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2022 NBA Draft Aftermath Questions
After a wild Draft Night, the No Ceilings crew goes through some of the biggest moments and biggest questions in the aftermath of the 2022 NBA Draft.
The 2022 NBA Draft has come and gone, and the dust is starting to settle on the morning after, as undrafted free agent contracts and Summer League signings are beginning to trickle out. As always, it was a crazy Draft Night, with trades and shocking draft picks left and right.
We here at No Ceilings covered the whole draft on a five-plus hour livestream last night, but we wouldn’t be true Draft Sickos if we didn’t jump right back on the day after to talk about it all again. With Draft Night itself now in the rearview mirror, we tackled five pressing questions that we’re still thinking about after the night’s events.
The ramp-up to NBA Summer League will continue as more deals get announced, and the 58 prospects selected on Thursday night now know their NBA homes with all of the Draft Night trades going through. With a little bit of perspective on the night’s events after a few hours of processing time, we had to dive deep into the aftermath of the 2022 NBA Draft.
Nathan: David Roddy is a popular answer for this question, but I’m going to go with Christian Braun. He was one of my “YES!” fist pumps last night because I truly believe he can help a playoff team like the Denver Nuggets win games next year. He’s tough, a grinder, and just impacts the game in many ways without scoring—rebounding, defense, secondary playmaking, transition offense. Braun may not be a star, but good role player depth for sure, so kudos to Denver for getting him at 21.
Rucker: I got to go with my guy Jalen Williams of Santa Clara. Earlier in the year, I found myself fascinated with the ability of the impressive guard, and I wondered if there was a chance that Williams could start to generate some serious attention around the league. That was until he started to get some buzz finally as a potential second round sleeper. SECOND ROUND?! Williams ended up having a “textbook” pre-draft process and found himself going 12th overall to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
I absolutely love the selection and think Williams ended up in a fantastic spot when it comes to the Thunder organization and their ability to stress patience with player development. The Santa Clara product can absolutely play, and he’s going to be a heck of a get for OKC.
Metcalf: Andrew Nembhard. I know he went in the second round and had a solid combine. However, when we look at where his draft stock was a month or two ago, for him to go at 31 is pretty shocking. I don’t mean for this to sound like the insult that it inevitably will, but Nembhard is a perfect backup point guard. He has good size, can do a bit of everything, and is a prototypical floor general who will occasionally have a huge game.
Maxwell: Look, Jalen Williams is one of “my guys.” I love his pace, playmaking, defense, and shooting. But if you’d told me three months ago that he would hear his name called ahead of AJ Griffin, I would’ve been stunned. Here’s the thing: I actually like the pick and the fit. Oklahoma City has a stockpile of good, young players with size who can shoot and create for themselves as well as others off the dribble. He’s one of my guys, but in hindsight, he’s also clearly one of the Thunder’s guys too.
Nick: I was genuinely stunned that David Roddy was selected with the 23rd overall pick in this draft. I think there’s every reason to believe that he can be a solid offensive contributor and NBA rotation player (especially since he’s going to the Memphis Grizzlies), but I thought that he might be an early second round gamble instead of a late first round swing.
Alex: I agree with Nick that David Roddy was probably the most surprising riser of the first round. A couple of other guys that jumped out to me as risers were Jalen Williams out of Santa Clara and Dalen Terry from Arizona. These two were less surprising than Roddy, just given it seemed like their stocks had been on the rise ever since the combine. However, if you told me that Jalen Williams would be a lottery pick and Dalen Terry would be selected in the Top 20 the day after the National Championship, I would’ve told you that you were crazy.
Evan: I’m with Nick and Alex here; I didn’t see David Roddy going in the first round, let alone in the Top 25 picks. I don’t hate the pick by any means from Memphis, but Roddy definitely was a prospect I viewed as someone who you could’ve gotten in the 40-50 range. Also, as a Nuggets fan, I was a bit surprised to see Peyton Watson be the pick at 30. It’s a polarizing selection amongst the fanbase, it seems, and one I’m not in love with either personally, especially given some of the other players who were still on the board at the time. However, I understand why new front office head honcho Calvin Booth made the choice of Watson, and I actually believe Denver might be the ideal fit for his development going forward.
