2022 NBA Draft team grades: Pistons nearly perfect; Knicks escape with passing mark; Kings outthink themselves

  • 16. AJ Griffin, F, Duke
  • 51. Tyrese Martin, G, UConn (via Warriors)

Before the draft, Griffin was considered to be a top-10 talent by many evaluators, but teams may have been scared off by his injury history. The Hawks were able to swoop him up at No. 16, which could turn out to be one of the steals of the draft. He knocked down 45 percent of his 3s as a freshman at Duke, and could have more shot creation and playmaking ability than he was able to display on a stacked team. He should slot in nicely on the wing for an Atlanta team that needs shooting around Trae Young. Martin is a four-year player who improved as a shooter and playmaker over the course of his college career. Grade: A (Ward-Henninger)

  • 53. JD Davison, G, Alabama

With its one and only pick in this year’s draft, Boston grabbed a bat and swung for the fences at pick No. 53 in selecting Alabama’s JD Davison. Davison is a former five-star recruit with a great pedigree who struggled at times last season in his one-and-done year with the Tide. However, he brings athleticism you rarely see in a point guard and showed enough as a playmaker to warrant a second-round flier. Interesting long-term project for someone who entered the college season as a projected first-rounder. Grade: B- (Boone)

Brooklyn did not make a selection in the 2022 draft. Grade: N/A

  • 15. Mark Williams, C, Duke
  • 45. Josh Minott, F, Memphis

It was a wild night for the Charlotte Hornets and a rollercoaster of emotions — first with drafting Jalen Duren at 13 then trading him away. But they did add a big man as expected at 15 with Duke’s Mark Williams, a dominant interior presence, and also at 45 selected a high-upside wing in Josh Minott. Minott is a raw talent who is still developing — he hit two 3s at Memphis all season — but he has a great frame and incredible athleticism. The tools are there for him to become something, and in Charlotte he can be a slasher while eventually developing his scoring acumen. Grade: A- (Boone)

  • 18. Dalen Terry, F, Arizona

Terry at No. 18 was maybe a bit higher than where most projected (myself included), but I’m not going to dock the grade here because of that. Because the fit is fantastic. He’s a combo guard who can handle, rebound, shoot … all-around glue guy who brings a toughness and competitiveness that Chicago fans will love. Great fit. Grade: A (Boone)

  • 14. Ochai Agbaji, G, Kansas
  • 39. Khalifa Diop, C, Senegal
  • 49. Isaiah Mobley, F, USC
  • 56. Luke Travers, F, Australia

Cleveland should get an A on draft night solely for drafting Isaiah Mobley and pairing him with his brother, Evan, who they drafted last year. That was awesome. But I also liked the Cavs’ draft in totality, too. Ochai Agbaji at 14 fits a need and has a clear path to playing time right away. And Diop and Travers are both really interesting developmental prospects. Don’t think either will be contributors right away, but if they develop into something down the road then you’ve struck gold, given how hard it is to find value in second-round picks. Grade: A (Boone)

  • 37. Jaden Hardy, G, G League Ignite

Dallas traded its first-round pick in the Christian Wood deal, but saw an opportunity to grab Hardy in the second round and took their shot. The bucket-getter had an up and down season in the G League, but his shot-making and space creation are some of the best in this draft. A few experts pegged Hardy as a lottery talent, so this is a big swing, and potentially a big value acquisition for the Mavs. Grade: B+ (Ward-Henninger)

  • 21. Christian Braun, F, Kansas
  • 30. Peyton Watson, F, UCLA (via Thunder)
  • 46. Ismael Kamagate, F, France (via Trail Blazers)

Not too long prior to the draft, people were talking about Braun as a high-value second-round pick. The Nuggets zeroed in on him and got their man at 21, and he should be able to slide in nicely on a Denver roster in need of wing help. Braun is a good athlete who should be able to defend and knock down 3-pointers at a decent clip, while not being asked to do too much for the Nuggets, who have championship aspirations. Watson is a bit more of a gamble, but he was a top recruit out of high school so clearly the talent is there to work with. Kamagate is a huge project that could pay off down the road. Grade: B+ (Ward-Henninger)

  • 5. Jaden Ivey, G, Purdue
  • 13. Jalen Duren, C, Memphis (via Hornets)
  • 36. Gabriele Procida, F, Italy (via Trail Blazers)

Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren and Cade Cunningham are going to be playing basketball on the same court together. That sound you hear is NBA League Pass fans weeping with excitement. Didn’t expect Ivey to fall past No. 4, but Detroit rightly scooped him up at 5, solidifying its backcourt for the future. Then grabbing a high-flier in Duren ensures this team will have a lob target to set up Cunningham and Ivey for success. Procida is a stash candidate, but could pay dividends down the road. This team is going to be so much fun. Grade: A+ (Boone)

  • 28. Patrick Baldwin Jr., F, Milwaukee
  • 44. Ryan Rollins, G, Toledo (via Hawks)
  • 55. Gui Santos, F, Brazil

