🏀 A 2023 NBA Draft preview
⚙️ The set-up
The NBA Draft consists of two rounds, with 30 picks in the first and 28 in the second, after two teams lost picks for violating free agency policies. As for the sequence, most picks are doled out in inverse order of the standings from the previous regular season.
However, the top four picks were allocated via the Draft Lottery back in May, which consisted of the squads that finished worst in the league.
- The San Antonio Spurs won the lottery,giving them the first overall pick and the right to select French phenom, Victor Wembanyama (more on him in a bit).
- After the Spurs comes the Charlotte Hornets, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Houston Rockets, and the Detroit Pistons.
But keep your ear to the ground. Squads are known to wheel and deal picks in the lead up to the draft. Expect more musical chairs (especially from the New Orleans Pelicans) before the festivities begin.
⭐ Victor Wembanyama: The wunderkind
When LeBron James calls you an alien, you take it as a compliment. Nineteen-year-oldWembanyama, a 7'4" Frenchman, has played professionally in his home country since 2019, earning an out-of-this-world reputation on offense and defense. Shot blocker? Check. Dunk monster? Check. And he has range? Check check check.
Wembanyama is widely regarded as a prodigy with the ability to transform a franchise upon arrival — and the Spurs could seriously use a pick-me-up. San Antonio may have a reputation as a fertile landing ground for future Hall of Famers, but they’ve missed the playoffs for the last four seasons.
While being likened to greats like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wemby is thinking even bigger, telling L’Équipe that his goal is to become “unguardable” and “play basketball like chess.” Okay, Queen’s Gambit, we see you.
💫 The top picks
Scoot Henderson: In any other draft year, 19-year-old Henderson would probably be the top pick. Henderson made history as the youngest American pro basketball player when he signed a seven-figure deal with the NBA’s developmental G League Ignite team at 17 years old.
- A dominant athlete and commanding on-court leader, he energizes a team from within, much like his mentor, the Golden State Warriors’ Steph Curry.
Brandon Miller: After an All-American freshman year at the top-seeded University of Alabama, 20-year-old Miller declared for this year’s draft after leading the SEC in scoring, but his ascent has been marred with off-court controversy.
Amen and Ausar Thompson: Identical twins Amen and Ausar were called “the best-kept secrets in basketball” in a draft class dripping with talent, flying under the radar until exploding at Overtime Elite, another burgeoning pre-professional basketball league.
- The Thompson Twins are known for their instinctual defense and drive, pushing one another to be the best. It’ll be interesting to watch their evolution as competitors within the league, as they almost certainly will not be drafted to the same team.
🇨🇦 The hometown heroes
Leonard Miller: After averaging a double-double in the G League last season, Miller is considered the best Canadian prospect this year. Magnifique.
Olivier-Maxence Prosper: The athletic third year from Marquette University had a strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine, dominating during the scrimmage with 21 points and a strong defensive showing. Even better — his jump shot just keeps improving.
Charles Bediako: Another prospect out of the University of Alabama, Bediako held down the defense for the Crimson Tide in his second year. With 67 blocks in 37 games, it’s no wonder Bediako has waived his remaining collegiate eligibility to go all in on the draft. The question is — will the league reward his gamble?
📺 How to tune in
The excitement begins on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY, airing live on TSN2. May the odds be ever in your team’s favor.