Corey: I’m gonna go with my guy Jake LaRavia who turned himself into a Top 20 pick. LaRavia was a “Draft Twitter” darling this season, but he was very much a mid to late second round prospect for most of the draft cycle. LaRavia didn’t have a tournament showcase to boost his stock; he was a guy that slowly climbed up the board due to great workouts and interviews and the fact that teams found out he was actually only twenty years old.
Nathan: As far as draft results go, Kennedy Chandler falling out of the first round AND TyTy Washington going at 29 really did surprise me the more I think about it. Intel around the combine was pointing towards both of them being Top 20 picks, yet they fell to the late 20s and 30s. We’ve talked for months around the philosophical notion to go get good depth with size at other positions, but you still need good guards to win championships. Even if neither is an NBA starter, both will be in the league for a long time.
Rucker: I’m going to go with Jaden Hardy and Justin Lewis, although I’m still in complete awe about the EJ Liddell avalanche. Hardy came into the year with some lofty expectations as a player making the jump to the G-League Ignite. While it was a rollercoaster of a year, he took impressive strides in his development throughout the season before finishing out on a high note. Justin Lewis was someone I thought had a chance to hear his name called near the end of the first/early second. To see him go undrafted is just a bit of a shocker, but that’s also where you start to do some digging and find out why. Lewis took dramatic strides forward in his play this year for Marquette and still has the talent to be a heck of a piece at the next level. I loved the fit with the Chicago Bulls getting him as an UDFA…he could stick in a rotation if everything goes right early on.
Metcalf: Based on my rankings, it is easily EJ Liddell. However, a very close second and someone who was a much bigger name is Jaden Hardy. Hardy entered the season as a potential Top 5 pick. He struggled a lot with the G-League, but he also overcame a lot of those early hurdles to become a better player. Even though Hardy didn’t maintain the Top 5 excitement he had entering the season, most evaluators still had him as a Top 25 guy, at least. For him to fall to pick 37 was really surprising, but landing in Dallas could be the best thing for him in the long run.
Maxwell: Justin Lewis! He’s already shown a massive proclivity for improvement. He shot 21.9% from three as a freshman, then 34.9% as a sophomore. From the charity stripe, he only made 57.7% of his attempts as a freshman before becoming a reliable 76.1% free throw shooter as a sophomore. At 6’7” with length, shooting upside, strength, and a willingness to put in the world, it stuns me that a team didn’t bite. He was 40th on my board, and I know agent-steering exists, but I’m surprised a team didn’t draft him with the promise of a more lucrative deal.
Nick: EJ Liddell falling to the New Orleans Pelicans with the 41st overall pick is probably going to be a popular choice here, but I can’t go with anyone else for my choice here. I thought that Liddell was going to be a potential target for the Chicago Bulls at #18, and we had him going at 16th overall in our final mock draft. His much-improved defense and solid three-point shooting in his junior season give him a pretty high NBA floor in my mind, and I’m stunned that he fell out of the 20s—much less out of the 30s by the end of the night.
Alex: Yeah, the answer is clearly EJ Liddell for me. From everything we heard in the pre-draft process, it seemed like a lock for him to at least be a first round selection. I’m not really sure what caused the slide for him to be available at 41 for New Orleans, but that is tremendous value. Another guy would be Jaden Hardy who was selected 37th, but I had a Top 20 grade on him.
