2022 NBA Draft pick-by-pick tracker with analysis of selections, trades

2022 NBA Draft
Arturo Holmes/Getty Images
0 Comments

What should be a wild night of trades and unexpected picks has finally arrived.

We have already seen one big pre-draft trade — Jerami Grant going to the Trail Blazers — and a couple of smaller ones, but there are a lot more to come. In a year with what is considered a thin free agent class and not a lot of teams with cap space, expect teams to be aggressive with their moves on this Draft night.

Plus 58 new players will be welcomed into the NBA family. (It’s 58 and not 60 because Miami and Milwaukee were forced to surrender second-round picks for tampering.)

This 2022 NBA Draft Tracker will have it all: breakdowns of every pick, every trade — complete with an analysis of how that player fits (or doesn’t) with his new surroundings.

FIRST ROUND

 
Magic small icon No. 1 Orlando Magic: Paolo Banchero, 6’10” forward, Duke. After running a brilliant campaign of deception for months, the Magic take the most NBA-ready player in the Draft. Banchero walks in the door with an NBA body, elite athleticism and guard-like handles to go with his size (he can play the four or the five at the NBA). He’s more polished than the other top candidates, he can run an NBA offense right now for a stretch. He is physical and can push his way to the rim and dunk over everyone, but he needs a lot of work on his jump shot and playmaking (think a young Blake Griffin). There are also defensive concerns, he would fade into the background on that end at times in college. Might be the early favorite for Rookie of the Year because of his developed game and he gives an impressive young Magic team a potential alpha to go with a nice young core.

 
Thunder small icon No. 2 Oklahoma City Thunder: Chet Holmgren, 7’1″ center, Gonzaga. A true “unicorn” in that there isn’t another player quite like him in the league (although Kristaps Porzingis is the closest model many use). He has the highest ceiling but the lowest floor of any of the top picks. Homlgren was a defensive force in college with his 7’5″ wingspan, he competes hard and averaged 14.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.6 blocks per game. He can space the floor as a 3-point shooter or put the ball on the floor and drive. However, he wasn’t asked to be a shot creator in college, and there is the questions of how much muscle he can add and if he can stay healthy. OKC is the perfect place for him to develop.

 
Rockets small icon No. 3 Houston Rockets: Jabari Smith, 6’10” forward, Auburn. He walks in the door fitting the mold of the modern NBA big man every team is searching for: Athletic, can shoot the 3 (42% this season) but has the shot creation to put the ball on the floor and get to a good midrange pull-up. He’s good at making tough shots, a skill that translates well to the NBA. He also is a solid, switchable defender, something the Rockets need. His passing and playmaking need to improve for him to reach his full potential, and it will be interesting to see his fit with Jalen Green, but the Rockets just picked up a very good player at a position of need.

 
Kings small icon No. 4 Sacramento Kings: Keegan Murray, 6’8″ power forward, Iowa. After months of speculation about trades, the Kings decided to keep the pick. Murray should be able to walk in the doors in Sacramento and contribute on Day 1 — he looks to be one of the most NBA-ready player in this draft. He averaged 23.5 points a game for the Hawkeyes, is strong on the glass, is a versatile and long defender, and plays a high-IQ game. He played in a system and worked off the ball, which is a great fit with De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis. There are some who question how high his ceiling is in the NBA — Murray is not a dynamic athlete by NBA standards — but his floor is so high that this is a solid pick.

Pistons small icon No. 5 Detroit Pistons: Jaden Ivey, 6’4″ guard, Purdue. Probably the best athlete in this draft, and that brings with it All-Star level upside. He’s got smooth handles and a change-of-speed game he uses to get downhill and relentlessly attack the rim. An explosive first step. He shot a decent 35.8% from 3 last season (and his jumper seems to improve every year), but his playmaking skills and midrange game need to progress if he is going to fulfill the potential of his physical gifts. He forms a dynamic backcourt with Cade Cunningham that could propel the Pistons for years. This is a team on the rise.

 
Pacers small icon No. 6 Indiana Pacers: Bennedict Mathurin, 6’6″ small forward, Arizona. It’s never wrong to draft a shooter. The Canadian and Pac-12 Player of the Year he has a role in the NBA as a catch-and-shoot marksman, plus he knows how to show off his athleticism and get downhill in transition. If he improves his handles he could be a secondary shot creator as well. His defense is a work in progress but if he can be a solid defender at the NBA level he’ll have a role because of his shot.

 
Blazers small icon No. 7 Portland Trail Blazers: Shaedon Sharpe, 6’6″ forward, Kentucky. Another pick reportedly in play but kept, this time by Portland. This is a bet on Sharpe’s upside — Sharpe is maybe the biggest boom or bust player in this draft. He has all the raw tools to be an elite wing in the league — long, athletic, great hops, can get to the rim or shoot. However, the Canadian hasn’t really played a competitive 5-on-5 games since high school. He committed to Kentucky, didn’t show up until second semester, didn’t play a minute for the Wildcats, and jumped straight to the draft. How good is his feel for the game? How strong is his competitive fire? This could be a steal of a pick by the Blazers if he lives up to his potential, but there is a lot of development work to do. (Don’t be shocked if you hear more trade rumors about Sharpe.)

