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US Sports - NBA: Five things to look out for from the Draft

24 June 2022 10:11:16 EST
The Draft can, and probably will, throw up some shocks

The NBA Draft is one of the most exciting days in the sport's calendar, despite taking place in the offseason, and this year could well be a vintage edition.

There are some huge talents available and how a team fares on draft night can impact not only the following season, but in some cases the years ahead.

Here are five things to look out for in the 2022 NBA Draft.

First Pick

The headline grabber on NBA Draft day is almost always the first player selected and this year it is the Orlando Magic who have that highly-coveted first selection.

There are three players who are widely touted to be the first trio to be selected - Jabari Smith Jr, Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren.

Just a few days ago, Orlando were widely expected to opt for Smith but now Duke product Banchero could be their preferred option.  The Magic have a tough choice to make and the first pick is definitely at the top of the list of things to look out for.

Banchero is -200 to be the first pick, Smith is +150 and Holmgren is +1100.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Orlando may have the first selection, but Oklahoma City Thunder are a team worth keeping an eye on as they hold both the number 2 and 12 picks. 

Holmgren looks like the best option for OKC due to his three-point shooting skills and rim protection, and they should get their man as of the big three up for grabs early on he seems the least likely to be selected by the Magic.

If the Thunder can then use their 12th pick wisely, they could well have one of the most exciting young line-ups in the NBA next season given they already have Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Luguentz Dort on their roster. 

The International hopefuls

A little further down the order, there are two very intriguing international prospects available in the shape of Ousmane Dieng and Nikola Jovic, who are both 19.

Both players are fairly similar in terms of being modern combo-forwards, meaning they can also operate as guards and should have the ability to make an impact at both ends of the court.

The majority of the players in the NBA Draft come through the college system and fans will have watched many playing in the NCAA. 

Success at college level doesn't always lead to a big career in the NBA but it should give an indication of how a prospect may fare in the professional ranks.

The situation with international players is less clear as they haven't played in the US system.  However, Frenchman Dieng spent last season in the Australian NBL with New Zealand Breakers and Jovic has been playing in his homeland of Serbia with Mega Basket. 

As such, these players have already experienced professional basketball, albeit at a lower level than the NBA, so may in fact be better prepared to make the step up to join the elite.

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Trades

This is where things can get a little complicated, as teams are allowed to trade up Draft places or trade their picks for already established players.

Some absolutely huge deals can be made on Draft night and those moves can make or break a franchise. Back in 1996, the Charlotte Hornets traded the draft rights of Kobe Bryant to Los Angeles Lakers for Vlade Divac, a center who had spent six seasons in LA.

Bryant, of course, went on to become one of the greatest to ever play the game, while Divac lasted just two seasons in Charlotte.

There are likely to be some big moves this year, particularly given the strong crop of youngsters available in this draft, which leads us on nicely to our final thing to watch out for, 

Julius Randle, Rudy Hobert and Malcolm Brogdon

Julius Randle looked to be a player the New York Knicks could build a team around after he earned his first All-Star selection in 2021 but he failed to back that up last season.

Randle's time with the Knicks looks to be coming to an end and they may use draft night to find him a new home. The Knicks could look to trade Randle for an already established player or for a promising youngster, as they bid to try and force their way into the playoff picture next season.

Utah Jazz's three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert may also have a new team by tomorrow, with Charlotte, Atlanta Hawks and Chicago Bulls all being mooted as possible suitors.

Indiana Pacers are believed to be keen to move up the order as they currently hold the sixth pick, with Purdue's Jaden Ivy on their radar. As such, Malcolm Brogdon may be sacrificed as the Pacers look to retool ahead of the 2022/23 campaign.

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