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NBA Draft 2022: Ranking the most intriguing teams, from the Knicks trying to get promoted to the crucial decision of the Blazers

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The NBA Draft is not just about the players that are chosen. Sure, we’re all excited to see which franchises the consensus of top three prospects Jabari Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren and Paolo Banchero can call home, but there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes before and during Thursday’s draft. .

There is no shortage of potential trades this year, as there are several teams looking to buy their picks for the right price. We’ve seen in the past how draft-day deals can change the NBA landscape, and with parity at an all-time high, there are plenty of opportunities to make a big move and shake things up.

However, some franchises have more pressing needs than others, so we thought we’d rank the most intriguing teams heading into the 2022 NBA Draft.

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The Blazers need to quickly rebuild a contender roster around Damian Lillard if they want him to stick around long enough for Thanksgiving dinner in Portland, and the No. 7 pick in this draft likely won’t add immediate help. Players in that range could certainly become quality starters or more, but Lillard has stated that he wants to win now, knowing the twilight of his prime is fast approaching.

That leaves Portland as a prime candidate for the trade as it appears to hang up the pick for help to win now, according to NBA insider Marc Stein. He expects talk about the Blazers to reach frenetic levels as the draft approaches, and if they can’t move the pick before Thursday, it could affect which player they select. While a prospect like Keegan Murray, if available, might be more NBA-ready, Portland might consider taking a flyer with someone like Shaedon Sharpe, simply because he might be more intriguing as a trader in the future. The Blazers have a lot of work to do to create a contender before the season, and it starts with how they handle the No. 7 pick.

Barring a shocking upset, the top three players in the draft will be Smith, Holmgren and Banchero in some order. Most analysts have Purdue’s Jaden Ivey just a notch below that top tier, if not on par with the big men at the top. That poses an interesting conundrum at No. 4 for the Kings, who have bet everything on the De’Aaron Fox-Domantas Sabonis pairing. Do they really want to bring in Ivey, another guard who needs to have the ball in their hands to capitalize on his potential, or would they consider filling their gaps on the wing with a player like Keegan Murray or Ben Mathurin?

It doesn’t take much creativity to identify the obvious alternative: Sacramento could trade with a team coveting Ivey (perhaps the Indiana Pacers at No. 6) to pick up a second asset along with any player who lands a couple of picks. . The danger, of course, is that Ivey becomes a generational superstar, and some testers think he could be. Can you imagine a franchise that potentially traded one of the greatest players of all time for a prospect they thought was a better fit, and then had to watch said player single-handedly lead his team to the Western Conference finals when he had 23 years while Do you miss the playoffs for the sixteenth consecutive season? There’s no chance of that happening, right?

The Dallas Mavericks superstar who must not be named could be the exact reason the Kings pick Ivey at No. 4. But there’s reason to think they could go another direction, either by drafting a different prospect or trading , which makes them one of the most intriguing teams in the draft.

Most reports indicate the Magic are leaning toward taking Smith with the first pick in Thursday’s draft, but it’s certainly not a guarantee. When top prospects are so close in terms of talent and potential, you never know what’s going to happen when a team is on the clock. Even if the Magic want Smith, they’d be wise to at least feign interest in Holmgren and/or Banchero. Let’s say the Thunder have a crush on Holmgren at No. 2 and get the hint that the Magic could nab him with the top pick, OKC might be willing to give up an asset to move up a spot and ensure they get their man, leaving Orlando will take Smith at No. 2.

There are a lot of smokescreens going into the draft, so we’ll likely hear that Orlando is interested in the top three before Thursday, maybe even Ivey. However, we won’t know for sure who they’re choosing until they make their choice (or one of the news breakers tweets it).

One of those teams in the mix to trade for Ivey is the New York Knicks, who were named by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski as a team that has shown interest in making a deal with the Kings for the fourth pick. The Knicks have long coveted a point guard, particularly after the acquisition of Kemba Walker fell through, and Ivey is considered a potential franchise game changer with his skill and athleticism.

Obviously, the Knicks would have to include their 11th pick in the deal, but they would probably also have to give up some of their young talent like Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Quentin Grimes or Cam Reddish. The Kings might also be interested in getting help to win now as they are desperately trying to make the playoffs. Julius Randle doesn’t seem to make sense, financially or positionally, given the presence of Sabonis, but Alec Burks or Evan Fournier could interest a team without wing depth.

The Knicks realized last season that their current roster probably isn’t enough to compete in the East, and trading for a player like Ivey would allow them to potentially improve now while continuing to build for the future. However, with plenty of competition from teams looking to move up, the price will be steep.

In terms of potential NBA-ready superstars, this is expected to be a four-player draft. The prospects below them are more considered future players or projects that need a lot of development. So the real draft intrigue begins at No. 5 with the Pistons, who already have a cornerstone of the franchise in last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Cade Cunningham. They could really go either way: I’ve got them taking Mathurin in my mock draft, while our draft experts Gary Parrish and Kyle Boone have them taking Murray and Dyson Daniels, respectively. Detroit is in the midst of a rebuild, so it’s almost certain he won’t consider him fit, but rather take the best available prospect on their directory.

Since there is no consensus at No. 5, this is another team that could consider trading lower. Let’s just say the Pistons love AJ Griffin but know they can take him lower in the draft. Potentially, they could find a team that has a crush on a prospect like Shaedon Sharpe, one of the most tempting players in the draft, and is worried they won’t be able to put them in his position. That would be a good time for GM Troy Weaver to step in, gather an asset to go down and still get the guy they want. Wizardry project 101.

Stein reports that the Grizzlies are “trying to move up in the draft,” which is an intriguing development for a team that finished with the second-best record in the NBA last season. They have their own pick at No. 29, as well as Utah’s No. 22 pick, which could be a good match for a team in the low lottery or teenagers who just aren’t in love with any prospect in that range. .

Last year, the Grizzlies went from No. 17 to No. 10 and made a relatively surprising pick in Ziaire Williams, who started 31 games as a rookie and played crucial minutes in the playoffs. With the young core they already have, adding another lottery-level talent would make the Grizzlies even scarier, not just next season, but well into the future.

Charlotte has the 13th and 15th picks, but they aren’t expected to take both. This team wants to compete now, as evidenced by its impending coaching change, and faces a massive financial commitment to Miles Bridges this summer and, eventually, LaMelo Ball. That means they probably don’t want to pay two first-round picks that might not help right away, so one of them is likely up for sale to the highest bidder. Pacers center Myles Turner could be a target at No. 15, according to Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer, but whether Indiana or another team gets involved, the Hornets will be a team to watch as the game approaches. draft.

If the Wizards keep their pick, it will be fascinating to see who they pick. If they go with a more NBA-ready player like Ochai Agbaji or Mark Williams, it could be an indication that they’re committed to the Bradley Beal-Kristaps Porzingis foundation. If they opt for a younger player or a project like Ousmane Dieng, it could be an indication that they have an eye on the future.

The Wizards are also intriguing because, like so many other teams, they’ve reportedly been buying their pick. They’re looking for a point guard to put alongside Beal and Porzingis, according to Stein, and aren’t afraid to part ways with the No. 10 to do so. Any team with a spare point guard interested in moving up would be wise to contact the Washington front office.

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