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PORTLAND, Oregon — The college basketball season is underway and a few players are emerging as early draft stock risers after a week of Thanksgiving tournaments from Hawaii to the Bahamas.
Arkansas freshman Anthony Black averaged 22.3 points over three games during the Maui Invitational. Alabama freshman Brandon Miller showed why he could potentially be a top-five draft pick after dropping 24 points (4-for-7 from 3-point range) in an impressive win over Michigan State during the PK85 Invitational. Connecticut sophomore Jordan Hawkins shot lights out, draining eight threes in two games in the same tournament.
The top spots are not moving with 7-foot-4 French center Victor Wembanyama as the favored No. 1 pick and G League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson taking the No. 2 slot. There will be plenty of movement throughout the college season and into the NBA draft on June 22.
Here’s the latest look at the 2023 NBA draft and Yahoo Sports’ projections for the first round.
(Draft order is from Tankathon as of Nov. 27.)
1. Detroit Pistons: C Victor Wembanyama
Ht./Wt.: 7-4, 209 pounds | Metropolitans 92 (France)
Wembanyama is averaging 23.2 points, nine rebounds and three blocks and currently ranks in the LNB Pro A league’s top six in scoring (No. 1), rebounds, blocks and efficiency rating. Wembanyama did enough during two games in Las Vegas in October to solidify himself as the No. 1 overall pick and could have shut it down and not logged a single minute of five-on-five basketball until the draft. Instead, he’s played in all league games and helped the French national team qualify for the FIBA World Cup, going 2-0 in pool play (averaging 19.5 points and 6.5 rebounds). He continues to do things that no other player can do, whether that’s making one-footed 3-pointers with ease or taking players off the dribble behind the arc and finishing with a layup with his incredible wingspan, when the average player would have to settle for a pull-up jumper. The Wembanyama Show is here to stay and there will be several teams vying for a shot at him come draft lottery night on May 16.
2. Orlando Magic: G Scoot Henderson
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 196 pounds | G League Ignite
Henderson is 18 years old and completely dominating the G League in his second year. In a win over Santa Cruz on Nov. 14, Henderson recorded a career-high 16 assists and added 18 points, six rebounds and one steal in 35 minutes. Henderson is averaging 21.2 points and 5.8 assists for the season and continues to make a strong, unanimous case for the No. 2 draft spot.
“I’m one of none,” Henderson told Yahoo Sports. “Very few come like me … just my competitiveness and the dog in me.”
Scoot Henderson on Victor Wembanyama matchup: ‘It was definitely a duel’
The G League Ignite guard sat down one-on-one with Yahoo Sports NBA writer Krysten Peek to discuss his first showdown with the French big man and Thursday’s upcoming rematch.
3. Houston Rockets: G Brandon Miller
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 200 pounds | Class: Freshman | Alabama
Miller passes the eye test and fits the mold as a future pro with his long frame, tight handle and consistent outside shooting. In a win over Michigan State, Miller was the best shooter on the court, connecting on four 3-pointers (including a long three at the end of the half and taking only four dribbles to go the length of the court). Miller has the length and speed to guard positions 1-4 and is a great defender off the switch on the wing. In a modern NBA game that values long, versatile guards, Miller is an intriguing prospect inside the top five and can be a plug-and-play guy right away with the way he shoots the ball and his intensity on the court. The Alabama guard is averaging 20.5 points and 9.2 rebounds and shooting 52.4% from 3-point range to start the season.
4. San Antonio Spurs: G Amen Thompson
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 200 pounds | Overtime Elite
Thompson is averaging 17.6 points, 6.7 rebounds, six assists and 1.3 steals this season. He is a phenomenal playmaker and loves to play above the rim when he finds gaps in the defense or an open lane in transition. Thompson is playing alongside his twin brother, Ausar, for his final OTE season before the pair hit the NBA.
