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NBA Draft Team Grades & Pick Rankings | Best & Worst Selections From This Year’s NBA Draft

Posted: Jun 24, 2022Last updated: Jun 27, 2022

The 2022 NBA Draft has come and gone. If you watched the broadcast on mute and stayed off of Twitter, there were plenty of surprises from this year’s event, with the Orlando Magic’s selection of Paolo Banchero chief among them.

Coming into the draft, Auburn product Jabari Smith Jr. was widely considered the favorite to go No. 1 overall. Instead, it was Banchero, who is a seamless fit with this Magic team and the early favorite to win NBA Rookie of the Year.

Most teams, including the Magic, had successful nights. There were certainly a few head-scratchers (as I’ll detail below), but it’s difficult to point out major flaws without being a little nitpicky.

With that said, here are my grades for how well each team did in this year’s draft, as well as my five best and worst picks.

All NBA gameday odds are current as of Friday, June 24, at 12 p.m. ET and courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.

NBA Draft Team Grades 2022

RkTeamPick 1Pick 2Pick 3Pick 4GradeWhy
1RocketsJabari Smith Jr.Tari EasonTyTy Washington Jr.A+Houston got who many believed was the best player in the draft and followed that up with stellar selections in the mid and late first round.
2RaptorsChristian KolokoA+Koloko is awesome and a great value at No. 33 overall, and I love his fit in Toronto.
3MagicPaolo BancheroCaleb HoustanAThe Magic made the right choice at No. 1 in Banchero and added a high-ceiling prospect in Houstan.
4ThunderChet HolmgrenOusmane DiengJalen WilliamsJaylin WilliamsAOKC made three great lottery picks and added a tough forward in the second round.
5PacersBennedict MathurinAndrew NembhardKendall BrownAMathurin has All-Star talent, Nembhard great vision, and Brown two-way upside, making this a very good all-around draft.
6HornetsMark WilliamsBryce McGowensACharlotte snagged two guys who fill needs and can play right away.
7PistonsJaden IveyJalen DurenGabriele ProcidaA-Ivey and Duren are steals, but there were better players on the board when Detroit selected Procida.
8BucksMarJon BeauchampHugo BessonA-Milwaukee did about as well as it could have with its two picks.
9MavericksJaden HardyA-An outstanding value at No. 37, Hardy is a microwave scorer who can really shine in the league if he improves his efficiency.
10PelicansDyson DanielsE.J. LiddellKarlo MatkovicA-New Orleans really nailed it with Daniels and Liddell, and Matkovic is a solid value at No. 52.
11SpursJeremy SochanMalaki BranhamBlake WesleyA-San Antonio is thinking upside with each of its three picks, and I like all of them.
12CavaliersOchai AgbajiKhalifa DiopIsaiah MobleyLuke TraversB+Agbaji will fit in right away with this group and help them aim for a return to the playoffs in 2022-23.
13Trail BlazersShaedon SharpeJabari WalkerB+Sharpe is a gamble, but he could go on to have a hugely successful career.
14KnicksTrevor KeelsB+New York bargained for future picks and cap space this summer and added a tough player in Keels.
15HawksAJ GriffinTyrese MartinB+Atlanta filled up on shooters, selecting two players who each shot above 43% from three-point range last season.
16WizardsJohnny DavisYannick NzosaB+Davis looks the part of a pro-level scorer, and the 18-year-old Nzosa offers plenty of upside down the road.
17WarriorsPatrick Baldwin Jr.Ryan RollinsGui SantosB+Baldwin is a calculated gamble, and Rollins really fits into what Golden State has going on.
18HeatNikola JovicBJovic is a highly-skilled forward, but it might take some time for him to find a consistent spot in the rotation.
19LakersMax ChristieBChristie isn't someone who can step in and play from day one, but he has potential to become a key piece of the Lakers' rotation.
20GrizzliesJake LaRaviaDavid RoddyKennedy ChandlerVince Williams Jr. B-The Chandler pick is my favorite of the bunch, though Memphis has a great track record in the draft in recent years.
21ClippersMoussa DiabateB-Diabate is a solid pick for a team that loves to develop defensive-minded wings.
22CelticsJD DavisonB-Risk-free pick by the Celtics on a bouncy guard with some upside.
23KingsKeegan MurrayC+Murray at No. 4 is hardly a home-run swing, even if he goes on to have a long and successful NBA career.
24BullsDalen TerryC+This might've been a reach, but I don't doubt Terry's long-term potential.
25NuggetsChristian BraunPeyton WatsonIsmael KamagateC+Denver is aiming for upside with each of its three picks, and it can afford to take the necessary time to develop them.
26TimberwolvesWalker KesslerWendell Moore Jr.Josh MinottMatteo SpagnoloC+Kessler is a stellar defensive player, but I'm curious to see where he fits in with this Timberwolves group.
2776ersN/ANo picks made.
28JazzN/ANo picks made.
29NetsN/ANo picks made.
30SunsN/ANo picks made.

