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The 2023 NBA Draft Tiers of Anarchy
Basketball fans love to throw out their own NBA Draft Tiers. Well for the 2023 NBA Draft, let me put my own twist on the concept.
I love NBA Draft fans.
Yes, you reading this message. I absolutely love you. Draft fans are the heart and soul of No Ceilings. All of you give us a reason to dig deep, especially when we are reaching the belly of the beast when it comes to the Draft cycle.
I’ve said it thousands of times on the No Ceilings Podcast with my co-host Tyler Metcalf…I respect everyone’s opinion in the draft space. Even if I don’t agree with a draft take, I’m usually obsessed with hearing why someone might be on the other side of the fence. Every difference is an opportunity for an investigation that can result in improvement for myself as an evaluator.
But there’s one thing in the draft community that I simply cannot get behind…I’m just not a tier guy. I respect everyone that puts their prospects into tiers for an upcoming NBA Draft class. While I’ve danced with the concept before, I’ve never found myself being able to fall in love with the idea.
So that got me thinking…
What if I could have some “fun” with this whole “tier” concept? What if instead of just numbering these tiers…I could try to put these prospects into some funky categories of my own?
And just like that…lightning struck.
I present to you all, my “Draft Tiers.”
Draft Tiers of Anarchy
You’re a Freak
Victor Wembanyama | Center | Metropolitans 92
The freaks of the industry. There’s plenty of excitement when it comes to these players stepping onto an NBA court in the future. The “Freak” tier is led by French-born prospect Victor Wembanyama. Listed at around 7’4”, Wembanyama has the tools to become a “generational” talent in the 2023 NBA Draft class.
Wembanyama is freakish on the court, gliding around the floor like a wing while possessing the defensive instincts to be a lethal shot-blocking big at the next level. There’s scary upside to his game, especially when it comes to his potential as a multi-level scoring threat.
Scoot Henderson | Guard | G League Ignite
Right behind Victor is G League Ignite floor general Scoot Henderson. Listed at around 6’3”, Henderson also possesses a rumored 6’9” wingspan. While plenty will try to say that “you can always find a point guard,” I’m going to say that’s a load of crap. Prospects like Henderson don’t come around. Scoot has the tools and mentality to be a franchise-altering piece at the next level. He’s going to have two years of NBA-like experience before being handed the keys to run an NBA organization.
Amen Thompson | Wing | Overtime Elite
The final name on this list is Overtime Elite wing Amen Thompson. While Amen will continue to have his share of doubters throughout the pre-draft process, there’s no denying the tools he has in his arsenal. Amen has a terrifying combination of power and explosiveness that is even more dangerous given his 6’7” frame. If an NBA organization has a plan in place to allow his playmaking ability to flourish, Amen could be a name that comes off the board early.
I Can’t Stop Loving You
Brandon Miller | Wing | Alabama
No matter how hard you try, you’ll find yourself falling in love with certain prospects in each draft class. That’s just where I have these prospects when it comes to this tier. Alabama freshman Brandon Miller was the best prospect in college basketball during the 2022-23 season. Miller has the tools at 6’9” to be a lethal weapon at the next level. While Miller was impressive with his outside shooting this year, there’s plenty of versatility offensively that was just flashed. He’s a gifted playmaker and showcased some midrange ability in the high school ranks. While Scoot and Wembanyama are viewed as franchise-altering talents, I believe that Miller possesses superstar upside in this class.
Cam Whitmore | Forward | Villanova
The second half of the season for Villanova freshman forward Cam Whitmore was fantastic. After a thumb injury in the preseason, Whitmore’s collegiate debut was delayed. Once the pieces started to come together, Whitmore’s upside as a legit weapon at the next level was evident. An absolute freight train in the open court, Whitmore has the power and explosiveness to dish out punishment around the basket. The outside shot is trending in the right direction, and he could be a name that continues to trend upward.
Anthony Black | Guard | Arkansas
Arkansas freshman Anthony Black is going to be a hot commodity in NBA circles. The idea of a 6’7” “connector” might be viewed as a negative, but it’s the exact opposite. Black will intrigue NBA front offices with his ability to connect a team and impact the game on both sides of the floor. He’s a gifted playmaker with defensive ability that isn’t praised enough.
