Far too soon, the big 2023 NBA draft draw has exorbitant potential

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. 5. . . . Casson Wallace. player. 528

A preseason watch list wouldn’t be complete without Kentucky’s mandatory guard, and this year the guy we have our eyes on is Cason Wallace. He’s not a stunning athlete in any sense of the word, but he’s a pesky, tough defender, a good shooter, has probably one of the best floaters of any player on this list, and has proven in the past that, he can be a team’s primary creator on the ball.

With that in mind, he might start hitting big boards and faking drafts for reasons similar to Tyty Washington’s last round of drafts: It looks like Wallace will be playing off-ball with Sahvir Wheeler as the main guard of the Kentucky. However, if Wallace can hit threes at a high pace, show he can still be a good defender, and give fans the occasional taste of his game, he could be the first Kentucky guard to be lottery selected since. some time.

I’m exponentially higher on Sidy Cissoko than most at this point in the draft cycle, and that’s partly because he’s so hard to rank. While many outlets currently have him listed at around 6’5″ and 175 pounds, he appears to have grown closer to 6’7″ or 6’8″ and 200 pounds. He has a chance of being one of the best passers (if not the best) in his class, is a very good transitional athlete, plays aggressive multi-position defense and has an engine that never seems to quit. Many will focus on Scoot Henderson when it comes to G-League Ignite, but I’m also buying a ton of stock on Cissoko.

Cissoko’s swing skill that will determine when he is selected, much like Anthony Black, is his jump shot. I buy his shot much more than Black’s, though, as he’s already shown several promising flashes of good touch and very deep range despite being relatively inefficient so far.

Cissoko will likely play many of his minutes away from the ball, with Henderson being the Ignite’s main guard, but if Cissoko can make his presence felt on defense, continue to make winning plays with his Eternal Engine and take down all three at a respectable clip. . , don’t be surprised if there is a lock for the lottery. If Dyson Daniels can be caught in the top ten, there’s no doubt in my mind that Cissoko could be selected there if all goes well for him.

player. . 3. . Nick Smith Jr.. 524. .

When it comes to college basketball teams packed with freshman talent, Duke and Arkansas immediately come to mind this season, and in Arkansas’ case, Nick Smith Jr. is a huge contributor to that talent. . He’s a scrappy offensive threat who filled the stat sheets during his time at North Little Rock High School, averaging 26.5 points, 8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game.

His most frequent player comparison so far has been Jamal Murray, but if you ask me early on, I see more nuance from Murray’s teammate Bones Hyland. Smith has a silky pull-up game from three, has one of the best floaters in his draft class, and uses his speed and nervous frame to weave past defenders around the rim. Having Anthony Black at his disposal to feed him the boulder should only boost his already high score by three levels.

On the flip side, however, Smith’s physique (or lack thereof) may not hold up well against inside defenders at the next level. His size could also cause him problems in defense despite his long wingspan and willingness to play aggressively at this end of the pitch. If Smith’s scoring translates well to the next level and he can prove he’s not a defensive screener, he could flirt with the top five in the next draft.

Keyonte George. 2. 460. . . . player.

Keyonte George, a native of Lewisville, Texas, just like Nick Smith, is advertised as a combination bucket guard with high shooting potential. But while the two are lumped together in conversations because of it, I think that’s where their similarities mostly end.

While Smith’s athleticism is defined by his speed and length, George’s is more defined by his power and coordination. It welcomes contact on and around the rim and makes hard finishes through that contact with convincing regularity. But when defenders slump on him to try and shut down his drives, he can hit a three with a hand to the face or do pull-ups in the midrange. No matter where he scores, he is an advanced ball handler who can easily hit his points.

George is currently rated slightly higher than Smith due to his often underestimated defensive edge, but the majority of that edge is much more theoretical than something that was often demonstrated in his high school game. If George can prove he’s willing to buy into Scott Drew’s defensive scheme at Baylor, while still being effective as the team’s likely number one scoring option, the sky’s the limit for him.

To put it plainly, heading into the 2023 draft cycle, Scoot Henderson is the reason Victor Wembanyama isn’t in an individual race for the No. 1 overall pick. Henderson showed several convincing flashes of superstardom as a 17-year-old in a professional league, playing against players who often already have NBA experience. To say that this level of visible talent is unprecedented would probably be an understatement.

Henderson is a global athlete in general and may be the best functional athlete on this list, with the possible exception (spoiler alert) of Cam Whitmore. He’s lightning fast on the open court, incredibly sneaky, strong and almost as effective as an athlete, even with the ball in his hands. Henderson is just as skilled as he is athletic, however, as he made 48.6% of his 3.5 jump shots per game last season, is a natural creator off the pick and roll, and showed good touchdowns. around the edge with both hands.

I will be watching Henderson’s defensive engagement closely, of which he has already shown very convincing flashes, as well as his three-point shot. With that in mind, however, all signs point to Henderson having a breakthrough year as a primary option in the G-League Ignite and he is, in my opinion, very easily the most NBA-ready guard in his class. Unless he suffers a severe fall, expect him to be in the top two picks.

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