The 2023 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday, June 22, and there is absolutely no drama when it comes to who will go first overall. You've probably heard of him at this point. Frenchman Victor Wembanyama will be the No. 1 pick for the San Antonio Spurs and there is no universe in which that changes. He's received a nearly-unprecedented level of hype for any prospect, much less a foreign player, and basketball fans are excited to see him try to live up to it.
There are other players in this draft, however unlikely that may seem with how much coverage Wembanyama gets. Once he goes at the top, the draft really starts. There is no consensus on how the top-five will shake out after Wembanyama. There is lot of talent, but how that talent compares varies greatly.
We endeavor to inform, reader, and thus we present the five best non-Wembanyama draft prospects for the 2023 NBA Draft.
Scoot Henderson, PG (G-League Ignite)
Until the draft lottery in early June, the man known as Scoot was universally accepted to be the future No. 2 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and a guy who absolutely could have gone No. 1 if not for the tall French kid. But the way the lottery shook out means Henderson could drop as low as No. 5 overall because the teams selecting No. 2 through No. 4 all have a logjam at point guard in some form. In terms of talent alone, make no mistake -- Henderson is second only to Wembanyama.
The point guard is built like an NFL linebacker but also boasts a 40-inch vertical. His explosiveness is unmatched in this class. He can get from the 3-point line to the paint in the blink of an eye and play above the rim once he gets there. He averaged nearly 17 points per game playing against grown men in the G-League and dished out 6.5 assists per contest, too. At his best Henderson controls the flow of the game with his floor vision.
The downsides are relatively limited but could be a long-term problem. He isn't a great shooter, his shot selection was pretty bad, and there is a cap on how good a defender he can be due to his size. Henderson is 6-foot-2 and will get bullied by bigger guards, of which there are plenty in the NBA. Despite all that, the kid has the makeup of a box office point guard who will destroy the rim if given the opportunity, and has the skillset to be a great all-around player. Plus, he's apparently an insane competitor. A lot to like.
Brandon Miller, SF (Alabama)
Miller came out of absolutely nowhere this year. He blew up as a freshman at Alabama, boasting some incredibly impressive all-around scoring chops for an 18-year-old. He averaged 18.8 points per game for 'Bama while shooting 38 percent from deep on 7.5 attempts per contest. By the end of the year Miller was scoring at all three levels with ease and even boasted some intriguing court vision that could take his game to the next level. Forwards who can score and make plays for others are the most valuable offensive commodity in the NBA right now. The fact that Miller is an energetic and active defender on the ball is only the cherry on top of the sundae.
Miller's game fell off near the end of the year, though. He suffered a groin injury and became the central focus of every defense he came up against. Any young player will struggle when either of those two things happen but it does give teams pause and wonder if he just had a hot shooting start. He also needs to add weight to his 6-foot-9 frame, which isn't really a problem under NBA dietitians but it can be hard to determine how his game will be impacted after putting on some pounds.
Miller was also connected the shooting of a young woman by former teammate Darius Miles. It is important to note that Miller was not charged with any crimes but being involved at all in that awful situation is something every team will have to think long and hard about.
Amen Thompson, PG (Overtime Elite)
One of the two Thompson twins who played for Overtime last year, Amen is considered to be the better prospect for a few reasons. For all the hype in regards to athleticism we gave Henderson above and Whitmore below, Amen is a significantly better athlete than either. Upon taking the court for his first NBA game Amen will be one of the best athletes in the league. He can hang with the best of them and dominates in the paint accordingly. But that isn't what makes him a great prospect. What makes him great is his passing ability. Thompson is arguably the best passer in the draft and makes some wow reads on the court that very few ballhandlers can make in the NBA, much less before they get there. That feel for the game combined with his athleticism make him a dangerous defender when he's locked-in, too.
As a result, most project Thompson to be a supersized point guard, standing at 6-foot-6 and weighing 214 pounds. The problem with that projection is that he cannot shoot right now. At all. And there is a long road for him to become even an average shooter. The other strengths in his game will make him an impactful player but non-shooters of all shapes and sizes get played off the floor when the games matter most. He is, of course, the sort of player a team will absolutely draft when given the chance and figure everything else out later. That said, there is a hard ceiling on his potential as of now, which isn't what teams generally look for in the top five of the lottery
Again, there's way more going in Thompson's favor than against. But you need to be able to shoot to win games en masse in the big leagues and that's a huge question for this Thompson twin.
Cam Whitmore, SF (Villanova)
Another freshman who impressed with his scoring pop at a top program last season, Whitmore won the Big East Freshman of the Year award by averaging 12.5 points per game at Villanova. His off-the-dribble game made him look like a man amongst boys at times last year. At 6-foot-7, he is incredibly explosive getting to the rack and will enter the NBA capable of putting someone on a poster at any moment. He utilized that top-tier athleticism to make an impact on the defensive end, which isn't always a given with young players.
Whitmore is, however, perhaps the most undisciplined player near the top of the draft class. He became a supreme chucker at times at Villanova and took a lot of difficult shots that felt wildly unnecessary given how much better of an athlete he was than most of his defenders. Defensively he had a tough time locking in off the ball and gambled enough to offset his on-ball success.
Whitmore is the sort of player who could end up an All-Star complementary piece to a championship team or an inefficient chucker with empty stats and incredible highlights. He's no sure thing, but the tools are there to be a really good player.
Ausar Thompson, SF (Overtime Elite)
The other Thompson brother has a similar profile to Amen as a 6-foot-6 wing, but may be more appealing to certain teams through the lens of being a "winning" player. Ausar is not quite as elite an athlete as Amen but is still in the upper echelon compared to the rest of the NBA, much less his draft class. He is a tremendous finisher and exhibits shockingly good control around the rim for a player his age. Ausar is an excellent defender as well and crashes the boards, generally checking all the "little things" boxes that contenders love to see.
Unfortunately, like his brother, Ausar is also a poor shooter and is not blessed with the same court vision. He's still a good passer but not a transcendent one and as such does not project to be a lead ballhandler. That leaves his ceiling as an Andre Iguodala type, an athletic forward who can supplement an offensive star while taking the toughest assignment on defense. Those are tremendously valuable players, of course, but tend to fall short of true superstar level production.
Ausar appears to have slightly more workable shooting mechanics than his twin at this stage so we may see him go ahead of Amen when the draft rolls around. Both guys will be around for a long time, but it wouldn't be a surprise to see Ausar end up contributing more to winning early.