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2022 NBA Draft Grades

Jabari Smith

Jabari Smith

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

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On Thursday night, the 2022 NBA Draft took place and all of the pre-draft chatter, rumors and so on have settled for now. It is a bit difficult to give these teams grades off the bat given we don’t know how each player’s respective coach may use them, how long of a leash the rooks will have, and how both of those things could change depending on the success (or lack thereof) of the team. This particular draft class has their work cut out for them at least compared to the 2021 draft class, who saw plenty of guys like Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Franz Wagner, Josh Giddey and ROY Scottie Barnes have an impact almost immediately upon touching the hardwood, but that’s not to say this group doesn’t have the talent to keep up with them. Below I’ll give each of the 30 teams in the association a letter grade based on their selections and trades last night, including a few brief notes on what it could mean for this upcoming season and beyond. But first, I’ll jot down a list of the trades that occurred on draft night, with the analysis coming within the team sections later on.

Draft Night Trades

- The New York Knicks traded Ousmane Dieng, who New York drafted at pick No. 11, to the Oklahoma City Thunder in exchange for three first-round picks: a 2023 protected first-rounder via Detroit, a 2023 protected first-rounder via Washington and a 2023 protected first-rounder via Denver.

- The Charlotte Hornets traded Jalen Duren, who Charlotte drafted at pick No. 12, to the Detroit Pistons in exchange for a 2025 first-round pick (acquired in the Jerami Grant trade). Kemba Walker has also been traded to the Pistons as part of a three-team trade, but is expected to discuss a contract buyout to become a free agent.

- The Minnesota Timberwolves traded Jake LaRavia, who Minnesota drafted at pick No. 18, to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for picks No. 22 and No. 29 in the draft. The Timberwolves will also send the Grizzlies a future second-round pick as part of the deal.

- The Philadelphia 76ers traded the No. 23 and Danny Green to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for De’Anthony Melton.

- The Dallas Mavericks traded Wendell Moore Jr., who Dallas drafted at pick No. 26, to the Minnesota Timberwolves in exchange for the No. 29 pick and two future second-round picks.

- The Sacramento Kings traded Jaden Hardy, who Sacramento drafted at pick No. 37, to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for two future second-round picks.

- The San Antonio Spurs traded Kennedy Chandler, who San Antonio drafted at pick No. 38, to the Memphis Grizzlies in exchange for a future second-round pick and cash.

- The Minnesota Timberwolves traded Bryce McGowens, who Minnesota drafted at pick No. 40, to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for the No. 45 pick and New York’s 2023 second-round pick to the Timberwolves as compensation.

- The Golden State Warriors acquired Atlanta’s No. 44 pick for cash and the No. 51 pick.

- The Portland Trail Blazers traded Ismael Kamagate, who Portland drafted at pick No. 46, to the Denver Nuggets in exchange for a 2024 second-round pick.

- The Minnesota Timberwolves traded Kendall Brown, who Minnesota drafted at pick No. 48, to the Indiana Pacers in exchange for a future second-round pick.

- The Golden State Warriors traded Gui Santos, who Golden State drafted at pick No. 55, to the Milwaukee Bucks.

- The Indiana Pacers traded Hugo Besson, who Indiana drafted at pick No. 58, to the Milwaukee Bucks.

Atlanta Hawks

Picks: A.J. Griffin (16), Tyrese Martin (51)

Notes: Griffin had no prior communication with the Hawks before being selected (though he admitted his agent might have), and the Hawks are probably happy to get him where they did. From a statistical standpoint, none of his numbers were amazing in college, but he shot it very well from range (45% on 4.1 attempts per game), and he fills out a position where the Hawks are on the shallower side. He’s also lengthy, athletic and a solid defender, which the Hawks could use given they posted the fifth-worst defensive rating over the regular season, so it’s a great grab for Trae Young and company. Martin was selected with Golden State’s pick, and while he’s decent at a lot of things, he’s not fantastic at any facet of the game, so don’t expect a ton of run in his first season.

