5 NBA teams that could tank next season for Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson

LAS VEGAS — The first weekend of Summer League was jam-packed with exciting games and glimpses of top players from the 2022 NBA draft. The No. 1 pick, Paolo Banchero, went head-to-head with No. 4 pick Keegan Murray in a sudden-death double-overtime thriller. No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren is settling in with the Oklahoma City Thunder, while No. 5 pick Jaden Ivey showcased some flashy passes and dunks in the open court.

“This is a great class and people were kind of underestimating our class,” Banchero told Yahoo Sports. “There’s a lot of really good players in this class, and I think we’re all going to continue to prove that.”

This draft class has a lot of talent, but it’s nothing compared to what’s coming next year with 7-foot-3 French point-forward Victor Wembanyama and G League Ignite point guard Scoot Henderson. Wembanyama is projected as the next generational-type talent to come out of Europe, and Henderson was dominating the G League at just 17 years ago last season.

“I think what separates me from the rest of the players in my draft class is that I just played an entire season in the G League,” Henderson told Yahoo Sports. “I’m basically a pro. I’ve been around pro settings and pro development and that’s really helped prepare me for next year.”

G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson is one of the top prospects in the 2023 NBA draft who could be worth tanking for this upcoming season. (Darren Yamashita/USA TODAY Sports)

The 2023 NBA draft is still a year out, but these teams are making moves and positioning themselves early to tank for a top-five pick next season.

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs had a successful draft, picking up young, talented players. Jeremy Sochan, Malachi Branham and Blake Wesley are all just 19 years old. They’ll pair with last year’s No. 12 pick, Josh Primo, as the up-and-coming talent in the organization. Shortly after the draft, the Spurs traded Dejounte Murray to the Atlanta Hawks. In return, they received a 2023 first-round draft pick (via Charlotte from New York, protected), 2025 first-round pick, 2026 pick swap and 2027 first-round pick.

Murray averaged 21.1 points and 9.2 assists last season for the Spurs and a lot of the offense will now fall on Keldon Johnson, Devin Vassell and Tre Jones in a tough Western Conference. The Murray trade made a very strong statement with potential plans to tank for Wembanyama, Henderson and Amen or Ausar Thompson — the 6-foot-7 twins playing for Overtime Elite.

Utah Jazz

By the end of the season, something had to change within the Jazz organization. The on-court chemistry wasn’t working, and the Jazz failed to capitalize on the All-Star talent they had.

Head coach Quin Snyder parted ways with the team, and shortly after that, the Jazz traded Royce O’Neale to the Brooklyn Nets, receiving a 2023 first-round pick in return. The Jazz then traded Rudy Gobert to the Minnesota Timberwolves and received: Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Leandro Bolmaro, Walker Kessler (No. 22 pick in 2022 draft), 2023 first-round pick, 2025 first-round pick, 2026 pick swap, 2027 first-round pick and 2029 first-round pick.

The Jazz still have an All-Star in Donovan Mitchell, but he’s not going to have much help during the 2022-23 season and might shut it down early to increase the chances for a high draft pick.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers won only 25 games last season and picked up Benn Mathurin with the sixth pick in the draft. Indiana has good players (Tyrese Haliburton, Buddy Hield and Myles Turner), but they’re missing that star, franchise-changing player to get them back in the playoffs. Mathurin is a good player who loves to get to the rim and is a high-volume shooter, but he’s just a piece of the bigger picture.

Wembanyama running the floor with Haliburton would be a dream, and he would bring much-needed size in the lane with his 7-foot-9 wingspan and elite shot-blocking.

Houston Rockets

The Rockets traded Christian Wood to the Dallas Mavericks for Boban Marjanovic, Trey Burke, Marquese Chriss and Sterling Brown. They also reached a buyout with John Wall and he’s headed to the Los Angeles Clippers. The Rockets have a lot of youth and will be only a little bit better this season after going 20-62 and finishing last in the Western Conference in 2021-22.

It’ll be another frustrating season for Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr. and Alperen Sengun (along with No. 3 pick Jabari Smith Jr.), but a tough season will be worth it if the Rockets can land Wembanyama. Houston has been trying to rebuild and make the playoffs since the 2019-20 season.

Orlando Magic

Even after landing the No. 1 pick in the draft (Banchero), the Magic could still use a final piece with a franchise-changing player. There isn’t any pressure to win right away, and this season will be a good benchmark for where Banchero fits into the system and a better feel for the rotation in the backcourt with Markelle Fultz returning alongside Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs.

The Magic have made the playoffs only twice in the past 10 years and fans are itching to see the team make a resurgence, but to add rim protection with Wembanyama at 7-foot-3 and a secondary ball handler off the wing is worth one more year of losses.

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