The 2023 NBA Draft: Winners and Losers
THE 2023 NBA DRAFT: WINNERS AND LOSERS – The draft is now in the mirror, and to nobody’s surprise, Victor Wembanyama went first overall. The San Antonio Spurs thus have a star on their hands now, but no big names were otherwise traded.
That said, a few moves were made in the days leading up to Thursday night.
NBA free agency begins on Friday, but for now, we can focus on the 2023 NBA draft just gone. Naturally, we start with the big story of the week…
Winner: San Antonio Spurs
This is obvious. The Spurs traded away Dejounte Murray and signaled a rebuild in hopes of landing Victor Wembanyama. They did exactly that, and frankly, they won this draft when they heard their name called for the top spot in the NBA Draft Lottery.
Wembanyama is the most hyped prospect since LeBron James, and these EuroLeague highlights show exactly why:
But even if he amounts to only half of the expectations, he will be a starter for years to come. The Spurs know how to develop players (especially international talent) so this is a perfect spot for Wembanyama.
Loser: Orlando Magic
The Magic had two picks in the 2023 NBA draft lottery and still managed to make questionable decisions. For starters, they selected Anthony Black at No. 6.
Now, Black is a terrific talent, but he needs to improve his shooting, and that’s something Orlando really needs to work on. Nonetheless, I can live with Black going here.
On the other hand, the Magic surprised a ton of people by selecting Jett Howard from Michigan. He was slated to go somewhere in the middle of the first round, but this feels really early for him to be taken.
Moreover, there were far better choices: Gradey Dick, Cam Whitmore, Jordan Hawkins, and even Keyonte George.
The Magic could’ve traded back a bit, gotten a few assets, and maybe still landed Howard, so this is a questionable decision at best.
Winner: Houston Rockets
The state of Texas just crushed this draft, and the Dallas Mavericks are an honorable mention winner for me as well. The Rockets, however, had arguably the best slate of picks in this class.
For starters, they grabbed Overtime Elite star Amen Thompson. While that is no surprise, a group with Thompson, Jalen Green, and Kevin Porter Jr. is going to be a ton of fun to watch with new head coach Ime Udoka.
But the Rockets really won this draft by selecting Villanova star Cam Whitmore at No. 20, ending his stunning fall.
The Rockets’ starting five is extremely young and raw admittedly, but the potential of this group is sky-high. Whitmore’s fall was apparently due to some injury concerns, but grabbing a top-10 pick at 20th overall is a massive victory all around.
Loser: Charlotte Hornets
This is tough. For months, the No. 2 pick was where this draft started, and it was between Alabama star Brandon Miller and G League Ignite’s Scoot Henderson.
There are cases to be made for both picks, and Miller’s season with the Crimson Tide was one of the best in college basketball. Amongst his greatest moments was this 41-point haul and matchwinner against South Carolina:
But, personally, the thought of LaMelo Ball and Scoot Henderson together at the guard spots was incredibly fun.
Do the Hornets need a wing such as Miller? Absolutely. But, perhaps more importantly, they need talent, and Henderson arguably would’ve been the top pick if it weren’t for Wembanyama.
It is difficult to sit here and say Miller over Henderson is the way to go. But the thought of LaMelo and Scoot together was a ton of fun to imagine.
Winner: Dallas Mavericks
As stated above, the state of Texas just hit home runs everywhere in the 2023 NBA draft. The Mavericks found a way to crush this draft with a ton of questions swirling around them.
They moved down two spots in the lottery in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder AND dumped the ugly Davis Bertans contract.
At 12, they grabbed Duke star Dereck Lively II, a player they more than likely would’ve selected at 10. They move down, clear salary, and get a big which is what they needed.
Now, if Kyrie Irving stays, the Mavs have some pieces to work with alongside Kyrie and Luka Doncic. Mark Cuban got it done again.