Perhaps the best time of the NBA year is during the offseason, as right after the NBA Finals conclude, a new generation of talent is welcomed to the league during the NBA Draft.
On Thursday night, the NBA welcomed 58 new faces to the league, as well as a slew of undrafted free agents who are looking to make a name for themselves and likely earn a two-way contract through their play in Summer League and throughout training camp.
While some fan bases are celebrating their team’s pick, some are left with a blank stare, wondering why their team made a certain pick… or for some, why they didn’t make a pick at all!
Let’s dive right in and take a look at all 30 teams, grading their activity and moves made on draft night!
Drafted: G/F AJ Griffin (Pick #16), G/F Tyrese Martin (Pick #51)
Trades: Traded rights to Ryan Rollins (Pick #44) to Golden State Warriors for rights to Tyrese Martin (Pick #51) and $2M in cash considerations
While there was talk throughout the night amongst teams about John Collins possibly being on the move, the Atlanta Hawks did a complete-180 from their thinking entering the night and kept everyone on their roster. Not only did Collins remain with the team, but so did Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic, putting the Hawks in an awkward position heading into free agency.
It does appear as if Atlanta is going to look to “run things back” for the 2022-23 season in terms of their core, but I still find it hard to believe that they are not looking to make a big move. Perhaps this move will have to wait until around the 2023 NBA Trade Deadline instead.
Draft-wise though, the Hawks made out pretty well with AJ Griffin falling to them with the No. 16 overall selection. Griffin is the perfect type of catch-and-shoot scorer out on the perimeter in a Trae Young-led offense and quite honestly, he may very well end up being the best shooter from this draft class. This was not a bad draft for the Hawks by any means, yet it will be overshadowed by their inability to add an immediate impactful talent.
Drafted: G JD Davison (Pick #54)
As many expected, the Boston Celtics were very quiet in the 2022 NBA Draft, as they only had one lone second-round pick at No. 54 overall to utilize, which they used on Alabama’s JD Davison. Earlier in the draft, the Celtics did make some calls to other teams picking near the end of the first-round to try and move up, but these attempts did not gain any traction whatsoever given Boston’s lack of assets. Sources say the Celtics were willing to talk about Aaron Nesmith and Payton Pritchard in these discussions to potentially move up in the draft.
This franchise’s attention now turns towards free agency and the trade market with their high-value trade exceptions, as Brad Stevens recently said that the Celtics are “exploring every avenue to use it,” in regards to their $17 million TPE that expires on July 17. I would fully expect Boston to use a couple of their trade exceptions to bring in at least two key names to bolster their bench unit offensively.
Not really doing anything on draft night though and selecting a guard that still has work to do in order to be a factor in the team’s second rotation, the Celtics really did not earn themselves any kind of a grade on Thursday night.
GRADE: I guess a C for average, but it is truly UNDECIDED
Wait, do you hear that? Those are crickets coming from the Brooklyn Nets draft room and front-office. Quite honestly, I do not even think the Nets were in their own building on draft night because they had no reason to be seeing as all of their draft picks over the next decade are in Houston!
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving continue to be the key talking points of this franchise and until a decision is made with them, there is no telling as to what the Nets will look like both during the 2022-23 season and for the next several years. Having no draft picks and not looking to acquire any, Brooklyn’s focus is very clearly on figuring out the status of their stars. The next two weeks will determine whether the Nets will still be a championship contender or if they will be rebuilding until at least the 2028-29 season.
GRADE: No Grade
Drafted: C Mark Williams (Pick #15), G Bryce McGowens (Pick #40)
Trades: (1) Traded rights to Jalen Duren (Pick #13) to Detroit Pistons via New York Knicks in exchange for DEN 2023 1st Round Pick (Top-14 Protected), NYK 2023 2nd Round Pick, UTA 2023 2nd Round Pick (via NYK), DAL/MIA 2023 2nd Round Pick (More Favorable, via NYK) and NYK 2024 2nd Round Pick; (2) Traded rights to Josh Minott (Pick #45) and NYK 2023 2nd Round Pick to Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for rights to Bryce McGowens (Pick #40)
Mitch Kupchak and the Charlotte Hornets ended up being very busy on draft night and they were a part of the biggest trade of the night involving lottery pick Jalen Duren. The haul they got back for Duren given that they were selecting Mark Williams with the No. 15 overall pick was definitely advantageous to the Hornets, as they added a protected first-round pick in 2023, as well as a 2024 second-round pick and two second-round picks in 2023, one of which was moved for Bryce McGowens later on in the second-round on Thursday.
