NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament First Round-Providence vs Kentucky

The 2023 NBA Draft is set for Thursday night, and unless you've been living under a rock, you know all about Victor Wembanyama, who is a lock to go No. 1 overall to the San Antonio Spurs

After that, the intrigue begins. Will the Hornets trade down from No. 2, take Brandon Miller or disregard redundancy with LaMelo Ball already in house and take point guard Scoot Henderson? Will the Blazers move their No. 3 pick? Might they move Damian Lillard and build the next era around Henderson if he's indeed available? 

The big names at the top are naturally dominating draft conversations, but this class is regarded as a very deep with a lot of potential bargains down the line. And we know there will end up being some big misses. Only time will tell. 

With that in mind, I have polled our CBS Sports NBA Draft analysts for some longer views on this class. You might call them unconventional, or even unpopular opinions right now. But our guys are putting their stamp on these takes over the long haul. 

Jaime Jaquez Jr. will be top-15 player from this class

Every year NBA teams take gambles on young talents on the promise that undeveloped, unmolded players can be shaped into stars. And every year, an upperclassmen as a result slips further in the draft than they should and winds up being a nice NBA player. (To name a few: Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks -- maybe we should call this the Memphis effect.) Jaquez profiles as next in line to be a part of that trend. He was an All-American at UCLA who may get overlooked because of his four-year college career, but he's a winner who is tough, heady and has the smarts to stick and grow into one of the 15 best players in the draft. His draft range is somewhere between 15 and 35 -- and more likely closer to the latter than the former -- which I'd bet in time will look like a mistake. -- Kyle Boone

Multiple lottery teams will regret passing on Cason Wallace

Reading all these mock drafts with Wallace going late in the lottery -- or outside of it altogether -- makes me feel insane. When did it become easy to find guard prospects who might make All-Defense in the next few years and can probably play real minutes for a contender immediately? He's super smart, long enough to defend wings and accurate enough as a spot-up shooter to be a top-tier role player. And at 19 years old, with more pick-and-roll reps (and better spacing), he could develop into much more than that. -- James Herbert

NCAA Basketball: Creighton at Villanova
Villanova's Cam Whitmore one of the most appealing long-term wing prospects in this year's draft class. USATSI

Cam Whitmore will have a better NBA career than both Thompson twins

I get the infatuation with the Thompson twins, particularly Amen, given the elite athleticism and intriguing playmaking upside. But to me, Whitmore has a much more direct path to NBA stardom. With a 40-inch vertical, he's just as athletic as the Thompsons, and he already uses his strong body to bully defenders. He's immediately going to fit into the "3-and-D" mold, with good catch-and-shoot numbers in college, and he's going to be an absolute menace in transition. Not to mention that Whitmore doesn't turn 19 until after the draft, while the Thompsons will turn 21 during their rookie season. Also, I'm not usually one to put huge weight on college experience, but one year at Villanova for Whitmore should have him much more prepared for NBA competition than the Overtime Elite path that the Thompsons took. Give me Whitmore now and down the road. -- Colin Ward-Henninger

Noah Clowney should be a first-rounder

The freshman from Alabama is sitting down at No. 41 in the CBS Sports NBA Draft Prospect Rankings, but Clowney is absolutely a first-round talent. The 6-10 forward played in the shadow of fellow Alabama freshman phenom Brandon Miller last season but should be getting more shine entering draft night. As a lanky and versatile forward with defensive versatility and glimpses of offensive promise, Clowney has all the tools to start for a playoff team in the NBA. Perhaps his 28.3% 3-point mark from his lone season of college basketball is spooking some teams, but Clowney made 66.9% of his 2-pointers, rebounded well and showed the ability handle just about any type of defensive assignment from the perimeter all the way in to protecting the paint. He's got all the tools. -- David Cobb

Opinions differ on the potential of UCF's Taylor Hendricks. USATSI

Taylor Hendricks is overrated by many 

One of my annual mantras about the NBA Draft is how reliably wrong the groupthink is about players who go in the lottery. Everybody's wrong, and often. There will be players taken in the top 10 this year who will not last as long or play as well in the league as a handful of guys taken between No. 15-40. Hendricks is my pick to be that player, and I have nothing against him. There's going to be a few of these guys (I kind of think Cam Whitmore's vulnerable to this as well). Hendricks has a lot of tools, but he's not nearly the rebounder of physical presence on the interior (yet) that he needs to be. -- Matt Norlander

Taylor Hendricks will be the steal of the draft

A 6-foot-9, athletic forward with a 7-1 wingspan who protects the rim and knocks down 3-pointers at a high clip? What's not to love? I'm seeing Hendricks in the No. 9-15 range in most mock drafts, and to me he's a top-five prospect given his immediate fit on essentially any NBA roster combined with his projectable upside. The skills are there to have a Jaren Jackson Jr.-like impact down the road -- a devastating, switchable defender who can also block shots and stretch the floor offensively -- and at the very least he'll be a solid rotation player for years to come. If he falls beyond the top seven, there could be a lot of teams kicking themselves in a few years. -- CW-H

Andre Jackson Jr. will have best NBA career among UConn prospects

There is lottery buzz surrounding UConn's Hawkins because of his sharpshooting, and Huskies big man Adama Sanogo has gotten rave reviews during the pre-draft process as a potential draft pick because of his size and shooting, but for my money give me Jackson long-term over all three. He's a defensive menace whose game projects neatly into the NBA structure because of his connective-tissue type game and selfless style of play. The only weak spot in his game is his shot -- he hit 28.1% from 3-point range last season -- but he has the requisite size, playmaking and intangibles worth gambling on to develop into a legitimate NBA rotation player in time. I'm buying all the stock. -- KB

Everybody's overthinking it with Jarace Walker

Please don't get hung up on Walker averaging only 11 points for Houston. He is an absolute maniac on defense, a ridiculous rebounder and a heady passer. I am already pre-annoyed about seeing him sit there in the green room while more polished offensive players -- who could never dream of dominating defensively the way he does -- hear their names called. He'll probably become more of a threat with the ball in his hands over time, but, given everything else he does, he doesn't even need to. -- JH

There will be significant post-lottery pop

Don't tune the draft coverage out midway through the first round, because you'll likely miss the selections of some future stars. The 15-30 post-lottery range is filled with players who are destined to match or surpass a handful of those picked within the lottery range in as the years go by. Former No. 1 overall college prospect Nick Smith is No. 17 on the CBS Sports NBA Draft Big Board after an underwhelming and injury-plagued freshman season at Arkansas. But he has all the talent and tools to make it in the league. He's just one example of the type of player potentially looming in the post-lottery range. 

Others such as Kobe Bufkin (Michigan), Kris Murray (Iowa), Brice Sensabaugh (Ohio State), Jett Howard (Michigan), Andre Jackson Jr. (UConn) and Olivier-Maxence Prosper (Marquette) could turn out to be steals from this class picked in the teens or 20s. Outside of the top-three of Victor Wembanyama, Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller, there is very little separating the projected lottery picks this year from the mid-to-late first rounders. Four years from now, this could look like the 2019 draft in which blossoming stars like Jordan Poole (No. 28), Keldon Johnson (No. 29) and Kevin Porter Jr. (No. 30) were taken after players such as Jarrett Culver (No. 6), Jaxson Hayes (No. 8) and Cam Reddish (No. 10), all of whom have struggled to carve out roles in the league. -- DC