Spurs Big Board 1.0: First Look at the 2023 NBA Draft
The San Antonio Spurs will have three picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. As it stands, we know that the Spurs will have one of the top seven picks in the draft and two selections in the second round. San Antonio’s second round pick will be 32 or 33, while a second round pick the Spurs are owed from the Toronto Raptors will either be 43 or 44.
In the coming days, the NBA will conduct tiebreakers to determine the draft order for teams that ended the season with identical records. If the Spurs win the tiebreaker against the Houston Rockets, San Antonio will be guaranteed a top six pick in the draft and will get the 33rd overall selection. If the Spurs lose the tiebreaker, they’ll be guaranteed a top seven selection in the draft and the 32nd pick.
On May 16th, the NBA Draft Lottery will take place. By finishing with one of the three worst records in the league, the Spurs, Rockets and Detroit Pistons have the best odds of winning the lottery and ending up with the top pick.
In the first edition of the Spurs Big Board for this year’s draft, let’s take a look at the top ten prospects. With their lottery pick, it’s very likely that San Antonio will pick one of these players.
1. Victor Wembanyama
The team who wins the lottery has a no-brainer of a decision. Victor Wembanyama will be the No. 1 overall selection of the 2023 NBA Draft — and it’s not even worthy of a debate. The Spurs have been preparing for him for months.
There’s never been a prospect quite like Wembanyama. He’s 7-foot-something, freakishly skilled out on the perimeter and has a sky-high ceiling on both sides of the court. I wouldn’t quite label him as a can’t-miss franchise player like a Tim Duncan or a David Robinson — but Wembanyama certainly has a path to becoming the best player on the planet within five years.
2. Scoot Henderson
While a case can be made that Scoot Henderson is no longer a lock to be the second pick in the draft, he’s still a heavy favorite to be San Antonio’s pick at two. Henderson stalled at times during his second season with the G League Ignite but he remains a super athletic point guard prospect with superstar upside. He has all the tools needed to be a top flight scorer and playmaker.
If the Silver and Black end up drafting Henderson, he’d step into the starting point guard role on Day 1 and become the player the Spurs attempt to build around.
3. Amen Thompson
According to multiple scouts I’ve talked to, it’s widely believed that the Spurs are higher than the consensus on both of the Thompson twins. In fact, one Eastern Conference scout I spoke to believes that the Spurs would pick one of the Thompson twins instead of Henderson if San Antonio ends up with the second pick in the draft.
Since the Spurs are in a position to take a home run swing on upside, I believe that Amen Thompson would be the preferred twin. Amen is 6-foot-7 and absurdly athletic. Once he’s drafted, he’ll instantly be one of the top five best athletes in the association. Amen is also a natural playmaker who sees the court very well and may ultimately become a point guard.
Compared to his twin, Amen is the one with franchise player potential.
4. Ausar Thompson
Although Amen has the higher ceiling, Ausar Thompson is the safer prospect. He’s not quite as athletic and projects to be a swingman rather than a point guard, but Ausar is the better shooter and is blessed with much better shooting mechanics. He’s also the better defender and plays a smarter brand of basketball on both ends.
Ausar doesn’t have the franchise player potential of his twin but he’s also much less of a boom-or-bust prospect.
5. Brandon Miller
“There’s absolutely no way the Spurs draft and keep him,” a league source told me when asked about the possibility of San Antonio drafting Brandon Miller. “No way. None.”
Why is the source so adamant that the Spurs won’t select Miller? It’s actually simple — and involves disgraced Spurs draft pick Joshua Primo. Miller brought a handgun to a teammate that was ultimately used to murder a woman. He hasn’t been charged with a crime and, depending on who you believe, he may not have even knowingly transported the handgun — but it’s obviously not a story that will go away anytime soon.
What’s the connection to Primo? Miller is coming off of a freshman season at Alabama. The Spurs drafted Primo after his freshman season at Alabama. After the Primo fiasco, it’s understandable that the Spurs will go out of the way to avoid going down a similar path.
If Miller didn’t have those Primo parallels, he’d be in the running to be No. 2 on this Spurs Big Board. He’s a 6-foot-9 shotmaker who could become the type of jumbo playmaker that every organization covets. Alas, he’s not going to be the pick. The only reason he’s No. 5 is because the Spurs may opt to select Miller in order to trade him to the highest bidder.
6. Jarace Walker
Jarace Walker checks a lot of boxes for a prospect you’d want to draft in the top half of the lottery. He’s a big, long, athletic 6-foot-8 forward who can guard multiple positions. Walker is burly enough to defend most centers and light enough on his feet to guard out on the perimeter. His offense isn’t as translatable but he has flashed intriguing tools including ball-handling and a soft touch on floaters.
As a freshman at Houston, Walker immediately impacted winning and exhibited an ability to provide whatever was needed at any given time. Those are the types of traits the Spurs look for in a draft pick.
Walker would form a fascinating pairing with Jeremy Sochan, San Antonio’s 2022 lottery pick. Two multi-positional forwards who can thrive in a variety of roles? That would be an interesting starting point as the Spurs begin their rebuild.
7. Taylor Hendricks
If recent history is any indication, Taylor Hendricks is exactly what the Spurs will be looking for in the 2023 lottery. San Antonio’s four previous first round picks (Jeremy Sochan, Malaki Branham, Blake Wesley and Joshua Primo) all have one thing in common: they were unexpected one-and-done teenagers. Heading into their freshman seasons, none of the four were projected to be NBA ready after only one season in college. Hendricks fits that mold in this year’s lottery.
At the University of Central Florida, Hendricks played so well in his freshman campaign that he went from off the board to the top ten. He’s a 6-foot-9 power forward who is really athletic, has great timing for blocks and shot nearly 40% from three-point range.
8. Cam Whitmore
Cam Whitmore was highly recruited coming out of high school but wasn’t overly impressive in his lone season at Villanova. That said, he showed flashes of vast offensive potential. Whitmore is powerfully built, quick for his size and unafraid to attack the rim. It doesn’t take much imagination to picture him becoming a lethal scoring forward if he gets in the right system and continues to work at his craft.
9. Anthony Black
If the Spurs end up picking Anthony Black, that shouldn’t surprise anyone. While he might not have the highest of ceilings, Black is a very Spursian prospect. He’s a 6-foot-7 point guard who processes the game at lightning speed, reads the floor extremely well and provides versatility on the defensive end. Black’s basketball IQ will make him valuable from the very first days of his NBA career.
10. Cason Wallace
Rounding out the top ten is Cason Wallace, a 6-foot-4 guard of Kentucky. If the Spurs believe he can be a full-time point guard, he’d be a tempting prospect. Wallace is a bulldog of a defender with a sneaky amount of offensive upside. As is the case with most guards coming out of Kentucky, it’s difficult to figure out what he’ll be in the NBA. But with Wallace, the one thing you know is he’ll be a big-time plus on the defensive end of the court