Mark Williams fills an immediate void in the Hornets’ frontcourt and it would be shocking if he is not the starting center for this team. In fact, he needs to be the starting center because of his ability to play on both ends of the floor and run in transition with one of the more athletic cores in the entire league. I love this pick of Williams by the Hornets.
Drafted: G Dalen Terry (Pick #18)
Other than using their only first-round pick on Dalen Terry at No. 18 overall, the Chicago Bulls ended up being very quiet on draft night, which was expected. Addressing a need out on the perimeter was essential for the Bulls and they ended up with one of the better high-potential guards in this draft class with Terry.
I am really high on Dalen Terry’s abilities to be an impactful two-way player because of his length and while they now have a logjam of talent in their backcourt, Terry will be able to find his way onto the floor during his rookie season due to his defensive tendencies. All attention in Chicago now turns to Zach LaVine’s pending free agency and whether or not they can bring the All-Star back.
Drafted: G Ochai Agbaji (Pick #14), C Khalifa Diop (Pick #39), F Isaiah Mobley (Pick #49), F Luke Travers (Pick #56)
Trades: Traded rights to Sasha Vezenkov and $1.75M in cash considerations to Sacramento Kings ahead of draft for rights to No. 49 overall selection (Isaiah Mobley) in 2022 NBA Draft.
The Cleveland Cavaliers were one of the most fun teams to watch during the 2021-22 season and with them being as young as they are, this group is only going to get better, making it a matter of time until they make the playoffs. Continuing to add depth with their No. 14 overall pick was the key for the Cavs and they did so by selecting an impactful perimeter player in Ochai Agbaji, who is coming off winning a national championship with Kansas.
With there being questions about Collin Sexton’s future, this was a smart choice by the Cavaliers, especially since Ochai Agbaji can play alongside Darius Garland and Collin Sexton as well by coming off-the-bench. As for their second-round picks, the Cavaliers continued to stockpile talent for the future, going with two draft-and-stash guys in Khalifa Diop and Luke Travers, as well as the older brother of Evan Mobley in Isaiah Mobley with the No. 49 overall selection in the second-round.
Overall, the 2022 NBA Draft was a successful night for the Cleveland Cavaliers, as they continued to find ways to build for the future while also capitalizing on their growth right now without sacrificing any assets.
Drafted: G Jaden Hardy (Pick #37)
Trades: Traded 2024 2nd Round Pick and 2028 2nd Round Pick to Sacramento Kings for the draft rights to Jaden Hardy (Pick #37)
To not having any draft pick entering the night to walking away with Jaden Hardy, who I absolutely love as a young prospect entering the NBA, makes the Dallas Mavericks one of the biggest winners of this draft in my mind. The Mavericks do not have cap space, hence why they did not want to add a first-round pick, and to get a potential All-Star talent down the line with the No. 37 overall pick is an absolute steal.
Why Jaden Hardy fell as far as he did is unknown, but he presents an immediate successor plan for if Jalen Brunson goes elsewhere in free agency and even if Brunson stays, Hardy will still be able to make an impact as an elite-level offensive weapon while only about to turn 20-years-old. I really do think Jaden Hardy has a chance to be one of the best players from this draft class in time and next to Luka Doncic, Hardy could absolutely turn into a key weapon for Dallas.
Drafted: G Christian Braun (Pick #21), F Peyton Watson (Pick #30), C Ismaël Kamagate (Pick #46)
Trades: Traded a 2024 2nd Round Pick to the Portland Trail Blazers for the draft rights to Ismaël Kamagate (Pick #46)
The Denver Nuggets have always been an unconventional team when it comes to the NBA Draft, as they take guys that fit their system and needs as a franchise heading into the following year rather than the best prospect on the board. Sometimes, the guys they draft are the top names on their board and this year, Christian Braun and Peyton Watson were obviously high on the Nuggets’ “wants list” due to the fact that many ranked them as second-round prospects.