Grade: A-

Boston Celtics

Picks: JD Davidson (53)

Notes: There’s not much harm regarding who you select at this point in the draft, and the Celtics went with one of the more athletic guys in the draft and got him late, too. His assists (4.3 assists per game) weren’t too much higher than his turnovers (2.9 turnovers per game), but he has the right idea as he displayed some unselfish playmaking in his 33 games played at Alabama. He may not be used much, if at all, given the Celtics fell just short of winning a championship, but they could very well develop him down the road like they have with plenty of their other draft picks.

Grade: B+

Brooklyn Nets

Picks: None

Notes: It’s tough to grade a team when they didn’t do a darn thing in the draft, but the rumors among the current roster continue to be float around. These rumors include Kevin Durant reportedly “monitoring the Brooklyn Nets’ situation and considering options with his future,” and Kyrie Irving giving a list of preferred sign-and-trade destinations if he and the Nets are unable to come to terms on a new deal. I can’t be overly nice to a franchise as problematic as the Nets are right now.

Grade: C

Charlotte Hornets

Picks: Mark Williams (15), Bryce McGowens (40)

Notes: Charlotte got both of these guys via draft night deals, so they must have known who their desired guys were coming in. Williams is just what the Hornets need, as he stands seven feet tall, rebounds the ball well and is an incredible shot-blocker, as showcased by his 2.8 swats per game in his second and final season at Duke. Starting over Mason Plumlee isn’t something that should be all too difficult for the rookie, and Williams could be a lot of fun with his new flashy point guard in LaMelo Ball. As for McGowens, he wasn’t necessarily a knock-down shooter, but he’s a good rebounder for his size and could help provide the Hornets with some emergency depth from the wing spots.

Grade: A

Chicago Bulls

Picks: Dalen Terry (18)

Notes: Terry’s relevance will depend largely on the status of Zach LaVine, but as of Thursday evening, the Bulls are willing to do whatever it takes to retain LaVine. This doesn’t bode too well for Terry, but it would help his cause if Chicago decides to get rid of Coby White, who’s entering the final season of his four-year, $24 million contract. Playing time may be rare for the rook and he likely won’t contribute right away, but he had strengths in college inclusive of good passing, finishing and being able to guard multiple spots.

Grade: B

Cleveland Cavaliers

Picks: Ochai Agbaji (14), Khalifa Diop (39), Isaiah Mobley (49), Luke Travers (56)

Notes: After a pretty impressive 2021-2022 campaign, the Cavs had their hands all over this draft, snagging up four picks along the way. Three of them were in the second round, however, and it’s hard to envision any of them having much of a role, if any, to start the season. Isaiah Mobley is Evan Mobley’s older brother, which may have had something to do with the selection, Diop will be a draft and stash and Travers has an insane hair/mustache combo that makes him worth picking in themselves. Agbaji, however, was the final pick in the lottery, and played all four years at Kansas and averaged 18.8 points on 47.5% shooting and just north of 40% from downtown in his senior season. Cavs GM Koby Altman said that Agbaji “fits a need right away and he’s going to compete and he has that winning pedigree that we really like,” and he’s right on the money. The Cavs are lacking some wing depth, so don’t be surprised if he makes his way into the rotation early on in the season.

Grade: B+

Dallas Mavericks

Picks: Jaden Hardy (37)

Notes: The Kings originally drafted Hardy but the Mavs scooped him up in exchange for two future second-round picks, and there’s no denying he’s a great scorer as shown by his 17.7 points per game as a member of the G League Ignite. That being said, he will need to work on his shot as he shot around 35% from the floor, and he also needs to take better care of the ball given his assist to turnover ratio was below 1.0. He is a scorer, which Dallas could use some more of, so he could get some minutes in the teens if he can improve his shot selection and overall shot-making ability.

