In the neighborhood of the 2023 NBA Draft class, Victor Wembanyama is the breathtaking mansion up front. The luxurious and towering build draws oohs and aahs from onlookers who imagine moving into the palace.
Then they see the for-sale sign has been replaced with a San Antonio Spurs flag. And is that Gregg Popovich driving the moving truck?
Yes, Wembanyama is the top prospect of the crop — likely the best player to enter the league since LeBron James cemented his foundation in Cleveland in 2003. He’s also a lock to be the first name off the board, but that doesn’t mean the rest of the neighborhood is empty.
Not too far from the work of French architecture is the American-made Scoot Henderson. The Georgia native is a sturdy construction who gave a season-long open house in 2022-23. With the Ignite of the NBA G League, he showed off captivating views of his downhill playmaking and limitless hops. The Hornets (No. 2 pick) and Trail Blazers (No. 3) should take a long look at the listing.
SCOOT SLAM 😳
18-year-old Scoot Henderson with a poster dunk for the G League Ignite.
— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) January 4, 2023
One of the hottest risers on the market is Brandon Miller, who wowed as a freshman at the University of Alabama in 2022-23. The SEC Player of the Year doesn’t have a ceiling, which would be a problem for most homes. Scouts and coaches see that as a positive, however, as they can add new layers to his already impressive base.
Next on prospect avenue is a duplex. The Thompsons are both sturdy swingmen who are likely to become the first set of siblings to go in the top 10 of the same draft. On one side, we find Amen, who’s closer to a guard than his forward brother. The Overtime Elite product packs pro-ready playmaking into a 6-foot-7 build that makes him a constant creator of mismatches. The other door leads to Ausar, who has been lauded for his absurd athleticism as an above-the-rim finisher. Nearly any team would mortgage its future to bring in one (or both) of the identical twins.
Ausar Thompson has been named MVP of the Overtime Elite regular season, an OTE representative told ESPN. Thompson, the projected No. 5 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, is averaging 15.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.1 blocks per game this season. pic.twitter.com/UIsbZH1l5O
— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) February 20, 2023
Jarace Walker’s property has pillars on the front porch, which aren’t just for decoration. They represent the big man’s ability to serve as a foundational force on defense. A rim-protecting stanchion in the paint, he can single-handedly prop up a team’s frontcourt, which has to attract teams like the Rockets, Pacers and Wizards.
The paint is still wet on Cam Whitmore, who is one of the youngest players in the class. He won’t turn 19 until after Summer League kicks off in July. That youth never held him back at Villanova, where he showcased two-way skills and earned Big East Freshman of the Year for 2022-23.
While Anthony Black is far from a fixer-upper, he also has plenty of room for expansion. The young guard is a finished product as a playmaker who consistently flashed pro-ready passing with the Arkansas Razorbacks. The right NBA team can enjoy his table-setting skills while developing the rest of his game.
Anthony Black's passing, particularly out of screens and off of drives, really pops. 76th percentile as a P&R ball handler, and I imagine the P&R ability and efficiency grows with better NBA spacing pic.twitter.com/k2acqcWKGC
— Mavs/Magic Draft (@MavsDraft) June 13, 2023
It’s easy to imagine size-needy teams getting into a bidding war over Dereck Lively II. The 7-foot-1 center out of Duke not only brings his spacious build to the interior, but he also packs perimeter skills with a floor-spacing shot and inside-outside defense.
The top defensive domicile of the crop likely belongs to Bilal Coulibaly. While teammates with Victor Wembanyama on Metropolitans 92, the wing occasionally stole the show with his on-ball stops and versatile coverage. Move-in ready on that end, he should make a strong defensive impact as a rookie. “An all-terrain weapon, he can posterize a player and on the very next play block him,” Wembanyama said to SLAM Magazine of Coulibaly.
Rounding out the prospect cul-de-sac is a home modeled after a legendary Pacers player. Gradey Dick is a floor-spacing wing who The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor compared to Reggie Miller. While he’ll need to add another story to reach the Hall of Famer’s heights, the Kansas product can already nail the backyard hoop from two doors down.
Gradey Dick's shooting ability is his calling card but he can offer much more on offense with his athletic cutting, rebounding, and playmaking feel.
The 11-13 range has three-straight great fits. Imagine P&R and DHOs with Wagner/Carter in Orlando, Chet in OKC, Barnes in Toronto. pic.twitter.com/CJ09Yq66ZR
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 19, 2023
There’s no dead end after that initial stretch of head-turning views either. Guys like Cason Wallace, Jordan Hawkins, Keyonte George and Taylor Hendricks are all talented players who could hear their names called in the lottery.
Add in potential late-round steals like Brice Sensabaugh, Jalen Hood-Schifino and James Nnaji, the 2023 NBA Draft class features a deep group of players capable of being key additions to their new team.