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2023 NBA Mock Draft V.8
The No Ceilings crew puts together their final Mock Draft of the 2023 NBA Draft cycle.
GOOD MORNING, DRAFT MANIACS. IT’S DRAFT DAY.
We want to first thank ALL OF YOU for all of your support this year. It’s been a special second season for us at No Ceilings, and we couldn’t be more excited for the future. Now let’s get down to business. Last night, our entire No Ceilings crew got together for a first round mock draft on YouTube.
Then we got a massive Woj Bomb that sent the world rocking. The Boston Celtics will now be picking 25th on draft night, and the Washington Wizards have added the 35th overall pick to their arsenal. After further discussion, we decided that we still like those original picks. If any trades take place throughout the day, we will attempt to update mocks with our thoughts.
Before we get into the madness, let’s make sure to point something out. This isn’t what we would do. This is what we feel could happen, given the intel and feedback we have received.
It’s shaping up to be a night full of fireworks. We look forward to seeing you all on the No Ceilings 2023 NBA Draft Stream TONIGHT on YouTube (7:30 PM EST)
#1. San Antonio Spurs - Victor Wembanyama | Center | Metropolitans 92
20.8 PTS | 10.3 REB | 2.4 AST | 0.8 STL | 2.9 BLK
46.8 FG% | 27.2 3P% | 81.8 FT%
Nathan: This selection has been known for weeks and is no surprise to anyone, but it still deserves words, as Victor Wembanyama is the real deal. He is a generational prospect; there just aren’t guys who are 7’5” walking around in the league with his ball skills, shooting touch, defensive prowess, and overall two-way potential. A high-character player, Wembanyama will do everything within his power to help the San Antonio Spurs contend in the Western Conference within the next few seasons.
#2. Charlotte Hornets - Brandon Miller | Wing | Alabama
18.8 PTS | 8.2 REB | 2.1 AST | 0.9 STL | 0.9 BLK
43.0 FG% | 38.4 3P% | 85.9 FT%
Rucker: Well folks…it looks as if it’s “Miller Time” in Charlotte. There are going to be plenty of fans out there that might be quick to question why the Hornets wouldn’t go with Scoot Henderson here. Although I’m personally a huge fan of Scoot, I believe that the Hornets are in a position to have the opportunity to add two awesome talents. The NBA has become a league that is driven by the desire to add elite wings that can offer superstar upside. Miller was the best player in college basketball last year and only teased us with some of the versatility in his game. He’s got some mid-range trickery just waiting to be released in the NBA, and the playmaking is LEGIT. Sure, there are plenty of people who would have loved the Scoot Henderson and LaMelo Ball backcourt. But throwing LaMelo and Brandon Miller together…now that might get fun in a hurry.
#3. Portland Trail Blazers - Scoot Henderson | Guard | G League Ignite
17.6 PTS | 5.1 REB | 6.4 AST | 1.2 STL | 0.4 BLK
44.3 FG% | 32.4 3P% | 75.0 FT%
Corey: The Portland Trail Blazers find themselves treading a precarious path, balancing the delicate task of satisfying Damian Lillard’s desires while simultaneously charting a course for the future. Enter Scoot Henderson, a prodigious teenage sensation who has already spent two seasons honing his craft within the professional NBA realm. Henderson brings forth a rare blend of athleticism, strength, and basketball acumen, enabling him to seamlessly merge various play styles and assume multiple roles on the court, transitioning between scorer and playmaker. With an undeniably fierce competitive spirit, falling to the third pick undoubtedly places an immense chip on Henderson’s already massive shoulders. Whether the Blazers opt to continue constructing a roster around Dame or opt for a rejuvenating shift toward youth, there is no doubt that Henderson is the right pick.
#4. Houston Rockets - Amen Thompson | Guard | Overtime Elite
16.4 PTS | 5.9 REB | 5.9 AST | 2.3 STL | 0.9 BLK
56.6 FG% | 25.0 3P% | 65.6 FT%
Paige: With the first three picks of the 2023 NBA Draft being solidified for quite some time, Amen Thompson has emerged as the no-brainer pick at #4 for the Houston Rockets a day leading up to draft night. The 6’7” 20-year-old guard out of the Overtime Elite offers arguably the most athleticism and best first step out of any prospect in the draft, elite playmaking vision, rim pressure, and defensive prowess. Along with possessing star upside, Thompson’s shot still needs to come around, but with the foundation of Jalen Green, Alperun Sengun, Jabari Smith, and head coach Ime Udoka at his side, Thompson has all the tools you could want around him to reach his ultimate ceiling.
#5. Detroit Pistons - Ausar Thompson | Wing | Overtime Elite
16.3 PTS | 7.1 REB | 6.1 AST | 2.4 STL | 1.1 BLK
48.1 FG% | 29.8 3P% | 66.2 FT%
Nathan: Given how the top of the draft has shaken out up to this point, it makes sense for the Detroit Pistons to target the best two-way wing on the board with plus athleticism. Ausar Thompson fits that bill, as his upside is among the best in the class after Victor Wembanyama. A 6’7” shot creator, secondary facilitator, and potential All-Defense talent, Thompson has plenty of room to grow past being a complementary piece next to Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. He would provide plenty of value for Detroit’s long-term vision.
#6. Orlando Magic - Anthony Black | Guard | Arkansas
12.8 PTS | 5.1 REB | 3.9 AST | 2.1 STL | 0.6 BLK
45.3 FG% | 30.1 3P% | 70.5 FT%
Metcalf: The Orlando Magic are in a great spot to take a home run swing, which is something this office has a track record of doing in the draft. Black fits their favorite archetype with his positional size, skill versatility, and tremendous upside. The pushback would be that there are too many guards already, but it shouldn’t be a stretch to think the front office isn’t fully convinced that they have the long-term guys in those spots. Black has the ability to run point for them, but he also proved he can play off-ball. Black’s combination of size, defense, offensive versatility, and upside fits the bill for the type of swing the Magic could take with their first pick.
