2023 NBA Draft

And-Ones: Embiid, French National Team, 2023 Draft, Henderson

A native of Cameroon, Sixers star Joel Embiid also has U.S. and French citizenship, meaning his choice of which country to represent in international play will have a major impact on what the field looks like at the 2024 Olympics. Teaming up with Rudy Gobert and Victor Wembanyama would give France the world’s best frontcourt and make Les Bleus a legitimate gold medal threat.

Speaking to Joe Vardon of The Athletic, Gobert was asked about the possibility of Embiid joining the French national team and said he’d welcome the addition of the MVP runner-up. However, Gobert’s answer wasn’t unequivocal, and he said he doesn’t plan to personally recruit Embiid.

“For me the most important thing is if his heart tells him to be a part of Team France,” Gobert told Vardon. “I want him to do it for the right reasons. As long as he understands that the French national team is different than the NBA. We have rules, we have things that we do. Sometimes we all have lunch and dinner together — it’s not everybody doing their own thing. These are two different teams.

“But I think the main thing for us, for him and for me is that I want to make sure that he does it from his heart. And if he does that, I think he would be an amazing addition for our team. … It has to come from him. You are either all in, or you’re not. You can’t just show up.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The latest 2023 mock draft from ESPN’s Jonathan Givony (Insider link) moves Alabama’s Brandon Miller up to No. 7 and Arkansas’ Anthony Black up to No. 11. Reece Beekman has also moved into the first round, with Givony observing that the Virgina guard’s defensive ability gives him a “very high floor.”
  • Beekman also earned a spot on John Hollinger’s list at The Athletic of 10 returning NCAA players who have impressed him as potential NBA prospects. Iowa’s Kris Murray, Illinois’ Terrence Shannon, and Xavier’s Colby Jones are among the other college standouts singled out by Hollinger.
  • Mirin Fader of The Ringer takes an in-depth look at the consensus No. 2 prospect in the 2023 draft class, profiling rising G League Ignite star Scoot Henderson.
  • The NBA is now allowing sovereign wealth funds to invest in its franchises as minority stakeholders. Mike Vorkunov of The Athletic explains exactly what that means and lays out why it might be risky, noting that the league could have to make decisions on sovereign wealth funds associated with autocratic countries.

And-Ones: Cousins, Howard, Vezenkov, 2023 Draft

Appearing on the All The Smoke podcast with Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson, Warriors president of basketball operations Bob Myers said that free agent big man DeMarcus Cousins got in touch with him in October to ask why he’s not in the NBA, as Tristi Rodriguez of NBC Sports Bay Area writes.

According to Myers, he explained to Cousins that because of his reputation as a potentially disruptive locker-room presence, the veteran center has to go above and beyond what people expect from him.

“I said, ‘You want that answer? … Because people are afraid of how you’re going to act,'” Myers said. “And he’s like, ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Well whatever the reason is, it’s here now.’ And I like DeMarcus. … I can’t blame him for him because of all he’s been through.

“… I said, ‘Here’s the issue, you have to act better. To get back, you can’t just be average. You’ve got to convince people.’ And that’s not really fair, but that’s just what it is.”

As Dario Skerletic of Sportando relayed earlier this week, reports out of Taiwain have indicated that Cousins could follow in Dwight Howard‘s footsteps and join a Taiwainese team, but that has yet to be confirmed.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Speaking of Howard, the three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year will miss the next couple weeks for the Taoyuan Leopards due to a knee injury, his Taiwanese club announced (story via BasketNews.com). Howard, who logged 91 total minutes during a back-to-back set last weekend and averaged 30.5 PPG, 17.0 RPG, and 9.5 APG in the two games, said his body is still adjusting to playing so much.
  • In other international basketball news, Olympiacos forward Sasha Vezenkov won the EuroLeague’s “MVP of the Round” award on Saturday for the fourth time in 10 weeks so far this season, per a press release. Vezenkov, whose NBA rights were acquired by the Kings this past summer, is one of five draft-and-stash players we highlighted on Friday as candidates to eventually make an impact in the NBA. He ranks second in the EuroLeague with 20.1 points per game.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic prefaces his list of top 100 prospects by observing that the 2023 NBA draft looks “wide open” outside of the top 10, with a ton of first-round slots potentially up for grabs depending on which players have strong seasons. Vecenie adds that several of this year’s highest-rated freshman have been slowed by injuries or have underperformed in the early going, making the class more difficult to evaluate.

