Grading the 2022 NBA Draft (6/26/22)

In my quest to overcome my draft casual status, I researched around 80 prospects and threw together two big boards. Therefore, for the first time ever, I considered myself decently knowledgeable headed into the 2022 NBA draft. 

So, now that we’re a couple of days removed from draft night, it’s time to hand out some grades for each team’s selections. Let’s get into it!

Atlanta Hawks

Draftee: AJ Griffin (16th)

Griffin was pegged as a lottery pick by the vast majority of scouts and fans, but he surprisingly slid to 16th on Thursday night and fell into Atlanta’s lap. The Duke forward was a top shooter in college basketball, knocking down 44.7% of his triples in his lone season with the Blue Devils. Even though the defense is somewhat of a question mark, Griffin’s deep stroke will be a lethal weapon next to Trae Young’s elite playmaking. 

Grade: A-

Boston Celtics

Draftee: JD Davison (53rd)

While Jayson Tatum took huge strides as a playmaker this past season, Boston’s biggest weakness in 2022 was in that department. They were missing a true point guard who can run the offense, and it led to some big-time turnover woes (specifically in the playoffs). Davison, a raw guard from Alabama, excites me with his downhill athleticism but he too struggles with giving the ball away. He’s a solid upside swing late in the second round, but I would have rather seen Boston go with a guy like Alondes Williams or Collin Gillespie to boost their PG play.

Grade: C

Charlotte Hornets

Draftees: Mark Williams (15th), Bryce McGowens (40th)

Considering Charlotte’s hole at center, picking Mark Williams was practically destiny. The 7’2” big will fill the need for rim protection in Buzz City and therefore was a good pickup. 

The confusing part is the Jalen Duren trade. Duren is a smaller but more athletic and skilled version of Williams, and Charlotte had him until they flipped him for a future pick. Not the best decision in my opinion.

Bryce McGowens, a shooter with some shot-creation upside, should be able to play at least some spot minutes from the get-go. 

After a dud rookie campaign from Charlotte’s 2021 class, hopefully things go differently this year.

Grade: B

Chicago Bulls

Draftees: Dalen Terry (18th)

Dalen Terry is a very interesting player. He’s a 6’7” lengthy athlete with solid passing chops who plays good on-ball defense. His skill set will make him a nice connecting piece in Chicago’s rotation, but the big problem is his shot. His form is hitchy and it will take some serious work for him to become even an average shooter, which is a significant issue in a league where spacing is king. I like Terry’s game but I think Chicago should have gone a different route as a team who could use some more shooting. 

Grade: C+

Cleveland Cavaliers

Draftees: Ochai Agbaji (14th), Khalifa Diop (39th), Isaiah Mobley (49th)

One of the oldest players in this class, Kansas wing Ochai Agbaji is ready to contribute right away. He’s a prototypical 3&D guy who does both things well and will be a key rotational piece for a Cavs team looking to make the playoffs for the first time since the LeBron era.  

Isaiah Mobley teaming up with his younger brother is not only fun because they’re family. Just like Evan, Isaiah is a switchable big and I’m really intrigued by a lineup with those two playing together. The elder brother can also stretch the floor and pass, and I think he’s a sleeper in this class. 

I unfortunately don’t know anything about Khalifa Diop.

Grade: B+

Dallas Mavericks

Draftee: Jaden Hardy (37th)

Steal of the draft award goes to Dallas. The guard from G-League Ignite has serious prowess as a shot creator and overall scorer and once the shot starts falling more he’s going to be a star. Even if he doesn’t become a player of that stature, he shot a great percentage on open threes in the G-League and that alone will allow him to play off of offensive supernova Luka Doncic. 

Grade: A

Denver Nuggets 

Draftees: Christian Braun (21st), Peyton Watson (30th), Ismael Kamagate (46th)

One of my pre-draft dream pickups for the Bucks, I like Christian Braun because he does it all. The 6’7” forward is a big-time competitor who can shoot the three, defend, rebound, and talk smack with the best of them. He’ll bring some juice off the bench for a Denver roster with championship aspirations. 

Peyton Watson is the rawest talent in the class. He’s a fantastic athlete but that’s about it. Denver has a solid track record of player development and should be able to bring the best out of the UCLA forward.

Grade: B

Detroit Pistons

Draftees: Jaden Ivey (5th), Jalen Duren (13th), Gabriele Procida (36th)

Ivey, who was considered a member of the big four, slid to fifth and Detroit fans are very excited for good reason. Ivey is an explosive downhill athlete and finisher with tremendous upside, and he and Cade Cunningham will be one of the league’s top backcourts one day. Even more exciting is Duren ending up in Motor City through a trade. The best true center in the draft, Duren will anchor the young Pistons on defense and serve as an elite finisher off Ivey & Cade dimes. 

