2023 NBA Draft takeaways: Victor Wembanyama goes No. 1, Scoot Henderson slips, Mavericks make solid moves

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The 2023 NBA Draft is in the books, and it passed without too many surprises. As everyone expected, the San Antonio Spurs chose Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick. Standing 7-foot-4, the 19-year-old French phenom is the best prospect to enter the league since LeBron James in 2003 and his selection gives the Spurs a franchise building block who just may follow in the footsteps of David Robinson and Tim Duncan.

In one of the biggest decisions of the evening, the Charlotte Hornets picked Brandon Miller at No. 2 overall, and so the Portland Trail Blazers gladly took Scoot Henderson with the third pick. Rounding out the top five were twins Amen Thompson and Ausar Thompson, who both played for Overtime Elite. They went No. 4 to the Houston Rockets and No. 5 to the Detroit Pistons, respectively, and are the first brothers to ever be selected in the top five of the same draft.

One of the few surprise moves that did transpire came early on when the Washington Wizards traded with the Indiana Pacers and moved up one spot, from No. 8 to No. 7, to select Bilal Coulibaly from Mets 92 in France. The 18-year-old Coulibaly gained plenty of exposure from playing alongside Wembanyama and used it to shoot up draft boards. He is raw but has tons of upside as an athletic wing, and should have plenty of opportunity in D.C. as the Wizards start a rebuild.

Few teams were busier on the night than the Dallas Mavericks, who pulled off multiple trades. The first sent Davis Bertans and the No. 10 pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 12 selection. The Mavs took seven-footer Dereck Lively II out of Duke, who brings plenty of rim protection. Later on, they jumped back into the first round, acquiring Richaun Holmes and the No. 24 pick from the Sacramento Kings in a money-saving deal for the Kings. At No. 24, the Mavericks added versatile forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper from Marquette.

Mr. Irrelevant this year was Kentucky's Chris Livingston, who went No. 58 to the Milwaukee Bucks. There were only 58 picks instead of 60 because both the Philadelphia 76ers and Chicago Bulls forfeited second-round picks for tampering violations. Other notable second-round picks included the Timberwolves trading to select Leonard Miller at No. 33, the Lakers taking Max Lewis at No. 40, GG Jackson going to the Grizzlies at No. 45 and the Cavaliers grabbing Emoni Bates with the 49th pick.

Here are some key takeaways from the draft:

The Wembanyama era begins

This was no surprise. Wembanyama has been the projected first-round pick ever since anyone started having serious discussions about this class, and the only real suspense along the way came last month during the Draft Lottery, which the Spurs won after finishing 22-60 last season.

After 22 playoff appearances in a row from 1998-2019, the Spurs valiantly staggered along for a few seasons before slipping fully into rebuilding mode. Their efforts were rewarded with one of the biggest victories of the lottery era. Wembanyama is one of the best prospects to ever enter the league, and has all the physical tools and basketball abilities to be a franchise player. 

He won MVP of the French league as a teenager for leading his team, Mets 92, to the Finals, and went viral on a weekly basis for his seemingly unbelievable plays on both ends of the floor. On one such occasion this season, he threw down a putback slam of his own missed 3-pointer. 

Now, he'll take that starpower to Texas, where he'll learn from one of the league's best coaches in Gregg Popovich and help to remake a proud franchise. It won't be long before the Spurs are once again battling at the top of the league. 

Will Hornets regret taking Miller over Henderson?

One of the few suspensful aspects of the draft was what the Charlotte Hornets would do with the No. 2 overall pick. For months and months, Scoot Henderson was the widely accepted No. 2 prospect behind Wembanyama, but the race began to narrow this spring after a strong freshman season for Brandon Miller at Alabama.

When the Hornets won the second pick in the lottery, the intrigue only heated up. With Lonzo Ball already established as the franchise player, would they still go for the best overall talent in Henderson? Or would they pass on the ball-dominant guard for a wing in Miller who could be a better fit next to Ball. 

After much hemming and hawing, they went with Miller. He could certainly wind up being a great player, but there's a lot of risk in this decision and they might look back in three or five years and regret prioritizing fit at this stage of their rebuild. Henderson is an electric athlete and playmaker with incredible upside. 

Mavericks have a busy, successful night

The Mavericks entered draft night with the No. 10 pick and plenty of questions about their roster. They ended the night with the Nos. 12 and 24 selections and Richaun Holmes instead of Davis Bertans. Their busy evening was a success and put them in a better position moving forward.

In the first of their two consequential trades, they sent Bertans and the No. 10 pick to the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 12 pick, which they used on Dereck Lively II. The 7-footer out of Duke is a shot-blocking machine and a perfect get for a team that desperately needed to improve on the defensive end. Opponents who blow by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving on the perimeter will now have to contend with Lively at the rim.

Later on, the Mavericks offered to take on Holmes' contract and asked for the No. 24 pick for their trouble; the Kings obliged. They jumped back into the first round with a target in mind, and added Olivier-Maxence Prosper, a versatile wing from Marquette who shot up draft boards in recent months. Prosper is another athletic defender who will help the team on that side of the ball and improved as a 3-point shooter every year in college. 

As for Holmes, he is another high-energy big man who gives them some extra frontcourt depth. At the very least he'll be more productive than Bertans, who was largely unplayable during his time in Dallas. 

The Mavericks aren't suddenly a contender, but their roster looks a whole lot better than it did a few hours ago. 

More NBA Draft coverage: Draft Tracker | Grades  | Winners & losers | Trade Tracker

2023 NBA Draft first-round picks 

x - pick part of reported trade

1. SA

Victor Wembanyama
C | France

16. UTAKeyonte George
SG | Baylor 
2. CHA

Brandon Miller
SF | Alabama

17. LAL Jalen Hood-Schifino
G | Indiana 
3. POR

Scoot Henderson
PG | G League Ignite

18. MIA Jaime Jaquez Jr.
SG | UCLA 
4. HOU

Amen Thompson
SF | Overtime Elite

19. GS Brandin Podziemski
SG | Santa Clara 
5. DET

Ausar Thompson
SF | Overtime Elite

20. HOU Cam Whitmore SF
Villanova 
6. ORL

Anthony Black
PG | Arkansas

21. BKN Noah Clowney
PF | Alabama 
7. IND to WAS-x

Bilal Coulibaly
SF | France

22. BKN Dariq Whitehead
SF | Duke 
8. WAS to IND-xJarace Walker
PF | Houston
23. POR Kris Murray
PF | Iowa 
9. UTATaylor Hendricks
PF | UCF
24. SAC to DAL-x Olivier-Maxence Prosper
SF | Marquette
10. DAL to OKC-xCason Wallace
PG | Kentucky
25. BOS to DET-x Marcus Sasser
SG | Houston 
11. ORLJett Howard
SG | Michigan
26. IND Ben Sheppard
SG | Belmont
12. OKC to DAL-xDereck Lively II
C | Duke
27. CHA Nick Smith Jr. 
SG | Arkansas 
13. TORGradey Dick
SF | Kansas
28. UTA Brice Sensabaugh
SF | Ohio State 
14. NOJordan Hawkins
SG | UConn
29. IND to DEN Julian Strawther
SG | Gonzaga
15. ATLKobe Bufkin
SG | Michigan
30. LAC Kobe Brown
SF | Missouri
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