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2023 NBA Mock Draft 2.0

2023 NBA Mock Draft 2.0

Those that are in are in, and those who are out are out!

The college withdrawal date has passed, the draft order is set and now is when it becomes possible and not crazy to do mock drafts.

In this mock I will not be doing trades and understand that the intel on picks is still sparse. This mock IS NOT what I would do if I was a GM but instead what I believe will happen on June 22nd (outside of trades).

1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama, Alien, Metropolitans 92 (France)

Is anyone really surprised? Wembanyama instantly gives the Spurs one of the brightest futures in the NBA after floating in mediocrity for the past many years. Vic is an interesting project on offense but early in his career his bread and butter will be on the defensive end on the floor. At 7’5, Victor is a phenomenal rim protector and has the mobility and instincts to put him in a truly special defensive class.

The pick itself is not very interesting or controversial, but the rest of San Antonio’s offseason could be a point of debate. With Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, and Jeremy Sochan still on the roster the Spurs could use the draft as an opportunity to acquire more young talent by not only drafting Victor but trading back into the draft and adding another piece. The other avenue of thinking is if San Antonio thinks Victor will be good from day 1. If this is the case they could make plays for win-now players that may be available such as Fred VanVleet or Jordan Poole.

2. Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller, Forward, Alabama

A reminder that this is not what I would do but instead what I believe will happen. Here the Hornets add a jumbo two-way forward in Brandon Miller. At the very least Miller adds shooting to a Hornets team that last season, severely lacked talent. A reunion between Miles Bridges and Charlotte seems iminent but Miller is a much different player that does not get redundent in this system.

Miller’s finishing and self-creation have been points of question for analysts but it is very hard to find jumbo two-way players in the NBA (especially those who can shoot) and Brandon Miller checks that box. The talk (which could be smoke) out of Charlotte suggests that the Hornets may currently be leaning Miller over Scoot at this point of the draft cycle and that is what they do here.

3. Portland Trail Blazers: Scoot Henderson, Guard, G-League Ignite

If I was projecting trades I would do so here but instead the Blazers elect to take the best player available with Scoot. The fit between Lillard-Simons-Sharpe and now Scoot is bad but Portland elects to get talent and figure it out later. Scoot is a great offensive player creating for both himself and others.

The defensive end of the floor is good but there is a ceiling to the impact a 6’2 point guard can have. I would bet on Scoot as a long term success and Portland does the same here at 3.

4. Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson, Guard, City Reapers (Overtime Elite)

Houston has enough holes on their roster that they should simply take the best player available with this pick and that is where Amen Thompson comes in. An ideal situation for Amen is a fast young team that surrounds him with shooters.

Although I would not yet say Houston is full of shooters, Jabari Smith, Jalen Green, and potentially James Harden project to compliment him well from the perimeter. Ime Udoka is a great coach to demand the defensive upside out of Amen Thompson that everyone knows exists.

5. Detroit Pistons: Cam Whitmore, Wing, Villanova

With Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey on the roster, another guard such as Anthony Black or Cason Wallace does not make as much sense here so Motown elects to take the athletic wing out of Villanova. Whitmore is an athletic freak that shows high-level flashes of creativity and shooting but still is a bit of a project.

Whitmore has the defensive tools to be incredible but lacked the focus or consistency desired at times. He shot very well from 3 at the FIBA tournament last summer but only shot 34% from 3 at Villanova. Whitmore’s shooting will be his swing skill and determine if he is a long-term piece for Detroit.

6. Orlando Magic: Anthony Black, Guard, Arkansas

The Magic have a quality player at each position and two lottery picks which is a good problem to have. Shooting and a true table-setting point guard would be the traits I would hunt for Orlando and they address the latter here. A jumbo sized 6’7 point guard would give the Magic a massive versatile lineup to put on the court with Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero.

Black had flaws with both half court finishing and shooting this season at Arkansas. Although I have shooting concerns, Black’s self creation and finishing should improve with better spacing and a bigger NBA floor.

