And-Ones: Wembanyama, Hall Of Fame, Cap Room, Prospects, Europe

Victor Wembanyama‘s first NBA game takes place on Oct. 25, one day after opening day, according to NBA insider Marc Stein (Twitter link). The Spurs play the Mavericks on the second day of the regular season, pitting Wembanyama against Dallas star Luka Doncic.

The Spurs’ offseason revolved around developing their young corps, featuring players like Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson and Jeremy Sochan, along with taking in big contracts in exchange for draft capital. Meanwhile, the Mavericks made several moves in free agency and in the draft to help them rebound from a lackluster 2022/23.

Stein also tweets that the full ’23/24 schedule release is expected next week. Shams Charania reported the NBA’s opening day lineup and the slate of Christmas Day games earlier today.

Here are more notes from around the basketball world:

  • With the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame Class of 2023 induction taking place this weekend, The Athletic’s Mike Vorkunov explored candidacies of several players for the Hall. Vorkunov evaluates DeMar DeRozan, Paul George and Kyrie Irving‘s respective cases. Even though he lists all as “near locks,” DeRozan and Irving could be on the cusp. In total, Vorkunov lists 41 players, breaking them into tiers for their likelihood of reaching the Hall. Vorkunov predicts some are obvious locks to be named, like LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo, while others like Rajon Rondo and Blake Griffin, might not make it. Vorkunov also discusses players who are on track to be named to the Hall, like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Bam Adebayo, and breaks down why Derrick Rose will be the only MVP to not make the Hall of Fame. I recommend reading the article in full, some picks may surprise you.
  • Spotrac contributor Keith Smith made his first pass at 2024 cap space projections (Twitter link). Smith lists seven teams that are projected to have over $20MM in cap to work with. The Spurs lead the way with projected 2024 cap space, sitting at $55.3MM, according to Smith, while the Magic are close behind with $51.3MM to spend. The Jazz, Hornets, Pistons, Sixers and Wizards round out the top seven. Pascal Siakam, LeBron James (player option), James Harden and DeMar DeRozan are among the players who could be available next free agency.
  • The FIBA U18 European Championship took place from July 22-30. The event is a great tool to evaluate future NBA prospects, according to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, who says that more than four first-round picks per year participated in the event between 2011-21. Givony lists his top 10 prospects from the event (subscription required). UCLA-bound Aday Mara, Mohamed Diawara and Mario Saint-Supery are among the players who crack Givony’s top 10. Givony lists 17-year-old Hugo Gonzalez as his pick for best player at the tournament, as he impressed with his blend of size, frame, shot creation and feel.
  • Players like Kemba Walker, Willy Hernangomez and Raul Neto are among those who made the move to play in Europe next season. In recent years, we’ve seen players like Nikola Mirotic depart the NBA in the middle of their primes in order to pursue opportunities in Europe. Jabari Parker, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft, recently signed overseas and is one of the highest-selected draft picks to do so. Donatas Urbonas of BasketNews (subscriber link) explores why players are making such moves overseas and why European basketball might be an appealing alternative to the NBA or other overseas leagues for players.
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