Jett Howard | Wing | Michigan
The last name on here is Michigan Wolverines freshman Jett Howard. There have been plenty of people in the draft space who are seemingly “cooling” on the talented wing. Personally, I believe that Jett has the tools to present outstanding value at some point in the draft. He’s a gifted offensive threat with the versatility to be a dynamic asset on offense. The rebounding numbers will scare some, as they should, but Jett seems to have the tools to play at the next level for a long time.
Lunch Pail & Hard Hat
Most likely my absolute favorite tier when it comes to these chaotic rankings. While it’s always “sexy” to chase the offensive stars, sometimes you need to simply find the glue guys to take your team to the next level—the players that punch the time clock every night and are willing to do whatever it takes to help you win. You might not be drafting a player that is going to average 20 points per game, but you might get a piece that every rival organization is eventually trying to find for their own roster.
Jarace Walker | Forward | Houston
Houston Cougars forward Jarace Walker is going to be a hot commodity in Front Offices around the league. Walker is coming off an impressive 2022-23 NCAA season, and one in which I believe Walker only “teased” evaluators with his arsenal of weaponry. The NBA continues to hunt versatility more than ever. If a prospect has the potential to impact the game in different areas, especially on both sides of the ball, they are going to generate buzz. Jarace took strides with his outside shot this year and is one of the most versatile defenders in this class. While he showcased some legit playmaking ability this season, his high school tape will prove that there’s even a scarier playmaker just waiting to be unleashed.
Cason Wallace | Guard | Kentucky
Cason Wallace has a chance to be one of the “safest” potential lottery picks in the 2023 NBA Draft. Wallace could become a classic “overthinking” prospect. He won’t be the sexiest of prospects, but Wallace could have a promising floor when it comes to his role at the next level. He’s a versatile floor general who is an absolute demon on the defensive side of the ball with great instincts and violent hands. Some team should be wise enough to jump all over the potential of Wallace as a player who will carve out a role at the NBA level for a lengthy career.
Colby Jones | Guard | Xavier
It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with Xavier junior guard Colby Jones as a prospect. Coming into the year, Jones needed to unlock his three-point shot to cement himself as a legit talent for scouts and evaluators. That’s just what Jones did. Listed at 6’6” and 205 pounds, Jones is going to draw plenty of comparisons to versatile New York Knicks wing Josh Hart. While I love the idea, I do believe that Colby has a lot more offensively to his game. Jones just knows how to play the game and projects to be a winning player at the next level. It wouldn’t shock me if he has PLENTY of fans in front offices.
Marcus Sasser | Guard | Houston
If I needed a floor general to go to war with in this NBA Draft class, it’d be hard not to look right at Houston Cougars guard Marcus Sasser. After suffering a season-ending injury in his junior season, Sasser started to buzz during the 2022 NBA Draft combine. That’s when he announced he would return for his senior year. Sasser is just a gritty floor general who has some nastiness in his bag. He can get hot and become lethal from anywhere on the court. Teams looking for a “boost” in their backcourt should be all over the hard-nosed point guard.
Let Me Give You Buckets
Today’s NBA game is hunting offensive microwaves more than ever. The league has suddenly turned the difficulty level on Rookie for NBA2K and is putting up psychotic numbers. Because of this, there are a number of prospects in this class that could become targets by organizations when it comes to their ability to light it up from outside.
Keyonte George | Guard | Baylor
Throw the percentages out the door. I’m going with the old eye test on this one. Baylor Bears freshman Keyonte George was one of the hottest names in draft circles throughout the 2022-23 NCAA season until a rough stretch of games at the end of the year saw his stock cool down. It required me to go back and look at George’s full sample throughout the year. Here’s where I ended up. 1) George took MONSTROUS strides as a playmaker this year. 2) When Keyonte is cooking, he’s one of the most dangerous bucket-getters in this class. I’m still buying the shot-making and creativity that Keyonte has in his arsenal. For a league that is looking for offensive weapons, George is going to be one of the best in this class.
