We are now over a month removed from the NBA draft with the most exciting night in preseason basketball taking place back on June 23rd. It was another full of shocks and surprises as 30 teams hunted for new blood to improve their ranks. For those who may be unfamiliar with the NBA Draft, lets have a quick look at how it works.
The Draft is an annual event where teams in the league select players to sign from Colleges in the United States and international leagues. Every draft pick is then exclusively signed to the team chosen.
Spread across two rounds, each team has a pick per round meaning a total of 60 players are drafted to the league per year. The order of the draft picks is decided by the lottery first: in which the 14 worst performing teams from the previous season are picked at random to decide the order. They are then followed by the next 16 teams in order of standings from the previous season (lowest to highest). There is no lottery for the second round, and this is decided from the standings of all 30 teams in descending order.
There are other nuances to the draft— such as a player having to be at least 19 years of age in the calendar year of the draft to be eligible or draft day rights being exchanged— but these are the basics to understanding how it works.
Of course, as they usually have the first choice, lower ranked teams usually benefit the most from the draft and 2022 was no different. Let’s take a look at who benefitted the most from this year’s event.
The pistons had an awful 2022, finishing the regular season with a dismal 23-59 record. They were saved from finishing rock bottom of the eastern conference only by the Orlando Magic, who were just one game worse off. The Pistons were placed fifth in the lottery and took every advantage of that early pick. They opted for Jaden Ivey with their first pick who is likely the best guard in the class of 2022. They then traded for Jalen Duren who was picked 13th overall by the Charlotte Hornets. The towering yet athletic centre is yet another added to the Pistons attractive core of young players who will likely carry the franchise throughout the next decade.
San Antonio Spurs
Although being drawn relatively low in 9th in the first-round lottery, the Spurs choose wisely with their initial pick in Jeremy Sochan. Sochan adds great versatility to the Spurs ranks but his defensive ability is amongst the best in this class. They then picked up Malakai Branham at number 20 which is a steal considering his scoring ability. Finally, they added Blake Wesley to their roster who is a high-upside guard and could potentially burst through his glass ceiling. San Antonio are still a huge +25000 underdog to win the Western Conference next season at Betway, but these picks will go a long way in rebuilding the franchise for the future.
The Orlando Magic finished rock bottom of the Eastern Conference last season, but managed to find some fortune in 2022 after being drawn first in the lottery. For all intents and purposes they chose the right man in Paolo Banchero and is a certified franchise player. A player of great agility, dribbling and mid-range finishing; Banchero is a deserving number one pick. They capped off their draft with Caleb Houstan who adds an intriguing facet to their offense.
New Orleans Pelicans
Whilst New Orleans didn’t exactly turn up any stones on draft night, they made some very smart picks. Dyson Daniels, their first pick and eighth overall, is a great defensive player who may be ready for the league already. They also managed to get a steal late on with E.J. Liddell who appeared in many analyst’s top-20 mock draft picks.
Of course, not every team can have a great draft and sometimes it can just be down to luck of the draw. However, there were a few teams who made some seemingly poor picks this year. Let’s have a look at the teams with the most underwhelming draft.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland confused everyone with their first pick, opting for Shaedon Sharpe seventh overall. Whilst not a bad player in any sense of the word, he is definitely a work in progress and is unlikely to be ready for rotation for at least a couple of years. With Damian Lillard returning from injury, you would expect the Trail Blazers to build on that for immediate success. However, there is every chance that Sharpe proves us all wrong.
From one confusing pick to another, this time for the Bulls. Yet again, eighteenth overall pick Dalen Terry is for sure a good player, however he is simply not what the Bulls needed at all. With only one pick in the draft, Chicago needed to make it count and quite simply, they failed to do so. They had to address the void in the frontcourt and for whatever reason they opted not to do so. Admittedly their backcourt is now overflowing with talent, but in paper this was a very strange decision.