Best NBA Draft Picks 2022

1. Jabari Smith Jr., F, Houston Rockets

Round 1, Pick 3

The Magic made the right choice by selecting Banchero, but saying he’s the best pick in the draft feels like a bit of a cop-out. After all, Orlando had its pick of the entire class, and there were really only three choices at No. 1 overall.

Instead, I’m awarding the best pick of the night to the Houston Rockets, who stayed put at No. 3 and got the player who many believe is the top talent in the class. He’s an unreal shooter at his size, sinking 42% of his attempts from range as a 6-foot-10-inch freshman, and he’s got defensive talent to boot.

After dealing Christian Wood to the Dallas Mavericks, Smith looks like a natural fit with this Rockets team who should emerge relatively quickly as a No. 2 option behind Jalen Green — and perhaps develop into the alpha in a matter of years.

Betting Tip: Smith and Banchero currently have the shortest odds to be named Rookie of the Year at (+350). Given his projected role and shooting ability, Smith will certainly be in contention to win the award if he can stay healthy and consistent.


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2. Jaden Ivey, G, Detroit Pistons

Round 1, Pick 5

The Pistons had a great draft all-around, but their selection of Purdue guard Jaden Ivey at No. 5 overall stands out as one of the best of the night. He’s got a legitimate chance to become the best player in his class, and alongside Cade Cunningham, it’s hard not to be excited about what Detroit is building.

Ivey elicited comparisons to Ja Morant leading up to the draft thanks to his lightning-quick speed and explosive athleticism. He’s going to be a joy to watch for a long time coming.

Betting Tip: Ivey is tied with Chet Holmgren for the second-shortest odds to win Rookie of the Year. He’ll have every opportunity to shine in his first year with the Pistons, and his exciting style of play could help him earn the favor of voters down the stretch of the season.

3. Jalen Duren, C, Detroit Pistons

Round 1, Pick 13

Another Pistons pick! Jalen Duren is a wonderful get at No. 13 overall for Detroit. A powerful, traditional center, the 6-foot-11-inch, 250-pound Memphis product is teeming with potential. Plus, he won’t turn 19 until mid-November, making him one of the youngest players in the class.

The bigs that came off the board before him may be able to stretch the floor and better fit the NBA’s modern style, but Duren has what it takes to be one of the league’s best rim protectors and glass-cleaners. Watching him develop with Cunningham and Ivey will be a treat.

4. Jaden Hardy, G, Dallas Mavericks

Round 2, Pick 37

We’re moving outside of the first round now and focusing on two high-value selections. The first is Jaden Hardy, who went 37th overall to the Dallas Mavericks. His efficiency is worrisome — Hardy shot a mere 35.1% from the field with the G League Ignite in 2021-22 — but he also led the team in scoring.

I mentioned this in my NBA draft tracker on Thursday night, but Hardy reminds me a lot of Nets rookie Cam Thomas. He, too, struggled to keep his percentages up in college (and in his first year in the pros), but he can get you a bucket at a moment’s notice. You can’t ask for much more at this stage of the draft.

