NBA mock draft: Wembanyama easy No. 1; AP has Miller second, Henderson third

Villanova forward Cam Whitmore (22) looks to pass against Seton Hall during an NCAA college basketball game Feb. 28 in Newark, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger, File)

Alabama forward Brandon Miller (24) reaches for a rebound against Vanderbilt during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game on Jan. 31 in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)

Victor Wembanyama’s NBA draft experience will be quite unlike last year’s No. 1 pick.

Paolo Banchero could never be certain he would be taken first. There was too much speculation that Orlando was also considering Jabari Smith Jr. and Chet Holmgren, with some mock drafts listing Banchero below both. The eventual Rookie of the Year said he didn’t find out he was the Magic’s choice until less than a minute before Commissioner Adam Silver went on stage in Brooklyn.


Wembanyama has no need to wait. The 19-year-old from France has owned permanent residence atop mock draft boards, including all four versions of the AP’s, and could begin walking to the stage Thursday night before Silver finishes announcing the San Antonio Spurs’ selection.

Shortly after, two twin brothers could make the same walk. Amen and Ausar Thompson of Overtime Elite are both expected to land inside the top 10.

1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama, Forward, France

His combination of a center’s size and a guard’s shooting and dribbling make the 19-year-old a prospect perhaps unlike any other the NBA has seen, and should end the 13-year streak of the No. 1 pick being a college freshman. The Spurs won five NBA titles after taking Tim Duncan in 1997, the last time they had the No. 1 pick and dream of a similar impact from Wembanyama, who is listed at 7-foot-4.

2. Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller, Forward, Alabama

At 6-9, the SEC player of the year and tournament MVP as a freshman has the size, versatility and 3-point stroke to make him an ideal player for the modern NBA game. But the Hornets, who played without Miles Bridges last season after an arrest for a domestic violence incident against the mother of his children, may have to weigh a negative reaction if they add Miller, who delivered the gun used in a fatal shooting.

3. Portland Trail Blazers: Scoot Henderson, Guard, G League Ignite

Worked out for the Trail Blazers and showed the athleticism and ability to do it all from the guard spot that may have made Henderson the No. 1 pick in many years. This time, he could be part of a trade if the Blazers decide they’d prefer to acquire more veteran help around Damian Lillard — or perhaps Lillard’s replacement if they instead decide to build around youth.

4. Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson, Guard, Overtime Elite

At 6-7, Thompson has great size for a guard and the 20-year old showed the ability to step up when it matters most, averaging 17.2 points, 9.2 assists and 7.2 rebounds in the playoffs to lead the City Reapers to the championship last season. The Rockets, after adding Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr. in the last two drafts, are positioned to get another good one.

5. Detroit Pistons: Cam Whitmore, Forward, Villanova

The Pistons fell to the lowest spot possible in the lottery after finishing with the NBA’s worst record and sharing the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick. But getting Whitmore, a versatile wing with a strong build, to add to young pieces such as Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey under new coach Monty Williams would help ease the sting.

6. Orlando Magic: Ausar Thompson, Forward, Overtime Elite

Amen Thompson’s twin brother has been the Overtime Elite regular season and finals MVP the last two seasons and the 6-7 swingman plays big on defense, twice blocking seven shots in a game. The Magic were a team on the rise in the second half of last season and Thompson could help ensure that continues.

7. Indiana Pacers: Jarace Walker, Forward, Houston

Coming from Houston’s rugged program means Walker already plays NBA-ready defense, and the offensive end could come along quickly under Rick Carlisle. At 6-8, 240 pounds, he already has the size and strength to deal with anyone he could face in the frontcourt.

8. Washington Wizards: Anthony Black, Guard, Arkansas

With Bradley Beal going and no certainty that Chris Paul will stay, there’s an opportunity for an immediate impact in the Washington backcourt. The 6-7 guard seems to have endless energy, playing nearly 35 minutes a game to lead the Southeastern Conference and all 20 minutes in a half 19 times. That included 37 minutes on an injured left ankle in the Razorbacks’ NCAA Tournament upset of top-seeded Kansas.

9. Utah Jazz: Taylor Hendricks, Central Florida

The 6-9 freshman makes an impact inside and outside on both ends of the floor. He led the American Athletic Conference in blocked shots and shot 39% from 3-point range, becoming the only Division I player last season with at least 60 3-pointers, 55 blocked shots and 35 dunks.

10. Dallas Mavericks: Gradey Dick, Guard, Kansas

Dick made 83 3-pointers, most in Kansas history by a freshman, and the 6-8 forward could get plenty of open looks when Mavericks opponents focus their attention on Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving — if Irving remains in Dallas. The Mavs went to great lengths to protect their chances of keeping this pick, tanking their final couple games to boost their lottery odds while still in play-in contention.

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