20 June 2023, at 13.05
The 2023 NBA Draft promises to be a game-changing night for the NBA, with several teams looking to fundamentally reshape their rosters.
After all, the 2022-23 NBA season had more parity than ever, but only one team took home the Larry O’Brien trophy. Add in the fact that the 2023 NBA Draft class is full of high-level, high-upside players that teams love to build around, and it’s easy to imagine we’ll see a ton of movement on draft night , where teams trade veterans for draft picks and others who go in the opposite direction.
[brightcove videoID=6329791983112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]
The trade market has already gotten off to a flashy start with Bradley Beal heading to Phoenix, while free agency will be another interesting time to monitor in the NBA, with several good players set to hit unrestricted free agency on June 30. But for now, let’s focus specifically on the June 22 NBA Draft and look at the most interesting teams that could be active on draft night.
Portland Trail Blazers
The excitement surrounding this year’s draft starts with Portland, who owns the No. 3 pick after spending the last two months of the season lucky enough to move up in the lottery. But 32-year-old franchise cornerstone Damian Lillard is coming off one of the best seasons of his career, and he wants to win right nowmeaning he won’t be happy if the Blazers use the pick to draft a young player who needs years of development.
Instead, Lillard has consistently used the media to push the Trail Blazers front office to trade the pick for veteran players who can help Lillard win now. If the pick isn’t traded and the Blazers actually draft either Scoot Henderson or Brandon Miller at No. 3, it’s likely Lillard will ask for a trade.
This dilemma puts Portland at the center of the 2023 NBA Draft because it’s one of a handful of teams that could really go either way on draft night. In other words, the Blazers hold all the cards, and whether they decide to go all-in and trade what is considered a very valuable pick to please Lillard or go young and trade the best Blazer of all time, is the most interesting story. look at the draft.
When it comes to teams that could make a deal with Portland should it choose to trade up at No. 3, look no further than the Raptors. Toronto owns the No. 13 pick in the draft and has a bevy of valuable veterans who could pair well with Lillard in Portland, including Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, who Blazers have reportedly been behind for years. And while it seems like the Raptors are in the rumor mill around this time of year and usually end up doing nothing, this year feels different for a number of reasons.
[brightcove videoID=6329367233112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]
After all, the Raptors have their new coach Darko Rajakovic and will likely look to reshape their roster this offseason to duck under the luxury tax and address some of their fit and spacing issues. The Raptors know the draft is the best time to do it, and they are reportedly trying to move up in the top three or four in the draftpotentially resetting their timeline around Scottie Barnes and other young players.
The Pacers seem to be heading in the opposite direction of the Raptors. After exceeding expectations with a 35-win season on the back of exciting young talents Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin, the Pacers are reportedly looking to add established veteran players to round out their roster. More specifically, they are looking for high-level wing players to balance out their guard-heavy roster, reportedly dangling No. 7 pick in the draft. Indiana native Anunoby has been mentioned as a possible target for the Pacers dating back to last season.
In addition, the Pacers also own picks No. 26, 29 and 32 in the draft, so there will be no shortage of opportunities for them to shake up the draft, deal picks to established players and try to be a threat in the draft. Eastern Conference already next season.
The Nets are in an interesting position because they have no choice but to fundamentally reshape their roster after trading both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant prior to last season’s deadline, trading both for wing-heavy packages. The Nets added Mikal Bridges, Dorian Finney-Smith and Cameron Johnson to an existing wing core of Seth Curry, Joe Harris, Royce O’Neale, Yuta Watanabe and, in case you forgot, Ben Simmons, giving them a surplus of wings and not enough shot creators or forwards.
The draft represents an opportunity for the Nets to reshape their roster and try to be competitive again next season after being swept by the Philadelphia 76ers in the opening round of the 2023 NBA playoffs — something they are incentivized to do since Houston owns the rights to their first-round picks in each of the next three drafts because of the James Harden trade. With picks No. 21 and 22 in the 2023 NBA Draft, expect the Nets to be active in building a more sustainable roster going forward.
Similar to the Nets, the Mavericks also find themselves in a very precarious position heading into next season after a series of missteps. After letting Jalen Brunson go for nothing in 2022 free agency and getting off to a disappointing start to their 2022-23 season, the Mavericks traded for Irving before the trade deadline. Unfortunately, the pairing of Irving and Luka Doncic didn’t work out as well as the Mavericks hoped, with the two ball-dominant stars failing to develop the necessary chemistry in time and instead playing “your turn, my turn” basketball going 8-12 together and finishing at an 11th place in the Western Conference.
The Mavericks lack future assets or cap space (if they re-sign Irving, who is an unrestricted free agent), but they need to build a contender before next season. If not, there is fear in the organization that provides the franchise cornerstone Doncic could request a trade “as soon as the summer of 2024 if Dallas doesn’t make significant progress by then,” according to ESPN’s Tim MacMahon.
That’s a big deal, considering Doncic is only 24 years old and on his way to being an all-time great. But the Mavericks have ruined their chances to build around him time and time again, making the No. 10 pick in this year’s draft monumentally important as it represents one of their last opportunities to rebalance their roster ahead of what could be a franchise-changer season 2023-24.
The Wizards’ new front office got off to a fast start just days after trading franchise cornerstone Beal to Phoenix for a deal centered around Chris Paul. The trade likely signals a complete rebuild for the historically mediocre Wizards, meaning there is work to be done before and at the 2023 NBA draft for the Wizards to wipe the slate clean and begin building around young players.
The Wizards could trade all three of Paul, Kristaps Prozingus and Kyle Kuzma ahead of next season if they choose to go young, potentially using one of those pieces to move up from No. 8 in the draft. With a bunch of good veterans and a desire to build for the future, the Wizards will likely be very active on draft night.