NBA Draft

Pistons, Blazers Steal 2022 Draft Spotlight

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This past Thursday, the eyes of NBA fans were all glued on the Concrete Jungle and the 2022 NBA Draft:

 

This year’s NBA Draft is officially in the books. Draft Day was as crazy as ever: more Kyrie Irving drama, trade rumors galore, flashy suits, and another year of Team Shams versus Team Woj:

 

While the NBA offseason is still young, it isn’t too early to analyze how teams performed at the draft.

Which teams stole the show in this year’s draft, and which franchises left their fans disappointed? Here are the biggest winners and losers from the 2022 NBA Draft.

Winner: The Detroit Pistons

Entering the draft, the Pistons focused on adding youngsters with superstar potential. Indeed, Detroit ended up picking the most upside and acquiring the most value out of any team in this year’s draft.

Detroit selected Jaden Ivey with the 5th pick. Ivey was seen as the next-best prospect outside of the consensus top-3. At 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs., he could be the perfect guard to pair with Pistons’ superstar Cade Cunningham.

Detroit couldn’t have drafted a better fit next to Cunningham. Why? Because Ivey’s strengths make up for Cunningham’s weaknesses, and vice versa.

Cunningham struggles to finish in the paint and guard faster perimeter players. Ivey was one of the best finishers and isolation scorers in college. Additionally, Ivey’s athleticism and frame allow him to guard small but quicker guards. 

The biggest x-factor for Ivey is his outside shooting:

Jaden Ivey in 2020-2021: 11.1 PPG, 40% FG, 26% from three on 4.2 attempts per game

Jaden Ivey in 2021-2022: 17.3 PPG, 46% FG, 36% from three on 5.0 attempts per game

 

If Ivey makes progress on his three-point shot, Detroit could have one of the best backcourts in the league.

The Pistons also landed Jalen Duren out of Memphis in the most confusing draft-day trade of the night:

 

Detroit acquired the rights to take Duren in a three-team deal with Charlotte and New York. 

Like Ivey, Duren has one of the highest upsides in this year’s draft class. he flashed potential as a shot-blocking, defensively-versatile center at Memphis. He’s only 18 years old and will need time to develop, but landing him with the 13th pick was the biggest steal of the draft.

In total, the Pistons landed two prospects with very high ceilings in the lottery without sacrificing any of their core young players or draft picks with value.

Trading Grant before the draft allowed Detroit to clear cap space for the future. Now, Detroit won’t have to worry about tying their money in a potential 4-year, $100+ million extension for Grant.

The youth movement is fully underway for the Pistons.

Loser: The New York Knicks

With the 11th pick in the draft, there were plenty of available options that could’ve fit easily with the Knicks.

Instead, New York decided to forgo taking a prospect and instead refill their chest of draft picks:

 

The Knicks’ ultimate offseason prize this year is Mavs’ point guard Jalen Brunson. Dumping Kemba Walker in Detroit and adding multiple first-rounders could give New York some ammo to throw in a potential trade for a superstar.

The only problem: it’s been a while since the Knicks have landed a superstar in free agency.

Similar to other recent moves, New York is prioritizing short-term success over long-term development. 

To summarize, the Knicks converted Walker, the 11th pick, and 4 second-rounders for three heavily-protected first-rounders that won’t turn into anything of value.

It’s inexcusable to give up draft picks to dump salary, only to then potentially commit to Jalen Brunson on a potential 4-year, $100 million deal:

https://twitter.com/NBAMemes/status/1540708586371833861

Keep on keeping on, New York.

Winner: The Portland Trail Blazers

Somehow, the Blazers improved the team’s present and future at the draft.

With the 7th pick, Portland selected guard Shaedon Sharpe, who received praise from Blazers’ management weeks before the draft:

Sharpe hasn’t played competitive basketball in over a year. He was set to play for the University of Kentucky but decided to not suit up for the Wildcats. 

Sharpe offers tons of potential with his frame, size, athleticism, and shot creation:

Like Ivey, Sharpe’s upside could make him one of the best players in this year’s draft. Because Portland already has a superstar backcourt in Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons, the team doesn’t need to rush Sharpe on the court.

Trading a 2025 Bucks first-rounder for Grant is an absolute steal for the Blazers. Before the Grant trade, Portland didn’t have a single forward on their roster that was reliable on both offense and defense. Grant gives the Blazers a veteran wing that can make threes, create off-the-dribble, and guard the opponent’s best scorer.

Portland is looking to bounce back after a disaster of a year this past season.

The Blazers finished 27th in both offensive rating and defensive rating in 2022, missing the playoffs for the first time since Lillard’s rookie season. The team lost their last 11 games and finished the season 2-21. It was Portland’s worst season since 2006. 

Dame Time is committed to returning the Blazers back into the playoff picture. The team put itself in a great position heading into next season.

Loser: The Sacramento Kings

Sacramento’s recent draft luck has been poor, to say the least:

With the 4th pick, the Kings selected Iowa’s Keegan Murray. Murray is one of the best scorers in this year’s draft, averaging nearly 24 points per game on elite efficiency. 

In terms of upside and value, however, Sacramento wasted this year’s pick.

The Kings could’ve traded down and possibly have still taken Murray. Murray turns 22 in August and has one of the lowest ceilings out of the top prospects. Murray and Domantas Sabonis might be the worst defensive frontcourt in the league.

Sacramento should’ve drafted for value and the best player available with the highest upside. Instead, they prioritized fit around Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox. 

Last season, the Kings finished 9-16 since acquiring Sabonis at the trade deadline.

The Kings haven’t made the playoffs since 2006. A return to the postseason doesn’t appear to be likely unless Murray is as good as Sacramento thinks he is.

Winner: The Philadelphia 76ers

Swapping the 23rd pick and Danny Green’s dead money for De’Anthony Melton is great value for Philly.

Last season, the Sixers didn’t have enough two-way, rotation-caliber role players to pair with Joel Embiid and James Harden. 

Melton gives Philadelphia consistent play on both ends of the court.

Melton averaged under 10.8 points and 2.7 assists per game in just over 22 minutes off the bench for Memphis. He shot 37% from three on over five attempts per game. 

Melton isn’t a lockdown defender, but he can contain most guards and play either the 1 or 2 on defense.

Melton gives Philadelphia an upgrade on the perimeter, a capable (and willing) shooter, and a reliable glue guy who can be in a playoff rotation.

Mixed Results: The Oklahoma City Thunder

Out of any team, the Thunder’s performance in the draft involves the most waiting and seeing.

OKC ended up taking 4 prospects in this year’s draft, including a pair of J-Williams:

Oklahoma City Thunder’s 2022 Draft Selections:

2nd pick: Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga

11th pick: Ousmane Dieng, New Zealand Breakers

12th pick: Jalen Williams, Santa Clara

34th pick: Jaylin Williams, Arkansas

 

Oklahoma City traded multiple first-round picks to move up and take Dieng 11th overall. Jalen Williams was projected to go 20th in The Lead’s 2022 Mock Draft. Holmgren is a generational prospect, but there are legitimate concerns over his weight, frame, and translating his success in college to the NBA.

By the end of this upcoming season, there’s a chance one or more of these prospects will flourish into legitimate players. There’s also a possibility the Thunder’s new youngsters are better in theory than on the basketball court.

For now, only time will tell.

About Dominic Chiappone

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