Evan: There are a few guys I was really disappointed to see either fall or not get drafted entirely, but the two names I will focus on are Jaden Hardy dropping to 37 to the Mavs and Jabari Walker sliding to 57 to Portland. I know Hardy was a divisive name throughout the evaluation process for draft analysts, but regardless of how you personally feel about his skills, frankly, I don’t believe there’s really any legitimate argument that there are 36 better players in this class better than him. He’s a perfect fit for what Dallas needs and should compliment Luka Doncic well as a secondary offensive option. Walker, on the other hand, was ranked 35th on my personal board, so to get him with the 57th pick is a hell of a value to me by the Blazers. His versatility, rebounding, and defensive ability should be a welcomed addition to that rotation this season.
Corey: I thought that E.J. Liddell was a guy that was a lock to go in the Top 25. He made major strides as a shooter and rim protector, he has a sky-high IQ, and he fits what you want out of a modern NBA forward. To see him not only fall out of the Top 30 but the Top 40…that was truly puzzling to me. A couple of weeks before the draft, an NBA scout told me that he was going to go lower than he should, so a slight drop wouldn’t have surprised me, but I don’t think either of us thought it would be a free fall.
Favorite UDFA Targets?
Nathan: I can’t believe both Justin Lewis and Alondes Williams weren’t drafted. Both prospects were Top 40 grades for me, and I was confident in cases for the both of them. What Lewis brings to the Chicago Bulls is another injection of 3/4 versatility with some small-ball center outcomes down the road potentially should everything break right for him—all while spacing the floor at a reasonable level. Williams was arguably one of the best passers in the entire draft and will bring that with him to the Brooklyn Nets as they do need another guy off the bench who can set the table for everyone else. One more note, speaking of passers, I’m curious what happens now with Trevion Williams as well.
Rucker: You know, besides Justin Lewis, I’m going to mix things up a little bit. I actually love the move by the Philadelphia 76ers to get Julian Champagnie to a two-way. The Sixers need to get some cheaper depth in their rotation; Champagnie is a player that can put up buckets in a hurry with his outside shooting. If things go right, that two-way contract could turn into something more serious in a hurry. One of my personal favorites was the Milwaukee Bucks getting Iverson Molinar as an UDFA. That’s a sneaky underrated fit. Molinar has the ability to be a heck of a rotation piece as a change of pace guard. There were some rumblings that a shoulder injury was the reason for the 3P% drop this year, but still…Milwaukee got themselves a potential option to keep a close eye on down the road.
Metcalf: Iverson Molinar. A lot of teams must’ve been turned off by how the shoulder injury affected his outside shot this year, but his decision-making, scoring, and on-ball defense is a perfect fit in Milwaukee. The outside jumper needs to return to what it once was (hopefully, the injury didn’t do irreparable damage to the form), but the value, fit, and playstyle are a delightful combination of what Milwaukee has looked for from their point guards.
Maxwell: Ron Harper Jr.! He feels like a guy who is going to be around the league forever. He’s 6’6”, he has long arms, he can score at all three levels, he’s a clever passer, his defensive instincts are tremendous, and he can cover multiple positions. Harper does all of the things you look for in a playoff rotation player. When you add his professional pedigree into the mix, it’s even more shocking. I feel like we’ll look back at this down the road and wonder why teams passed on the son of a pro who knocked down almost 40% of his threes, made several notable clutch plays during his senior season, and offered defensive versatility.
Nick: I thought that Iverson Molinar was going to hear his name called on Draft Night, so I was incredibly happy to see him signing a deal with the Milwaukee Bucks after the final pick of the night. I genuinely believe that the lane is open for him to become Milwaukee’s backup point guard sooner rather than later—especially if his poor three-point shooting this past season proves to be an aberration after he shot 44% from long-range the previous season for Mississippi State.
Alex: The top-ranked guy on my board who went undrafted was Jean Montero. I really thought someone would buy into his on-ball creation and playmaking ability at some point in the second round, so it was a bit surprising to not hear his name called. It appears he will sign an Exhibit-10 with the New York Knicks, so if he sticks there, I will be watching a lot more of Montero over the coming years.
