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2023 NBA Mock Draft: 2.0

We are now just one day away from the moment we've all been waiting for, the 2023 NBA Draft. With the draft cycle finally coming to a close, my friend and collaborator Trevor Everette and I are releasing our final mock draft.

In our previous mock we made the selections based on what WE would do with the pick, this time we leaned more into what we think the team's will actually do. While we came to an agreement for each pick, Trevor handled the writeups for the even numbered picks while I handled the odd.

First Round

1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama

There isn’t much to say here. Wembanyama has the highest defensive upside of any player in the draft due to his game-changing ability to protect the rim and disrupt passing lanes with his massive 8'0 wingspan and on the offensive end his skillset is unlike anything that's ever been seen from a player of his size.

The Spurs will add another generational big man to their already impressive lineage and Wembanyama walks into one of the better situations in the league from a development standpoint. This seems like a match made in heaven and hopefully, one that leads to Victor reaching his lofty ceiling.

Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

2. Charlotte Hornets: Scoot Henderson

The Hornets are positioned to take the second-best player in this draft and should absolutely do so. Unless there is a Godfather-type offer, I don’t see why you would take the risk when you can play LaMelo and Scoot together. LaMelo shot 40.4% from three-point range on 5.5 attempts per game. They are not close enough to contending to be stressing about fit. Take Scoot and figure it out later.

NBAE via Getty Images

3. Portland Trail Blazers: Brandon Miller

The Trail Blazers find themselves in a precarious position of sorts. Here they sit with the 3rd overall pick in the draft but they have a superstar player entering the twilight of his career who doesn’t exactly seem enamored with the idea of waiting on young talent to develop. And quite frankly, it's hard to blame him. Damian Lillard’s championship window is closing and he’s looking for as much help as possible in the short term which makes a trade involving this pick feasible at the very least. If Portland does keep the pick though I think Miller fills an immediate need for them on the wing and his off-ball shooting ability fits nicely alongside the more ball-dominant backcourt of Lillard and Anfernee Simons.

(Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports)

4. Houston: Amen Thompson

Despite Ime Udoka being hired as head coach and the possibility of acquiring James Harden in free agency, the Rockets need to acquire talent that has the potential to pop. Thompson’s ability as a playmaking ball handler combined with his elite athleticism would make him a great backcourt mate with Jalen Green. There are other prospects that may not be the best fit which is why I would be surprised if the Rockets went in a different direction.

Photo by Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

5. Detroit: Jarace Walker

There are a number of different realistic directions the Pistons could go with the #5 pick but I think their biggest need right now is a versatile wing defender and Walker fits that role to a T. At 6’7, 240 lbs, Walker figures to be a solid 2-4 defender at worst and has the potential to be one of the few, truly elite 1-5 defenders in the league.

Offensively, Walker is vastly underrated as a secondary creator and also showed some impressive vision from the high post. His outside shot isn’t by any means elite (34.8% on 2.8 attempts per game) but should continue to improve with time and is already enough of a threat that defenses have to at least respect it. He’s also an excellent athlete who would be very fun to watch in transition alongside Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey.

(Photo by Alex Slitz/Getty Images)

6. Orlando: Taylor Hendricks

Orlando is a place where they can be strategic with their draft selections. They have two sure-fire pieces of the future in Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. You may be thinking, why wouldn’t they take a top guard? I believe that they do not need to rush that decision or try to force anything because they have Jalen Suggs continuing to develop and Markelle Fultz coming off a good season. Hendricks will provide them with positional versatility in the frontcourt. With the combination of his strong offensive skillset and off-ball defense, he can slide right into the three, four, or even small ball five depending on the lineup. Orlando Magic fans, things are looking up.

7. Indiana: Cam Whitmore

With three picks in the first round and some interesting assets, the Pacers are definitely a candidate to move up a couple of spots if there is a player they are in love with. As things stand though, I think they would be pretty happy to have Whitmore fall into their lap at #7. Whitmore has tremendous upside as a straight-line wing scorer but his biggest weakness is his lack of ability to create for others which is pretty easily solved by learning from and playing alongside one of the elite creators in the game, Tyrese Haliburton. He hasn't necessarily shown elite defensive skills yet but has the frame and elite physical tools to be a very good point-of-attack defender in the NBA relatively early in his career.

