NEW YORK — Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren and Jabari Smith were the big winners Thursday night, going Nos. 1-3 in the 2022 NBA draft. The Orlando Magic had the No. 1 pick for the first time since 2004 and selected Duke’s Banchero, making him the second No. 1 pick from Duke in the past four years (Zion Williamson went No. 1 in 2019). Oklahoma City remains patient with its rebuild, adding the most polarizing player in the draft, 7-foot-1, 195-pound center Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith is headed to the Houston Rockets.
Many believed Smith would be taken No. 1, but the Magic preferred to build around Banchero. The Duke forward has an NBA-ready body at 250 pounds and the Magic felt comfortable with the size he could bring in the lane immediately alongside Wendell Carter Jr., instead of projecting how Smith and Holmgren’s bodies would fill out.
Banchero is one of the best transitional bigs in the draft with great court vision and the ability to start the offense more fluidly off a missed shot. Yes, Smith is a better 3-point shooter and the Magic need help in that area, but Banchero isn’t a bad perimeter shooter and has great shooting mechanics that he can develop.
There were a couple of surprise picks, most notably Patrick Baldwin Jr. going 28th to the Golden State Warriors, and Jaden Ivey got his wish and avoided the Sacramento Kings. Below are the winners and losers of the NBA draft.
NBA draft winners
Paolo Banchero and the Orlando Magic
The Magic had the draft’s No. 1 pick for the first time since 2004 when they selected Dwight Howard. It worked out well for the franchise back then as Howard led Orlando to the Finals. Prior to that, the Magic selected Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, so it’s clear the Magic have had success drafting power forwards and centers with the top pick.
Banchero entered the draft as the most-ready big in the draft with his 6-foot-10, 250-pound frame. The Las Vegas odds took a massive swing earlier this week from +1600 to +200 for Banchero to go No. 1 overall over the favored Smith.
The Magic were one of the worst 3-point shooting teams last season, connecting on just 33% of attempts from deep. Even though Banchero didn’t make as many 3-pointers as Smith last season, he’s more than comfortable stepping into threes in transition and off the pick-and-roll option.
Jaden Ivey gets wish, and Detroit Pistons add to elite young roster
Jaden Ivey got his wish and didn’t get drafted by the Sacramento Kings, sitting as the fourth-best prospect on the board. The Kings went with a team need instead of the best player available and selected Iowa forward Keegan Murray.
That gave the Pistons the green light to take Ivey and add him alongside Cade Cunningham, creating one of the most athletic young backcourts in the league. Cunningham is a great facilitator and draws defenses with the way he reads players off the pick-and-roll. That will open up spacing for Ivey to swing down off the wing and attack the baseline.
The Pistons also struck gold in a 6-foot-11 center Jalen Duren in a three-way trade with the 13th overall draft pick. Duren was the No. 1 player coming out of high school before reclassifying and committing a year early to play for Penny Hardaway in Memphis. Duren has an NBA-ready body and is a fantastic passer, especially when the defense crashes.
Duren and Ivey will join an already elite young roster of Cunningham, Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes.
San Antonio Spurs and high-upside first-round trio
The Spurs entered the draft with three first-round picks and capitalized on selecting Jeremy Sochan at No. 9, Malaki Branham at No. 20 and Blake Wesley at No. 25. All three players are young and athletic with tremendous upside.
Sochan is one of the best defenders in this draft class who can guard every position on the court at 6-foot-9 and can sit down and defend the perimeter. Branham was the most improved guard in the Big Ten and continued to improve his 3-point shot during the pre-draft process. Wesley was the first one-and-done to come out of Notre Dame and is a highly skilled passer who has untapped potential.
All three players need time to develop, but they had the highest potential in this draft class. The Spurs have a solid young core with Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker and Devin Vassell, and San Antonio has a great track record in developing players.
NBA draft losers
Sacramento Kings make another lottery mistake
The Kings have had a lottery pick every year since 2007, except for one, and are still trying to build a playoff-caliber team. Ivey was clearly the best prospect available at No. 4, with slight comparisons to Ja Morant, but with a full backcourt and Ivey voicing very publicly he didn’t want to go there, the Kings drafted Murray, the 6-foot-8 forward out of Iowa.
Memphis Grizzlies’ uninspiring picks
The Grizzlies already have an established, playoff-caliber team led by Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane. On Thursday, they drafted Wake Forest wing Jake LaRavia with the No. 19 pick and Colorado State forward David Roddy at No. 23. Roddy struggled at times during 5-on-5 play at the NBA draft combine, and LaRavia is a solid role player. The Grizzlies passed on potential young players like TyTy Washington and Wesley. LaRavia and Roddy project to be OK secondary role players, but they are very uninspiring picks.
New York Knicks’ trades
The Knicks entered the draft with the No. 11 pick and instead of taking a shot at a positionless player like 6-foot-8 wing A.J. Griffin (who fell to the Atlanta Hawks at No. 16), the Knicks traded the pick to OKC. Then the Thunder traded three first-round picks to the Knicks. New York then traded No. 23 to Denver, four second-round picks to Charlotte for the 13th pick (Jalen Duren). The Knicks then traded the 13th pick and Kemba Walker to Detroit for Milwaukee’s 2025 first-round pick. So to recap, the Knicks traded the 11th pick Thursday along with Walker and four second-round picks and they got three future first-round picks. It’s not necessarily a terrible night for the organization since there’s a lot of value in next year’s draft, but instead of trying to get help this season after going 34-48 in 2021-22, they’re taking a page from Thunder general manager Sam Presti’s book and gathering future picks instead.