5 must-see trades to shake up the 2023 NBA Draft

5 must-see trades to shake up the 2023 nba draft

5 must-see trades to shake up the 2023 NBA Draft

The 2023 NBA Draft could feature more trades than usual. Here are five proposals to spice up draft night.

The 2023 NBA Draft will take place on June 22 in Chicago. The Spurs will kick off the festivities by selecting Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick. From there, we don’t really know what will happen, who will get picked, or who will be making the picks.

There have been trade rumors circulating Portland at No. 3 and Houston at No. 4 as both teams try to build contenders around veteran point guards (fine, James Harden isn’t technically a Rocket yet, but c’mon). The Magic, Pacers, and Jazz all have lottery picks and multiple late first-round picks, which potentially means ammo to move up. A lot of the best prospects don’t really fit with the teams in their projected range. It could get messy.

So, it’s time to fire up the trade machine and spice up draft night. Here are five trades we just must see.

NBA Draft trade: Spurs pair Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson

Devin Vassell emerged as a legitimate pull-up shooter and playmaking vessel for the Spurs’ offense last season. He’s also a tremendous defender with the kind of versatility NBA teams crave, standing 6-foot-5 with a plus-5 wingspan. The Spurs shouldn’t take trading him lightly.

The same can be said for Jeremy Sochan, the No. 9 pick in last year’s NBA Draft. Sochan drastically improved as a free throw shooter in year one and even showed signs of developing into a 3-point shooter down the line. His defensive intensity and switchability in the frontcourt are valuable, his hair dye is the perfect ode to Dennis Rodman, and he’s a nifty passer in the power forward spot.

But… if the Spurs can convince the desperate Blazers to concede the No. 3 pick — and presumably G-League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson — it’s hard to turn down. Henderson will be right on Wembanyama’s timeline and the Spurs will be pairing two of the best prospects in recent memory.

Henderson isn’t quite the generational talent Wembanyama is, but he’s the best point guard prospect in a few years and a legitimate foundational piece on offense. Henderson plays with unfettered competitive fire — he wants to destroy his opponent and he puts in max effort in pursuit of victory. His three-level scoring and adept playmaking would pair instantly with Wemby’s versatile offensive skill set. The Spurs would have two 19-year-olds with the potential to dominate the next decade of NBA basketball.

Meanwhile, the Blazers add a legitimate second star in Vassell who can cover gaps in the perimeter defense and relieve some of the playmaking pressure off of Damian Lillard in certain lineups. Sochan would give the Blazers a versatile defensive weapon in the frontcourt with Jerami Grant potentially leaving in free agency.

The Raptors might be able to ask for more here. Pascal Siakam was a borderline All-NBA player last season, but Toronto’s lack of team success tanked his chances of award consideration. Siakam has, however, won the NBA championship with Toronto and appeared in two All-Star games.

Houston has done a very poor job of hiding its blatant desire to add star power this summer — primarily James Harden. The best way to ensure Harden’s return would be to find him a legitimate co-star to really move the needle toward contention. Siakam can fill gaps defensively, space the floor at the 4 or 5 spot, and pressure the rim as a slasher. His development as a passer and face-up scorer last season was transformative — he averaged 24.2 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 5.8 assists as the legitimate focal point of Toronto’s offense.

In return, Toronto gets to fast track its long-coming rebuild with the No. 4 pick and dynamic point guard Amen Thompson. At 6-foot-7, Thompson is the kind of moldable athletic marvel the Raptors love in a prospect. He’s a genius passer and arguably the best perimeter athlete in the NBA. If the jumper ever comes around, there’s not too much holding Thompson back from multiple All-Star berths.

Toronto also gets last year’s No. 3 pick, Jabari Smith Jr. His rookie season didn’t exactly go to plan, but Smith is a rangy 6-foot-10 defender and a viable 3-point shooter with untapped athletic upside. Throw in another future first, and it’s hard to imagine Toronto writing off the idea of this trade. The Raptors also still own the No. 13 pick, giving them the opportunity to add another lottery talent to complement Thompson. Maybe a shooter like Gradey Dick or Jordan Hawkins, or another mega-athlete wing like Bilal Coulibaly.

The Timberwolves are shifting their priorities to build around Anthony Edwards. That has naturally led to trade chatter regarding Karl-Anthony Towns, who isn’t the cleanest fit with newly acquired center Rudy Gobert. The Wolves gave up the farm for Gobert and his contract feels borderline untradeable at the moment, so any big shake-up will probably involve KAT.