 
Pelicans small icon No. 8 New Orleans Pelicans (via Los Angeles Lakers): Dyson Daniels, 6’7″ guard, G-League Ignite. There is a lot of potential with Australian Daniels, one of the better defenders in this class and is switchable and versatile on that end. He’s also a quality playmaker and handled point guard duties for stretches with the Ignite, he can play the 1-3 in the NBA. He plays a high IQ game and can work off the ball. How high teams are on him depends on if they believe they can fix his jumper — he has a slow release and shot 27.3% from 3 in the G-League. More concerning, he was 52.5% from the free throw line. Develop his shot and Daniels becomes a quality starting guard in the league quickly.

 
Spurs small icon No. 9 San Antonio Spurs: Jeremy Sochan, 6’9″ forward, Baylor. For a team with a proven development program such as the Spurs, this is a great pick. Sochan brings a lot of potential (which is why he kept climbing draft boards throughout the season) but work is needed to unleash it. His strength right now is defense, where he uses his athleticism to be a versatile defender who can guard four or five positions. He’s got decent handles and passing — he would grab the rebound, bring the ball up for Baylor and initiate the offense — but his shot needs work. If the Spurs can give his game the polish it needs, and develop a solid jumper, Sochan could be a strong pick here.

 
Wizards small icon No. 10 Washington Wizards: Johnny Davis, 6’5″ guard, Wisconsin. The Wizards needed point guard and picked up one (although not every scout thinks he’s an NBA one). Davis was asked to do everything for the Badgers and showed he is solid at a lot of things — he can score at all three levels, can handle playmaking for himself and others, and works hard on defense. At the NBA level he looks like more of a solid floor general and off-the-ball shooter, a player a coach can trust to make the right play — from Day 1 — but does not have the upside of a guy who is going to get a lot of Taco Bell commercials in the future.

We have a trade:

The Knicks have traded the No. 11 pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for multiple future first-round picks (the Thunder have 15 more between now and 2027). OKC is keeping the No. 12 pick, meaning they are making back-to-back picks (New York technically made the No. 11 pick but he will play for the Thunder).

 
Thunder small icon No. 11 Oklahoma City Thunder: Ousmane Dieng, 6’9″ forward, New Zealand Breakers. This is a long-term bet on player development, something the Thunder are good at. Dieng, a French native, has size and build to play the three and, once he fills out and gets stronger, to play the four in the NBA. He has a good feel for the game, can shoot, create a little off the dribble, defend multiple positions, and is a good but not elite athlete. He’s going to take a few years to get there, but he has the potential to be a quality starting forward playing a position of need in the NBA.

 
Thunder small icon No. 12 Oklahoma City Thunder (via Los Angeles Clippers): Jalen Williams, 6’6″ wing, Santa Clara. He shot up draft boards as he was a standout at the NBA Draft Combine once teams got a look at him (then realized he was under-scouted at Santa Clara and did their homework). He has a 7’2″ wingspan and has great defensive versatility, can shoot the 3 (39.6% last season), and can be a secondary shot creator. Not an elite athlete, but there is potential as a rotational wing player in the league at a position of need.

We have a trade:

While the Hornets officially made the pick, Duren is being traded to the Detroit Pistons as part of a three-team deal. Detroit gets Duren but also takes on the salary of Kemba Walker, who the Knicks wanted to dump (to free up cap space for a run at Jalen Brunson). Detroit is a team looking for a center (they are lined up to snag Deandre Ayton) and could have a good fit in Duren. Detroit is expected to buy out Walker, making him a free agent. Charlotte gets a 2025 first-round pick (Milwaukee’s) in this deal.

 
Pistons small icon No. 13 Detroit Pistons: Jalen Duren, 6’11” center, Memphis. Detroint wants a center of the future and may have drafted one. Big men take a little longer to develop, and Duren is no exception, but he is the most physically gifted center in this draft and he has a 7’5″ wingspan. He should become a paint-protecting, rim-running athletic big man in the Jarrett Allen/peak DeAndre Jordan mold. This is a solid pick for the Hornets in that Duren is going to be quality rotation NBA player for years. It’s also a bit of a safe pick in that Duren has a high floor, but not a super-high ceiling.

 
Cavaliers small icon No. 14 Cleveland Cavaliers: Ochai Agbaji, 6’5″ wing, Kansas. The Most Outstanding Player at this year’s Final Four, he’s a four-year player at Kansas whose game made a leap this season. He’s one of the better shooters in the draft and hit 40.7% from 3 last season, he can put the ball on the floor a little and create, plus he’s a tough defender with potential on that end. He’s going to be an NBA rotation player, however, this is more a solid single up the middle than a swing for the fences.

 
Hornets small icon No. 15 Charlotte Hornets (via New Orleans Pelicans): Mark Williams, 7’0″ center, Duke. Thanks to a 7’7″ reach, Williams walks in the door ready to play minutes as a rim protecting, shot-blocking center (and one athletic enough not to get totally cooked when he has to switch out on the perimeter). He showed some touch and shot making around the basket with the Blue Devils (although his offensive game is a work in progress), and the ultimate hope is he develops into a solid rotational rim-running center who can fit on any team. Williams’ challenge is he is the kind of player the league is evolving away from, he needs to make himself invaluable with his D.

 
Hawks small icon No. 16 Atlanta Hawks: A.J. Griffin, 6’6″ forward, Duke. Could be a steal this far down in the draft because Griffin is maybe the best pure shooter in this year’s class, hitting 45% from 3 last season and being strong on the catch-and-shoot (but can put the ball on the floor and create a little, too). However, he has to improve in nearly every other area to become an elite wing. The tools are there: He has a 7-foot wingspan that can make him a quality defender at a position of need. He needs to develop his play creation for others. A lot of high end potential here to develop, but at the very least he walks in the door a shooter.

