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2022 NBA Draft grades: We dish out analysis for every team’s first-round pick

Chinmay Vaidya provides his pick-by-pick grades for each prospect selected in the first round.

NBA Draft 2022 at Barclays Center in NY
Blake Wesley, Walker Kessler, Jaden Hardy, Tari Eason, Jalen Williams, Jalen Duren, AJ Griffen, Dyson Daniels, Johnny Davis, Jabari Smith, Bennedict Mathurin, Chet Holmgren, Jaden Ivy, Paulo Banchero, Shaedon Sharpe, Jeremy Sochan, TyTy Washington, Keegan Murray, Ochai Agbaji, Ousmane Dieng, Malaki Branham, Mark Williams, Marjon Beauchamp, Nikola Jovic pose for a group onstage during the 2022 NBA Draft on June 23, 2022 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York City, United States.
Photo by Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The 2022 NBA Draft is underway and the picks are rolling in. Even though these prospects have not seen a second of NBA action yet, there’s naturally going to be questions about whether each player went to a good situation for his career. On the flip side, did teams make the right choice given the draft position they had? The draft can make or break a franchise’s trajectory and a player’s career, depending on where the pick is made and which team is making it.

We’re tracking each pick as it happens and providing instant reaction with draft grades.

2022 NBA Draft grades

First Round

No. 30: Denver Nuggets - Peyton Watson

Grade: A

The Nuggets have some guard issues, so Watson makes sense here. We’ll see how much playing time he actually gets, but Watson has great defensive upside. He should improve offensively, especially with Nikola Jokic manning the controls in Denver.

No. 29: Houston Rockets - TyTy Washington

Grade: A

This is tremendous value for a player who was potentially going to be a lottery selection heading into the draft process. Washington has to show he can stay on the court, but he’s an excellent fit alongside Jalen Green and Jabari Smith. The Rockets are looking solid.

No. 28: Golden State Warriors - Patrick Baldwin Jr.

Grade: C+

The Warriors have shown they can develop players and make them productive, so the upside is there with Baldwin Jr. However, he was so inconsistent in college before getting hurt that it’s hard to bank on him giving this team meaningful minutes any time soon.

No. 27: Miami Heat - Nikola Jovic

Grade: B

Jovic doesn’t help the Heat immediately, but this is a nice landing spot for him to develop his overall game. Miami will help him improve defensively, which is the key to him being a productive NBA player.

No. 26: Minnesota Timberwolves - Wendell Moore (via Rockets and Mavs)

Grade: B+

Moore is a lights-out shooter which helps the Timberwolves stretch the floor. He had some struggles early in the season at Duke, but his strength is hitting deep shots and he does that well. Minnesota will likely use him off the bench to begin the season.

No. 25: San Antonio Spurs - Blake Wesley

Grade: C

The Spurs continue to load up on guards, which is a bit puzzling considering they’ve got some good ones who are developing. Wesley and Branham are similar players, so maybe the Spurs just have a type. It’s hard to see how the minutes are there for Wesley to develop properly in this environment, especially if he doesn’t get game time.

No. 24: Milwaukee Bucks - MarJon Beauchamp

Grade: A-

The Bucks don’t need immediate help, since they’re returning most of their rotation. They’ve played the long game with prospects and it has worked out well before, so expect this team to be patient with Beauchamp. He could provide some immediate help on the wing with his versatility, but expect Milwaukee to use him sparingly in his rookie season.

No. 23: Memphis Grizzlies - David Roddy (via 76ers)

Grade: B+

Roddy is a solid player, but his three-point shooting might be a result of sample size and streaky shooting rather than a true increase. Either way, he fits in well as the prototypical Grizzlies player and has a nice mold to follow with Dillon Brooks and Desmond Bane.

No. 22: Minnesota Timberwolves - Walker Kessler

Grade: C

Kessler has tremendous rim protection skills, but how much run will he get in Minnesota with Karl-Anthony Towns having a pivotal role in the middle? The Auburn center is a nice player, although the landing spot is not ideal for him to start his career.

No. 21: Denver Nuggets - Christian Braun

Grade: B-

Braun fits well here as a rotation guy, especially with his three-point shooting and defensive versatility. It’ll be interesting to see how much of a role he has initially. It’s hard to see Braun be productive if given heavy minutes, which could be a bit of a concern given Denver’s injury history and luck.

No. 20: San Antonio Spurs - Malaki Branham

Grade: B

The Spurs are banking on Branham’s breakout season as a freshman translating at the next level. The guard is a strong offensive player, but will he get enough playing time with Dejounte Murray, Devin Vassell and Josh Primo in the backcourt rotation? Branham has to improve defensively to earn time on the court as a rookie.

No. 19: Memphis Grizzlies - Jake LaRavia (via Timberwolves)

Grade: C

It’s an odd decision for Memphis, who gave up both first-round picks to get LaRavia. He doesn’t have much upside as a junior and while he does shoot the triple well, it’s hard to see how he fits in a crowded Memphis wing rotation. It’s an interesting selection for the Grizzlies.

No. 18: Chicago Bulls - Dalen Terry

Grade: B+

It’s not the typical player Chicago takes in this spot, but Terry fills a nice need as a backup guard. He can provide more defensive resistance than Coby White off the bench while he develops the rest of his offensive game.

