With 24 of the league’s 30 teams in action, Wednesday night was the opening night for most NBA teams. In addition to that, 22 rookies logged their first NBA minutes with a number of the top picks from the 2022 Draft enjoying standout performances.
Paolo Banchero - Orlando Magic
The No. 1 overall pick joined Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as No. 1 picks since 1969 to have at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists in an NBA debut. “He’s going to be a problem in our league for a long time,” Pistons coach Dwane Casey said.
In Orlando Magic's 103-109 loss to the Detroit Pistons, Banchero garnered 27 points (11-18 FG), nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks in 35 minutes.
Jabari Smith Jr. - Houston Rockets
Smith, the No. 3 overall pick, was part of a youthful Houston starting lineup that included last year’s top pick, Jalen Green, and fellow youngster Kevin Porter Jr. “We were disjointed a little bit,” Rockets coach Stephen Silas said. ”But I loved our fight, I loved our competitiveness.”
In 33 minutes, Smith scored 17 points (6-17 FG, 3-11 3-pt FG), seven rebounds and one assist in Houston Rockets 107 - 117 road loss to Atlanta Hawks.
Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren - Detroit Pistons
In their NBA debuts, Ivey (the No. 5 pick) and Duren (No. 13) showed why they are both an integral part of the team’s future. “He’s a freak,” Ivey said of Duren. “He’s has a strong build and is very athletic. He played comfortable.” Ivey looked at ease on the court, too, and wasn’t surprised that he was able to dribble and drive past the Magic.
The duo scored 19 and 14 points respectively in the Pistons' 113 - 109 victory over Paolo Banchero's Orlando Magic.
Benedict Mathurin - Indiana Pacers
The No. 6 overall pick made four of his first six shots, including two 3-pointers, in the first half, scoring 12 points and grabbing four rebounds. Overall, he had 19 points (7-15 FG, 3-7 3-pt FG,), 7 rebounds and 2 steals in 28 minutes of action.
“He’s going to learn a lot,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “Look, this is Ben’s first game and he has tools that really nobody else on this team has.”
The Pacers lost at home to Washington Wizards, 114 - 107.
Shaedon Sharpe - Portland Trailblazers
Sharpe was selected seventh overall in the draft despite not playing last season at Kentucky. He came up with a key 3-pointer to open the fourth quarter and also had an assist on another 3-pointer as Portland’s bench held firm to open the quarter and seal a victory, 115 - 108, over the Sacramento Kings.