Grade: B+

Denver Nuggets

Picks: Christian Braun (21), Peyton Watson (30), Ismael Kamagate (46)

Notes: Like Diop, the Nuggets will likely stash Kamagate in Europe at least for next season. Watson was projected to be a second-round pick but the Nuggets liked him enough to grab him right at the end of the first round, but he does have his flaws including a putrid 32.3% clip from the field and not many other stats in his lone year at UCLA. Braun (pronounced “Brown”), played a huge role in Kansas’ NCAA championship success, and he’s a threat from deep that can rebound quite well, which all fantasy managers love. Denver is in need of shooters as well, so if the coaches like what they see from him during training camp, the preseason and so on, he could carve out a small role with the Nuggets.

Grade: B+

Detroit Pistons

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

Notes: With two lottery picks after yet another atrocious season, the Pistons got some guys that could play a bunch off the bat. Ivey is as explosive as they come and could very well play shooting guard next to franchise cornerstone Cade Cunningham, and that duo could be a lot of fun to watch at some point down the road. Duren is a big man that won’t necessarily space the floor, but he could already be an upgrade from current starting center Isaiah Stewart, who overall had a miserable prior season. Procida is a wild card and could be another stash candidate, but there’s plenty to like about Detroit’s two lottery picks as they continue to rebuild.

Grade: A

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Golden State Warriors

Picks: Patrick Baldwin (28), Ryan Hollins (44)

Notes: Baldwin has just 11 collegiate games under his belt due to suffering a handful of injuries, but there must be enough to like about him if the 2021-2022 champions snagged him in the first round. It’s nearly too small of a sample size to analyze him based on his numbers (which were not too pretty), but keep in mind he was a consensus top-10 recruit nationally as a high school senior. Rollins easily could have been taken sooner than where he was, as he’s a solid shot-maker and good from the mid-range, but we can’t expect him to do a whole lot for Golden State this season given their current talent and depth. The same can be said for Baldwin despite being picked much higher, but the Warriors are known for developing players into something special, maybe just not immediately.

Grade: B

Houston Rockets

Picks: Jabari Smith (3), Tari Eason (17), TyTy Washington (29)

Notes: Smith was the favorite to go No. 1 overall to the Magic basically until the day of the draft, but the Rockets will have no problem taking the star power forward from Auburn at No. 3. He’s a great shooter with contagious energy, and he shouldn’t have much of an issue carving out minutes in Houston. His only legitimate competition for minutes is Jae’Sean Tate, who isn’t bad by any means but doesn’t have the ceiling that Smith does, and the Thunder selecting Chet Holmgren at No. 2 and therefore disallowing Houston to do so means it still may be Alperen Şengün season in fantasy hoops. Eason is also a great get for the Rockets, as he’s a walking highlight reel and really brought the defense (1.9 steals, 1.1 blocks per game) in his lone season at LSU, and he likewise shouldn’t have too much of a problem finding playing time. Washington was arguably the best available player on the board at this point, and his ability to play on and off the ball should only help the Rockets get back into the winning column on a more regular basis.

Grade: A

Indiana Pacers

Picks: Bennedict Mathurin (6), Andrew Nembhard (31), Kendall Brown (48)

Notes: Mathurin made a huge leap in scoring from his first to second season at Arizona, and he fits really nicely alongside Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton. With Indiana fully expected to move on from other guard Malcolm Brogdon, this could open up minutes for Mathurin assuming that’s the case, and on paper he looks to be a do-it-all type of guy. Nembhard has actually drawn comparisons to Brogdon given their similar calm, cool and collected nature, meaning he’s a rather safe selection but could serve a backup guard role, while Brown is a former five-star recruit that was projected to be taken in the first round of some drafts.

Grade: A-

Los Angeles Clippers

Picks: Moussa Diabate (43)

Notes: Diabate is pretty raw and his numbers from his single season at Michigan show that pretty well. He may have been better off playing one more season in college, but opted to keep his name in the draft and the Clips decided to take a chance on him. Still, Diabate has a ways to go before the eyes of fantasy managers need to be on him.