Detroit now has an incredibly fun young core consisting of Cade, Ivey, Duren, Saddiq Bey, Killian Hayes, and Isaiah Stewart. This draft accelerated their rebuild, and I see this team making the playoffs within three seasons. What a turnaround for a team built around Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson not too long ago.

Grade: A+

Golden State Warriors

Draftees: Patrick Baldwin Jr. (28th), Ryan Rollins (44th), Gui Santos (55th)

PBJ is an elite shooter for his size (6’10”) and was projected in the lottery before a subpar season at UW Milwaukee. He’s definitely raw but he won’t have to do too much in Golden State and I think he’s going to absolutely pop there. 

Ryan Rollins is a borderline first-round talent who fell to 44th. The guard from Toldeo has great self-creation tools and can score at all three levels. While he may not get a ton of burn right away for a loaded Warriors roster, I’m almost certain they’ll develop him into a rotational guy (or more) by year two.

The rich get richer. 

Grade: A

Houston Rockets

Draftees: Jabari Smith Jr. (3rd), Tari Eason (17th), TyTy Washington (29th)

Auburn product Jabari Smith, the pre-draft favorite to go first overall, is the most NBA ready player in the class. He’s an elite shooter and versatile defender and is without a doubt Houston’s new power forward for the future. 

Tari Eason is a hyper-atheltic defender who will be a big help for a Rockets team that wasn’t so good on that end this past season. 

I love the TyTy Washington pick at 29. A lottery prospect on my board, the Kentucky guard has star upside with his smooth three-level scoring ability and solid passing. 

Grade: A

Indiana Pacers

Draftees: Bennedict Mathurin (6th), Andrew Nembhard (31st), Kendall Brown (48th)

Bennedict Mathurin is an absolute knockdown shooter off the catch or movement and that alone makes this pick worth it in a league dominated by the three-ball. The Arizona wing’s athleticism and length suggest he has even more to him.

As for the second round guys, Nembhard is a smart backup point guard who will be able to learn from Malcolm Brogdon and Tyrese Haliburton. Kendall Brown was a first-round talent in my eyes as I like his activity and IQ on the defensive end. 

Grade: A-

Los Angeles Clippers 

Draftee: Moussa Diabate (43rd)

Michigan big man Moussa Diabate is an intriguing prospect due to the mobility he brings on the defensive end. With Isaiah Hartenstein potentially heading out the door, Diabate may be able to fill the backup center role for the Clippers. Solid value in the second round.

Grade: B

Los Angeles Lakers

Draftee: Max Christie (35th)

To play next to LeBron James, you need to be able to shoot and defend. Max Christie does both. The Michigan State wing obviously caught the eye of L.A.’s front office as they traded into the draft to select at 35. 

Grade: B

Memphis Grizzlies

Draftees: Jake LaRavia (19th), David Roddy (23rd), Kennedy Chandler (38th), Vince Williams Jr. (47th)

The Grizzlies have one of the top young cores in the association and bolstered it with their new rookies. Jake LaRavia is a perfect modern four with his shooting and switchable defense. Kennedy Chandler is a quick and bouncy guard who’s one of the better passers in this class, and he’ll fill the backup point guard role if Tyus Jones leaves. Vince Williams is a highly productive and versatile wing. I thought David Roddy was a little bit of a reach, but other than that this was a solid draft for Memphis.

Grade: B+

Miami Heat

Draftee: Nikola Jovic (27th)

6’11” Jokic is a skillful guard with a big man’s height and he has some massive upside. Player development has become one of Miami’s calling cards and I trust them to help Jovic unlock his full potential.

Grade: A-

Milwaukee Bucks

Draftees: Marjon Beauchamp (24th), Hugo Besson (58th)

Heading into the draft, the Bucks had multiple things they needed including a backup PG, big depth, and a movement shooter. Above all though, they needed a guy who can play minutes right away and that’s what Marjon Beauchamp can do. The G-League Ignite product is an smart, athletic forward who is best known for his defense and I’m excited to have him in Milwaukee.

GM Jon Horst also bought the last pick of the draft from Indiana to select Hugo Besson. The French guard may be a draft-and-stash guy but when he comes over to the NBA he’ll provide creative scoring off the bench.

Grade: B

Minnesota Timberwolves

Draftees: Walker Kessler (22nd), Wendell Moore Jr. (26th), Josh Minott (45th)

Karl-Anthony Towns isn’t known for his interior defense, and Walker Kessler will bring the best shot-blocking in the class to help make up for that. 

My favorite pick for the Wolves is Wendell Moore from Duke, a wing who can shoot, defend, and pass that will definitely get some burn for Chris Finch from day one. 

Josh Minott is a raw athelte who will likely spend a lot of time in the G-League to begin his career.

