NBA pundits thought they had locked in the top picks of the Draft but some late movement resulted in a shock choice for No. 1.
The 2022 NBA Draft started with a bang at the Barclays Center in New York.
Orlando Magic were linked with 19-year-old Jabari Smith Jr for the No. 1 pick overall but pulled off a shock last-minute move to instead take Duke star Paolo Banchero with the opening selection of the night.
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For Aussie fans, Dyson Daniels went eighth, joining the likes of Luc Longley, Andrew Bogut, Ben Simmons and Josh Giddey in an elite group of nine other Aussies to be drafted in the top 10 of their class.
‘Insane potential’: Aussie goes No. 8
Dyson Daniels became the 10th Australian to be selected in the top 10 picks of the NBA Draft since 1969 and just the 23rd Aussie to be selected overall.
Originally he was expected to go seventh to the Portland Trail Blazers.
But he slid down to pick eight and will now head to New Orleans, where he will play alongside the likes of Zion Williamson.
Having been spoken as a potentially elite defensive star, fans are liking the fit for Daniels at the Pelicans.
Daniels went the G-League route to the NBA Draft and impressed enough to be considered a lock as a top-10 Draft selection.
OKC make moves
Having already picked up Chet Holmgren with the second pick of the NBA Draft, Oklahoma made a massive move. With the 11th pick, the New York Knicks selected Ousmane Dieng, who was instantly traded to the Thunder for “multiple first-round picks”, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.
After a brilliant selection with Josh Giddey last year, the Thunder are looking to set up their future as the franchise also had the 12th selection of the Draft.
With that selection, the Thunder picked Jalen Williams.
At the. 1 shock has ‘blown up’ NBA Draft
It was strongly believed that Jabari Smith Jr. was going to go first in the NBA Draft but that’s not how things panned out.
Just a matter of minutes before the Draft began, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Duke’s Paolo Banchero had moved into consideration for the No. 1 pick.
“As I just reported on our NBA Draft Show on ESPN, Duke’s Paolo Banchero has joined Auburn’s Jabari Smith under serious consideration to be franchise’s No. 1 overall pick, sources said. There’s a real chance draft boards could get blown up at the top of the lottery,” Wojnarowski tweeted.
“The Magic have kept their final decision tight, but Banchero has emerged as a significant possibility to be drafted No. 1 overall, sources said.”
And as usual, Woj was right on the money.
After the decision, Banchero was stunned. “I don’t even know what to say, I can’t believe what just happened,” he said.
Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski sent a message to Banchero, calling the youngster “the most versatile player in the Draft, you can play anywhere and you’re a winner”.
Banchero smiled when he saw his former coach.
He said: “Coach K really taught me how to really be a man. Being so far from home, he was there for me. Whether he was criticizing me, telling me when I was messing up, or complimenting me, letting me know when I was doing well. He’s the greatest coach I’ve ever had.”
The shock move didn’t change the expected No. 2 pick as 213cm giant Chet Holmgren went to Oklahoma City, where he will join Aussie Josh Giddey.
And already Holmgren is saying the right things to endear himself to Aussie fans.
“I feel like I could fit in with almost anybody,” Holmgren said earlier in the week.
“But especially a point guard like Josh Giddey… he would make life easy for me. With Shai, he doesn’t need any help from anybody. He’s a hell of a player.”
Smith Jr may have been shafted from the top spot, but was chosen by the Houston Rockets with the third overall pick.
Fourth pick Keegan Murray was expected to go fifth but was taken a spot early.
213cm NBA freak the next ‘Kevin Durant’
213cm giant Chet Holmgren was taken second in the 2022 and will link up with Aussie Josh Giddey at the Oklahoma City Thunder.
But the biggest question marks in the draft appear to be surrounding highly-touted Gonzaga University star, who first came to prominence filthy move against Steph Curry in a one-on-one game in 2020.
The 20-year-old Bulldogs standout also offers a combination of elite ball-handling and footwork as well as being an expert shot-blocker.
Holmgren averaged 14.1 points per game with 9.9 rebounds for Gonzaga.
James Jones, an assistant coach with the US Team at last year’s Under-19 World Cup that Holmgren played in, describes him as a “Kevin Durant kind of player”.
“He has great instincts. He’s the kind of guy that can do multiple different things,” Jones told AFP.
“He’s not one kind of player, he can do a lot of different stuff, very versatile.
“As a kid, leader, hard worker, great person, very friendly, very outgoing, and very dedicated into becoming the best basketball player he can.
“He’s a Kevin Durant kind of player in terms of his skill level, to be able to do some of those things. He’s obviously not Kevin Durant. But he has that skill, a similar skill set.”
But questions still surround Holmgren, who weighs in at 86kg and has a beanpole physique. Whether he can survive in the rigors of the NBA will remain the biggest question mark over whether Holmgren will be a success.
Full 2022 Draft picks
1. Paolo Banchero (Orlando)
2. Chet Holmgren (Oklahoma City)
3. Jabari Smith Jr. (Houston)
4. Keegan Murray (Sacramento)
5. Jaden Ivey (Detroit)
6. Benedict Mathurin (Indiana)
7. Shaedon Sharpe (Portland)
8. Dyson Daniels (New Orleans — from Los Angeles Lakers)
9. Jeremy Sochan (San Antonio)
10. Johnny Davis (Washington)
11. Ousmane Dieng (Oklahoma City, traded from New York)
12. Jalen Williams (Oklahoma City — from LA Clippers)
13. Jalen Duren (Detroit, after traded from Charlotte, then to New York)
14. Ochai Agabaji (Cleveland)
15. Mark Williams (Charlotte — from New Orleans)
16. AJ Griffin (Atlanta)
17. Tari Eason (Houston — from Brooklyn)
18. Dalen Terry (Chicago)
19. Jake LaRavia (Memphis, traded from Minnesota)
20. Malaki Branham (San Antonio — from Toronto)
21. Christian Braun (Denver)
22. Walker Kessler (Minnesota, trade from Memphis — from Utah)
23. David Roddy (Memphis, traded from Philadelphia)
24. MarJon Beauchamp (Milwaukee)
25. Blake Wesley (San Antonio — from Boston)
26. Wendell Moore (Minnesota Timberwolves)
27. Nikola Jovic (Miami Heat)
28. Patrick Baldwin (Golden State Warriors)
29. TyTy Washington (Memphis Grizzlies)
30. Peyton Watson (Denver Nuggets — from Oklahoma City)
Originally published as 2022 NBA Draft: Aussie learns his fate as shock No. 1 pick ‘blows up’ expected order