Grade: B-

Los Angeles Lakers

Picks: Max Christie (35)

Notes: The Lakers didn’t even have a pick in this draft until they acquired one from the Magic on Thursday morning in exchange for a future second-rounder, and Christie was their lone selection. Christie played one season at Michigan State and converted on just 38.2% of his shots (31.2% from deep), and the last thing the Lakers need is more shaky shooting. The Lakeshow was a disaster last season and Christie probably isn’t going to solve many of those problems at this moment.

Grade: C+

Memphis Grizzlies

Picks: Jake LaRavia (19), David Roddy (23), Kennedy Chandler (38), Vince Williams (47)

Notes: Memphis got quite the haul on Thursday, highlighted by Wake Forest’s forward Jake LaRavia. His junior year averages were in the ballpark of a 15/7/4/2/1 line while shooting nearly 56% from the floor, so he looks to be fantasy-friendly at a first glance. However, the Grizzlies had a lot of success last season and seem to be content with their main guys, so it’ll be hard for LaRavia to play a ton right now, which can be said about all of their other three selections. Funnily enough, media reports had incorrectly stated that LaRavia was 22 years old, but he’s actually 20, which probably helped him get taken much higher than many originally thought. De’Anthony Melton getting sent to the 76ers was part of the deal that helped acquire Roddy, and like LaRavia, they traded up to get him. Kennedy is barely six feet tall but is a great steals guy and may be some Tyus Jones insurance if he is indeed dealt, while Williams is more of a gamble but saw improvement across his four-year stint at VCU. Memphis seemed to draft quite well, but don’t expect any of this quartet to be key contributors for another few seasons.

Grade: B+

Miami Heat

Picks: Nikola Jovic (27)

Notes: Jovic was just three picks away from ensuring a Nikola Jokić/Nikola Jovic duo would come to fruition, but the Heat had other plans. Jovic didn’t even start playing basketball until he was 13 years old, and Pat Riley said that drafting a “developmental player” at pick No. 27 would more than likely be the case. Jovic is yet another raw big man in the draft but has a nice stroke, solid playmaking skills and isn’t a liability on defense, but the chances of him contributing to fantasy teams appear to be slim to none. But hey, at least he wasn’t drafted during a Taco Bell commercial like the reigning two-time MVP with a nearly identical name was.

Grade: B+

Milwaukee Bucks

Picks: MarJon Beauchamp (24), Gui Santos (55), Hugo Besson (58)

Notes: Santos and Besson were both taken at the very end of this year’s draft, but Santos is a versatile seven-footer and Besson is a good shot-maker near the rim despite a slight frame, so just put both guys on your dynasty radar. Beauchamp was Milwaukee’s only first-round selection and tallied impressive averages of 15.1 points, 7.3 boards, 2.5 dimes, 1.5 steals and 0.6 blocks in 36.6 minutes per game last season with the G League Ignite. His percentages do need some work as he posted a 57/24/65 shooting split, so even if he makes his way into a crowded rotation on a contending Bucks squad, he may hurt your fantasy team more than help it early on.

Grade: B

Minnesota Timberwolves

Picks: Walker Kessler (22), Wendell Moore Jr. (26), Josh Minott (45), Matteo Spagnolo (50)

Notes: Minnesota made various trades on draft night to get the picks listed above, with their first selection being behemoth Kessler, who stands at 7’1” and weighs 250 pounds. He’s an incredible shot blocker but isn’t the best shooter from the field or the line, commits too many fouls and isn’t the most athletic big in the land, so it may take a few seasons for his contributions to show up in box scores. If he gets minutes, however, his block numbers alone could be pretty absurd off the bat. Moore is a high-effort guy who can guard multiple positions, Minott is a high-flyer but isn’t all too polished and Spagnolo needs some help on his defense but is worth a pick anywhere around this point in the selections. As it stands, Karl-Anthony Towns is Minnesota’s franchise center, making Kessler, the highest upside guy they drafted, not too appealing in re-draft leagues, while the others will be afterthoughts as well.

