The NBA welcomed its newest class of rookies to the league Thursday night during the 2022 draft from Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
There were some surprises. It started at No. 1 when the Orlando Magic tabbed Paolo Banchero with the top pick. Jabari Smith of Auburn, who was widely expected to go first, fell to the No. 3 spot and the Houston Rockets.
Draft night also is always a time for trades, and this year is no different. The Oklahoma City Thunder made a trade with the New York Knicks for the No. 11 pick and Ousmane Dieng of New Zealand Breakers for three future conditional first-round picks.
In another draft-day trade, the Detroit Pistons acquired No. 13 pick Jalen Duren and Knicks guard Kemba Walker in a three-team deal.
In addition, the Philadelphia 76ers reportedly moved Danny Green and the No. 23 pick to Memphis as part of trade to acquire De’Anthony Melton.
FIRST ROUND PICK
Orlando Magic: Paolo Banchero, Duke
The Magic need help on the offensive end. The team finished last season 28th in effective field goal percentage, 28th in free throw rate, 27th in offensive rebounding percentage and 23rd in turnover rate. Look no further than Paolo Banchero, who can add versatility to the Magic’s offense with his physical tools (size, strength, speed) and on-court skills. He can pass, handle the ball, drive to the basket, finish near the rim, and possesses solid footwork. He is easily the most NBA-ready player among the top projected top five. The 6-10 Banchero averaged 17.2 points on 47.8% shooting from the field, in addition to 7.8 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.1 steals in his only season at Duke, which marked Mike Krzyzewski’ final season.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga
Holmgren has immense potential, with an impressive all-around skill set for a modern NBA big man. With his elite rim protection and shot blocking, he fills an immediate need for the Thunder as an interior defender. He has a versatile offensive game and has shown the ability to handle the ball, shoot from the outside and finish at the rim. Holmgren will need to add strength to reach his peak on offense, but the Thunder can give him time to develop behind top options Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey.
Houston Rockets: Jabari Smith, Auburn
Smith was widely expected to be the No. 1 pick but instead went No. 3. He only worked out for the Magic and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Smith averaged 42% on his 3-pointers (5.5 attempts), which could make him a good fit in Houston. At his size, he is difficult to defend. Moreover, he was a quality defender at Auburn.
Sacramento Kings: Keegan Murray, Iowa
With a point guard in place with De’Aaron Fox, the Kings bypassed Jaden Ivey and took Murray, an efficient wing scorer. Murray, who improved significantly from his freshman to sophomore seasons, averaged 23.6 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game while shooting 55% from the field and 39.8% on 3-pointers. Murray, 21, is one of the oldest lottery picks and could have an immediate impact for Sacramento. Like Banchero, Murray is NBA-ready.
Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey, Purdue
Ivey only worked out for the Pistons and Magic. He uses his speed to blow by defenders, who will have a hard time slowing Ivey down in transition. He can explode into the lane similar to Ja Morant and has the bounce to finish. The son of Niele Ivey, the women’s basketball coach at Notre Dame and a former women’s college champion.
Indiana Pacers: Bennidict Mathurin, Arizona
One of the biggest risers in the months leading up to the draft, Mathurin has the shooting touch and size to fill a 3-and-D role on the wing for the Pacers. Mathurin shot 42% from 3-point range in his final year at Arizona and flashed nice speed and athleticism. He can play off the ball next to Tyrese Hailburton and Chris Duarte, while helping boost a Pacers offense that was 18th in efficiency and 25th in 3-point shooting.
Portland Trailblazers: Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky
Sharpe is one of the main mysteries in the draft. He enrolled at Kentucky in January, did not play a second for the Wildcats and once he was ruled eligible for the draft, he entered. While teams only had high school and AAU-type video on Sharpe, he is a gifted scorer with his jump shot and at the rim. He is an explosive leaper who loves to get out in transition and dunk. Wildcats coach John Calipari said that if Sharpe returned to Kentucky next season, he would be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft. Instead, he ends up the No. 7 pick and backcourt mate for Blazers star Damian Lillard.
New Orleans Pelicans (from Los Angeles lakers): Dyson Daniels, G League Ignite
This is a wonderful opportunity for New Orleans to add another quality player to a playoff squad that is poised to be better next season with the return of Zion Williamson. The Australian got a taste of NBA-level play in the NBA All-Star Weekend’s Rising Stars contest in February and he held his own. The 6-8 Daniels is a big guard who began playing professionally as a teenager in his native Australia.
San Antonio Spurs: Jeremy Sochan, Baylor
The Spurs have three first-round picks and used their first to select Baylor’s Jeremy Sochan. Sochan gives the Spurs some size at the wing to complement All-Star Dejounte Murray. He’s a versatile defender and solid rebounder, averaging 6.4 rebounds at Baylor in 2021-22. He runs the court well and scores with efficiency inside the 3-point line. Sochan can shoot the three but needs to improve his percentage. He averaged 9.2 points for the Bears.
Washington Wizards: Johnny Davis, Wisconsin
With a roster potentially in flux this summer, the Wizards needed talent and landed one of the best players remaining. Davis took a huge leap as a scorer and rebounder in his second year at Wisconsin, from 7.0 points and 4.1 rebounds to 19.7 and 8.2. He can score and create in the mid-range but will need to improve his outside shot.
New York Knicks (traded to Thunder): Ousmane Dieng, New Zealand Breakers
Some mock drafts had Dieng going as high as No. 8. He fell to No. 11 and the Knicks, who then traded Dieng to the Thunder. He played last season in Australia’s pro league for the New Zealand Breakers and averaged 8.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and an assist while shooting just 39.8% from the field and 27.1% on 3-pointers. However, he improved as the season continued and was a much better scorer and shooter in the second half of the season. The Thunder’s player development staff will work hard to make Dieng a significant contributor as they continue their rebuild.
Last but not the least…
Oklahoma City Thunder (from Los Angeles Clippers): Jalen Williams, Santa Clara
Williams shot up draft boards after the combine in which his vertical leap, speed and wingspan caught the attention of scouts and executives. His defense will fit in well in OKC. The Thunder traded for the No. 11 pick, which did not affect the No. 12 pick. Williams was efficient on 3-pointers (39.6%) and inside the 3-point line (55.1%) and averaged 18 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.2 assists in 2021-22. He has patience with the basketball in pick-and-roll situations and finds his spots at the 3-point line for spot-up jumpers.
So far, that is a wrap for the round one draft pick for the upcoming 2022-23 77th NBA Season of the National Basketball Association (NBA). With the regular season beginning on October 18, 2022 and ending in April 2023.
The 2023 NBA All-Star Game is scheduled to be played on February 19, 2023 at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.