Here Are Our Draft Grades For Every First Round Pick In The 2022 NBA Draft

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The first round of the 2022 NBA Draft was not lacking for drama, as things got started with a surprise from the get-go, as the Orlando Magic took Duke’s Paolo Banchero despite never having him in for a workout over the expected first pick of Jabari Smith. That was the first of a few early surprises, but in a Draft that was expected to feature some major trades, we made it through the entire top 10 without any players or picks getting moved.

That changed with the 11th pick, as the Knicks and Thunder made the first deal of the night, with Ousmane Dieng going to OKC for three future protected firsts. The Knicks would again make a deal at 13, working out a three-way trade with Charlotte and Detroit to move off Kemba Walker’s salary and clear cap room, with Jalen Duren heading to Detroit as they collected quite the lottery haul, and future picks going to Charlotte. The biggest current player to get dealt on the night was De’Anthony Melton, who heads to Philly as a much-needed backup point guard, while the Grizzlies chose to get younger once again.

Detroit, Houston, OKC, and San Antonio all had big nights, making multiple picks and doing pretty well to stock their rosters with young talent throughout the night. The Kings, Grizzlies, Nuggets, and Warriors had our least favorite drafts, but there were very few if any picks that one would categorize as “bad,” mostly just surprising or reaches on our board.

Here you can find our grades for every pick in the first round from Thursday night:

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1. Orlando Magic — Paolo Banchero, B: After the widespread expectation that the Magic would tab Jabari Smith Jr., Banchero is the guy, and Orlando secures a top-flight prospect. This is a draft with a consensus top three prospects, but Banchero is the most NBA-ready on the offensive end. He is a capable offensive hub at 6’10 with high-end passing vision, and murmurs about his defensive issues are likely overstated given his size and feel. He won’t necessarily help Orlando’s decade-long search for shooting, but Banchero could be the best player in the draft and this is a reasonable choice, even if not the top player on my board.

2. OKC Thunder — Chet Holmgren, A: The Thunder take the best player available in my view, which is usually a good idea. Holmgren certainly has some risk with his well-documented frame concerns, but he is a preternatural defender with elite length and the rim protection ability. Holmgren also brings a varied, impressive skill set on the offensive end, and he brings substantial upside to the table for a Thunder team that is still looking to accumulate talent.

3. Houston Rockets — Jabari Smith, A-: This wasn’t the result most envisioned, but it’s an easy choice for Houston after the way the top two shook out. Smith should fit seamlessly alongside Jalen Green with the Rockets, as the 6’10 forward is one of the best shooters in the draft with great size. He also projects as a plus defender, and his ceiling is sky-high if Smith can continue to develop as a ball-handler and playmaker.

4. Sacramento Kings — Keegan Murray, C-: Murray is a quality prospect with tremendous numbers. He was highly productive at Iowa and is a multi-faceted forward that could be valuable in many different NBA contexts. However, this is a tier drop from another player (Jaden Ivey) that was available, and it represents an on-brand detour for the Kings.

5. Detroit Pistons — Jaden Ivey, A: This is a home run for the Pistons. Even without a truly elite evaluation on Ivey, he represents a tremendous value at No. 5 overall in this draft. In addition, Ivey’s best fit might be as a No. 2 offensive option that doesn’t have to carry the full workload, and placing him next to Cade Cunningham makes a ton of sense. It might take time, but there is a lot to like about Ivey’s future.

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6. Indiana Pacers — Bennedict Mathurin, B+: By traditional No. 6 pick standards, this isn’t a home run, but that’s the nature of this class rather than an issue for Indiana. Mathurin is a very solid pick here and he projects as a valuable “3-and-D plus” player. He is a high-end shooter who should defend at a solid level and give the Pacers a valuable two-way wing.

7. Portland Trail Blazers — Shaedon Sharpe, B: With all of the talk about Portland using this pick for present-day help, Sharpe is a bit of a curveball, but perhaps the aim for ready-made contributors was lessened by the acquisition of Jerami Grant. In Sharpe, the Blazers are taking an upside swing on a player that was No. 1 in the 2022 high school class before reclassifying. He is a bit of a mystery after not playing in a competitive game for a year, but Sharpe’s tools are tremendous as a potential high-end scorer down the line.

