Biggest Winners and Losers from the 2022 NBA Draft

By Nicholas Sterling in NBA
| June 25, 2022 7:25 am PDT
NBA Draft logo, Winners: Detroit Pistons (Paolo Banchero); Losers: New York Knicks (Jabari Smith Jr.)

Nearly everyone had Jabari Smith Jr. going No. 1 overall in the 2022 NBA draft. However, the Orlando Magic surprised everyone with the selection of Paolo Banchero. That was the start of a night full of surprises.

Every team knows a great draft pick can change their franchise for years. Unfortunately, we can say the same about a poor pick. We’ll discuss both sides in my 2022 NBA draft winners and losers.

Let’s examine my biggest winners and losers from the 2022 NBA draft.

Winner: Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons had Jaden Ivey at the top of their draft board ahead of the 2022 NBA draft. It looked like they would come one spot short, with everyone expecting the Sacramento Kings to select him at No. 4.

Sacramento pulled a shocker of their own, selecting Keegan Murray. That opened the door for the Pistons to take the Purdue guard at No. 5.

We’re likely looking at the Pistons for who won the 2022 NBA draft. There was mutual interest between Ivey and Detroit. His mom played for the Detroit Shock, and his grandfather played for the Detroit Lions.

Ivey took a giant leap in his sophomore season at Purdue with the stats below.

Jaden Ivey
  • 17.3 points
  • 4.9 rebounds
  • 3.1 assists
  • 46.0 field goal percentage

His explosiveness skill set will mesh well with Cade Cunningham. That’s a big reason my 2022 NBA draft grades gave the Pistons an A+. It won’t be long before they have a top 10 backcourt.

The Ivey selection made the Pistons the biggest winner from the NBA draft. However, that wasn’t their only big move of the night. Detroit traded a future first-round pick to acquire the rights to Jalen Duren.

Duren had a solid season with Memphis, averaging 12.0 points, 8.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks. There have been links between the Pistons and Deandre Ayton, but this gives them an insurance policy if they don’t sign him.

The Pistons could look back on the 2022 NBA draft as a turning point for their franchise.

Loser: New York Knicks

Every offseason, we hear about the New York Knicks’ potential interest in star players. They’ve been looking for a point guard for years and had their sights set on Jaden Ivey.

The Detroit Pistons wouldn’t budge, keeping Ivey despite heavy interest from the Knicks. Still, New York had a chance to acquire a high-end player at No. 11. Well, that didn’t happen as they traded the selection to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

They should’ve made a selection later in the first round but traded it for more picks. In the end, the Knicks made one pick, taking Trevor Keels in the second round. This stance isn’t about that pick but the overall thought process behind their decision-making.

Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what the Knicks did on draft night. Hopefully, that tweet gives you a clearer picture. The simple version is that they acquired future picks while making one in the 2022 NBA draft.

Their reasoning behind the decision is to shed salary to pursue someone like Jalen Brunson. Still, they were among the teams that had a bad NBA draft.

New York could potentially have four first-round picks in next year’s draft, but are they good? The Dallas Mavericks likely won’t pick in the top 20, the Detroit Pistons take the pick if it lands in the top 20, and the Washington Wizards have the pick if it falls in the lottery.

The Knicks better hope they land a star in free agency, or we’ll question their moves even more.

Winner: Philadelphia 76ers

There wasn’t much buzz surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers draft pick ahead of draft night. There were rumors about potential trades for Bradley Beal and Eric Gordon. Philadelphia didn’t acquire Gordon, but they made a trade that should help their 2023 NBA Finals hopes.

The 76ers sent Danny Green and the No. 23 pick to the Memphis Grizzlies for De’Anthony Melton. Many people had the Grizzlies as an NBA draft loser for this move. In turn, the 76ers walked away as winners.

Philadelphia is in a position to win a championship. They need players that will help them now, not three or four years. Danny Green tore his ACL in the playoffs, so he likely won’t play next season.

David Roddy was the No. 23 pick. He had a great season at Colorado but wouldn’t immediately contribute for Philadelphia. Anthony should see significant minutes for a team with NBA Finals hopes.

Ja Morant missed time down the stretch, but Melton showed his worth. He averaged 16.7 points on 50.0 percent three-point shooting. The 76ers struggled from the three-point arc after trading Seth Curry. Anthony will give them a boost off the bench.

You don’t need to make a great draft pick to be an NBA draft winner for 2022. Philadelphia traded their only pick, but they walked away with a 24-year-old guard that can contribute to a championship-caliber team.

Could this move put them at the top of the Eastern Conference?