No. 17: Houston Rockets - Tari Eason

Grade: B+

Eason is a great athlete with some nice offensive potential, but he’ll immediately help Houston defensively. He’s got great energy and hustle, something any team can use. We’ll see if he becomes more than a high-level rotation player in the long run, but Eason has enough tools to develop into a productive NBA player.

No. 16: Atlanta Hawks - AJ Griffin

Grade: B

There are some injury concerns, which is why Griffin might’ve fallen in the draft. If he stays healthy, the Hawks are getting another lights-out shooter who has upside on the defensive end. With Atlanta’s wing situation unclear, this is a nice addition in the draft which could be one of the steals of the night.

No. 15: Charlotte Hornets - Mark Williams

Grade: B-

The Hornets do get a lot of help defensively here, but Williams isn’t the best fit for their up-tempo offensive style. We’ll see how much run the big man gets and how much of an impact he has, but this could be a rotation player rather than a consistent starter for Charlotte.

No. 14: Cleveland Cavaliers - Ochai Agbaji

Grade: B

Agbaji might have some duplicity with Caris LeVert, but he’s a capable 3-and-D player who can make an impact right away for a Cavaliers team looking to build on a play-in appearance. He has championship experience and positional versatility, which will help this Cleveland team.

No. 13: Detroit Pistons - Jalen Duren (via Hornets)

Grade: A

This is an excellent pick for the Pistons, who need help on the interior. Duren should form an excellent trio with Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham. Detroit is building a solid core here, and should have two productive rookies right off the bat.

No. 12: Oklahoma City Thunder - Jalen Williams

Grade: B-

The Thunder are taking a chance on another player who rose during the draft process. Williams had a strong junior season at Santa Clara, but can he make it work against top competition on a consistent basis? That’s the big question for the forward. It’s an interesting selection for the Thunder, who are throwing darts a bit early even though they have a lot of draft capital to work with.

No. 11: Oklahoma City Thunder - Ousmane Dieng (via Knicks)

Grade: B

The Knicks have traded this pick to a team that is taking the long road when it comes to development. This move makes sense for both franchises, and the Thunder are going to attempt to develop this guy. It’s another NBL player for Oklahoma City, while the Knicks get some additional compensation in the form of multiple first-round picks. Great move for New York.

No. 10: Washington Wizards - Johnny Davis

Grade: B

Davis has a nice mix of production and upside, and the Wizards could use some insurance in the event Bradley Beal decides to leave in free agency. The Wisconsin product will have to work on his passing here with Washington’s other offensive options, but he should see plenty of minutes right off the bat.

No. 9: San Antonio Spurs - Jeremy Sochan

Grade: A-

Sochan is a defensive star and if there’s any place to develop a jump shot, it’s San Antonio. The Baylor forward is a great fit for the Spurs defensively right off the bat and will take some pressure off Dejounte Murray on that side of the ball. If he can be competent offensively, watch out.

No. 8: New Orleans Pelicans - Dyson Daniels

Grade: C+

The upside is there, but it’s hard to be a guard without a three-point shot. The Pelicans do have some perimeter shooters so it’s not a terrible fit, but New Orleans could’ve gone with a safer player here.

No. 7: Portland Trail Blazers - Shaedon Sharpe

Grade: B+

The upside is there, but so is the unknown. The Blazers are in a position to go for broke though, and they’re likely doing enough to keep Damian Lillard around for a few more seasons. That gives enough time for Sharpe to find his footing and make a contribution, though the bust potential is quite high given his lack of playing time over the last year.

No. 6: Indiana Pacers - Bennedict Mathurin

Grade: B

Mathurin was widely considered a top prospect because of his overall offensive ability and defensive potential. The guard/wing broke out this season for Arizona, but this is a loaded positional group for the Pacers. It’s likely someone gets traded out here to make way for Mathurin.

No. 5: Detroit Pistons - Jaden Ivey

Grade: B+

This pick likely moves Cade Cunningham off the ball a bit, so it’ll be interesting to see how Ivey and last year’s No. 1 pick work out. It also means Killian Hayes is on the way out as the Pistons try to tweak things around Cunningham. Ivey is a great prospect and if he fits well with Cunningham, this backcourt will be something to monitor.

No. 4: Sacramento Kings - Keegan Murray

Grade: B

It’s tough to judge this pick because Jaden Ivey might be the better player but Murray is the better fit in this system. His defensive chops are not up to the mark but new head coach Mike Brown is a specialist on that side of the ball. Murray can score with the best of them and should provide a nice boost immediately.

No. 3: Houston Rockets - Jabari Smith

Grade: A

The Rockets might have gotten the best player in the draft, and Smith is going to have a chip on his shoulder after falling to No. 3. If he fits well with Jalen Green, this could eventually be the league’s best 1-2 punch offensively.

No. 2: Oklahoma City Thunder - Chet Holmgren

Grade: B+

Holmgren’s potential is obvious, but he likely has the most warning signs out of the top three prospects. If he’s unable to add muscle, it’ll be hard for him to be considered a true rim protector at the next level. He fits Oklahoma City’s overall timeline, so the development aspect should be fine. If Holmgren can add some weight, he’ll be in position to dominate the league.

No. 1: Orlando Magic - Paolo Banchero

Grade: A

Banchero is considered the best all-around prospect offensively of the top three guys, and he now gets a chance to be the go-to player in Orlando. The fit is interesting with a stacked frontcourt for the Magic, but Banchero can do everything offensively to elevate that group.