 
Rockets small icon No. 17 Houston Rockets (via Brookly Nets): Tari Eason, 6’7″ forward, LSU. Defensively, he has real potential — Eason can guard 1-4, is disruptive, gets steals and blocks, he’s a strong rebounder, and he does all that at a position of need. Offensively he averaged 17 points a game, but he mostly did that by putting his head down, using a quick first step, driving in a straight line to the rim and drawing fouls. Thats not going to work nearly as well against NBA defenders, but if Eason can diversify his game the Rockets will have a quality player to add to their rotation.

 
Bulls small icon No. 18 Chicago Bulls: Dalen Terry, 6’7″ wing, Arizona. He shot up draft boards starting at the combine because he can handle the rock, defend multiple positions, plays a position of need, and impressed teams with his maturity and work ethic. He shot 35% from 3 at Arizona and that needs to be more consistent, plus he’s not a natural offensive player. He has potential and if he can defend and handle the ball on the wing in the NBA, there is a role for him.

We have a trade:

Memphis has traded up to get the No. 19 pick from Minnesota, and in return the Timberwolves receive the No. 22 and 29 picks from Memphis in this draft.

 
Grizzlies small icon No. 19 Memphis Grizzlies: Jake LaRiva, 6’8″ forward, Wake Forest. He climbed draft boards late because he does everything pretty well: Shoot (38% from 3), dribble, pass, and not an elite defender but a switchable and solid one. He plays with confidence. He’s not an elite athlete and there are questions about how he will defend and create space at the next level, but a solid pick at this point in the draft because it’s not hard to see him being part of an NBA rotation.

 
Spurs small icon No. 20 San Antonio Spurs (via Toronto Raptors): Malaki Branham, 6’5″ shooting guard, Ohio State. He came on the second half of the season for the Buckeyes and has all the attributes teams look for in a wing: good size, can score at all three levels, works off the ball, and can do some secondary shot creation. He’s one of the best shooters in the draft, both from 3 and from the midrange. He’s going to have to improve on the defensive end to make an impact in the NBA but this could be a steal for San Antonio this deep in the draft.

 
Nuggets small icon No. 21 Denver Nuggets: Christian Braun, 6’7″ wing, Kansas. He could be a plug-and-play rotation wing after three seasons with the Jayhawks where he improved every year. He is a solid defender, can work off the ball (he played well off Agbaji Ochai), can handle the ball a little and has a good feel for the game. Not an elite athlete, his shot is accurate even if the release is a bit slow, he’s not likely to develop into a top three option on a team, but he played his role well in Kansas and should fit in with Nuggets.

 
No. 22 Minnesota Timberwolves (via Utah Jazz and Memphis Grizzlies): Walker Kessler, 7’1″ center, Auburn. This is the first pick from the trade that gave the Grizzlies the No. 19 pick. One of the best defensive players in college last season, Kessler was a beast as a rim protector, especially in SEC play. There are concerns about his ability to hang with NBA-level athletes — Miami exposed this in the NCAA Tournament — but Kessler has an NBA role as an old-school rim protector and rim-runner on one end (with a little of a perimeter game). Minnesota just drafted a backup to Karl-Anthony Towns, a smart pick.

We have a trade:

The 76ers are sending the No. 23 pick and the injured Danny Green to the Memphis Grizzlies for DeAnthony Melton. The 76ers shopped this pick and Green combo aggressively.

 
Grizzlies small icon No. 23 Memphis Grizzlies (via Philadelphia 76ers): David Roddy, 6’6″ power forward, Colorado State. The Grizzlies front office must be fans of what Grant Williams brought to the Celtics during this playoff run, because the upside for Roddy looks a lot like that. Roddy is not tall but played a lot of center at Colorado State, is strong and good at cutting off angles defensively, has a 7-foot wingspan, and shot 43.8% from deep last season. He can set a good pick, pop out to space the floor, and is a good passer. He struggled at the NBA Draft Combine but reportedly had good workouts for teams.

 
Bucks small icon No. 24 Milwaukee Bucks: MarJon Beauchamp, 6’5″ wing, G-League Ignite. He has the physical tools to be a quality rotation wing player in the NBA — very athletic and he has a 6’11” wingspan. One of the hardest workers in the draft, was the first guy to the gym with the Ignite. He’s raw and his shooting/handles/playmaking need to improve, but if he can show the grit to improve in those areas this could be a quality pick for Bucks this far down the board.

 
Spurs small icon No. 25 San Antonio Spurs (via Boston Celtics): Blake Wesley, 6’5″ guard, Notre Dame. This is the Spurs again betting on their player development program, but with one of the higher upside rolls of the dice in this part of the draft. Wesley is maybe the best (or second best to Ivey) pure athlete in this draft, and he’s shown he can be a dynamic shot creator. He can blow by his man and get in the paint at will — he just can’t finish. Or shoot all that well. He’s got potential as a defender, too. Wesley is a development project, a boom or bust type of pick but a good bet by the Spurs here.

We have a trade:

The No. 26 pick has bounced around. Dallas traded it to Houston as part of the Christian Wood deal, and now Houston has traded it to Minnesota for this years’ No. 29 pick and other future picks.

