponents in the NBA.

Banchero will need to improve his defensive consistency and awareness, while also improving his three-point shot  to reach his star potential. Many had Smith going here at No.1, can Banchero prove to the Magic they were right in selecting him over a two-way unicorn in Holmgren or a 6’10 sniper in Smith? We will have to wait and see.

2. The Thunder select the 7’1 Unicorn Chet Holmgren who has unlimited potential, but big risk

    The Thunder got their guy at No.2 in Holmgren despite Smith being available as well. The Gonzaga product is a 7’1 skilled big man who has fluid handles as a guard, a position he played as a youngster before his growth spurt, and is a dynamic shot blocker who, if he’s not blocking them, he’s changing and altering them at the rim, which is exactly what the Thunder need as they continue to rebuild.

The Thunder have their backcourt set for the future in Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Lu Dort as their 3-and-D specialist, as well as another skinny young big in Aleksej Pokusevki. Holmgren has a great feel for the game, can face you up, shoot the three, and is going to form a great pick-and-pop and pick-and-roll dynamic with Giddey who proved he’s one of the best passers in the league during his rookie season that saw him accumulate four triple-doubles, showing his impact on the game without being a dynamic scorer.

Giddey is going to make Holmgren’s life easier in creating easy opportunities for him at the rim and on the perimeter, and give the Thunder two foundational pieces to develop and rebuild with, especially if Gilgeous-Alexander gets traded in the future. Holmgren has unlimited upside to be a superstar, compared to the likes of Dirk Nowitzki Giannis Antetokounmpo, and a former No.2 pick 15 years ago that the then Seattle Sonics (now Thunder) selected in one Kevin Durant.

Holmgren comes with concern, as he is a rail thin 195 lbs as a 7-footer and will probably struggle against stronger, more physical players at the NBA level if he can never bulk up. But, Holmgren has never been one to back down from a challenge despite his unique frame, and surprisingly doesn’t have an injury history even though he’s supremely skinny.

Holmgren isn’t KD, but the Thunder believe they can mold him into the player he can ultimately become, which is similar to Durant.

3. The Houston Rockets get the presumptive No.1 pick in Jabari Smith Jr at No.3

    The Rockets would get Smith at No.3 overall despite being the favorite for No.1 to the Magic, but that ultimately fell through. Smith is a great fit for the Rockets who hit on their No.2 pick last year with the electrifying Jalen Green as their go to scorer for the future and have other young pieces such as the skilled Turkish big man, Alperen Sengun, their other guard Kevin Porter Jr, and their other rookie from last season, Josh Christopher.

Banchero was thought to go here, but the Rockets are getting a guy in Smith who fits right in due to his elite shooting ability at 6’10 and ability as a versatile defender who can defend multiple positions. He’s a guy who doesn’t need the ball in his hands, which is exactly what they need, considering Porter and Green will have the ball in their hands majority of the time.

Smith will provide spacing for Porter and Green to slash to the rim for their exhilarating finishes, and defenses will have to stay close to Smith who is the best shooter in this draft class, shooting 43% from beyond the arc for Auburn last season.

The Rockets now have one of the best young cores in the league with potential stars in Green and Smith, who can make for a dangerous combination down the line.

4. The Pistons are going to have an exciting backcourt with Ivey & Cunningham

   The Sacramento Kings had the fourth pick and decided to go with Keegan Murray, the junior forward out of Iowa, so that left the electric Purdue guard, Jaden Ivey available at No.5 for the Detroit Pistons. Ivey is more of a shooting guard who is a blur in transition and puts enormous pressure on the rim, utilizing his speed and athleticism to punish opponents. He’s a great finisher who has drawn comparisons to current stars such as Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant and Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, and even former Miami Heat NBA legend, Dwyane Wade.

Ivey will need to work on his shot, playmaking, and ability to run the pick-and-roll to reach his All-Star potential, but pair him with last year’s No.1 pick in Cade Cunningham, who’s a legit 6’8 point guard with two-way ability and looks like one of the next great stars in the league, and you can’t help but get excited what these two can potentially become down in Motown. 

