The day has finally arrived.
This is the 2022 NBA draft at the Barclays Center. Dreams come true. Mistakes are made. There are unexpected choices, players who have fallen too far, outrageous clothes and heartfelt moments.
After weeks of intrigue, rumors and smokescreen, it’s time to make choices. Before that, The Post journalist Zach Braziller offers one last look at how he sees it all on Thursday night:
1. Orlando magic
Jabari Smith, Auburn (Continued)
It’s been a selection for weeks, basically after Magic won the draft lottery. Smith is a prototype new-era NBA giant, a sharp-winning striker who can defend both on the perimeter and in color, and complements Orlando’s impressive young talent core, which includes Cole Anthony, Franz Wagner and Jalen Suggs.
2. Oklahoma City Thunder
Chet Holmgren, Gonzaga (attacker)
Holmgren, the most controversial player in this draft, has quite a few questions about his thin frame, but he also brings enticing two-way talent. It’s easy to see in both directions. A Minnesotanian can be a defensive 3-point thrower, but he can also fight against excessive strength and physicality if he is unable to lift the necessary weight. Absolutely exciting prospect who is too under scrutiny from day 1.
3. Houston Rockets
Paolo Banchero, Duke (continued)
The Rockets were sold out almost immediately in Banchero, and after visiting Banchero Houston, the forward striker Christian Wood was exchanged for a late first round selection. Although there are questions about his engine and defenses, Banchero has been an offensive weapon from the start, dealing a powerful 1: 2 blow to last year’s general, Jalen Green.
4. Sacramento Kings
Keegan Murray, Iowa (defender / attacker)
After weeks of trade talks, Kings will finally be left with their choice and handed over to Purdue’s Jaden Ivey, who will transfer talent. Murray fits into their list much better – Sacramento already has players like Ivey on De’Aaron Fox’s and Davion Mitchell’s list – a big wing that can hit multiple first places.
5. Detroit Pistons
Jaden Ivey, Purdue (guard)
Some have compared Ivey to Russell Westbrook. Others see similarities with And Moranti and Donovan Mitchell. The Pistons do a great job here, perfectly complementing Cade Cunningham, the first-ever Cade Cunningham to speed up their construction and give them an elite backyard for years to come.
6. Indiana Pacers
Dyson Daniels, G-League Ignite (guard)
The Pacers in need of protection, one of the worst teams on the top of this floor a year ago, will land one of the best defenders on the draw, a long card from Australia that complements Tires Haliburton well. Daniels is a worker. A G-League Ignite source praised his ability and determination to develop as a shooter and ball handler. “You never had to beg him to come to the gym,” the source said.
7. Portland Trail Blazers
Bennedict Mathurin, Arizona (guard)
The Pac-12 player of the year will help Damian Lillard and Trail Blazers now and in the future. Initially, he will contribute to the defense and transition as an explosive graduate. But the Canadian has the potential for All Star.
8. New Orleans Pelicans
Shaedon Sharpe, Kentucky
Draft’s mysterious man, Sharpe, basically jumps from high school to the NBA after joining Kentucky in January but didn’t play any games. He is an exceptionally talented, talented shooter who has participated in agent-led training, but has not played competitive basketball for a whole year. Pelicans rolls the dice. There’s no way you know what you get with Sharpe.
9. San Antonio Spurs
Jalen Duren, Memphis (center)
Experts see Bam Adebayo alone in a big man, an 18-year-old rim guard, capable of much more than he showed in Memphis. Spurs, who needs help on the front square, is looking for a super-athletic Duren, considering him a substitute for Jakob Poeltl.
10. Washington Wizards
Johnny Davis, Wisconsin (guard)
The Wizards feel they’re close to competing as long as they keep Bradley Beal’s star, and so they’re betting on the top ten players of the year right away. Forget Davis’ low 3-point percentage in the second year – the result of his high utilization rate – he’s an underrated defender and a skillful batsman who can bet right off the bench.
11. New York Knicks
AJ Griffin, Duke (Guard)
There are similarities with Cole Anthony in Griffin’s sharp shooting. Hailing from an NBA family, he was hugely recruited and is now in doubt after a year in college. But he’s a big guard who can stretch the floor, and although there are problems with injuries, Griffin is one of the youngest players in the draft – he won’t be 19 until the end of August – and has a remarkably high ceiling.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
Jeremy Sochan, Baylor (attacker)
Thunder tries to trade a few places higher, but when the table falls on them, they finish the player they wanted first. The big 12 sixth man of the year fits well with the young list, adding another high-quality and versatile defender to the defensive core of Oklahoma City.
13. Charlotte Hornets
Mark Williams, Duke (center)
Perfect for ascending Hornets who fill a large gap for a protective and striking finisher that fits LaMelo Ball. The Hornets are very familiar with the reach of 20-year-old Williams and his 7-foot-8 wings from Duke’s time, when he developed into one of the best men in the country in his second year.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers
Jalen Williams, Santa Clara (guard)
Williams finishes his rag story by playing the end of the lottery. The wide wing with 7-2 wings extends into Santa Clara’s first draft choice after Steve Nash in 1996, improving the breakthrough of this unlikely rise in the draft. It’s worth it for the Cavaliers, who get a strong 3-D prospect that can evolve even more.
