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Teams around the NBA are beginning to put the finishing touches on their pre-draft evaluations and while there are still questions as to who will go first, second and third overall in this year’s draft, the consensus around the league is that Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith Jr. and Chet Holmgren, in no particular order here, will be the first three picks in the 2022 NBA Draft.

As a result, this year’s draft could very well start with the fourth and fifth overall selections, which are currently owned by the Sacramento Kings and Detroit Pistons, respectively.

Sacramento has been very open to hearing trade offers for their No. 4 selection, especially given that they are looking to bring in a new face that they can pair with De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis to possibly make a playoff push during the 2022-23 season.

For the Pistons, their decision on who to draft come June 23 heavily depends on what happens with the Kings and their pick right in front of them. Regardless of who the Kings or another team that trades for this fourth pick takes, it does appear that Detroit has two names circled at the top of their draft board.

Keegan Murray and Jaden Ivey have long been connected to the Pistons throughout this pre-draft process and assuming one of the top three prospects in Banchero, Smith and Holmgren do not fall to them at five, the Pistons are expected to give heavy consideration to either Murray or Ivey with their fifth overall selection, a league source tells SI Fastbreak.

It is a possibility though that Jaden Ivey may not be on the board for the Pistons, as Ivey has fans within the Kings’ front-office and there are teams looking to trade up who are also interested in the combo-guard.

Looking at the Pistons’ roster right now, Ivey could fill an immediate hole and need in their backcourt alongside Cade Cunningham. One of the more athletic ball-handlers in this draft class, Jaden Ivey’s playmaking abilities is what has a lot of executives around the league interested in him and being an all-around crafty scorer and playmaker is why he has generated a lot of "buzz" within the Pistons’ front-office.

Should he be off-the-board though and taken one pick ahead of Detroit’s fifth overall pick, the Pistons are also highly interested in Keegan Murray, even though he is not as much of a “flashy name” heading into the 2022 NBA Draft.

One of the more NBA-ready prospects, Murray does a little bit of everything and really does not have any weaknesses to his game. Being able to fill out either forward spot in any given rotation, Murray would be a nice fit alongside Saddiq Bey on the wing in Detroit and he could make an impact offensively from his first game in the league, giving the Pistons another weapon alongside Cunningham.

According to rival executives, the sense around the league right now is that Pistons would like to take Jaden Ivey at five, which is why there are several teams engaging in trade talks with the Kings, discussing the possibility about jumping the Pistons and moving into the four-spot in this year’s draft.


Houston Rockets Evaluating All Options

Kevin Porter Jr. and Jalen Green make up a young, dynamic backcourt for the Houston Rockets, but general manager Rafael Stone and the Rockets’ front-office are not showing their cards just yet with the NBA Draft quickly approaching.

Sitting third overall this year, many anticipate the Rockets being able to take Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith Jr. or Chet Holmgren, whichever of the three falls to them, but the Rockets do like Jaden Ivey as well and there is always the possibility of a draft night trade, especially given the interest in Ivey throughout the league as outlined previously.

Given the many needs they have on their roster right now, sources say that they do not anticipate the Rockets trading out of third overall pick, even though there are still question marks as to who they will actually take.

The possibility of pairing Ivey with Green and Porter Jr. in the backcourt, especially given that Porter Jr. has just one more year left on his contract, is definitely an intriguing scenario for Houston to consider over the next two weeks.

While he did put together a solid season with the Rockets this past year, there have been no early indications yet as to if the team will look to extend Kevin Porter Jr. and keep him around on a long-term, higher-paying contract seeing as they have other options being presented to them.

Ultimately, Paolo Banchero seems like the obvious choice right now for the Rockets and he would fill an immediate need at either forward position for them. Being one of the better offensive talents in this draft class, Banchero could immediately form a terrific young scoring duo alongside Jalen Green, one that the Rockets could build around for many years to come.

As for the rest of their roster, Christian Wood’s longevity in Houston continues to be a key talking point heading into the offseason. Plenty of teams expressed trade interest in the Rockets’ big man ahead of the 2022 trade deadline and according to HoopsHype’s Michael Scotto, rival executives expect the team to gauge the trade market this offseason on Wood’s value, especially given that Banchero could soon be arriving in Houston.

There is always the possibility that the Rockets have a change of heart and go with a talent like Jaden Ivey, who is considered a Top-3 prospect in this year’s draft class by many front-office executives, but as of right now, all indications point towards them going with Paolo Banchero.


