The NBA Draft 2023 is over, Victor Wembanyama is finally a Spur, and fans everywhere wonder if their team’s picks are going to change the trajectory of their franchise. In any draft class, there will be a few game-changers, but it’s fun to speculate about which ones won and which ones lost.
Some of these we won’t know for sure for a few months, or at least until we get into Vegas Summer League. What we do know for sure is that the Thompson twins’ family has probably never had a better night, and that Wizards fans are in for a long 2023-24 season.
Here are the other winners and losers from Thursday night.
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G League Ignite
Selected No. 3 by the Portland Trail Blazers, Scoot Henderson is the highest G League Ignite draft pick. Henderson is an Ignite and G League success story, and it looks like next year could be even more successful for the NBA’s developmental league. Two of the top five projected picks in the 2024 draft (Matas Buzelis and Ron Holland), another projected lottery pick (Thierry Darlan) and a possible late first-round pick (London Johnson) will play for the Ignite in 2023-24.
San Antonio Spurs
It’s good to be a Spurs fan. You’ve got arguably the best coach in the pro game, five NBA championships — all won since 1999, the most recent in 2014 — and now, the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA draft. Victor Wembanyama is a generational talent, the most hyped prospect since LeBron James. Wembanyama isn’t just a franchise-changing player, a guy ESPN hoops analyst Jay Bilas describes as a “6-foot-2 guard in a 7-foot-5 body” but a marketing dream for the Spurs and the league. San Antonio has missed the playoffs the past four seasons, but that will likely be a thing of the the past with Wembanyama in uniform.
It hurts to lose a longtime staple like Marcus Smart in a trade, but the Celtics acquired Kristaps Porzingis from the Washington Wizards and received two first-round draft picks (2023, 2024) from Memphis. Not a bad haul for a team that is expected to have significant max salary investments in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Boston did not have a first-round pick in Thursday’s draft.
The Thompson twins’ parents
Troy Thompson and Maya Wilson stand 6-feet and 5-foot-6, respectively, and hardly strike fear into the hearts of, well, anyone. But after having twins Amen and Ausar, the Nos. 4 and 5 picks in the 2023 NBA draft, probably none of us should make assumptions about anyone. It was an incredible night for the Thompson family, with Amen going to Houston and Ausur headed to Detroit. They are the first brothers drafted since Markieff and Marcus Morris went No. 13 to Phoenix and No. 14 to Houston, respectively, in 2011.
“There are no words to really express how I’m feeling,” a clearly overwhelmed Maya said on ESPN. “To see them go back-to-back, that blows my mind. The world is just opening up to them. There’s no limit.”
Another family that had a good night was the Murrays, as Kris Murray was selected No. 23 by Portland. Kris is the twin brother of Keegan Murray of the Sacramento Kings, the No. 4 pick in last year’s draft.
Vive la France! What a night for the European country, home to the No. 1 pick (Wembanyama), No. 7 pick (Bilal Coulibaly, to Indiana), No. 43 (Rayan Rupert, to Portland) and No. 44 (Sidy Cissoko, to San Antonio). As Clippers forward — and fellow Frenchman — Nic Batum wrote on Twitter after Coulibaly jumped up the draft board considerably, “OMG.”
Maybe instead of calling the G League the developmental league of the NBA we should give some credit to France, which was basically the NBA’s farm system this draft.
We know the Wizards are tearing it down. The new front office led by ex-Los Angeles Clippers general manager Michael Winger has embarked on an aggressive rebuild, trading Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis and Chris Paul, and there’s the possibility that the Wizards will lose Kyle Kuzma for nothing in return in free agency. Through all those deals, the Wizards have returned just one first-round pick, a conditional 2030 pick from Golden State. It’s going to be a long handful of seasons for the Wizards.
Portland Trail Blazers
It may be up in the air on this one, but Damian Lillard has been unfailingly loyal to the Portland organization and has repeatedly stated he wishes to continue playing there. However, Lillard said he did not want to rebuild the Blazers before the draft, and he said he would not use the No. 3 pick on a trade or a big move in free agency if the Blazers couldn’t use it. According to Stephen A. Smith, Lillard has “a decision to make.”