 
No. 26 Minnesota Timberwolves (via Dallas Mavericks and Houston Rockets): Wendell Moore Jr., 6’5″ wing, Duke. Somewhat overshadowed by higher profile teammates in Banchero and Williams, Moore is a solid player who is good at everything (but maybe not elite at any one thing). His strength is on defense, where Krzyzewski had him on the opponents best perimeter player every night, plus he shot 41.3% from 3 last season — he could be a 3&D guy in the NBA. His offense needs a little more polish, but there’s real potential there. A solid athlete with a well rounded game, there is likely a spot for him in the Timberwolves rotation.

 
Heat small icon No. 27 Miami Heat: Nikola Jovic, 6’10” forward, Serbia. Yes, his name is very similar to the two-time MVP, and the similarities don’t end there: both are skilled Serbian big men, the best asset for both is their feel for the game, neither is an elite athlete, and both can shoot the 3 (Jovic was 36% from beyond the arc in the Adriatic League last season). There is a lot of development work to do to Jovic, and don’t expect a Jokic-level of play, but there is potential as an offensive-focused big man in the league.

 
Warriors small icon No. 28 Golden State Warriors: Patrick Baldwin Jr., 6’9″ forward, Milwaukee. He has an NBA wing build with a 7-1 wingspan, beautiful form on his jumper, and was one of the top high school recruits of his class. Then he went to Milwaukee to play for his father and was unimpressive in a smaller conference — 12 points a game and shooting 26.6% from 3. He struggled to create shots for himself at the mid-major level. Golden State is making a bet they can develop the raw tools that made Baldwin a high-level recruit, but there is a long way to go.

 
Rockets small icon No. 29 Houston Rockets (via Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves: TyTy Washington, 6’3″ guard, Kentucky. He can play either guard position, is a good pick-and-roll ball handler, and shot 35% from 3 last season. Defensively he can get steals. Washington was more impressive the first half of the season, before ankle injuries slowed him. Every year a player (usually a guard) comes out of Kentucky who everyone thinks was solid but it turns out was held back because of John Calipari’s system — Tyler HerroTyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickley among others. Is Washington the latest in that line?

 
Nuggets small icon No. 30 Denver Nuggets (via Oklahoma City Thunder and Phoenix Suns): Peyton Watson, 6’8″ wing, UCLA. This is a roll of the dice on player development. Watson was highly recruited out of Long Beach Poly and looks the part of an NBA wing with strength and athleticism. There were moments on dunks or drives where it was obvious he had NBA potential. But he shot 33.2% overall and 22% from 3, and doesn’t show tremendous feel for the game, or great defense. The physical gifts to be an elite NBA wing are there, but Watson and the Nuggets have a lot of work to do to get there.

SECOND ROUND

 
Pacers small icon No. 31 Indiana Pacers (via Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets: Andrew Nembhard, 6’3″ point guard, Gonzaga. He helped himself in the final day of scrimmages at the NBA Draft Combine. He’s a four-year college player (two at Florida before Gonzaga) and is more crafty than explosive. However, he knows how to run a team, shot 38.3% from 3 over his four years in college, and is just solid. Likely a backup point guard/floor general at the NBA level, but good enough that teams will see him as part of their rotation.

 
Magic small icon No. 32 Orlando Magic: Caleb Houstan, 6’8″ forward, Michigan. A former top-10 prospect in this class, Houstan’s stock fell after an up-and-down season at Michigan. Scouts are all over the map on him. He has an NBA build at a position of need, a good feel for the game and is a willing passer, and shot 35% from 3 this past season. He seemed to lack confidence, and that was against college teams. Defensively he has a long way to go. Was he a good player in a bad system fit with the Wolverines, or is he not the player people thought coming out of high school?

 
Raptors small icon 33. Toronto Raptors (via Detroit, San Antonio, Washington and Chicago): Christian Koloko, 7’1″ center, Arizona. He has a 7’5″ wingspan and blocked almost three shots a game for the Wildcats last season, which is where the promise lies with Koloko. He showed some passing skills and a little shooting touch (12.6 points a game last season), if he can develop a decent offensive game he’s got the defense to find a role in he NBA as a rotation big man. A bit of a development project for Raptors, but they are one of the best development teams in the league. Good roll of the dice here.

 
Thunder small icon No. 34 Oklahoma City Thunder: Jaylin Williams, 6’10” center, Arkansas. He had a strong second season for the Razorbacks, averaging 10.9 points and 9.8 rebounds a game. He’s a fluid athlete and very good passer who plays a high IQ game. He isn’t a floor stretching center (23.9% from 3 last season) and is not an elite finisher at the rim. Some scouts question if he can defend at the NBA level (even though he was SEC All-Defense last season). A good second-round gamble to see if he can develop into an NBA rotation big man.

 
Lakers small icon No. 35 Los Angeles Lakers (via Indiana, Milwaukee and Orlando): Max Christie, 6’6″ wing, Michigan State. Incredible work ethic and the kind of player coaches like to have around because he will push everyone in practice. He has more athleticism than people think but is not elite by NBA standards. He’s got an NBA build (although he needs to add muscle) and a foundation of skills, but everything needs polish and to be brought up to the next level. The primary thing is his shooting, he has good form but needs to knock down more than 31.7% from 3. Likely needs a season on a two-way or in the G-League to work on his game, but the potential of an NBA wing there.