And-Ones: Frazier, Offseason Moves, 2023 Draft, Rookies

Former Rockets guard Michael Frazier has signed with the Illawara Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League, the team announced in a press release. Frazier will serve as an injury replacement for another former NBA player, George King.

Frazier, 28, went undrafted out of Florida in 2015 and spent several seasons in the G League, plus one in Italy, before getting an opportunity to make his NBA debut in 2020 for Houston. He appeared in 13 games during the 2019/20 season as a Rocket, then returned to the G League before spending last season in Australia with the Perth Wildcats.

Having seen Frazier play for Perth last season, Illawara Hawks head coach Jacob Jackomas believes his team is getting a quality player: “He is a willing defender with great size and strength, and be it at the 3-point line or getting downhill and attacking the basket, we feel like he will make an immediate impact on the group.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • The Kings, Trail Blazers, and Pacers look like some of the under-the-radar winners of the 2022 offseason, writes ESPN’s Bobby Marks (subscription required). Marks also highlights Magic big man Bol Bol, Bucks guard Jevon Carter, and Suns wing Damion Lee as some of the best value signings of the summer.
  • Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report has updated his 2023 mock draft, projecting all 58 picks and providing analysis for each one. Next year’s draft will only be 58 picks instead of 60 because the Sixers and Bulls have forfeited their second-rounders due to free agency gun-jumping violations.
  • Sam Vecenie of The Athletic ranks this season’s top 15 rookie performers to date, with Magic forward Paolo Banchero and Pacers guard Bennedict Mathurin leading the way. The only second-round pick to crack the top 15 is Raptors big man Christian Koloko, who was selected 33rd overall but ranks eighth on Vecenie’s list.

And-Ones: Wembanyama, 2023 Draft, Best Trade Assets, More

Victor Wembanyama led France to a pair of blowout victories in this month’s World Cup qualifiers, scoring 39 total points in 48 minutes as the French team beat Lithuania by 25 points and Bosnia and Herzegovina by 36. The performances on the international stage were the latest reminder why Wembanyama is ranked atop every draft expert’s big board for 2023.

That list of draft experts includes Jonathan Givony of ESPN, who unveiled his full top-100 list for the 2023 NBA draft on Thursday, with the usual suspects (Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson) leading the way.

Givony’s initial list features Overtime Elite’s Amen Thompson at No. 3, Arkansas’ Nick Smith Jr. at No. 4, and Villanova’s Cam Whitmore at No. 5. Keyonte George, Ausar Thompson, Dillon Mitchell, Kel’el Ware, and Brandon Miller round out his top 10.

In an Insider-only story for ESPN.com, Givony also shared his impressions on this year’s Champions Classic, evaluating Duke’s Kyle Filipowski as a lottery prospect and taking a closer look at Gradey Dick‘s strong start to the season for Kansas.

  • Which NBA teams have the best collection of trade assets? Yossi Gozlan and the staff at HoopsHype rank the Thunder, Pelicans, and the Grizzlies as the top three due to their impressive mix of young talent and future draft picks. On the other end of the spectrum, the Wizards are considered the team with the least valuable trade assets.
  • Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today takes a look at nine players who are making an impact this season after changing teams in the summer, starting with Donovan Mitchell in Cleveland, while Frank Urbina of HoopsHype singles out nine players who appear to be taking a major leap forward, including Lauri Markkanen and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.
  • In his latest look around the NBA, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer considers whether the Warriors and Bulls will have to turn to the trade market this season, explores Joel Embiid‘s ongoing evolution, and highlights some of the league’s most impressive three-point shooters.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic breaks out the “panic meter” to determine how concerned we should be about some would-be contenders who are off to slow starts. Hollinger isn’t too worried about the Sixers and Clippers, but has serious reservations about the Timberwolves, Nets, and Lakers, with the Heat and Warriors falling in the middle.