Watson is more of a long-term project, as he is still a very raw prospect on both ends of the floor, but Braun should be able to play key minutes off-the-bench during his rookie season due to his shooting abilities out on the perimeter and his ability to defend multiple positions. In the second-round of the draft, trading up for Ismaël Kamagate at the expense of a second-round pick is good value, especially since Kamagate can be a draft-and-stash guy for this franchise, offering them a high-flying rebounding talent down the road behind Nikola Jokic.
There are definitely question marks about how good the Nuggets actually drafted on Thursday night given that they passed up on some pretty big names, but if they are happy with who they got, that is all that matters.
Drafted: G Jaden Ivey (Pick #5), C Jalen Duren (Pick #13), G/F Gabriele Procida (Pick #36)
Trades: Traded MIL 2025 1st Round Pick (Top-4 Protected) they received in Jerami Grant-Trail Blazers trade for the rights to Jalen Duren (Pick #13) and Kemba Walker from the New York Knicks
The Dallas Mavericks were one of the biggest winners on draft night. THE biggest winners on draft night were the Detroit Pistons, as GM Troy Weaver made every single right move that was presented to him. Selecting Jaden Ivey fifth overall gives the Pistons the guy who has been ranked at the top of their draft board for months now and a potential All-Star guard next to last year’s top pick, Cade Cunningham.
Then, to swing a future first-round pick they got in the Jerami Grant trade a couple of days ago for Jalen Duren is absolutely remarkable. Looking back on this trade now, they basically traded Grant, who they initially signed with available cap space, for a lottery pick in this year’s draft in Jalen Duren, who has a ton of upside as a two-way center. Later in the second-round, things got better for the Pistons in this draft, as they were able to land Italy’s Gabriele Procida, arguably the best draft-and-stash player in this draft class.
Detroit sports fans actually have something to cheer about for once, as the future is looking extremely bright for the Pistons. Troy Weaver has done a tremendous job assembling young, core pieces for this roster in such a short time, but now, it is time to see if they can finally rise from the bottom of the Eastern Conference and make some noise.
Golden State Warriors
Drafted: F Patrick Baldwin Jr. (Pick #28), G Ryan Rollins (Pick #44), F Gui Santos (Pick #55)
Trades: Traded rights to Tyrese Martin (Pick #51) and $2M in cash considerations to Atlanta Hawks for rights to Ryan Rollins (Pick #44)
Coming off their fourth championship in the last eight seasons, GM Bob Myers and the Golden State Warriors seemed very prepared and well-educated as always for the draft, even though they have been partying for about a week straight since winning this year’s title!
Taking a swing for the fences with Patrick Baldwin Jr. late in the first-round is a move I really like simply because the upside Baldwin possesses is too much to pass up on here. Once ranked as a Top-10 prospect, injury concerns caused him to drop down the draft board and off of a ton of team’s radars. Should he stay healthy though, Patrick Baldwin Jr. has a chance to prove why he should have gone inside the Top-10 of this year’s draft.
As for what they did in the second-round, trading for Ryan Rollins was a good move by the Warriors due to Rollins’ ability to come in right away and be a solid backup option in the team’s backcourt behind Stephen Curry and Jordan Poole. Gui Santos is a very lengthy wing that will be a draft-and-stash option for the Warriors long-term. This is a very solid draft for Golden State and if Patrick Baldwin Jr. can live up to being a top recruit coming out of high school just a year ago, then the rich just got a whole lot richer here!
Drafted: F Jabari Smith Jr. (Pick #3), F Tari Eason (Pick #17), G TyTy Washington (Pick #29)
Trades: Traded rights to Wendell Moore Jr. (Pick #26) to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the rights to TyTy Washington (Pick #29) and two future second-round picks.
After wanting Paolo Banchero throughout the pre-draft process and being blindsided by the Orlando Magic when he went first overall on Thursday night, ending up with Jabari Smith Jr. is a pretty good consolation prize for the Houston Rockets! Smith immediately becomes the team’s primary scoring option next to Jalen Green and definitely possesses All-Star-like qualities to his game.
