Last Thursday, the 2022 NBA Draft was held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. The draft class of 2022 was not only an incredibly skilled and talented pool of potential NBA players but on the red carpet, they rocked standout outfits befitting of their star quality. Unlike previous drafts, this year's featured a star-studded class with three players, who were 6'10 or taller, that could have potentially been picked at the number one spot. But like every other draft, surprises come in the shape of unexpected picks and blockbuster trades.
EBONY caught up with several of the future NBA stars on the red carpet and spoke to them about their pre-draft expectations, who they patterned their games after and what they’re looking forward to as they enter the league.
Paolo Banchero, the number one pick who dazzled the crowd with a show-stealing diamond-studded purple suit, spoke with excitement about the opportunity to display his skills against the players he looked up to. “I modeled my game after a lot of different players,” he said. “I like Jayson Tatum, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. I can't wait to shake the Commissioner’s hand, then showcase my game, helping my team.”
The number two pick, Chet Holmgren who was chosen by the Oklahoma City Thunder, spoke about how he's going to set himself apart. “I’m trying to be the first Chet Holmgren in the NBA. I’m not trying to be like any other player,” he said brimming with confidence in a custom black Zegna tuxedo. “I’m going to blaze my own path.”
Jabari Smith, who was selected third by the Houston Rockets and wore a custom ensemble that matched his alma mater Auburn’s school colors—blue, white and orange—claimed he was the ultimate player in the Tigers’ history. "I don’t want to disrespect Sir Charles Barkley,” he laughed. “But as competitive as we both are, I will say that I’m the best.” Then, Smith went on to state that his game is modeled after Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Keegan Murray, the fourth pick, who was chosen by the Sacramento Kings, described his style of play as “all-around” and NBA ready. “Doing the little things on the court and working hard is why I know I'm ready for the challenge of the NBA,” he explained, while wearing a tailor-made, double-breasted gray and black suit. “ I think John Collins of the Atlanta Hawks and Kris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks is who my game is similar to.”
The 13th pick Jalen Duren, who was selected by Charlotte Hornets and later traded to the Detroit Pistons, believes his talent will make him one of the next rising stars in the NBA next season. “Of course, there are a lot of guys in the league with a lot of talent but I feel like I’m bringing my own special talent,” he said, dressed in a custom burgundy three-piece ensemble.
Shaedon Sharpe, the 7th pick, chosen by the Portland Trailblazers who rocked an all-black ensemble that was designed by his sister, was thankful for being blessed to get where he is now. “I’m just embracing the moment,” he reflected. “I want to thank my parents who made it all possible.”
The 17th pick Tari Eason, whom the Rockets selected, was dripping in jewels over his green and black tux. “I’m going to bring a high level of competition, intensity, defensive versatility, a good winning mentality and a lot of energy to my team,” he shared.
The San Antonio Spurs chose Malakai Branham with the 20th pick, expressed a similar sentiment as Sharpe. “It’s gonna be a lot of emotions but I’m just living in the moment,” said Branham in gray and black paisley suit, when asked what he's going to do when his name is called.. “Just me getting here is a big accomplishment.”
Other prospective NBA players who skipped playing on the collegiate level, gained valuable experience playing in the NBA G League which serves as a developmental program for elite pro prospects. MarJon Beaucham, who played with Team Ignite and was drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks with the 24th pick, recalled the long journey that made the moment possible. “I’m looking forward to sharing all the emotions, the pain, and sacrifices, all that I had to go through. I’ll finally let it out,” he said in a black tuxedo with shawl lapels.
Last year, Ousmane Dieng played professionally with New Zealand Breakers and was picked by the New York Knicks with the 11th pick before being traded to Oklahoma City Thunder. He said that his professional experience overseas was the best path for him to make it to the NBA.Before the draft, I was already playing with grown men who played in the NBA and in different Euro leagues,” said Dieng, wearing a light-burgundy tux with a black turtleneck.
“It’s a dream come true to make it to the NBA,” he added.
Below is the complete list of the first-round picks of the 2022 NBA Draft.
1. Orlando Magic – Paolo Banchero (F, Duke)
2. Oklahoma City Thunder – Chet Holmgren (C, Gonzaga)
3. Houston Rockets – Jabari Smith (F, Auburn)
4. Sacramento Kings – Keegan Murray (F, Iowa)
5. Detroit Pistons – Jaden Ivey (G, Purdue)
6. Indiana Pacers Benedict Mathurin (F, Arizona)
7. Portland Trail Blazers – Shaedon Sharpe (G, Kentucky)
8. New Orleans Pelicans – Dyson Daniels (G, Ignite)
9. San Antonio Spurs – Jeremy Sochan (F, Baylor)
10. Washington Wizards – Johnny Davis (G, Wisconsin)
11. New York Knicks to Oklahoma City – Ousmane Dieng (F, Breakers)
12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Jalen Williams (G, Santa Clara)
13. Charlotte Hornets to New York to Detroit Pistons – Jalen Duren (C, Memphis)
14. Cleveland Cavaliers – Ochai Agbaji (G, Kansas)
15. Charlotte Hornets – Mark Williams (C, Duke)
16. Atlanta Hawks – AJ Griffin (G, Duke)
17. Houston Rockets – Tari Eason (F, LSU)
18. Chicago Bulls – Dalen Terry (G, Arizona)
19. Minnesota Timberwolves to Memphis – Jake LaRavia (F, Wake Forest)
20. San Antonio Spurs – Malaki Branham (G, Ohio)
21. Denver Nuggets – Christian Braun (G, Kansas)
22. Memphis Grizzlies to Minnesota– Walker Kessler (C, Auburn)
23. Philadelphia 76ers to Memphis – David Roddy (G, Colorado State)
24. Milwaukee Bucks – MarJon Beauchamp (G, Ignite)
25. San Antonio Spurs – Blake Wesley (G, Notre Dame)
26. Dallas Mavericks to Minnesota – Wendell Moore, Jr. (F, Duke)
27. Miami Heat – Nikola Jovic (F, Mega Mozzart)
28. Golden State Warriors – Patrick Baldwin, Jr. (F, Milwaukee)
29. Memphis Grizzlies to the Rockets – TyTy Washington, Jr. (G, Kentucky)
30. Oklahoma City Thunder – Peyton Watson (F, UCLA)