2023 NBA Mock Draft V.2
The No Ceilings crew assembled for their second Mock Draft for the 2023 NBA Draft.
The start of 2023 is rapidly approaching, but we here at No Ceilings are already well underway when it comes to covering the 2023 NBA Draft. Yesterday, we dropped our first 60-player BIG Board of the new draft season.
That, however, would not have been enough. We simply had to gather as a crew and hammer out our second Mock Draft of the season to go along with that BIG Board.
As always, we try to take team and player fit into account with our selections. Some players will end up being drafted slightly lower than their position on the BIG Board, while other players who might have fallen outside of the collective Top 30 still wound up being taken in the first round of this exercise.
There is plenty more basketball left to be played this season, but some of the rapid draft stock swings from the first few games have started to settle in. While 2022 is coming to a close, these 30 prospects still have time to prove that their hot starts weren’t just flukes—or that their cold spells were just stepping stones on their way to hearing their names called by Adam Silver on June 22nd, 2023.
In the meantime, these 30 players still have the rest of this draft class on their heels—and plenty of them could make a case for themselves over the next few months. This draft class has a chance to be a special one, and the debates we had about this Mock Draft alone speak very highly of a 2023 class that we could be talking about for years to come…
Enjoy, No Ceilings family!
1. CHARLOTTE HORNETS - Victor Wembanyama | Metropolitans 92 | Center
Nathan: No surprise that Victor Wembanyama is off the board first overall in a mock draft exercise, but this time it’s to the Charlotte Hornets, who desperately need a star. Yes, LaMelo Ball is still on the Hornets, but Wembanyama is proving to have 30-plus points per game scoring upside while also protecting the rim and covering ground in ways that few men near his size can. Charlotte, to my eye, was arguably the worst team in the NBA from the start of the season, so it makes sense that the odds are playing out the same way here. What better way to further a rebuild than with a generational prospect?
2. DETROIT PISTONS - Scoot Henderson | G League Ignite | Guard
Metcalf: On the surface, this pick may seem like it will cause a log jam with Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. It doesn’t matter. Scoot Henderson is that good and is simply one of those players that you don’t pass on. Henderson can and will play any role that’s asked of him. He can be a primary scorer, lead playmaker, point-of-attack defender, and even succeed off-ball. The Pistons aren’t in a place where they can pass on a franchise cornerstone because it may lead to a potentially clunky fit at first. Take the best player available, continue to add ridiculous talent to this young team, and figure the rest out later.
3. SAN ANTONIO SPURS - Amen Thompson | Overtime Elite | Wing
Stephen: The San Antonio Spurs have done a tremendous job of putting together a roster to land a top pick. Unfortunately for them, they didn’t land a Top 2 pick. That gives them the difficult decision of establishing who the #3 pick will be. Amen Thomspon looks to be the player that the Spurs should target, as they need someone that can organize the offense. He fits their defensive identity, as he is a hellacious point-of-attack defender. He puts so much pressure on the rim and can throw some pretty dimes, so Vassell, Johnson, and crew can get some of the cleanest looks they’ve ever had. The shot needs real work, and the Spurs have a proven track record of improving that.
4. HOUSTON ROCKETS - Cam Whitmore | Villanova | Wing
Nick: The Houston Rockets add to their stable of talented frontcourt players by snagging Villanova’s Cam Whitmore with the fourth overall pick. Whitmore’s physicality and rim pressure fit well with either or both of Houston’s young starting big men, Jabari Smith Jr. and Alperen Sengun. Both of them can space the floor for Whitmore as Whitmore continues to work on his shooting stroke, and Whitmore will be a nightmare to handle in transition. It might be a bit clunky at first, but a Whitmore-Jabari-Sengun frontcourt would be a fascinating lineup for the Rockets to try to figure out.
5. WASHINGTON WIZARDS - Ausar Thompson | Overtime Elite | Wing
Maxwell: The Wizards have been stuck in the middle of the Eastern Conference for what feels like an eternity. In an effort to get them out, we selected the highest-ceiling prospect left on the board. Ausar Thompson is a physical marvel. The 6’7” wing is a live wire in transition due to his speed, lift, and sharp thinking as a passer. In the halfcourt, he uses finesse with his handle and feet before finishing with power at the rim. Thompson excels as a defender, too. On-ball, his fleet feet and length allow him to stay in front of opposing dribblers. Off-ball, he reads plays in an instant and has the ability to spring into position at the drop of a hat. He’s able to spring into passing lanes for steals or fly for blocks. Thompson hasn’t found true consistency as a three-point shooter; however, his percentage is up from a year ago, and his mechanics have smoothed out considerably. His defensive acumen, processing ability, and physical tools give him a safe floor, but his creativity and improving jump shot give him a chance to be a perennial All-Star.
