The 2023 NBA Draft is on June 22, and we know for sure that the San Antonio Spurs will take French 7-foot-4 mega-prospect Victor Wembanyama at No. 1 overall – he will be in the green room next Thursday so some Americans will get their first look at him. Wembanyama is considered the best prospect to enter the league since LeBron James, and that worked out pretty well.
NBA Betting News: Pelicans Could Trade Zion Williamson To Move Up In 2023 Draft
Many scouts consider the No. 2 prospect in this draft to be G-League guard Scoot Henderson. His G League Ignite team beat Wembanyama’s Metropolitans 92 (France) team in a thrilling exhibition game last October in Las Vegas. Wembanyama finished with 37 points (including seven 3-pointers) and five blocks in 32 minutes, while Henderson had 28 points and nine assists in 31 minutes.
“[Henderson’s] better than Ja Morant was at this stage in his career,” one NBA scout said then. Morant was the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft and won NBA Rookie of the Year.
The New Orleans Pelicans reportedly covet Henderson so much, they are actually listening to trade offers for injury-prone superstar Zion Williamson in an effort to move up to No. 2 in the draft to land Henderson – Charlotte currently picks second and probably takes Alabama forward Brandon Miller over Henderson so the Pels might only have to move up to No. 3, currently held by Portland, although they may not want to risk Henderson going second.
Williamson was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft out of Duke. At 6-foot-6 and 285 pounds with a 45-inch vertical, Zion was a specimen unlike anything we’d seen before. He is a Top 10 player in the league when healthy … but rarely is. Zion has been limited to just 114 total NBA games (equivalent to a season and a half in four years) due to injury and was limited to 29 this past season, not playing after Jan. 2 due to a hamstring injury. The Pelicans did reach a Western Conference play-in game without Zion but lost to Oklahoma City.
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It was thought that Williamson was close to playing in that game and might have in Round 1 had New Orleans advanced, but Pels executive David Griffin said recently that Williamson was never cleared for 5-on-5 or even full-court 3-on-3 work before the Pelicans’ play-in game.
Zion is one of the league’s most popular players already despite his many absences as he is one of just 11 players in NBA history to play in an All-Star Game before his 21st birthday. The others: Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, LaMelo Ball, Kevin Garnett, Isiah Thomas, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Davis, Shaquille O’Neal and Luka Doncic. All Hall of Famers or likely eventually will be. Those 10 players collectively have made 83 All-NBA teams and won 10 MVP Awards.
Williamson is an All-NBA and MVP talent but the Pelicans apparently are tiring of being without him – not to mention Zion has been embarrassed on social media of late by a porn star named Moriah Mills he reportedly was sleeping with despite a pregnant girlfriend.
Last summer, the Pelicans gave Zion a five-year extension worth around $200 million – the max they could offer him so it’s not like they have to move him. When Williamson signed his extension, there were protections in the deal for the team related to games played and injuries. With Williamson appearing in only 29 games last season, he did not meet the games played threshold and that converts some portion of Williamson’s deal to non-guaranteed. His weight has been a problem. The Pelicans are so down on Zion right now (does he truly CARE about basketball?) that they would rather deal him than fellow All-Star forward Brandon Ingram.
“I heard from one well-placed observer who is convinced that the Pelicans would indeed consider dealing Williamson away if it meant they could draft Henderson, pointing to a rising level of exasperation within the organization regarding Williamson’s ongoing availability and overall approach,” NBA insider Marc Stein wrote this week.
Henderson, a 6-foot-2 guard, was a five-star recruit from the class of 2022 who finished high school coursework more than 1.5 years early to join Ignite. He averaged 17.6 points, 6.6 assists and 5.1 rebounds this past season. Henderson reportedly had an impressive workout in Charlotte last week as the Hornets will choose between him and Miller if they don’t trade out.
If the Pelicans offer Zion to the Hornets for the No. 2, they surely would take it simply to help draw fans. He’s still mega-popular in the Carolinas from his one year at Duke and is from South Carolina. New Orleans holds the No. 14 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and that could be included in any deal.
As of this writing, Bama’s Miller is the -250 favorite to go second with Henderson at +160. That’s second only, regardless of team picking. Miller wouldn’t fit on New Orleans.
I have read enough, I need to place my bet now. What to do?