8. Washington: Anthony Black

Based on the Bradley Beal deal, we are seeing new management in Washington FINALLY head off into the full rebuild sunset. A key piece to a functioning rebuild is finding your lead guard of the future. Black provides defensive versatility and a very high level of passing ability that can help him fit with many different moving pieces in the future as the Wizards start to build their roster of the future.

9. Utah: Cason Wallace

With the emergence of Lauri Markannen, Walker Kessler, and the play of Ochai Agbaji down the stretch the Jazz seem to have three future starters locked in but with the midseason trade of Mike Conley, there is still a major hole in the Utah backcourt. Cason Wallace would not only fit that need perfectly but also reminds me in a lot of ways of another defensive-minded, NBA-ready guard that Danny Ainge selected in the top 10 nearly a decade ago…Marcus Smart.

10. Dallas: Keyonte George

Finding a fit next to Luka is so important to help him play to the best of his ability. Keyonte came from a very strong program at Baylor that helped him grow his two-way ability. The Mavericks need someone who can be effective with or without the ball. He also provides shooting and defense that will slide right in and be impactful for Dallas.

John E. Moore III/Getty Images

11. Orlando (from Chicago): Ausar Thompson

Orlando, like Indiana, has multiple first-rounders to play with and this seems like another viable trading spot considering the Magic’s already robust collection of young talent, whether that be to add a veteran to the mix or to continue assembling future assets. If the Magic do keep the pick, however, adding a versatile playmaker and potentially elite defender like Ausar Thompson to the previously mentioned treasure trove of talent in Orlando would be quite a win.

12. Oklahoma City: Bilal Coulibaly

Who else other than Oklahoma City has the draft capital and patience to take a chance on an explosive, raw prospect who will turn 19 just barely a month after the draft? Bilal was showcased tremendously playing next to Victor Wembanyama on Metropolitans 92. The combination of speed and his relentless motor makes him a very strong threat in transition on offense and a defender waiting to blossom fully as he fills out his frame in the NBA.


13. Toronto: Kobe Bufkin

With Fred VanVleet headed for Free Agency and in all likelihood a team closer to contention, the Raptors should be looking for help in their backcourt and Bufkin would seem to fit right into the modus operandi of Raptors President Masai Ujiri, who loves stacking length and defensive versatility throughout the roster. At 6’4 with a wingspan just a shade over 6’7, Bufkin would give the Raptors a significant upgrade size-wise in their backcourt, and his lack of polish as a creator could be somewhat offset by Pascal Siakam and Scotty Barnes.

14. New Orleans: Jordan Hawkins

Assuming New Orleans doesn’t make a pivotal change to their roster by trading Zion or Brandon Ingram, they should bolster up with win-now guys. Hawkins showed at UConn that he can be very valuable as a shooter running sets and finding space off the ball. Hawkins also showed his ability as a cutter as well. He will not need the ball in his hands to be effective right away.

15. Atlanta: Dariq Whitehead

With Trae Young and Dejounte Murray cemented (for now) in the backcourt and the log jam of John Collins, Onyeka Okongwu, and Clint Capela no closer to being solved in the front court it just doesn’t really make sense for the Hawks to go any direction other than a wing with this pick. Considering they hit on a high risk-high reward, Duke wing with injury concerns in a very similar position last season, why not swing again on probably the highest upside player left in the draft? Whitehead is coming off of a foot injury that hobbled him for much of his lone season at Duke and robbed him of the explosiveness that made him the consensus #1 recruit in the 2022 class. Even if the explosiveness doesn’t return to 100% where it was preinjury, Whitehead has already shown an ability to adjust his game and should at the very least be a reliable spot-up shooting option.

16. Utah (from Minnesota): Gradey Dick

Utah has so much flexibility to pick and choose exactly how it sees fit in this draft because they could sit tight and pick at 16 or they could make a myriad of different trades. Assuming this pick is made, they should value Dick’s size and shooting ability to be a key piece for their future. He can play a few different positions as a team defender and will provide great spacing as the Jazz continue to build their young core.