6. ORLANDO MAGIC - Nick Smith Jr. | Arkansas | Guard
Nathan: With the first of two back-to-back picks in this mock draft, the Orlando Magic would benefit greatly from looking for a guard to continue trying to upgrade the backcourt around big initiators Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. Even though Nick Smith Jr. doesn’t project to be a traditional point guard, his off-ball scoring and shooting would fit nicely around the aforementioned duo. Smith Jr. would also inject some athletic pop into a fun up-and-down lineup looking to take the next steps toward playoff contention.
7. ORLANDO MAGIC (via CHI) - Brandon Miller | Alabama | Wing
Rucker: Alabama freshman wing Brandon Miller has the tools to be an offensive weapon at the next level. The Orlando Magic franchise appears to be trending in the right direction. With the potential to have two lottery selections in the 2023 NBA Draft, the Magic could find themselves in a position to add two serious pieces. Orlando has the likes of Franz Wagner and rookie sensation Paolo Banchero as offensive sparkplugs. Adding Miller to the mix would inject some serious firepower on the perimeter. At 6’9” and with the ability to stretch the floor from deep, Miller would pair with Wagner to give the Magic a dangerous perimeter duo to grow with moving forward. Add on top of that the underrated playmaking ability of the talented freshman, and the Magic would be cooking with gas.
8. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER - Jarace Walker | Houston | Forward
Metcalf: Jarace Walker fits exactly what the Thunder look for in young players. He has size, skill, two-way versatility, and an awesome work ethic. Walker is an exceptional defender who can cover the weak side by himself or switch on the perimeter to defend the point of attack. Despite his limited role at Houston, Walker proved at IMG that he is an adept ball-handler and creative passer. Pairing Walker with Chet Holmgren would create a young frontcourt that has immense upside and is capable of defending at a high level right away.
9. TORONTO RAPTORS - Keyonte George | Baylor | Guard
Albert: The Toronto Raptors are struggling right now, trade rumors are swirling, and we have people saying they should blow things up. If the Raptors end up picking this high, adding a guy like Keyonte George could be a good pick for the present and future. George has flashed some surprising playmaking in his freshman season. I think Keyonte will end up being one of the best shooters in this class. Defensively, I think he’s looked better than expected and will only get better over time. He’s a tough kid who will compete on the defensive side of the ball. Overall, I think George projects as a high-level combo guard that could add a nice punch of scoring and playmaking to this team.
10. NEW ORLEANS PELICANS (via LAL) - Dariq Whitehead | Duke | Wing
Stephen: Dariq Whitehead isn’t the prospect we were hoping to see at this point. That, however, largely has to do with injury. Duke has another wing prospect that had such buzz surrounding their name, but injuries are being baked into his draft stock at this point. New Orleans has the unique opportunity to take a once-Top 5 prospect at a later portion of the draft and has no rush to force him into action. Whitehead could come off the bench as an offensive threat with the ball, with real defensive talent around him. The ability to connect as a passer is also an area of his game that could help in unique Pelicans lineups. This looks to be another feather in the cap of David Griffin.
11. INDIANA PACERS - Jett Howard | Michigan | Wing
Maxwell: Jett Howard presents a set of tools tailor-made for the modern NBA: he’s 6’8”, he’s a rock-solid athlete, and he can shoot the cover off the ball. Howard has made 40% of his 6.5 3PA/game during his freshman season at Michigan. You can’t chase him off the line, either—he’s made 64.7% of his shots at the rim and 66.7% of his floaters this season, per Synergy. Even better, Howard plays with his head up and can reliably find open teammates (2.5 APG) while limiting his own mistakes (1.0 TOV). As an on-ball defender, Howard does a good job of sliding with his opponent and can jump out of that slide with ease. Off-ball, he can be rather inattentive at times, and he’s a surprisingly poor rebounder, given his size. Still, his on-ball D, scoring profile, and secondary creation abilities are all sublime for such a young player. These are skills that matter in the playoffs! The young wing would pair well with the likes of Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin, and Andrew Nembhard.
12. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS - Anthony Black | Arkansas | Guard
Rucker: Hey, Warriors: you’re not supposed to be here. NBA fans are patiently waiting for the Warriors to finally get the heck out of the lottery. For now, the Dubs find themselves in an interesting position. Golden State could go in a number of different directions here. The Warriors could look to add some more shooting on the perimeter, but they could also use a playmaking threat in their rotation. Arkansas freshman Anthony Black has the size and versatility offensively to be an outstanding change-of-pace guard. With his impressive feel for the game and vision, the 6’7” guard would give Golden State a huge boost in their rotation.
13. NEW YORK KNICKS (via DAL) - Max Lewis | Pepperdine | Wing
Nathan: After putting together quite the winning streak, the New York Knicks are looking like a team that might be closer to putting some pieces together to contend in the playoffs than expected. Therefore, any draft selections by the team should be made to add quality depth on the wing, which is what Max Lewis would provide here. One of the most efficient play finishers in the country, Lewis can score at all three levels while holding his own on the defensive end. Wings who can space the floor are always a hot commodity–and one the Knicks could absolutely use more of on their roster.
14. UTAH JAZZ (via MIN) - Cason Wallace | Kentucky | Guard
Metcalf: Cason Wallace falling to the end of the lottery feels like another stroke of good luck for the Jazz. There may not be anything overtly sexy about Wallace’s game, but he does a bit of everything at an extremely high level. Wallace is one of the best perimeter defenders in this class, a skill that should transfer rather seamlessly to the NBA. Wallace has also proven that he is a very capable shooter, can pressure the rim at will, and is a quality ball mover. Regardless of what the Jazz do with their current backcourt, Wallace will simply raise the play of all those around him.
15. ATLANTA HAWKS - Gregory “GG” Jackson II | South Carolina | Forward
Maxwell: There are fair criticisms of GG Jackson. The South Carolina freshman has a mere seven assists through 11 games and 28 turnovers through that same stretch. I’d love to see more from him as a playmaker. On the flip side, Jackson is 6’10”, he just turned 18 years old, and he’s already scoring 17 PPG for a high-major team. Jackson has flashed versatility on the defensive end, with good lateral agility and a nice second jump at the basket. He looks the part of a floor spacer, too, converting 36.4% of his threes thus far. The assist numbers also become more understandable in context, as South Carolina ranks 334th in Division I in field goal percentage. As a wise man once said, you can’t get assists if your teammates can’t score. Jackson is flush with upside. His production and size at such a young age are beyond impressive, and he would be an exciting addition for the Hawks. Between him and AJ Griffin, they would have a pair of high-ceiling players on inexpensive contracts to pair with Trae Young.
16. MIAMI HEAT - Terquavion Smith | NC State | Guard
Nick: The Miami Heat opt to bolster their offense here, taking Terquavion Smith with the 16th overall pick. The NC State sophomore guard is an elite long-range space creator who has shown impressive improvements as a finisher around the basket this year; he will provide some offensive punch for a Miami team that currently ranks 26th in Offensive Rating and 29th in points per game. Smith will struggle on the defensive end, especially early on, but Miami has the pieces to cover up his defensive shortcomings. What they desperately need, especially with Tyler Herro now in the starting lineup, is self-creation and scoring off the bench. Terquavion Smith can provide that scoring and then some.
17. UTAH JAZZ - Gradey Dick | Kansas | Wing
Maxwell: A 6’8” freshman wing from Kansas, Gradey Dick has a simple but effective offensive game. He’s a dynamite shooter (49.2% on three) with a good first step if opponents close out too hard. When he gets to the rim, he’s good there, too—he’s made 61.1% of his shots at the basket, per Synergy. Dick has also grown tremendously since high school as an “on-the-go” player, making snappier passing reads and getting stuck in traffic far less frequently. He’s a reliable defender in off-ball settings, but on the ball, it’s a little dicier. Dick doesn’t have the same juice as an east-west slider on defense that he does as a north-south driver on offense, causing him issues containing quicker opponents. He’s also still on the thin side, and dribblers can get through his chest. Despite that, he’s young, electric on offense, and has made important strides while scaling up in competition. As Utah looks to add high-upside players to their core, Gradey Dick provides them with a great option. Even if he doesn’t hit his optimum outcomes, he should still be a reliable scorer.
18. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS - Jalen Hood-Schifino | Indiana | Guard
Rucker: The LA Clippers are always looking to add intriguing developmental pieces throughout the draft. While the team has plenty of firepower with the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Clippers could look to add a backcourt piece for the future. Indiana freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino has the upside to be a sensational pickup here at this point in the draft. Hood-Schifino plays the game with poise and knows how to use his ability to change speeds to get to his spots. For a team like the Clippers, who have a plethora of talent on their roster, Hood-Schifino would be a heck of a piece to develop moving forward.
19. CHICAGO BULLS (via POR) - Marcus Sasser | Houston | Guard
Nathan: With Lonzo Ball’s playing future looking potentially more doubtful by the day, the Chicago Bulls could stand to bring in another option at guard who can defend multiple positions and knock down perimeter shots. Marcus Sasser has done so this year for Houston, proving he can help a really good team to continue winning and do so at a high level. The Bulls could stand to upgrade with Sasser’s potent shooting, toughness, and maturity at the lead guard spot.
20. NEW YORK KNICKS - Jalen Wilson | Kansas | Wing
Stephen: With the Knicks looking to prioritize floor spacing and roster modernization in this draft, taking Jalen Wilson after Max Lewis makes a lot of sense. Wilson can give positional versatility as a player that can make plays and shoot it at 6’8” and is also a very switchable defender. He competes on the glass too–something that could tug at Coach Thibs’s heartstrings. His connective ability was evident while playing alongside Christian Braun and Ochai Agbaji last season, and we’re seeing it again with Gradey Dick and Kevin McCullar. He’ll fit in well with Barrett, Brunson, and Randle.
21. SACRAMENTO KINGS - Dillon Mitchell | Texas | Forward
Nick: The Sacramento Kings have been one of the most pleasant surprises of the young NBA season; they certainly weren’t projected to end up with the 21st pick before the season started. Luckily, they still managed to snag a player who was in most preseason Top 10 lists, grabbing Dillon Mitchell of the Texas Longhorns. Mitchell has been somewhat quiet offensively but spectacularly efficient when he does touch the ball on offense. The defensive side of the ball, though, is really the reason behind him ending up with the Kings here–Mitchell is an elite athlete who can drop back and defend the rim or switch out onto all but the quickest perimeter players. The Kings can afford to have Mitchell develop his offensive game over time. He will not be asked to do much more than catch lobs, make smart cuts, and run out in transition–three skills that he has already shown at an elite level for the Longhorns. The Sacramento Kings and their fans will be ecstatic if they stay good enough to have their pick fall to 21st–and they should be even happier if Dillon Mitchell were still on the board for them by that late in the first round.
22. BROOKLYN NETS (via PHI) - Tyrese Proctor | Duke | Guard
Albert: The Nets are such a weird team. They’re currently fourth in the Eastern Conference and have a ton of talent on the squad. Adding a backup guard like Tyrese Proctor would be really good value and a great addition to this team. They’ve been playing well as of late, but who ever knows how things will end up in Brooklyn? Proctor is a good passer with a developing jump shot and could come in and earn minutes from day one with some solid defense. Proctor would be a good guy for the Nets to develop as a backup point guard for now and starting point guard for later.
23. PHOENIX SUNS - Kyle Filipowski | Duke | Forward
Rucker: Phoenix continues to have a majority of their pieces set when it comes to their starting lineup. The Suns continue to be a force with their foundation, but they need to add some depth to the roster. While adding a point guard to make life easier for Chris Paul could be a move here, there’s also value on the board that cannot be overlooked. Phoenix needs to get some rotation pieces, especially when it comes to their big depth. Duke freshman Kyle Filipowski has the tools to be a versatile piece in a rotation. He’s got a smooth shooting stroke from outside and pairs that well with some fascinating playmaking upside. Filipowski could end up coming off the board much earlier than this. For now, Phoenix would be wise to jump at the idea of adding a versatile piece off the bench.