Brice Sensabaugh | Forward | Ohio State
Ohio State forward Brice Sensabaugh has generated plenty of buzz after an impressive freshman season as well. Listed at 6’6” and 235 pounds, Sensabaugh put up some eye-opening numbers throughout his one year with the Buckeyes. He finished with 16.3 points per game on shooting splits of 48.2/40.5/83.0 in just 24.5 minutes. Sensabaugh will become a bit of a “wildcard” to monitor throughout the pre-draft process. It wouldn’t shock me if some FO is in love, as he could be the offensive spark needed to finish putting the pieces of a puzzle together.
Terquavion Smith | Guard | NC State
I’ve been a bit surprised to see the lack of love when it comes to NC State sophomore Terquavion Smith. After an impressive freshman year, Terquavion was one of the most dominant players at the NBA Draft combine. That was followed by a shocking decision for Smith to return for his sophomore year. I loved it and loved the developments I saw in Smith’s game this year. While the shot selection would make J.R. Smith proud, Terquavion took huge strides as a playmaker this season. After averaging just 2.1 assists per game as a freshman, Smith finished the 2022-23 season with 4.1 assists per game.
The “Fit” Will Be Fascinating
This is where we start to have some fun. Fit is EVERYTHING when it comes to the NBA Draft. There are always going to be some players that seem to have the potential to fit with any system. With others, it might require some creativity when it comes to front offices. It doesn’t mean that these players aren’t going to find success at the NBA level. But landing with the right team could present an opportunity for a player to have some early confidence installed.
Jordan Hawkins | Guard | UConn
One of my favorite prospects throughout the 2023 NBA Draft cycle has been UConn Huskies sophomore Jordan Hawkins. One of the most dangerous movement shooters in this class, Hawkins has the potential to be a lethal weapon at the NBA level. I still believe that there’s much more to Hawkins’s game than just his ability to light defenses up from deep. The off-ball defense has me excited, and he’s shown some flashes of off-the-bounce creativity. But I’m curious as to where Hawkins ends up. Does a team allow him to run wild and come off screens as a rookie? Does he end up in an awesome situation where he can be an extremely fun wrinkle in an offense?
Gregory “GG” Jackson | Forward | South Carolina
South Carolina freshman Gregory “GG” Jackson is one of the most fascinating prospects in the 2023 NBA Draft. Jackson was originally set to be heading to North Carolina for the 2023-24 season before reclassifying and joining South Carolina for the 2022-23 season. To translate all of that, GG basically played an entire collegiate season at the age of 17 years old. In terms of talent alone, GG is a Top 10 pick. But there’s going to be plenty of questions about his fit at the next level. Jackson is incredibly gifted when it comes to his offensive upside. If he can land with a franchise that will stress patience with his development, there’s an opportunity for an organization to strike gold.
Leonard Miller | Forward | G League Ignite
One of the most pleasant surprises of this year has been the development of Leonard Miller. After dipping his toe in the water for the 2022 NBA Draft, Miller made the decision to join the G League Ignite for the 2022-23 season. It was a brilliant move and one that continues to hammer home just how awesome the Ignite has been as a developmental tool. After seeing Miller in person at the beginning of the year against the Metropolitans 92, it was nice to see that the player he was at the end of the season was a completely different player. He went on to finish with averages of 16.9 points, 10.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 53.7% from the field. Some team is going to be convinced that Miller can be an asset in their rotation.
Awesome Tools, Can They Be Unlocked?
We all love to get intrigued with the “tools” that some prospects might tease us with. Once we get a taste for it, we want to get more. Some of these players might have the upside or potential to become serious talents at the NBA level. But it could come down to which NBA team has the vision to unlock Pandora’s Box.
Jalen Hood-Schifino | Guard | Indiana
Indiana Hoosiers freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino is a prospect I simply just can’t quit on. At 6’6”, Hood-Schifino has a sensational feel for the game that pairs beautifully with some serious playmaking upside. The outside shot will need to come along on a consistent basis, but I’m buying it happening. Once that does happen, some team will have a crafty combo guard with size who understands how to get to his spots.