Utah Ready To Make Some Changes?

Quin Snyder’s departure continues to form rifts within the Utah Jazz organization and his resignation comes at a very inopportune time ahead of the NBA Draft and free agency.

The Jazz are expected to interview a ton of potential candidates to succeed Snyder, some of which are internal candidates, but regardless of who they hire, this team is expected to undergo some big changes in the offseason.

As of right now, Donovan Mitchell does want to remain a member of the Jazz, but he does want involvement in the coaching search and Utah is now “on the clock” in regards to pleasing their All-Star guard.

While he did sign a five-year, $163 million deal ahead of the 2020-21 season, sources close to Mitchell have told SI Fastbreak that the idea of leaving Utah in the future should they continue to falter late in the year is “very real.”

As previously reported, Mitchell does have interest in the Knicks, Heat and Hawks, but several other teams have already begun reaching out to the Utah Jazz this offseason, even though the team has made it clear that they have no interest in trading Donovan Mitchell.

It does appear that the Jazz and the All-Star guard are on the “same page” as of right now, which had led many to speculate that All-Star center Rudy Gobert could be on the move.

Gobert’s presence defensively is as good as anyone’s in the league, yet his impact offensively has been minimal at times and way below the value of his five-year, $205 million contract.

There does appear to be a handful of trade interest in Gobert around the NBA, but one league scout said that he would not be so quick to give up a lot for the Jazz center simply because he “lacks the ability to impact the game at a championship-level.”

Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley Jr. are also two other potential trade candidates the Jazz have on their roster, each being veterans that playoff contending teams could be interested in adding either during or after the NBA Draft.

Everything for the Jazz starts with nailing the hire of their next head coach, especially given that their future with Donovan Mitchell depends on it.


Dyson Daniels A “Lock” For Top-10?

Going to the G League instead of the traditional collegiate route has suddenly become a more common trend for NBA prospects and after the success Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga had doing so last year, Dyson Daniels is following in their footsteps this year.

Playing for the G League Ignite this past year, Daniels really showcased his abilities to be a high-level perimeter defender and the lengthy guard has shot up draft boards throughout the pre-draft process.

Several league scouts that spoke with SI Fastbreak have called Daniels the "best guard in this year’s draft class," ranking him above potential Top-5 pick Jaden Ivey.

“What makes Dyson a special prospect is the fact that he is long, he has a high understanding for the game defensively and he simply makes those around him better,” one scout said. “Not many young guys entering the league, especially guards, have an understanding for how to make plays for others rather than themselves, kind of like a multi-year veteran facilitator in the backcourt you know? Dyson Daniels has that ‘it’ factor to him at just 19-years-old and I would not be shocked if he already has a promise from those Top-10 teams.”

The Detroit Pistons, Indiana Pacers, New Orleans Pelicans, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers and San Antonio Spurs have all hosted Dyson Daniels for a pre-draft workout and both the Washington Wizards and Sacramento Kings will bring him in for a workout and interview within the next week. 

Several other teams have been in contract with Daniels and/or spoken with him at the NBA Draft Combine last month.

Right now, it is looking very likely that Daniels will be a Top-10 pick in this year’s draft and he could even end up being a player that a team trades up for.

While they have shown interest in trading up in order to potentially draft Jaden Ivey, do not count out the New York Knicks looking at the possibility of moving up in the 6-8 range in order to potentially take Daniels. His defensive instincts and playmaking abilities are exactly what the Knicks need in their backcourt right now, hence why they could have interest in moving up to make him their next franchise point guard.

Other Notes and Rumors From Around the NBA:

  • Multiple teams with lottery picks are showing interest in Arizona’s Bennedict Mathurin with teams as high as the Detroit Pistons (5) and Indiana Pacers (6) liking his skillset and long-term potential on the wing.
  • Malaki Branham has been one of the highest risers throughout the pre-draft process and is a very likely candidate to be the Cleveland Cavaliers selection with the No. 14 pick, assuming he does not go higher.
  • Injury concerns continue to affect potential first-round pick Patrick Baldwin Jr.’s draft stock, however, there are a few teams in the 20-30 range who are interested in taking a chance on the 6-foot-10 forward with one scout saying that he is “the biggest boom or bust prospect that could end up being a Top-10 player from this draft class.”
  • The Los Angeles Lakers, Houston Rockets and Golden State Warriors are three early teams that could show interest in buying into or moving up into the early second-round.