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The 2022 NBA Draft Was Very Good For Duke

And a bit chaotic overall.

NBA: Draft
Jun 23, 2022; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Paolo Banchero (Duke) shakes hands with NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number one overall pick by the Orlando Magic in the first round of the 2022 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. 
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

2022 Draft Night was most interesting for Duke. Paolo Banchero went #1 to the Orlando Magic, despite a general sense that the Magic favored Auburn’s Jabari Smith (he fell to OKC at #3).

It was a great moment for Banchero, Duke and Jon Scheyer. He still has to prove himself as a coach, but in the offseason, he’s moving from strength to strength: dynamic recruiting? Check. Building a tremendous staff? Check. Innovative hire to deal with NIL? Check. A #1 overall pick to brag about to future recruits? Check.

It’s hard to imagine a coach who has had more success immediately after taking over a program and the draft will help yet again.

It’s going to be fun to watch Orlando get rid of big men: they have way too many.

Mark Williams is now with Charlotte and that might be a good spot for him. First they need a big man. The incumbents are Nick Richards, who has not overwhelmed, and Mason Plumlee, who is now 32.

He’ll be a good mentor for Williams. Plumlee has made a great impression during his time in the NBA. He’s not the most talented center but he works hard and has shown real character.

It’s a great spot for Williams and having a member of the Brotherhood, assuming Plumlee isn’t traded, will accelerate his development.

AJ Griffin is off to Hotlanta where he, too, will find another former Duke player, Jalen Johnson. He didn’t exactly light it on fire this past season and Griffin will be competing for minutes so it’s hard to see how that will play out.

With John Collins, Trae Young, De’Andre Hunter and Clint Capela, the Hawks have a good core. Griffin will be able to develop without a huge amount of pressure, which Banchero will not.

Wendell Moore is going to get a lot of competition for minutes with Minnesota but his versatility and character should allow him to contribute. Guys like that will find a way.

But in some ways the most intriguing situation is that of Trevor Keels.

The Knicks have a pulse, weak though it is, and Tom Thibodeaux is an outstanding coach. Our guess is that he’ll love Keels because Keels works hard and defends. And that’s Thibodeaux’s main priority.

The Knicks traded Jalen Duren, who they obtained from the Hornets in a trade, to Detroit, along with Kemba Walker. This greatly distressed Stephen A. Smith and Spike Lee and probably many more Knicks fans.

Apparently this is part of a move to free up cap space to pursue Jalen Brunson. The Knicks also gave up #11 pick Ousmane Dieng to the Dallas Mavericks. They got a bunch of draft picks back but still, it didn't go over well in New York. Smith and Lee were so flummoxed that they actually prayed on TV.

Thing is, New York has swung for the fences on free agents recently and they all passed. The way the franchise sees itself, not to mention the local media, is not at all the way most of the world sees it.

Welcome to the Big Apple, Trevor, and be glad that you have elders in the Brotherhood to explain things to you.

In some other draft notes, NC State’s Dereon Seabron, who was so brilliant for part of the season and who played with immense energy, went undrafted. Hopefully he can find a spot somewhere (and he has: he’s on a two-way deal with New Orleans).

We were mildly surprised that Wake’s Jake LaRavia went at #19. He seemed like a marginal first round pick but now he’s a Grizzly. Pretty impressive.

Also impressive: Jalen Williams, who has had the most startling rise of anyone in the draft. He was generally unknown at Santa Clara but really impressed teams in the run-up to the draft. Another intriguing pick by OKC.

Shaedon Sharpe must have really impressed people: he didn’t play a minute at Kentucky and still was the #7 pick.

We also thought the Spurs, who usually are very perceptive about talent, made a smart pick in Jeremy Sochan at #9.

Apparently Detroit’s main targets were Jaden Ivey and Duren. They didn’t seem like they’d get either and somehow wound up with both. It was a tremendous night in Motor City and getting Duren may take some pressure off of former Blue Devil Marvin Bagley, who now has someone to do some of the dirty work inside.

Zion Williamson has not impressed with his defense but New Orleans now has Herb Jones and Dyson Daniels, both of whom are going to make their money defending. If Williamson stays healthy, the Pelicans are one of the more interesting teams in the league.