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2023 NBA Mock Draft V.1
The No Ceilings crew installs their first 30-player Mock Draft for the 2023 NBA Draft cycle.
The start of the college basketball season is almost here, as teams around the country finish gearing up in scrimmages and get ready for their first games of the new year. We here at No Ceilings, however, are already well underway.
Yesterday, we released our first BIG Board of the season, ranking our Top 45 prospects for the 2023 NBA Draft. Today, we keep the train rolling with our first Mock Draft of the new campaign. We gathered together and installed our preliminary first round, putting together a preseason preview of how the first 30 picks might play out on Draft Night 2023.
Enjoy, No Ceilings family!
1. HOUSTON ROCKETS - VICTOR WEMBANYAMA | METROPOLITANS 92 | C
Rucker: Houston, we have lift-off. The Rockets are on the right path. General Manager Rafael Stone has done a great job of adding talent throughout the draft over the years. This one won’t be a difficult decision. Victor Wembanyama should be the first overall selection regardless of team. At a reported 7’4” with an 8’0” wingspan, Victor looks to be the first signs of life from another galaxy. His potential to be a dynamic weapon at the next level is special. Alperen Sengun, Jabari Smith, and Victor Wembanyama are a heck of a trio to develop in your frontcourt moving forward.
2. ORLANDO MAGIC - SCOOT HENDERSON | G-LEAGUE IGNITE | G
Corey: Victor Wembanyama is off the board, so the Orlando Magic are free to sprint to the podium to select Scoot Henderson. The Magic had a ton of sleeper hype heading into the year about possibly sneaking into the play-in game conversation, but they have failed to live up to those lofty expectations due to the fact that they have one of the weakest guard rotations in the league. The only thing that Orlando needs more than a lead guard like Scoot Henderson is to bring back the 90s pinstripe uniforms full-time.
3. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS - DARIQ WHITEHEAD | DUKE BLUE DEVILS | F
Albert: The Pelicans have a stacked roster with depth at almost every single position. The fact that, in this scenario, they end up with the third pick in the draft is pretty ridiculous. If this were to actually happen they’d have an incredible opportunity to choose from a deep pool of great prospects. We have them taking the smooth-scoring guard, Dariq Whitehead. Whitehead is a guy that may end up going this high but also may end up falling to the end of the lottery. The variance in where he gets taken has little to do with his ability and more to do with the fact that he will begin the season injured. Due to a foot fracture, it is still unknown when Whitehead will be able to join his teammates on the court. When he eventually does, we’re hoping to see the three-level scoring ability we saw in high school. Whitehead has a truly beautiful shooting stroke from three-point range and the midrange. He can also finish at the rim with good touch and strength. Adding him to a second unit with Dyson Daniels to back up CJ McCollum is pretty intriguing.
4. DETROIT PISTONS - CAM WHITMORE | VILLANOVA WILDCATS | F
Stephen: Detroit adding a player of Whitmore’s size, athleticism, and abilities would help the Pistons continue their path to becoming a threat in the Eastern Conference. Motor City has their star in Cade Cunningham, a bright young player in Jaden Ivey, and some nice players to go along with them. Whitmore has real star potential to grow along with Cade and Jaden as he can run the floor with both of them. His strength will allow him to create interior looks for himself. I believe Villanova will help him develop his playmaking, which will allow him to make reads when he causes the defense to collapse. Having teammates like Saddiq Bey and Bojan Bogdanovic to kick the ball out to in those scenarios makes too much sense. Whitmore can improve as a shooter, which will make life easy for those Cade and Stewart PnR sets. As Jalen Duren becomes more comfortable in the NBA, he and Whitmore can make for a strong and skilled frontcourt to play off of their skilled guards. New-age Bad Boys, anyone?
5. MIAMI HEAT - AMEN THOMPSON | OVERTIME ELITE | W
Nick: The Miami Heat should be ecstatic if Amen Thompson falls into their laps with the fifth overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. The 6’7” guard has truly ridiculous athletic gifts, and he pairs those gifts with an exceptionally advanced understanding of the game on both ends of the floor. Thompson’s playmaking ability, along with his defensive effort and instincts, would allow him to slot in easily alongside Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, with Thompson serving as the heir apparent to Kyle Lowry. Thompson’s shooting touch is certainly a concern, but Miami has shown in recent years that they are willing to risk poor shooting in exchange for connecting playmaking and defensive versatility. Amen Thompson checks both of those boxes and then some.
