Brooklyn, New York — What if they had an NBA draft, mostly — a real draft instead of a chaotic trade spree? Well, Thursday’s 2022 edition fits the description, with a few exceptions late in the first round, where the player who put the team cap on his head before shaking hands with commissioner Adam Silver was walking off the stage still belong to the team.
So, most NBA teams say: We prefer the guy we take to the offer we hear.
So: The draft came and went without any major surprises, the only drama in the lottery was mild, and once the Orlando Magic selected the No. 1 overall pick, they quickly calmed down.
The Magic selected Paul Banchero from Duke University, one of three players considered the most draft-worthy. Unlike previous seasons, where league scouts didn’t unanimously vote No. 1, the Magic never led the draft. Banchero said he learned he was going to Orlando a minute before his name was called.
With a group of young guards in the rotation — Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, Markelle Fultz — Orlando is very serious about securing the front line. Wendell Carter signed a long-term deal with center, and the Magic have had positive results at a forward position in Franz Wagner, one of their two first-round picks last year and first-team rookie of the year. . So the Magic’s decision is basically between Banchero and Jabari Smith, who is third in Houston.
“With myself, I think it’s going to cause problems for a lot of teams,” Banchero said. “Having three guys with 6-9, 6-10, 6-11 who can dribble, shoot, and have a high IQ. I think that’s going to be a huge advantage for us.”
The Magic are rebuilding assets through the draft; their top four scorers last year were 23 or younger. That doesn’t include forward Jonathan Isaac, who has largely missed two seasons while recovering from a knee injury. He’s 24 years old and signed a rookie extension shortly after starting his leg rehab.
Historically, this plan, which has largely relied on the draft for help, has had mixed results. It played for the Memphis Grizzlies, who tied the franchise record with 56 wins and have a bright future ahead. That’s not the case for the Sacramento Kings, a habitual lottery player still chasing their first playoff appearance since 2006. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City’s fortunes will still depend on a glut of draft picks and projects.
Banchero has impressive skills and a mature game, showing a keen instinct on offense. He helped Duke reach the Final Four last season and confirmed his commitment in high school, where he was considered one of the top players in the nation.
“He’s the best player in college basketball,” said Orlando president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman.
The projected top three ended up filling those spots in this draft. Slender center Chet Holmgren from Gonzaga was second in Oklahoma City ahead of Banchero and Smith. Then the draft suspense began. While there were eight trades in the first round, only two made it to the top 18, not the top 10.
The Pistons are expected to be one of the busiest teams of the offseason — they traded Jerami Grant to Portland earlier this week, mostly to create cap space. Well: Free agency doesn’t start until July 1, and in the meantime, the Pistons seized the opportunity to capitalize on the pick by adding a second first-rounder to the three-team trade.
The Pistons selected guard Jaden Ivey from Purdue University with their own draft pick at No. 5 and then center Jalen Durham from Memphis with the Hornets’ draft pick at No. 13. via the Knicks, more on that later). That means, next season, the Pistons will include those two, along with Cade Cunningham and Sadiq Bay, 23 and under, and anyone else they might join in free agency.
Charlotte also has the No. 15 pick, and with the pick just two spots below the latter, general manager Mitch Kupchak believes his men will still be with the latter. Here’s the thing; the Hornets are targeting Mark Williams, the defensive center from Duke University, who arrived and filled the needs of a team hungry for muscle and rim toughness.
Given that the Hornets have a lot of young people in their rotation, “we didn’t think it would be prudent to use those two picks,” Kupchak said.
The Knicks handed the No. 11 pick — Ousmane Dieng of New Zealand — to OKC. The Thunder returned three conditional first-round picks from their trove of future draft picks.
But that wasn’t the Knicks’ main move of the night, they packed an OKC first-rounder (No. 23 overall) with four second-rounders from Charlotte’s No. 13 (Durham), and they used the A Kemba Walker salary switch to the Pistons. Walker, once hailed as the Knicks point guard savior, lost his starting spot and then sat on the bench permanently.
Crazy has a way: New York wants to free up as much money as possible for free agency, presumably for the Mavs’ Jalen Brunson. To recap: The Knicks traded 11 (technically 13), Walker and Dusk cap space (against Brunson) and three future first-rounders.
The Kings selected Iowa forward Keegan Murray with the No. 4 overall pick and want him to be more of a goalie. Two of the Kings’ last five picks — all in the lottery — no longer play for the club (Marvin Bagley III, Tyrese Haliburton).
The Blazers selected No. 7 pick Shaedon Sharpe and Portland’s Anfernee Simons, who was No. 24 in 2018. Neither guard played college ball. Sharp is the mystery of this draft; the consensus 2022 No. 1 high school player in the nation graduated a semester early and enrolled at the University of Kentucky in January in preparation for the 2022-23 collegiate season. But Sharpe was a practice player for a semester on campus and instead declared for the draft. His last official basketball game was in the spring of 2021 — when he was a high school student.
The Timberwolves acquired three players late in the first round, aided by trades with the Grizzlies and Mavericks. They ended up getting shot-blocking center Walker Kessler from Auburn, Kentucky guard Teddy Washington (who was later traded to Houston) and Duke wing Wendell Moore Jr. Memphis added a late pair in a trade, with Jack Lallavia of Wake Forest (Timberwolves) and David Rhodey of Colorado State (76ers) going to the Grizzlies.
The traditionally eventful second round — where teams without the first round are usually active — saw plenty of movement after the first five picks. The Pistons, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Hornets and Warriors all added players in the mid-to-late second round through trades.
Second-round picks with a first-round feel — some expected to be late in the first round — were 31-year-old Gonzaga’s Andrew Nembhard to the Pacers, 33-year-old Arizona’s Christian Koloko to the Raptors, And G League Ignite’s Jaden Hardy to the Mavericks at 37 through the Kings.
When the night was over and all the names were called, the draft served its purpose. The team got younger, maybe better. But the suspense is deep? That has to wait until a week later when he becomes a free agent.
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Sean Powell has covered the NBA for over 25 years.you can email him Find his profile here then follow him Twitter.
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