Southeast Notes: Hornets, Wizards, Magic, Haslem

G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson has long been considered the top prospect besides Victor Wembanyama in the 2023 draft class, but an inconsistent 2022/23 season and the emergence of Alabama wing Brandon Miller have loosened his hold on that No. 2 spot. The Hornets, who won the second overall pick in Tuesday’s lottery, already have a long-term cornerstone at point guard (LaMelo Ball), further complicating the team’s decision.

Although Hornets president of basketball operations Mitch Kupchak didn’t mention either Henderson or Miller by name after the lottery, he strongly hinted that the team will consider both players. As Roderick Boone of The Charlotte Observer writes, Kupchak didn’t rule out the possibility of adding another ball-handling guard to the roster while also indicating that fit will be a consideration.

“We are getting a little bit more advanced in putting this team together. I think three years ago or even two, three years ago I would have said that without question that we are going to take the best available player, and that’s been our position the last three or four years when we are trying to accumulate talent,” Kupchak said. “And I don’t think we are where we need to be from a talent level, but we’ve got a lot more talent now than we did two or three years ago. So, I think we can be a little bit picky and take into consideration not only the overall talent, but the position.”

Here’s more from around the Southeast:

  • As Josh Robbins of The Athletic writes, head coach Wes Unseld Jr. admitted that it was a “disappointing” lottery night for the Wizards, who didn’t move down but had a great chance to land the No. 1 pick after the first three balls were drawn. Unseld remains confident that the team will be able to find a talented player at No. 8. “I can’t really talk in-depth about individuals, but I think there is some talent (in this draft),” Unseld said. “There’s some positional size. There’s some versatility, some wing depth. So, there certainly is going to be a good player there.”
  • Speaking after Tuesday’s lottery, Magic president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman didn’t sound like someone who will be looking to trade one or both of the team’s lottery picks. Weltman, whose Magic control the No. 6 and No. 11 picks this June, said the team’s goal has long been to “build through the draft” and that he’s looking forward to meeting with several of this year’s top prospects (Twitter video link via Khobi Price of The Orlando Sentinel).
  • Heat big man Udonis Haslem, who will retire at season’s end, said this week that he would’ve found a way to be happy about how his career ended even if the team hadn’t made it this far in the playoffs, but he’s pleased to be going out on a positive note, according to Anthony Chiang and Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. “I just didn’t want to underachieve,” Haslem said. “It wasn’t really about how we go out. It’s really about underachieving and not reaching our maximum potential. That’s what I would hate to do any year is underachieve.”
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