Keyonte George

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.”

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.