The Pistons would also get the athletic Memphis big man Jalen Duren, who went No.13 overall in a trade with the Charlotte Hornets, and will give the pistons more size up front, athleticism, a presence in the paint, and another young guy who can be a part of their future.

5. The Blazers select the mystery man Shaedon Sharpe from Kentucky
The Blazers just traded for veteran forward Jerami Grant last week from the Pistons, and one would think they would trade this pick to get more help for their loyal superstar guard in Damian Lillard next season. Instead, the Blazers would select the “mystery” man of this draft in Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe, who didn’t play a game at Kentucky last season and was the former No.1 player in 2022 prior to reclassing to join the Wildcats around January.

Sharpe comes with immense risk as the film of him is against high schoolers on the EYBL circuit, which is a far cry from NBA competition. With little film on him, it’s hard to gauge what he can fully do, considering we haven’t seen him in a 5 v 5 setting in over a year. But, Sharpe also has big boom potential as well as a 6’5-6’6 shooting guard who is a supreme athlete, recording around a 48 inch vertical, second highest to Michael Jordan’s 49.

Sharpe also has a solid frame at 200 lbs, which looks like it can add more muscle without hindering his athleticism, and is also a very good shooter from distance, while also being one of the best shot-creators in this draft class. If he hits, the Blazers will look like geniuses with a guy who can one day potentially be amongst the best shooting guards in the league. If he misses, the Blazers will be held back a few years by this selection, and probably have a disgruntled veteran in Lillard who’ll be 32 in July, and isn’t getting any younger.

The “mystery” man Sharpe from Kentucky, and originally from Canada has a lot of doubters and some who buy into his stock, can he become the player people believe he can be? Or did the Blazers make a mistake selecting basically a prep-to-pro player? We’ll have to wait and see.

Final Thoughts

    Some of my final thoughts on the draft are the Knicks selecting the New Zealand forward Ousmane Dieng at No.11 and would later trade him to the Thunder. The Knicks would be the only team to not come out with any draft picks from the first round… classic Knicks. Another takeaway I had was the Hornets selecting the hyper-athletic Duke big man Mark Williams at No.15 overall, who’s going to be a great pairing with their young star point guard LaMelo Ball. Williams will be a recipient of many lob passes for the future, should provide elite rim protection with his 7-foot-7 wingspan, and should be a presence in the paint for the Hornets. 

The New Orleans Pelicans had the No.8 pick and selected the Australian 6-foot-8 guard, Dyson Daniels, who will come in to a young, exciting Pelicans team that will be getting their franchise player back next season in Zion Williamson, along with Brandon Ingram, the outstanding 3-and-D rookie Herb Jones, along with veteran C.J. McCollum, Jaxson Hayes, and other pieces that should make Pelicans fans excited for the future.

Daniels is a great defender who can play make for others, and also doesn’t need the ball in his hands. He’ll need to work on his shot to become what he can ultimately be, but the Pelicans got a good one here.

The Spurs would select Baylor forward Jeremy Sochan at No.9, who’s a swiss army knife who can pretty much do it all except shoot at this point. He’s only 19 years old and should develop nicely under their watch. I also liked the Golden State Warriors selecting Milwaukee forward Patrick Baldwin Jr. at No.28, a 6’10 sweet shooting forward who was once considered a lottery pick going into the season before he hurt his ankle and underwhelmed against lesser competition in the Horizon League. The Warriors could potentially have a steal here if they can get Baldwin to reach his ceiling, as they have a great development team in the Bay Area.

Lastly, the Memphis Grizzlies getting Auburn big man Walker Kessler at No.22 to give them some size, considering Steven Adams is a free agent this summer, so that gives them some insurance in case he departs. Kessler is 7’1 with long arms and is athletic, an elite rim protector, probably the best alongside Holmgren in this class, and is not a consistent shooter, but has the mechanics to be able to be a stretch big in this class. He’ll fit nicely in with the Grizzlies and should be a good rotational piece for the future.

In the end, the 2022 class was top heavy with Banchero, Holmgren, and Smith Jr. leading the pack, but it does have some other intriguing prospects such as Dieng, Daniels, and others who can have good, long careers in the NBA. It should be an exciting year next year for these rookies, and it’ll be exciting to see who’ll become the eventual stars of this class.