Orlando Magic select Anthony Black 6th overall in 2023 NBA Draft

The Orlando Magic have selected guard Anthony Black in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2023 NBA Draft.

Black (6’7”, 200, 1/20/04) played and started in all 36 games last season as a freshman at the University of Arkansas, averaging 12.8 ppg., 5.1 rpg., 3.9 apg. and 2.06 stlpg. in 34.8 minpg. He was named to the 2022-23 All-SEC Second Team (coaches), as well as the 2022-23 All-SEC Freshman Team. Black led the Razorbacks and SEC in minutes played, while setting Arkansas freshman records in games played, games started, minutes played (1,253), steals (74) and free throw attempts (190). He was the only player in the SEC to rank in the top 25 in scoring, rebounding, assists, steals and blocked shots.

Black graduated from Duncanville High School in Duncanville, TX. As a senior (2021-22), he was named a McDonald’s All-American and played in the Iverson Classic. Black led Duncanville to the 2022 Texas 6A state championship and was named the Texas 6A State Tournament MVP. He was also a highly-regarded recruit as a wide receiver, receiving offers from Arkansas, Baylor and Texas among others.

Detroit Pistons select Ausar Thompson 5th overall in 2023 NBA Draft

The Detroit Pistons announced that the club has selected Ausar Thompson with the fifth overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Detroit has also agreed in principle to acquire the draft rights to No. 25 overall pick, Marcus Sasser, as part of a larger trade that is not yet final.

Thompson, 6-7, 215, averaged 17.5 points, 6.7 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 2.3 steals and 1.1 blocks in 29.1 minutes across 20 games for the City Reapers of Overtime Elite in 2022-23. He was named Overtime Elite MVP and later named Finals MVP after averaging 21.0 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists in the playoffs. In his second year in the league, Thompson led the City Reapers to a 14-1 regular season record and their first OTE Championship while earning Player of the Week honors twice. The combo guard finished second in the league in assists while collecting at least three steals seven times.

A native of Oakland, Calif., Thompson was named the Broward County 5A Co-Player of the Year at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. In addition to Overtime Elite, Thompson participated in The Basketball Tournament for Team Overtime in July of 2022. Thompson was selected one pick after his identical twin brother, Amen, who went No. 4 overall to Houston. Thompson’s older brother, Troy Thompson Jr., played collegiate basketball at Prairie View A&M and participated in training camp with the Stockton Kings.

Thompson is the fourth top-five selection for the Pistons since 1995 (Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey and Darko Milicic) and the third in the last three seasons.

Houston Rockets select Amen Thompson 4th overall in 2023 NBA Draft

In last night’s 2023 NBA Draft, the Houston Rockets selected guard Amen Thompson with the fourth overall pick and Cam Whitmore with the 20th overall pick.

Thompson (6-7, 215) spent the past two seasons with Overtime Elite, (OTE) an Atlanta-based league which offers players ages 16 through 20 a pathway to becoming professional athletes. This past season, the 20-year-old teamed with his twin brother, Ausar, to lead the City Reapers to the championship with Amen hitting a game-winning buzzer beater in Game 2 of OTE’s best-of-five Finals. Ausar was selected fifth overall by Detroit in tonight’s draft.

During the Reapers playoff run, Amen averaged 17.2 points, 9.2 assists and 7.2 rebounds up from his season averages of 16.4 ppg, 5.9 apg and 5.9 rpg. He ranked third in the league in assists and sixth in scoring.

Prior to the start of last season, Thompson represented a collection of OTE draft eligible players in a series of games overseas against professional teams from Spain and Serbia. In five games played, he averaged 17.0 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.8 apg and 2.0 spg while shooting 56.1% from the floor. Following that tour, Thompson also had 17 points, 8 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals in an exhibition game against the Adelaide 36ers from Australia’s National Basketball League.

Whitmore (6-7, 235) finished his freshman season at Villanova averaging 12.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 1.4 spg and 1.4 3-pointers made. Over the past 15 seasons, he was one of four Division I freshman to have averaged at least 12.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 1.00 spg and 1.0 3FGM while playing fewer than 28.0 mpg.

In the 20 games Whitmore played at least 24 minutes, he averaged 14.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 1.6 spg and 1.8 3FGM while shooting 50.2% from the floor and 38.5% from 3-point range. At the 2022 FIBA Under-18 Americas Championship, he averaged 18.7 points and was named MVP after leading USA Basketball to the gold medal.

Whitmore, who was born in Maryland and was a McDonald’s All-American, will turn 19 years old on July 8. He was measured with a 40.5” max vertical leap at the 2023 NBA Draft Combine.

Portland Trail Blazers select Scoot Henderson third overall in 2023 NBA Draft

The Portland Trail Blazers selected guard Scoot Henderson with the third overall pick in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft.

Henderson, 19, arrives in Portland after spending two seasons with NBA G League Ignite. During the 2022-23 season, Henderson averaged 17.6 points (44.4% FG, 32.4% 3-PT, 75.0% FT), 5.1 rebounds, 6.6 assists and 1.2 steals in 25 games (24 starts). Henderson (6-2, 196) competed in the Rising Stars game at NBA All-Star Weekend in both 2022 and 2023.

A native of Marietta, Ga., Henderson accrued averages of 16.1 points (44.5% FG, 76.2% FT), 5.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, 1.4 steals and 0.4 blocks in 46 games (28 starts) in two seasons for NBA G League Ignite. In 2020-21, Henderson was named Class 6A Player of the Year by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a junior at Kell High School.

Charlotte Hornets select Brandon Miller second overall in 2023 NBA draft

The Charlotte Hornets selected forward Brandon Miller from the University of Alabama with the second overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

The 6-9 Miller was named First Team AP All-America, Southeastern Conference Player of the Year and NABC Freshman of the Year this season. He became the first player in conference history to win SEC Player of the Year, SEC Freshman of the Year and SEC Tournament MVP in the same season.