“It’s probably the last time, for a minute, that we’ll be on the court at the same time,” Amen told Yahoo Sports. “It’s just funny, even after a year not playing together, some of the stuff is still there. I can trust to make a certain pass because it’s just instinct and I know where he’s going to be.”
Game highlights of projected lottery pick Amen Thompson
Game highlights of the 6-foot-7 guard from Overtime Elite, Amen Thompson.
5. Charlotte Hornets: G Ausar Thompson
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 200 pounds | Overtime Elite
Watching the Thompson twins play together, it’s sometimes difficult to tell who’s who. Both play with incredible pace and make great reads when getting into the lane. Ausar is equally explosive in transition and is a slightly better defender, particularly when chasing down blocks or rotating off the weakside block. He excels at turning defense into offense and has a fast-twitch, get-out-and-go style of play. Ausar is currently averaging 20.3 points, five rebounds, 5.3 assists and four steals per game to start the season.
6. New Orleans Pelicans: G Nick Smith Jr.
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 185 pounds | Class: Freshman | Arkansas
Smith Jr. is currently out with a minor knee injury and has yet to play in a college game. During a preseason exhibition game against No. 4 Texas, Smith Jr. showcased his elite passing when getting downhill and a smooth floater in the lane. He shoots the three-ball well and he’s always looking to push the ball up and keep pressure on the defense. For a freshman, he handles the ball with confidence, looks comfortable as the primary ball handler and will make the extra pass whether that’s while driving baseline and hitting a shooter in the corner or a big off the pick-and-pop.
7. Oklahoma City Thunder: G/F Dillon Mitchell
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 200 pounds | Class: Freshman | Texas
The NBA values young players with untapped potential and Mitchell, 19, has a ton of upside. Nearly all of his points this season have been in the paint, with impressive alley-oop dunks in a high-low situation or by creeping in from the short corner when his defender collapses to help on drives. He crashes the offensive boards hard, providing numerous second opportunities for Texas. With all the outside shooting weapons Texas has with Tyrese Hunter, Marcus Carr and Sir’Jabari Rice, Mitchell hasn’t had to step outside and knock down deep shots. This is an area of development for Mitchell and something NBA scouts want to see from him, but he’s working on his shot and getting plenty of shots up at practice.
“I just want to show NBA scouts my motor and versatility,” Mitchell told Yahoo Sports. “I know my role is going to be different every night, and I’m here to do whatever is asked of me from Coach [Chris] Beard and my teammates.”
8. Orlando Magic: G Anthony Black
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 196 pounds | Class: Freshman | Arkansas
Black averaged 22.3 points per game while shooting 55% from the field, 40% from three and 86.4% from the free-throw line over the course of three games at the Maui Invitational. Black’s role has increased since teammate Smith Jr. has been sidelined to start the season. He is a long, versatile guard on both ends of the floor. After an underwhelming start to the season, Black emerged as one of the biggest draft stock risers after the Thanksgiving week of tournaments.
One-on-one with Arkansas guard Anthony Black
Krysten Peek sits down with the 6-foot-7 point guarrd heading to Arkansas, Anthony Black
9. Brooklyn Nets: G Cason Wallace
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 185 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky
Wallace is making a strong case as the best on-ball defender in college hoops. He’s so effective defensively and impacts different areas of the floor, whether that’s deflecting a pass, contesting deep shots or dropping down low off the switch and blocking shots. He’s playing more off the ball with Sahvir Wheeler playing the point and is still adjusting when he’s pushed to the wing. He’s strong with the ball, has great hands and favors finishing on the right side of the rim.
10. Miami Heat: G Dariq Whitehead
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 220 pounds | Class: Freshman | Duke
Whitehead is still on restricted minutes after coming off a foot injury that required surgery in August. The product of powerhouse Montverde Academy, Whitehead can score at every level, has great body control at the rim and can slide into any position on the perimeter. His role on this Duke squad will continue to increase as he gets more minutes in five-on-five action.