Maxwell Lewis | Forward | Pepperdine
At one point this season, Pepperdine sophomore Maxwell Lewis was looking like a potential lottery pick. Lewis was on the warpath, putting up jaw-dropping numbers at an extremely efficient rate. That’s when the wall came, and Lewis saw his production level out. A late bloomer, Lewis has the offensive tools to be a serious developmental talent moving forward. There’s too much that impresses the eye on tape, something that continues to have me buying in for Lewis as a potential steal in the first round.
Bilal Coulibaly | Wing | Metropolitans 92
Finally, let’s finish this up with a pair of international talents. Metropolitans 92 wing Bilal Coulibaly has become a sizzling name in NBA Draft circles as of late. After producing impressive numbers with the junior team, Coulibaly spent time playing alongside Victor Wembanyama and the senior team this year. Coulibaly has plenty of tools that will find yourself checking the boxes. He’s going to be a developmental piece, but a team that will stress patience should have a heck of a talent to work with.
Rayan Rupert | Wing | NZ Breakers
French-born prospect Rayan Rupert spent the year with the New Zealand Breakers of the NBL this year. While Rupert’s statistics might scare some, he’s got plenty of fans in front offices. Rupert has the tools to become an absolute pest on the defensive side of the ball. The outside shot has taken serious strides forward compared to his play last summer in FIBA. There are plenty of tools. Finding the right team to unleash them will be key.
Don’t Overthink It
This part of draft season is a popular time for “overthinking” as I wrote about previously for No Ceilings. But these players are some that I’ve found myself stepping away from the film and saying “enough is enough.” I feel confident that these prospects are going to be assets at the next level. Instead of trying to magnify a weakness, I’m confident in what their NBA skills can be at the next level.
Ausar Thompson | Wing | Overtime Elite
While there’s been plenty of discussions surrounding the Thompson Twins, I continue to hang my hat on the upside of Ausar Thompson. Throughout the year with the Overtime Elite, Ausar showed plenty of flashes when it came to his versatility on both sides of the floor. His skillset projects to have a more “seamless” transition. Ausar looks like a player who is going to be a joy to play alongside. He’s a willing passer who understands where the ball should go, and he has the potential to be a terrifying asset on defense.
Taylor Hendricks | Forward | UCF
UCF Knights forward Taylor Hendricks was one of the most pleasant surprises in college basketball this year. Hendricks’s stock continues to boom, which has raised some doubters of his upside. Am I buying into Hendricks being a star at the next level? Not just yet. BUT I am buying into the idea of Hendricks being a star at his role. That’s a smart player with shot-blocking ability who can space the floor. Hendricks could go early, as teams will view him as a great connecting piece for their lineups.
Kobe Bufkin | Guard | Michigan
Michigan Wolverines sophomore Kobe Bufkin was one of the most impressive films I’ve gone through in this class. Bufkin gives me plenty of Mike Conley vibes with his composure on the court. He’s an intelligent offensive player who has some serious defensive upside as well. Although a sophomore, Bufkin won’t turn 20 until September, which should have NBA teams foaming at the mouth.
Gradey Dick | Wing | Kansas Jayhawks
I’ve gone back and forth throughout the year with Kansas Jayhawks wing Gradey Dick. But after plenty of “overthinking” with him, I finally got to a point of excitement when it comes to his projection. Gradey is going to be a sharpshooting asset who possesses a high basketball IQ and makes winning plays. Don’t overthink it, just hope your team adds that to their roster.
The “Improvement Truthers”
I have always promised to go to bat for the “upperclassmen.” Once again, it’s my time to shine…
Trayce Jackson-Davis | Center | Indiana
What else does Trayce Jackson-Davis need to do? The Indiana Hoosiers senior is coming off an incredible year. Plenty of evaluators wanted to see TJD install an outside shot this year. While that didn’t come around, another area of his game took a “holy crap” type of leap. His playmaking. TJD was an unstoppable force this year. He’s a gifted shot blocker with great timing and has nastiness around the basket. Just take him and enjoy the experience.