#7. Indiana Pacers - Jarace Walker | Forward | Houston
11.2 PTS | 6.8 REB | 1.8 AST | 1.0 STL | 1.3 BLK
46.5 FG% | 34.7 3P% | 66.2 FT%
Albert: If the Pacers end up grabbing Jarace Walker with the seventh pick in the draft, I think they’ll be dancing up to the podium. The vision of Jarace playing next to Haliburton, Mathurin, and Turner next season is some truly scintillating stuff. Beyond the defensive versatility Walker would add from day one, the possibilities with him on offense really make him one of the most interesting prospects in the entire class. Walker may not have had a ton of opportunities to show them off in college, but on a team like the Pacers, you could see him really blossoming and showing off all the ball-handling and passing ability he has in his bag. This would be a slam dunk pick and one that could definitely happen tonight.
#8. Washington Wizards - Kobe Bufkin | Guard | Michigan
14.0 PTS | 4.5 REB | 2.9 AST | 1.3 STL | 0.7 BLK
48.2 FG% | 35.5 3P% | 84.9 FT%
Nick: The Washington Wizards have been in the headlines quite a bit in the days leading up to the 2023 NBA Draft, with the Bradley Beal trade to the Suns and the on-again, off-again trade rumors surrounding Kristaps Porzingis that appeared to have been finalized late on Wednesday. The Porzingis deal and Bradley Beal moves have now been finalized, and those moves set the Wizards firmly down the road to a rebuild. Kobe Bufkin has also been in the news quite a bit over the last few weeks as one of the biggest late risers heading into draft night. Bufkin can slide between either guard spot depending on how they feel long-term about Tyus Jones and Monte Morris. Bufkin brings defensive intensity and an incredible ability to get to the rim and finish, both areas of need for the Wizards. He will have plenty of room to explore the studio space in Washington, and he could be a long-term solution at either guard spot as part of the core of the next great Wizards team.
#9. Utah Jazz - Cam Whitmore | Wing | Villanova
12.5 PTS | 5.3 REB | 0.7 AST | 1.4 STL | 0.3 BLK
47.8 FG% | 34.3 3P% | 70.3 FT%
Nathan: After a slide that wasn’t projected a week ago, Cam Whitmore would make a ton of sense for the Utah Jazz here. When projecting players to go certain places in the lottery, the discussion is generally how can said player improve a team’s weakness and turn it into a strength? Generally, rookies aren’t contributing to winning at a high level BUT Whitmore could at least add to what the Jazz do well, which is finish at the rim, provide spacing and upside in the midrange, and defend multiple positions on the wing. Utah doesn’t have a player of Whitmore’s size and athletic build on the roster, and given his skills package, he could be a real steal this late in the lottery.
#10. Dallas Mavericks - Taylor Hendricks | Forward | UCF
15.1 PTS | 7.0 REB | 1.4 AST | 0.9 STL | 1.7 BLK
47.8 FG% | 39.4 3P% | 78.2 FT%
Metcalf: By most accounts, this pick is on the move. However, there aren’t many players who fit the Mavericks better than Taylor Hendricks. The Mavericks need shooting and defense. Check and check. If the board falls this way, it would be a travesty for the Mavericks to trade out of this spot and pass on Hendricks, as he’s a perfect fit next to Luka Doncic. If the Mavericks do trade this pick and the board falls this way, there is a high probability that the team would still take Hendricks here.
#11. Orlando Magic (via CHI) - Bilal Coulibaly | Wing | Metropolitans 92
10.8 PTS | 4.1 REB | 1.4 AST | 1.4 STL | 0.4 BLK
52.7 FG% | 33.6 3P% | 70.5 FT%
Corey: There are few hotter names in draft circles than Bilal Coulibaly. His experience playing alongside Victor Wembanyama this season has honed his ability to integrate himself alongside a superstar teammate. Coulibaly’s skill set makes him a natural fit alongside the Wanchero’s as an off-ball cutter, spot-up shooter, transition threat, and Swiss Army knife defender. Standing at an impressive 6’8” with a 7’3” wingspan, Coulibaly possesses the physical attributes that the Magic Front Office typically targets. While the Magic may not directly address their shooting needs with this pick, the tantalizing upside that Coulibaly brings to the table simply cannot be ignored.
#12. Oklahoma City Thunder - Dereck Lively II | Center | Duke
5.2 PTS | 5.4 REB | 1.1 AST | 0.5 STL | 2.4 BLK
65.8 FG% | 15.4 3P% | 60.0 FT%
Paige: The Oklahoma City Thunder have found themselves with the #12 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and could look to go a number of ways here, as my colleague Nick Agar-Johnson and I discussed on our NBA Draft Lottery Team Preview for the Thunder. But, as things have shaken out throughout this point of the lottery, Dereck Lively is the pick here. Lively offers length, athleticism, rim protection (which the Thunder desperately need), shooting upside, and grittiness. Lively was a shot-blocking machine at Duke this season and really bought into his role as a rim-finishing roller on a Blue Devils team that didn’t really allow him to show all of his offensive tools. The Thunder could have the steal of the lottery here with Dereck Lively at #12, and a frontcourt of Lively and Chet Holmgren could potentially send shockwaves around the entire league: a seven-foot-plus duo that can space the floor, finish at the rim, dribble, and block shots. Thunder fans get excited!
#13. Toronto Raptors - Keyonte George
15.3 PTS | 4.2 REB | 2.8 AST | 1.1 STL | 0.2 BLK
37.6 FG% | 33.8 3P% | 79.3 FT%
Nathan: While the Toronto Raptors could look the way of a few other options at guard here, there’s a clear need for scoring punch and shot-making prowess in the backcourt. Keyonte George provides that type of pop as a shooter with deep range, a comfort level making tough shots, and has the potential to improve his playmaking and defense. George is a sturdy guard who is capable of scoring more efficiently at the basket, drawing fouls, and helping to rebound defensively and push the ball in transition. His fit next to other talented wings and forwards would give him the best shot quality he’s had up to this point, which should begin upping his percentages in and of itself.