11. New York Knicks: G Keyonte George
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 185 pounds | Class: Freshman | Baylor
George is averaging 14.8 points and five assists to start the season on a veteran Baylor team. He’s proven early that he’s a gifted scorer and plays well alongside other talented guards (LJ Cryer and Adam Flagler). George has always been a high-volume shooter and his shot selection needs to improve, but head coach Scott Drew is not limiting him at all right now. George has great size and has really improved his body heading into the season. With his high IQ and scoring instincts, he’ll be a player for teams to watch throughout the season.
12. New York Knicks: F Jarace Walker
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 220 pounds | Class: Freshman | Houston
There are few players in this draft class who have the body type and skill set defensively as Walker. He can swing between small forward and the five in a small-ball lineup with his size, versatility and footwork in the lane. Houston is one of the top teams in the nation, and Walker does a little bit of everything each game. He’s not a dominant scorer but put up 23 points in the season opener, and he’ll do all the little things to help Kelvin Sampson’s team win.
13. Golden State Warriors: G Gradey Dick
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 205 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kansas
The Jayhawks lost a great perimeter shooter in Christian Braun to the NBA last season and added another sharpshooting wing with Dick. He’s not afraid to step up and take over when the game is on line, like he did against Duke to kick off the season. Dick gets to his spots easily with the ball in his hands and moves very well off the ball. If his defender turns his back for a second, Dick is gone either slipping for the backdoor or getting a first step coming off the screen for an open shot.
14. Utah Jazz: G Cam Whitmore
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 205 pounds | Class: Freshman | Villanova
Whitmore is still sidelined with a thumb injury that required surgery prior to the season. There is no timetable for his return and there is little information surrounding Whitmore and whether he’s participating in five-on-five drills in practice. Last summer, Whitmore led Team USA to a gold medal in the FIBA U18 Americas Championship, averaging 18.7 points and 6.3 rebounds throughout the tournament.
One-on-one with Villanova guard Cam Whitmore
Krysten Peek sits down with the Villanova guard who led Team USA to a gold medal in the U18 FIBA Americas Championship. Whitmore is one of the best young guards in the 2023 NBA draft.
15: Toronto Raptors: C Kel’el Ware
Ht./Wt.: 7-1, 225 pounds | Class: Freshman | Oregon
16. New York Knicks: G Terquavion Smith
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 165 pounds | Class: Sophomore | NC State
17. Memphis Grizzlies: F Kris Murray
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 220 pounds | Class: Junior | Iowa
18. New York Knicks: G Jalen Wilson
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 225 pounds | Class: Junior | Kansas
19. Utah Jazz: F G.G. Jackson
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 220 pounds | Class: Freshman | South Carolina
One-on-one with G.G. Jackson
The elite power forward chats with Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek on the growth of his game and how his summer AAU season has gone, heading into USA basketball U18 training camp.
20. Los Angeles Clippers: G Rayan Rupert
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 192 pounds | New Zealand Breakers
21. Indiana Pacers: C Kyle Filipowski
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 230 pounds | Class: Freshman | Duke
22. Sacramento Kings: G J.J. Starling
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 195 pounds | Class: Freshman | Notre Dame
23. Utah Jazz: C Dereck Lively II
Ht./Wt.: 7-2, 215 pounds | Class: Freshman | Duke
24. Atlanta Hawks: G Jett Howard
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 215 pounds | Class: Freshman | Michigan
25. Charlotte Hornets: G/F Maxwell Lewis
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 195 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Pepperdine
26. Los Angeles Lakers: F Leonard Miller
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 211 pounds | G League Ignite
27. Phoenix Suns: G/F Jalen Bridges
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 225 pounds | Class: Junior | Baylor
28. Indiana Pacers: G Jordan Hawkins
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 195 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Connecticut
29. Houston Rockets: G Emoni Bates
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 175 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Eastern Michigan
30. Indiana Pacers: G Amari Bailey
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 190 pounds | Class: Freshman | UCLA
Source : Yahoo Sports