As the NBA draft lottery came to a close, the Orlando Magic struck gold and were awarded the first overall selection in the 2022 draft. The Oklahoma City Thunder pick second and the Houston Rockets pick third. Having first-round draft picks for rebuilding teams is a dream come true, as these prospects may be the help your franchise has needed. Today, we take a look at the best fits for the top three teams in the 2022 NBA draft.
Orlando Magic-Chet Holmgren
When you look at the Orlando Magic’s roster, you’ll notice that they’ve filled many of the gaps where they need the greatest support. Last year, they upgraded their guard and forward positions by picking Gonzaga shooting guard, Jalen Suggs, and Michigan small forward, Franz Wagner.
The year before, they drafted North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony. The biggest thing they are lacking is a rim protector to pair with Wendell Carter Jr. That is where Gonzaga center, Chet Holmgren. The former Bulldog averaged nearly four blocks per game and can also hit a jumper when necessary.
Prepare for excitement at the Amway Center when you reunite him with his former AAU teammate Suggs. Orlando has a great history when it comes to drafting big men number one overall, and Holmgren could be the next player on that list.
Oklahoma City Thunder- Paolo Banchero
If you look at the Thunder roster; it’s overflowing with young, hungry talent, such as Shai Gilgeous Alexander and Josh Giddey. The two form a young, skilled backcourt combo for Oklahoma City. Because they want a fast-space offensive style, Paolo Banchero, who is speedy, should be a player to watch at second overall. When combined with their young core, the former Blue Devil will generate highlight reel-level offense.
He would quickly fit in with the youthful nucleus, forming a starting five capable of developing into one of the top teams in the league. Banchero could demonstrate his full versatility on a team like the Thunder.
Houston Rockets- Jabari Smith
When it comes to acquiring talent, the Houston Rockets have hit gold. They acquired the uber-talented Kevin Porter Jr. through trade, drafted shooting guard Jalen Green, and signed Christian Wood two years ago. While their team is nearly complete, they are missing one piece to complete the full rebuild.
The primary concern with their roster is the power forward position. Auburn’s Jabari Smith is the solution to those issues, bringing size, scoring, and rebounding skills.
Combining him with Woods will open up the offense and offer a variety of opportunities. Not only can he stretch the floor, but he can also drive to the hoop for a layup or a posterizing dunk. Fans will be jumping out of their seats in the Toyota Center if he is picked in June.
Luka Doncic, the Dallas Mavericks’ superstar point guard, is putting the NBA on notice for anyone who questions his game. If there were any doubts about his determination to lead his team to victory, they were put to rest after Sunday’s performance. Now, he faces his toughest challenge of his career against the Golden State Warriors. But he’s shown time and time again that he’s not afraid.
He dominated a 60 win team
When he faced the top-seeded Phoenix Suns, the odds were plainly stacked against him. No one anticipated his team to win this series. Throughout the series, even in games where he lost, he averaged an incredible 32 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists, and two blocks. Whoever the Suns chose to try and defend him was added to Luka’s highlight reel for the night.
If there was a game where it was clearly evident that Luka is simply on a different level it was games six and seven. After being chastised by opponent Devin Booker for employing drama to get foul calls, dubbed the “Luka Special,” he summoned his inner Michael Jordan and took it personally.
In game six, he exploded for 33 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. He came up when it counted and forced a win-or-go-home game seven, and to say he rose to the occasion is an understatement. Luka was out for blood in that game, scoring the same number of points individually as Phoenix did as a team by halftime. He not only humbled the Suns, but he humiliated them on their own home court, defeating them by 33 points.
On Sunday, he served his own Luka Special in Pheonix, and everyone received it. The series cemented his status as a league star, despite the fact that he is only 23 years old.
Now on to the Warriors
Luka will face some pretty tough competition in a veteran Warriors team. Nobody on the opposing side of the court has a chance of containing him. He’s a scoring machine with a variety of moves in his arsenal, whether it’s in the low post or on the top of the key.
Simply put, Luka gives you everything you wish to see out of your young, talented players. During this series, the Warriors will almost certainly try to throw Klay Thompson or perhaps Draymond Green on him. While both are excellent defenders, they will have a difficult time stopping him.
The last time Luka faced this exact Warrior squad this season, he finished with 41 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists. After defeating the Jazz and the Suns, there’s little doubt Luka isn’t afraid of the spotlight.