8. New Orleans Pelicans — Dyson Daniels, B+: Daniels is the highest-rated remaining player on my board and a personal favorite. There are questions about his offensive ceiling, especially as a shooter, but Daniels has point guard skills in a wing-sized body. He’s also one of the better perimeter defenders in the draft, and he should fit in well with Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum, and Zion Williamson.

9. San Antonio Spurs — Jeremy Sochan, B-: This may be seen as a reach for some, but Sochan is very Spurs-y. He brings immense defensive potential with versatility, length, and acumen. Sochan is also comfortable with the ball in his hands on offense, and San Antonio has a penchant for getting the most from players with shooting limitations. If he can smooth out his offensive repertoire, Sochan could be a monster role player.

10. Washington Wizards — Johnny Davis, B: This is pretty much exactly where I’d have Davis on my board. Early in the season, Davis was mentioned as a top-five candidate after a hot start, but this is an appropriate value for a player with a well-rounded skill set. Davis is a capable on-ball scorer with good feel and the ability to shoot. He is also a feisty defender that should be very solid-to-good against smaller wings and lead guards. He probably isn’t a star, but he projects as a future starter and Washington could use those.

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11. OKC Thunder — Ousmane Dieng, C+: The Thunder traded multiple future first round picks to land Dieng and get back-to-back picks late in the lottery. In a vacuum, Dieng is fine in this range, and this is a draft with a flat stretch here. However, Dieng ahead of players like Jalen Duren and A.J. Griffin feels a touch aggressive. Dieng does have an interesting set of skills at 6’10 with lead guard acumen and playmaking chops, but he’ll need to figure out his jumper and improve as a defender to make proper use of his frame. He also fits in snugly with the incredible length/range of the roster OKC is building.

12. OKC Thunder — Jalen Williams, B-: One pick after making a move to nab Ousmane Dieng, the Thunder select a player that zoomed up the board during the pre-draft process. Williams is a fairly limited athlete, but he has a 7’2 wingspan and checks myriad boxes on the offensive end. He is comfortable running pick-and-roll, is a developing shooter, and has great feel as a passer. With defensive acumen and projected versatility, OKC adds a quality bet as a role player.

13. Detroit Pistons — Jalen Duren, A-: When you sift through the trade machinations, with Detroit only sending out the 2025 first from Milwaukee they got in return for Jerami Grant, this is a great value as a draft pick and Detroit continues to have an excellent night. Duren was widely projected to be off the board by No. 13, and with good reason. The 18-year-old center has a 7’5 wingspan with the ability to finish above the rim, defend with versatility, and grow into a potential high-end starting center alongside the Pistons young star backcourt.

14. Cleveland Cavaliers — Ochai Agbaji, B-: Agbaji is one of the more “boring” players in the draft, but that isn’t a bad thing. He projects to be an above-average three-point shooter, and Agbaji knows how to cut off the ball. He’s very limited with the ball in his hands, but that’s not a big issue for a 3-and-D role player. Agbaji might simply be an adequate defender, which limits his ceiling, but the Cavs needing shooting and competence. Agbaji has both.

15. Charlotte Hornets — Mark Williams, B: After a wild trade with No. 13 that saw Jalen Duren get taken by Charlotte and then traded to the Pistons (via New York) in a three-team deal, the Hornets were back on the clock in short order and made a pick many anticipated. Outside of the top three picks, Williams-to-Charlotte was perhaps the most popular mock draft pick on the board. Williams projects as a very good rim protector who can finish around the rim on offense. The Hornets need an anchor on defense at the position. It makes sense.

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16. Atlanta Hawks — AJ Griffin, A: Griffin has an extensive injury history, which could explain a bit of his fall. However, this is a heist for the Hawks from a value standpoint. Griffin is a top-10 talent that slipped to No. 16 overall, and he is a dynamite shooter that was once the No. 1 player in his high school class. His physical burst has diminished, perhaps from injuries, but if Griffin can hold up defensively, the fit in Atlanta is logical.

17. Houston Rockets — Tari Eason, B+: Houston’s nice night in the draft continued with their second selection. Eason is a bit raw on offense, but this is a strong value for the LSU forward. He is a tenacious and aggressive defender that creates positive events on that end of the floor and rebounds quite well. On offense, he attacks the rim effectively and has room to grow as a shooter. Houston could use more defensive help, and Eason can bring it.