The Warriors may have hit another home run in the draft. Baldwin was one of the top players in his high school class before a disastrous year at Milwaukee, so clearly the talent is there to be unlocked through the tutelage of a proven Golden State development staff. Rollins is a certified bucket getter from the guard position who should be able to compete for a spot. Santos is probably a stash who won’t make an impact any time soon. If the idea is for the champs to continue to build toward the future while remaining perennial title contenders, they’re doing a great job. Grade: A (Ward-Henninger)

  • 3. Jabari Smith, F, Auburn
  • 17. Tari Eason, F, LSU
  • 29. TyTy Washington, G, Kentucky (via Timberwolves)

This is two great drafts in a row for the Rockets, who were thrown a bit of a curveball when the Magic decided to take Paolo Banchero at No. 1. Smith might actually be a better fit for the Rockets given his ability to space the floor and defend multiple positions, and he’ll join Jalen Green as franchise cornerstones to kick off the rebuild. Eason is one of the best defensive prospects in the draft with shooting and playmaking upside, while Washington had a lottery grade from many evaluators. Great night for Houston. Grade: A (Ward-Henninger)

  • 6. Bennedict Mathurin, G, Arizona
  • 31. Andrew Nembhard, G, Gonzaga
  • 48. Kendall Brown, F, Baylor (via Timberwolves)

Value, value, value for the Pacers. Mathurin could easily have been a top-five pick – they get him at 6. Nembhard was mocked in some places to be a top-25 pick – they get him at 31. Kendall Brown was seen as a near lock to go Round 1 – they get him at 48. What a night for Indiana. Grade: A (Boone)

  • 43. Moussa Diabate, F, Michigan

It’s hard to imagine the Clippers getting much help in their quest for an NBA title with the No. 43 pick, but Diabate could be an interesting chip for the future given his size and intriguing, albeit raw, potential. Grade: C+ (Ward-Henninger)

  • 35. Max Christie, G, Michigan State

Christie is a good player for this draft slot in a vacuum, but it’s hard to imagine a 19-year-old making a significant impact on a team perennially in “championship or bust” mode. Christie provides shooting, which the Lakers need, but with more NBA-ready prospects available at No. 35, you have to wonder whether they should have gone in a different direction. Grade: C+ (Ward-Henninger)

  • 19. Jake LaRavia, F, Wake Forest (via Timberwolves)
  • 23. David Roddy, F, Colorado State (via 76ers)
  • 38. Kennedy Chandler, G, Tennessee (via Spurs)

The Grizzlies probably drafted LaRavia a bit above where most other teams had him, and they drafted Roddy WAY above where most teams likely had him, but Memphis wouldn’t have traded up if they weren’t convinced it was worth it. Chandler was a nice get in the second round, and all three appear to be Grizzlies-style players: tough and versatile. Grade: B+ (Ward-Henninger)

  • 27. Nikola Jovic, F, Serbia

Miami had just one pick in this year’s draft but did its best to make this one really count, selecting high-ceiling combo forward Nikola Jovic from Serbia. The 6-foot-10 prospect brings a rare combination of size, handling and scoring to the table and at 19 years old there’s a ton of room for growth for him. Maybe not someone who can contribute next season in a major way, but a promising young prospect for the Heat. Grade: B (Boone)

  • 24. MarJon Beauchamp, F, G League Ignite
  • 58. Hugo Besson, G, France

Milwaukee did well for itself in setting out to add pieces who could potentially contribute to winning during its contention window right now. Beauchamp is one of the older prospects in this draft with a strong pedigree coming off a big year with the G League Ignite, and Besson is a fabulous scorer from range at his size. Grade: B+ (Boone)

  • 22. Walker Kessler, C, Auburn
  • 26. Wendell Moore Jr., F, Duke

The Wolves moved their picks around but ultimately landed an elite rim protector in Kessler and a prototypical 3-and-D wing in Moore. Kessler may have some trouble staying on the floor against quicker teams, but he was an elite shot-blocker in college and can eat up minutes with Karl-Anthony Towns on the bench. Moore should compete for playing time immediately on a team desperately craving wings. Overall Minnesota filled two needs with solid players. Grade: B+ (Ward-Henninger)

  • 8. Dyson Daniels, G, G League Ignite
  • 41. EJ Liddell, F, Ohio State
  • 52. Karlo Matkovic, C, Serbia

A defense-first guard with size, Daniels is the perfect player to put next to all of the offensive firepower on the Pelicans once Zion Williamson returns. Snagging Liddell in the second-round is a huge win, since most evaluators had him going in the first round. Matkovic probably won’t make much of an impact, but he brings great size and athleticism as a big man. Overall, a home run draft for the Pelicans. Grade: A+ (Ward-Henninger)

