NEW YORK – The 2023 NBA Draft class will have an impact next season.
But … how much of an impact will Victor Wembanyama have on the San Antonio Spurs? What about Brandon Miller in Charlotte? And Scoot Henderson in Portland? This is what is going to make the 2023-24 season so entertaining and compelling.
There will be other interesting stories to follow, including rebuilding efforts in Detroit, Orlando, Houston, Utah and Indiana.
The draft is (mostly) all about the promise of a better future. Who will capitalize?
Before we move on to free agency and the tripling and trading that is bound to happen starting June 30, let’s take a look at USA TODAY Sports’ NBA draft power rankings:
NBA Draft Hub: Live NBA Draft picks, draft grades, news and analysis
The Wizards made a trade to select Bilal Coulibaly, a teammate of Victor Wembanyama in France, with the No. 7 pick. He has been a fast riser on draft boards, but the Wizards took a risk by drafting him so high. This will be a long rebuild for the Wizards, who have traded Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Chris Paul in the past week.
29. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets took Alabama’s Brandon Miller, who might have been No. 1 if it weren’t for France’s Victor Wembanyama, but the Hornets need upgrades and health to improve on their 27 wins in 2022-23.
28. Houston Rockets
The Rockets added talent in the first round of the draft with Amen Thompson at No. 4 and Cam Whitmore at No. 20. This helps, but it’s still a young team that will require a lot of work and patience from new coach Ime Udoka.
27. Detroit Pistons
Let’s see what new coach Monty Williams can do with Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and 2023 draft picks Ausar Thompson (No. 5) and Marcus Sasser (No. 25). It might not be overnight, but Williams should help the Pistons improve.
26. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls didn’t have a pick — their first-round pick went to Orlando as part of an earlier trade, and they had to give up their second-round pick because the NBA ruled they violated rules regarding free-agent discussions. The plan to contend with Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, Nik Vucevic and injured Lonzo Ball, who may miss his second straight season in 2023-2024, hasn’t worked out.
25. Orlando Magic
The Magic continued to add to their promising rebuild, drafting Anthony Black at No. 6 and Jett Howard at No. 11 to go along with 2022-23 Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. They are heading in the right direction.
24. Toronto Raptors
New coach Darko Rajakovic has some talent to work with (Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes, AND Anunoby), but let’s see how this roster looks at the start of the season with the possibility of Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. .
23. Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers held onto the No. 3 pick and drafted Scoot Henderson, and while that’s a strong pick at that spot, All-Star guard Damian Lillard wants to win sooner rather than later. One way or another, the Blazers should make a trade, and it could end up with Lillard finally leaving Portland.
22. San Antonio Spurs
The Victor Wembanyama era is here, and while he may not make the Spurs an immediate playoff team, he will get them headed in the right direction with coach Gregg Popovich.
21. Brooklyn Nets
With consecutive picks at No. 21 and No. 22, the Nets added Noah Clowney and Dariq Whitehead as part of their on-the-fly rebuild focused on Mikal Bridges.
20. Indiana Pacers
The Pacers worked out more than 60 players for the draft, settling on Houston’s Jarace Walker at No. 8 and Belmont’s Ben Sheppard at No. 26. That should help speed a rebuild centered around the backcourt of Tyrese Haliburton and Benedict Mathurin.
19. Utah Jazz
The Jazz added three first-round picks (No. 9 Taylor Hendricks, No. 16 Keyonte George and No. 28 Brice Sensabaugh) to a roster that won 37 games last season led by first-time All-Star Lauri Markkanen.
18. New Orleans Pelicans
Without a first- or second-round pick, the Pelicans will continue their quest to improve in free agency. So much of New Orleans’ success hinges on the health of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.
17. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves gave up several first-round draft picks in last year’s trade to acquire Rudy Gobert. It seems like any changes Minnesota makes will come on the perimeter as they rely on Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards.
16. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks drafted Michigan’s Kobe Bufkin, but coach Quin Snyder’s focus remains on Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, Bogdan Bogdanovic and John Collins.
15. Oklahoma City Thunder
It should be up for the Thunder with All-NBA guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and the debut of 2022 No. 2 overall draft pick Chet Holmgren. They bought ace defenseman Cason Wallace in the first round.
14. Los Angeles Clippers
The 30th pick in the draft (Kobe Brown) might not be much help in 2023-24 for a team that will likely try one more season with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George trying to win a title.
13. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs were another team without a first-round pick. It is OK. They are a team that needs immediate help in the name of another scorer to help Donovan Mitchell, Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen.
12. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavericks have All-Star Luka Doncic, and a full season with Kyrie Irving, who is a free agent, could help the team take the next step. Dallas added Duke’s Derrick Lively with its lottery pick.
11. New York Knicks
The Knicks were without a first-round pick and will look for roster help in free agency to help improve their second-round playoff run.
10. Golden State Warriors
It’s been an interesting few days for the Warriors as Draymond Green opted out of the final year of his contract and Golden State traded Jordan Poole. They made an odd pick at No. 19, drafting Santa Clara standout Brandin Podziemski, a talented shooter who averaged 19.9 points on 43.8% from 3. They also got veteran point guard Chris Paul.
9. Miami Heat
The NBA Finals runner-up not only retains their core, but they gain an experienced player in Jaime Jaquez Jr. as No. 18, which will fit perfectly into “Heat Culture”. With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, they remain one of the favorites in the East.
8. Sacramento Kings
The Kings will again be playoff contenders heading into next season, and they’ll get some help defensively with Olivier-Maxence Prosper at No. 24. The Kings ranked No. 25 in scoring defense and second to last in opponent field goal percentage last season.
7. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers took the first freshman of the year with the No. 17 pick, drafting Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino, a big point guard who will excel in pick-and-roll situations — which is exactly what they needed. They also grabbed the G League Ignite’s Mojave King, a 6-foot-5 guard from New Zealand, with the No. 47 pick. More moves will happen in free agency.
6. Memphis Grizzlies
The Grizzlies got better before the draft by trading Marcus Smart, then filled out their summer league roster by drafting Gregory “GG” Jackson from South Carolina and Turkish forward Tarik Biberovic at Nos. 45 and 56, respectively. Smart can help fill in for Yes Morant, who will miss the first 25 games of the season due to suspension. Jackson could be a steal, but needs to mature drastically.
5. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers didn’t have a pick in the draft, but if James Harden chooses to return along with Joel Embiid and team up with new coach Nick Nurse, Philadelphia will remain a player in the East.
4. Milwaukee Bucks
The 2022 NBA champions had just one pick, the final pick of the second round, and they took Kentucky forward Chris Livingston at No. 58 overall. He gets to learn from Giannis Antetokounmpo, which isn’t a bad situation at all.
3. Phoenix Suns
The Suns didn’t need the draft to upgrade what was already a talented roster. Arguably the biggest move of the offseason, Phoenix landed Bradley Beal from Washington and shipped off Chris Paul, adding a lethal scorer with Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. The questions remain: Will Deandre Ayton be traded and can the Suns add depth?
2. Boston Celtics
The Celtics traded their first-round pick, but grabbed Tennessee forward Julian Phillips at No. 35. They decided to upgrade this offseason with veteran talent, acquiring Kristaps Porzingis from Washington, a smart move for a team so close to a (second) title.
1. Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets moved into the first round in a trade with Indiana to select Julian Strawther, who Denver hopes to develop into a rotation player. With Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray and a veteran roster, the Nuggets have the goods to repeat.