#14. New Orleans Pelicans - Cason Wallace | Guard | Kentucky
11.7 PTS | 3.7 REB | 4.3 AST | 2.0 STL | 0.5 BLK
44.6 FG% | 34.6 3P% | 75.7 FT%
Rucker: New Orleans has the potential to go in so many different directions on the night of the 2023 NBA Draft. Sure, they’ve been mentioned as a team that could throw all of the poker chips into the middle of the table with the idea of getting Scoot Henderson in the mold. Time will tell if that time bomb will actually go off. But for now, it looks as if the Pelicans could go back to the drawing table to look at options to add to the mix. We’ve seen a history of players slipping through the cracks that end up going a little later than some might expect. Kentucky freshman guard Cason Wallace is another player that has a wide range in this class. He could hear his name called as early as #8 to Washington. Some team is going to get a heck of a guard. Wallace is one of the safest players in this class, in my personal opinion. He’s a dawg on the floor who took the necessary strides forward with his outside shot this year. Cason would be a sensational get here for New Orleans, as he will be a high-level player for years to come in this league.
#15. Atlanta Hawks - Gradey Dick | Wing | Kansas
14.1 PTS | 5.1 REB | 1.7 AST | 1.4 STL | 0.3 BLK
44.2 FG% | 40.3 3P% | 85.4 FT%
Albert: If the Hawks end up keeping this pick, adding a 6’8” wing who can shoot the lights out wouldn’t be the worst option. Gradey Dick has some real warts to his game, but once you get to the middle of the first round, you’re not gonna find too many bullet-proof prospects. At least with Dick, you get a prospect with a clear elite skill with his shooting, good size for the position, and a guy that competes. Dick will need to clean things up on the defensive side of the ball, but due to his size and athletic ability, you could see him eventually becoming an average defender. With the Hawks looking to potentially make some changes to their roster, you could see Dick fitting in next to whoever they end up keeping.
#16. Utah Jazz (via MIN) - Jordan Hawkins | Guard | UConn
16.2 PTS | 3.8 REB | 1.3 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.5 BLK
40.9 FG% | 38.8 3P% | 88.7 FT%
Nick: The Utah Jazz were one of the best surprises of the season, starting the season 10-3 and remaining in play-in contention all season long after they were expected to be one of the worst teams in the league. Lauri Markkanen led the way for them, with Walker Kessler also shining as one of the best rookies in the class. While they were a three-point heavy team offensively, they weren’t the most accurate from distance–they ranked fifth in the league in 3PA, but they were just 20th in 3PT% last year. Enter Jordan Hawkins, arguably the best shooting threat in this draft class. Hawkins will immediately add a devastating off-ball element to the Utah attack, as he runs around screens to get looks for himself like a multi-year vet. Hawkins also has the potential to be a defensive plus in the longer term, with his athleticism and effort level. While Hawkins could stand to improve as a passer and a finisher around the basket, he has the requisite skill set as a shooter to earn minutes in the Jazz rotation sooner rather than later.
#17. Los Angeles Lakers - Jett Howard | Wing | Michigan
14.2 PTS | 2.8 REB | 2.0 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.7 BLK
41.4 FG% | 36.8 3P% | 80.0 FT%
Maxwell: Here, the Lakers get a player tailor-made for a complementary role with truly special shooting touch for his size. In the last decade, only Malik Monk and Trae Young met similar marks for high-major freshean in terms of three-point volume, percentage, long two percentage, and free throw percentage. He’s comfortable shooting off movement and will be a reliable, effective decoy running off-ball actions. Howard is a savvy playmaker, too, playing with rhythm and rock while dribbling. His eyes are always up, and he won’t struggle when it comes to making quick decisions. There’s a lot of work to be done defensively and on the glass, but Howard battled through multiple ankle injuries at Michigan, and as a late growth-spurt guy, he still has plenty of time to grow into his frame. With Austin Reaves’ contract status looming, Howard presents another option for tertiary playmaking, ball movement, and outside shooting with size.
#18. Miami Heat - Jalen Hood-Schifino | Guard | Indiana
13.5 PTS | 4.1 REB | 3.7 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.3 BLK
41.7 FG% | 33.3 3P% | 77.6 FT%
Rucker: The Miami Heat might break the all-time record for fasted card turned in with this pick. Now, listen up, folks. There’s a LOT of buzz surrounding a lot of names. The range of some of these players has been remarkable to hear. Indiana freshman combo guard Jalen Hood-Schifino is a popular name in NBA circles. He could easily come off the board starting anywhere from the 10th pick. Hood-Schifino has the ideal frame and basketball IQ you’d look for in a versatile guard. He understands his strengths and works to get to his spots on the floor. If the shot comes around, he’s got the upside to be a problem in this league. Heat Culture would welcome him with open arms.
#19. Golden State Warriors - Jaime Jaquez Jr. | Wing | UCLA
17.8 PTS | 8.2 REB | 2.4 AST | 1.5 STL | 0.6 BLK
48.1 FG% | 31.7 3P% | 77.0 FT%
Corey: Over the last few drafts, the Golden State Warriors have tried to merge timelines by betting on youth and talent over fit and immediacy to surround their championship core. However, with a new Collective Bargaining Agreement on the horizon and high-payroll teams eager to unearth young impact players on cost-effective contracts, the upcoming draft represents a pivotal moment for the Warriors to pivot their approach. Enter Jaime Jaquez Jr., a highly competitive wing who stands out as one of the most NBA-ready prospects in his class. Jaquez’s versatility on both ends of the court positions him as a Swiss Army knife within Golden State’s offensive and defensive schemes. He can seamlessly serve as a screener and playmaker in short roll situations, or become a focal point in split actions as a post hub. As contenders search for the next Christian Braun, Jaquez undoubtedly fits the bill as the standout candidate this year.