Draft Notes: Wembanyama, Henderson, College Prospects, Oden

With the French League season underway, Victor Wembanyama continues to display the talents that make him the consensus No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft, writes Jonathan Givony of ESPN. His Metropolitans 92 team is off to a 6-1 start with Wembanyama ranking second in the league in scoring, third in rebounding, first in blocks and fifth in usage rate.

Wembanyama is learning how to use his 7’4″ frame to his advantage, challenging shots on defense and unleashing a turnaround jumper that’s nearly impossible to defend. He’s shooting just 33% from three-point range, a drop-off from his 9-for-18 performance in two games in Las Vegas, and he’s still adapting to the more physical style of play in France, but his coach, Vincent Collet, says that’s to be expected.

“Defense is different [in the United States],” Collet said. “He has more room in the G League game. And probably the referees are protecting more. Sometimes they grab him in France. So that’s something special that didn’t happen [in Las Vegas]. I don’t think he has to play to make seven threes each game.”

Givony notes that Wembanyama will have another international test this week with two FIBA World Cup qualifiers. France will travel to Lithuania on Friday and will host Bosnia and Herzegovina next Monday.

There’s more on the 2023 draft:

  • Scoot Henderson, expected to taken second overall, is off to a more uneven start with the G League Ignite, Givony adds. He posted 25 points and seven assists in his first game, but took some questionable shots and didn’t attempt any three-pointers. He had 25 points again Sunday in his second game, but he needed 28 shots and made critical mistakes down the stretch in a one-point loss. Givony describes Henderson’s best plays as “All-Star caliber,” but says he still needs work on his decision making, especially in the half court.
  • With the college basketball season tipping off today, Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report offers a look at the best prospects and several others who could rise up draft boards by next summer. Included in Wasserman’s top tier are Arkansas’ Anthony Black and Nick Smith Jr., Baylor’s Keyonte George, Alabama’s Brandon Miller, Duke’s Dariq Whitehead and Villanova’s Cam Whitmore.
  • Former No. 1 pick Greg Oden, who’s now director of basketball operations at Butler, can understand the exposure that Wembanyama is getting at such a young age, per Dana Hunsinger Benbow of The Indianapolis Star. “Find something that you enjoy doing and stay with that and always keep that a part of you,” Oden said in offering advice to Wembanyama. “Because this journey is going to mature you a lot faster than everybody else.”

2023 NBA Draft Pick Swaps To Monitor

It’s far too early in the 2022/23 NBA season to look at the standings and draw sweeping conclusions about which teams are headed for the postseason and which are lottery-bound.

Still, Victor Wembanyama‘s impending arrival casts a long shadow over this season — having even an outside shot at landing the best NBA prospect since LeBron James may prompt some struggling teams to pivot to tank mode midway through the year rather than pushing for a play-in spot.

Since any prolonged slump could make a team’s fans wonder if tanking for Wembanyama is the smart play, it’s worth noting up front which clubs would and wouldn’t realistically have a shot at him if they finish in the lottery. A team could go 0-82 and still have a 0% chance of drafting Wembanyama if that team has already traded away its unprotected 2023 first-round pick.

Here are a few of the unprotected draft-pick swaps and trades worth keeping in mind as the 2022/23 season progresses:


Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers have faced a challenging set of opponents during their 0-4 start and seem likely to bounce back sooner or later, at least to some extent. But if you’ve watched the team look inconsistent and out of sorts on offense while making three-pointers at a record-low rate, you can’t be blamed for wondering if it might be in the franchise’s best interest to tank for a shot at Wembanyama and reload for next season, when Russell Westbrook‘s $47MM cap hit comes off the books.

