On Tuesday night, the NBA held its draft lottery ahead of the 2022 NBA draft. Three teams entered the lottery with the best chances of winning the first overall. The Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets and Detroit Pistons all entered the lottery with a 14.00% chance of winning the first overall. Right behind these three teams, Oklahoma City had a 12.50% chance of making the pick. At the end of the evening, the Sacramento Kings claimed their fourth overall, Houston their third, Oklahoma City their second and Orlando their first overall. As several changes took place during the lottery, there were many winners and many losers.
Portland Trailblazers – Losers
In the 2021-22 season, the Portland Trailblazers made their first move in a slight rebuild around All-Star guard Damian Lillard. The first major step that was taken was guard CJ McCollum’s move to the New Orleans Pelicans. McCollum thrived with the Pelicans in the second half of the season while Damian Lillard was out with an abdominal injury and the Blazers fell to 13th in the Western Conference. The team had the sixth-best chance of picking the first overall draft pick, but ended up falling to seventh overall draft pick. The disappointment on Damian Lillard’s face was evident after the announcement. While the team is still in the top half of the lottery, it doesn’t stand a chance of any of the potential franchise-changing players expected to be chosen with the top few picks. With Damian Lillard and Portland’s growing frustrations, the draft pick drop is the latest hit for the franchise.
Oklahoma City Thunder—Winners
While some are asking Oklahoma City Thunder General Manager Sam Presti what he has accomplished over the past few seasons, many are in awe of what he has done for the Thunder’s future. Between the 2022 NBA draft and the 2028 draft, OKC has 19 first-round picks, including three this season and four more next season. En route to the second overall draft pick, The Thunder will be able to draft a franchise-changing player. With big men Jabari Smith of Auburn and Chet Holmgren of Gonzaga expected to take first and second overall, OKC will add a great chunk regardless of who the Orlando Magic select as the overall winner. With several mock drafts that saw Chet Holmgren go to the thunder, the Gonzaga big man would pair well with Josh Giddy and 2021 draft pick Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Oklahoma City may not make a big move next season, but the second draft pick will play a major role in the team’s growth.
Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers-Losers
Trades from the past have returned to haunt both teams. Due to the 2019 trade with Paul George, The Thunder acquired the Clippers 2022 first-round draft pick along with four other first-round draft picks. With the Clippers missing Kawhi Leonard all season, missing George for portions of the season, and both absent, the Clippers ended up in the draft lottery. While the team may not have predicted they would be in the lottery this season, this pick could have added a slice to their bench without overspending. The same goes for the Los Angeles Lakers. All three stars missed time throughout the season and the team underperformed, finishing 11th in the West and winning just 33 games. The pick would have been very helpful for the Lakers, who are constrained by the cap. Instead, that pick (one of four future first-round picks) goes to the New Orleans Pelicans, part of the 2019 trade that landed Lakers Anthony Davis. New Orleans can choose to either add a character to its already promising roster that has struggled in the playoffs, or trade that draft pick for another character to improve its roster.
Houston Rockets winner
While the Houston Rockets fell to the third draft pick, they’re still winners. Considering the time they have at their disposal right now, they’ve been able to impress at times during the NBA season. Jalen Green had a great rookie season in Houston and will continue to grow. Alperen Sengun also had a solid season in the middle position. Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood both had their moments during the season. While the Rockets are unlikely to get Jabari Smith or Chet Holmgren, Duke forward Paolo Banchero is a great draft option for the team. The ACC Rookie of the Year averaged over 17.0 PPG and nearly 8.0 RPG. Adding him to the Rockets will help shape the core of Houston’s future. There’s no doubt Banchero will be a star in the league and Houston is a great place for him to develop at the pro level.