7. Indiana Pacers: Ausar Thompson, Wing, City Reapers (Overtime Elite)

A forward is a bigger position of need for Indiana but too many teams make mistakes drafting fit over best player available early in the draft. Tyrese Haliburton-Bennedict Mathurin-Ausar Thompson is a tight fit in the backcourt but 3 guard lineups are very common and if Mathurin or Thompson ever develop into reliable shooters the fit becomes easier. A big forward could be a better fit here positionally (Walker/Hendricks) but it is too early in the process for Indiana to think about that type of team building.

8. Washington Wizards: Cason Wallace, Guard, Kentucky

The Wizards have done a poor job devoloping talent and still have holes in multiple roster spots. Since John Wall’s injuries the Wizards have yet to have a true quality point guard running the show (besides that random 3 months from Westbrook).

Wallace gives some stability at the position and some guard defense that the team lacks with Beal on the floor. Wallace’s shot is a work in progress but has all the indications that it will come around. Beal will benefit playing off the ball and having someone to create for him.

9. Utah Jazz: Brice Sensabaugh, Wing, Ohio State

This is a more untraditional pick compared to the mock draft consensus. The Jazz have a little bit of everything right now but it is not known what is there for the long term. Scoring means more than ever in the NBA and Sensabaugh does that at a high level.

With three picks in the first round, the Jazz should take swings and draft aggressively with all three picks. The plausible outcome is Sensabaugh becomes a good NBA scorer but not a star. With that being said there is a high-end outcome where Brice becomes one of the league’s special scorers that don’t grow trees.

10. Dallas Mavericks: Jarace Walker, Forward, Houston

This pick is prime trade bait but in this world, everyone keeps their picks. Dallas traded defense and depth for Kyrie Irving and they can add some back with this pick. Early in his career Jarace can focus on giving Dallas defense and catch and shoot 3’s with Luka and Kyrie on the roster.

Walker has more to his game than the traits I just listed but Dallas has championship aspirations so he won’t be asked to do much early in his career.

11. Orlando Magic (Via Bulls): Taylor Hendricks, Forward, UCF

Orlando needs to add shooting and takes long hard looks at Gradey Dick, Jordan Hawkins, and Jett Howard but ultimately goes with Taylor Hendricks because of his defensive upside. John Hammond is known for drafting long athletic talents and Hendricks fits that mold.

I have questions about Hendricks self creation skills but that can be hidden with Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero, and Anthony Black. This is an ideal landing spot for Hendricks and a home run draft for John Hammond.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Gradey Dick, Wing, Kansas

Sam Presti does not care about consensus or what “he should do” one bit. Presti drafts who he thinks is the best player available and he is right a lot. Putting myself in his shoes I think Gradey Dick is the best player remaining and it so happens that the Thunder need shooting (who doesn’t).

Dick will help on day one as a shooter and an off-ball defender. On top of that, Dick has more upside than he is being given credit for. The Thunder are being constructed well and Gradey Dick is another talented player to add to their rotation.

13. Toronto Raptors: Bilal Coulibaly, Wing, Metropolitans 92 (France)

Bilal went from a possible first-round pick in 2024 to a potential lottery pick this year. Masai Ujiri thinks about the playoffs when drafting and Bilal is literally contributing in the French league’s playoffs right now.

Coulibaly is a ferocious defender and consistently has gotten better from 3. Bilal is only 18 but oozes talent and has shown enough in big stages to warrant a lottery pick. Coulibaly fits the traditional Raptors MO so don’t be shocked to see him go earlier than expected on draft night.

14. New Orleans Pelicans: Jordan Hawkins, Wing, UConn

The Pelicans have so much talent but yet they could go any direction with this pick and it would make sense. It is hard to imagine that the Pelicans aren’t trying to compete in the West next season with a healthy Zion and Ingram.