Unfortunately for the Lakers, that’s not an option. As part of the Anthony Davis trade, the Lakers gave the Pelicans the ability to swap first-round picks in 2023. So if the Lakers miss the postseason and win the draft lottery, that No. 1 overall pick would go to New Orleans, not L.A.

Brooklyn Nets

The Nets haven’t looked much better than the Lakers so far this season. They’re off to a 1-4 start and have the NBA’s worst defense (120.2 defensive rating), with new addition Ben Simmons looking uncomfortable on the court. Again, it’s unlikely they’ll play this poorly all season, but if things continue to go downhill, would tanking be an option for the Nets?

Brooklyn’s draft-pick situation is an unusual one. Theoretically, the Nets could secure the No. 1 pick in 2023, but only if Philadelphia misses the playoffs and wins the draft lottery, since Brooklyn controls the Sixers‘ pick.

The Rockets have the ability to swap their own first-rounder with the Nets’ pick, so if Brooklyn finishes in the lottery and the Sixers don’t, the highest pick the Nets could get would be No. 2 overall (if they and the Rockets earned the top two spots via the lottery).

Given that the Rockets are a good bet to be at or near the bottom of the NBA’s standings, a poor season from the Nets would still probably ensure a strong draft pick, even if they have to swap picks — but it wouldn’t give them a shot at Wembanyama.

Philadelphia 76ers

The 1-4 Sixers haven’t looked right so far this season, especially defensively. There’s too much talent on the roster for them to continue losing games at this rate, but it’s worth noting that they won’t have their first-round pick at all in 2023. That first-rounder will be sent to the Nets, unless it’s worse than Brooklyn’s and Houston’s picks, in which case it will be rerouted to the Jazz.

Los Angeles Clippers

Like their Crypto.com Arena cohabitants, the Clippers have a first-round pick in 2023, but it’s not guaranteed to be their own. As part of the Paul George trade, L.A. gave the Thunder the ability to swap first-rounders in 2023.

The odds of the Thunder finishing ahead of the Clippers in this year’s standings are virtually nil, but this swap is still worth mentioning on the heels of Oklahoma City defeating L.A. in consecutive games this week. Both teams are currently 2-3.

Minnesota Timberwolves/Milwaukee Bucks

The Timberwolves and Bucks have both traded away their 2023 first-round picks without protections. Minnesota’s pick is headed to the Jazz, while Milwaukee’s will be sent to the Rockets.

If the Wolves and Bucks live up to their expectations this year, those picks should land somewhere in the 20s and be well removed from the Wembanyama sweepstakes.

The rest

Several more 2023 first-round picks will likely change hands next spring, but all of the rest of the traded picks for ’23 have some form of protection on them. For instance, Chicago’s 2023 first-rounder will likely be sent to the Magic, but it has top-four protection, so if they were to win the draft lottery, the Bulls would keep that pick.

A full list of the traded 2023 first-round picks can be found right here.

And-Ones: Wembanyama, 2023 Draft, Tanking, More

The NBA will give fans an opportunity to take a closer look at 2023’s projected No. 1 pick over the next several months, announcing on Thursday that all of this season’s Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 games will be available to watch for free on the NBA app. The Metropolitans 92 are, of course, Victor Wembanyama‘s team in France.

The Metropolotians 92 compete in the LNB Betclic ELITE, France’s top basketball league. According to the NBA’s announcement, the French games included on the NBA App will include the All-Star Game on December 29 and the Leaders Cup (playoff) games from February 17-19. The league has a preliminary broadcast schedule right here, though it only includes October and November games for the time being.