While the NBA draft approaches and organizations prepare for the lottery and subsequent workouts with prospects, a particular Blue Devil, Paolo Banchero, screams franchise changer.
Paolo Banchero is Flat-Out Special
During his first year of college basketball, the former Duke freshman excelled by all standards. He took home multiple honors including ACC Rookie of the Year and All-ACC. Paolo averaged 17 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. Banchero was a driving force on offense, propelling them to a Final Four appearance before falling to eventual runner-up North Carolina.
He held his own this season against another future lottery pick, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren, outscoring him with 21 points, 1 steal, and 5 rebounds. Following this game, it was clear who was the superior player and should have been picked first.
Paolo is sure to send his next franchise to new heights
There is no doubt about the fact that Paolo Banchero should be the top pick in the NBA draft. His talent is something you can’t afford to pass on, regardless of who picks first. A 6’10 prospect weighing 250 pounds who can shoot, rebound, and dish out assists. With Paolo set to join the league, prepare to see explosions when you plug him in at power forward or center position.
The Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic, Detroit Pistons, and Oklahoma City Thunder are the top four teams with the potential to draft first and win his services. He fits perfectly with any of these young, up-and-coming rosters.
When you look at the Rockets, for example, you have a group that already has rising stars in Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. Adding Paolo to the mix could create something amazing right in front of your eyes.
Paolo would also fit in nicely in Oklahoma City where he would partner with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddy, and Lou Dort, forming a group similar to Oklahoma’s inaugural big four.
Whoever gets the privilege to draft Banchero this summer will be staring down the next face of their organization with the number one overall pick.
After one of the worst seasons in franchise history, the Lakers are looking to rebound. This starts with finding the right coach who will fit the team like a glove. With the recent news of the Purple and Gold interviewing Mark Jackson, he could be the perfect hire to hoist banner number eighteen in the Crypto.Com Arena.
What could Mark Jackson bring to the Lakers?
Mark Jackson’s basketball mind is vastly underrated when it comes to his coaching style. He is often credited with laying the groundwork for the Golden State Warriors dominance. He coached a deadly young duo in the Splash Brothers, so just imagine what he might do with two seasoned veterans in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Sure, he hasn’t coached in years, but you never lose your passion for basketball; it’s ingrained in you.
Jackson also creates a degree of defensive feasting. Meaning he will make it difficult for his opponents to score. When looking at his tenure with the Warriors during the 2013-14 season, they were ranked fourth in team defensive efficiency. That same season, the offense tanked top 10 in team scoring.
Averaging well over 104.4 points per game should indicate that not only was that team capable of locking down opponents, but numerous buckets were also made.
If Jackson is hired, think about how high that defense rating would be! Think about how much scoring would improve if he became the Lakers’ coach. He has the ability to unlock so much within their team roster and bring back memories of the Warriors club he coached not long ago.
How this Helps Lebron and Anthony Davis
This hire would greatly benefit the Lakers team because of the intense energy Mark Jackson brings to his teams. It could also be viewed as his revenge tour. You get a coach who has an a high emphasis on defense and scoring. Who do the Lakers have on their roster who is a defensive assassin and an ageless marvel who still chases down blocks and scores in the high twenties as if they are still in their fifth year of their career?
Oh, two people named LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Having these two also helps Jackson since it gives him an opportunity to prove his critics wrong. His hiring is even endorsed by Lebron himself. So, with all due respect Lakers, please give Mark Jackson the position and bring another Larry O’Brien to Los Angeles.
The MVP award candidates have been announced: Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo. When I look at that list, I can’t help but notice a player missing. All year he has been overlooked as a real MVP award candidate. Now, he is left off the finalist list: Luka Doncic, the young superstar. He shouldn’t just be on the finalist list; I believe he should win the award. Doncic is the real MVP of the league this season.
This is not a discredit to the great seasons Jokic, Embiid, and Giannis had. The combination of individual and team stats show that Doncic should be leading the MVP conversation. Each finalist showed why they belong in this conversation and Doncic deserves to be in that conversation as well. Their statistics and team stories give us a better look at their MVP resume.
The reigning MVP came back this year looking just as good — if not better — than last year. Per game, Jokic averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, and 7.9 assists. He added almost a block and over a steal per game on the defensive side. Those numbers led the Nuggets in each category. The flashy passes and triple-doubles have made Jokic a fan favorite.