Hawkins adds immediate help as a shooter next to the stars. Hawkins defense will evolve and could get better as he matures but I would’t expect him to be anything special on defense as a rookie.

15. Atlanta Hawks: Jett Howard, Wing, Michigan

I feel repetitive at this point but the Atlanta Hawks need shooting and Jett is the best available. Not only is Jett a good shooter but has an impressive feel as a passer.

Trae and Dejounte will eat up the minutes at the guard position but the Hawks need players who can shoot as wings and forwards.

16. Utah Jazz (Via Timberwolves): Leonard Miller, Forward, G-League Ignite

I mentioned earlier that the Jazz should swing for the fences with each pick and this is just that. I was not a fan of Leonard Miller in the 2022 draft process but he had a great developmental year with the G-League. A big forward that defends, rebounds, and finishes at a high level.

Shooting and playmaking are a work in progress but there are enough flashes to feel good about Miller as a top 20 guy.

17. Los Angeles Lakers: Keyonte George, Guard, Baylor

The Lakers get a steal at 17 with a former five-star. Keyonte wasn’t efficient this season but I have zero worries about his ability to score and shoot from outside. This is another pick that could be traded but if they keep it Keyonte offers shooting, ball handling, and pesky defense.

Along with Austin Reaves and Max Christie (yes I believe in him) Keyonte gives the Lakers some semblance of a young core. The Lakers are trying to win an NBA title and Keyonte gives them the best chance to do that now while building for the future.

18. Miami Heat: GG Jackson, Forward, South Carolina

This is something that the Heat just wouldn’t do but if they did I would feel much better about GG’s future. GG Jackson is the youngest player in this draft and shows a lot of signs of becoming a very good scoring forward.

With that being said at this stage of his career he doesn’t do much else on the court. GG Jackson has horrible body language and is known to be relatively immature. If there is one team that could get a player like that to buy in it is Miami.

19. Golden State Warriors: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Guard, Indiana

The Warriors are at a crossroads with their team. Bob Myers is on his way out, and Steph, Klay, and Dray are getting older. Drafting JHS gives the Warriors a secondary ball handler when Curry isn’t on the floor. Hood-Schifino has an impressive feel for the game and is an exceptional passer.

Scoring the ball at an efficient clip is something he did inconsistently this year but will get better with NBA spacing. This is a safe pick by the Warriors but helps them in areas of need.

20. Houston Rockets (Via Clippers): Dereck Lively, Big, Duke

The Rockets knock it out of the park with this pack after taking Amen at #4. Alperan Sengun can and should be in the Rockets’ long-term plans as a big. Lively compliments Sengun perfectly as an elite shot blocker and an above-the-rim finisher on offense.

Lively has impressed teams in workouts showing his potential to shoot from 3. At Duke, Lively was far from a shooter but there is some high school film that suggests there may be some substance behind the smoke. Houston would be lucky if Lively falls to 20.

21. Brooklyn Nets (Via Suns): Nick Smith Jr., Guard, Arkansas

The Nets have two picks in a row and are in a weird spot in terms of roster building. The Nets have enough talent to be frisky but not enough to win playoff series but yet they owe picks to other teams so they aren’t in much of a position to tear it down.

Nick Smith has his flaws but the tough shot-making and passing feel is attractive. If Smith can add some weight and be passable on defense then he could be a steal outside the top 20.

22. Brooklyn Nets: Dariq Whitehead, Wing, Duke

According to my (and the consensus) pre-season big boards the Nets land two top 5 talents in the ’20s. Both players fell for a reason but Brooklyn bets on the high school film and a bigger sample size of success.

Whitehead shot great at Duke this season but it seemed foot injuries hampered us from seeing the best version of him. If the foot can heal and it was truly just a bad year for health then Whitehead can return top 10 value here at 22.

23. Portland Trail Blazers (Via Knicks): Kris Murray, Forward, Iowa

With a stacked backcourt full of veterans and young players the Blazers look to add a win-now player on the wing. Kris Murray is very similar to his twin, Keegan who is already seeing success in the NBA.

