NBA scouts and executives didn’t need to see Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson each turn in thrilling performances in their made-for-TV matchup to know were both really, really good. Wembanyama has been hyped as one of the most tantalizing basketball prospects ever for a couple years now, while Henderson likely would have gone No. 1 overall in the last NBA draft if he was eligible to enter after his impressive debut season with G League Ignite.
In reality, the tank race for Wembanyama and Henderson started months before they played each other. It’s easy to see the San Antonio Spurs’ decision trade All-Star point guard Dejounte Murray for a bundle of picks from the Atlanta Hawks as a response to having two studs at the top of this draft. The Utah Jazz probably should have blown it up anyway, but moving on from both Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert in the same summer also speaks to the desire to maximize their own draft pick this year. The Oklahoma City Thunder have been very careful not to get too competitive for several years now.
Let’s figure out the best landing spots for Wembanyama and Henderson before they eventually become the No. 1 and No. 2 overall picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. Check out our full 2023 NBA mock draft here for a complete primer on the class.
Victor Wembanyama’s top-3 NBA draft fits
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
It’s easy to believe the Thunder’s entire rebuild has always been geared around a shot at Wembanyama. OKC already has some promising young pieces in place led by Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren, and Josh Giddey, but they are certain to do everything they can to be one of the worst teams in the league once again. It would be incredible to see Holmgren and Wembanyama on the same team, but there’s something a little icky about just how transparently the Thunder have tanked.
Shutting down players early and basing the entire season around boosting lottery odds is no way to go through life. This would be a very cool core for Wemby to join with so much length and passing already in place, but it feels dirty for OKC to get rewarded with an all-time talent because they lost on purpose for years.
2. Utah Jazz
The Jazz tried to build a contender around a massive French big man before, and never made it past the second round. Utah’s Rudy Gobert era should still be considered a relative success, but there would be potential for so much more if they added Wembanyama. The Jazz are mostly a blank slate right now after their offseason teardown, so they would be in no rush to build an overnight contender if they won the lottery. It would be fun to see Wembanyama grow organically in a spot where he could test out the limits of his skill set as the Utah front office identifies the types of pieces they want around him.
There’s no doubt top executive Danny Ainge was thinking about the 7’5 French wunderkind when the Jazz made their moves this offseason. Loaded with future picks after the Gobert and Mitchell trades, the Jazz would have so many avenues to add young talent around Wembanyama if they were lucky enough to win his rights.
1. San Antonio Spurs
That sound you hear is fans of every other NBA team rolling their eyes in unison at this. The Spurs already won the lottery rights to David Robinson and Tim Duncan. Do they really deserve to land a third generational prospect in Wembanyama? Of course no team deserves to win the rights to Wembanyama (like Ziller said: kill the draft! Let him pick his own team!), but San Antonio would feel like a good spot for him for a few different reasons.
Gregg Popovich is still hanging around, and it would be fitting to see him get another superstar for the franchise before retirement. Like the Jazz, San Antonio has a bunch of future picks and wouldn’t have any pressure to win immediately with Wembanyama. The lack of a stud creator already in place would allow Wemby to play with the ball in his hands as often as he wants. It would also be cool for fellow French legend Tony Parker and fellow generational big man Tim Duncan to give Wembanyama pointers as he goes throughout his career. Basically any team would be a great landing spot for Wembanyama, but we’ll give the Spurs the slightest of edges over the competition going into the season.
Scoot Henderson’s top-3 NBA draft fits
The Wizards just need some hope. After locking Bradley Beal in to a long-term extension and swinging a trade for Kristaps Porzingis, Washington feels like a squad that wants to contend but just doesn’t have enough talent to get there. What the Wizards really need a young star to tie the roster together. Henderson is perfect for the job with his rare ability to create offense off the dribble for himself and others. Beal could take away some of the early shot creation burden while still spacing the floor, and Porzingis could potentially be the ideal type of stretch five you want with driver like Scoot. Washington may not be bad enough to get a real shot at a top pick, but the East feels more competitive than ever, and the flattened lottery odds give teams that aren’t among the very worst in the league the opportunity to jump up.
The Wizards were exciting when they were led by an ultra-athletic point guard in John Wall. Henderson could make D.C. fun again with a little lotto luck.
The Pacers already have two awesome young guards in place in Tyrese Haliburton and Benn Mathurin, so this may seem like a weird fit at first. The nice thing about both Haliburton and Mathurin is that they can shoot well enough to play off the ball, and that’s exactly what Henderson needs next to him. Henderson’s special skill is generating paint touches and easy transition baskets with his elite speed, and Indiana doesn’t have a player who can bend defenses in that way already on the roster. Haliburton could take some of the playmaking burden off Henderson’s plate early in his career, and the perimeter trio is long enough to potentially guard bigger players on the other end.
For as great as Haliburton is as a point guard, it’s hard to be a team’s primary option if you can’t consistently get to the rim or the foul line. Instead, Haliburton feels like the ideal complement for someone with Henderson’s athletic gifts, and that makes the Pacers a wonderful fit for everyone involved.
The Rockets already have a ton of young talent in place with Jalen Green, Jabari Smith Jr., Tari Eason, TyTy Washington, and Alperen Sengun. Adding a piece like Henderson would give Houston arguably the brightest young core in the league, and would open up their contention window sooner than anyone expected. Henderson is perfect in Houston because of the skills the Rockets already have on the roster: Green and Smith are both knockdown shooters, and would help create massive driving lanes for Henderson to run through. Green and Henderson would be the most athletic backcourt in the league. Henderson could take on the tougher defensive assignment, and the two could share on-ball creation opportunities. A pick-and-pop with Scoot and Smith already feels unstoppable.
Houston may need to find more shooting the wings, but there’s no arguing with this foundation if it adds a piece like Henderson.