Winners and losers of 2023 NBA Draft

Published June 24, 2023, 9:00 AMPolo Bustamante
Polo Bustamante

Another draft, another crop of talent entering the league. Who were the winners and losers of the NBA Draft?

The 2023 NBA Draft was such a unique draft in so many ways. Sure, there were trades, and reaches, and prospects falling just like other drafts. But this one had a generational talent, siblings selected in the top 5, and a guy named Scoot. When will the stars line up like that again?

Here are the winners and losers of the 2023 NBA Draft.

Winner: Victor Wembenyama

The top pick in this year’s draft was no secret. It didn’t matter what any other prospect did leading up to the draft. There was no way Wemby wasn’t going first. But, it was still refreshing to see Wembenyama get overcome by emotions even though it was a 100 percent certain that he was going to get drafted with the number one pick.

This is just a reminder to everyone that Wembenyama also had to face challenges, difficulties, and a whole journey just to make it to the NBA. Now that he’s officially a member of the San Antonio Spurs, he’s about to embark on a whole new journey.

Before anything though, it’s time for some tacos.

Loser: Hornets fans

All week long, the Charlotte Hornets were putting up smokescreens as to who they would draft with the second pick. The choices were either the ultra smooth Brandon Miller or the uber explosive Scoot Henderson. When it finally came down to it, the Hornets chose Miller to pair up with their All-Star point guard, LaMelo Ball.

Charlotte fans were not happy with the pick.

There are a lot of ways to argue why Miller was the right pick for the Hornets. But it’s best to just let their GM, Mitch Kupchak, explain why they chose the Alabama prospect.


TBD: Scoot Henderson

In any other draft, Henderson would have been the first pick. He just happened to be in the same one as the 7’2” phenom. 

It was clear though that several teams wanted Henderson on their team. The New Orleans Pelicans, Washington Wizards, and Toronto Raptors were all rumored to have been preparing packages to offer to the Blazers for the chance to draft Henderson. None of those trades materialized and the Blazers kept their pick, drafting Henderson third.

There are a lot of questions regarding the rookie’s fit with Damian Lillard. Henderson may be talented but he’s also only 6’2”. But you always bet on talent. And Scoot has tons of that. He’ll also be playing with a massive chip on his shoulder. Just like Lillard has his entire career.

Winner: Thompson twins

Amen Thompson was selected fourth overall by the Houston Rockets. His twin brother Ausar didn’t have to wait long as he was picked immediately after by the Detroit Pistons with the fifth pick. Those back-to-back picks were historic as the Thompson twins became the first brothers taken in the top five of a draft.

Loser: Amen Thompson

While this isn’t the first time the two are playing on different teams, with Amen going to Houston and Ausar going to Detroit, this means the brothers will start leading separate lives. That means that the stuff they shared before will have to be split up between them. Amen summed it up perfectly.

Oof. Not the PS5.

Winner: Tyrese Haliburton’s player comparisons

As with any NBA Draft broadcast, these prospects get NBA comparisons in order to give the general public an idea of what kind of player they could end up being.

Tyrese Haliburton went through the same process and had to be compared to an NBA player that came before him. So he was ready with his own player comparisons during the draft.

For next year’s draft, Hali should be on the panel purely to drop NBA comps.

Loser: Cam Whitmore

A trendy name that was being floated starting the sixth pick was Cam Whitmore. The prospect out of Villanova had the skills and build of a prototypical NBA wing. Just the kind of player every NBA team needs, right? Wrong. Fourteen other teams passed on Whitmore, before his drop in the lottery was finally ended by the Houston Rockets with the 20th pick.

There’s no one reason why Whitmore fell far down from his pre-draft projections. It’s probably due to some concerns about a thumb injury, a lackluster final college year, questions about his intensity, or a combination of all of those. Whitmore started the day out as a top 10 pick and ended up outside of the lottery.

Winner: Houston Rockets

Whitmore’s loss ended up being the Rockets’ gain. Houston bet on talent and potential, ignoring possible red flags that Whitmore might have. Because of that, they were able to nab a borderline top five prospect with their 20th pick.

If the Whitmore selection hits, the Rockets were able to get two top-five talents with their first round picks this year. What a bargain.

Winner: Dallas Mavericks

Dallas sat out Luka Doncic for the final games of the season resulting in key losses that ended their season early. In short, the Mavs tanked. They did that in order to keep their pick this year. That’s why it was a head-scratcher when the team traded the 10th pick they glaringly “fought” to keep. Then it all made sense when the Mavericks finally made their pick. 

Dallas had been targeting big man Dereck Lively II as their first-round pick. They could have gotten him at 10th, easy peasy. But they rolled the dice with a salary dump trade to move down a couple of spots, hoping Lively II would still be there.

The trade paid off. They shed Davis Bertans and his $16 million contract and still got the rookie big man they wanted with the 12th pick.

Shrewd move by the Dallas front office there.

Loser: The Murray twins

Ooh. So close.