The draft is always a facemelt as surprising results surprise and new information comes to light. I will do a re-rank based on the results, but first, here are my reactions for winners and losers.
Houston: #37 Chinanu Onuaku, #43 Zhou Qi, UFA Gary Payton Jr.
The Rockets may have hauled the most upsidey pair of 2nd rounders in NBA history. Chinanu Onuaku and Zhou Qi were my two players who I had as massively underrated and projected to go in round 2 for very flawed reasons, and Daryl Morey pounced on them when they were available with his picks.
And if that wasn’t enough, Morey instantly signed consensus best UFA Gary Payton to a 3 year deal after the draft.
This was an A+++ perfect draft for Morey. It’s amazing that he got such a loaded haul with such limited picks entering the draft.
Phoenix: #4 Dragan Bender, #8 Marquese Chriss, #34 Tyler Ulis
Phoenix could have completely bricked the rest of the draft after #4 and still won the draft after taking Bender 4th. While Bender has no guarantee of NBA success, his massive upside gives him franchise changing potential that none of the other #3-8 picks sniffed. Nailing a pick like this can make a franchise’s future when it works out, so Suns fans should feel great about the pick.
I’m not Marquese Chriss’s biggest fan, but at #8 overall he is likely the highest upside option on the board and #13, 28, and Bogdanovic is a reasonable price when he was perceived to be consensus best player available. He is a nice lottery ticket to append the Bender haul.
I believe Tyler Ulis will never be more than a backup PG and for all intents and purposes is a waste of the #34 pick, but that’s of little consequence after having such a great lottery haul.
Philadelphia: #1 Ben Simmons, #24 Timothe Luwawu, #26 Furkan Korkmaz
I can split hairs over Simmons vs Ingram, but I really don’t know the answer to that debate and will not quibble with the selection of Simmons at #1 overall. More importantly they were saved from themselves when both the Celtics and Timberwolves declined their alleged offer of Nerlens Noel, Robert Covington, #24, and #26 for Kris Dunn and ended up nailing the picks with two players I ranked in my top 15. Maybe Colangelo won’t ruin Hinkie’s amazing set up after all.
Memphis: #17 Wade Baldwin, #31 Deyonta Davis, #35 Rade Zagorac
After getting statistical darling Wade Baldwin at 17th, the fighting Hollingers traded a not too valuable Clippers pick (top 14 protected in ’19 and ’20 before becoming 2022 2nd rounder) for Deyonta Davis and Rade Zagorac.
Davis at #31 is likely not the value he was presumed to be entering the draft, as the only reason for him slipping that far would be that he must have some sort of injury flag. But nevertheless it is unlikely he was a bad gamble, especially given the price tag of acquiring him and Zagorac. Awesome draft for the Grizz.
San Antonio: #29 Dejounte Murray
I had Dejounte Murray as the #13 player on my final big board, and when the Spurs took him at #29 overall it confirms that other teams were more likely to be silly for passing him up rather than him being not that good or having secret red flags.
Boston: #3 Jaylen Brown, #16 Guerschon Yabusele, #23 Ante Zizic, #45 Demetrius Jackson, #51 Ben Bentil, #58 Abdel Nader
In fairness to Boston, the Celtics were in a tough position with 8 draft picks and a limited number of roster spots to accommodate them, but they handled the situation about as poorly as they possibly could have.
I am much higher on Jaylen Brown than most statistical models would suggest, and frankly if he was taken after Bender was off the board I’d rather like the pick. But taking him over Dragan Bender is a crucial error, and with a monster offer from Philly for Kris Dunn possibly on the table adds more sting to the choice. Then from there it only got worse.
It only made sense that the Celtics would stash some Euros with their picks, but in a draft rife with upsidey internationals, the Celtics managed to use their two other 1st round picks on players I rated as 2nd rounders. Then they traded 31 and 35 for a protected Clippers pick that is worth much less than the sum of those picks. 16/23/31/35 were the money shots in the draft and they collectively converted those picks to about 25% as much value as Morey did with 37/43/UFA.