The buzz around Wembanyama reached a new level when his French team faced off against the G League Ignite for a pair of exhibition games earlier this month. The NBA is clearly hoping to capitalize off of the increasing level of interest in the 7’3″ super-prospect as he prepares to enter the league in 2023.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • While Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson remains locks to be the first and second players off the board in the 2023 NBA draft, there are plenty of questions behind them in the lottery, according to Sam Vecenie of The Athletic. Vecenie has published an updated version of his ’23 mock draft, projecting Amen Thompson of Overtime Elite to be the No. 3 overall pick, followed by Arkansas’ Nick Smith Jr., Villanova’s Cam Whitmore, Baylor’s Keyonte George, and Duke’s Dariq Whitehead.
  • Vincent Goodwill of Yahoo Sports suggests that the NBA should attempt to curb tanking by prohibiting teams from getting a top-three pick in back-to-back years. He hears that a version of that rule was proposed by the NBA in talks with teams and was resisted by a “small handful” of general managers, despite being favored by commissioner Adam Silver.
  • Suns center Jock Landale and Hornets big man Nick Richards are among the under-the-radar players who are worth getting to know based on their performances in the first 10 days of this NBA season, writes John Hollinger of The Athletic. As Hollinger notes, both Landale and Richards will be restricted free agents in 2023.

And-Ones: Breakout Candidates, Wembanyama, Thornwell

Michael Scotto of HoopsHype polled 20 NBA executives on their top three breakout candidates for the 2022/23 season and found that Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey was the most popular pick. While I’d argue that last season represented a breakout year for Maxey, some executives have far higher expectations for him going forward.

“Maxey’s going to be better than James Harden,” one general manager said to Scotto. “He just keeps getting better and better and will be a huge reason why they have success this season.”

Pacers guard Tyrese Haliburton, Timberwolves guard Anthony Edwards, Magic forward Franz Wagner, and Rockets guard Jalen Green were among the other popular breakout picks, based on the responses Scotto got from executives. Interestingly, Warriors big man James Wiseman and Pistons forward/center Marvin Bagley III were each picked as this year’s top breakout candidate by one GM.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • In his latest look at the top prospects in the 2023 NBA draft class, David Aldridge of The Athletic passes along several entertaining quotes from NBA executives, including one Eastern Conference exec’s response to whether Scoot Henderson could surpass Victor Wembanyama as next year’s No. 1 pick: “Scoot’s good, but, no. Short of Wembanyama having murdered somebody, there’s just no way.”
  • Veteran guard Sindarius Thornwell has signed with Frutti Extra Bursasport, the Turkish team announced this week (via Twitter). Thornwell has appeared in 160 total NBA games and played for New Orleans and Atlanta in 2020/21, but wasn’t in the league last season.
  • Longtime NBA referee Tony Brown, who officiated over 1,100 games, including one in the 2020 NBA Finals, passed away on Thursday after a fight with pancreatic cancer, according to his family (story via ESPN.com).

And-Ones: Wembanyama, Henderson, Satoransky, Randall

Star prospect Victor Wembanyama will play for France’s national team in November during the next round of World Cup qualifying games, per an Associated Press report. The French club is set to face Lithuania on November 11 and will play Bosnia and Herzegovina on November 14.

Wembanyama is coming off a pair of eye-opening exhibition performances against the G League Ignite this week, as he solidified his place as the No. 1 player in the 2022 draft class by pouring in 73 points and blocking nine shots in the two games. The 18-year-old big man, who told Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press that his goal is “to be like something you’ve never seen,” is drawing rave reviews from many of the NBA’s biggest stars.

“He has the chance to be one of the best — not in his age, not in Europe — but one of the best to ever play this game,” Giannis Antetokounmpo said of Wembanyama, according to Alex Kennedy of BasketballNews.com. “We have never seen someone like that before. I think it’s a good challenge for everybody in the league, to have somebody who’s 7-foot-2 and is able to shoot over you and dribble like he’s a guard and block shots and run down the floor fast. We gotta get ready for this kid, you know? He’s going to be really good.”