#20. Houston Rockets - Colby Jones | Wing | Xavier
15.0 PTS | 5.7 REB | 4.4 AST | 1.3 STL | 0.6 BLK
50.9 FG% | 37.8 3P% | 65.3 FT%
Paige: The Houston Rockets just got their dream fit with Amen Thompson at #4 and have an electric start to their young core with Green, Smith, Sengun, and Tari Eason. But what about adding an older prospect who makes safe and game-winning plays? Enter Colby Jones, as Jones can certainly be that last piece of the puzzle the Rockets are looking for. The 6’6” junior wing out of Xavier is a true jack-of-all-trades kind of prospect that is willing to do anything to help the team win. Jones offers offensive versatility, playmaking feel, and a certain “poise” about him that will fit extremely well in the culture the Rockets are looking to build.
#21. Brooklyn Nets (via PHX) - Nick Smith Jr. | Guard | Arkansas
12.5 PTS | 1.6 REB | 1.7 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.1 BLK
37.6 FG% | 33.8 3P% | 74.0 FT%
Maxwell: Nick Smith Jr.’s fall stops in Brooklyn. Though he had a down year in his lone college season, NSJ was a highly-touted recruit for a reason. He’s quicker than a hiccup, and at 6’4”, he boasts a mega-plus wingspan that should help him content opposing point guards. His touch is outrageously soft on floaters and in the mid-range, and he’s more than comfortable shooting it from behind the NBA three-point line. His frame will need to fill out, but the effort is always there with Nick Smith. During the pre-draft process, both his character and workouts have garnered rave reviews. The Nets are also thin at the guard spot, with their current rotation players hitting the wrong side of the age curve. In Smith, the Nets fill a position of need while also getting a high-upside prospect.
#22. Brooklyn Nets - Noah Clowney | Forward | Alabama
9.8 PTS | 7.9 REB | 0.8 AST | 0.6 STL | 1.3 BLK
48.6 FG% | 28.3 3P% | 64.9 FT%
Metcalf: Based on Clowney’s green room invite, it’s safe to say that he has plenty of fans in front offices. The Nets would make a lot of sense to be one of those front offices. The Nets have so little rebounding, size, and rim protection outside of Nic Claxton that one of these two picks needs to be some sort of big. Clowney is a bit of a project, but he’s proven that he can be effective in a simplified role. He’s an excellent rebounder, has shown defensive versatility on the perimeter and at the rim, is an efficient play finisher inside the arc, and is a willing shooter from outside, suggesting that improvement will (hopefully) come. Similar to the Smith pick, Clowney fills a need for the Nets while also providing a lot of untapped potential.
#23. Portland Trail Blazers (via NYK) - James Nnaji | Center | FC Barcelona
3.5 PTS | 2.1 REB | 0.3 AST | 0.1 STL | 0.5 BLK
71.7 FG% | N/A 3P% | 50.7 FT%
Albert: Scoot Henderson showed some real play-making chops during his two seasons with the G League Ignite. With the Blazers taking Scoot in this mock, it makes sense for them to add a big, athletic big man who can run the two-man game with Scoot. James Nnaji is a big dude with some real athleticism. Nnaji will be a rock-solid rim defender with the footwork and athleticism to eventually guard out in space. Nnaji’s role will be defined and simple on the offensive side of the ball, but that’s not always a bad thing. It’s clear that the Blazers don’t believe Jusuf Nurkic is their center of the future, so grabbing Nnaji here would be great as a potential Nurkic replacement down the road and a backup to start. Nnaji proved himself in one of the toughest leagues in the world, and he has all the tools necessary to become a starting-caliber center in the NBA.
#24. Sacramento Kings - Kris Murray | Forward | Iowa
20.2 PTS | 7.9 REB | 2.0 AST | 1.0 STL | 1.2 BLK
47.6 FG% | 33.5 3P% | 72.9 FT%
Nick: The Sacramento Kings were the surprise team in the NBA last season, ending the 16-season playoff drought in triumphant fashion by snagging the third seed in the West and giving the defending champion Golden State Warriors a tough battle in the first round. While the Kings won plenty of hearts and minds around the league last year with their spectacularly entertaining offense, this team still has some weak points that they need to shore up to remain in playoff contention. The two biggest needs on the squad last season were backup center and the wing/forward depth–especially with Harrison Barnes’s contract situation still up in the air. With all of the good vibes from last season and the team’s need for forward depth (without a big that makes a ton of sense on the board), the Kings opt here to reunite the Murray twins by drafting Kris Murray. Kris doesn’t have the same on-ball upside as Keegan, but Kris took over Keegan’s vacant spot as the lead man for the Iowa Hawkeyes and filled the role admirably. Kris Murray will add shooting touch and defensive playmaking upside to the bench unit for the Kings, and he should be able to take over the Terence Davis/Kessler Edwards backup forward minutes right away. He also allows the team to continue to build on the excellent chemistry and amazing locker room vibes that have been so decidedly absent from this team for a very long time.
#25. Boston Celtics (via MEM) - Brandin Podziemski | Guard | Santa Clara
19.9 PTS | 8.8 REB | 3.7 AST | 1.8 STL | 0.5 BLK
48.3 FG% | 43.8 3P% | 77.1 FT%
Rucker: Boston now finds itself in a fascinating position after the Porzingis Woj Bomb that saw Marcus Smart sent to the Grizzlies for the 25th pick and a 2024 first-rounder. The question remains…who is Boston targeting? There are plenty of names that can be thrown around here. Jaime Jaquez would be a great fit, but he’s off the board. Boston could look to add the likes of Colby Jones or Julian Strawther if they are available as well. The Celtics have quickly become a fascinating storyline for the 2023 NBA draft. Could they look to add another weapon in the backcourt? Brandin Podziemski had a sensational year for Santa Clara and has the toughness and versatility to be an intriguing name to consider here for the Celtics. He’s a big-body combo guard with a shifty game that could be an intriguing addition to the backcourt. Please allow the remaining time for us to mourn the loss of Marcus Smart.
