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The NBA wastes little time between the Finals and the next crop of NBA draft prospects to enter the league. This year’s draft is June 22, 2023, and we are looking at the top NBA prospects 2023 that you need to be aware of before Thursday’s event.
There is a heavily anticipated player expected to go No. 1 this year, but there are some other standouts worth getting to know better as well.
Victor Wembanyama, Center (Metropolitans 92)
If you have gotten used to spelling “Giannis Antetokounmpo,” then Victor Wembanyama (“Wemby” for short) should be easy to learn too. The expectations for him are arguably the highest of any professional basketball prospect since LeBron James 20 years ago. He is expected to go No. 1 to the Spurs, who may have really hit the lottery this time around.
What kind of hype are we talking about? Some experts have been calling the 19-year-old French star a future No. 1 overall pick since he was 16, if not earlier. Wembanyama stands at 7’4” with a reported 8-foot wingspan. He exploded in the LNB Pro A league last season when he averaged 21.6 points and 10.4 rebounds per game to lead the league in both categories.
He also led the league by averaging 3.0 blocks per game, so he could be the kind of two-way player and modern shooter (3-point shots included) that a past super tall foreign player such as Yao Ming lacked in his skillset.
Wemby has drawn defensive comparisons to Rudy Gobert and offensive comparisons to Kristaps Porzingis, Dirk Nowitzki, and he is said to be influenced by the games of Giannis and Kevin Durant.
With the Spurs still having an all-time great coach in Gregg Popovich, it seems like Wembanyama should be in good hands to get his career and all of its high expectations off to a strong start.
Scoot Henderson, Point Guard (NBA G League Ignite)
This is a very interesting draft since the top players are not entering the league from traditional paths like the NCAA. Scoot Henderson is the youngest player in NBA G League history, joining the Ignite after finishing high school early in the state of Georgia.
Henderson is a slight favorite to go with the No. 2 pick in the draft. He had offers to play NCAA ball from Georgia, Auburn, Ole Miss, Florida and more, but he chose to forego his senior season of high school and joined the G League, a developmental league, at 17.
While Henderson started his 2021-22 season with a rib injury, he only needed a second game to score 31 points. He finished the season averaging 14.7 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 4.8 assists in 10 games.
In October 2022, Henderson actually faced off against Victor Wembanyama in an exhibition game against the Metropolitans 92. Henderson’s team won the first game with him posting a line of 28 points, 9 assists, and 5 rebounds. He was injured in the second game.
Brandon Miller, Small Forward (Alabama)
Expected to be a top 3 pick, Brandon Miller made headlines on and off the court in Alabama. In his only collegiate season, he led the Crimson Tide in scoring (18.8), rebounds (8.2), and he shot a solid 38.4% from 3 on a high volume of attempts (7.5 per game).
Miller helped Alabama to its finest season in decades, finishing with a 31-6 record as he won SEC Player of the Year. Unfortunately, Miller had a poor showing in the NCAA tournament, shooting an abysmal 8-of-41 (19.5%) in three games – the lowest FG% by any player since 1985 (min. 35 FGA). The Crimson Tide were eliminated in the region semifinal by San Diego State.
Miller also rose to notoriety last season after his alleged involvement with a firearm that a friend used in a fatal shooting. The gun was apparently in Miller’s car and he did not have any knowledge that it would be used. Miller has not faced any charges stemming from the incident, but after recent events in the NBA with Ja Morant and guns, the league obviously is thinking about off-court issues like this.
But that should not stop Miller from being one of the highest draft picks in this class.
Amen Thompson, Point Guard (Overtime Elite City Reapers)
Amen Thompson is a point guard who played in the Overtime Elite (OTE) league, which is designed for 16-to-20-year-olds and is based in Georgia where it has operated for two seasons now. Again, this is shaping up to be an unconventional draft. Last year, the top 7 picks all attended familiar colleges in America. This year, there may only be 1-of-4 picks at the top who went to a traditional college among the top NBA prospects 2023.
Amen Thompson’s twin brother Ausar, who should also be a high draft pick this year, was the Finals MVP for the City Reapers, the team he and Amen played for.
It is possible Amen does not get drafted ahead of his brother, but scouts like his playmaking ability (9.2 assists per game in the playoffs) and athletic build. But the Thompson twins will both be facing the questions of how legitimate the competition was in the OTE, and if they could have benefitted from a more traditional path to the NBA.
Cam Whitmore, Small Forward (Villanova)
Villanova is a fine school for NBA draft prospects, but Cam Whitmore projects to be the school’s first one-and-done since Tim Thomas way back in 1997. Whitmore won the Big East Freshman of the Year award after he averaged 12.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 0.7 assists per game.
Whitmore will need to cut down the turnovers and up his assists from college, but he can attack the basket and score in a variety of ways.
Favored to go with the No. 5 pick, Whitmore could be a good fit for the Detroit Pistons, who have spent top 5 picks the last two years on guards Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. Now they could secure a top wing prospect in this draft with Whitmore.
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