15. Charlotte Hornets
Malaki Branham, Ohio (security)
After Balli gets his new lobbyist, the Hornets find Branham a midfielder. The former Ohio state star is an effective attack, but he has the means to become a strong defender and gives the Creative Ball even more room to maneuver.
16. Atlanta Hawks
Ochai Agbaji, Kansas (guard)
Experience and maturity are underestimated in the NBA today compared to growth and potential. That’s why Agbaji drops out of the lottery – he’s already 22. But he can step in right away and produce Hawks at both ends of the floor as both a wings and a defender. He will improve the Atlanta bench, while other teams will have to wait years to get back their first-round investment.
17. Houston Rockets
Tari Eason, LSU (continued)
Neither Banchero nor Green is known for their defenses, which is why the Rockets find a grinder to complete their attack on the front wing. He brings a bucket of lunch and protects too many talented perimeter scorers.
18. Chicago Bulls
EJ Liddell, Ohio (continued)
Some may describe it as a grip, but smart organizations do it – they find winners who produce the floor at both ends and have developed as much as Liddell Ohio in college. Age can be overestimated. As one scout said, “Take me to the man who affects the victory.” Liddell does it.
19. Minnesota Timberwolves
Walker Kessler, Auburn (center)
His protection alone makes sense for Timberwolves, who gets protection for his elite brother with Kessler. Last year, he blocked an astonishing 4.6 shots per game in Auburn for 25.6 minutes and could help alleviate Minnesota’s main weakness.
20. San Antonio Spurs
Ousmane Dieng, New Zealand Breakers
With a choice of the first three rounds, Spurs can afford to take a big boost in a project like Dieng. There is a big rise in the outlook for the thirsty striker, who improved as the Australian NBL season progressed. However, patience and a long time in the weight room are needed.
21. Denver Nuggets
MarJon Beauchamp, G-League Ignite (defender / striker)
Teams who chose from the back end of the lottery to the start of the second round brought Beauchamp to training, giving the winged athletic freak ample opportunity. He’s not currently a 3-D prospect – his shot needs work – but his energy, versatility in defense and explosiveness on the edge are qualities that teams crave.
22. Memphis Grizzlies
TyTy Washington Jr., Kentucky (guard)
Tyus Jones’ potential departure through a free agency creates a point in the guard hole that Washington can fill. The Kentucky defender would probably have risen higher if he had played the ball in Lexington all year and had not fought his left ankle injury at the end of the season. Nevertheless, he hit a 35% hit out of the 3-point range and outperformed a two-on-one pass-to-loss ratio, proving his potential for a small sample.
23. Philadelphia 76ers
Kennedy Chandler, Tennessee (guard)
The SEC Theft Leader has amazing speed and an elite handle to match an impressive middle-class game. His size (6 feet) is a pity, but his shot could make up for it, and the 76ers need a guard behind Tyrese Maxey and James Harden.
24. Milwaukee Bucks
Dalen Terry, Arizona (Guard)
Competitors like the Bucks can always use athletic wings with an offensive side like Terry. In Arizona, he was a sticky man, a strong referee given that he played the ball down, an efficient scorer who did a lot of dirty work and a stocky defender. At first he was an energetic man, but there is a shooting potential that can be developed.
25. San Antonio Spurs
Wendell Moore Jr., Duke (guard)
In each of his three Duke seasons, Moore improved and his numbers rose everywhere. Most importantly, his 3-point percentage rose to 40.1 last season as he became a full-fledged player capable of not only scoring high levels, but also sharing and defending. The prospect with a high IQ is written on Spurs.
26. Dallas Mavericks
Jake LaRavia, Wake Forest (more)
Percussionists of all sizes are always at home in the modern NBA, and LaRavia 6-9 owns both. He scored 38.9 percent in the back of the ACC last year, and his 3.7 assists show that the thrower is capable of creating for teammates.
27. Miami Heat
Blake Wesley, Notre Dame (guard)
The leap kept the former Notre Dame star out of the top 20. But there is so much more to it, from the speed of the ball to the defensive potential and the frequency of paint penetration.
28. Golden State Warriors
Jaden Hardy, G-League Ignite (guard)
Given the strong nature of their roster, the title defender can play to Hardy’s talent, betting that they will get the maximum out of a skilled guard who was once considered the top five before G League Ignite.
29. Memphis Grizzlies
Nikola Jovic, Mega Mozzart (Next)
Without an obvious need, Grizzlies chooses potential with a 19-year-old English striker with strong perimeter skills for his size (6-11).
30. Denver Nuggets
Christian Koloko, Arizona (center)
A wheel-blocker blocks a lot of boxes for Nuggets, who has been looking for a backup of Nikola Jokic for some time. His elite jumping ability and defensive ability – 2.8 blocks per game last year – should allow Kolokol minimal impact on the edge of the game.
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