Orlando made a surprise selection with the No. 1 overall pick, and it was a big night for rebuilding rosters and young teams on the rise.
The Magic drafted Duke’s Paolo Banchero when many believed they would take Auburn’s Jabari Smith.
Oklahoma City ended up with four picks in the top 34, including three in the top 12, and Houston took Smith at No. 3 and LSU’s Tari Eason at No. 17. Detroit ended up with two lottery picks, and Cleveland added to its already strong defense.
And there were just 58 picks in the draft instead of 60 because Milwaukee and Miami had to forfeit second-round picks for violating league rules “governing the timing of free agency discussions.”
Who had the best and worst night? It will be years before we truly know how good this year class is, but that’s never stopped anyone from making snap judgments. Let’s take a look at the biggest winners and losers from Thursday’s NBA draft.
DRAFT TRACKER: Complete results and first-round pick-by-pick analysis:
BANCHERO NO. 1: Magic make Duke star a surprise pick at top of draft:
OKC REBUILD: Thunder get their man at No. 2. Now they need some luck:
OKC got the player it coveted at No. 2 in Gonzaga center Chet Holmgren, who fills an immediate need as an internal defender while also possessing immense potential. The Thunder then targeted more upside with two additional lottery picks, trading with the Knicks for French big man Ousmane Dieng at No. 11, then taking Santa Clara guard Jalen Williams at No. 12. GM Sam Presti added more young, high-upside depth to a rebuilding roster that should continue to make incremental strides while staying in position for French phenom Victor Wembanyama, the prize of the class of 2023 and next year presumptive top pick.
Winner: Paolo Banchero:
The Duke forward did not know where he would get drafted or by whom. He was thrilled it was No. 1 and by Orlando. “Man, I plan on bringing everything I have to Orlando. First off, just a winning mindset, a work-first mindset,” he said, later adding, “I feel like this is a fantasy. I dreamed of being in the NBA , but being the No. 1 overall pick, this is crazy. ” The Magic kept their plans quiet with most mock drafts predicting them to take Auburn’s Smith.
Purdue’s Jaden Ivey was considered the best player available at No. 4 when Sacramento was on the clock, but the Kings passed on him for Iowa’s Keegan Murray. Earlier in the week, Ivey gave a cold response to the idea of going to the Kings, saying it “wouldn’t be the worst option.” Yes, the Kings have De’Aaron Fox in the backcourt, but they should be choosing best available. And maybe to the Kings, Murray was the best available. While a different front office at the time, do not forget the Kings passed on Luka Doncic and Trae Young in the 2018 draft.
Ivey wanted to be in Detroit so badly he wept when his selection by the Pistons at No. 5 was announced. He should slot in nicely next to point guard Cade Cunningham, last year top pick, in a talented young backcourt. GM Troy Weaver then made a shrewd move to acquire Memphis center Jalen Duren, the No. 13 pick from the Hornets. With Cunningham, Ivey, Duren and 2020 first-round picks Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, the Pistons have a promising young core to get fans excited.
The Lakers did not have a first-round pick – that went to New Orleans as part of the Anthony Davis trade in 2019. Up until Wednesday, the Lakers did not have a pick at all. They traded into the second round and selected Michigan State’s Max Christie with the No. 35 pick. Christie has the potential to become an excellent 3-point shooter and defender, but it’s unlikely he gives the Lakers the kind of help they need now.
Winner: G League Ignite:
The G League team for prospects who choose not to play in college had three players drafted, including two in the first round: Dyson Daniels at No. 8 to New Orleans, MarJon Beauchamp at No. 24 to Milwaukee and Jaden Hardy at No. 37 to Dallas. And Hardy was a potential first-rounder on several mock drafts. Last year, the Ignite’s Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga were taken second and seventh, and in next year’s draft, Ignite guard Scoot Henderson is a potential top-three pick.
The Grizzlies continued their recent trend of aggressive draft night moves, trading up to acquire Wake Forest’s Jake LaRavia at No. 19 and Colorado State’s David Roddy at No. 23, and sending the No. 22 and 29 picks to the Timberwolves. LaRavia has the potential to be an ideal stretch big man who can help boost the Grizzlies’ below-average 3-point shooting, and Roddy has the defensive versatility to play on the wing and in the post. Both fit the mold of productive college players under the radar who have found success in Memphis.
The Knicks regressed in 2021-22, going from a fourth-place team to 11th place. They had the No. 11 pick and decided to trade it to Oklahoma City for three conditional first-round picks. Yes, the Knicks are trying to carve out salary cap space to make a big move in free agency. They better hope they get the player they want, and that player better produce. They also traded the No. 13 pick to Detroit for a 2025 first-round pick. Maybe it works out for the Knicks. Or maybe it’s a disaster.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NBA draft winners, losers: Thunder, Pistons, Paolo Banchero win big: