Everybody knew who the top three players selected in the 2022 NBA Draft would be, but the Vegas Odds were clearly unsure on the exact order of how it would shake out. Jabari Smith was the huge favorite on the odds to be taken #1 in the weeks and even days leading up to the draft, but the Magic pulled a slight shocker by taking Duke’s Paolo Banchero in the top spot.
7-footer Chet Holmgren went #2 to Oklahoma City while Smith slipped all the way down to #3. That trio will forever be linked in their NBA journey in much the same way Greg Oden / Kevin Durant and Marvin Bagley III / Luka Doncic are so we will see how that plays out. Let’s take a look at some of the other way-too-early winners and losers from the 2022 NBA Draft.
Winners: Houston Rockets
Houston found themselves in a lot of 139-132 style defeats last season meaning they can score – but also couldn’t stop anybody. That defense should improve immediately with the lengthy 6’10” Smith coming to them at #3 but Rafael Stone wasn’t done there adding LSU forward Tari Eason at #17 following his breakout season.
Houston already has a budding superstar in last year’s #2 pick Jalen Green, and Kevin Porter, Jr. has shown some upside in the backcourt as well. Houston moved from #26 to #29 on draft night (picking up two future second-round picks in the process) and was still able to grab TyTy Washington out of Kentucky.
Losers: Sacramento Kings
Most people conceded that the 2022 draft really didn’t start until Sacramento’s #4 pick. There were rumors all month that the Kings could possibly trade the pick for an established veteran like John Collins, Julius Randle, or Malcolm Brogdon, Jr. – or they could just sit still and take the next best prospect, Jaden Ivey.
In true Kings fashion, they did none of the above, instead of going with Keegan Murray out of Iowa. The Kings may have felt they take guards too often, and Ivey publicly stated he wasn’t a fan of heading to Sacramento but either way this pick will be scrutinized for years to come.
Winners: Detroit Pistons
Sacramento’s loss is Detroit’s gain as they were able to pick up Ivey with the #5 selection. The former Purdue guard is no sure thing, but he has drawn some light comparisons to Ja Morant. Plus a backcourt of last year’s #1 pick Cade Cunningham and Ivey should draw fans to Little Caesars Arena. Detroit was also able to add former #1 rated high school prospect, Jalen Duren, at #13.
Losers (This Year) : New York Knicks
The Knicks didn’t do anything to get better this year despite having the #11 pick, essentially trading out of that spot by selecting Ousmane Dieng for the Thunder. In return, though they got three first-rounddraft picks for next season, were also able to get rid of Kemba Walker’s contract in another three-team deal, and picked up Travis Keels out of Duke at #42. Fans aren’t going to be happy now but will be a year from now (after another likely down year, however).