 
Pistons small icon No. 36 Detroit Pistons (via Portland Trail Blazers): Gabrielle Procida, 6’8″ wing, Italy. This is a draft-and-stash pick. Procida is 19 and still developing (both physically and with his game), but has shown promise as a shooter. He played the last two seasons in the Italian league, most recently for Bologna, where he shot 38% from 3 but in a limited role. He helped himself out at the NBA Draft Combine. If his 3-point shooting continues to develop and he grows into (and more comfortable with his body), he could come over and find a role as an NBA sharpshooter in a few years.

We have a trade:

The Kings have traded the No. 37 pick to the Dallas Mavericks for two future second round picks.

 
Mavericks small icon No. 37 Dallas Mavericks (via Sacramento Kings): Jaden Hardey, 6’4″ guard, G-League Ignite. Could be a steal this deep in the draft. Maybe the best handles in the class, but he uses those primarily to create shots for himself — and not always good ones. That’s why this former top-five prospect has fallen down draft boards. Has the reputation as a volume scorer. He showed progress late in the season in the G-League, if he can become more of a playmaker, clean up his shot selection, and put more effort in on defense there is real potential — he has NBA athleticism and an NBA body. The development process in Dallas is getting him to learn how to play the NBA game.

We have a trade:

The Spurs have traded the rights to the No. 38 pick, Kennedy Chandler, to the Memphis Grizzlies, who get a future second round pick and cash.

 
Grizzlies small icon No. 38 Memphis Grizzlies (via San Antonio, L.A. Lakers, Chicago and Washington): Kennedy Chandler, 6’1″ point guard, Tennessee. A good pick at this point in the draft. One of the quicker players in the draft, and he has the handles and passing ability to take advantage of that in the open court or getting into the lane. He shot 38.3% from 3 and played well off the ball in multiple-guard lineups. He works hard on defense. He’s undersized and most teams see him as a backup/rotation point guard in the future, but he has the skills to play in the league (and has the kind of skillset that may make him a Summer League standout).

 
Cavaliers small icon No. 39 Cleveland Cavaliers (via San Antonio Spurs and Utah Jazz): Khalifa Diop, 6’11” center, Senegal. He played last season for Gran Canaria in the Spanish League and was named the 2022 EuroCup Rising Star (Kristaps Porzingis and Jonas Valanciunas both won that award), plus he has played in NBA Basketball Without Borders games. He’s a defense-first big man with an NBA body and athleticism already, but he’s got a lot of work to do on the offensive end. He can be a lob threat (although his hands are in question) and has shown a midrange game when he sets his feet and has time, but he is generally very raw on that end. Good second round roll of the dice.

We have a trade:

The Timberwolves are trading the No 40 pick to the Charlotte Hornets for two future second-round picks.

 
Hornets small icon No. 40 Charlotte Hornets (via Minnesota Timberwolves):Bryce McGowens, 6’7″ wing, Nebraska. The primary shot creator for the Cornhuskers last season, McGowens is a developmental project but a very good roll of the dice in the second round. He has NBA size and athleticism, has a good feel for the game, and he has impressive handles that got him to the rim where he drew a lot of fouls. However, his shot selection is in question and he’s not a great shooter at the ones he does take (27.4% from 3). He’s also going to have to get a lot stronger. There is a potential NBA rotation wing player in McGowens, but it’s going to take a lot of work and development to get him there.

 
Pelicans small icon No. 41 New Orleans Pelicans: E.J. Liddell, 6’7″ power forward, Ohio State. Considered an interesting defensive prospect coming into his junior season, Liddell showed a new touch from 3 shooting 37.4% last season, with a decent pull-up jumper. He’s not an elite NBA-level athlete, but he’s tough, plays a high IQ game and David Griffin and the Pelicans trust he’s going to be able to figure it out at the NBA level and become a rotation big man.

 
Knicks small icon No. 42 New York Knicks: Trevor Keels, 6’5″ combo guard, Duke. A physical guard who can play some point and do a little shot creation, but also work off the ball. He was a highly ranked recruit and has an NBA body, but he’s not an elite athlete and his shooting was inconsistent at Duke. He relied a lot on a physical game in college, but he’s not going to be able to power through NBA players the same way, he’s going to have to diversify his game. He’s young and could develop into a rotation guard.

 
Clippers small iconNo. 43 Los Angeles Clippers: Moussa Diabate, 6’10” power forward/center, Michigan. Diabate is an NBA athlete with good size and plenty of bounce, but the Clippers are going to have to develop his skills and his feel for the game. He’s better defensively than offensively and has shown potential on that end, but his lack of a feel for the game has led to foul trouble. Diabate may be a two-way player who spends a lot of time in the G-Leauge at first working on his skills. But he has athleticism that can’t be taught.

We have a trade:

Well, not really a trade in the traditional sense: The Warriors bought the Hawks No. 44 pick for cash with some other stuff thrown in. But it was about the cash.

 
Warriors small icon No. 44 Golden State Warriors (via Atlanta Hawks): Ryan Rollins, 6’4″ guard, Toledo. He decided to stay in the draft after a strong showing at the NBA Combine. He has a good build for an NBA guard — he’s got 6-10 wingspan — and he can work on or off the ball. He also plays a high IQ game. The challenge is he is not a great shooter (31.1% from 3) and there are questions about his lateral quickness and defense. That said, he’s not yet 20 and if the Warriors can develop him they will have a solid rotation player.

