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2022 NBA Draft winners: Pistons, Rockets make first round splashes

The Pistons and Rockets both had unexpected first rounds in the NBA Draft, leading to the addition of strong franchise building blocks.

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — It was a wild NBA Draft night right from the jump when the Orlando Magic ended up selecting Paolo Banchero with the top pick instead of the favored and expected pick of Jabari Smith Jr.

That sent the NBA world into a whirlwind right as the draft began. The Thunder selected Chet Holmgren as expected and the Rockets grabbed Jabari Smith Jr. at No. 3. 

Then, the Sacramento Kings passed on the player who many thought was the clear cut fourth player or better in the draft in Purdue's Jaden Ivey, to select Keegan Murray.

That left Ivey to the Detroit Pistons, who may have just filled out their backcourt of the future after selecting guard Cade Cunningham No. 1 in last year's draft. 

Detroit wasn't done there, they made a deal with the Hornets and Knicks to move up into pick No. 13 to select one of the best big men in the draft in Jalen Duren out of Memphis. The 6-11 big man was the youngest player in the draft.

Their first round results have many now saying Detroit won the draft, including our panel of draft experts over at the Locked On NBA Big Board podcast.

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"They got a potential best player in the draft at number five in Jaden Ivey," NBA Big Board's Leif Thulin said. "He was number three on my board and I think he has the potential the best player in the entire draft class with his dynamic athleticism, and they have the ability for a dynamic backcourt with Ivey and Cade Cunningham."

Thulin said the addition of Duren gives the Pistons a strong young core for the future.

"Duren to me has an incredibly high ceiling because of his athletic abilities, the youngest player in the draft, long arms, runs the floor like a deer, catches the ball well...He's a perfect roll and lob threat for Cunningham and Ivey," Thulin said. They've got a future."

NBA Big Board's Richard Stayman was a fan of the fit for Detroit and their prospects.

"I love that fit for Detroit and Duren," Stayman said. "The agility to play quick, Cade Cunningham gets a lob partner finally. Good fit overall for them really on both ends."

NBA Big Board's Rafael Barlowe said this draft for Detroit could mean big things for turning around a franchise that was once a staple in the playoffs, but that has made just one trip in the past six years.

"I had Jaden Ivey number two on my overall Big Board and I had Duren as a lottery pick so they end up getting two lottery picks," Barlowe said. "They got more athletic. They got a vertical lob threat. I think Detroit is going to be exciting."

The Rockets also winners?

Another clear winner in the 2022 NBA Draft was the Houston Rockets. They got Jabari Smith Jr. at the third slot, someone who was projected and expected to go number one to the Magic up until they were on the clock Thursday.

Not only do they collect value in grabbing Smith, but they get LSU's Tari Eason at No. 17, one of the draft's top defenders. Additionally, they traded into No. 29 to get Kentucky point guard TyTy Washington Jr., who was not expected to fall that far according to most.

"This is the guy that I had at the top of my draft board well throughout the pre-draft process," Locked On Rockets podcast host Jackson Gatlin said. "The Houston Rockets got giftwrapped, to me, the best player in this draft. He's going to bring so many amazing skills to the table. Hyper elite three-point shooting, All-NBA caliber defender. He's going to bring a new defensive tone to the Rockets."


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