Grade: B-

New Orleans Pelicans

Picks: Dyson Daniels (8), E.J. Liddell (41), Karlo Matković (52)

Notes: Imagining a Pelicans team with Herb Jones, Jose Alvarado and now Dyson Daniels could give other teams nightmares while they’re on the defensive end. Daniels is a big guard who posted solid all-around numbers on the G League Ignite, and while he needs to work on his shot from range, his playmaking and rebounding skills are already quite impressive. Liddell is an undersized power forward with first-round talent, and New Orleans getting him past 40 was a gift. Finally, Matković has size and is already a quality shot-blocker, but it’ll be hard for him to find minutes with Jonas Valanciunas and Zion Williamson clogging up the paint. Daniels and Liddell, however, have a much clearer path to minutes, especially with Daniels’ main threat being Devonte’ Graham, so keep an eye on that pair as New Orleans continually starts becoming one of the scarier teams in the whole league when at full strength.

Grade: A+

New York Knicks

Picks: Trevor Keels (42)

Notes: Despite having the No. 11 overall pick coming into Thursday, the Knicks traded it away mid-draft and walked away with just one new guy in Keels. They were able to ditch Kemba Walker in the process, which helps, and Keel is already a solid scorer off the dribble and an adequate playmaker. The shooting and turnover numbers weren’t great, however, and those two things alone are going to make it very difficult for him to crack Tom Thibodeau’s rotation in his first year in the big leagues.

Grade: B-

Oklahoma City Thunder

Picks: Chet Holmgren (2), Ousmane Dieng (11), Jalen Williams (12), Jaylin Williams (34)

Notes: To no one’s surprise, the Thunder front office worked their magic and were able to finagle three lottery picks. After Paolo Banchero was selected No. 1 overall, OKC couldn’t go wrong with either Smith or Holmgren, but they went with the guy with the highest upside in the whole draft class. Holmgren is already a bona fide stud in the shot-blocking category and can shoot the ball from basically anywhere, with the lone looming issue being his frame -- he’s a seven-footer but weighs just 195 pounds. Dieng is more of a long-term investment but the Thunder won’t mind that one bit as they get their other young guns plenty of reps, and of course they drafted two guys with the same name, just different spellings. The lottery pick Williams averaged 18.0 points, 4.4 rebounds, 4.2 assists, 1.3 triples and 1.2 steals per contest on 51.3% shooting from the field and 80.9% at the stripe at Santa Clara and earned a spot at this point in the draft after an impressive Draft Combine. Jaylin Williams, on the other hand, isn’t the most athletic big man ever but does fill a positional need for the team, but that still may not be enough to play heavy minutes from the get-go.

Grade: A

Orlando Magic

Picks: Paolo Banchero (1), Caleb Houstan (32)

Notes: The Magic took many by surprise by taking Banchero first overall, but it doesn’t seem like there was a wrong choice out of the consensus top-three draftees. Banchero is already strong and skilled and will have a large role immediately, but you have to wonder how all the other forwards will fit into the rotation if they give Banchero a long leash from opening night. Franz Wagner was a rookie last season and was phenomenal, Wendell Carter Jr. had a great year, Mo Bamba had his moments and who knows what the status of Jonathan Isaac is. Bamba could be on the move which could make things a bit easier in terms of rotation, but it is going to be tricky nonetheless and we’ll have to wait and see how the team attacks it. Houstan is yet another forward, and for the reason cited above, he could have a tough time cracking the rotation unless a couple guys of his position were to get injured or traded.

Grade: B

Philadelphia 76ers

Picks: None

Notes: Philly had the No. 23 pick but traded it, along with Danny Green, to the Grizzlies in exchange for De’Anthony Melton, which I think was a brilliant move on their part. Melton was awesome on a per-minute basis in Memphis but just didn’t get enough of them, and I think he could play a much larger role in a backup guard/wing role as a 76er. Despite not drafting a single person, the Sixers made good things happen on Thursday night.

Grade: A-

Phoenix Suns

Picks: None

Notes: Last season’s best regular season team also didn’t have any picks in the draft, but that doesn’t mean they’re running it back entirely. Deandre Ayton could very well be on the move after showing his displeasure in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semis against the Mavericks, and one has to think they’ll be at least semi-involved in trades before we get to October.