5. E.J. Liddell, F, New Orleans Pelicans

Round 2, Pick 41

I’m an equally big fan of this pick for New Orleans at No. 41 overall. E.J. Liddell is a force on both ends of the floor, and after drastically improving his three-point shot in his final season at Ohio State, he proved he can be relied upon to score from just about anywhere on the court.

Aside from shooting, Liddell also showed potential as a rebounder, passer, and shot-blocker. His all-around game is truly impressive, and he makes this already threatening New Orleans team even scarier. If you don’t have to trade up for a first-round talent, you likely made a great choice.

Worst NBA Draft Picks 2022

1. Jake LaRavia, F, Memphis Grizzlies

Round 1, Pick 19

Let me be clear that Jake LaRavia‘s placing as the worst pick of the night has nothing to do with him or his game. I think he’s got what it takes to stick in the league as a glue guy, and the Memphis Grizzlies could use more of those if they’re to continue contending in the Western Conference.

With that said, this is a reach at No. 19 overall, and it makes you wonder why Memphis felt compelled to trade up and get him (unless, perhaps, they know that San Antonio was planning to take him at No. 20).

I get it. Role players are important too. They can make or break a title-contending team. I just don’t see the value here.

2. Dalen Terry, G/F, Chicago Bulls

Round 1, Pick 18

I like Dalen Terry a lot. He plays with a ton of energy, and he projects as someone who can easily defend multiple positions. I just don’t know if I like him as much for this current Bulls team.

Chicago is already loaded up on defensive-minded guards, including Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu, and Lonzo Ball. The Bulls also have a serious weakness when it comes to backup power forwards and centers, and there were plenty of great ones still on the board when Terry’s name was called.

Terry does have a long frame for his position at 6-feet-7-inches, so perhaps Chicago believes he can reliably fill in as a hard-working wing on both ends of the floor.

3. Keegan Murray, F, Sacramento Kings

Round 1, Pick 4

The Kings have a knack for screwing things up in the draft. This franchise has consistently picked busts over All-Stars and future Hall of Famers. Time will tell if they’ve repeated history by picking Keegan Murray at No. 4, but at least for now, it doesn’t look like the most brilliant move.

Yes, Murray may be a more natural fit with this current Sacramento roster than Jaden Ivey, for example, but the jury is out on whether or not he’ll have the same long-term potential.

The Kings get props for filling a need. Murray is also ready to step in and contribute from day one, which can’t be said of some of the other top prospects in this class. It’s just hard to shake the feeling that the Kings outsmarted themselves once again.

4. Walker Kessler, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

Round 1, Pick 22

I dislike this pick for the same reasons why I’m not huge on Chicago’s selection of Dalen Terry. Walker Kessler is a stud, and he’s far and away the most gifted shot-blocker in this class. But Minnesota is already well-equipped when it comes to bigs.

Obviously there’s Karl-Anthony Towns, an All-Star and dominant scorer. The Timberwolves also have a pair of 6-foot-9-inch forwards in Jaden McDaniels and Jarred Vanderbilt. And then there’s Naz Reid, a backup big who fills a reliable role as a floor-spacer and rebounder.

Finding minutes for Kessler right away will be tough unless Minnesota is planning to make some personnel decisions in the near future.

5. David Roddy, G/F, Memphis Grizzlies

Round 1, Pick 23

The Memphis Grizzlies parted with versatile guard De’Anthony Melton to obtain this pick from the Philadelphia 76ers, and they used it to select Colorado State standout David Roddy.

If anyone can figure out how to use Roddy in the NBA, it’s the Grizzlies. He’s physical, a more than capable scorer, and he fits into the team’s identity. But again, you have to wonder if Memphis really needed to trade up to this spot to acquire his talents.

There are also a lot of questions regarding Roddy’s frame. The 6-foot-5-inch, 250-pound wing is certainly imposing, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to keep up with the speed of opposing guards.

Author

Garrett Chorpenning

Garrett Chorpenning is a Digital Content Coordinator for The Game Day. His previous work includes covering the LA Clippers for Sports Illustrated and FanSided.

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