Perhaps that sentiment was best expressed when one of the best draft classes of all time entered the NBA in 2003. The top five picks alone produced four Hall of Famers, but while their on-court accomplishments can’t be denied, their fashion sense at the time could be called into question.
Here’s how the style for the NBA’s newest potential stars compares to players from one of the league’s most legendary drafts. The Spurs took France center and generational prospect Victor Wembanyama with the top overall pick.
There was no suspense or subterfuge involving the pick. Whoever won the draft lottery had Wembanyama No. 1 on the draft board.
The 7-foot, 4-inch phenom is on his way to play for Hall of Fame coach Gregg Popovich. Wembanyama should rejuvenate a franchise that won four NBA titles from 1999-2014 and that has a history of turning international players into stars and champions.
USA TODAY Sports will provide the latest news, updates, analysis and more as the draft unfolds.
Charlotte Hornets, Brandon Miller, Alabama
The national freshman of the year brings length to Charlotte, and becomes another exciting young piece for the Hornets. Miller was a clear NBA talent in his lone season with the Crimson Tide, averaging 18.8 and 8.2 rebounds per game, while also showing some range from beyond the arc. Miller has the size to be disrupter on defense, but what’s going to be the key to his success is having a consistent shot. When Miller gets hot, it’s tough to stop, and he’ll complement LaMelo Bell well by playing on the wing.
Detroit Pistons, Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite
The other half of the Thompson twins, Ausar has fantastic size (6-foot-7) for a guard. But Thompson has freakish athleticism and can pretty much do anything asked of him on the offensive end. He can score, pass and rebound, and dominated as a two-time Overtime Elite Finals MVP. His explosiveness on the defensive end is also a plus; he can read passing lanes and his long frame allows him to disrupt any offensive flow. Like his brother, he can also develop a 3-point shot, but he’ll be a nice addition alongside the first overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft Cade Cunnigham. The pick also makes the Thompsons the first set of brothers drafted in the same draft since Markieff and Marcus Morris in 2011. It is also the second time brothers have been drafted in top 5 in the common draft era, but first time in same draft. other time was Lonzo Ball in 2017 and Lamelo Ball in 2020.
Washington Wizards, Jarace Walker, Houston
Someone who isn’t afraid on the defensive end, Jarace Walker has a solid frame with a long wingspan that can match up with anyone in the post and can be an instant rim protector. On the opposite end, the American Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year is a difficult matchup for any coaching staff to figure out, as he can overpower smaller defenders, run past bigger defenders, and knock down jump shots. Walker becomes the first top-10 pick out of Houston since Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon was taken with the No. 1 overall pick in 1984.
We rated Scoot Henderson as the second best player in the draft. It’s easy to make the case that Brandon Miller is a better fit in Charlotte with LaMelo Ball entrenched at point guard, but the Hornets have the weakest overall talent base of any roster in the NBA, and should not be drafting for fit. Miller is a damn good prospect in his own right as a 6’9 shooter with impressive passing and ball handling ability, but his upside may be capped a bit by his lack of elite athleticism. As long as Miller can shoot around 40 percent from three, the Hornets won’t regret this pick. If his shot slips to around league-average efficiency, it’s fair to wonder if his game is well-rounded enough to be worth this pick.
Ausar isn’t quite as explosive as his twin brother Amen, but he might have a more well-rounded game. Ausar is a more disciplined and effective defender, a tighter ball-handler, and a superior shooter — even if his three-point stroke remains a major work in progress. This is a bit of a strange fit for the Pistons given that the team’s biggest weakness is shooting next to Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren. Ausar isn’t going to help them in that area. At the same time, Ausar should provide an instant injection of athleticism and connective passing while acting as a super versatile defender. Detroit is loaded with high upside talent, but Ivey and Thompson need to improve as shooters to really make the pieces fit.
Analysis: This one is easy. Hendricks, at 6-foot-9, can block shots and catch-and-shoot from outside. He’ll play early and often in the Jazz rotation as long as he can continue making shots at the rate he did at UCF (39% from 3 on 155 attempts last year). He’ll have some fun viral help-defense blocks throughout the regular season.
The Thompson twins are San Leandro, California, natives but attended high school at Pine Crest in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. They opted not to go the traditional college route and instead skipped their senior year of high school to play two seasons with Overtime Elite, which is a professional basketball league based in Atlanta for young basketball prospects. The brothers were part of Overtime Elite’s first two seasons after the league was founded in 2021, and they are the first two Overtime Elite players to get drafted.
After playing on different teams during their first year, Amen and Ausar joined forces and won an Overtime Elite championship together in 2022-23.
Amen, who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 209 pounds, averaged 16.4 points, 5.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists last season while shooting 56.6% from the field, 25% from 3 and 65.6% from the free throw line. He earned First Team All-OTE honors in the process.
Ausar, who stands 6-foot-7 and weighs 215 pounds, averaged 16.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 6.1 assists last season while shooting 48.1% from the field, 29.8% from 3 and 66.2% from the free throw line. He won a championship and earned Finals MVP in each of his two seasons, while picking up the regular-season MVP award in 2022-23 as well.
Whitmore performed well at the NBA Draft Combine and had the measurables to support. He had a 40.5-inch max vertical leap and tested well in speed and agility. Also, at only 18 years old, there’s plenty of room for the Rockets to mold Whitmore.
Although he has the potential and a physical profile ready for the NBA, teams cited there was more to be desired in individual team workouts and interviews. Leading into Thursday, there were various reports and questions surrounding his health, intensity and performance in practice that may lead to a slide on draft night. It ended up being more of a slide than most expected.
Now, Whitmore will get to put that behind him, as he prepares to begin his NBA journey in Houston. The Rockets were one of the youngest teams in the NBA last season and they went 22-60 this past year and have plenty of young talent, like Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr.
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