6. BROOKLYN NETS - KEYONTE GEORGE | BAYLOR BEARS | G
Metcalf: Who in the world knows what the roster for the Brooklyn Nets will look like next season? Stars and role players alike could easily be in new locations well before the draft, and if they are picking in this range, the only thought should be the best player available. George could very well be that, as he has scary upside as a scorer. Unfortunately, George lacks the size of most two-guards and the playmaking chops of lead initiators. However, he is an absurdly skilled shooter, versatile scorer, and physical at-rim finisher. He has a ways to go defensively, but he at least works hard and plays physically. That’s a heck of a lot more than we can say about the defense of most scoring guards.
7. SACRAMENTO KINGS - JARACE WALKER | HOUSTON COUGARS | F
Nathan: Why would the Sacramento Kings take another forward high in the draft after they just took Keegan Murray with the fourth overall pick in the prior year? Because Jarace Walker has one of the highest upsides in this entire class! The energy he plays with on both ends is infectious, not to mention his ability to handle the ball and pass others open. Also, his soft mid-range touch suggests he’ll continue to develop into a tough shot-maker. If he extends his range effectively out beyond the arc, then the Kings would have two of the best young combo forwards in the league to continue building around De’Aaron Fox, Domantas Sabonis, and the stable of guards that they brought in during the offseason.
8. INDIANA PACERS - BRANDON MILLER | ALABAMA CRIMSON TIDE | F
Paige: It’s a party in Indiana! The Pacers land one of my favorite prospects in this year’s draft in Alabama’s Brandon Miller. Miller is a 6’9” versatile wing that embodies the “positionless” archetype that thrives in today’s NBA. Miller’s main weapon of choice is his use of the mid-range. With his height, he can easily get shots off in any way he pleases and looks so comfortable doing so–especially on his turn-around jumpers that I love. Miller has the potential to be a dominant three-level scorer; if his mid-range continues to be as strong as it is, I believe the three-point shot will eventually get there. With Buddy Hield most likely not being in Indiana come the time of the draft, a big three of Brandon Miller, Bennedict Mathurin, and Tyrese Haliburtion could definitely stir things up in the East for years to come. Mathurin and Haliburton are both dependable shooters from beyond the arc. Adding Miller, who already possesses a fluid offensive game, would help fill that ‘void’ in the lineup as the third-best scorer if Hield were to get traded–although I could see Miller taking over as the second scoring option in the future for the Pacers.
9. ORLANDO MAGIC - NICK SMITH JR. | ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS | G
Maxwell: Orlando lands another high-ceiling guard prospect here in Nick Smith Jr. While Orlando’s backcourt would become crowded in this hypothetical situation, it’s hard to pass on a talent like Nick Smith Jr. He’s a tremendous shooter both off the catch and off the dribble. His footwork is growing by the day, enabling him to create space for himself. Smith is also great with deceleration and can slam on the breaks at the drop of a hat. Even when he doesn’t get it, he’s still a capable tough shot-maker. At 6’4” with long arms, he should be able to cover both guard spots once he adds more strength. His ability to find open teammates and deliver advanced passes on a string is top of the line. There’s primary creator upside in Nick Smith Jr., but as a secondary or tertiary playmaker in this situation, he would thrive.
10. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS - AUSAR THOMPSON | OVERTIME ELITE | W
Evan: This seems like a very Warriors-esque pick, doesn’t it? After selecting Jordan Poole, James Wiseman, Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody, and Patrick Baldwin Jr. over the last three years, the defending champs have stashed away quite the young core of talent. Adding Ausar Thompson to that mix would make a lot of sense and could be a perfect landing spot for the Overtime Elite star. Ending up in Golden State would allow Thompson the time to develop his offensive arsenal more without the pressure of being an NBA team’s primary option right out the gate. I also believe he could help the Warriors if needed defensively early on, giving Steve Kerr another athletic wing who can create chaos on that end of the floor.
11. CHARLOTTE HORNETS - ARTHUR KALUMA | CREIGHTON BLUEJAYS | F
Rucker: Charlotte is going to be a team that could find itself in another interesting position for the draft. The Hornets are doing everything in their power to take the next step as a team. Charlotte will have a number of veteran pieces on their roster that could become trade candidates during the 2022-23 season. The Hornets have taken a flier on some athletic pieces in the past, but there’s a desire to get some help on the wings as well. Creighton forward Arthur Kaluma has the tools to be one of the biggest risers in this class. After impressing during the NCAA tournament last year, Kaluma was viewed as a potential breakout candidate for the 2022-23 season. Kaluma also went on to impress this summer in FIBA competition for Uganda. If Creighton can deliver on a potentially promising season, Kaluma could be a name that climbs boards throughout the season. He’s got the tools to be a heck of a piece for Charlotte moving forward.
12. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - DERECK LIVELY II | DUKE BLUE DEVILS | C
Corey: The Oklahoma City Thunder have accumulated a treasure trove of assets over the last few years by taking shots on guys that fit the direction of the modern NBA. Last year the organization used three picks on guys that could all dribble, pass, shoot, and defend multiple spots. The team is flush with ball handlers that can play on or off the ball in a system where everyone eats. What the Thunder lack - outside of Chet Holmgren, who is out for the season - is young frontcourt depth. Duke’s Dereck Lively is another fluid athlete with a ton of size, but he’s a play finisher on both ends. Lively allows Chet to play outside in, and the tandem can both play multiple defensive schemes with the kind of length and versatility defensively that could forge one of the most dangerous defensive frontcourt duos in the league. On an OKC squad flush with playmakers, Lively can focus on rim running in transition and serving as a lob threat in the halfcourt–also, there’s no better spot for Lively to extend his range than on a team that employs possibly the greatest shooting coach of all time. The Thunder are the perfect organization for a player like Lively to maximize his potential.
13. NEW YORK KNICKS - JALEN HOOD-SCHIFINO | INDIANA HOOSIERS | G
Albert: The Knicks add a playmaking guard with good size and a sumptuous mid-range game in Jalen Hood-Schifino. Although Knicks fans are always ready and able to take a bullet for Immanuel Quickley, I believe Hood-Schifino is a more refined playmaker and has a good frame to take on more contact and finish at the rim. I don’t know what IQ’s destiny is with the Knicks but in the case that he ends up in a trade, Hood-Schifino could be a great option to take over his role. Even if IQ doesn’t leave, I think Hood-Schifino could easily play next to IQ due to his size and his blossoming shooting stroke from outside.
14. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS - ANTHONY BLACK | ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS | G
Stephen: Anthony Black going to the Clippers is very on-brand for what the Clippers target in prospects. He's a long, 6’7” guard that plays with maturity. He has outstanding vision and can be a nuisance on the defensive end, and his basketball acumen allows him to get the best look for his teammates. The Clippers are a team that relies on their depth, as several of their players miss time due to various reasons. Adding Black would allow them to remain deep, having another young player on a rookie-scale contract for multiple seasons. Depending on the success of this season, the Clippers may be looking to go in a different direction after several years of the Kawhi/PG era. If that’s the case, and with Reggie Jackson entering free agency in the summer, Anthony Black could lead the charge for the future Clippers.
15. NEW YORK KNICKS - DILLON MITCHELL | TEXAS LONGHORNS | F
Nick: With their second pick of the first round, and the first pick outside of the lottery, the Knicks managed to snag the #5 high school prospect in the 2022 RSCI rankings in Dillon Mitchell of Texas. Mitchell projects to be one of the best defensive freshmen in college basketball this season, and he would offer the Knicks serious defensive versatility as a 6’8” forward with top-tier athleticism. His offense outside of transition is a concern and certainly one to monitor this season, but the Knicks could really use an athletic forward who can fill the gaps in transition, take advantage of open cutting lanes to the rim, and knit things together on defense. Dillon Mitchell projects to be just that type of player.
16. NEW YORK KNICKS - TERQUAVION SMITH | NC STATE WOLFPACK | G
Metcalf: Having three picks in this short of a span is a legitimate nightmare, at least from a mock draft standpoint. Smith is potentially the most highly touted returning prospect after he had an electric freshman season and an impressive combine. Smith needs to improve as an at-rim finisher, but his perimeter scoring and athleticism could make him one of the first guards taken in the draft. The Knicks’ current backcourt doesn’t give Smith a clean route to minutes, but his skill set and upside could make a player like Immanuel Quickley more expendable come free agency if they aren’t keen on matching what he’s offered/desired.
17. UTAH JAZZ - MARCUS SASSER | HOUSTON COUGARS | G
Nathan: The Utah Jazz eventually will need to find a true point guard replacement in the lineup, with Mike Conley likely to be traded this year or potentially waived before next season. Drafting a guard like Sasser could bring some stability in the midst of that transition to the backcourt, thanks to his experience, toughness, and defensive intensity. Sasser is one of the best perimeter defenders in the country, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t translate in the NBA. A crafty shot-maker with plenty of range past the arc, and a steady pick-and-roll playmaker, Sasser can play off other guys just as much as he can set up Lauri Markkanen, Collin Sexton, and whoever else the Jazz prioritize moving forward.
