Now that the Denver Nuggets finished off the 2022-23 NBA season with the team’s first world championship, it’s time to look ahead to next season. The first domino of the new season falls this Thursday, June 22 with the NBA Draft. Although there’s zero doubt as to who will be selected with the top pick, drafts are notoriously difficult to predict, as a single unexpected selection can send ripple effects cascading down through the remaining prospects.
With that in mind, here’s a look at top storylines to watch out for in Thursday’s draft. To watch the 2023 NBA Draft on DISH, tune-in to ESPN at 6pm ET on Thursday, June 22, or watch first-round coverage on ABC. Not a DISH subscriber? Use this link to find the DISH package that’s right for you!
To the Spoiled Goes the Victor…
With five NBA Championships, multiple Hall of Fame players and coaches, and the highest-winning percentage of any team in the league (.603, better than both the Celtics and Lakers), the San Antonio Spurs have one of the most storied histories in the NBA. San Antonio is about to author another chapter after winning the NBA Draft lottery, and thus the top prospect in years, if not decades: French big man Victor Wembanyama.
“Wemby”, as he’s known colloquially, is 7’3” with an estimated 8-foot wingspan and a wicked jump shot. Just one of those attributes would have most teams drooling, but when you put them all together into a single player, it has basketball experts already comparing the 19-year-old to Hall of Fame players like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Ralph Sampson, and Dirk Nowitzki. Even LeBron James has called him “for sure a generational talent.” Now he’s going to an iconic franchise.
Although Wembanyama with the first pick is a no-brainer, there’s a ton of uncertainty around the second pick. The Charlotte Hornets once again find themselves near the top of the draft, but after selecting eventual Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball in the 2020 draft, they have a decision to make. Point guard Scoot Henderson is widely considered one of the best prospects in the draft, but with LaMelo on the roster, will they pivot to Alabama forward Brandon Miller? With both Henderson and Miller in Charlotte Monday for a second workout, it’s still not clear which way the Hornets are leaning, and their choice will impact the rest of the first round.
Draft Like Denver Does
Denver GM Calvin Booth did an excellent job finding complimentary pieces like Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, but the core of Denver’s championship roster was built through the draft. Nikola Jokic (a second-round pick), Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr., and even rookie Christian Braun made meaningful contributions to Denver’s championship run. In a year when cobbled-together super teams in Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Phoenix all went bust, the Nuggets’ championship reaffirmed the importance of homegrown talent scouting and player development.