As for their later first-round picks, the Rockets took Tari Eason, who many projected them taking with the No. 17 overall pick, and TyTy Washington who they had shown a lot of interest in as an athletic, versatile guard behind Kevin Porter Jr. GM Rafael Stone and the Rockets really focused on getting guys who can contribute right now and continue to help them build for the future in this draft, giving them three high-potential guys in the first-round to build with.
Drafted: G/F Bennedict Mathurin (Pick #6), G Andrew Nembhard (Pick #31), F Kendall Brown (Pick #48)
Trades: Traded IND/MIA/SAS 2026 2nd Round Pick (less favorable of three) to Minnesota Timberwolves and cash considerations for rights to Kendall Brown (Pick #48)
With Keegan Murray off-the-board and Jaden Ivey also going ahead of the Indiana Pacers’ pick, it made sense for them to go with a guy they fell in love with in Bennedict Mathurin due to his character and potential out on the wing. One of the best athletes in this draft class, Mathurin has a ton of upside as a two-way player that can also score from out on the perimeter. He will be a very nice starter alongside Tyrese Haliburton for what appears to be many years to come.
Andrew Nembhard was a guy that the Pacers really enjoyed hosting for a workout throughout the pre-draft process as well and getting him at No. 31 overall was always an intention of Indiana if he was to be on the board past the first-round. With him falling down draft boards, Kendall Brown quickly became a part of Indiana’s draft plans, as they moved a future second-round pick and cash to grab him late in the second-round.
Overall, this proved to be a very useful night for the Indiana Pacers simply because they addressed key needs. They got a potential young star on the wing in Mathurin, they added forward depth with Brown and Nembhard provides the Pacers with stability in their backcourt. Check off all three boxes because this was a successful draft for Indiana.
Los Angeles Clippers
Drafted: F/C Moussa Diabaté (Pick #43)
Draft night was smooth and simple for the Los Angeles Clippers, as they kept their only second-round pick they entered the draft with and selected Moussa Diabaté from Michigan, a young, raw big man that has potential to be a factor defensively down the line.
The Clippers really did not have any needs that could have been addressed in this draft, as they have everything they need, when healthy, to compete for a title during the 2022-23 season. With Kawhi Leonard and Paul George back, this is a Top-4, possibly Top-2 team in the Western Conference and the NBA as a whole.
Los Angeles Lakers
Drafted: G Max Christie (Pick #35)
Trades: Traded LAL/WAS 2028 second-round pick (more favorable) and cash considerations to the Orlando Magic for the rights to Max Christie (Pick #35) before the draft.
Trading up for a high second-round pick before the draft was something GM Rob Pelinka and the Los Angeles Lakers front-office had expressed interest in for quite some time. Thursday afternoon, Orlando answered their wish by sending them the No. 35 overall pick, a pick that they used to select Michigan State’s Max Christie.
A pure scoring weapon out on the perimeter, Christie should prove to be an immediate scoring factor off-the-bench for the Lakers that still has time and room to grow, especially next to the likes of Russell Westbrook, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. I truly do like this pick by the Lakers, as it gives them another body that they can count on for production when their All-Stars are not in the game.
Drafted: F Jake LaRavia (Pick #19), F David Roddy (Pick #23), G Kennedy Chandler (Pick #38), G/F Vince Williams Jr. (Pick #47)
Trades: (1) Traded the Nos. 22 and 29 picks in this year’s draft to the Minnesota Timberwolves for the draft rights to Jake LaRavia (Pick #19); (2) Traded De’Anthony Melton to the Philadelphia 76ers for the rights to David Roddy (Pick #23) and Danny Green; (3) Traded LAL 2024 second-round pick and cash considerations to the San Antonio Spurs for the draft rights to Kennedy Chandler (Pick #38)
Memphis Grizzlies’ GM Zach Kleiman is one of the best executives in the league and he proved that on draft night, going out and moving current picks and future assets to get guys who he feels can bring a positive impact to the Grizzlies organization right now. Initially having the Nos. 22 and 29 picks in the first-round, Memphis flipped these two picks, along with De’Anthony Melton, for Jake LaRavia (Pick #19) and David Roddy (Pick #23).