Loser: Denver Nuggets

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding the Denver Nuggets for the upcoming season. Nikola Jokic is a two-time MVP, while Jamar Murray and Michael Porter Jr. should return after missing significant time last season.

Denver would’ve improved their championship odds by nailing the NBA draft. Unfortunately, they are one of the biggest losers from the NBA draft.

The Nuggets selected Christian Braun at No. 21. Braun played a crucial role in Kansas winning the National Championship, but there are questions about his upside. It’ll be interesting to see if he makes an impact in his rookie season.

My 2022 NBA draft winners and losers have the Nuggets as a loser because of the Peyton Watson pick. Denver concluded the first round by selecting the forward from UCLA. Check out his freshman year numbers below.

Peyton Watson
  • 3.3 points
  • 2.9 rebounds
  • 32.2 field goal percentage
  • 22.6 three-point percentage

He was a high recruit from a high school but struggled at UCLA. The low-scoring numbers are an issue, but his shooting is horrendous. Most of the top online basketball betting sites have Rookie of the Year odds posted, but you couldn’t pay me to wager on Watson.

Braun could find playing time thanks to his athleticism and motor. However, the Nuggets would’ve been much better taking a player that would’ve helped them win now. If not, trade the pick.

We’ll see how these picks impact the Nuggets’ NBA Finals hopes. For now, they are one of the NBA draft losers for 2022.

Winner: Paolo Banchero

Raise your hand if you had Paolo Banchero going No. 1 to the Orlando Magic. I shouldn’t see many hands unless you placed your bets in the hours leading up to the draft.

The consensus was Banchero would go to the Houston Rockets at No. 3. Chet Holmgren was always going No. 2 to the Oklahoma City Thunder, but Jabari Smith Jr. was the top pick. Orlando fooled everyone, selecting Banchero over Smith.

Going from the No. 3 pick to No. 1 makes Banchero one of the NBA draft winners for 2022. He’ll join a Magic team that will make him the offense’s focal point. Check out his numbers with Duke.

Paolo Banchero
  • 17.2 points
  • 7.8 rebounds
  • 3.2 assists
  • 47.8 field goal percentage

The key difference between Banchero and Smith is their playstyle. Smith is a much better shooter, but Banchero is aggressive and likes to attack the basket. His shooting isn’t on Smith’s level, but 33.8 percent three-point shooting isn’t terrible.

He’s not an elite defender, but his height and offensive skill set have people comparing him to Ben Simmons. He should be a better scorer than Simmons but not as strong on defense.

I was a big fan of Banchero ahead of the 2022 NBA draft. My NBA draft 2022 winners and losers likely would’ve had the Houston Rockets as a winner if Banchero slipped to No. 3.

Banchero himself earns this spot after becoming the No. 1 overall pick.

Loser: Jabari Smith Jr.

Seeing a last-second curveball with the Orlando Magic selecting Paolo Banchero was exciting. As much as I like the move, you have to feel for Jabari Smith Jr. Like everyone else; Smith expected to be the No. 1 overall pick.

Seeing the disappointment on his face after the Magic selected Banchero was tough. Smith didn’t have to wait long, as the Houston Rockets selected him at No. 3.

From the Rockets’ standpoint, this was the right move. Looking back, we could talk about them as winners of the 2022 NBA draft. They drafted the presumed top player at the No. 3 pick. It’s hard to find much better value.

We know Smith will have plenty of motivation to prove the Magic wrong. Honestly, the Rockets probably make more sense from a fit standpoint. Smith isn’t a ball-dominant player, as he excels with his shooting.

His playstyle should mesh well with Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. The Christian Wood trade could make Smith a starter from the jump.

We’ll see how much Smith values losing the chance to be the No. 1 pick. You could see the dejection after the Magic passed on him. It’s hard not to feel sorry for him, but he’s ready to prove to everyone that he’s the best player in the draft.

Hopefully, Smith doesn’t go too hard and join the list of biggest busts in NBA draft history.

Ranking the 10 Biggest Busts in NBA Draft History

Nobody ever wants to be considered one of the biggest NBA Draft busts of all-time. On one hand, it’s a compliment. These players were supposed to be great, they had enormous potential, and were favored to be top picks at the best sports betting sites....

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Who Won This Year’s NBA Draft?

A few teams stood out for a successful NBA draft, but I can’t put anyone above the Detroit Pistons. Detroit landed their dream player without moving up. Jaden Ivey has the potential to be the best player in the draft.

Then, they acquired Jalen Duren. My 2022 NBA draft winners and losers had no issue making the Pistons the night’s winner. Will this accelerate their playoff timeline?


The 2022-23 season doesn’t start until October, but we’ll have ample betting opportunities throughout the summer. Feel free to check out the best apps to bet on NBA games.



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