WINNERS AND LOSERS FROM THE DRAFT

2023-06-27 · 4 min read · NBA/Basketball
Victor Wembanyama

Caitlin Smith/NBAE/Getty Images | Wendell Cruz-USA Today Sports

Winners:
San Antonio Spurs
This is perhaps the most obvious choice, landing transcendent prospect Victor Wembanyama from France alone is enough to be at the top of this list, as he instantly changes the course of the Spurs franchise for the next 10 years and beyond. At 7 Foot 5, he has guard skills similar to Kevin Durant, and could be the most impactful defensive player than we’ve seen from any rookie.
On top of their prize, the Spurs also landed another Frenchman Sidy Cissoko in the second round at 44, which was nice value. The 19-year-old played in for the G League Ignite team last year, and though he’s raw, he has tons of upside.
But this is about Wembanyama. The Spurs think he can be the next player to lead them to greatness, following in the footsteps of Tim Duncan, and with good reason.
Houston Rockets
Though this was a three person draft at the top, Houston got a nice consolation prize with Amen Thompson with the 4th pick. He’s widely considered the best passer in the draft class, which should be a nice fit next to scoring minded guard Jalen Green and versatile forward Jabari Smith.
The main question with Thompson is how he will fair against NBA competition, coming straight out of the Overtime Elite program. But he certainly has the athleticism to hang, and should be a nice boost to this already intriguing young core.
Furthermore, Cam Whitmore, the Villanova product who many had as a top-5 talent, fell all the way to the 20th pick, where Houston was happy to take a flier. There’s been a lot of talk about his medicals, and his attitude, the key reasons why he fell so far. But at that spot, it's a worthwhile gamble for a player that has one of the highest potential ceilings in the draft as a scorer.
Portland Trail Blazers
Sometimes, it's better to be lucky than to be good, and Portland certainly was lucky the Charlotte Hornets passed on potential superstar Scoot Henderson with the 2nd pick (more on that later), allowing the dynamic combo guard to fall to the Blazers lap at 3.
Does he fit well with Damian Lillard? Not particularly. Is Portland now stuck between winning now and rebuilding? You bet. None of that matters though, as they were able to bring one of the best prospects we’ve seen in years into the building, a player that probably would have gone 1st overall in any year other than the one with Wembanyama.
Losers:
Charlotte Hornets
Speaking of Henderson, he was right there for Charlotte to grab, but they overthought things and instead took the polarizing Brandon Miller with the second pick. Now, it is defensible. Miller is a 6 foot 9 guy with great shooting ability, and a fluid offensive game. Guys like Brandon Miller are simply hard to find, and he could be a great fit next to LaMelo Ball.
Obviously, there are serious off-court concerns with Miller (if you don’t know what I’m referencing, google him…you’ll see), but hopefully he’s moved on and will be ready to focus on playing basketball with his new team.
He certainly is a talented player, but to me, Scoot has a chance to be a franchise guy, a quality I just don’t totally see with Miller. Charlotte might look back at this pick in five years with some serious regrets.
Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic already have an extremely talented young core, led by last year's 1st overall pick Paulo Banchero, and with picks at 6 and 11,they had a chance to bolster it in a real way. I’m not saying they didn’t, per se, but their two choices feel a little bit busty to me.
At first glance on paper, Anthony Black at 6 fits nicely with what the Magic have going on. The Arkansas Product is 6 foot 7 with nice playmaking ability and a solid defensive player. The problem is: He can’t shoot, and it’s a team already stocked full with wing playmakers who don’t shoot 3’s.I would have much rather seen them go for Gradey Dick here, someone who can space the floor and create more space for Banchero and Franz Wagner.
Then, with 11, they again had a chance at Dick, along with another shooter Jordan Hawkins out of Uconn. But instead, they went with Jett Howard out of Michigan, in a very surprising choice. Now, Howard is a shooter, but was projected to go much lower than the two I just mentioned. Furthermore, he also isn’t a very good defender or rebounder despite a 6 foot 8 frame. All in all, it feels like Orlando could have done a lot better with these two picks.
Toronto Raptors
Why, you ask? Well, Toronto had a chance to change their course completely with Henderson falling to the 3rd pick. Portland had been in talks to trade the pick for weeks, and Toronto had as many assets as any team involved in the discussions. He would have been a perfect player to pair with Scottie Barnes as the two building blocks for the future.
Instead, Toronto elected not to part ways with Pascal Siakam, or OG Anuno by, or both. And though having Dick fall to them at 13 seems like great value for the sniper from Kansas, he’s more of a player that can help a good team, as opposed to uplifting a bad one. This team now feels like they’re stuck between two directions, with no clear plan to move forward. A Siakam and the 13th pick for Henderson and Anfernee Simons contract is a deal I would have taken in a heartbeat. Who knows if that was on the table, but it feels like if Toronto really wanted to, they could have gotten something done to bring in Henderson.
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By: Eddie Huband

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