 
No. 45 Minnesota Timberwolves (via Charlotte Hornets): Josh Minott, 6’8″ forward, Memphis. One of the more divisive prospects in the draft, scouts and analytics people were very split on him. He didn’t impress Memphis coaches, who had him largely glued to the bench by the end of the season. He’s long, athletic, passes the eye test of an NBA player, and is a plus defender who creates steals. But he doesn’t have much of a shot (2-of-14 from 3) and his skills are very raw and unpolished. There is a lot of development work to do with him, but at this point in the draft he is a solid roll of the dice.

We have a trade:

Denver acquired the No. 46 pick from Portland.

 
Nuggets small icon No. 46 Denver Nuggets (via Portland Trail Blazers): Ismael Kamagate, 6’11” center, France. He should be a draft-and-stash prospect to see how he develops. He’s got NBA size and a nice wingspan, but needs to fill out a little. He shows potential on the defensive end, particularly his ability to switch and not get burned by smaller players. However, his offensive game is very raw. He could someday be an NBA rim-running big man but there’s a lot of development in his decision making and simply ability to handle passes and finish in traffic to get there.

 
Grizzlies small icon No. 47 Memphis Grizzlies (via Cleveland, New Orleans and Atlanta): Vince Williams, 6’6″ wing, VCU. He spent four years at VCU and was all Atlantic-10 his last two years, which coincided with when he found his jump shot. He’s got a good feel for the game, can do a little playmaking, and is a solid defender in a team system. He’s not a top-flight NBA athlete. If his shot can take another step forward he has a chance to be an NBA rotation wing, but he’s likely going to have to prove it off a two-way contract, most likely.

 
Pacers small icon No. 48 Indiana Pacers (via trade from the Minnesota Timberwolves): Kendall Brown, 6’8″ wing, Baylor. The Pacers are rolling the dice the athleticism and potential of Brown and are betting they can develop his offensive game and make him an NBA rotation wing. He is one of the elite athletes in this draft, but he needs to develop his skills, he doesn’t have one NBA ready skill right now. He is a good defender, particularly on ball and in space. That fantastic athleticism leads to amazing finishes in transition. He shot 34% from 3 last season but has a lot of work to do on that end. If he develops his skills he can be a quality rotation player.

 
Cavaliers small icon No. 34 Cleveland Cavaliers (via Chicago, Memphis, Detroit and Sacramento): Isaiah Mobley, 6’10” power forward/center, USC. The older brother of Cavaliers star Evan Mobley, Isaiah withdrew from the draft a year ago to go back to USC and work on his game. He has an NBA build and is a quality defender, he can switch onto some wings and knows how to get in the way to affect drives (but isn’t the athlete and rim protector his brother is). Mobley is a good passer as a big man who can keep the ball moving in an offense. He ultimately is likely a backup big in the league, but with the potential to be solid in that role.

 
No. 50 Minnesota Timberwolves (via Denver Nuggets and Philadelphia 76ers): Matteo Spagnolo, 6’5″ guard, Italy. A draft-and-stash player at age 19, he is product of the impressive Real Madrid program. He was on loan to Vanoli Cremona last season and averaged 12.2 points a game shooting 44.1% from 3. He’s creative and unpredictable with the ball in his hands and has real skills as a playmaker, especially coming off picks. He’s not a great athlete, which leads to issues finishing at the rim and on defense. He’s young and could develop to become a rotation combo guard in a few years, but much of that development will happen in Italy.

 
Hawks small icon No. 51 Atlanta Hawks (via trade with Golden State Warriors): Tyrese Martin, 6’6″ guard, UConn. This is a pick based not on his time with the Huskies — 13.6 points, 7.5 rebounds, 43% from 3 last season — but rather a strong NBA Draft Combine. He’s tough and physical, and plays with a lot of energy. His shot got better over the past couple of years, but he’s not a great shot creator and there are questions about his ability to defend. The hope is the college senior could step in and be a glue guy, but he’s got work to prove he can do that at the next level.

 
Pelicans small icon No. 52 New Orleans Pelicans (via Utah Jazz): Karlo Matkovic, 6’10” center, Croatia: A draft-and-stash player, but with good size and NBA potential. There’s not much information on his game, but according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony he stood out at Excel Pro Day, showed a nice shooting touch, got some workout invites, and impressed enough to get picked.

 
Celtics small icon No. 53 Boston Celtics: JD Davidson, 6’3″ point guard, Alabama. He five-star recruit considered a lock one-and-done prospect coming out of high school, Davison struggled his one season at Alabama. He’s an elite athlete and that shows when he turns the corner on a drive or gets a chance to finish in transition. The athleticism can show on defense in flashes. But right now his skill level isn’t high enough to take advantage of his athleticism, and his shot needs an overhaul (30.8% from 3 last season and with a low-relase form). He’s a good role of the dice at this point in the draft because he’s a true NBA-level athlete, but there is a lot of development work to do.

 
Wizards small icon No. 54 Washington Wizards (via Dallas Mavericks).Yannick Nzosa, 6’10” center, Democratic Republic of the Congo). Nzosa is a clear draft-and-stash case with the hope he can develop skills to match his incredible athleticism. He has unquestionable NBA gifts in terms of size, agility, and leaping ability. However, he showed last season playing for Unicaja Malaga in Spain that his game is beyond raw, shooting 37.9% and not getting on the court much. Defensively there is hope, but his offensive game has a long, long way to go. The Wizards placed a small bet he might develop into someone they can bring over.