Meanwhile, the Magic are closer than most realize to contending. Paolo Banchero looks like a legitimate offensive hub at the 4 spot and Franz Wagner is a ridiculously talented playmaker and three-level scorer at 6-foot-10. Orlando can double down on their rare size and skill combination with KAT, maybe the best 3-point shooting big ever.

To make it happen, Orlando sacrifices the No. 6 pick and two former lottery picks in Jalen Suggs and Wendell Carter Jr. He hasn’t lived up to expectations yet, but Suggs is a tremendous guard defender and ancillary playmaker with enough athletic pop to convince Minnesota of untapped potential.

As for Carter, he doesn’t really fit next to Gobert. So, he gets shipped over to OKC for the No. 12 pick, which reroutes back to Minnesota to sweeten the package. KAT is a legitimate star and won’t come cheap. Carter is a balanced offensive big whose physicality would pair nicely with Chet Holmgren in the Thunder frontcourt. He’s also on a bargain contract, which Sam Presti and the OKC front office will appreciate as they maintain optionality for the future.

The Magic and Thunder both make a real jump toward contention. The Wolves were already a play-in level team or better with KAT on the sidelines for most of last season. The Nos. 6 and 12 picks can be used on wings or guards to better balance the rotation while clearing space for Edwards to emerge as the team’s true offensive leader.

The Mavericks are probably looking for a swift return to contention after their brief lottery detour to end last season. Kyrie Irving’s future is up in the air, but trading the No. 10 pick for a former All-Star probably wouldn’t hurt Irving’s opinion of the franchise. Luckily, the Hawks have just the player who can probably be purchased for cheaper than his résumé would suggest.

The Dejounte Murray experiment did not work in Atlanta last season. Fans expected an elite defender whose playmaking acumen would unlock new facets of Trae Young’s offensive game. The results were far more muddied, with Murray never really living up to his defensive billing or finding consistent offensive synergy with Young in the backcourt.

Now, does adding him to the Mavs’ backcourt with Doncic and maybe also Irving really make sense? That’s open for debate, but Murray is only due $17.7 million in 2023-24, the final year on his contract. Dallas would be able to give it a trial run before committing long term. Is the No. 10 pick worth a trial run? The answer is maybe when you’re trying to satisfy the restless Luka Doncic, who is another lottery season away from requesting a trade.

The Murray-Doncic fit is admittedly murky, but Murray does bring a lot to the defensive end and perhaps a change of scenery brings out the best in him. Plus, the fit with Kyrie is much more seamless and there is definite appeal in the idea of letting Murray and Irving play off one another when Doncic sits (more rest for Luka in the regular season could result in less burnout once the playoffs arrive).

For Atlanta, it’s a soft reset without completely tanking the roster around Trae Young. The No. 10 pick is going to yield a quality prospect — maybe a player like Taylor Hendricks or Jarace Walker who can take over John Collins’ spot when the Hawks inevitably work out that trade. Tim Hardaway Jr. is salary filler, but he’s still a bombs-away shooter who can space the floor off of Young.

The Washington Wizards are under new management is the expectation is that they will be aggressive in reshaping the roster. It’s therefore surprising that Washington hasn’t been mentioned more frequently as a potential buyer on the trade market with the No. 8 pick.

Bradley Beal’s competitive window won’t stay open forever. The Wizards have been lacking a legitimate playmaker to share the backcourt and the playmaking burden with Beal for a minute. Anfernee Simons is the perfect solution — a 23-year-old who can contribute immediately while also building a bridge to the future beyond Beal.

Simons averaged 21.1 points and 4.7 assists as Damian Lillard’s backcourt partner last season. He averaged over nine 3-point attempts per game and netted them at a 37.7 percent rate. His development as a playmaker for others, combined with his elite pull-up shooting and dynamic pick-and-roll potential, make for a tantalizing complement to Beal’s own varied offensive repertoire. Trendon Watford is an intriguing young big to develop behind Kristaps Porzingis, too.

As for Portland, this trade presumably comes on the heels of selecting Scoot Henderson with the No. 3 pick. The Blazers are looking to win games next season and Henderson can help, but they run into a logjam of small guards with Lillard and Simons already in place.

The No. 8 pick can net Portland another quality young player or it can be used in a separate trade for a veteran contributor. Meanwhile, Deni Avdija is one of the best young wing defenders in the NBA and he’s starting to flash some of the offensive versatility that made him a top-10 pick in 2020. Daniel Gafford and Delon Wright are useful depth pieces.

The Blazers get deeper around Dame and Scoot, the Wizards get Beal his offensive co-star. This feels like a potential win-win.

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