Denver’s big man is cementing himself as the best passing center of all-time. He has broken records with his ability to do it all, notching the highest PER in history. He does everything on the court, all while having a 66% true shooting percentage. This season showed that he will be in the MVP conversation for years to come.
The Nuggets as a team had a difficult season. After losing Jamal Murray to a torn ACL last season, they knew it would already be a tough season. On top of losing Murray, Michael Porter Jr. left a game on November 6th with back tightness. He has not returned since and they are hoping he can return for this current playoff run. This left the Nuggets without two key players.
Without those two, Denver finished the regular season with five other double-digit scorers. Jokic led them to a 48-24 record, finishing sixth in the Western Conference.
The Process is still proving why he deserves that nickname, and this year Joel Embiid was trying to prove he is the real MVP. After leading the league this season in points per game with 30.6, he showed how dominant of a center he really is. While shooting 50% from the field and 37% from three, defenses have struggled all year to contain Embiid. Being able to take anyone in the paint and step back for three was key for his MVP candidacy.
On the boards, he averaged 11.7 rebounds per game. Embiid showed his complete skill set by taking the ball away once a game and sending 1.5 shots back. Embiid improved as a passer this year with a career-high 4.2 assists per game. It was a career year for Embiid, and his individual numbers are putting him in the MVP spotlight.
Philadelphia has been put on a rollercoaster this year. The Ben Simmons saga continued into this year. After Simmons’ struggles in the playoffs, he didn’t report to training camp, got kicked out of practice, and didn’t play the regular season, for reported mental health reasons.
On February 10th 2022, Simmons was traded to the Brooklyn Nets for James Harden. While others were in the trade, those were the two main stars involved. James Harden came to Philly, and they finished the season fourth in the Eastern Conference with a record of 51-31, tied with Boston and Milwaukee. Behind Harden and Embiid, there are three other double-digit scorers: Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, and Seth Curry.
Last year’s Finals MVP continued to cement his legacy by averaging 29.9 points, 5.8 assists, and 11.6 rebounds per game. His length helped him average just over a block and steal per game. Giannis shot 55% from the field and 29% from three. He added eight points from the line each night, as defenses struggled to keep him off the line this year. The Greek Freak made his sixth All-Star game this season, while also being named to the NBA 75th anniversary team. He is looking to add to his trophy case with a second MVP, to further his case as a legend.
The 2021 NBA champs are looking to repeat this year after finishing third in the Eastern Conference at 51-31. They have six double-digit scorers, if you count Pat Connaughton (9.9), and the capability of going back-to-back. The trio of Giannis, Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton hasn’t been as efficient this year, as all of their shooting percentages have taken a dip. Yet, the Bucks still rank tied for third in offensive efficiency.
On the defensive side, they rank 14th in efficiency and tied for fifth in rebound rate. They are the champs until they are dethroned, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The 23-year-old superstar lit the league on fire again in his fourth season, averaging 28.4 points, 8.7 assists, and 8.3 rebounds (career-high) per game. With the ability to score in just about every way, he shot 46% from the field and 53% from three. On a per game basis, Doncic led all guards in points and rebounds, ranking fifth in assists. His play-making ability has forced him into the “next young superstar” conversation with Ja Morant. Doncic can take over games in a heartbeat.
On the defensive end, Luka has taken a huge leap. He set career highs in steals and blocks per game. While it might not look like big improvement on paper, he has become a very good on-ball defender, helping Dallas finish 6th in defensive efficiency.
Dallas got off to a slow start this season. So, they made a move before the trade deadline to move center Kristaps Porzingis and a 2022 protected 2nd round pick to Washington. In return, they received guard Spencer Dinwiddie and small forward Davis Bertans.
Many people were critical of the move, including myself, thinking they could have gotten more from Porzingis. However, the Mavericks finished fourth in the Western Conference with 52 wins and 30 losses, one game behind the Golden State Warriors. This team has been one of the more surprising and underrated teams in the NBA. The teams success is heavily credited to Luka Doncic, with only three other teammates averaging double digits, if you don’t count Tim Hardaway Jr. who has been hurt since January.
When you break it down, it becomes clear that Luka Doncic absolutely deserves to be in the NBA MVP discussion. Doncic may not be the front-runner for the award, but to leave him out of the MVP race all-together was a mistake.