FILE - An NBA basketball sits in a rack before a game between the Detroit Pistons and the Charlotte Hornets, March 9, 2023, in Detroit. If you want to be in the NBA, it helps to be, among other things, excellent at the playing of basketball. If you want to be in the NBA draft, basketball skills aren’t required. There is a group of 18 people who are officially “draft eligible” for Thursday’s draft at Barclays Center in New York, and they have one thing in common: They will not be getting drafted. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio, File)

2023 NBA Draft Preview: What to Know Going In

The 2023 NBA Draft may have some of the most buzz surrounding it out of any draft in NBA history.

From the anticipated selection of generational prospect Victor Wembanyama to numerous trade rumors centered around the second and third picks, there has been no shortage of storylines for this year’s draft class.

The NBA’s Wembanyama Sweepstakes

In a draft season filled with rumors and uncertainty, one thing has remained clear: Victor Wembanyama is still the No. 1 pick.

The hype for the 7’3″ Frenchman has reached its boiling point in recent weeks. Teams were rumored to be “tanking for Wemby” throughout the 2022-23 season, and over three millions viewers tuned into the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery last May to see where Wemanyama would end up.

Ironically enough, one of the most successful franchises in NBA history ended up winning the Wembanyama sweepstakes. The San Antonio Spurs, coming off of an uncharacteristically turbulent season that saw them finish with a 22-60 record, secured the top pick in the 2023 draft.

In past years, most teams with the No. 1 pick have attempted to conceal their plans prior to the draft itself. San Antonio, however, has made no secret of their plans to select Wembanyama.

Wembanyama has spent the last year with the Metropolitans 92 of the LNB Pro A league in France.

Throughout his 32 appearances in the 2022-23 season, Wembanyama has averaged 21.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game.

Despite being their youngest player at just 19 years old, he leads the team in all three of those categories. He also guided the Metropolitans 92 to a 23-11 record this past season.

They subsequently finished with the second-best record in the LNB Pro A.

Despite his towering height, Wembanyama can also shoot and handle the ball extremely well.

He also features exceptional mobility for his size, allowing him to guard essentially any position on the defensive end. Scouts have attempted to compare him to NBA superstars such as Kevin Durant and Giannis Antetokounmpo. In reality, however, there is no proper comparison for the French phenom.

In an era that values “positionless players” that can play across the floor, Wembanyama’s wide variety of skillsets has turned him into one of the most exciting prospects the NBA has seen.

Charlotte & Portland Evaluating Options

Once the Spurs officially select Wembanyama, all eyes will turn to the Charlotte Hornets.

The Hornets currently hold the second pick in the draft, and it remains a mystery what they plan to do with it. Charlotte general manager Mitch Kupchak said the team has narrowed down their search to two players.

While Kupchak did not name anyone, it is widely believed the players in question are Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller.

Henderson played for the G-League Ignite developmental team last season.

In 19 games, he averaged 16.5 points, 6.5 assists, 5.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. An explosive guard with elite quickness and athleticism, Henderson has received multiple comparisons to “prime” Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook.

If not for Wembanyama, Henderson could easily be the top prospect of this year’s (or any given year’s) class.

On the flip side, Miller spent the last year as a member of the Alabama Crimson Tide.

He averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds per game en route to a 2023 SEC Player of the Year nod.

However, Miller has already faced controversy off the court as well. A Tuscaloosa police officer testified that Miller purchased a firearm that his former teammate Darius Miles used in the murder of 23-year-old Jamea Jonae Harris. Miller was eventually cleared of any wrongdoing, and he subsequently faced no charges.

Recent reports have indicated that Charlotte is currently leaning towards selecting Henderson, but that may still be subject to change. Additionally, the Hornets have still not ruled out trading down in the draft.

They have continued to take calls for the No. 2 pick with less than 24 hours to go.

As for the Portland Trail Blazers, who hold the No. 3 pick, their draft status remains murky as well.

Their decision will likely center around their offseason plans with franchise cornerstone Damian Lillard. The seven-time All-Star, who remains under contract with Portland through the 2024-25 season, has been the subject of trade rumors all offseason long. With the Trail Blazers contemplating a rebuild, it remains to be seen if the aging Lillard will want to stick around on a non-contending team.

NBA Draft Storylines to Keep an Eye On

In addition to the hype surrounding this year’s draft class itself, fans may want to keep an eye on the rumor mill for potential pick swaps later in the evening.

Trade talks tend to heat up as teams prepare to go on the clock. Needless to say, this year’s draft will not be an exception. Numerous teams have already begun shopping their first round picks to gauge potential value in return.

The 2023 offseason has already brought about multiple blockbuster trades. On June 19, the Washington Wizards dealt three-time All-Star Bradley Beal to the Phoenix Suns.

Just two days later, the Boston Celtics sent out former Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart in a three-team trade that landed them 2018 All-Star Kristaps Porzingis. The Celtics have also hinted that they are “far from done” making moves, indicating that Boston could be a key player in some potential draft night deals.

Another potential trade suitor for the 2023 draft: the New Orleans Pelicans.

2019 first overall pick Zion Williamson has dealt with plenty of drama this offseason, including adult film star Moriah Mills threatening to release explicit tapes of the NBA star. Consequently, New Orleans has begun exploring their options in potentially shipping him away. Despite his recent controversies and troubled injury history, Williamson will likely generate plenty of interest throughout the league.

It still remains unclear which teams will turn into major draft day players and which squads will keep their cards close to their chest.

But no matter what happens, the 2023 NBA Draft will be filled with excitement from start to finish.

The draft will officially kick off at 8 p.m. EDT on ESPN and ABC.

About Jack Meyer

Jack Meyer is a third-year student at the University of Florida. He is majoring in Journalism and specializing in Sports and Media.

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