Grade: B+

New York Knicks

Draftee: Trevor Keels (42nd)

While Keels is a solid pickup in round two, the Knicks kind of goofed up in this draft. They traded the 12th pick for multiple future firsts, which is fine because maybe they didn’t like anybody in that range, but the problem was the other deal. They acquired Jalen Duren and flipped him to the Pistons in the same trade for nothing. Legitimately nothing. At the end of the day New York passed on the opportunity to add young talent to their roster and I don’t know why.

Grade: D

New Orleans Pelicans

Draftees: Dyson Daniels (8th), E.J. Liddell (41st)

The up-and-coming Pelicans have become one of the deepest rosters in the league with their plethora of young talent. Dyson Daniels will help elevate everyone around him with his high IQ playmaking, and he also forms a scary defensive duo with 2021 Bench Mob Player of the Year Herb Jones. If the shot comes around the G-League Ignite guard will be a premier role player.

E.J. Liddell was a projected first round pick but fell all the way to 41st. There has to be a reason why, but maybe New Orleans got the steal of the draft. 

Grade: A-

Oklahoma City Thunder

Draftees: Chet Holmgren (2nd), Ousmane Dieng (11th), Jalen Williams (12th), Jaylin Williams (34th)

OKC got their guy in seven-foot unicorn Chet Holmgren. At the very least he’ll be a high-level anchor for a team in desperate need of just that, but there’s a lot to unlock with his offense and OKC is the place to do it. 

Ousmane Dieng is the biggest boom-or-bust guy in the draft, and he’ll have all the freedom he needs to develop his game in Oklahoma so I’m happy for him that he ended up there. 

Jalen Williams from Santa Clara, or JDub, might be my favorite player in the class. He does absolutely everything on the court and will be a legitmate contributor right away. He also has star upside if his shot creation carries over to the next level. The other Jaylin Williams, the big from Arkansas, might spend some time in the G-League to begin his career but should be a solid bench piece one day. 

Overall great draft for OKC. 

Grade: A

Orlando Magic

Draftees: Paolo Banchero (1st), Caleb Houstan (32nd) 

Orlando got the best player in the draft with the first pick and there’s not much else to say. Banchero joins Wendell Carter Jr., Franz Wagner, Markelle Fultz, Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, and others to form a young group I’m ecstatic to watch next season, and he should be their number one offensive option for the future. 

Caleb Houstan is a 6’8” forward who will provide some 3&D play off the bench. 

Grade: A+

Portland Trail Blazers

Draftees: Shaedon Sharpe (7th), Jabari Walker (57th)

Portland was the team to bite on mystery man Shaedon Sharpe. The extremely athletic wing caught the eye of Blazers superstar Damian Lillard, and therefore it doesn’t surprise me that he ended up in Rip City. Shape will be able to learn from Dame while playing in a structured environment (as the Blazers are looking to win) and I think that will help him blossom into the best player he can be. 

Jabari Walker is a versatile defending forward who can shoot some, and he might be able to earn some burn as a rookie which is great value for a guy picked so late.

Grade: B+

Sacramento Kings

Draftee: Keegan Murray (4th)

Jaden Ivey is a top four talent in this draft, which is why people took to clowning Sacremento on social media when they selected Keegan Murray. They failed to recognize why the Kings went with the Iowa forward.

For one, Ivey did not want to land in Sactown, and there’s no reason to draft a guy who doesn’t want to play for your team. Even if the Purdue guard did want to play for the Kings, I don’t think they needed another guard. Tyrese Haliburton was a great compliment to De’Aaron Fox, but he got traded, and drafting a guy who would fit worse next to your franchise lead guard wouldn’t make sense.

All in all, Sacramento made the right pick.

Grade: A-

San Antonio Spurs

Draftees: Jeremy Sochan (9th), Malaki Branham (20th), Blake Wesley (25th)

I like all three of San Antonio’s new draftees. Jeremy Sochan is a top defender in this class who will fit nicely in the starting lineup and form a menacing defensive trio with Dejounte Murray and Jakob Poeltl. Malaki Branahm, projected lottery pick, is a smooth, efficient shot creator who can play on and off the ball effectively. Blake Wesley has high upside as a scorer and defender with his smooth handle and length. 

While there are now some kinks to be worked out in the rotation, I think the Spurs hit on all three of their first round picks and that’s great for a rebuilding squad.

Grade: A

Toronto Raptors

Draftee: Christian Koloko (33rd)

In typical Raptors fashion they ended draft night with a lengthy mobile frontcourt player. Koloko will fit right in Tortonto’s jumbo lineups with his ability to protect the rim and switch on the perimeter. I like this selection for them.

Grade: B+

Washington Wizards

Draftee: Johnny Davis (10th) 

The Wizards have a big ol’ whole at point guard, and while Johnny Davis isn’t a true one he will provide some much-needed backcourt play. He’ll compliment Bradley Beal with his ability to defend, and his mid-range scoring will make him a quality two-way contributor. 

Grade: A-

So those are my 2022 draft grades! Who do you think won the draft? Let me know! Thanks for reading and see you next time!

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