Predicting the Future: A Bold Forecast for Every 2023 NBA Draft Lottery Pick

With the NBA draft having only ended not even a month ago, it is certainly way too early to know how each of these rookie’s careers will pan out. The summer league has just tipped off, and it has been very fun seeing each player’s gameplay as they compete against each other, as well as the always intelligent takes on social media after the matches. Despite the randomness the draft can bring at times, I decided to make one bold prediction about each rookie this season, and for fun, I’ll recap it at the end of the season, to see how these predictions ended up doing at the end of it all.

  1. Victor Wembanyama will be in contention for an All-Defensive team

Standing at 7’5 with an 8-foot wingspan, French phenom Victor Wembanyama has no shortage of length to pester NBA players with. The young center averaged 3 blocks for Boulogne-Levallois last year, adding 0.7 steals as well. These stats are obviously great, but what is more important for NBA offenses is Wembanyama’s presence as a giant in the paint.

Simply by existing, Wemby can dissuade players from entering the restricted area, as even the most confident finishers might have second thoughts when they see an 8-foot wingspan waiting for them at the basket. I think Wemby may be slightly disappointing offensively in his first year, but he has a great chance to come out the gate as an immense defender.

2. Scoot Henderson will be the ROTY, averaging 20+ points per game

I’m a huge Scoot fan and I have been ever since 2021, I firmly believe that if there wasn’t a 2k-generated monster of a player in this draft that he would’ve gone first, and I think he is the best guard prospect since Cade Cunningham. He really reminds me of a young Russel Westbrook, his build is ridiculous for his age, so much so that his mother had to bring his birth certificate to his high school games. Despite getting injured 10 minutes into his first summer league game, Scoot looked absolutely explosive as a scorer, and his ability to get past players with ease is going to be a problem in the league.

With Portland likely trading Damian Lillard before the season, Scoot is going to have the chance to go out on the court and put up 15-20 shots a game while leading an offense that doesn’t have a lot of black holes in it. Jerami Grant and Shaedon Sharpe are great wings that will function well alongside Scoot, while not taking from his shots, and I think he will run away with the award this year unless Chet Holmgren has something to say about it.

3. Brandon Miller will have multiple 40-point games this year

Brandon Miller has had a rough start to his NBA career. The first viral clip involving him had nothing to do with his skill, but rather with the Hornets’ mascot’s brutal reaction to his selection in the 2023 NBA draft. Despite all the talk of this being an awful pick and Scoot being better, (which I agree with) I still think Miller will have a place in this league as a bonafide scorer. Miller averaged 18.8 points per game as a freshman last year for Alabama, as well as 38.4% from the three-point line. He also had a 41-point performance, including a game-winning layup, against South Carolina, on 14-25 shooting. In his final summer league performance, he had 26 points on just 15 shots. Miller will absolutely score the ball this year, and I think he will likely have the highest-scoring game of any rookie this year.

4. Amen Thompson will be in the dunk contest

So the Thompson twins are tough to predict because they are very, very similar. I do think they have some noticeable differences, Amen seems a bit more athletic and scoring oriented while Ausar is a better shooter and playmaker. Other than that, they’re both great defenders and very versatile players overall. They also have a tendency to always finish with their left hand, even in difficult situations. Amen has one of the prettiest layup packages I’ve seen in a while, and he seems like the type of guy who just loves basketball. Hopefully, the NBA sees this and invites him to the dunk contest, and he brings it back to its former glory.

5. Ausar Thompson will have a 5×5 game this year

As a Pistons fan, Ausar has seriously impressed me during summer league, he’s not going to pop off the screen and score 30 points right off the bat, but he just does almost everything decently to well. He makes me think of the perfect championship piece to round out the edges, like an Andre Iguodala or Draymond Green. But nothing has been as impressive as his defense.

Watching the games, Ausar is simply different in the way that he hustles on defense. Recently, the idea of “getting back on defense” has been lost on a lot of NBA players. Ausar is not that NBA player. There was a play in the Pistons game against the Raptors where I watched him get knocked down, get up, and fully sprint to the other side of the court before altering a shot on the defensive end. His upside is seriously unreal, and with his skill as a rebounder and playmaker as well, he has a chance to have multiple 5×5 games this season.

6. Anthony Black will average the most assists out of all rookies this season

To be honest, when the Magic first selected Black at pick 6, I wasn’t a huge fan of it. I liked his game during his time at Arkansas, but I thought it to be a bit of a reach. Watching him in summer league though, I think the Magic got a great player. At 6’7, Black is a big guard, with a great handle and exceptional playmaking abilities.

That pass is seriously impressive for any player, much less a 6’7 rookie with hair so long that it’s covering his eyes. Imagine his vision if he got a haircut. But seriously, Black is going to be great, he is a great on-ball defender as well, and he has great size for his position, and on Orlando, a team with absolutely no lack of size, Black might literally be the shortest player in the lineup, which is crazy given his height. I think on a team with great bigs in Banchero and Wendell Carter, as well as young wing Franz Wagner, Black will have no shortage of opportunities to get assists, and he will lead the rookies this year in that regard.