24. UTAH JAZZ (via BRK) - Dereck Lively II | Duke | Center
Stephen: This year’s crop of big men has already proven to be a polarizing point of conversation. Once considered the top prospect of his class, Dereck Lively II going to Utah could be exactly what the freshman Dukie needs. There is going to be little-to-no pressure for instant success, as the Jazz have Kelly Olynyk and Walker Kessler locked into their center rotation. Lively can give spot minutes immediately but also could be reimagined with the help of a creative coaching staff that could let him do some of the things we thought Duke would utilize. With the resurgence of players like Lauri Markkanen and some early-season moments from Collin Sexton, the Jazz could add Lively to the list of players proving the doubters wrong.
25. LOS ANGELES LAKERS (via NOLA) - Kris Murray | Iowa | Forward
Nathan: We’ve all said it: the Lakers need SHOOTERS! Who better to add at this point in the draft to do just that than Kris Murray? While not the same level of prospect as his brother Keegan, Kris does still have a lethal outside stroke as a lefty shooter who can make shots off the catch and also pull up from outside off a few dribbles. Murray has high offensive awareness, can rebound on both ends, and can provide the type of shot-making Los Angeles needs more of in their rotation. Even though he has shortcomings on defense, that side of the ball hasn’t been an issue for the Lakers. Just inject the offense–which is exactly what Murray can do in his rookie year and beyond.
26. CHARLOTTE HORNETS (via DEN) - Julian Strawther | Gonzaga | Wing
Metcalf: The Hornets just need guys who know how to play and know how to win. Julian Strawther has been doing a lot of both these past two years. Strawther is one of the better 3-and-D wings in this draft, as he has a proven track record of quality defense and off-ball shooting. Strawther is also one of the best wing rebounders and off-ball movers in this class. Strawther isn’t necessarily a player who will drastically change the future of a team, but he will make life a hell of a lot easier for the stars he plays with wherever he goes.
27. INDIANA PACERS (via CLE) - Kel’el Ware | Oregon | Center
Albert: Now we’re at the point of the draft where teams like to take a shot. Kel’el Ware is the perfect example of that. Ware is a walking headache. Many teams are going to watch his tape at the end of the season and have a million different questions. Ware is a physical specimen who moves really well, is huge, and may end up being a good shooter from outside. He is also wildly inconsistent in his play and his effort. Ware may end up staying in school or transferring before we even see him selected in the draft. If he stays in, you could see why a young team like the Pacers would take a shot with him.
28. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES - Rayan Rupert | New Zealand Breakers | Wing
Nick: The Memphis Grizzlies already have a ridiculously loaded roster of young talent, so the odds are good that they wouldn’t really mind having to stash their first round pick this year overseas. Enter Rayan Rupert of the New Zealand Breakers. He has struggled a bit with his shot in the early going in the NBL, but the 6’6” guard is a solid athlete with ridiculous length–his reported 7’3” wingspan almost seems to undersell his length when you see him on tape. Rupert, who won’t turn 19 until just before the 2023 NBA Draft, is still a bit of a project, which might turn some teams away. For the Grizzlies, though, they are in an excellent spot to take a long-term bet on someone who could be a scary force on the defensive end a few years from now.
29. INDIANA PACERS (via BOS) - Nikola Đurišić | Mega Mozzart | Wing
Rucker: As of now, the Indiana Pacers are set to have a plethora of capital in the first round of the NBA Draft. At some point, the Pacers could be looking to grab a potential piece with developmental value. Serbian wing Nikola Đurišić will be a name to monitor closely throughout the draft season. After generating some buzz overseas, Đurišić had to miss some time with an injury. He’s still shaking off the rust, but he has shown the ability to be a dangerous offensive talent. Đurišić, listed at 6’8”, won’t turn 19 until February and is advanced when it comes to his feel and playmaking ability. He’d be a great get for the Pacers here, especially with their third selection in the first round.
30. HOUSTON ROCKETS (via MIL) - Julian Phillips | Tennessee | Wing
Albert: Julian Phillips is one of my favorite guys in this class. The Houston Rockets could use more shooting and defense. Phillips isn’t a knockdown shooter yet, but I do believe he has a strong foundation to one day become a very good one. He’s also a long and lanky wing that will offer a ton of value on defense with his skills and effort. Phillips is the type of wing that NBA front offices will fall for in the draft. He’s got great measurables, a promising-looking stroke, and versatility as a defender. I currently have Phillips in the Top 20 of my personal big board, so grabbing him at 30 would be great value for the Rockets, in my opinion.