As Petyr “Littlefinger” Baelish once rose to fame in Game of Thrones, chaos is a ladder. The 2022 NBA Draft caused a lot of chaos. After weeks of coverage suggested that Jabari Smith would be overall number 1 chosen, the Orlando Magic threw a curveball with Paolo Banchero in first place. That threw the whole trip off its ashes, and from there came surprises left and right. Keegan Murray on Jaden Ivey. AJ Griffin drops out of the lottery. The Knicks don’t pick in the first round at all. Nothing went as expected on Thursday, and it made for one of the more frenetic journeys in recent memory.
But as Baelish told us, that chaos created plenty of opportunities. Teams had to adapt to the curveballs right away, and some teams did that significantly better than others. With the 2022 NBA Draft now on the books, let’s take a look at which teams have climbed the ladder of chaos and which teams have fallen into the pit below. These are the winners and losers of the NBA Draft for 2022.
Winner: Houston Rockets
From a pure value standpoint, there was little separation between the three key prospects in this concept. From a fit point of view? Smith is undoubtedly more into Houston than Banchero. The Rockets already have a great young attacking big man in Alperen Sengun. Banchero would have been fine next to him on that side of the floor, but defensively, the two real red flags were raised. To see also : Trust yourself: Netflix gets ads. Smith not. He has All-Defense potential and his 3-point shooting should only improve Sengun’s interior game. Smith is also a winner in this exchange. In Orlando, he is said to have joined a team with a fairly questionable guard game. in Houston? Jalen Green projects as a future star.
After Smith’s landing, the Rockets took on another of the draft’s top defenders in LSU’s Tari Eason. Add that all up and on a night when they were expected to focus on offense, the Rockets did a great job of balancing their roster. And the icing on the cake? They landed one of the steals of the draft in TyTy Washington at number 29. The Kentucky guard would be a candidate for Houston at number 17. Instead, they landed him 12 spots later, possibly giving Green a long-term partner in the backcourt.
Loser: Sacramento Kings
No, the kings didn’t need another guard. They are not a loser here because they passed on Jaden Ivey. In the end, Keegan Murray was probably a better match after all. On the same subject : Title IX 50th Anniversary: How the Law Has Changed American Sport. No, the Kings are both a loser because of their process and their outcome. They probably could have had a shot at the number 4 pick given how many teams were interested in Ivey, and even if they’d wanted Murray all along, they probably could have squeezed Detroit for some extra trump with number 5 given how crowds their interest in the Purdue point guard was.
And then of course we should also just mention that the consensus ranked Ivey above Murray. In fact, several teams did that because of their trading interest. As a general rule, if the Kings think one thing and five or six teams think the other, history suggests the Kings are probably wrong here. It’s hard not to think back to 2018 when the Kings took Marvin Bagley over Luka Doncic, at least in part because Bagley showed significantly more interest in being a king than Doncic. It’s not quite the same, but it should be noted that Ivey was less than thrilled with the idea of going to Sacramento. Now we’re all less than thrilled with their design.
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Winner: Detroit Pistons
Did the Pistons need Ivey? Not special. They already have their point guard of the future in Cade Cunningham. But both Cunningham and Ivey should be fine off the ball if they share the word. Cunningham’s size and Ivey’s athleticism should give them both more than enough defensive versatility to work together, and the offensive advantage of having two high-end ball handlers who can shoot is overwhelming.
If the night had ended there, the Pistons would have been winners, but it only got better. By sacrificing the first round of 2025 they got in the Jerami Grant trade, along with some meager cap space to beat Kemba Walker, the Pistons jumped back into the lottery and landed Jalen Duren, an extreme athletic center that is doing quite well. what should take advantage of two high-end point guards throwing him lobs. Hiring Walker wasn’t ideal, but they saved so much by trading Grant without taking on extra paychecks that they should still be comfortable chasing DeAndre Ayton or Miles Bridges in limited free agency. GM Troy Weaver received some criticism for the limited return he made for Grant, but he more than made up for it with an excellent draft night.
Loser: New York Knicks
We kicked the losers off with the perpetual mourning of the Western Conference, and we move on to the Eastern Conference equivalent. Perhaps all the prospects the Knicks wanted were gone by the time the number 11 pick rolled around, and on the face of it, it’s hard to get mad at turning one first-round pick into three. The problem is, none of those choices are particularly valuable. Barring an injury to Giannis Antetokounmpo, the 2025 Bucks pick will be in the 1920s. The other picks obtained from Oklahoma City were protected in a way that also limited their value. The Knicks don’t have enough high-end talent to turn down lottery-caliber prospects.
They hope they can find that high-end talent in free agency, which motivated the decision to dump Kemba Walker’s $9.2 million salary. Aside from the poor value of using a first-round pick to dump less than $10 million (the going rate is usually closer to $20 million), the idea is to go so far as to free up cap space for a non-All-Star in Jalen Brunson or the ultimate NBA joker in Kyrie Irving is rather questionable roster-making logic. That the Knicks are going through a season as disappointing as last year and not coming out with rookies in the first round is bizarre news.
Winner: Philadelphia 76ers
A team with Joel Embiid and James Harden really doesn’t have time to develop rookies. Philadelphia must now win, and after offering Danny Green and the No. 23 pick to nearly every team in the league in exchange for veteran help, they finally landed on De’Anthony Melton. The 76ers couldn’t have asked for a better package.
Melton, just 24, has shot just under 39 percent from behind the arch in the past two seasons. He was already a very strong point-of-attack defender who steals and blocks like few guards in the game. Now he goes to a Philadelphia team that needs him after playing just 22.7 minutes per game next season. Expect that figure to rise.