Grade: B-

Portland Trail Blazers

Picks: Shaedon Sharpe (7), Jabari Walker (57)

Notes: Sharpe is the biggest question mark of all of this season’s lottery picks, as he told coach Calipari of Kentucky that he decided to sit out for the whole season. Sharpe was reportedly “committed to bettering himself and [his] team in practice this year and being better prepared to lead [them] next season,” meaning he didn’t play a single second of college ball. However, he turned 19 just a few weeks ago and therefore meets the age eligibility for the draft, and Portland was the team that decided to take the ultimate chance on the top overall recruit in the class of 2022. Not only is he a wild card for the Blazers, but also fantasy managers, as it’s unclear exactly what his role will be from the start and how he’ll fit on a team that’s rebuilding but also itching to win again.

Grade: B

Sacramento Kings

Picks: Keegan Murray (4)

Notes: After the consensus first three picks were off the board, the Kings had a very tough decision to make with the No. 4 overall pick, and they opted to go with the 6’8”, 215-pound forward from Iowa. Murray had little to no role as a freshman, but posted some pretty insane averages of 23.5 points, 8.7 rebounds, 1.5 dimes, 1.3 steals, 1.9 blocks and 1.9 triples on 55% from the field and 39% from deep in his sophomore year, so it looks like he’s already built for fantasy. The Kings have some wiggle room at the forward spots with Harrison Barnes and Trey Lyles slotted to start as it stands, and while Barnes is a solid role player, he could be on the move and that would make Murray’s fantasy appeal even more attractive. Even if the team makeup is the same as it is right now, there’s no reason he can’t belong on someone’s fantasy team in re-draft formats.

Grade: A-

San Antonio Spurs

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

Notes: If the Spurs draft you, you must be doing something right. Baylor head coach Scott Drew spoke on Sochan and had high praise, saying he’s capable of playing multiple positions and can defend one through five while passing, dribbling and shooting at a high level, and finalized his thought by stating that he makes the game a lot easier. He’s a 6’9” forward that can lead the break and has a lot to like about him, but rookies in San Antonio aren’t usually what I’d call fantasy gold. Branham was solid from inside the arc at Ohio State and converted on 53.0% of his shots from that range while Wesley has good size for a point guard despite some inefficient shooting numbers, and if it’s not even a sure thing that Sochan is a draft-able guy in standard fantasy leagues, the other pair won’t be either.

Grade: B

Toronto Raptors

Picks: Christian Koloko (33)

Notes: Toronto’s main position of need was a big man, and they were able to get one in the early second round. Koloko is a very talented rim-protector who earned Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors last season behind averages of 12.6 points on 63.5% shooting, 7.3 boards and 2.8 blocks per game in his final season at Arizona. This draft wasn’t too loaded with big men, and the Raps getting Koloko here seems like a good choice.

Grade: B+

Utah Jazz

Picks: None

Notes: Utah’s playoff history over the last few seasons hasn’t been pretty, and they won’t have any NBA newbies to help them escape their struggles. Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert still don’t have the best relationship, and if one of them moves, it’s going to be Gobert. Despite no action in the draft, expect them to be active in the free agency period.

Grade: C

Washington Wizards

Picks: Johnny Davis (10), Yannick Nsoza (54)

Notes: In his sophomore season as a Wildcat, Davis put up some gaudy numbers inclusive of 19.7 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.1 dimes, 1.2 steals, 0.7 blocks and 1.2 triples per game, hitting 42% of his shots from the field and 30% from deep. His relevance will depend largely on what Bradley Beal does this summer, put keep in mind that Beal is expected to decline his player option (though that doesn’t mean he’s leaving for sure). Davis could still get good run with Beal in town, but we’d like him much better if Beal is wearing a different uniform. Nsoza is a very tall and athletic 18-year-old but he didn’t do much on the stat sheet in his time in Europe, so he’s more of a project for Washington.

Grade: B+