A long forward who can shoot, play defense, and grab rebounds has value even if you are drafting him when he is 22. Murray will play instantly in a team’s rotation next season and that is exactly what Damian Lillard wants surrounding him.

24. Sacramento Kings: Maxwell Lewis, Wing, Pepperdine

Harrison Barnes is a good player but that seems like the position for Sacramento to improve upon. Maxwell Lewis won’t be ready to light up box scores right away but that is okay because the Kings have a solid and cohesive unit already.

Lewis slides into a low-pressure role and any value he adds right away is a success for Sacramento. The frame and shooting upside are intriguing but the level of competition and defense need some work.

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Kobe Bufkin, Guard, Michigan

Ja Morant looks primed for a big suspension and Memphis will need to piece together guard minutes in his absence. Tyus Jones should take most of the starting minutes but Memphis has mostly focused on wings and forwards in past drafts.

Kobe Bufkin is a potential steal at 25 with Jordan Poole-type scoring potential. The playmaking and defense are cause for debate but he should be able to get buckets as soon as game one which fills a guard hole in Memphis.

26. Indiana Pacers (Via Cavaliers): James Nnaji, Barcelona (Spain)

Myles Turner is on the roster but this is the 100th year in a row where it seems like he may be traded. James Nnaji is only 18 and is not ready to contribute right away so while Indiana figures out Turner’s future with the Pacers they can develop Nnaji as a big.

Nnaji has an NBA body and the wingspan and tools to be a fantastic defender. I have worries about his touch or what he would look like in the playoffs but he picked up basketball late so I can’t put a ceiling on him.

27. Charlotte Hornets (Via Nuggets): Brandin Podziemski, Guard, Santa Clara

The Hornets passed on Scoot Henderson earlier but Terry Rozier doesn’t seem to be long for Charlotte and could open the avenue for more guard play (I am still a massive Bryce McGowens believer).

Brandin Podziemski is a do no wrong type of player that shoots efficiently in every zone and nearly every type of play.

Podz showed off his playmaking at the combine and grabbed an impressive 8.8 rebounds per game at only 6’5. There is cause for concern regarding his athleticism and first step but he does so much on the court that it is easy to see him carving out a role in the league.

28. Utah Jazz (Via 76ers): Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Forward, Marquette

O-Max had little draft hype through the season but has had a fantastic post-season draft cycle. O-Max had a great combine and has firmly cemented himself in the top 45 of this draft. The first round of the draft may be slightly ambitious but any team that takes him is getting a long defender with an endless motor that projects to be someone who can get downhill offensively at the next level.

The shot right now is just okay and whether he sticks as a rotational player in the NBA may come down to if he can become a 37-38% 3-point shooter.

29. Indiana Pacers (Via Celtics): Bobi Klitman, Forward, Wake Forest

Bobi Klitman shut down the combine early which implies he may have got a promise. Even if this is true it is possible Klitman got a promise for a second-round pick but traditionally when a player shuts it down it is a 1st round pick. Peyton Watson shocked everyone last year when he was selected 30th overall despite averaging just 3 PPG. Kiltman averaged a mere 5 PPG this season but don’t be surprised if he goes in the first round because someone bets on his athleticism and feel for the game.

30. Los Angeles Clippers (Via Bucks): Amari Bailey, Guard, UCLA

The former five-star had an up-and-down year this year at UCLA but after a great combine and reports of good workouts, Bailey is back in the top 40 discussion. Amari Bailey was advertised as a score-first player but later in the season and at the combine he showed his passing ability and feel. The Clippers need a steady ball-moving point guard and Bailey may not seem like he 100% fits the mold right now that is the role he could play early in his career.

Top Remaining Players: Rayan Rupert, Marcus Sasser, Sidy Cissoko, Kobe Brown, Noah Clowney, Colby Jones


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