2022 NBA Draft Lottery Winners and Losers: Auburn’s Jabari Smith Could Benefit After Magic Wins No. 1 Pick

The ping pong balls? They have fallen. And the draft order? well that is officially established after a wild Tuesday night at the 38th annual lottery that determined that the Orlando Magic — for the first time since 2004 — will be first overall in the 2022 NBA draw.

Orlando had a 14% chance of winning the lottery, tied for highest odds with the Pistons and Rockets, before their big off-season win was announced by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum in Chicago. It is the fourth time since the lottery that the franchise has the best pick. And understand this: Two of the previous three No. 1 picks went on to become Hall of Famers — while Dwight Howard could potentially join them later. (No pressure, Chet Holmgren or Jaden Ivey or Jabari Smith or Paolo Banchero. But also: some pressure!)

As such, the Magic are the biggest and most obvious winners of the lottery night, although they are certainly not the only ones who have had a good night. So are the Thunder and Kings. Conversely… it was a rough night for the Pistons, whose 14% chance of winning the lottery gave them only the fifth pick. The Trail Blazers, Pacers, Rockets and – as usual – the New York Knickerbockers are probably also licking some post lottery wounds.

Here’s a look at the winners and losers as the dust settles.

Winner: Jabari Smith could be the man of Magic

For months, this draft has been considered strong at the top with no clear number 1 but four potential Tier 1 talents, meaning team fit and current roster composition may ultimately determine who comes off the board to start the draft. Now we’re about to find out which prospect favors the Magic of the bunch. This is a front office that covets length — they were part of the regime that Giannis drafted — so Chet Holmgren would apparently fit well. But Jabari Smith seems to be the first frontrunner to favor Orlando a month early, and personally I’m not ruling out Paolo Banchero here either. It’s a big windfall to have the first stab at the top every year, but this year in particular feels big – especially for a franchise that has some really nice pieces with 2021 Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner.

Winner: Kings go up

When it was announced that the Portland Trail Blazers owned the No. 7 pick in the draft, it meant the Sacramento Kings had moved into the top four of this year’s draft. They were ranked seventh by lottery odds, but moved up three places — more than any other team this year — to earn the No. 4 pick. Newly acquired big man Damontas Sabonis, the team’s service representative in Chicago, could do nothing but flash a sly grin after the astonishing turn of events. He’ll have the chance to team up with a potential Day One difference maker, depending on which direction Sacramento goes – assuming they keep the pick.

Loser: Jaden Ivey’s No. 1 Pick Chance

Gary Parrish and I came to the conclusion this week that the number 1 pick, more than in the past, would be determined by which team would win the lottery. And one thing seems to be clear as the lottery haze settles: It probably isn’t great for Jaden Ivey’s No. 1 pick prospects. Orlando drafted a guard in Cole Anthony two years ago at age 15 and did it again last year with a top-10 pick in Jalen Suggs. It’s hard to imagine them doing it again, especially with the promise both choices have shown. I wouldn’t keep Ivey out of the race entirely, but the lottery ticket that fell the way it did was better news for the greats at the top of the draft than a potential main guard in Ivey based solely on the roster composition for Orlando.

Winner: Thunder can speed up reboots

Last year around this time during the lottery, OKC had a chance to get away with two top five picks and instead walked away with just one pick: No. 6. But that pick turned into a fundamental piece in Josh. Giddey and boy oh boy, this team’s rebuilding kicked into gear on Tuesday as they headed up to grab the No. 2 pick.

This is a draft tailor-made for OKC — a team that needs depth in the frontcourt — to take on either a Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero or Chet Holmgren, depending on who takes Orlando at number one. Not a bad choice here. Whoever the choice is should have immediate success as a likely starter in a young team brimming with potential. I’m all here for Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and any of Holmgren, Banchero or Smith growing together over the next ten years.

Losers: Portland, Pacers fall a spot

Portland led the NBA in consecutive losing games to end the 2021-22 NBA season, but its brutal attempt at a tank at the end of the season was not rewarded as it fell from number 6 in the lottery order to number 7, which announced Sacramento’s move in the top four. Indiana also had its own sting that night by dropping the pre-lottery order from No. 5 to Postal lottery to No. 6. With a 10.5% and 9.0% chance, respectively, of winning the best pick, both have teams make good (but not great) picks in a draft where there is a significant decrease in talent after number 4.

Winner: Pelicans living the best of both worlds

New Orleans is the only NBA team to claim a lottery pick in this year’s draft and securing a spot in this year’s playoff, this pick comes via the Lakers after the trade sent Anthony Davis to LA

The Pelicans scouting staff has made money in recent years drafting Herbert Jones in the second round, snatching Jose Alvarado as an unwritten free agent and taking a generational talent into Zion — even if he’s already been injured to start his career. This pick for them (at No. 8) could help keep them in the playoff chase and potentially kick it up a notch in the West, especially if Zion returns in full health next season.

Losers: Pistons not working properly, order slipping

The Pistons were the anti-Kings on Tuesday, because they… fell more than any other lottery team. Based on pre-lottery odds, their 14% chance of taking home the best pick was tied for the best, but instead they walk away with the fifth overall pick.

Wow wow.

There are fantastic options at #5 for Detroit, so I don’t want Motor City to worry too much about this. But the difference between choosing No. 1 and No. 5 — well, even No. 4 and No. 5 — is pretty substantial in this design. It is hoped that this front office can identify a stallion from this position to mate alongside 2021 No. 1 pick of Cade Cunningham.

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