17. Los Angeles Lakers: Jett Howard

I’m not sure there is a more ideal scenario for the Los Angeles Lakers than Jett Howard being available for them without having to move up. Howard’s scoring skillset is second to none in this class and his ability to both create for himself and play without the ball make him an ideal option for an L.A. team that badly needs a player who can both lead the bench unit and slot alongside their stars.

18. Miami: Jalen Hood-Schifino

Miami coming off of an NBA Finals berth is in a great place where they can try to draft versatile players that can help them continue to win now and in the future. Hood-Schifino provides size and strength as a jumbo ballhandler that would be a good fit with the Heat. He has a strong frame with long arms that can be a switchable defender. The window of opportunity with Jimmy and Bam is still open so having someone you can have to play right away in my opinion while also spending time developing in your organization is a win-win.

19. Golden State: Colby Jones

The Warriors pull another fast one on the rest of the NBA here and get a Swiss-army knife replacement for GP3 and one who would bolster their chances at competing for a title immediately. At just under 6’5 with a 6’8 wingspan, Jones should be able to guard 1-3 reliably while also being able to play backup point-guard, three and D, or even as a more versatile connecting piece on the offensive end.

20. Houston (from LA Clippers): Leonard Miller

As the Rockers continue to obtain assets, they eventually will need to start producing some sort of result. Miller showed tremendous ability in his younger film from Fort Erie International Academy as a scorer. In the G League Ignite program, he was able to take the feedback from last year's combine and grow his game as a smart offensive player whos good in transition and a relentless rebounder. He displayed very good motor and combined with his ability the Rockets have a recipe for a successful role for Miller on their roster.

21. Brooklyn (from Phoenix): Nick Smith Jr.

Due to bad luck with their super team not panning out (or mismanagement), the Nets find themselves in asset collection mode. With that being said I don’t think fit is much of a consideration for them and they will be swinging on whomever they consider to be the highest upside prospect(s) available and Nick Smith Jr. is just that. Looked at as a sure-fire top 5 pick entering the NCAAB season, Smith struggled with injuries early in the year and much like Dariq Whitehead, never really seemed to regain his form. Still, though, the talent that originally had people looking at Smith as potentially the first college player selected in the 2023 class remains and Smith’s crafty big of touch finishes lends itself to life in the NBA.

photo credit: Arkansas Athletics

22. Brooklyn: Dereck Lively II

The Nets are in a precarious position with their draft pick future because of some of the deals they have made over the years. This pick of Dereck Lively II is going to bolster the already strong defensive frontcourt they are building with Mikal Bridges and Nic Claxton. I believe in Lively’s shot-blocking ability being NBA-ready almost immediately. If they can pair him with a good point guard, he will be a dangerous finisher around the rim on rolls to the rim and catching passes above the rim.

23. Portland (from New York): Noah Clowney

As previously mentioned, Portland could be looking to shop their picks for more immediate help and there is also a possibility they could be open to trading Damian Lillard and going into a full rebuild mode. No matter what their situation as a franchise ends up being, taking a chance on a long, athletic, rim protector with outside shooting upside doesn’t seem like the worst gamble in the world.

24. Sacramento: Kris Murray

If you have a chance to get a guy who is a fantastic fit for your team AND draft the twin of one of your better players last year, why wouldn't you? Kris provides a strong offensive game that can specifically be effective if he is catching and shooting. He can also develop into a respectable defender with his long wingspan and high basketball IQ. The Kings should make this pick without a doubt if Kris is on the board.

25. Memphis: Olivier-Maxence Prosper

The Grizzlies will be shopping for a replacement for Dillon Brooks this offseason and who better than OMP? Maxence Prosper is one of this draft’s most NBA-ready defenders and while his shooting isn’t exactly reliable yet (33.9% on 3.2 attempts per game) it improved significantly over the course of his college career (16.7% as a freshman) which you hope will carry over into the NBA.