Melton’s future with the organization was in question entering the offseason, as he and the coaching staff did not see eye-to-eye on a lot of things over the course of the past season, and with Kyle Anderson being a free agent, finding versatile forwards that could replace him was a must. Jake LaRavia can do a bunch of different things out on the wing and David Roddy can be used as yet another bench scoring option for this team, adding onto their overall depth that allowed them to have the second-best record in the league this past year.
Kennedy Chandler fell in the draft for some reason and to get him at No. 38 overall is an absolute steal for the Grizzlies, especially since he can fill minutes left behind by both De’Anthony Melton and pending free agent Tyus Jones right away. As for Vince Williams Jr., he is not necessarily someone that will come in and play right away, but offers a lot to like in terms of two-way potential. Overall, the Grizzlies addressed needs they felt they had, I just wish that they would have taken some of the higher ranked prospects that could make more of an impact right away, especially next to Ja Morant.
Drafted: F Nikola Jović (Pick #27)
I have no problems with how Pat Riley and the Miami Heat approached this draft simply because they are a championship contender and no player at the No. 27 overall pick is going to really “set them over the edge” in terms of winning a championship. A player like Nikola Jović though can certainly aid them off-the-bench and he still has plenty of room to grow and reach his full potential.
A lengthy forward that already has a strong presence with the ball in his hands, Jović tends to play his best in pick-and-roll situations, being a key secondary playmaker at times. Maybe his impact will not be grand in his rookie season, but this was definitely a key value pick for the Heat that could pay dividends down the road.
Drafted: G/F MarJon Beauchamp (Pick #24), G Hugo Besson (Pick #58)
Trades: Traded cash considerations to the Indiana Pacers for the rights to Hugo Besson (Pick #58)
Being in “championship mode,” the Milwaukee Bucks could have gone anywhere with their first-round picks. After not finding anything of value on the trade market involving this pick and deciding not to go after a backup center to replace Brook Lopez in the long run, the Bucks went after a player with a high upside in MarJon Beauchamp.
Finding depth behind Khris Middleton out on the wing was imperative for the Bucks this offseason after seeing that him being injured in the playoffs left them with no answers. Beauchamp is still very under-polished and has a lot of work to do in order to live up to the hype of being a first-round pick, but he has the length and high basketball IQ to be an impact defender right away.
Given the value they got here with the No. 24 pick, taking a swing on Beauchamp presents the Bucks with a no-risk, high-reward scenario that I really like. Stashing Hugo Besson with the final pick in the draft for cash was also a smart move for Milwaukee, giving them a solid draft altogether.
Drafted: C Walker Kessler (Pick #22), F Wendell Moore Jr. (Pick #26) F Josh Minott (Pick #45), G Matteo Spagnolo (Pick #50)
Trades: (1) Traded rights to Jake LaRavia (Pick #19) to Memphis Grizzlies for the Nos. 22 and 29 picks in this year’s draft; (2) Traded rights to TyTy Washington (Pick #29) and two future second-round picks in 2025 and 2027 to the Houston Rockets for rights to Wendell Moore Jr. (Pick #26); (3) Traded rights to Bryce McGowens (Pick #40) to Charlotte Hornets for the rights to Josh Minott (Pick #45) and a 2023 second-round pick.
In his first draft with the Minnesota Timberwolves, President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly had a classic draft for himself by going for high-upside guys and building for the future, much like he drafted when with the Nuggets. Walker Kessler going No. 22 overall was quite a surprise for many, especially since the team had bigger needs to fill other than adding an impactful rebounder and shot-blocker behind Karl-Anthony Towns.
D’Angelo Russell’s long-term status definitely seems to be in question right now for the Timberwolves and they did not make any moves to add backcourt help, which was a bit surprising. Wendell Moore Jr. should be ready to come in and contribute right away as a facilitator and scorer out on the perimeter, but Josh Minott still has plenty of work to do in order to reach his full potential and Matteo Spagnolo is nothing more than a gamble for the future that Minnesota will stash away.