#26. Indiana Pacers (via CLE) - Olivier-Maxence Prosper | Forward | Marquette
12.5 PTS | 4.7 REB | 0.7 AST | 0.9 STL | 0.1 BLK
51.2 FG% | 33.9 3P% | 73.5 FT%
Rucker: The Indiana Pacers are going to have plenty of firepower offensively next year with the likes of Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin. After taking Jarace Walker at #7, the Pacers could go in a number of different directions here at #26. Indiana is on the right path, but to help that process take a serious step forward, they could do wonders with some serious nastiness added on the defensive side of the ball. Marquette forward Olivier-Maxence Prosper has been one of the biggest risers throughout the pre-draft process. OMP is a lengthy forward who offers the versatility to be a potential defensive weapon on the floor. After receiving a green room invite, OMP could be a name that goes earlier than this spot. For now, Indiana adds some serious defensive mentality to their core.
#27. Charlotte Hornets (via DEN) - Brice Sensabaugh | Forward | Ohio State
16.3 PTS | 5.4 REB | 1.2 AST | 0.5 STL | 0.4 BLK
48.0 FG% | 40.5 3P% | 83.0 FT%
Corey: Let’s not mince words here: Brice Sensabaugh is an absolute scoring machine. The 6’6” 235-pound wing put up a truly ridiculous scoring season, blending efficiency and volume, averaging over 27 points per 40 on 48/40/83 shooting splits. A midrange assassin and long-distance sniper, Sensabaugh only slips this far due to concerns about his injury history. Nevertheless, as the first round nears its conclusion, Charlotte recognizes the potential reward and is willing to take the risk to form a potent offensive trio around LaMelo Ball and Brandon Miller.
#28. Utah Jazz (via PHI) - Maxwell Lewis | Wing | Pepperdine
17.1 PTS | 5.7 REB | 2.8 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.8 BLK
46.8 FG% | 34.8 3P% | 78.7 FT%
Paige: If I’m a Utah Jazz fan and I leave this draft with Cam Whitmore, Jordan Hawkins, and Max Lewis—boy would I be over the moon. Max Lewis started off the draft cycle BUZZING and was a potential lottery pick at one point, and that was for good reason. Lewis offers a ton of creative juice off-the-dribble, tough shot-making ability, wing depth, and versatility for this Jazz squad. Despite some questions surrounding his turnover and decision-making skills, Lewis offers a type of offensive arsenal and upside that can’t be passed up with the 28th overall pick. The Jazz get possibly the steal of the draft with Max Lewis here and get a guy that can go out and get his own shot which they also need more of on the roster.
#29. Denver Nuggets (via BOS) - Ben Sheppard | Wing | Belmont
18.8 PTS | 5.2 REB | 2.9 AST | 1.4 STL | 0.2 BLK
47.5 FG% | 41.5 3P% | 68.4 FT%
Maxwell: The Denver Nuggets just won a championship, and much of it was because they surrounded Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray with stellar complementary role players. Ben Sheppard can be one of those guys. A lights-out three-point shooter, Sheppard made 41.5% of his 6.0 three-point attempts per game this past season. Specifically, he thrives as a movement shooter, flying off screens and handoffs. His work rate is unparalleled, as he’ll run the entire game and often took the tougher defensive assignments at Belmont. This was his first season as a leading man, and he demonstrated intelligence and craft as a table setter for others. Prior to this season, he’d played off other creators well as a cutter, and he knows when he can beat his man backdoor. Simply put, Ben Sheppard does all the stuff that can accentuate Nikola Jokic.
#30. Los Angeles Clippers (via MIL) - Leonard Miller | Forward | G League Ignite
16.9 PTS | 10.1 REB | 1.6 AST | 1.0 STL | 0.8 BLK
53.7 FG% | 30.4 3P% | 79.2 FT%
Rucker: At the time of recording this Mock Draft, the assumption was that the Washington Wizards would be making this pick. That’s when WOJ hit us after with an ever-so-awesome WOJ BOMB, and it looks as if this selection is going back to the Clippers…for now. Still, this would be a spot in which Leonard Miller should come off the board. He’s got a wide range in this class, and he could hear his name called much earlier than this spot. Miller is coming off a fantastic season in which he took tremendous strides forward with his development while playing for the G League Ignite. He’s sure to have plenty of fans in front offices, especially with his mobility on the court and ability to fill up the box scores in a hurry. The Clippers could see Miller as a “garbage man” who can come in and be an impactful presence around the basket with his high motor.
#31. Detroit Pistons - Dariq Whitehead | Wing | Duke
8.3 PTS | 2.4 REB | 1.0 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.2 BLK
42.1 FG% | 42.9 3P% | 79.3 FT%
Nathan: At one point in the preseason, Dariq Whitehead was a consensus lottery-level prospect, so seeing his name here in the second round could shock some people for sure. But given his injury history, up-and-down freshman year, and plenty of questions to answer about how diverse his game is outside of shooting, Whitehead tumbles here to the Detroit Pistons, who would have a chance to strike on a massive value play by getting him at #31. Shooting is a needed skill in the NBA, and if Whitehead regains his athletic pop, this could be a major steal.
#32. Denver Nuggets (via HOU) - Marcus Sasser | Guard | Houston
16.8 PTS | 2.8 REB | 3.1 AST | 1.6 STL | 0.2 BLK
43.8 FG% | 38.4 3P% | 84.8 FT%
Rucker: The Denver Nuggets are quickly becoming some stealthy assassins ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft. Fresh off an NBA Championship, Denver has quietly started to add a couple of draft picks in a range in which they could add some fascinating pieces to their roster. While Denver can go in a number of different directions, the idea of adding Houston Cougars guard Marcus Sasser here would be a highway robbery. Sasser has the mentality you want in a point guard, and he can get buckets in a hurry. He’d be a sensational add for the defending champions and would quickly become a fan favorite in Denver.
