2023 NBA Draft: Best Bets To Be Taken With Picks 2-4

Why Miller, Henderson and Whitmore will be taken at the top of draft.

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2023 NBA Draft After Wembanyama

The Orlando Magic had the first pick in last year's NBA Draft and, by all accounts, were planning on taking Jabari Smith Jr. No. 1 overall. At least that's what the public, and some NBA insiders, thought. But when Adam Silver stepped to the podium to announce Orlando's selection, it was Paolo Banchero's name that he read.

There is absolutely zero chance that this year's draft has that some type of drama. The San Antonio Spurs won the draft lottery and will take Victor Wembanyama first overall. At 7'4, Wembanyama is the best draft prospect to enter the league since LeBron James. Does that mean he'll be as good as James? Time will tell, but he certainly has the skillset and size to turn a franchise around. The Spurs would be insane to not take him, which is why the books have Wembanyama priced at -20000 to be the first player off the board. With that pick taken care of, let's take a look at what picks 2-4 might look like.

Charlotte Hornets Select Brandon Miller At No. 2

As is the case for teams at the top of the draft board, the Hornets don't have just one specific need they're looking to fill. Instead, they're likely going to draft the best player available. For the last couple of months, G-League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson has been the projected No. 2 pick but, according to reports, Alabama's Brandon Miller has garnered a lot of interest from Charlotte lately.

That change in interest has also been reflected in the betting market with Miller now the favorite to go second overall at -130 on DraftKings. Miller would fit perfectly next to point guard LaMelo Ball and complement him well as a second option. The top college prospect is a massive threat as an off-ball scorer and elite shot-maker from nearly anywhere on the floor. Despite being 6'9" with a 6'11" wingspan, Miller also has the length and quickness to guard multiple positions. This isn't to say Henderson wouldn't also be a solid selection at No. 2, but what this pick is likely to come down to is whether or not Ball wants to share the backcourt with someone or rely on an off-ball scorer. Based on the way the market has moved in Miller's favor, it seems as though the Hornets are leaning toward the latter scenario. Not to mention, ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony reported that it was "hard to find a single NBA executive at the draft combine" who thought Henderson would be taken second overall.

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Scoot Henderson Hears His Name Called At No. 3

If Miller does in fact go No. 2 to the Hornets, Scoot Henderson will almost certainly be taken third overall by the Tail Blazers. Portland missed the playoffs the last two years, but shouldn't have a hard time getting back there this season as long as Damian Lillard gets a little help. Henderson is a player that can add tons of value to this roster, even as a rookie. Lillard's made it clear that he doesn't want to stay in Portland if the franchise plans to go through a rebuild, but if they draft Henderson, that won't necessarily be the case. As a member of the G-League Ignite last year, he not only has the skill set to compete against NBA-caliber players but also experience in an NBA system and what that life entails.

Henderson is arguably the most athletic player in this draft and has the speed and quickness to blow by defenders. He also checks a number of boxes on defense, which is a need that the Blazers are looking to address this offseason. The 6'2" guard reminds me of Jimmy Butler in terms of his competitive nature. He gives 110% on every possession but at the same time plays extremely poised, especially when handling the ball. So far FanDuel has the best price on Henderson to go third overall at +110

Trade Scenario: I mentioned that Lillard wants to win now and isn't interested in waiting a year or two for younger players to develop. While Henderson might be the most NBA-ready prospect, I could still see Portland dealing the No. 3 pick for a high-level veteran that can make an immediate impact next year. However, giving up the third pick alone likely isn't enough to get the type of caliber player Lillard wants, so the Blazers might have to throw a player like Anfernee Simons in the mix. All that said, whether Portland trades the pick or not, I still think Henderson is taken off the board at No. 3.

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Houston Rockets Take Cam Whitmore At No. 4

Nearly every big-name draft analyst has Amen Thompson of Overtime Elite taken fourth overall by the Rockets. At -155, the odds suggest that's who Houston is going to go with, but I also think there can be a case made for Villanova's Cam Whitmore. And at +600 on DraftKings, we're getting much better value. Right now the Rockets' backcourt is set with Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr., and the same can be said for its frontcourt with Alperen Sengun and Jabari Smith Jr.

What Houston's lacking is a solid wing option, which is where Whitmore can step in. Many draft analysts have noted that after Wembanyama, Miller and Henderson, Whitmore is the most talented player in the draft. He can create off the dribble and has the explosiveness to get to the rim. More importantly, he can defend at a high level, which is an area that the Rockets desperately need to improve in. Whitmore doesn't turn 19 until July, so he's also extremely young and will have plenty of time to grow with this already young core.