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NBA Mock Draft 2023: Edition 1


Victor Wembanyama to Detroit

1. Detroit Pistons

Victor Wembanyama, F, France

At its core, the 2023 NBA Draft is the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. The French forward is one of the most hyped NBA Draft prospects in recent memory, a 19-year old with otherworldly athletic traits. At 7'3" with an eight-foot wingspan, Wembanyama towers over opponents, but his crafty offensive game and smooth jumper are reminiscent of a bygone era in NBA basketball. The Pistons have a chance to add a generational prospect to a solid core that already includes Cade Cunningham and Jalen Duren.

2. Houston Rockets

Brandon Miller, F, Alabama

The intrigue in the 2023 NBA Draft begins at pick No. 2, where G League star Scoot Henderson and Alabama forward Brandon Miller are jockeying for position. For all the controversy surrounding Miller off the court, he was the best freshman in the country this winter and has tools that NBA scouts adore. With the ability to play and defend multiple positions, Houston can plug him into the rotation and continue building around him and Jalen Green.

3. San Antonio Spurs

Scoot Henderson, G, G League Ignite

Queue the Russell Westbrook comparisons, folks. Scoot Henderson is a ferocious combo guard who plays with the intensity and motor of the former MVP, although he still has plenty in his game to smooth out. The shooting mechanics have been a problem for Henderson in the past, but he's seemed to make strides in that area, and if he can clean up his shot selection, the sky is the limit.

4. Charlotte Hornets

Amen Thompson, G, Overtime Elite

The Thompson twins, Amen and Ausar, are prime examples of how difficult it is to project talent in the modern basketball landscape. How do you accurately judge two players with jaw-dropping athleticism and impressive raw physical gifts who play in a league plenty of casual fans haven't heard of? Even so, the pair of them are likely to land somewhere in the Top 10, and Amen commands attention as a playmaking, high energy guard.

5. Portland Trail Blazers

Ausar Thompson, G/F, Overtime Elite

Ausar is projected to go below his twin brother, somewhere in the 5-10 range, but still offers plenty of upside. As a wing, Ausar has the potential to be a relentless perimeter defender and two-way force, although his offensive game still has a ways to go. He could fit into a nice role on a Portland team in transition and grow quickly if given an adequate amount of minutes.

6. Orlando Magic

Gradey Dick, G/F, Kansas

There feels like there's a slight drop-off between the first five and the rest of the lottery, although I remain a huge fan of Gradey Dick. He proved he could handle the scoring load during his lone season at Kansas, although it wouldn't surprise me if he slides into more of a complementary role at the next level. Dick has a smooth jumper and well-rounded offensive game and at 6'8", his size is an ideal fit for the modern NBA.

7. Indiana Pacers

Cam Whitmore, F, Villanova

We didn't get to see as much of Cam Whitmore as originally hoped due to a thumb injury that sidelined for a decent chunk of the year, but the Villanova product was still impressive enough to earn Big East Freshman of the Year. He projects as a lottery selection with plus size and a lot of offensive upside, and he seemed to really find his stroke late in the year.

8. Washington Wizards

Nick Smith, G, Arkansas

Not since prime John Wall have the Wizards has a dynamic lead guard quite like Nick Smith. The former five-star prospect did miss most of the collegiate season with injury, but has gained a reputation as an explosive ball-handler and elite playmaker. Now, he will have to add some weight for the next level and improve the decision-making, but this is the type of player Washington has been looking to pair with Bradley Beal for some time now.

9. Utah Jazz

Jarace Walker, F, Houston

Houston's Jarace Walker feels a bit old-school with the way he plays, but he the versatile forward has the perfect skillset for the modern game. At 6'8" with a 7'2" wingspan, he can play either forward spot and is a pain on defense. Although not the quickest or most athletic player, Walker has enough offensively to become a reliable scorer in the NBA.