#33. San Antonio Spurs - Amari Bailey | Guard | UCLA
11.2 PTS | 3.8 REB | 2.2 AST | 1.1 STL | 0.3 BLK
49.5 FG% | 38.9 3P% | 69.8 FT%
Corey: Amari Bailey, once a highly touted five-star recruit during his high school days, curiously flew under the radar during his tenure at UCLA. The 6’4” combo guard showed a variety of skills during his freshman campaign and stepped up in a big way after teammate Jaylen Clark suffered an unfortunate injury. Landing in San Antonio presents the perfect situation for Bailey to cultivate his game under the tutelage of Greg Popovich while getting to share the court with Victor Wembanyama. Bailey is a smart upside bet early in the second round.
#34. Charlotte Hornets - Rayan Rupert | Wing | NZ Breakers
6.8 PTS | 2.4 REB | 0.8 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.2 BLK
36.9 FG% | 31.2 3P% | 73.8 FT%
Paige: Rayan Rupert, an electric defender at 6’7’ with a 7’3” wingspan, goes to the Charlotte Hornets with the 34th overall pick. Brandon Miller and Brice Sensabaugh were the picks beforehand for the Hornets, and that duo alone gives you shooting galore and buckets central. I mean, the two are a part of some of the best shooters in this draft class, and the Hornets being able to grab a long, lanky, defensive wing in Rupert to pair with the elite scoring ability of Miller and Sensabaugh makes a lot of sense.
#35. Washington Wizards (via POR) - Julian Phillips | Forward | Tennessee
8.3 PTS | 4.7 REB | 1.4 AST | 0.6 STL | 0.5 BLK
41.1 FG% | 23.9 3P% | 82.2 FT%
Nick: While the originally-rumored Kristaps Porzingis trade involving the Clippers fell through, the Wizards and the Celtics were able to get a deal done with Memphis to send Porzingis to Boston before the deadline for him to execute his player option passed. That deal netted Washington the #35 pick, and they opt for a home run swing here with Julian Phillips. Phillips has some of the craziest athletic tools in this draft, and the 6’8” forward has shown flashes of incredible upside. His game on the offensive end is still raw, but Phillips should be able to work his way into the rotation early on with his defense while being a transition threat and cutter on offense until his game on that end expands.
#36. Orlando Magic - Julian Strawther | Wing | Gonzaga
15.2 PTS | 6.2 REB | 1.3 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.4 BLK
46.9 FG% | 40.8 3P% | 77.6 FT%
Metcalf: The Magic didn’t address their biggest need of shooting with the first two picks, but they are able to here by selecting one of the best shooters in the draft: Julian Strawther. Strawther has bonkers range, as he’s proven for multiple seasons now. He can pull up off the dribble, spot up from the logo, or hit movement threes. On top of that, he’s an excellent rebounder and cutter. The big concern is his defense, but at 6’7” and with the other wings on the roster, it should be a minimal concern.
#37. Denver Nuggets (via WAS) - Gregory “GG” Jackson | Forward | South Carolina
15.4 PTS | 5.9 REB | 0.8 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.8 BLK
38.4 FG% | 32.4 3P% | 67.7 FT%
Albert: Congrats again to the Nuggets for winning the NBA title this season. With them coming off their first title in franchise history, you could see them taking some risks. If the Nuggets took GG Jackson, they’d be taking one of the biggest risks in the draft. Jackson is a ridiculously divisive prospect that could truly swing either way on the pendulum of outcomes. Jackson looks like a smooth, shot-making wing with great size, athletic ability, and ball skills. The issue with Jackson is that he’s never run into a shot that he didn’t like, isn’t in the best basketball shape, and had his issues with social media. Jackson is one of the youngest prospects in this class, and the Nuggets may believe they have the infrastructure and veteran leadership that Jackson needs to develop into the player he can be. If that ends up being true, Jackson may shock the world and end up being one of the biggest steals in his class.
#38. Sacramento Kings (via IND) - Sidy Cissoko | Wing | G League Ignite
11.6 PTS | 2.8 REB | 3.1 AST | 1.1 STL | 1.0 BLK
43.6 FG% | 31.4 3P% | 64.3 FT%
Nick: The Kings started to shore up their forward depth with Kris Murray at #24, and they opt for another wing/forward option here in Sidy Cissoko. Cissoko isn’t exactly a ready-made shooter like Murray, but Cissoko is an electric playmaker who will have plenty of people to pass to on this Kings roster. Cissoko took huge steps forward over the course of the year with the G League Ignite, especially offensively, and he has the physical tools and effort level to be a plus-defender sooner rather than later.
#39. Charlotte Hornets (via UTA) - Trayce Jackson-Davis | Center | Indiana
20.9 PTS | 10.8 REB | 4.0 AST | 0.8 STL | 2.9 BLK
58.1 FG% | N/A 3P% | 69.5 FT%
Nathan: At this point, the Charlotte Hornets need to continue focusing on grabbing the best players available who are experienced and can step in and contribute. Trayce Jackson-Davis had a decorated career in terms of statistical dominance at Indiana, and he checks a number of boxes in the pro game. His ability to grab rebounds and go will help LaMelo Ball and Co. get out in transition, and his halfcourt post game and playmaking add a dimension this team is lacking in the frontcourt.
#40. Indiana Pacers (via DAL) - Seth Lundy | Wing | Penn State
14.2 PTS | 6.3 REB | 0.9 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.6 BLK
45.0 FG% | 40.0 3P% | 80.7 FT%
Metcalf: Seth Lundy gives the Pacers some more 3-and-D versatility and depth. Lundy made huge strides as a shooter this year and also showed more competence off the bounce. There are reasons to be encouraged about his defense as well. In a role that would bring minimal expectations, Lundy would be set up in a great spot to be a star in his role and steadily earn more responsibilities.
#41. Charlotte Hornets (via OKC) - Andre Jackson Jr. | Wing | UConn
6.7 PTS | 6.2 REB | 4.7 AST | 1.1 STL | 0.5 BLK
43.2 FG% | 28.1 3P% | 64.6 FT%
Corey: Andre Jackson Jr. is the epitome of take it to eleven. A-Jax’s chaotic energy on both sides of the ball helped propel UConn to a national title this season. NBA teams will be looking for the next Bruce Brown and if Jackson ever gets the jumper to a respectable level, he could fit the bill. It feels like Jackson was born to run out in transition and catch LaMelo Ball oops.
