There was a legitimate and reasonable debate up until the start of the 2022 NBA Draft about which player — Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren or Jabari Smith— would come off the board first. Next year, there should be no such debate.
The No. 1 pick will be Victor Wembanyama.
He’s a 7-foot-3 18-year-old from France with a 7-9 wingspan who rim-protects at an elite level, has shown the ability to switch and guard smaller players in space and can play-make and shot-create on offense inside or outside of the arc. He’s been described by some as one of the best NBA prospects ever, which is quite a statement but not hyperbole. On defense, Wembanyama is sometimes compared to three-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. On offense, there are moments when he looks like a taller Kevin Durant coming off of screens and knocking down shots from all over the court.
Special. Special. Special.
So let the debate start at No. 2 — where Scoot Henderson, Nick Smith, Dariq Whitehead or any number of American-born prospects could go in the 2023 NBA Draft. That, of course, will be determined over the course of the next year. But the first name we’ll hear come out of commissioner Adam Silver’s mouth next June is maybe the easiest thing to predict this far in advance of an NBA Draft since LeBron James was getting ready to start his senior year of high school. The first name to be called will be Victor Wembanyama.
Let the tanking begin.
2023 NBA Mock Draft
Order determined by SportsLine 2023 projections prior to Thursday’s NBA Draft