Some picks were going to need to be sacrificed on stashes, but instead they are wasting their roster spots on Demetrius Jackson (who was decent value at #45, and could be a solid backup PG), and Ben Bentil at #51 (who had no business being drafted). Somehow they also drafted Abdel Nader at #58, and I can only assume it’s because he is willing to be stashed.
But there was so so so much potential for 16/23/31/35. They could have landed 16. Wade Baldwin, 23. Any of Luwawu/Korkmaz/Dejounte, 31. Onuaku, 35. McCaw/Qi/Zipser/Ragorac/etc and thrown their late picks along with James Young and Terry Rozier in the trash, but instead they trashed the valuable picks and are wasting roster spots on four guys who are collectively worth close to 0.
This draft was a massive failure on all fronts by the Celtics. You’d think with 8 picks there would be one trade or decision to be happy with as a fan, instead Danny Ainge delivered a series of compounding errors.
Milwaukee: #10 Thon Maker, #36 Malcolm Brogdon
I may be underrating Maker by placing him 40th on my big board, but man did he look bad at the Hoop Summit in comparison to players such as Cheick Diallo, Stephen Zimmerman, and Skal Labissiere who all were drafted substantially later because this high school class was bad. Perhaps unlike that big trio he would have exceeded expectations in NCAA, but would he have exceeded them so much to justify a lottery pick? It is extremely unlikely considering his lack of athleticism and coordination. Perhaps he was worth a 1st round selection, but I can’t fathom that this was not a massive reach.
Malcolm Brogdon was not a terrible pick in a vaccuum, but taken immediately ahead of 37. Onuaku, 38. McCaw, and 43. Zhou Qi it does not look so hot.
Sacramento: #13 Georgios Papagiannis, #22 Malachi Richardson, #28 Skal Labissiere, #59 Isaiah Cousins
The Kings got off to a good start fleecing the Hornets by trading Marco Bellineli for #22 and #8 for #13, 28, and Bogdan Bogdanovic, but then they proceeded to make the selections and things became less good.
First of all, their by far two most valuable pieces both play center, and they reached for another center who is much less good at #13. Then they the overrated Malachi Richardson at #22. And while Skal Labissiere may have been a decent gamble at #28 in a vacuum, it is not so much when they are already have four centers above him in the depth chart. The Kings stayed the Kings.
New Orleans: #6 Buddy Hield, #33 Cheick Diallo
New Orleans nabbed the biggest dud in the top 9 in Buddy Hield at #6. And while Cheick Diallo isn’t the worst pick at #33, 39 + 40 is a big price to pay to move up and there were more appealing options available. Looks like the Pels are going to waste Anthony Davis’s early prime.
Denver: #7 Jamal Murray, #15 Juan Hernangomez, #19 Malik Beasley
I don’t want to expressly call the Nuggets losers, because none of these picks are especially bad in a vacuum. But they are meh, meh, and meh in my book. Murray can’t play D, Hernangomez has no ball skills, and Beasley is a SG in a PG body who is a bit overrated on intangibles. All of these guys could go on to have decent careers but I don’t see enough star potential to justify the slots.
Golden State: #30 Damian Jones, #38 Patrick McCaw, UFA Robert Carter
Damian Jones was an underwhelming selection at #30 when the Golden State fans already had a Festus Ezeli from Vanderbilt to frustrate them, but given his tools he is not an awful value for the shot. Then the Warriors went on to take McCaw who I LOVE for their purposes and Carter who is my #2 UFA after Payton Jr to totally redeem themselves. This was a solidly good night for the Warriors even if not quite a slam dunk.
Brooklyn: #20 Caris LeVert, #42 Isaiah Whitehead
Both of these picks were reaches compared to consensus draft boards, but they were reaches that I can get behind. LeVert seemed massively underrated projected to go in the 40’s, and going at #20 implies that his injuries are not big red flags. And Whitehead offers sneaky potential if he cleans up his shot selection and decision making as a combo guard. I don’t love this draft for Brooklyn but it is not bad.