10. Dallas Mavericks

Anthony Black, G, Arkansas

Anthony Black took advantage of injuries to Nick Smith to put together a stellar season for Arkansas, playing himself into lottery position. He's a well-built lead guard who may be the best passer in this Draft, but the other parts of his game are a major work-in-progress. Even so, he could still fetch early minutes for a Mavericks team in transition after their late-season collapse.

11. Orlando Magic

Rayan Rupert, G/F, France

Rayan Rupert, a French guard who plays for the New Zealand Breakers, is among the most intriguing players in this Draft. He's 6'7" with a 7'2" wingspan and is an absolute pest on the defensive end, but he's another guy that has a lot to round out in terms of his offensive game. He feels worth the risk for the Magic, who are stocked to the brim with young talent and draft picks. 

12. Oklahoma City Thunder

Keyonte George, G/F, Baylor

Aside from Brandon Miller, Baylor's Keyonte George was the most consistent true freshman in the nation this winter. George proved to be an incredibly reliable shooter who would take and make tough shots, and also proved to be a solid defender and quality rebounder. There's some question whether he's undersized for the two-guard spot in the pros, but he's well worth a late lottery pick.

13. Toronto Raptors

Taylor Hendricks, F, UCF

Toronto desperately needs a jolt of energy to resurrect a franchise that has become lifeless in the post-Kawhi Leonard era. Enter Taylor Hendricks, a bouncy forward who sets the tone defensively and has a solid offensive game. I've seen Hendricks compared to Minnesota's Jaden McDaniels, which feels like an apt example.

14. New Orleans Pelicans

Jordan Hawkins, G, UConn

No NBA Draft prospect improved their stock this NCAA Tournament quite like Jordan Hawkins, who was a key figure in UConn's dominant run. The 6'5" guard proved to be a relentless shot-maker with fearless range, and there's defensive potential here, too. He could help open up a New Orleans offense that needs more playmakers.

15. Atlanta Hawks

Jalen Hood-Schifino, G, Indiana

An explosive off-guard with good size and a high motor, Jalen Hood-Schifino checks plenty of boxes as an NBA Draft prospect. He was terrifyingly inconsistent during his lone season in Bloomington, but that's to be expected of a true freshman seeing heavy minutes and there's no doubting his talent. He would be an interesting addition alongside Trae Young in the Hawk backcourt.

16. Utah Jazz

Cason Wallace, G, Kentucky

The Jazz are loaded with Draft selections over the next several years, thanks in large part to the Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell trades. They can afford to take a few chances, and Cason Wallace is a high-risk, high-reward player. Wallace did show real growth over the course of the season for Kentucky and is a solid spot-up shooter, but his lack of quickness and inconsistent defense makes him a mid-first rounder.

17. Los Angeles Lakers

Kobe Bufkin, G, Michigan

Although he didn't enter the season as much of an NBA prospect, Kobe Bufkin's play over the course of the 2022-23 campaign may end up making him a lottery selection. He offers plenty of potential as a two-way player and his improved three-point shooting makes him valuable. Los Angeles could certainly add another shooter or two, especially looking ahead towards free agency.

18. Miami Heat

G.G. Jackson, G/F, South Carolina

Few organizations squeeze as much out of their draft selections as the Miami Heat, and they're a team that should be willing to take a swing on a high-upside prospect here. G.G. Jackson is among the youngest players in this Draft after reclassifying and had an up-and-down year with South Carolina, but he oozes potential.

19. Golden State Warriors

Dereck Lively II, F/C, Duke

Derek Lively's lone season in Durham was extremely unimpressive, but the Blue Devil big still has a good chance to land somewhere in the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft. At 7'1", 230 pounds, he's already a force to be reckoned with, and there's hope his offensive game could round out. Who knows, perhaps he could end up being what Golden State hoped they were getting when they drafted James Wiseman second overall in 2020.

20. Houston Rockets

Jett Howard, G, Michigan

Houston snagged Brandon Miller to lead their frontcourt, now it's time to add another dynamic backcourt piece in Michigan's Jett Howard. The son of head coach Juwan, Jett has shown to be a good shooter who can handle the offensive load. I'm not sure if the ceiling is as high as other guards in this Draft, but he offers plenty of value at this spot.