7. Bilal Coulibaly will be the worst player of the lottery this year

Notice how I said this year. I absolutely think Coulibaly has the tools to be a great NBA player one day. That said, I think that if he pans out, it’s going to take some time. As a Pistons fan, I have seen my fair share of French project players, Sekou Doumbouya and Killian Hayes, recently, and I definitely bought into the hype at first, but they didn’t end up being good, though there is still time.

I don’t fully understand the Coulibaly pick at 7, I think a lot of the reason he climbed so high in a short amount of time was all the praise from Wembanyama, but that simply isn’t enough of a reason for Bilal to go so high, with the Wizards even trading up to get him. I think this season he will show flashes, especially as a defender, but I think the majority of the time he will struggle, and spend a lot of time in the G-league working on his game and polish.

8. Jarace Walker will posterize at least one superstar player

Though personally, I had my fingers crossed that the Pistons wouldn’t draft Walker this year, he has looked very impressive during summer league so far. His athleticism is superb for his size, and he has looked great defensively. He looks to be someone who can bang up with opposing bigs, and I think in doing so he will end up doing some damage offensively. Walker’s biggest flaw is his height, standing at only 6’8 despite being a big man. His only real competition in Indiana is Obi Toppin though, so he might be able to put in some work in Indy this year.

9. Taylor Hendricks will be the most NBA-ready prospect from the get-go

All the way before the draft I wanted this guy for Detroit so badly. Hendricks is a fantastic prospect, I don’t understand how he dropped so far down. Standing at 6’10, Hendricks is a 19-year-old forward who is a switchable defender that also shot 39.4% from three at UCF this year. He is the absolute perfect player for the modern NBA and fits like a glove on the young Jazz, who are lacking in the forward department. Hendricks is listed as a power forward, but I think he can slide in as a small forward in the Jazz lineup, and will immediately contribute to wins. Unfortunately, he missed all of the summer league with a hamstring strain, so we didn’t get a preview of what Hendricks can do, but he will soon show the NBA why he should’ve gone higher in the draft.

10. Cason Wallace is the steal of the draft, but will not get enough playing time on the Thunder

When will NBA teams learn to stop passing on Kentucky guards? Cason Wallace is a fantastic player, has been touted as an absolute workhorse, and is a versatile guard overall. He hit 6 threes in one of his summer league games, showing his ability as an outside shooter, and an off-ball threat.

Unfortunately, the Thunder are deep on guards, with top ten player Shai GIlgeous-Alexander and point-forward Josh Giddey, so it will be difficult to get playing time for Wallace. Hopefully, it doesn’t stunt his growth as a player, because his potential is sky-high, but he will surely contribute off the bench either way.

11. Jett Howard will light up the G-league

As a Michigan student and fan, it’s honestly shocking that Howard was drafted this high. To me, it’s a real headscratcher when prospects such as Dick and Whitmore were available, but the Magic seem to really like his potential. From what I’ve seen of Howard, he has a great jump shot certainly, but I don’t love his ability to create his own shot, and his defense needs a lot of work. I don’t see him contributing to the Magic much this season, but he’s the type of player who will have a few G-league games where he will have like 10 threes and everyone will wonder why he isn’t on Orlando’s main roster.

12. Dereck Lively II is the perfect center for Luka

Going into the offseason, the Mavericks needed a big man more than anything. Though not the best instant replacement, Lively is the prototypical big man, standing at 7’1, with the ability to both be a force in the paint as well as working to be a presence from outside the arc. With two playmakers of the caliber of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving, Lively II has the chance to contribute right away, as he can get fed as many lobs as he might desire. One of his comparisons is Tyson Chandler, another legendary Mavericks big man.

Imagine a physical presence like this in the paint but with Luka and Kyrie feeding him lobs. That’s going to be a problem for opposing defenses.

13. Gradey Dick will be in the 3-point contest this year

If defenses don’t put Dick in a box, he is going to hit a lot of threes. What was good to see during his game against Detroit was that he wasn’t a one Dick pony, he was able to take the ball to the rim and finish in traffic, as well as scoring moving fadeaways with multiple defenders on top of him. Dick averaged 14 points last year on a blistering 40% from three for the Jayhawks and on a Raptors team built for spacing, Dick will shoot quite a lot next year, and his name makes for such a great addition to the all-star weekend that if he has a decent enough clip from three he will make it.

14. Jordan Hawkins will be on a different team by the end of the trade deadline next year

I’m not as much of a Hawkins fan as Ryan Russilo, but I still think he projects as a solid NBA player. I just think he is gonna be a solid bench player for a lot of years. Nothing too special, but not bad at all. That said, I think Zion is gonna be back next year, and at the deadline, the Pelicans are gonna make a big deal to get that last piece before the playoffs. It could be a player like Paul George or Damian Lillard if he’s still on the Blazers, but I think Hawkins is gone in whatever deal that ends up being for the Pelicans.

2 thoughts on “Predicting the Future: A Bold Forecast for Every 2023 NBA Draft Lottery Pick

  1. As just a casual basketball enjoyer, I think it’s really cool that you go so in depth on each player to the point where you can make these specific predictions. I wonder how accurate they’ll be by the end of the season.

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