Having a handful of needs entering the night, I really do not think the Timberwolves made themselves better in any way in terms of competing in the Western Conference right now. This team is really going to have to dig deep in free agency and work some magic, otherwise, it is hard to see them being much better than a Play-In Tournament team once again.
New Orleans Pelicans
Drafted: G Dyson Daniels (Pick #9), F E.J. Liddell (Pick #41), F/C Karlo Matković (Pick #51)
Staying with their one first-round pick and two second-round picks, the New Orleans Pelicans did really well for themselves on Thursday night, especially by adding even more defensive talents to their roster. Dyson Daniels was a fantastic pick for the Pelicans given their need for impact players in the backcourt and quite honestly, I would not be shocked to see him be an All-Star down the road, especially if he is able to put things together on the offensive-end of the floor.
E.J. Liddell was viewed as a Top-25 prospect in many analyst’s minds and for him to fall to the No. 41 overall pick is very reminiscent of Herbert Jones falling into the Pelicans’ lap last year. To top things off, New Orleans took Karlo Matković near the end of the draft, a draft-and-stash guy that offers a ton of upside as an athletic big man who can really play above the rim and run in transition.
The Pelicans had virtually no needs as a franchise, yet they still found ways to better themselves in this draft, which is why their front-office deserves a ton of credit for what they have built. This franchise is well on their way to following in the footsteps of the Memphis Grizzlies and being a breakout, Top-4 team in the Western Conference next season.
New York Knicks
Drafted: G Trevor Keels (Pick #42)
Trades: (1) Traded rights to Ousmane Dieng (Pick #11) to the Oklahoma City Thunder for DET 2023 1st Round Pick (Top-18 Protected), WAS 2023 1st Round Pick (Top-14 Protected), DEN 2023 1st Round Pick (Top-14 Protected); (2) Traded Kemba Walker to Detroit Pistons for MIL 2025 1st Round Pick (Top-4 Protected), DEN 2023 1st Round Pick (Top-14 Protected), NYK 2023 2nd Round Pick, UTA 2023 2nd Round Pick, DAL/MIA 2023 2nd Round Pick (More Favorable), and NYK 2024 2nd Round Pick went to the Charlotte Hornets in this three-team deal.
Oh boy, I can still hear the boos raining down from Barclays Center with the New York Knicks being on the clock. This draft night was a major letdown for Knicks fans simply because this team did not better themselves whatsoever heading into the 2022-23 season.
The only way things “look better” for the Knicks’ season outlook is if they can sign Jalen Brunson in free agency, but even then, is this team going to be a playoff threat? Trevor Keels was not a bad value pick by any means with the No. 42 overall selection, however, Keels still has a lot of growing to do, specifically on the offensive-end of the floor.
In terms of future value though, the Knicks did make out well here. For Ousmane Dieng, they got three first-round picks in 2023, one of which was moved along with Kemba Walker’s salary in a three-team deal involving the Hornets and Pistons in exchange for Milwaukee’s 2025 first-round pick, which is Top-4 protected and will likely convey as long as Giannis Antetokounmpo is with the Bucks. While not bad in terms of future value, draft night was a disaster for New York in terms of value right now.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Drafted: C Chet Holmgren (Pick #2), F Ousmane Dieng (Pick #11), G Jalen Williams (Pick #12), F Jaylin Williams (Pick #34)
Trades: Traded DET 2023 1st Round Pick (Top-18 Protected), WAS 2023 1st Round Pick (Top-14 Protected) and DEN 2023 1st Round Pick (Top-14 Protected) to New York Knicks for rights to Ousmane Dieng (Pick #11)
General manager Sam Presti is a wizard and he proved that with the Oklahoma City Thunder’s performance in the 2022 NBA Draft. Not only did they get their guy and a potential All-Star in Chet Holmgren, but they added the best international player from this class in Ousmane Dieng, they added an impact secondary scorer on the perimeter in Jalen Williams and they got Jaylin Williams in the second-round of the draft, a guy who has a high upside to be a two-way forward for a long time to come.