#42. Washington Wizards (via CHI) - Terquavion Smith | Guard | NC State
17.9 PTS | 3.6 REB | 4.1 AST | 1.4 STL | 0.4 BLK
38.0 FG% | 33.6 3P% | 70.1 FT%
Paige: Terquavion Smith has seen his draft stock go through quite the journey this draft cycle, but he ultimately lands on the day of the draft here at #42 for the Washington Wizards. The Wizards are in an ultimate rebuild headlined by Kobe Bufkin at the forefront, who they took at #8 overall. Smith’s ultimate role in the NBA and with the Wizards in general will be as a microwave scorer as he possesses NBA range, the ability to get hot in a hurry, and shooting versatility. Smith’s offensive game is ready for the NBA—with, of course, some fine-tuning here and there—but his decision-making, shot selection, and how he fills out his frame will be the big questions when looking at Smith’s future outlook. With the Wizards starting from the beginning again, Smith could have the potential to grow into a variety of roles for them.
#43. Portland Trail Blazers (via ATL) - Jordan Walsh | Wing | Arkansas
7.1 PTS | 3.9 REB | 0.9 AST | 1.1 STL | 0.5 BLK
43.3 FG% | 27.8 3P% | 71.2 FT%
Nathan: Given that the Portland Trail Blazers are in a position to take a swing on a prospect here, Jordan Walsh makes a ton of sense for a team that needs to continue fortifying its defensive foundation. With plenty of size, length, and athleticism, there are few positions Walsh can’t cover on that side of the ball while providing offensive value as a slasher, connective passer, and rebounder. If his spot-up shot comes around, he’s a first-round talent and value pick in the second round.
#44. San Antonio Spurs (via TOR) - Tristan Vukcevic | Center | Partizan
5.5 PTS | 2.4 REB | 0.8 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.3 BLK
55.8 FG% | 37.3 3P% | 80.0 FT%
Rucker: Tristan Vukcevic has been a popular name in draft circles over the years while playing overseas. He’s a lengthy big man with a gorgeous shot from outside, and he can get hot in a hurry. Vukcevic was one of the most impressive players in the NBA Draft Combine this year, putting his outside shooting on full display. Rumors are that he’s wanting to come over and play in the NBA this year instead of being a potential stash candidate. San Antonio could look at Vukcevic as a developmental piece with the potential to turn into a valuable rotation asset.
#45. Memphis Grizzlies (via MIN) - Colin Castleton | Center | Florida
16.0 PTS | 7.7 REB | 2.7 AST | 0.9 STL | 3.0 BLK
50.0 FG% | 13.3 3P% | 72.9 FT%
Albert: Castleton is an interesting pick here for the Grizzlies because of his size and defensive ability. Castleton will not be as effective guarding smaller players in the NBA, but he was a good rim protector in college. He averaged three blocks per game last season and would be an interesting choice as a backup to Steven Adams, who we saw struggle with injuries last season.
#46. Atlanta Hawks (via NOLA) - Jaylen Clark | Wing | UCLA
13.0 PTS | 6.0 REB | 1.9 AST | 2.6 STL | 0.3 BLK
48.1 FG% | 32.9 3P% | 69.8 FT%
Nick: The Atlanta Hawks desperately need defensive help, but as a team that made the play-in tournament last year despite so much of their season going wrong, they can afford to be more patient than some teams. Enter Jaylen Clark, one of the best defenders in the draft, whose Achilles tear in March will keep him out for most, if not all, of the 2023-24 NBA season. When Clark does return, his developing shooting touch and exceptional defensive prowess will give him a good chance to dramatically overperform for this draft slot.
#47. Los Angeles Lakers - Chris Livingston | Forward | Kentucky
6.3 PTS | 4.2 REB | 0.7 AST | 0.4 STL | 0.4 BLK
42.9 FG% | 30.5 3P% | 72.2 FT%
Maxwell: The Lakers take a bigger upside swing here, taking Chris Livingston out of Kentucky. Livingston is a physically powerful wing who can withstand contact on defense while leveraging it to get to his spots on offense. Later in the year, he showed more craft and poise going down hill. An improved jump shot and some seasoning to his feel could make Livingston a valuable long-term investment at an important position.
#48. Los Angeles Clippers - Toumani Camara | Forward | Dayton
13.9 PTS | 8.6 REB | 1.7 AST | 1.2 STL | 0.8 BLK
54.6 FG% | 36.3 3P% | 66.9 FT%
Rucker: The Clippers will eventually be looking to add some versatile pieces who could potentially add to their depth. Toumani Camara is one of those players who just seems to keep finding ways to impact the game in a number of different ways. He’s coming off a season that saw him average 13.9 points and 8.6 rebounds while shooting 54.6% from the field and 36.3% from three. At this point in the draft, a versatile forward like Camara could be a potential sleeper.
#49. Cleveland Cavaliers (via GSW) - Kobe Brown | Forward | Missouri
15.8 PTS | 6.4 REB | 2.5 AST | 1.5 STL | 0.4 BLK
55.3 FG% | 45.5 3P% | 79.2 FT%
Corey: Every team is looking for big wings that can dribble, pass, shoot, and defend and that is what Cleveland is getting with Kobe Brown. Brown will have to prove that shooting leap is real to get minutes early, but he offers enough savvy and skill to carve out a role.
#50. Oklahoma City Thunder (via MIA) - Craig Porter Jr. | Guard | Wichita State
13.5 PTS | 6.2 REB | 4.9 AST | 1.5 STL | 1.5 BLK
47.8 FG% | 36.3 3P% | 68.5 FT%
Paige: Craig Porter Jr. has had quite the journey to this point to being drafted 50th overall by the Thunder, from playing at the JUCO level to ultimately playing at Wichita State where he took over the keys of the castle with the Shockers. Porter Jr.’s foundation to his game stems from his twitchiness, scoring versatility and most of all his confidence and hustle. The dude is willing to do whatever is needed and will work his tail off, and he could be the perfect developmental project and steal for the Thunder here. Plus, what better team could there be for a high upside, confident and defensive minded talent to go to?