Photo Credit: Marquette Athletics

26. Indiana (from Cleveland): James Nnaji

After having Myles Turner on the trade block for the better part of 4 years, his future regardless of the extension should be in question. James Nnaji provides ridiculous defensive intangibles and versatility. He in every sense of the description is a freak of nature. His measurables include 7’0 in shoes, a 7’7 wingspan, 251 pounds, and a 9’4 standing reach. Do you want to know the best part I didn’t even mention yet?

He is 18 years old on draft night.

27. Charlotte (from Denver via New York and Oklahoma City): Sidy Cissoko

The Hornets tend to favor highly productive college players or very raw but super toolsy projects. Cissoko is the latter but with the future of Miles Bridges in Charlotte still uncertain at this point, it would make a ton of sense for the Hornets to add an uber-athletic weapon for LaMelo to play with in transition. Cissoko might need some more seasoning in the G-League but the Hornets aren’t exactly in a position where they need to be rushing development.

28. Utah (from Philadelphia via Brooklyn): GG Jackson

Anything Danny Ainge does on draft night would not shock me. I fully believe if there is anyone who can sit here and swallow the risk that is taking GG Jackson and letting him develop with time, it's Ainge. The Jazz are more than capable of continuing to surprise people as they win more games than expected. Now imagine they did that with a prospect as versatile and as talented as GG. His unique blend of scoring, size, and versatility is second to none in this class. Let's not forget that he should be a high school senior right now but instead, he was playing Division One college basketball in a high major college at seventeen years old and giving guys BUCKETS. He will be a fun prospect to see blossom in Utah.

29. Indiana (from Boston): Max Lewis

The odds of Indiana making all three of these selections in the first round is honestly probably slim to none. With that being said if Maxwell Lewis were still on the board at #29 it may be a hard bargain to drive to get Indiana (or any team for that matter) to move off of the pick. Especially with the addition of Whitmore earlier in this very mock draft, Indiana isn’t really in a position of needing another wing but after adding some more size and potential with Nnanji at the 26th pick, the Pacers have some flexibility to draft for want rather than need in this position and Maxwell Lewis is exactly the type of crafty wing playmaker that every team in the modern NBA drools over. There are some questions about the level of competition he has played and how his production translates to winning but with the 29th pick you don’t have to consider those worries too much, you take a gamble on his uncanny scoring ability and move on.

30. LA Clippers (from Milwaukee via Houston): Brandin Podziemski

This pick would feel as simple as replacing Luke Kennard. However, I do think that is the type of player they are missing right now. The ability to be free moving off the ball and catch and shoot from three-point range is a vital role playing off of Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. Brandin Podziemski can carve out a role in the NBA and quicker than some might think.

Second Round

31. Detroit: Julian Philips

I’m of the mind that in the 2nd round unless you’re a contending team, you should always swing for the fences. Phillips would certainly be a homerun swing but if it connects could pan out beautifully for a Piston’s team that is quickly becoming talent-rich.

32. Indiana (from Houston): Jordan Walsh

When you have a guy like Tyrese Haliburton, why not bring in a super athletic, long-armed defensive prospect whose offensive game is still developing? Walsh will be put in a great place to focus on his development and not be asked to contribute right away. A rotation of Benedict Mathurin and Jordan Walsh will give opposing offenses headaches.

33. San Antonio: Rayan Rupert

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The San Antonio Spurs select a raw foreign prospect in the 2nd round. In all seriousness though this pick just makes too much sense from the standpoint of what R.C. Buford and the Spurs have typically done.

Credit: Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

34. Charlotte (from Charlotte via Philadelphia and Atlanta): Terquavion Smith

The Hornets are notorious for sending most of their rookies to Greensboro for a lot of their first year to develop. This would be a great environment for Terquavion to learn the speed and strength of the NBA game and then transition to the Hornets roster in the coming years to add scoring punch off the bench. Plus, how cool would it be to keep Smith in the state of North Carolina for all three levels of his career? He played high school in Greenville, NC, college in Raleigh, NC, and then potentially professionally in Charlotte or Greensboro, NC.