Everything about this draft for the Thunder was perfect and now, they not only have one of the best young cores in the league, but they have a ton of length on their roster with Chet Holmgren, Ousmane Dieng, Aleksej Pokuševski and Darius Bazley. Look out for the Oklahoma City Thunder because in three-to-four years, maybe even sooner, this team is going to be a championship contender.
Drafted: F Paolo Banchero (Pick #1), F Caleb Houstan (Pick #32)
Trades: Traded Pick No. 35 to Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the draft for LAL/WAS 2028 2nd Round Pick (More Favorable) and cash considerations.
Shocking everyone on draft night, the Orlando Magic did not take Jabari Smith Jr. first overall, but instead went with Paolo Banchero, arguably the most talented player in this draft class given his ability to create for himself and others offensively. Banchero is now the face of a franchise that has hit rock-bottom in the Eastern Conference and with a ton of other unique and athletic youth around him, the Magic suddenly have a very talented looking young core.
Caleb Houstan is a project for the future that Orlando invested in, as he was a five-star prospect coming out of high school and just did not play well at Michigan during his freshman year. The NBA game is definitely more well suited for Houstan, so it will be interesting to see if he will factor into the Magic’s plans during his rookie season.
Trades: Traded rights to David Roddy (Pick #23) and Danny Green to Memphis Grizzlies for De’Anthony Melton
Having a chance to add a younger, “win-now” type of player, the Philadelphia 76ers went a different direction with their No. 23 overall pick in this year’s draft, moving it to the Memphis Grizzlies along with Danny Green for 24-year-old combo guard De’Anthony Melton. Proving to be a key bench asset in Memphis, Melton will help bolster what looked to be a weak 76ers’ bench in the postseason.
All week leading up to the draft, the Sixers were looking for ways to package Danny Green’s contract with this late first-round pick they owned simply because Green was taking up space on an already taxpaying roster. Likely being out for the entire 2022-23 season due to a torn ACL suffered in the postseason, Green’s contract was essentially “dead weight” that Philadelphia could not carry if they are to be true title threats.
With rumors swirling around Deandre Ayton’s future, the Phoenix Suns were dead quiet on draft night, not making a single move to try and trade up or add more talent to their roster. Their attention is solely on free agency, as Ayton is set to become a restricted free agent.
Retaining him is not necessarily a problem right now money-wise, but it does not appear that the Suns are willing to give Ayton the max-level contract he wants and has earned by helping them reach the NBA Finals in 2021. Time will tell if Phoenix will end up giving in and paying their young center or if a sign-and-trade deal will be worked out to send the former No. 1 overall pick elsewhere.
GRADE: No Grade
Portland Trail Blazers
Drafted: G Shaedon Sharpe (Pick #7), F Jabari Walker (Pick #57)
Striking a deal with the Detroit Pistons for Jerami Grant the day before the draft, the Portland Trail Blazers entered Thursday night with the mindset of adding the best talent that falls to them with the No. 7 overall pick. This talent happened to be the biggest unknown in this year’s draft: Shaedon Sharpe.
Not playing at all while he was at Kentucky, Sharpe is the biggest “boom or bust” prospect in this draft class even though all of the potential is there for him to be a high-level scorer in this league. Having Damian Lillard in the backcourt and expected to re-sign Anfernee Simons, Portland will not throw Sharpe out there on the floor right away, which could prove very beneficial to his overall growth and maturity. Maybe this selection will pay off a few years from now, but if this is how the Trail Blazers are going to try to build around Lillard in order to form a championship caliber team, they are off to a bad start.
Drafted: F Keegan Murray (Pick #4)
Trades: (1) Traded Pick No. 49 ahead of the draft to the Cleveland Cavaliers for the rights to Sasha Vezenkov and $1.75 million in cash considerations; (2) Traded rights to Jaden Hardy (pick #37) to the Dallas Mavericks for 2024 2nd Round Pick and 2028 2nd Round Pick
Entering draft day with one first-round pick and two second-round picks, the Sacramento Kings came away with Keegan Murray being their lone rookie selection! Turning their two second-round picks this year into the rights to Sasha Vezenkov, a 2024 second-round pick and a 2028 second-round pick is not terrible, but this was not a move made in order to win right now like the Kings wanted to do.