Julian Strawther | Wing | Gonzaga
I found myself in love with Gonzaga Bulldogs wing Julian Strawther as a prospect last year. This year, all he did was become a terrifying weapon from three-point range. Strawther is a competitor and one of the best rebounding wings in this class. He’s going to be a potential steal in the 2023 NBA Draft with his floor spacing upside and could become a huge get for a rotation.
Kris Murray | Forward | Iowa
There’s always one guy that seems to just be “in the shadows” throughout the draft cycle. That could be Iowa Hawkeyes junior forward Kris Murray. After his brother Keegan was selected #4 by the Sacramento Kings, Iowa turned the keys over to Kris. He went on to average 20.2 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Kris will have the potential to be a strong rotation boost for any team.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. | Wing | UCLA
Finally, we got to give some love to UCLA Bruins senior Jaime Jaquez Jr. There’s a chance that Jaquez could offer some sleeper appeal at some point in this draft. You know exactly what you’re going to get in the gritty wing. Jaquez isn’t afraid to battle in the trenches and is crafty in the midrange.
Loving The Grit
Just check the ball and let’s go to war. I don’t care what anyone says; these prospects are going to figure it out.
Mike Miles Jr. | Guard | TCU
I could have put TCU junior guard Mike Miles Jr. in about three different tiers. Miles is just an absolute gamer. He’s the definition of grit, and some NBA organization would be wise to add him to their backcourt. Miles is fearless when attacking the lane and has shown the ability to have craft off the dribble. If you need a game to sell yourself on Mike Miles, just go watch his 33-point performance on the road against Baylor.
Brandin Podziemski | Guard | Santa Clara
The more tape you watch of Santa Clara guard Brandin Podziemski, the more you find yourself convinced he’s going to be a steal. Podziemski transferred to Santa Clara from Illinois and had a sensational season for the Broncos. He’s a crafty combo guard who is slithery in traffic and can light it up from all over. Some team is going to be buying into his ability, and they might just find gold.
Julian Phillips | Forward | Tennessee
While the Tennessee Volunteers freshman is testing the waters, I’m still fascinated with the upside of Julian Phillips. The 6’8” freshman has the tools to be a heck of a piece when it comes to his development. He’s a competitive force on the defensive side of the ball, and if his offensive game can come around…buckle up.
The Game Wreckers
“As you know, madness is like gravity...all it takes is a little push.” These prospects simply do whatever they can to bring chaos to the opposition.
Jaylen Clark | Wing | UCLA
UCLA Bruins wing Jaylen Clark has the chance to be one of the most disruptive wings in this class. Clark is coming off a sensational season and has a shot to be a serious defensive asset at the next level. Clark averaged 13.0 points and 2.6 steals per game and has the versatility to intrigue NBA teams.
Kevin McCullar | Guard | Kansas
It seems like all Kansas Jayhawks guard Kevin McCullar does is make winning plays. While the outside shot will need to come around on a consistent level, McCullar makes an impact all over the place. Listed at 6’6”, McCullar has the tools to impact the game on both sides of the floor. He’s a competitor who isn’t afraid to hit the boards and possesses outstanding defensive potential.
Andre Jackson | Wing | UConn
Jordan Walsh | Wing | Arkansas
A pair of “testers” includes UConn Huskies Andre Jackson Jr. and Arkansas freshman Jordan Walsh. Jackson was sensational during UConn’s championship run, showcasing his ability to be an impactful force with his versatility on the court. Walsh will be one worth monitoring, as his defensive upside alone will have NBA teams intrigued.
Potential “BIG” Upside
The big man class for the 2023 NBA Draft is going to present some challenges. I know—let’s not consider Victor a center for this section, please. But while there might not be any superstar prospects in the middle, there’s some talent that can be a serious asset at the NBA level.
Dereck Lively II | Center | Duke
It was a sensational turnaround for Duke freshman Dereck Lively II after a slow start to the year. Lively is a gifted shot blocker who was awesome during the second half of the season for the Blue Devils. While Lively has work to do offensively still, his defensive potential is special. He’s going to be a desired commodity for teams looking for a big man who can become a potential anchor in the middle.