#51. Brooklyn Nets - Keyontae Johnson | Forward | Kansas State
17.4 PTS | 6.8 REB | 2.1 AST | 1.0 STL | 0.2 BLK
51.6 FG% | 40.5 3P% | 71.5 FT%
Maxwell: Keyontae Johnson is older, but he’s exceptionally talented, especially on the offensive end of the floor. He pairs his powerful, long-armed body with soft touch and deceptive explosiveness. If he can reel in his more adventurous playmaking attempts and commit himself defensively, Johnson could be a steal in the second round.
#52. Phoenix Suns - Adama Sanogo | Center | UConn
17.2 PTS | 7.7 REB | 1.3 AST | 0.7 STL | 0.8 BLK
60.6 FG% | 36.5 3P% | 76.6 FT%
Metcalf: The Suns desperately need to find some cheap production and depth. Coming off a national title run and a year of significant improvement, Adama Sanogo could be poised to help this team earlier than most would think. He wouldn’t be a game changer for them, obviously, but he has the experience and capabilities to provide serviceable minutes. Sanogo made very real improvements this year as an outside shooter, as his scoring touch is very real. He isn’t a traditional rim protector, but his defensive positioning is largely solid, and he is an absolute menace on the boards. Bringing in someone who can do the dirty work on the inside and provide a bit of floor spacing could be exactly what the Phoenix bench needs.
#53. Minnesota Timberwolves (via NYK) - Jalen Pickett | Guard | Penn State
17.7 PTS | 7.4 REB | 6.6 AST | 0.9 STL | 0.5 BLK
50.8 FG% | 38.1 3P% | 76.3 FT%
Albert: Jalen Pickett is a bit of a weird prospect, but once we get to the end of the second round, things tend to get a little weird. Pickett is a 6’4” guard who loves to take smaller guards into the post so that he can exert his dominance over them. Pickett loves playing with physicality and was even used as a screener in certain sets. Pickett shot the ball pretty well from three on decent volume, so that’s going to be a plus for him. Pickett is also stingy with the ball and is a decent passer, so he should be able to carve out a role for himself in the NBA. The lack of athleticism and his age are concerns, but they shouldn’t be big enough to stop teams from grabbing him in the second round.
#54. Sacramento Kings - Mouhamed Gueye | Center | Washington State
14.3 PTS | 8.4 REB | 1.9 AST | 0.8 STL | 0.8 BLK
48.8 FG% | 27.5 3P% | 67.4 FT%
Nick: The Kings shored up their wing/forward depth with their first two picks, and they close out the draft here by taking a flyer on a potential backup big. Mouhamed Gueye, who played his high school ball just down the road from Sacramento at Prolific Prep in Napa, CA, showed real flashes on offense as a guy who can run some of the DHO offense that Domantas Sabonis ran to perfection this past season. Gueye should also be able to help out on the glass, where the Kings struggled mightily in the playoffs against Kevon Looney.
#55. Indiana Pacers (via CLE) - Nadir Hifi | Guard | Le Portel
16.7 PTS | 2.7 REB | 3.3 AST | 1.3 STL | 0.0 BLK
46.5 FG% | 34.5 3P% | 84.1 FT%
Maxwell: Nadir Hifi is a talented bucket-getter. His thin frame may plague him at the NBA level, but he’s a savvy competitor on defense who knows how to compensate for what he may lack. Offensively, he’s a hooper, scoring 16.7 PPG in a good pro league. He’s a capable long-range bomber who does an excellent job of utilizing his footwork to get himself clean looks from beyond the arc. His passing can get a little reckless, but he’s ahead of where he was a few years ago. Hifi could be a reliable spark-plug off the bench if things break right for him.
#56. Memphis Grizzlies - Ricky Council IV | Wing | Arkansas
16.1 PTS | 3.6 REB | 2.3 AST | 1.1 STL | 0.3 BLK
43.3 FG% | 27.0 3P% | 79.4 FT%
Rucker: It seems as if someone is going to get a potential sleeper in Ricky Council IV in this draft. Right now, we’ve got Ricky ending up with the Memphis Grizzlies. The shot is going to be the question moving forward with Council. But he’s a tough wing with impressive athleticism and the mentality that would be potentially strong value here for a team like the Grizzlies.
#57. Chicago Bulls (via DEN) - FORFEITED
#58. Philadelphia 76ers - FORFEITED
#59. Washington Wizards (via BOS) - Isaiah Wong | Guard | Miami
16.2 PTS | 4.3 REB | 3.2 AST | 1.4 STL | 0.4 BLK
44.5 FG% | 38.4 3P% | 84.5 FT%
Corey: If you’re in need of athletic shot creators than you can’t do much better than Isaiah Wong at the end of the second round. Wong can dance with the ball and make tough shots and can play above the rim with the best of them. As the Wiz start their rebuild, it could present Wong with the opportunity to receive early minutes as a heat check guy off the bench.
#60. Milwaukee Bucks - Hunter Tyson | Forward | Clemson
15.3 PTS | 9.6 REB | 1.5 AST | 0.9 STL | 0.1 BLK
47.9 FG% | 40.5 3P% | 83.8 FT%
Paige: With the last pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks select Hunter Tyson out of the University of Clemson. While Tyson is on the older side as he just turned 23 in June, he can check a lot of boxes for the Bucks with his size and shooting. Tyson shot 40.5 3PT% overall this season and was a knockdown guy particularly off spot-ups and off-the-dribble. The 6’8” senior forward developed a ton from his freshman season to now into growing into the player he is today. Shooters at his size with his mobility are extremely valued assets to have as a “stowaway piece” for a contending team in the league.