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • While Wembanyama is considered a generational talent and earned more buzz this week, star Ignite guard Scoot Henderson isn’t ready to concede the top spot in next year’s draft, as he tells Marc J. Spears of Andscape. He also downplayed the idea that he’ll have a long-standing rivalry with the Frenchman. “I’m not worried about him,” Henderson said. “I’m worried about the next level. I’m worried about guarding Steph (Curry).”
  • Jonathan Givony’s latest 2023 mock draft at ESPN (Insider-only link) has Overtime Elite guard Amen Thompson as the No. 3 pick behind Wembanyama and Henderson, followed by Arkansas’ Nick Smith and Villanova’s Cameron Whitmore.
  • Speaking to Alex Molina of Eurohoops, veteran guard Tomas Satoransky expressed pride that he can say he was an NBA player, but admitted that he went through some “ups and downs” in the league. Satoransky said that he’s happy to be back in Europe, playing for Barcelona, because his new deal offers more stability for him and his family than he would have had in the NBA.
  • Former UT Martin guard Craig Randall, who averaged 26.7 PPG for the Long Island Nets last season, tells Tim MacMahon of ESPN that he turned down NBA camp offers that included guaranteed money. Randall instead opted to head to Australia’s National Basketball League, where he’ll have a chance to play a significant role for the Adelaide 36ers. Randall and teammates Antonius Cleveland and Robert Franks all have NBA out clauses in their contracts with Adelaide, according to MacMahon.

NBA Buzz Over Victor Wembanyama Continues To Grow

After wowing NBA scouts and fans with his performance in Tuesday’s exhibition game against G League Ignite, Victor Wembanyama was equally impressive on Thursday afternoon, writes Tim Reynolds of The Associated Press.

The 7’3″ French center dominated nearly every aspect of the game, delivering 36 points and 11 rebounds along with highlight blocks and outrageous long-distance shots. In the two-game series, the projected No. 1 pick in next year’s draft posted 73 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocked shots while making nine three-pointers.

There was already tremendous anticipation surrounding Wembanyama, who was pegged as a future star three years ago with a dominant showing at the FIBA European Under-16 Championship. Watching him stand out against G League competition has added to his legend, including among a pair of former MVPs.

“Everybody’s been a unicorn over the last few years, but he’s more like an alien,” LeBron James said. “No one has ever seen anyone as tall as he is but as fluid and as graceful as he is out on the floor. … He’s, for sure, a generational talent.”

“He’s like the (NBA) 2K create-a-player, every point guard that wants to be 7-foot,” Stephen Curry added. “Cheat-code type vibes, man. He’s a solid talent. It’s great to watch.”

There’s more on Wembanyama:

  • While Wembanyama’s presence gives Metropolitans 92 a chance to be one of the top teams in Europe, coach Vincent Collet said the focus will be on preparing the young big man for the NBA draft, Reynolds adds. Wembanyama is expected to play the entire season, which runs through mid-May, and the team will focus on building his strength and conditioning. “Just before we came in last Saturday, we had a meeting with our doctor and we are going to prepare to plan the next two months to increase what he is doing, besides the court, to strengthen the body,” Collet said. “We’re always careful also with how much time he is practicing, not to go too far. … We plan so that we limit the risk.”
  • Wembanyama is “the singular greatest prospect in NBA draft history,” according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski (video link). Woj says a team president told him that Wembanyama could increase the value of the franchise that drafts him by as much as $500MM.
  • John Hollinger of The Athletic examines how the opportunity to land Wembanyama could affect strategy throughout the NBA this season. He explains that general managers don’t make the decision to tank without support from their ownership, and owners will be much more willing to take that gamble after watching Wembanyama this week. Hollinger identifies seven teams as currently “not interested in making the playoffs,” but he believes that number could grow sharply by February, which means many useful veterans will be available at the trade deadline.