21. Brooklyn Nets

Maxwell Lewis, G/F, Pepperdine

Don't look now, but the West Coast Conference is producing some quality NBA prospects, and it's not just at Gonzaga. Maxwell Lewis from Pepperdine appears to be the next in line, a well-rounded wing with serious "3-and-D" potential. As a deadeye shooter with ideal size, don't be surprised if Lewis is a guy that rises quickly as the pre-Draft process unfolds.

22. Brooklyn Nets

Jalen Wilson, F, Kansas

After using their selection acquired in the Kevin Durant deal on Maxwell Lewis, Brooklyn adds another immediate contributor in Jalen Wilson. Wilson was one of the breakout stars of the 2022-23 season and has shown real growth since coming out of high school. He could be the ideal isolation scorer for the NBA, and could play either forward spot.

23. Portland Trail Blazers

Kris Murray, G/F, Iowa

After his older brother, Keegan, earned NBA All-Rookie First Team Honors, Kris Murray appears set to make his own jump to the pros. Kris has a similar game to his older brother, although it feels like he can open things up a bit more with his long-range capabilities. He doesn't have the upside of Portland's earlier selection, Ausar Thompson, but shouldn't bust either.

24. Sacramento Kings

Leonard Miller, G/F, G League Ignite

How does Sacramento keep the momentum going after finally ending their postseason drought? Adding a high-upside piece like Leonard Miller, who can play multiple positions, seems to make sense. Miller has been impressive during his time in the G League and has serious offensive upside in the long-term.

25. Memphis Grizzlies

Bilal Coulibaly, G/F, France

Memphis appears ready to move on from Dillon Brooks after a postseason full of antics, and they could replace his production with an intriguing prospect in Bilal Coulibaly. Opinion on the 18-year old French wing seems pretty split, but one thing is clear: he's an elite defender, and he has plenty of room for growth in other areas of his game.

26. Indiana Pacers

Julian Strawther, G, Gonzaga

The Pacers have an opportunity to add one of the best pure scorers in this Draft in Gonzaga's Julian Strawther. The 6'7" off-guard has proven he can take over games with his shooting touch, but he'll have to develop more consistency if he wants to become a regular NBA contributor. 

27. Charlotte Hornets

Noah Clowney, F, Alabama

Brandon Miller received most of the attention this past season in the Alabama frontcourt, but his teammate Noah Clowney still has a chance to land somewhere in the first round. Clowney isn't going to take over games with his offense, but he can space the floor and rebound the ball. Defensively, he does an excellent job protecting the rim without fouling.

28. Utah Jazz

Dariq Whitehead, F, Duke

Dariq Whitehead is another guy who has loads of potential but just as much questions, which is what makes the NBA Draft so difficult. He was a highly prized recruit coming into Duke but dealt with injuries and had a tough time adjusting to the speed of the collegiate game. Even so, you see the offensive upside and at 6'9" with great lateral quickness, he should be a plus defender.

29. Indiana Pacers

Trayce Jackson-Davis, F, Indiana

One of the greatest players to ever put on an Indiana Hoosier jersey, it only feels right that Trayce Jackson-Davis stays within the state with the Pacers. He may be a bit undersized for his position at the NBA level, but it's rare to see a player who has as developed of an offensive game as he does coming out of college. At 23, his age is going to be a negative, but I think Jackson-Davis has a chance to be a solid pro.

30. Los Angeles Clippers

Terquavion Smith, G, NC State

Terquavion Smith has a good chance to be the first NC State guard selected in the NBA Draft since Dennis Smith Jr. back in 2017. Smith was the heart-and-soul of this Wolfpack team this winter and has perfect size to play in the NBA, although with his playmaking comes a whole lot of turnovers. The Clippers could use an extra spark in this backcourt and Smith fits the mold. 

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