Victor Wembanyama was the first pick in the NBA Draft when he was selected by the San Antonio Spurs; 19-year-old considered the most coveted draft prospect since LeBron James in 2003. Brandon Miller went second to the Charlotte Hornets, with Scoot Henderson third to the Portland Trail Blazers
7:12, UK, Friday 23 June 2023
The least surprising part of the 2023 NBA Draft was the first overall selection, as the San Antonio Spurs confirmed the least guarded secret in sports when they selected French phenom Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick Thursday in New York.
Wembanyama, 19, is considered the most coveted draft pick since LeBron James in 2003.
Listed at 7ft 4in, Wembanyama is expected to be an instant difference maker in the NBA. He has a strong floor game, likes to shoot from the outside and is effective inside.
Wembanyama averaged 20.6 points, 10.1 rebounds, 3.0 blocks and 2.5 assists in 44 games this season for Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92.
“This is to achieve something that I have dreamed of all my life,” Wembanyama said ESPN’s broadcast.
“When I heard that sentence from (NBA commissioner) Adam Silver, I’ve been dreaming about it so much I’ve got to cry, man.”
The Spurs have won five NBA titles under coach Gregg Popovich and previously hit the No. 1 overall jackpot twice with the selection of future Hall of Famers David Robinson (1987) and Tim Duncan (1997), and Wembanyama wants to join Robinson and Duncan as championship winners.
“It’s hard to win in this league,” Wembanyama said. “My goal is to try to learn as much as possible because I want to win that ring.”
Alabama forward Brandon Miller went No. 2 overall to the Charlotte Hornets and G League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson went No. 3 to the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Thompson twins went back-to-back to round out the top five picks. Amen Thompson went to the Houston Rockets at No. 4 and Ausar Thompson went No. 5 to the Detroit Pistons.
The Overtime Elite products are the first brothers to be selected in the first round of the same draft since Markieff Morris (13th to the Phoenix Suns) and Marcus Morris (14th to the Rockets) in 2011. They are also just the second set of brothers to be selected in the top five, joining Lonzo Ball (No. 2 to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017) and younger brother LaMelo (No. 3 to the Hornets in 2020).
Charlotte, meanwhile, was torn between choosing Miller or Henderson. The Hornets ultimately went with Miller, who is a better fit with point guard LaMelo Ball.
“I think I fill a spot for him,” Miller said of Ball. “He’s a great vet now and he has the most experience. I know he’s going to be a big brother to me away from home.”
Miller was the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year during his one college season. He averaged 18.8 points and 8.2 rebounds.
Henderson played two seasons in the G League. He averaged 17.6 points, 6.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds last season.
He is the second highest drafted player out of the G League. Jalen Green was selected second overall by the Rockets in 2021.
“They get a dog that comes in and gets hungry,” Henderson said of joining the Trail Blazers. “I’m young, but I have a mature mindset, and that’s to work and come in and make a real impact, not just on the basketball side, but in the community. They’re getting a special player, a special person.”
Amen Thompson, a 6-6 guard, averaged 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 2.3 steals last season, his second with Overtime Elite.
“I’m excited to be a Rocket, … just playing with these athletic guys,” Thompson said. “I feel like my best brand of basketball is running. We’re a young team.”
Ausar Thompson, a swingman, averaged 16.3 points, 7.1 rebounds, 6.1 assists and 2.4 steals last season.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Ausar Thompson said of being drafted in the top five along with his brother. “It feels good to make history with Amen.”
At No. 6, the Orlando Magic selected Arkansas guard Anthony Black. The Indiana Pacers followed suit by selecting French forward Bilal Coulibaly, who was teammates with Wembanyama at the Metropolitan’s 92. The Washington Wizards selected Jarace Walker at No. 8.
Minutes later, Indiana traded Coulibaly to the Wizards for Walker and two 2028 second-round draft picks.
UCF forward Taylor Hendricks went No. 9 to the Utah Jazz. The Dallas Mavericks selected Kentucky guard Cason Wallace to round out the top 10, then traded him to the Oklahoma City Thunder along with forward Davis Bertans for No. 12 Dereck Lively II, a center from Duke.
The other lottery picks were Michigan guard Jett Howard No. 11 to the Orlando Magic, Kansas guard Gradey Dick No. 13 to the Toronto Raptors and UConn guard Jordan Hawkins No. 14 to the New Orleans Pelicans. Hawkins starred during the Huskies’ run to the national championship.
The Atlanta Hawks selected Michigan guard Kobe Bufkin No. 15, as he and Howard became the first set of top-15 Wolverines draft picks since 1994. Juwan Howard, the current Michigan coach and father of Jett, went fifth to then- Washington Bullets that year, and Jalen Rose was selected 13th overall by the Denver Nuggets.
The Jazz selected Baylor guard Keyonte George No. 16, Lakers guard Jalen Hood-Schifino went No. 17, and the Miami Heat selected UCLA forward Jaime Jaquez Jr. as No. 18.
At No. 19, the Golden State Warriors selected Santa Clara guard Brandin Podziemski. Villanova forward Cam Whitmore, projected by some draft prognosticators as a top-five pick, finally went off the board at No. 20 to the Rockets.
Among the late first-round picks, Iowa forward Kris Murray was selected by Portland at No. 23. Murray is the twin brother of Keegan Murray, who set the NBA rookie record for 3-pointers (206) last season.
Houston guard Marcus Sasser was selected 25th overall by the Memphis Grizzlies and is expected to be dealt to the Pistons. He was the Cougars’ first consensus first-team All-American since Hakeem Olajuwon (1983-84 season).
Gonzaga guard Julian Strawther was selected No. 29 by the Pacers and is expected to end up with the NBA champion Denver Nuggets. The last pick in the first round was Missouri forward Kobe Brown, chosen by the Los Angeles Clippers.