Many will question the selection of Keegan Murray over Jaden Ivey here, but Murray fits right into a need the Kings have out on the wing and he is an instant source of offense as a versatile weapon that can be moved around. Being able to play with or without the ball in his hands, Murray will be a really nice third option in a system led by De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.
Defensively, Keegan Murray will also make his impact felt and with the architect of the Golden State Warriors’ defense in Mike Brown becoming the new head coach of Sacramento, expect to see Murray make an impact on both ends of the floor early on in his career.
San Antonio Spurs
Drafted: F Jeremy Sochan (Pick #9), G/F Malaki Branham (Pick #20), G Blake Wesley (Pick #25)
Trades: Traded rights to Kennedy Chandler (Pick #38) to the Memphis Grizzlies for LAL 2024 second-round pick and cash considerations
The San Antonio Spurs heard from numerous teams on draft night about trading their Nos. 20 and 25 picks near the end of the first-round, but the Spurs did not like any of the deals they received, thus they ended up with three 19-year-olds on the night.
Jeremy Sochan is a versatile two-way wing that with time, could very well be a threat to push the ball in transition and be a real scoring threat from the wing. Malaki Branham and Blake Wesley are two athletic guards and perimeter players that add even more depth to the Spurs’ young core. Branham tends to play more off-the-ball than with it in his hands and while he can play off-the-ball, Wesley tends to operate as a playmaker with the ball in his hands.
I really like all three picks made here by San Antonio even though they are not flashy names simply because they got value every time they were on the clock. The Spurs know they are still a few years away from being special and these investments they made in this year’s draft could all turn into key factors.
Drafted: C Christian Koloko (Pick #33)
Having just one second-round pick, the Toronto Raptors looked to add more frontcourt depth with whoever fell to them in the second-round. This player happened to be Christian Koloko, who is a native of Douala, Cameroon, the same town as Raptors’ All-Star Pascal Siakam.
The Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year will immediately give Toronto production defensively either in the starting lineup or likely coming off-the-bench and filling Chris Boucher’s role from this past year, as Boucher is a pending free agent. Koloko’s rebounding and rim-protecting abilities made him one of the better defensive centers in this draft and with the Raptors having a need at center for a while now, this pick seemed to make sense.
Drama within the Utah Jazz continues to unfold, as they still have not found a successor to Quin Snyder, who stepped down earlier this month after eight seasons with the Jazz as their head coach. It seems like both All-Stars in Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert will be back next season given that the Jazz did not look to move them for draft assets, but this roster still has several holes to fill.
Mitchell is the only member of their starting-five that is under 30-years-old and after losing in the first-round of the playoffs this year to a younger Dallas Mavericks team, the Utah Jazz have a lot to figure out in a very short period of time ahead of free agency, especially since they have virtually no cap space to play around with.
GRADE: No Grade
Drafted: G Johnny Davis (Pick #10), C Yannick Nzosa (Pick #54)
Throughout the pre-draft process, it became very clear that the Washington Wizards had interest in Johnny Davis, the Big 10 Player of the Year, and they made this rumor come true on Thursday night, selecting Davis with the No. 10 overall pick. A crafty ball-handler who is able to get to his spots on the floor offensively, Johnny Davis will provide the Wizards with immediate scoring either next to Bradley Beal in the starting rotation or as the team’s sixth man early on in his career.
Still not having a point guard, it is possible that the Wizards could look to make Beal their primary ball-handler with Davis by his side, assuming they do not add a starting-caliber point guard in free agency or via a trade this offseason. Malcolm Brogdon remains on the Wizards' radar, sources tell SI Fastbreak.
Later in the second-round, the Wizards used their late draft pick for a draft-and-stash option in Yannick Nzosa from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A 6-10 18-year-old, Nzosa definitely has the potential to turn into something special. While playing for Baloncesto Málaga in Spain this past year, Nzosa suffered a groin injury which forced him to miss five months, likely resulting in why he fell way down on many team’s draft boards. In time, Yannick Nzosa could turn out to be a key weapon for the Wizards in the frontcourt, which is why they did not mess things up for once in the draft.