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2022 NBA draft winners: Magic, Thunder, Pistons among early favorites

Here’s a look at those that made the best out of the draft.

NBA: Draft Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022 NBA Draft got underway on Thursday night with the Orlando Magic taking Duke forward Paolo Banchero with the No. 1 overall pick. We’re still working our way through the first round but the outlook for a handful of teams have already changed within a few short hours.

Here are our winners from draft night.

Winner: Orlando Magic

The signs pointed towards the Magic selecting Jabari Smith in the weeks leading up to the draft but at the zero hour, Banchero emerged as their man. The Duke standout has arguably the highest ceiling of any player in the draft and become the face of the franchise.

Winner: Oklahoma City Thunder

The Thunder have stockpiled a boatload of first round picks over the last two years and they’re finally starting to actually turn them into young prospects. They landed Gonzaga seven-footer Chet Holmgren with the No. 2 pick and got active later, acquiring No. 11 pick Ousmane Dieng from the Knicks before selecting Santa Clara guard Jalen Williams with the No. 12 pick. Pair them with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and you have yourselves a young roster with promise.

Winner: Detroit Pistons

The Pistons were able to land Purdue guard Jaden Ivey with the No. 5 pick and that immediately creates one of the more dynamic young backcourts in the league with Cade Cunningham. Detroit was able to make more moves by acquiring No. 13 big man Jalen Duren from the Hornets. The Pistons now have an interesting young core in the east.

Winner: Memphis Grizzlies

The Grizzlies dealt backup guard DeAnthony Melton to the Sixers for the 23rd pick and used it to draft what could be a valuable piece in Colorado State forward David Roddy. He has some density to him at 255 pounds and he can guard multiple positions with a 6’11” wingspan.

Winner: Houston Rockets

The Rockets had sharpshooting guard Jabari Smith fall to them at No. 3 and many believed that he would be the top selection of the entire draft heading into the evening. They shored up their backup later by adding Tari Eason out of LSU and TyTy Washington out of Kentucky. Houston suddenly has a young core to complement Jalen Green.