 
Bucks small icon No. 55 Milwaukee Bucks (via Golden State Warriors):Gui Santos, 6’7″ wing, Brazil). Anoher draft-and-stash player, but this one in the Brazilian league, where he plays for Minas. With a strong physique and good size, Santos passes the eye test of an NBA player. But he’s not an explosive athlete and is more of a below-the-rim kind of finisher on drives. He looked better in a smaller off-ball role a couple of seasons ago, last season more playmaking was asked of him and he struggled. Because he has NBA measurables the Bucks took a chance.

 
Cavaliers small icon No. 56 Cleveland Cavaliers: Luke Tavers, 6’7″ small forward, Australia). A draft-and-stash player, he is just 20 but has played professionally for three years for Perth in Australia. He’s got a good feel for the game and could develop to a role-playing, ball distributing forward in the NBA — but he’s got to fix his shot first. Maybe he comes over on a two-way in a couple of years, but for how he’ll work on his shot in Perth.

 
Blazers small icon No. 57 Portland Trail Blazers (via Memphis and Utah): Jabari Walker, 6’7″ forward, Colorado. Walker is the son of former NBA player Samaki Walker. He’s a very good rebounder, and is able to do it despite not having elite athleticism. He was a career 39.9% shooter from 3 in college, and while that was on very limited attempts the potential to provide some floor spacing is there. He was a solid defender, and if he can keep that up at the next level he could have a role as an energy big off the bench who grabs boards and spaces the floor (but he’s going to have to show more consistent effort than was seen in college).

 
Bucks small icon No. 58 Milwaukee Bucks (via trade from Indiana Pacers): Hugo Besson, 6’3″ guard, New Zealand Breakers. The French native played in the Australian league last season and showed impressive handles and creativity. However, he’s a score-first guard without the athleticism to pull that off at the NBA level, he’s going to have to learn how to move the ball and be more of a floor general. He did enough at the NBA Draft Combine for the Bucks to take a shot on him, but there is a long way to go before he is in an NBA rotation.

Brad Stevens confirms Joe Mazzulla will return as Celtics coach

0 Comments

Despite the sting of losing to the No. 8 seed Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals, don’t expect sweeping changes in Boston. Not to the Celtics’ coaching staff and not to the roster.

Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Steven made that clear in his end-of-season press conference. It starts with bringing back Joe Mazzulla, which was expected after he was given a multi-year contract extension during the season. Stevens was asked if Mazzulla was the right person to lead the Celtics after an uneven season (hat tip NBC Sports Boston).

“Yeah, I think he is,” Stevens said. “I thought he did a really good job with this group. Everybody’s going to overreact to the best players and coaches after every game. That’s always the way it is. We know that going in, so we have to be able to judge things on the whole.

“He’s a terrific leader, he’ll only get better at anything that he can learn from this year, because he’s constantly trying to learn. And he’s accountable. Those leadership qualities are hard to find. I know they’re easy to talk about, but when you can show all those through the expectations and the microscope that he was under, that’s hard to do. Our players, our staff, everybody around him believe(s) in him, and we’ve got to do our best to support him going forward.”

The expectation is that veteran coaches — ideally at least one person with NBA head coaching experience — will be added to Mazzulla’s staff to help with the maturation process of the young coach. But he will be back.

Stevens also was asked about Jaylen Brown, who is eligible for a supermax extension of around $295 million over five years (his making All-NBA made him eligible for 35% of the salary cap). Stevens was limited in what he could say due to (archaic) tampering rules.

“I’ve had nothing but great conversations with Jaylen, but we can’t talk about all that stuff,” Stevens said. “I’m not allowed to talk about the contract details, let alone the extension because it’s not of that time yet right now. His window is between July 1 and October or whatever it is.

“But I can say without a doubt that we want Jaylen to be here. He’s a big part of us. We believe in him. I’m thankful for him. I’m really thankful for when those guys (Jayson Tatum and Brown) have success, they come back to work. And when they get beat, they own it and come back to work. I know that’s what they’re about, and that’s hard to find. Kinda like what I talked about with leadership earlier. Those qualities aren’t for everyone. Jaylen had a great year, All-NBA year and he’s a big part of us moving forward in our eyes.”

Despite Brown’s struggles against the Heat, it’s a no-brainer for the Celtics to retain the 26-year-old All-NBA player entering his prime. They should offer him the full supermax, and his public comments made it sound like that’s what he expects. Mess around in negotiations and try to get Brown to take less than the full max and then the threat of Brown leaving becomes more real. Only one player has ever rejected a supermax extension: Kawhi Leonard when he was trying to force a trade. (If Boston puts the full 35% max on the table and Brown rejects it, then the game changes and they have to trade him this summer, but don’t bet on him walking away from more than a quarter of a billion dollars).

There will be changes on the Celtics roster, but expect Brown and Mazzulla to return.

Purdue’s Zach Edey headlines list of players to withdraw from NBA Draft

Fairleigh Dickinson v Purdue
Dylan Buell/Getty Images
0 Comments

The winner of the 2023 John R. Wooden Award and the Naismith College Player of the Year Award is headed back for another year in the college ranks. And it’s the right move.

Zach Edey headlines the list of 181 players who withdrew their names from the NBA Draft, and he is headed back to Purdue for another season. He confirmed it on Twitter in his own way.

Edey averaged 22.3 points a game on 60.7% shooting and 12.9 rebounds a game last season for the Boilermakers, and his measurements at the NBA Draft Combine were hard to ignore — 7-3¼ barefoot, with a 7-10½ wingspan. However, his lack of elite athleticism, questions about his ability to defend in space, and an old-school, near-the-basket game are not natural fits with where the NBA is trending. He was expected to get picked in the back half of the second round (meaning no guaranteed contract), if at all.