18. ATLANTA HAWKS - CASON WALLACE | KENTUCKY WILDCATS | G
Paige: The Hawks grab a defensive weapon (which they desperately need) in Kentucky’s Cason Wallace at the 18th pick. The 6’4” guard is a gem of a two-way level prospect due to his highly impressive defensive playmaking, understanding of the game, shiftiness, strength, and scoring versatility. Wallace can be described as a “do-it-all” type of guard, and he is best playmaking with the ball in his hands. That could be a question with the Hawks, given that taking the ball out of Trae Young’s hands is highly unlikely. However, the addition of Wallace would help create a defensive identity in Atlanta–especially on the perimeter. As of last year, the Hawks had the sixth-worst three-point defense at 36.4% 3P%, per basketballreference.com. The combination of Wallace and Murray’s defensive capabilities on the perimeter could turn into a nightmare for opponents moving forward.
19. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES - NIKOLA DURISIC | KK MEGA | F
Maxwell: Nikola Durisic would provide Memphis with another savvy player. He’s a big downhill attacker (6’8”) who plays with his head up and uses interesting passing angles to consistently set up his teammates. Durisic is strong, willing to deal with contact to finish at the basket, and has shown the ability to shoot off the dribble in the mid-range. His playmaking is advanced for his age, as he’ll routinely use fakes, counters, and reject screens to keep defenders on their toes. His outside shot isn’t yet consistent, and his defense isn’t fully formed either. He’ll sag too far off perimeter players, and he can struggle against countermoves. Still, large players with high feel and playmaking acumen tend to stick, and he would add good forward depth to a young, potent Grizzlies squad.
20. UTAH JAZZ - GG JACKSON | SOUTH CAROLINA GAMECOCKS | F
Evan: I know most Jazz fans are hoping to be at the forefront of the Wembanyama sweepstakes, but after a surprising 6-3 start to the season, Utah is nowhere near getting the French prodigy currently. For a franchise with no clear identity or direction, GG Jackson would be a nice get in the middle of the first round. The South Carolina freshman would add to the Jazz’s lacking depth at the forward spots, help defensively, and make for an interesting offensive tandem with Lauri Markannen. I also think he could improve Utah’s offensive spacing, as the amount of combo or lead guards they’ve got in their lineup at the moment is a logjam in the worst of ways.
21. CHARLOTTE HORNETS - AMARI BAILEY | UCLA BRUINS | G
Rucker: The Charlotte Hornets find themselves up again in this Mock Draft installment. After selecting Creighton’s Arthur Kaluma previously, the Hornets could go in a number of different directions. This is the point of the draft in which teams should be attacking value. If you can also find a piece that would help out a position of need, that’s a great get as well. UCLA freshman Amari Bailey will be one of the more fascinating prospects in this 2023 class. Bailey has the tools to become a versatile combo guard who plays the game with poise and a great feel for getting to his spots. He’s got some sneaky athleticism and looks to have a good stroke from outside. With the Hornets still needing to add some pieces to the roster, leaving the first round with Kaluma and Bailey would be a heck of a haul.
22. TORONTO RAPTORS - RAYAN RUPERT | NEW ZEALAND BREAKERS | W
Corey: There’s nothing the Toronto Raptors love more than long, rangy, versatile swingmen. French forward Rayan Rupert - currently playing for the New Zealand Breakers in the NBL’s Next Star program - looks like the perfect swing for Canada’s team. Rupert measures in at 6’7” with a reported 7’3” wingspan and moves around the floor like a guard. He needs to get stronger and improve as a decision-maker, but the potential he’s shown as a ball handler, shooter, and switchable defender is perfect for the modern NBA game. If there’s anybody that can maximize Rupert’s development, it’s Masai and Co.
23. LOS ANGELES LAKERS - KEL’EL WARE | OREGON DUCKS | C
Albert: The Lakers need help all over the court. Adding Ware to that roster makes sense because there is real upside to his game. Ware is a bouncy and fluid seven-footer with a developing shot from outside. I would not say that he’s a good shooter yet, but there is a foundation for him to become one. He should be a solid lob threat from Day One and will offer some real rim protection with his size, leaping ability, and anticipation. He’s also very raw and will need time to develop, but the Lakers should be taking a bet on a player like Ware and his high ceiling. Thomas Bryant is not the long-term answer for the Lakers at center; Ware could be.
24. INDIANA PACERS - TYRESE PROCTOR | DUKE BLUE DEVILS | G
Stephen: Adding to their depth following the outstanding selection of Brandon Miller, the Pacers go with Aussie Tyrese Proctor. Proctor could give some of the same that Tyrese Haliburton gives Indy, as he is a brilliant facilitator. He is somewhat capable of some interior scoring, but he looks to be more reliable as a shooter. It’s fair to assume that Buddy Hield won’t be on the team by the time the draft comes, so the guard depth for the Pacers will take a hit there. Proctor needs to get stronger, which will allow him to become a better finisher. Additional rim pressure will aid his playmaking too. While there are some real areas of improvement, the Pacers have shown they are moving in the direction of letting their youth learn as they play. Allowing Proctor to run the second unit with Chris Duarte, another pick to be discussed soon, and (potentially) Goga Bitaze could yield positive returns for this young Indiana team.