Evan: As Nathan pointed out, Alondes Williams and Justin Lewis are clear choices for me. I viewed both as first round talents in this class, so for Brooklyn and Chicago to get them as UDFA’s, respectively, is a tremendous bargain. I also loved seeing Denver pick up Texas Tech’s Adonis Arms. He’s massively undervalued, in my opinion, and should have the chance to be a nice surprise addition for Nuggets fans next season.
Corey: Well, my Chicago Bulls got a guy I had a first round grade on, so I’m going to mention Justin Lewis first. With his size, length, and shooting, Lewis is the prototypical modern swing-wing. I do also want to shout out Jean Montero, who is a guy that I still feel has an NBA path. This draft was devoid of playmaking creativity from the PG spot, and I still believe that Montero can bring that to an NBA squad. He’s also a super feisty defender. He doesn’t bring that switchability that you want, but as a bench guard, I think he’ll be perfectly capable. Hopefully, this puts a chip on his shoulder, and he has a Fred VanVleet-type trajectory.
Ladies and Gentlemen, We Got Him.
Nathan: C’mon, it’s the Orlando Magic! Despite what we all thought would happen, they went and got their guy in Paolo Banchero. I still REALLY love this fit and think it’s the best way to optimize him on both ends of the floor. Give him the ball, and let him have the scoring touches needed to develop and work out the inefficiencies in his game while making everyone else better. Defensively, he has multiple good-to-great defensive threats to cover up some of his weaknesses there. As he builds chemistry with the rest of his guys, I expect Banchero to blossom into the star we all think he can be.
Rucker: Alright, you guys, we get it…Detroit had a heck of a night. But let’s go in another direction for some chaos. This section should just be all about the Cleveland Cavaliers and Charlotte Hornets. If you’ve been listening to the No Ceilings podcast (we love you), Tyler Metcalf and I were basically begging the Hornets to add Mark Williams to their roster. It’s going to be a perfect fit, and I’m so pumped it actually happened. Williams has the character and two-way potential to be the center that the Hornets have been looking for over the last couple of years. On the other hand, one of my personal favorite fits going into the draft was Kansas wing Ochai Agbaji to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Agbaji has the potential to be an absolute steal at 14. His floor spacing, intangibles, and defensive upside should be a great piece of the puzzle for the Cavaliers.
Metcalf: What the Pistons did on draft night was truly astounding. We kept saying they needed to add athleticism and shooting. Not only did they do that, but they also walked away with three of my top 18 prospects. Having Jaden Ivey fall to them at #5 after what seemed like a disastrous lottery night felt like a blessing from the basketball gods. He can play off Cade Cunningham while also getting reps on the ball. Oh, and he’s the best athlete in this class. The Pistons then found a way to fleece away Jalen Duren, maybe the second-best athlete in this draft, by giving up future picks and using cap space. Then in the second, they nabbed the best international prospect in Gabriele Procida, who is one of the best wing athletes and off-ball shooters. It was a picture-perfect draft for the Pistons and a masterclass on how to build one of the most promising young cores in a night without messing up the financial side of things.
Maxwell: The Pistons got Jalen Duren for an obscenely low cost. I still can’t wrap my head around it. Taking on a single bad contract and shipping out a Bucks first round pick for three years from now and getting a potential franchise center in return? I don’t know if you’re allowed to do that. Duren is going to be the perfect straw that stirs the drink for the Pistons. He’ll provide rim protection, he gives Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey an elite lob threat, and his continued development as a passer will open up more offensive optionality in due time. I still can’t wrap my head around this being a thing that actually happened.
Nick: The Sacramento Kings were shining the Keegan Murray Bat-Signal pretty brightly before draft night; while there seemed to be a pretty good chance that the Kings would pick Jaden Ivey and look to trade him right away, all signs seemed to point to the Kings going for Keegan if they did end up making the pick for themselves on Thursday night. I ultimately landed on Jaden Ivey as the best choice for them in the Keegan Murray dilemma after changing my mind a few hundred times, but Murray makes a ton of sense for Sacramento in the long term and the short term. Plus, the Kings didn’t trade the pick, which was honestly my biggest fear heading into the draft.