With that, he made the right decision to return to college. If the Toronto native can arrange a new student visa that allows him to better capitalize on NIL money, a return to Purdue is likely the right financial decision as well.

Here are some of the biggest names among the 181 who withdrew from the NBA Draft (via Jonathan Givony of ESPN), with all projected to go after No. 40 or later:

Trey Alexander (Creighton)
Reece Beekman (Virginia)
Adem Bona (UCLA)
Jalen Bridges (Baylor)
Tristan da Silva (Colorado)
Zach Edey (Purdue)
Coleman Hawkins (Illinois)
DaRon Holmes (Dayton)
Josiah-Jordan James (Tennessee)
Dillon Jones (Weber State)
Judah Mintz (Syracuse)
Dillon Mitchell (Texas)
Terrence Shannon (Illinois)

The NBA Draft takes place on June 22.

Lakers rumored to prefer sign-and-trade options for D’Angelo Russell, eye Fred VanVleet

2023 Play-In Tournament - Chicago Bulls v Toronto Raptors
Mark Blinch/NBAE via Getty Images
0 Comments

D'Angelo Russell helped the Lakers turn their season around after the All-Star break. He provided needed shot creation at the point, averaged 17.4 points per game while shooting 41.4% from 3, and generally fit nicely on the court. However, his limitations — particularly on the defensive end — were exposed in the playoffs, especially by the Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

Russell is an unrestricted free agent and the Lakers are faced with choices: Re-sign him, let him walk, or maybe find a sign-and-trade that can bring back a player who is a better fit for a Lakers roster with championship aspirations next season. The Lakers would ideally like the sign-and-trade option, suggests Jovan Buha of The Athletic.

My read on the situation is that the Lakers would prefer to use D’Angelo Russell in a sign-and-trade, but I’m not sure the market is there.

Landing Kyrie Irving for Russell is shaping up to be a pipe dream, especially with Dallas unlikely to help Los Angeles out. Fred VanVleet, a Klutch client, looms as a possibility, but adding him would require Toronto to agree to terms with Russell (or take on the Beasley and Bamba contracts).

Forget about a Kyrie Irving sign-and-trade with the Lakers for Russell, that appears off the table (unless the Lakers add so many sweeteners Dallas can’t say no… and didn’t the Lakers just gut their roster for a guard in Russell Westbrook?)

Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times adds this.

Fred VanVleet’s name has been mentioned since even before he joined Klutch Sports, though the Lakers could again be in a position where they’d be forced to part with one or more draft picks in a deal. Russell’s postseason struggles were probably a little overblown after a disastrous Western Conference finals, but expect the Lakers to look at upgrade options. There’s still a chance Russell returns on a good deal and the Lakers actually get the continuity they’ve spoken about building.

VanVleet has a $22.8 million player option he is widely expected to opt out of seeking more money and years. He averaged 19.3 points and 7.2 assists a game last season, is a respectable defender, and is a former All-Star and NBA champion.

The questions start with, what are Toronto’s plans? They have yet to hire a new head coach after firing Nick Nurse, and there isn’t a sense of whether they will try to re-sign VanVleet, extend Pascal Siakam and run it back, break the entire thing up, or travel a middle ground reworking the roster. Dreams of a sign-and-trade only work if the Raptors play along. And, if the Raptors come around to consider a sign-and-trade for VanVleet, do they want Russell in that deal? Plus, the Lakers likely have to throw in the last first-round pick they can trade to get Toronto even to consider it.

All of which is to say, it’s a long shot VanVleet is a Laker. Not impossible, but not likely.

The smart money is on the Lakers re-signing Russell and considering trade options at next February’s deadline or next summer, if they feel it’s time to move on.

Celtics’ Payton Pritchard reportedly wants a trade this summer

2023 NBA Playoffs - Boston Celtics v Miami Heat
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
0 Comments

Payton Pritchard saw his role as a reserve guard with the Celtics shrink this season, which may have had less to do with the changeover to Joe Mazzulla as coach and more to do with the addition of Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon.

Either way, Pritchard doesn’t like it and wants to be traded this offseason, reports Jay King and Jared Weiss of The Athletic (in a must-read breakdown of the Celtics’ season and where they ultimately fell short.

With the new onerous CBA rules looming after next season, the front office will likely have to decide in the next 12 months whether it can afford its expensive veteran depth. Payton Pritchard has made it clear he hopes to be traded this summer, according to multiple team sources, so will the Celtics move him if they trade one of their core guards?

Pritchard may not get his wish for the financial reasons mentioned by King and Weiss — Boston has some hard decisions to make coming up. For next season, the Celtics are already $4 million into the luxury tax with 12 people on the roster, and that is without re-signing Grant Williams (if they can) or thinking about the super-max contract Jaylen Brown is about to sign that will kick in for the 2024-25 season. With the draconian threat of the second “lead” tax apron looming in a year, the Celtics must trim salary. One way to do that this summer is to trade one of Marcus Smart, Derrick White or Malcolm Brogdon, which is what is widely expected to happen around the league.

With one of those three gone, minutes open up for Pritchard, who has a team option for $4 million next season. That’s a great value contract the Celtics likely want to keep.

Meaning Pritchard may not get his wish to be sent out of Boston, but if he ends up staying, he should see more run next season.