Pistons and Pelicans Lead Way

The NBA Draft has winners and losers every year. However, sometimes teams that everyone thought were doing really well didn’t do that well at all, and vice versa. Our opinions do not always reflect reality. Last season, some of the biggest “reaches,” Josh Giddey and Ziaire Williams, made significant contributions as rookies and looked like incredibly promising NBA players. Meanwhile, seemingly surefire “Day One” contributors haven’t turned out to be such, and have barely seen the bottom in their rookie seasons. This unpredictability makes professional sport so beautiful: you never know!

NBA draft winner

Detroit piston

Analysis: No team came out of the 2022 NBA draft in better shape than the Detroit Pistons, and it’s also hard to imagine second place being so close. The Pistons selected Jaden Ivey with the No. 5 overall pick after Sacramento opted not to trade in the lottery and purchase additional assets. This selection already warrants an A or A+, as Jaden Ivey is the perfect match for the backcourt of a great playmaker and creator like Cade Cunningham; Things only got sweeter later in the lottery, however, when Detroit signed a three-way deal with the Charlotte Hornets and the New York Knicks. Detroit gave up a marginal amount to snap up a potentially big generation man in Jalen Duren. That was an absolute hit, and Detroit now has its young core going forward.

Pelicans from New Orleans

Analysis: New Orleans is closer to playoff relevance than most think. After the addition of CJ McCollum at the close, the Pels surged and found themselves in the playoffs despite not having Zion Williamson. Once in the playoffs, they scared the No. 1 Phoenix Suns, who likely counted their blessings after the series ended. The main issue that needed to be addressed in New Orleans was adding another ball handler who could compete at both ends of the floor at a high level. Dyson Daniels is exactly that. Daniels impressed scouts and executives last season while playing for G-League Ignite. His defensive skills are elite and he mirrors Josh Giddey on offense in many ways. It may not be this season, but the Pels should have a shot at going deep into the playoffs in the next few years.

Houston missiles

Analysis: Houston fans might not want to hear this, but Jabari Smith Jr. probably fits Houston better than Banchero would have. Banchero will be such a top scorer in this league that it’s hard to imagine three alpha scorers (Bachero, Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.) coexisting long-term. Smith should be more of a second scorer who will stand out in Houston for his quick play and talented guards that he didn’t have in Auburn. The Rockets also added two more first-rounders in Tari Eason and TyTy Washington. When filling out mock drafts, I usually only let Houston catch one of these guys, and by the end of the night it ended up with both! Washington should help ease the duties of Green and KPJ’s leading guard, while Eason is a superbly athletic and defensively oriented forward with high potential.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Analysis: Oklahoma City flexed its muscles (more like Draft Capital) to win the No. 11 overall pick from the New York Knicks and give him three lottery picks. The Thunder picked second pick unicorn Chet Holmgren and then traded for Ousmane Dieng, a 6ft 10 forward with solid playmaking and defensive skills, especially for as young as he is right now. Also, OKC snapped up the 12th pick, Jalen Williams of Santa Clara. Williams soared after more people got their hands on his footage and an impressive combine in the 5v5s. OKC also had an early second-round pick and used it to pick Arkansas’ Jaylin Williams, who was a bargain so late in the draft. The Thunder are building a talented core and just added four high-profile players in a draft.

NBA draft loser

Sacramento Kings

Analysis: Sacramento once again managed to have an overwhelming draft. It selected Keegan Murray as the fourth overall pick rather than acquire more assets and trade in the lottery with a team desperate for Jaden Ivey, a potential Superstar Guardian. Most of us can agree that the kings never seem to have one direction, constantly shifting between rebuilding and trying to win now; this only further confirms that thinking. Murray could be a solid, quality NBA player and might even be a good match for Domantas Sabonis, an excellent passer. However, the Kings missed an opportunity to trick other desperate teams into overpaying for the election.

Los Angeles Lakers

Analysis: Los Angeles decided to trade for an early second-rounder so it could take Max Christie? Christie could develop into a solid contributor at the NBA level, but it won’t be soon enough. At least it won’t be soon enough. LeBron’s window is closing and the Lakers had to move the needle in the right direction here. I’m afraid it didn’t.

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