Alex: Playing off Nick’s answer, I am going with the Detroit Pistons landing Jaden Ivey for this one. A year after getting some lottery luck and landing Cade Cunningham at #1, the Pistons get lucky again and have Jaden Ivey fall into their laps at #5. They get their hyper-athletic guard to pair alongside Cade for the foreseeable future, and I think it’s a great fit, along with Ivey being the BPA on my board. For me, the Pistons were the clear winners of draft night, also trading for Jalen Duren. The future is bright in the Motor City.
Evan: I think many pundits, analysts, and scouts alike, pegged Jabari Smith Jr. to be the guy for the Orlando Magic at #1, while quite a few Rockets fans had Paolo Banchero as the primary target in mind for their selection at #3. Ultimately though, I think things worked out for all parties involved, and I really love how Smith Jr. fits in with Clutch City’s promising young core on both ends of the floor. From a defensive standpoint, this team needed help defensively in a multitude of ways. The versatility and competitiveness the Auburn star possesses as a defender will be a much-needed boost to Houston’s lineup. The trio of Smith Jr., Usman Garuba, and Tari Eason could end up being one of the scariest defensive trios in the league. On the offensive side of the ball, I believe Smith Jr.’s shooting ability really will complement the scoring tandem of Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. in the backcourt while also helping to extenuate Alperen Şengün’s playmaking skills at the center spot.
Sneaky-good Draft Haul
Nathan: So many good draft night hauls. I’ll go New Orleans Pelicans and Houston Rockets here. For the Pelicans, they get a guy in Dyson Daniels who could wind up being one of the five best players to come out of this draft class, given his age, height, length, and IQ on both ends of the floor. Getting to actualize his connector role around three legitimate top offensive options while defending his tail off is a dream come true for him. Oh, and they somehow got EJ FREAKING LIDDELL in the second round. As for the Rockets, Jabari Smith is still a top get with the third pick as he’ll help Alperen Sengun on the defensive end while being one of the best bail-out shooters in this class on offense to pair in pick-and-pop situations with Jalen Green. Tari Eason injects some transition offense into the lineup along with Green, and TyTy Washington is a legitimate backup guard who could start games down the line and pair well with all of the mentioned players. Talk about draft depth in the first round!
Rucker: I really loved what the San Antonio Spurs did on the night of the Draft. Getting Baylor freshman Jeremy Sochan at #9 is going to be a fun piece for the organization, but then the Spurs do what they do best…they let the board fall right into their hands. San Antonio added Ohio State freshman Malaki Branham at #20, which was just sensational value. Branham will need some time, but he has the offensive upside to become a machine at the next level. If the Spurs can get his defensive consistency tuned up, he can be a great piece to continue to develop.
I thought San Antonio adding Blake Wesley at #25 was just another great example of taking the value. Wesley has been lower on my board than others, but there’s no denying the talent. If the Spurs can slow things down for the shifty combo guard, Wesley could be a heck of an addition to this roster. The Spurs went out and did what they do best. They don’t care about any potential logjams on their roster…they said give us the best players available on the board, and we will figure it all out down the road.
Metcalf: I’m not sure how you can have a sneaky good haul with the third pick, but I really liked how the Houston Rockets used their picks. We got a bit of a curveball as the longstanding mocks were immediately proved wrong, but Jabari Smith is an incredible get for the Rockets. To follow that up with Tari Eason shows they are focused on building a more versatile defense. The defensive combination of Smith and Eason on the perimeter is going to be a nightmare for opponents to handle. Finally, grabbing TyTy Washington at the end of the first round is incredible value. The Rockets are in desperate need of a point guard, and Washington is exactly that guy who can be a stabilizing presence in the long run. He runs an excelling pick-and-roll and can play off-ball while Jalen Green goes to work. Not only did the Rockets improve on a pure talent basis, but they also patched a lot of the glaring holes from last season.
