College coaches react to the 2023 NBA draft

Unlike the 2022 NBA draft, which saw the top three picks swap positions constantly in the hours before the Orlando Magic were officially on the clock, there was absolutely no drama with the No. 1 pick in the 2023 edition. Victor Wembanyama's name had been written in pen in that spot for years.

Where there was a level of debate was with the No. 2 pick. Still, in reality, there was no suspense; Charlotte had zeroed in on Alabama's Brandon Miller and preferred him to G League Ignite's Scoot Henderson for much of the process.

Was that the right choice?

Following what was ultimately a fairly straightforward NBA draft, we reached out to a dozen college coaches around the country to get their takes on good picks, bad picks and everything in between. They were fairly split on the Miller vs. Henderson debate, but there was little question Miller was the best NBA prospect in the men's college game last season.

"He made shots at an elite level. Played with tremendous poise, affected the game. A big part of it is he doesn't force things. He can go four or five minutes without getting a shot or touch, then score six or eight points real quick," one coach said. "Early in the year, he struggled going to his left, but did a really good job finishing with his right. Then he got better in that area. He's a three-level scorer, a high free-throw-attempt guy.

"He needs to improve on the defensive end of the floor. But on the offensive end, he should be able to come in and have an impact right away. He has to continue to get stronger, but that's going to come with time."

Another coach with knowledge of both players' games thought Henderson might have been the slightly better prospect, but Miller simply was a better fit for the Hornets -- although there are some concerns about his ability to get his own shot.

"Scoot is potentially a more dynamic player with his athleticism and physicality at a position that is so significant in the NBA these days," he said. "I really do think he could have a Russell Westbrook sort of impact in his career at some point. In a vacuum, he's probably the selection at 2. [But] with [LaMelo] Ball being there and the way the roster is constructed, it makes sense to go with Miller. He has great size, big-time shooting -- something that everybody really values. A guy who is going to be a cornerstone player for them.

"To be a primary scorer -- guys that can get 18 to 22 points per game -- you have to have some offensive versatility, some ability to put it on the floor a little bit. That's not really a part of Miller's game -- guys can get underneath him and pressure him and bother him. His biggest impact on the game is his ability to shoot it. Catch and shoot it. Offensively, he can be like a Paul George or a Khris Middleton. George has more diversity to his game, but I think that's the kind of vision they have for him. And with a great passer like LaMelo, he'll make the game easier for everyone else."

One coach who watched Henderson in high school thinks his fit in Portland -- on a roster that still includes Damian Lillard -- will help him early.

"I think Scoot is going to an ideal situation next to guards like [Anfernee] Simons and Dame; that's going to allow for him to focus more on specific tasks and a role rather than trying to do everything all at once," he said. "His immediate impact on winning is going to be seen on day one. He's also the type that, despite being a rookie, he can help on the defensive end thanks to his motor, length and instincts. As long as he can show potential as an off-ball threat and a willingness to be that guy, he's gonna have a chance to be special."

One coach who scouted Miller in high school and faced him this past season echoed some concerns about Miller's ability to deal with defenders bothering him with physicality and also brought up the questions about Miller's consistency and motor before he got to Alabama.

"It's going to be about just how athletic he is and how capable he is of playing through contact and amidst physicality," he said. "Can he show consistency at the NBA level against greater athletes and length and size? I think he's the perfect plug-in type that can make shots and initiate offense, but he's been littered with consistency issues his entire life and didn't exactly do great in the NCAA tournament. So was Alabama a one-off, or is he a new man?"

Here are college coaches' observations on some of the other big storylines from Thursday's draft:

Cam Whitmore drops to No. 20

The biggest news of the first round was Whitmore's drop from projected top-10 pick -- and top-five pick earlier in the draft process -- all the way to Houston at No. 20. A five-star prospect coming out of high school, Whitmore was hampered by injury to start his Villanova career and then battled inconsistency in what was ultimately a disappointing campaign for the Wildcats.