25. SAN ANTONIO SPURS - CHRIS LIVINGSTON | KENTUCKY WILDCATS | W
Nick: The San Antonio Spurs add wing depth and shooting touch here with the 25th pick, opting to select Kentucky’s Chris Livingston. The 6’6” freshman wing is lethal from long range, and he will have every chance to prove himself this season for a Kentucky team in desperate need of spacing beyond the arc. Livingston has the shot and the athletic tools to become a serious 3-and-D weapon at the NBA level. If he can show a bit more as a shot creator, he could easily surge past the back end of the first round; even if he doesn’t, though, the foundation is there for Livingston as an intriguing longer-term project on the wing.
26. UTAH JAZZ - JORDAN WALSH | ARKANSAS RAZORBACKS | W
Metcalf: The odds that the bulk of this Jazz roster will be here come draft time, let alone trade deadline time, feels slim. During his rebuild in Boston, Danny Ainge took plenty of swings on tantalizing two-way role players. Jordan Walsh is just that. He has the potential to be a difference-maker on the defensive end. He plays with tremendous energy and great fundamentals, and he has immense versatility. On offense, he has experience initiating the offense and doing the little things. He needs to find more ways to contribute to scoring and find his shot, but he could be a promising wing to help build their culture with his hard work, two-way versatility, and competitiveness.
27. CHICAGO BULLS - JAIME JAQUEZ JR. | UCLA BRUINS | F
Nathan: If there’s one thing the Chicago Bulls are known for, it’s toughness. I’ve never questioned that characteristic with Jaime Jaquez Jr., who is also an incredibly smart player in his own right. Always in the right place at the right time, Jaquez plays with an edge yet balances it with craft and poise. He can finish in and through traffic, rebounds on both ends, passes guys open, and remains engaged for the full time he’s on the court. If he can provide above-average defensive value and shoot with the consistency we’ve seen from him in prior seasons, he has a chance to not only stick around in the league as a rotational wing talent but start for a good team. That’s a bet worth making late in the first round.
28. PHOENIX SUNS - JULIAN PHILLIPS | TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS | W
Paige: The Suns add a lanky, smooth, and young wing with Tennessee’s Julian Phillips. At 6’8”, the former five-star recruit shows incredible versatility being able to guard 1-4 at least. Head Coach Rick Barnes has stated that Phillips is “a dream to coach…and is another guy where we have used him at the point some.” As a Suns fan, this is music to my ears! Phoenix’s other backup point guards, Cam Payne and Landry Shamet, are 6'1” and 6'4” respectively, so even the possibility of adding the combination of height, more athleticism, and offensive power in Phillips is intriguing. However, I mostly see him being used at the 3-4 spot. Phillips can do a little bit of everything like *cough Mikal Bridges cough*, but some areas he is still looking to develop are his outside shot, strength, and defense, which he is already working on in Knoxville. His frame, athleticism, work ethic, and versatility on both ends of the floor would be quite a catch for the Phoenix Suns.
29. INDIANA PACERS - KRIS MURRAY | IOWA HAWKEYES | F
Maxwell: You can never have too much size and shooting, and that’s what Kris Murray would bring to the Pacers. Murray would add to their forward depth while bringing defense and shooting off the catch to their team. He made 38.7% of his threes as a sophomore, and he’ll have a chance to truly break out at Iowa now that his brother Keegan is off to the NBA. Murray isn’t just a shooter, either, as he’s a good straight-line driver and finisher at the rim. Defensively, he can cover multiple positions thanks to his quickness and strength, and he remains engaged off the ball as a helper. Murray is a low-maintenance option who could carve out a long career as a winning player.
30. HOUSTON ROCKETS - TYRESE HUNTER | TEXAS LONGHORNS | G
Evan: If Houston gets the top overall selection in the 2023 draft and decides to select Wembanyama, adding Tyrese Hunter at the end of the first round would be the proverbial cherry on top. This team needs a point guard, specifically to run their second unit, and Hunter fits the bill. Plus, his athleticism and playmaking ability in the open floor pairs well with the rest of Houston’s young pieces. Hunter seems like a quality addition to a franchise that’s just waiting to launch back into the competing ranks of the Western Conference.