Photo Credit: NC State Athletics

35. Boston (from Portland via Atlanta, LA Clippers, Detroit, and Cleveland): Julian Strawther

The modern NBA is built around shooting. You can never have enough. And the Celtics relied on the three perhaps more than any other team in the league this season. With the potential losses of Grant WIlliams and Payton Pritchard this off-season the Celtics will need to acquire some more shooting for the end of the bench and Strawther is about as reliable as it gets.

36. Orlando: Jordan Miller

Jordan Miller showed us in Miami’s Final Four run that he can be a key piece to a winning team. What he provides as an unselfish, efficient athletic slasher would fit right in with the level passing guys on Orlando’s roster. I also think Miller will continue to develop into a shooter that will keep defenders honest furthermore strengthening his potential to carve out an impactful NBA career.

37. Denver Nuggets (OKC Trade) (from Washington via New Orleans): Jaime Jacquez Jr.

The Nuggets clearly traded for this pick with the hopes of adding another piece that can immediately contribute to their title defense. Jacquez fits perfectly into the unselfish culture in Denver and brings an impressively polished offensive skillset to the table. Although a tad bit slow-footed, he should be solid enough defensively to compete for minutes in the rotation.

38. Sacramento (from Indiana): Trayce Jackson-Davis

We saw in the first-round series last year that Sacramento lacked a backup big that could provide Sabonis some relief and help guard guys like Kevon Looney. Trayce Jackson-Davis was one of the best and most impactful big men in all of college basketball last year. From an offensive fit standpoint, he will have a huge opportunity to put his passing as a big man on display as he will be surrounded by talented shooters and cutters. Otherwise, he will be a good rebounder and defender right away to help the Kings win a playoff series.

Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

39. Charlotte (from Utah via New York): Jaylen Clark

If he wasn’t coming off of an Achilles injury, Jaylen Clark is a guy who would’ve been looked at as a potential late first-round pick by contending teams looking for a plug-and-play defender. Instead, he slides to the second round, and a team so desperate for point-of-attack defending that they can afford to wait on Clark’s recovery.

40. Denver (from Dallas via Oklahoma City): Hunter Tyson

There are two player types that fit well next to Nikola Jokic: slashers and shooters. Hunter Tyson showed this year at his size that he can be a dynamic stretch big at the next level. He injured his ankle at the Portsmouth Invitational but then quickly turned around and had an impressive NBA combine. He will be a great piece to play off the bench with Nikola Jokic and the defending champs.

41. Charlotte (from Oklahoma City via New York and Boston): Marcus Sasser

I mentioned earlier that the Hornets usually seem to like very accomplished, productive, college players and Marcus Sasser fits the bill. His hard-nosed play and underrated defense would bring a much-needed edge to this Hornets squad and the addition of Sasser could potentially make Terry Rozier expendable if he reaches his potential.

Photo Credit: Houston Athletics

42. Washington (from Chicago via Los Angeles Lakers and Washington): Tristan Vukcevic

As previously mentioned for Washington, the rebuild is happening finally. This is a pick that is going to be a bet on sheer talent and development in the future. Vukcevic showed off his impressive shooting ability from outside as a big and NBA teams will love to see that in the modern game. He will fit the timeline of the Wizards and can focus on his development.

43. Portland (from Atlanta): Ben Sheppard

Sheppard is exactly the type of NBA-ready rookie that we will all end up wondering how he fell to the middle of the second round. Sheppard is also a pick management in Portland can sell to Lillard as a win-now move.

44. San Antonio (from Toronto): Amari Bailey

I really think we could look back at this pick in a few years and be like, “Dang it, San Antonio did it again.” Bailey has proven to be a very good on-ball defender. With the right offensive discipline to help bring out his best on that side of the ball, he can be a scary player in the NBA. I believe the Spurs can do just that for Bailey.

Photo Credit: UCLA Athletics

45. Memphis (from Minnesota): Andre Jackson Jr.

The Grizzlies take another swing on a wing defender to help fill the “stopper” role and add a guy who could potentially take some of the playmaking burden off of Ja Morant in a Kyle Anderson-esque role.

46. Atlanta (from New Orleans): Seth Lundy

If you throw enough wings at the wall, one will eventually stick. Lundy showed NBA teams at the combine that he can shoot and be a respectable guard defender with his long arms. Regardless of the future of the team and its star players, you need to find quality role players for your roster and Lundy can be a seamless fit for the Hawks.

