Unsurprisingly, the 2022 NBA draft was delivered with fake drafts that quickly blew up and confusing trading details, forcing us to wait for the next Twitter notification.
But in the end, 58 picks were made and we have a better idea of what teams wanted to do with their respective rosters.
So, which teams stood out and which failed to impress? Let’s list the winners and losers of the 2022 NBA Draft:
Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder
Well, we know CEO Sam Presti loves collecting design picks, but he said goodbye to three future picks in the first round to add another first-rounder this year. Oklahoma City entered the lottery with two picks, but added another after acquiring the No. 11 overall pick from the New York Knicks. The Thunder flipped those choices to 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 as the other group of youngsters continues to evolve, but all three lottery picks on paper were fantastic picks. Holmgren is the center of the team going forward, Dieng’s lead is one of the highest in its class and Jalen Williams is an extremely versatile 3-and-D wing who also scores on multiple levels.
In the second round, Oklahoma City picked Arkansas big man Jaylin Williams, an up-and-coming savant with a high IQ player on both sides of the floor. The Thunder has plenty of youngsters competing for a place on the roster next year, but this group of four prospects is a great achievement on paper.
Loser: Sacramento Kings
No, this is not to jump on the team with the longest playoff drought in the league, and this spot had to New York Knicks if they had not obtained multiple 2023 picks from the first round. The Kings have their man in Keegan Murray at number 4, but after jumping to the top five in the lottery, you might be thinking 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 places to get Murray, that’s one thing, but they kept knocking the rest of the draft as well.
They traded the choice of No. 37 to the Dallas Mavericks and the no. 49 to the Cleveland Cavaliers for 26-year-old Euro prospect Sasha Vezenkov. Sacramento doesn’t have much money for free agency and the roster isn’t ready to compete for a playoff spot, barring internal leaps from guys like De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell. Maybe unwritten free agent Keon Ellis will be the bunch of the draft, but the Kings should have been more aggressive in adding young talent to build a roster, and tonight could have been better.
The Pistons had dropped one potential star in their laps as they went back in and traded for their future center. After the Kings chose Murray, Purdue guard Jaden Ivey fell to Detroit, forming a tantalizing backcourt with 2021 No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham. Cunningham’s ability to create and control a game will blend smoothly with Ivey’s explosiveness as a 1-2 pair.
Then the Pistons came back toward the tail end of the lottery, acquiring No. 13 Jalen Duren, another explosive middle-position athlete from Memphis — all it took was a 2025 first-round pick that belongs to Milwaukee. , which will most likely be closer to a second-round pick than a lottery. Add Saddiq Bey to the core and something is up in The Motor City.
In the second round, Detroit took Gabriele Procida at number 36. He played abroad in Italy and shot well from the deep end, albeit at a low volume, but he just turned 20 and is a nice stash prospect.
Loser: EJ Liddell, Kendall Brown
Not usually a fan of calling players losers, but EJ Liddell and Kendall Brown were the two biggest drops in the draft. The Ohio State forward was widely seen as a mid to late first round pick, but he fell all the way to number 41 in the second round.
Liddell improved his grades all three years in college, especially with his ability to shoot from the depths like a small ball big man. Finally, the New Orleans Pelicans picked him up after handing Dyson Daniels with the number 8 pick, adding to their impressive roster of young talent.
Brown is a 19-year-old small striker, 6 foot 8, who was also seen as a possible first-rounder due to his potential. But he fell all the way to number 48, where the Indiana Pacers picked him up after he landed Bennedict Mathurin at number 6. Brown still has to prove that he can extend his reach from outside the perimeter, but these two players unfortunately fall into this. category.
Winner: Houston Rockets
Houston creates a problem. With three picks in the first round in the form of Jabari Smith Jr. (No. 3 overall), Tari Eason (No. 17) and TyTy Washington Jr. (No. 29), the Rockets can get a starting five of the latter two drafts if you factor in Jalen Green – who took off in the final few months of the 2021-2022 campaign – and Alperen Sengun. And that’s before we get into Usman Garuba, who still needs to fully show what he can do.
The Rockets still have a long way to go to compete, but they have a variety of young, versatile players in the post-James Harden era, making it an exciting time for the franchise. The next step is to move forward with John Wall’s contract.
The Golden State Warriors suggested Patrick Baldwin Jr. at No. 28 on, a perfect prospect for next year. Baldwin was supposed to be a top 10 man this year, but his freshman campaign in Milwaukee didn’t go as planned. But he ends up in a perfect situation as Golden State can prepare him behind the scenes, akin to the 2021 lottery picks Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody.
Jeremy Sochan (No.9), Malaki Branham (No.20), and Blake Wesley (No.25) were all very San Antonio Spurs-esque picks. The Spurs are still building their next core after the Tim Duncan-Manu Ginobili-Tony Parker days, and these three first-rounders could develop well with 2021 All-Star Dejounte Murray leading the way.
Both the Minnesota Timberwolves and Toronto Raptors catered to great needs. Minnesota picked Walker Kessler at number 22, a defensive-minded center who will aid the rotation alongside offensive-minded greats Karl-Anthony Towns and Naz Reid. Then Toronto selected Christian Koloko at number 33, a 7-foot shot-blocker that has solid lateral speed when you factor in the Raptors’ love of switchable players.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have drafted Evan Mobley’s older brother, Isaiah, at number 49 for USC. The 6-foot-10 big man could end up as a rotating backup for an up and coming young team that just missed the playoffs last season.