May 16, 2023
Photo: Associated Press
Close, but no cigar. It’s hard to be upset about the No. 2 pick with a generational draft class.
The Charlotte Hornets jumped up from the fourth slot in the draft lottery and will now pick second overall in the 2023 NBA Draft next month (June 22). The Hornets had a 12.2 percent chance to pick second, and this lottery gives general manager Mitch Kupchak his second top-three pick in four years.
The San Antonio Spurs were awarded the pick to draft Victor Wembanyama, cashing in on their 14 percent chance, after finishing with one of the three worst records in the NBA. The Spurs and Hornets weren’t the only teams to jump two spots, as the Trail Blazers moved from fifth to third. The Pistons and Rockets went home disappointed after dropping outside the top three despite finishing as the two worst teams in the league. Otherwise, the lottery went exactly to form for picks six through 14.
Tonight, the big debate begins. The Hornets now have a chance to select G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson, a hyper-athletic downhill scorer and playmaker and the long-presumed second-ranked prospect in the class behind Wembanyama. But in recent months, Brandon Miller has garnered steam as the potential No. 2 pick. Miller, a wing out of Alabama whose scoring and size are an ideal fit alongside LaMelo Ball, was the SEC Player of the Year as a freshman and the best player on a very good Alabama squad. But Scoot Henderson’s body of work in two years with Ignite and long-term upside might be too much for Charlotte’s front office to deny, even with Miller’s production and fit.
For years, the prevailing narrative has been that the Hornets are an unlucky franchise. At least in terms of the draft lottery, that no longer seems to be the case. No matter who Kupchak decides to take, the lottery gods have gifted the Hornets a franchise cornerstone after each of the last two rebuilding years. Let’s just hope it turns out a lot better than the last time the Hornets picked No. 2, when they drafted Michael Kidd-Gilchrist in 2012.
The 2023 NBA Draft will take place on June 22 at 8 p.m. EST on ESPN.