18. Chicago Bulls — Dalen Terry, B: Admittedly, Terry is one of my favorite players in the draft and I had him as a strong first-round pick before it was in vogue. Perhaps I’m in the tank as a result, but this is a good pick for Chicago. There is a question about Terry’s jump shot and his ceiling might be capped without development there. He does have real intrigue as a defender and as a creator with point guard skills at 6’7, with all reports encouraging on his mentality and competitiveness.

19. Memphis Grizzlies — Jake LaRavia (No. 19 Overall), C+: For the millionth straight year, the Grizzlies nab a “Draft Twitter” favorite. LaRavia came on strong this season at Wake Forest and he projects as an ultra-valuable role player. He can shoot. He can pass. He can defend. There isn’t tremendous upside necessarily, but the Grizzlies are building toward high-end contention and LaRavia could be a 16-game player.

20. San Antonio Spurs — Malaki Branham, B+: Branham has some drawbacks, but this is an excellent value for a player who was once viewed as a potential lottery pick. He has a varied offensive game and was impressive in the second half of the season as a scorer for Ohio State. His defense is an adventure, which perhaps led to this fall, but the Spurs can help with that from an environment standpoint.

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21. Denver Nuggets — Christian Braun, C+: This is a nice fit for the Nuggets, even if it might be a few spots high on Braun. He doesn’t need the ball to succeed, which makes sense in Denver, and is a quality shooter and off-ball mover. He’s also a good athlete and a solid defender, though Braun is limited from a length standpoint and may be more of a backcourt defender than someone who can handle big wings.

22. Minnesota Timberwolves — Walker Kessler, C: Minnesota has been tied to a potential pursuit of a traditional center and Kessler fits that bill. Drafted in this range, he does not have to become an everyday starter in order to return value, and that is appropriate for Kessler as a prospect. He is a fantastic rim protector with an off-the-charts block rate, and Kessler could help to stabilize Minnesota’s defense in the future.

23. Memphis Grizzlies — David Roddy, C-: Candidly, I love David Roddy. Everyone loves David Roddy. This also feels a little high, especially when De’Anthony Melton is heading out of town. Still, it is easy to like Roddy’s skill set, particularly if he can get into better shape and take advantage of his overall feel and skill level.

24. Milwaukee Bucks — MarJon Beauchamp, B: The Bucks are reportedly looking for players that can help sooner rather than later. Beauchamp can certainly do that on the defensive end as one of the better wing defenders in the class. The questions come on offense, where he is relatively limited on the perimeter, but he is an acclaimed worker and Beauchamp’s 7’1 frame and mentality should help.

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25. San Antonio Spurs — Blake Wesley, A-: The Spurs can afford to take a bit of a swing with a third first round pick. Wesley qualifies as that, but the tools are quite interesting. He struggled from an efficiency standpoint in college, but Wesley is a fantastic ball-handler and a quality defensive prospect. He has shooting and finishing questions that lead to his overall issues right now, but the future play is a good bet in the 20’s.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves — Wendell Moore, B: The Wolves continued to move around on draft night, grabbing the 26th pick from Houston for No. 29 and some future seconds to land Moore, who is very well-rounded. He’s a very good passer with high-end feel. He also has a seven-foot wingspan and knows where to be on defense. He’s not a great athlete, leading to some finishing problems, but Moore is a projectable role player for Minnesota.

27. Miami Heat — Nikola Jovic, B-: This is a perfectly fine value on Jovic. He has significant defensive concerns, but Jovic is incredibly skilled for a player of his height and size. He isn’t a total knockdown shooter, but his feel is very good and he’s a high-end passer. The thing is figuring out how to hide him on the other end.

28. Golden State Warriors — Patrick Baldwin Jr., C-: Good luck trying to figure out what to do with Baldwin. Golden State has the luxury of not “needing” anything from this pick next year, and Baldwin is definitely a future-facing selection. He’s a former top-five player in the class, but it was a disaster at Milwaukee and he needs to make shots and take it slow.

29. Houston Rockets — TyTy Washington, A-: It was a tumble for Washington, but this is a nice landing spot, all things considered. He finished as a top-20 player on my board and can come along slowly next to Jalen Green. He is kind of a tweener as a combo guard, but Washington’s skill level is high and he can stick in Houston.

30. Denver Nuggets — Peyton Watson, C-: This is a total project pick. Watson really struggled this season and is not in a position to help the Nuggets immediately. With that said, there are tools that are interesting and the focus has to be on the future.

Source: https://uproxx.com/dimemag/2022-nba-draft-grades-first-round-picks/