  • 42. Trevor Keels, G, Duke

The Knicks did a lot on draft night and yet came away with very little in terms of tangible assets (though they did indeed add assets). Their first big move was selecting Ousmane Dieng at No. 11 and trading him — for three future firsts! — to Oklahoma City. Their next big move was a three-team deal with Detroit and Charlotte that sent Kemba Walker to the Pistons and also sent Jalen Duren — who the Knicks briefly acquired — to Detroit. Finally, their last move of the night was an actual draft pick in selecting Duke’s Trevor Keels at 42. All in all it was an active night for this front office, and while it feels like they gave up a bit just to move off Walker’s contract and open cap space, I like both the addition of Keels at 42 and the return value from OKC in getting multiple firsts for Dieng. Grade: B (Boone)

  • 2. Chet Holmgren, C, Gonzaga
  • 11. Ousmane Dieng, F, New Zealand Breakers
  • 12. Jalen Williams, G, Santa Clara
  • 34. Jaylin Williams, F, Arkansas

Holmgren could end up being the best player in the draft, so this is already a great night for OKC, and Dieng may have the biggest upside of any player taken in the late lottery. No. 12 may have been a bit high for Jalen Williams (not to be confused with Jaylin Williams, whom they also drafted), but his stock rose like crazy during the pre-draft process. The bigger Williams from Arkansas is an intriguing talent who took a ton of charges and was seen by some as a first-round possibility. Grade: A- (Ward-Henninger)

  • 1. Paolo Banchero, F, Duke
  • 32. Caleb Houstan, F, Michigan

Mega-haul. Love it. Banchero was the surprise prize at No. 1 for Orlando and I think his fit is even better than Jabari Smith Jr. would have been. Will be a day-one star. Adding Houstan at 32 is a great swing as well. Former five-star with great positional size and can shoot the 3. The only knock here is Orlando trading one of its second-rounders — pick 35! — to the Lakers for cash. C’mon, man! Grade: A (Boone)

Philadelphia dealt pick No. 23 and Danny Green on draft night to the Grizzlies and cashed it in for Memphis guard De’Anthony Melton, giving them another backcourt piece to surround James Harden with in Philly. Melton’s a nice little combo guard who can play a little on and off the ball as a glue guy, but it feels like the 76ers sacrificed a potentially more impactful player in the draft to add someone who could possibly be a rotation piece right away. Tough trade off, but I see the rationale — especially for a team that fancies itself a contender. Grade: C+ (Boone)

The Suns didn’t make a pick during the 2022 draft. Grade: N/A

  • 7. Shaedon Sharpe, G, Kentucky
  • 57. Jabari Walker, F, Colorado

Sharpe has been called a “mystery man” so many times it’s become annoying, but there really is a huge disparity between his floor and his ceiling. Either way, he should serve as enticing trade fodder as the Blazers attempt to once again build a contender around Damian Lillard. And if Lillard should ever leave the franchise, Sharpe could be the next cornerstone. Nabbing Walker with the penultimate pick in the draft could also end up filling a frontcourt void. Grade: B (Ward-Henninger)

  • 4. Keegan Murray, F, Iowa

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the Kings clearly felt Murray was the belle of the ball. He’s a really good prospect, but they passed on Jaden Ivey, who many considered very close to, if not on par with, the top three players in the draft. You have to assume they tried to trade down but couldn’t find a way to do it while still getting Murray. Will the versatile forward end up being the perfect fit and lead them to the promised land? Perhaps. But there’s a decent chance Ivey turns out to be an All-Star (or better) and makes Sacramento regret its choice … again. Grade: C (Ward-Henninger)

  • 9. Jeremy Sochan, F, Baylor
  • 20. Malaki Branham, F, Ohio State
  • 25. Blake Wesley, G, Notre Dame

The Spurs drafted three very different prospects, and all have tremendous upside in their roles. Sochan is probably the best all-around defender in the draft, Branham is a plus shooter with the ability to create his own offense, while Wesley is a lightning-quick combo guard with scoring, playmaking and defensive potential coming out of his ears. Overall, this is a great haul for San Antonio. Grade: A (Ward-Henninger)

  • 33. Christian Koloko, C, Arizona

The Raptors tend to favor prospects with length so grabbing Koloko at 33 — even if it felt like a bit of a reach — certainly jives with what this front office typically likes to look for. He’s a long center who can really block shots and is coming off a fabulous year with Arizona in which he won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year honors. Grade: C+ (Boone)

The Jazz decided to sit out the 2022 draft. Grade: N/A

  • 10. Johnny Davis, G, Wisconsin
  • 54. Yannick Nzosa, C, Congo

With AJ Griffin, Ousmane Dieng and several other high-upside talents on the board, Washington selecting Johnny Davis at 10 felt like the safe, but maybe unspectacular, path. He’ll be a good NBA player, but can he be a star? At No. 10 it would’ve been nice to see the Wizards swing for the fences. Solid two-man draft, rounded out by Yannick Nzosa, the second-youngest player in the draft, who at No. 54 presents some above-the-rim skills that could earn him run in the NBA. Grade: C (Boone)



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