Miller led the Crimson Tide to the 2022-23 SEC regular season and tournament titles, the No. 1 ranking in the final AP poll and the No. 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.

He poured in 18.8 points per game, tops in the SEC and the most among all freshmen nationally. Miller ranked first in the SEC and 13th nationally with 106 made 3-pointers, the second-most in a season in Alabama history. He shot 38.4 percent from 3 and 85.9 percent from the free-throw line, both of which represented the second-highest marks in the conference. Miller also ranked fourth in the SEC in rebounds per game (8.2) and 10th in blocks (32).

A consensus five-star recruit and McDonald’s All-American out of Cane Ridge High School in Antioch, Tenn., Miller was named Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year in 2021 and 2022. His father, Darrell, played football at Alabama in the early ‘90s.

Hornets take Brandon Miller with No. 2 pick in 2023 NBA Draft

Via ESPN.com:

The Charlotte Hornets had whittled their choices to two players on the eve of the 2023 NBA draft, but in the end they selected Alabama forward Brandon Miller with the second pick Thursday night…

In Miller, the Hornets add a 6-foot-9 playmaker who won SEC Freshman and Player of the Year honors at Alabama last season after averaging 18.8 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists while shooting 43% from the field and 38% from 3-point range. He also won the SEC tournament’s MVP award and was named a second-team All-American.

San Antonio Spurs select Victor Wembanyama with first overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft

The San Antonio Spurs today selected Victor Wembanyama with the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

The first French player selected No. 1 overall in NBA Draft history, Wembanyama (Wem-ban-YAH-muh) joins David Robinson and Tim Duncan as the only top overall picks in Spurs franchise history.

Wembanyama, 7-3/225, most recently played with French-club Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 in the LNB Pro A French League during the 2022-23 season, where he helped lead the team to the LNB Pro A Finals and a 23-11 regular season record. In 34 regular season games with Mets 92, he averaged 21.6 points, 10.4 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 3.0 blocks in 32.3 minutes. In 10 postseason games, Wembanyama averaged 17.3 points, 9.2 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.7 assists.

The Le Chesnay, France native wrapped up the season being named league MVP, Defensive Player of the Year, Best Young Player, Scoring Champion, Blocked Shots Champion and was named to the All-LNB First Team. Throughout his career, he’s earned Best Young Player three times (2021, 2022, 2023), is a two-time LNB All-Star (2022, 2023), named to the All-LNB First Team twice and won the 2022 LNB Pro A Championship with ASVEL Basket.

Wembanyama played his first games in the United States in October 2022 during a pair of exhibition games against the G League Ignite in Las Vegas. In his U.S. debut, he recorded 37 points, 4 rebounds and 5 blocks. In the second game, he had 36 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocks in a Metropolitans 92 win.

The 19-year-old started his professional basketball career at the age of 15 with Nanterre 92 in the Euro Cup League from 2019-21. Prior to joining the Mets 92 for the 2022-23 season, Wembanyama played for the French club ASVEL Basket from 2021-22.

Wembanyama will wear No. 1 for the Spurs.

Spurs select Victor Wembanyama first overall in 2023 NBA Draft

Via ESPN.com:

The Victor Wembanyama era has officially begun in San Antonio, as the Spurs made him the No. 1 overall pick in Thursday’s NBA draft.

Wembanyama, a 7-foot-5 French phenom with an 8-foot wingspan, walked across the stage at the Barclays Center in New York to shake NBA commissioner Adam Silver’s hand and formally mark the start of his new career.

Wembanyama, 19, is considered by many to be a generational talent — a player who can defend and play above the rim but also move with such fluidity that he can also hit step-back 3-pointers off one leg.

When the Spurs won the right to draft Wembanyama by winning the lottery on May 16, Spurs managing partner Peter J. Holt leaped with joy from his seat on stage inside Chicago’s McCormick Place Convention Center.

On the Pelicans and the 2023 NBA Draft

Via the New Orleans Times-Picayune:

This year, there is more uncertainty about whom the Pelicans will take in the first round. They have the 14th selection in Thursday’s draft. Earlier this week, the Pelicans came up with a list of players their front office and scouts liked. The names were in double digits. In the past few days, the Pelicans have tried to whittle that list down. They are exploring various scenarios where they trade up or down as well.

If the Pelicans stay at 14, a shooter such as Kansas’ Gradey Dick or Connecticut’s Jordan Hawkins would make sense. Choosing Dick, a 6-7 wing who nailed 40.3% of his 3s on nearly six attempts per game last season, is a no-brainer if he lasts until 14. Hawkins is more of a question mark. He is an electric shooter who can run around screens all game, but he does not have great size for a shooting guard and there are questions about how he can affect games outside of his ability to make 3s.

The Pelicans have identified outside shooting and rim protection as their two biggest needs this offseason.

On the Rockets and the 2023 NBA Draft

Via the Houston Chronicle:

Our long near-month wait between the lottery and the 2023 NBA draft has nearly come to an end, and as draft night approaches, the Houston Rockets will look to take their first steps in what could be a roster overhaul before the start of the 2023-24 season.

We have a general feel for what will happen for Houston on draft night. Amen Thompson is the (very) likely choice at No. 4, and the No. 20 pick will likely be used to add another youngster or a win-now veteran piece via trade. But as we learned last year, the best laid plans for any team can go awry on draft night. As the Rockets desperately eye a move into Phase 2 of their rebuild on Thursday night, a litany of contingency plans are likely in place. Outside of the Spurs snagging Victor Wembanyama at No. 1, there are no guarantees for the rest of the draft league-wide.