Adem Bona | Center | UCLA
Adem Bona is the name I continue to be the most fascinated by when it comes to the NBA Draft. Bona is another prospect who is testing, but I wouldn’t be surprised if teams want him to keep his name in. The motor is always running high, and Bona has the defensive potential to be a special talent at the next level. If you haven’t watched his film, please treat yourself to an enjoyable experience.
James Nnaji | Center | FC Barcelona
The International class has projected plenty of names that are getting some buzz in NBA circles. But one name that is still a favorite is Barcelona big man James Nnaji. Still just 18 years old, Nnaji spent the year playing for EuroLeague powerhouse FC Barcelona. Despite a lack of playing time, Nnaji flashed some SERIOUS potential, especially as a defensive asset. Don’t be shocked if he goes in the first round.
Is It Just A “Bad” Year?
The idea of a “one-and-done” is always a fun concept. But we’ve seen over the years that some highly-touted high school prospects can have a bit of a disappointing season. Despite that, there’s still optimism that the talent will rise to the top, but it will require an NBA organization to have faith in the previous stages of a prospect’s basketball career.
Dariq Whitehead | Forward | Duke
Coming into the year, Duke freshman Dariq Whitehead was viewed as a potential Top 5 selection for the 2023 NBA Draft. After a preseason injury to his foot, Whitehead’s collegiate debut was delayed. Whitehead had a roller-coaster of a freshman year as he tried to get himself back into game shape. But there were promising strides when it came to his outside shot. There’s fascinating talent, but he will become a name to monitor throughout the pre-draft process.
Nick Smith Jr. | Guard | Arkansas
Arkansas freshman guard Nick Smith Jr. had a similar story to Whitehead. Both were viewed as potential Top 5 picks coming into the year. Both dealt with numerous injuries throughout the season. When Smith was on the court, he showcased the potential to be an intriguing asset with a smooth shooting stroke from outside. But teams will have questions about his role at the next level. Are you drafting him to be a floor general or a combo guard who can space the floor?
Everybody loves a wildcard, so it felt perfect to end this one with some potential curveballs to watch out for in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Sidy Cissoko | Wing | G League Ignite
One of my personal biggest risers throughout the cycle has been G League Ignite wing Sidy Cissoko. After seeing Cissoko in person to start the year, I found myself intrigued by the upside. It felt immediately that the Ignite was going to be perfect for a talent like Cissoko. Throughout the year, you saw the confidence start to come alive. Cissoko has sensational playmaking ability and he can get NASTY when attacking the lane. The tools are legit, and he’s trending toward a potential first round selection.
Jalen Wilson | Forward | Kansas
Kansas Jayhawks senior forward Jalen Wilson was asked to carry the load offensively this year with Ochai Agbaji leaving for the NBA. Wilson took on the challenge and finished the year with averages of 20.1 points and 8.3 rebounds per game while shooting 43.0% from the field. The production is impressive, but can Wilson become an effective player with a limited role compared to the 2022-23 season?
Amari Bailey | Guard | UCLA
UCLA Bruins freshman Amari Bailey was viewed as a first round selection coming into the 2022-23 season. After a slow start, that idea started to fizzle. But that was until Bailey had a sensational second half of the season. In his last six games, Bailey averaged 17.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists per game while shooting 46.7% from three-point range. He’s become one name to circle when it comes to monitoring the buzz in the upcoming months.
Trey Alexander | Guard | Creighton
I’m fascinated to see what happens with Creighton sophomore guard Trey Alexander. Although “testing,” it seems as if Alexander would be the type of player to have some fans in FOs. Alexander is a crafty combo guard who put up some eye-opening numbers throughout the year. He finished with 13.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game with shooting splits of 44.7/41.0/82.4. If you find yourself looking for a “sleeper,” then Trey Alexander should be your guy.
There are plenty of other “tiers” I could have thrown in this piece, as well as other prospects who deserved some spotlight. For now, I hope you enjoyed my “Tiers of Anarchy.”
Who knows, maybe this will start to get me intrigued with the natural version of Draft Tiers…then again, maybe not.