Maxwell: I like what the San Antonio Spurs ended up doing. Jeremy Sochan and Malaki Branham both had lottery grades on my board. Sochan fits a positional need for them, and his do-it-all defense should allow him to see the floor immediately. Given San Antonio’s track record for developing shooting, he’s an awesome upside bet with a safe floor. While they are loaded up at the guard spots, Branham was simply too good to pass up. Having an abundance of young players who can dribble, pass, and shoot is a great problem to have. Blake Wesley will find himself in a bit of a precarious position given where he is in relation to his teammates right now, but I still think he’s an intriguing player in the long run. He over-delivered on a veteran-laden Notre Dame squad and did an impressive amount of unassisted scoring. Even if they aren’t all on the Spurs in the long run, each player represents a smart bet, and if they all hit, they could potentially be traded for players who fit the roster better.
Nick: I think that the Detroit Pistons probably got the “best” draft haul, but (as usual) I really loved what the Oklahoma City Thunder got out of their draft. Chet Holmgren was the top prospect on my board, they got a really solid player in Jalen Williams at #12, they took a flier on a high-variance prospect in Ousmane Dieng, and they also added Jaylin Williams to the bunch to confuse announcers everywhere for years to come. Oklahoma City had an awesome young core heading into the draft, and they shored up some weak spots and took some good gambles on Thursday night.
Alex: I sneakily liked what the Indiana Pacers walked away with in the draft. Once Ivey was off the board for them at #6, I think Bennedict Mathurin was a great choice. He adds immediate floor spacing and athleticism to a team that needs it. Mathurin should fit seamlessly next to Tyrese Haliburton. At pick 31, they chose Andrew Nembhard, which was a bit of a reach, in my opinion, but I get it. Malcolm Brogdon’s name has been in trade rumors all off-season, so if they do end up dealing him, Nembhard should be able to come in right away and fill a gap as a reliable playmaker. They also added more athleticism with Kendall Brown in a trade at the 48th pick. His cutting is one of the best skills from a prospect in this class, and he will be a dynamic off-ball player alongside Tyrese Haliburton. Lastly, it appears Indiana has signed Tevin Brown to an Exhibit-10 deal which I also love—he’s one of the best shooters in this class.
Evan: I adored what Golden State did in the draft and the way Bob Myers and his team navigated the night. I know the selection of Patrick Baldwin Jr. at #28 left some online draft pundits speechless, but I actually believe going to the defending champs is the perfect fit for the Milwaukee freshman forward. I also think some of the criticism that has been dumped on him has come from many people who just chose to look at ugly box scores all season long or are viewing him in the wrong context as a player. Which, to each their own, but I think the environment in Golden State will be perfect for PBJ to blossom as a talent both on and off the court. Additionally, trading up to 44 to get Ryan Rollins was another move I loved, and I think the smooth-scoring Toledo guard could end up being the steal of the 2022 NBA Draft when it’s all said and done. Finishing the evening with the selection of Brazilian swingman Gui Santos was a nice way to round out a really excellent draft from the Warriors. They added players who can help them continue to compete now, but that will also help them transition into hopefully another successful era of winning in the Bay Area.
Corey: For me, it has to be the Golden State Warriors. I never wavered off of Patrick Baldwin Jr’s lottery-level talent. The shooting potential combined with his size and fluidity is massively enticing. He was never supposed to be a number one guy—his skillset always looked better playing off of guys like his AAU teammate Jalen Johnson or his FIBA teammate Jaden Ivey. Now he gets to play off of Steph and Draymond? C’mon, that’s a perfect marriage. Add in making a move to nab Ryan Rollins, who was my personal favorite prospect in the draft to watch, and my heart is full. Rollins may spend some time in the G-League early, but the Warriors proved the ability to develop buckety iso guards and turned Jordan Poole into a major money baller. I freaking love what the defending champs did.