The Denver Nuggets are the 2022-23 NBA Finals Champions, and now we look toward the next crop of players that will be joining the NBA ranks via the 2023 NBA Draft.
The event kicks off tonight live from the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York, and every minute leading up to the draft is essential to teams as they look to trade up, trade down, trade draft picks, trade players, and more.
Ahead of the draft, we've already seen reports of one massive trade with the Boston Celtics, Memphis Grizzlies, and Washington Wizards, headlined by Kristaps Porzingis, and two first-round picks headed to Boston while Celtics guard Marcus Smart heads to the Grizzlies.
Below, we'll look at the storylines to watch ahead of the draft that is due to make it all the more intriguing.
San Antonio Spurs Rebuild?
— JeffGSpursKENS5 (@JeffGSpursZone) June 22, 2023
The San Antonio Spurs have locked up the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and it will be France superstar Victor Wembanyama. At DraftKings Sportsbook, the 7-foot-5 19-year-old is -20000 (bet $20,000 to win $100) to go to the Spurs.
Wembanyama is considered one of the best prospects since the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted LeBron James due to his size, ability to hit threes, and insane athleticism that's not often associated with players of his size.
He'll be the guy at No. 1, and they have the No. 33 and No. 44 picks in the second round.
There have been some rumblings about the Spurs potentially trying to snag another lottery pick for a point guard, and the Orlando Magic, who own picks No. 6 and No. 11, could be a destination. The problem may be the resources San Antonio can trade, however. If they can pull it off, they could be in on Wembanyama's teammate, Bilal Coulibaly.
Even if they stick at No. 1, 33, and 44, they could still walk away with Wembanyama and a point guard at No. 33, such as Colby Jones from Xavier, Amari Bailey from UCLA, or even college basketball legend Marcus Sasser from Houston.
Adding Wembanyama to a core with Keldon Johnson and Devin Vassell will be enjoyable for years, but the Spurs also have a ton of cap space.
Could they attract players like Russell Westbrook, Khris Middleton, or Kyrie Irving? It remains to be seen, but we could see an excellent turnaround from the Spurs after going 22-60 this past season.
Is Portland Trading No. 3 For Star?
We mentioned Wembanyama going No. 1 overall, and there seems to be some debate at No. 2 for the Charlotte Hornets between Alabama Crimson Tide star Brandon Miller and G League star Scoot Henderson. Either way, the Portland Trail Blazers, who draft at No. 3 overall, could trade their pick for a player to go alongside Damian Lillard to win now and fend off the star from leaving.
The Trail Blazers are coming off back-to-back losing seasons after going 42-30 during the 2020-21 season.
Lillard has remained loyal to the team, and while Henderson and Miller might be great players eventually, they likely won't be as productive as a star they could nab for the pick.
But who could the Trail Blazers target? One player that makes some sense is New Orleans Pelicans Zion Williamson. The problem with him is thats he's barely played during his NBA career, playing in just 114 games across four seasons.
If the Trail Blazers cannot add a star to go with Lillard, this could be a franchise-altering move where they draft Henderson or Miller, trade Lillard, and rebuild around their new star with the No. 3 overall pick.
Twins As Lottery Draft Choices?
We could see brothers get drafted as lottery picks for the first time ever. To make it even more interesting, they're twins.
Yes, we're talking about Amen and Ausar Thompson, who played for Overtime Elite for the past two years, including foregoing their senior year of high school. Looking over mock drafts, Amen is considered the better of the two due to his playmaking ability and defensive prowess.
Some mock drafts have them going back to back in the top five or top 10, but either way, the Thompson family is about to have two new additions to the NBA.
The only thing that would make this story more compelling is if a team somehow landed both.
NBA Trades to Watch For
While we're looking ahead to the future stars of the NBA, we should look at some players that could be traded before or during the draft night in a quick round-up with the latest rumors:
- Zion Williamson: According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, the Pelicans are interested in moving up for Scoot Henderson, and a trade could involve Williamson or Brandon Ingram.
?The Hornets, from what I?ve been told, prefer Brandon Ingram over Zion Williamson in a potential trade for the No. 2 pick.? - @ShamsCharania
If the Pelicans want Scoot Henderson, it looks like the asking price will be Ingram. pic.twitter.com/8LRsEdxOn4
— Evan Sidery (@esidery) June 19, 2023
- Chris Paul: According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, the Wizards, who recently acquired Paul, could look to reroute him back to the Los Angeles Clippers.
— Legion Hoops (@LegionHoops) June 20, 2023
- Paul George: Mark Stein writes on his Substack that the Clippers could look to trade George with the Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets as potential landing spots. A trade with the Blazers could likely land No. 3 overall while this facilitates a star to go alongside Lillard.
- Monte Morris: After trading away Bradley Beal, the Wizards could also be looking to ship out Monte Morris, who played solid basketball in 2022-23, averaging 10.3 points and 5.3 assists per game, reports Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports.
- Evan Fournier: Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News has reported that Knicks forward Evan Fournier could be on his way out of town as he's due $19 million next season and a $19 million team option the season after that.
Not a surprise but source says reps of Evan Fournier are working to find a trade. Fournier on the record saying he'd be surprised if he's a Knick to start next season. He's owed roughly $18.9 million next season with a $19 million team option for 2024-25.
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) June 22, 2023
- Obi Toppin: Along with Fournier, Toppin could be out of town, reports Ian Begley of SNY. He wants more minutes, and the Knicks may be unable to facilitate that.
A few pre-draft notes on the Knicks, Paul George, Obi Toppin, Miles McBride and Donte DiVincenzo: pic.twitter.com/AGiXXBgqbb
— Ian Begley (@IanBegley) June 22, 2023
Want More Sports News?
Get the biggest and best sports news sent directly to your inbox.