Loser: Memphis Grizzlies
To criticize the Grizzlies for the actual players they selected is a silly message. Their concept record is virtually impeccable during the Zach Kleiman era. Where the Grizzlies faltered was their desire to move Melton, as predictable as it was. The Grizzlies have an abundance of wings. Melton, Dillon Brooks, Desmond Bane and Ziaire Williams all compete for the same minutes, and the Grizzlies finally decided to break the block before it became a problem by trading Melton. There are a few problems with that logic.
First, Melton has another two-season value contract. Thanks to the rookie scale, so are Williams and Bane. Second, Tyus Jones and Kyle Anderson are both free agents. Why part out a rotation player before knowing if two more will return? And then of course there are the injury concerns of Ja Morant. Melton can’t play a point guard on offense, but he can defend them on the other side of the floor, and if Jones leaves and they need to get more creative in how they execute their attack without Morant, it would have been valuable to have Melton in the to have nearby. This kind of trade feels a year premature, and while the Grizzlies have a great draft record, if they didn’t have minutes for Melton, it’s going to be even harder for them to find minutes for their new rookies. The Grizzlies just won 56 games. They are the deepest team in the NBA. Veterans should be their priority right now.
Winners: New Orleans Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs
The Pelicans and Spurs took back-to-back at number 8 and number 9. They took a series of prospects with quite similar strengths and weaknesses. Dyson Daniels (the number 8 pick for New Orleans) and Jeremy Sochan (number 9 for San Antonio) should both be excellent defenders. Daniels is a better ball-handler and playmaker, but Sochan has untapped potential in that arena too. Both share the same weakness that would have been far more important on almost any other team: bad shooting.
This is where the Spurs and Pelicans come in. They have the NBA’s top two shooting coaches. In San Antonio, Chip Engelland has spent nearly two decades refining the shooting moves of the youngest Spurs. Kawhi Leonard was his masterpiece, but dozens of players have come through San Antonio and left as better marksmen. If he didn’t lock up the NBA best shot doctor title, it’s because Fred Vinson got it. For the past three seasons, he has worked wonders with Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Herb Jones and others. These choices both represent an awareness of what these teams have on their staffs. The Pelicans and Spurs can afford to take risks on players that other teams can’t. For many teams, Sochan and Daniels would be very problematic passes. To the tracks and pelicans? They are players that the rest of the league undervalues because of a bug they can fix.
Loser: Washington Wizards
Johnny Davis in and of itself isn’t bad value at number 10 overall. He projects like a solid NBA role player. Many teams of all ranges in design could use that. But the Wizards have been hitting singles for the past decade. Corey Kispert is doing well. Deni Avdija is fine. Rui Hachimura is fine. But the team is clearly out of order. They’ve missed the playoffs in three of the last four years, and if they want to escape purgatory midway through the draft, it would probably suit them better.
Many of those swings were gone. Perhaps Washington would have tried his luck with someone like Daniels or Shaedon Sharpe if they could have, but there were certainly more ambitious choices on the table. Jalen Duren’s athleticism would have made him a nice center partner for Kristaps Porzingis. AJ Griffin is very concerned about injuries, but the best version of him has All-Star potential. One of these days it would be nice to see the Wizards try something a little more daring with one of their lottery picks. Utilities? We seem destined to repeat this conversation in a year.
Winner: Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks made a conscious decision in the off-season of 2020 when they devoted all their cap space to veterans. Rather than rebuilding slowly through design, they wanted to compete immediately and sacrifice long-term value. Another year in the lottery might have done the Hawks some good. Last season, with Trae Young being the only player on the roster to register near a star, they were among the league’s bigger disappointments after falling from the Eastern Conference Finals to the play-in tournament. Escaping the middle of the leaderboard will require the kind of home run swings Washington doesn’t like to take.
The Wizards landing Griffin at 10 a.m. would have been a smart choice. For the Hawks? It’s a bargain. Griffin’s health is a red flag after several leg injuries, but the Hawks can afford to work him slowly into the lineup as he develops defensively and wraps up his offensive play. If everything goes as planned? They will have secured one of the best shooters of the draft with the advantage of thriving in other areas without having to use a lottery pick to get him. Unlike Washington, Atlanta was willing to take a risk, and it would pay them off a lot later on.
Loser: The betting public
It would be an understatement to say that Jabari Smith was a favorite for being the No. 1 overall choice for the entire design process. One book even infamously had its chances of being selected as #1 overall at minus 10000 at some point on Thursday. Banchero’s ultimate roster cost gamblers everywhere a lot of money, and now that the draw is over, we still don’t know exactly what happened to cause that Smith buzz.
To summarize, a week before the NBA Draft, most books had Banchero at odds of about 1600 plus. Those odds started to decline slowly the following week until Wednesday, when they hovered around the plus-600. And then, all at once after midnight on Thursday morning, Banchero became the favourite. In about an hour, Banchero jumped to opportunities that stayed around minus-200 for the rest of the night.
We still don’t have enough information to understand what really happened, but the implications of the swing should be quite worrying for gamblers. Las Vegas somehow knew about one of the most important NBA transactions of the year before the league’s leading insiders knew it. No one definitively reported Orlando’s plans before the design began. Normally we’d say the Magic hid their intentions excellently, but they didn’t have to do much to pick #1, and even if they did, the sportsbooks were clearly sniffing it. We cannot say exactly what this means. But it’s one of the most important stories to come out of this concept, and it will at the very least change the way people bet on the concept.