Who are the winners and losers of the 2022 NBA draft?
With the 2022 NBA draft now a thing of the past, we can look at it with a fresh set of eyes and see who made the most of the event and who stumbled at the final hurdle.
I’m not really a fan of calling players in the draft “losers”. I mean, hey, if you were lucky enough to get picked by an NBA team at all, you are one of the top fraction-of-a-percent luckiest people on the planet. You are a winner in anyone’s books.
But having said that, there are some who fell short of expectations, just as some teams picked players that they might not have gone for in other circumstances.
E.J. Liddell and Kendall Brown were the two biggest drops from expectations in the draft. Liddell was widely viewed as a first-rounder, but slipped and slid his may down into the second round, where he was snapped up by the New Orleans Pelicans. He joins Dyson Daniels, who they grabbed with the eighth pick, and will be an impressive addition to their deep-ball threat.
Brown was also seen as a possible first-round pick, but tumbled to number 48, where the Indiana Pacers earmarked him up, after landing Bennedict Mathurin with the sixth pick. Brown needs to prove that he can extend his range from beyond the perimeter, but as it stands, he fell the hardest on the day.
I don’t know if the biggest winner is Isaiah Mobley or Evan Mobley, or maybe even the Cavs themselves, but selecting the older brother of last year’s first round pick is great news for everyone involved. While not likely to repeat his brothers Rookie of the Year runner-up performance, Isaiah was USC’s top scorer last season and can add a great outside threat element for Cleveland’s attack. Besides, anytime you get brothers playing together, you gain an intangible element that is difficult to quantify. They grew up playing together, played together in high school, in college, and now in the NBA. That is just a winning story right there, isn’t it?
Another big winner on the night was Duke University. With five players drafted overall, and four in the first round, the Blue Devils impressive hoops bona-fides just got stronger. If you are a young high school prospect being courted by UNC or UCLA, this might just sway your decision. Recruiting is always a difficult game in college basketball, but Duke have given themselves the best business card possible.
The Orlando Magic took the first pick overall for the first time since 2004, and they raised a few eyebrows by grabbing Paolo Banchero with it. While this falls into a big win category for both player and team, it is likely that it is a bigger win for Banchero than for Orlando. The Italian power forward will put up great offensive numbers, and of course he will be well compensated for that number one overall spot, but his defensive failings won’t do Orlando any favors, and let’s face it, the Magic need somebody who can stop their opponents scoring at will.
And to round this out, I would say that one of the night’s biggest winners is the Barclay Center. After two years of virtual drafting, the NBA have returned to their home for over a decade now with a real-life, in-person, attended-by-all draft event. That in itself is a win for everyone concerned.