47. Los Angeles Lakers: Jalen Pickett

The Lakers don’t really have time to wait on a player developing with their championship window limited to however long LeBron James decides to continue playing. Pickett is as NBA-ready as anyone you can add at this point in the draft and reminds me a ton of Bruce Brown who would be a dream addition for the Lakers.

48. LA Clippers: Adama Sanogo

The Clippers are in a win-now window with their core assuming they are healthy. Sanogo is a guy who was the Most Outstanding Player of this year's NCAA Tournament for UConn. He knows how to impact the game in many ways to help a team win. He will provide rebounding, defense, and a relentless motor out of the gate. We saw flashes of some additional offensive abilities that hopefully he can use at the NBA level.

Credit: Associated Press

49. Cleveland (from Golden State via Utah and New Orleans): Kobe Brown

The Cavs desperately need a wing shooter off the bench and unless Brown’s junior season was an aberration (45.5% 3pt% on 3.9 attempts per game) he should slide into that role nicely.

50. Oklahoma City (from Miami via Boston, Memphis, and Dallas): Toumani Camara

The Thunder have an archetype that they love. They love the long, athletic, swiss army knife wing players that know how to handle the ball. Camara fits that mold to a tee. He will benefit greatly from the players around him on this young, talented roster. I have faith that he will make an impact in the league anywhere he might go, but specifically in Oklahoma City.

51. Brooklyn: Mouhamed Gueye

As I talked about with their first draft pick of the night, the Nets are in asset collection mode and can’t really afford to play it safe here. Gueye is about as raw as it gets and may not see an NBA floor for a couple of years but his size and fluidity isn’t something that can be taught. With some time and patience the Nets could be looking at a diamond in the rough here.

52. Phoenix: Jalen Wilson

As Phoenix has now taken on 4 players that will cost them a ridiculous amount of money, they are going to need guys that are cheap and can be impactful. Jalen Wilson as an offensive player can fit in as a connective piece in spot minutes for a winning team. He will not be asked to do too much but given his pedigree as an impactful offensive player and winner at Kansas, he will be prepared to be a professional.

53. Minnesota (from New York via Charlotte): Isaiah Wong

Wong is too productive of a player to go undrafted and could be a nice microwave scorer off the bench for the Wolves.

54. Sacramento: Sir’Jabari Rice

In this mock with previous picks, the Kings addressed two important needs in regard to fit. Sir’Jabari Rice as a selection makes sense for Sacramento as another high-IQ ballhandler that can shoot the ball. He had an impressive pre-draft process which included winning Most Valuable Player at the Portsmouth Invitational. The Kings would be getting great value from a guy like Rice this late in the draft.

55. Indiana (from Cleveland via Milwaukee and Detroit): Mike Miles Jr.

The Pacers have already added some younger, less experienced talent in this draft but now take the opportunity to add a veteran guard in Miles Jr. whose shooting ability should play nicely in the Indiana backcourt.

56. Memphis: Jalen Slawson

I believe that Jalen Slawson will absolutely be an NBA player in some capacity. Slawson provides exceptional defensive ability with an NBA body and showed this year some really translatable NBA offensive skills. Memphis will be getting a winner with this pick and teams ahead will regret it.

Photo Credit: Furman Athletics

— Chicago (from Denver via Cleveland; forfeited by Chicago)

— Philadelphia (forfeited)

57. Washington (from Boston via Charlotte): Ricky Council IV

The Zards have a hole at the 2 to fill after the departure of Brad Beal and while Council IV isn’t going to be able to replace that type of production, I do think he’s a guy capable of playing NBA minutes in year one and with Anthony Black already headed to Washington why not make it a Razorback party?

58. Milwaukee: Adam Flagler

Milwaukee loves guys with winning pedigree. Adam Flagler is a winning player coming from Baylor who provides skills that mold well next to Giannis. He is a very good defender for his size and can stretch his range out to three-point range. Does that sound like anyone on the Bucks? It sounds like Jrue Holiday and I think he will be a great mentor for Flagler to learn the NBA game from.


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