Winners and losers of the 2022 NBA Draft

Published June 27, 2022, 12:00 AMPolo Bustamante

NBA.com Philippines writer Polo Bustamante gives a rundown of the 2022 NBA Draft, which delivered a little bit of everything.

The NBA Draft is one of the league’s most interesting events because each one is different from the other. Sure, names are called and players hug their loved ones and amble up on stage to greet the commissioner. But each year, the experience changes. Some years, explosive trades take up the spotlight. In other years a bad suit or an awkward hug will be what everyone remembers.

This year was a new experience once again. With no clear-cut number one pick, everything was up in the air until the top selection was finally announced. That opened up the chance for something a little crazy to happen. Which it did. 

Let’s take a look at what went down in the 2022 NBA Draft by breaking down the winners and losers of the event.

Winner: Betting Markets, Loser: Adrian Wojnarowski

ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski is an infallible source of information. He’s rarely outscooped and almost never wrong about what he reports. That’s why it feels wrong to type this but Woj was wrong about the top pick in this year’s draft.

On the morning of the NBA Draft, Woj tweeted out that Jabari Smith Jr. would go number one to the Orlando Magic.

That tweet sent the betting markets to a frenzy with some sites even taking down the top pick action.

Unfortunately, that tweet also couldn’t stop the momentum that was shifting the odds towards Paolo Banchero going as the top pick of the draft. In the weeks leading up to the draft, Banchero’s odds swung wildly. From as low as +2600 back on June 6, Banchero was suddenly the favorite to be drafted by the Orlando Magic first overall in the final pre-draft odds.

It seems the markets knew something that Woj didn’t. In the minutes leading up to the draft, Woj corrected the report he made 12 hours earlier with new information on the top pick.

The Magic finally ended all speculations and smokescreens when they selected Banchero with the first pick, proving that the betting markets were correct and Woj was initially wrong.

To make matters worse for Woj, his main rival The Athletic’s Shams Charania outscooped him during draft night.

Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder have built themselves a nice core. It’s a group of good, young players that can really help them win games. Unfortunately, it’s also a group that’s lacking real star power and interest value. That was true, until this year’s draft night when they selected Chet Holmgren.

Holmgren has the highest potential among the top three picks. He’s an athletic 7-footer that can hit shots from beyond the arc, take it strong to the hoop, and defend the paint. If he can put it all together, the Thunder have found themselves a future superstar that they can build around.

To make things more interesting, Holmgren will be paired up with Aleksej Pokusevski in the frontcourt. They’re both high-IQ players that can play off each other on paper. This gives the team the tallest, thinnest frontcourt in the league. It will be fascinating to see how this will work next season.

Winner: Houston Rockets

Sometimes, blessings fall on your lap when you least expect them. That’s what happened to the Houston Rockets. They were sitting pretty with the third pick, ready to select the best player available. It just so happened that the player they ended up with might actually end up being the best player of the draft.

Jabari Smith Jr. was considered by several analysts as the top pick of this year’s draft for a reason. He’s an explosive scorer that can get buckets off the strength of his jumper. Getting a rookie that can score is easy though. Getting one that can contribute defensively is tougher. Smith was considered the most versatile defender of the top three picks.

The Rockets will be getting a player that also has a chip on his shoulder—after being pegged as the top pick for weeks before falling to number three on draft day. Smith will be motivated to prove a lot of people wrong.

Loser: Sacramento Kings

On draft night, this graphic came out reminding everyone that the Kings have struggled in past NBA Drafts.

Hindsight is 20:20 and it’s unfair for the Kings to be punished for the success of these great players. But man, passing on Luka Doncic for Marvin Bagley is still unforgivable.

Loser: Everyone trying to understand what the New York Knicks did

There were no big shocking trades that happened during draft night. There were a lot of confusing trades, though. All done by the Knicks.

I’m glad there are other people to summarize the moves for me as I still have my calendar and calculator in front of me trying to add everything up. 

It was also telling that the team’s president Leon Rose didn’t immediately face the media to explain the decision behind his moves. Finally, a few days after the draft, the Knicks issued a statement explaining why they made all their moves.

The Knicks are planning to be an active player during free agency (hello, Jalen Brunson!) They cleared cap space and built up a war chest of draft picks to be able to make moves. Did it all have to be so confusing though?

Winner: Jaden Ivey

There’s a lot to be said about Ivey’s talent (he’s good) and fit with the Detroit Pistons (he’s the scorer the team needs).

Instead, I’ll focus on this. Ivey getting drafted by the Pistons is like a homecoming not just for him but for his entire family. His mom, Niele Ivey, played for the Detroit Shock back in 2005. His dad, Javin Hunter, grew up in Michigan and has roots with a Detroit school. His grandfather, James Hunter, played his entire NFL career for the Detroit Lions. The Pistons decided to honor the entire family during Jaden’s introductory press conference.

Welcome home, Jaden.