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 last four years (Zion Williamson went No. 1 in 2019). Oklahoma City remains patient with their rebuild, adding the most polarizing player in the draft, 7-foot-1 195-pound center, Chet Holmgren.
There were a couple surprise picks with Patrick Baldwin Jr. going 28th to Warriors, and Jaden Ivey got his wish and avoided the Sacramento Kings. Below are the winners and losers of the NBA draft.
The Magic had the No. 1 pick in the draft for the first time since 2004 when they drafted Dwight Howard. It worked out pretty well for the franchise back then as Howard led them to the NBA Finals. Prior to that they selected Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, and it’s clear the Magic have had success drafting power forwards and centers with the top pick in the past.
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 as speculation grew Banchero could go No. 1 over the heavily favored Smith.
The Magic were one of the worst 3-point shooting teams last season, connecting on just 33% of attempts from deep as a team. Even though Banchero didn’t connect on 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 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 in the backcourt alongside Cade Cunningham, creating one of the most athletic young backcourts in the league. Cunningham is a great facilitator and draws the defense with the way he reads players off the pick-and-roll. That will open up the 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 pick. Duren was the No. 1 player coming out of high school before reclassifying and committing a year early to play for Penny Hardaway. 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.
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.