2023 NBA Mock Draft: Post NBA Combine

Victor Wembanyama goes first in our NBA Mock Draft
Boulogne-Levallois’ Victor Wembanyama dunks during the Elite basketball match Boulogne-Levallois against Paris at the Palais de Sports Marcel Cerdan stadium in Levallois-Perret, outside Paris, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. Wembanyam is projected to be the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

The 2023 NBA Draft Combine finished last week and while few first-round picks competed in the scrimmage, there were a handful of borderline first-round players who improved their stock and snuck into the back half of this version. 

You can check out version 1 of our NBA Mock Draft here, and we’ll keep updating these every week until the NBA Draft on Thursday, June 22nd. 

Since this is a no-trades NBA Mock Draft, the Knicks will not pick below, but we can still walk you through how we think the first round will play out a month ahead of the draft. 

Victor Wembanyama goes first in our NBA Mock Draft
Boulogne-Levallois’ Victor Wembanyama drives to the basket during the Elite basketball match Boulogne-Levallois against Paris at the Palais de Sports Marcel Cerdan stadium in Levallois-Perret, outside Paris, Tuesday, May 16, 2023. Wembanyam is projected to be the first overall pick in the 2023 NBA draft. (AP Photo/Thibault Camus)

2023 NBA Mock Draft

1. San Antonio Spurs – Victor Vembanyama, C France

Nothing is changing here. This is the worst-kept secret in basketball. Teams were tanking for the 19-year-old Frenchman who is seen as the best prospect since LeBron James. He will go number one overall. 

2. Charlotte Hornets – Scoot Henderson, G G-League

The Hornets take Henderson to give LaMelo Ball a dynamic backcourt mate and another scoring guard to pair with up-and-coming young center Mark Williams. Charlotte will have plenty of interesting options to trade away this pick, but drafting Henderson for his explosiveness and slashing and putting him next to Ball’s passing and shot-making could be worth keeping the pick. 

3. Portland Trail Blazers – Brandon Miller, G/F Alabama

The Trail Blazers have a clear choice here: pick at number three or keep Damian Lillard. The veteran guard has said, “I want a chance to go for it. And if the route is to (draft youth), then that’s not my route.’’ If Portland wants to keep Lillard and give him his chance then they will trade this pick for a veteran. Would they be interested in Julius Randle and future first-round picks? 

4. Houston Rockets – Amen Thompson, G/F Overtime Elite

This is another pick that could be traded, but if Houston stays, they could use some help on the wing. Thompson is a natural facilitator from the wing and would become the highest-drafted player from Overtime’s alternative to NCAA basketball. He is not yet a great shooter, but if James Harden goes go back to Houston, Thompson can run the point and be an impact defender and allow Harden to play off the ball more. 

5. Detroit Pistons – Jarace Walker, F Houston

Walker’s potential to stretch the floor could be intriguing to Detroit. He is a powerful player with great defensive versatility and length who could fit well next to Jalen Duren but be able to space the floor for Jaden Ivey to keep slashing to the basket. 

6. Orlando Magic – Cam Whitmore, F Villanova

Whitmore has shown the ability to shoot in streaks and has the ball-handling to improve as a slasher as well. He could be a dynamic scorer and provides the lineup flexibility to allow the Magic to play him across multiple spots and continue to build around their young core. 

7. Indiana Pacers – Taylor Hendricks, F UCF

The Pacers could look to move up with Portland, but this is a no-trades NBA Mock Draft so, if they stay here, they could snag Hendricks, who is a combo forward with positional size who can be a solid 3-and-D wing. He also shows flashes of scoring versatility that could give him intriguing upside and make him a good fit next to guards like Tyrese Haliburton and Benedict Mathurin.

8. Washington Wizards – Auser Thompson, G/F Overtime Elite

Washington is in a position to add the most talented player, and that’s Thompson. The fact that he can also help them if Bradley Beal were to leave is even more of a benefit.  Auser is a better shooter than his twin brother Amen and will also give Washington instant transition offense and defensive versatility. He has plus athleticism and upside to grow as a scorer. 

9. Utah Jazz  – Anthony Black, G/F Arkansas

Some see him as a point guard, but he can play more of a combo guard role with the size to guard wings. While his shooting remains a question mark, Black has great handle and elite passing ability. He would fit in perfectly with Utah’s rebuilding roster.

10. Dallas Mavericks  – Gradey Dick, F Kansas

The pick that crushed Knicks fans. The Mavericks are highly unlikely to keep this pick as a team that is looking to win now with Luka Donic and – maybe – a re-signed Kyrie Irving. Could Dallas take a European star to develop and stash overseas? Or could they take somebody like Dick who can help right away with shooting?

11. Orlando Magic (via Bulls) – Keyonte George, SG Baylor

The Magic need a shooter to space the floor, so George’s shot-making would work well for them, whether he immediately enters the starting lineup at shooting guard or just factors into the rotation. 

12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Cason Wallace, PG Kentucky

Wallace is an intriguing guard at 6’4″ who can shoot, sees the floor well, and brings the defensive pressure that the Thunder seem to love. 

13. Toronto Raptors – Nick Smith, G Arkansas

The Raptors need a player who can guard opposing guards. Nick Smith is not as great a defender as Wallace, who Toronto would love to see fall here, but Smith has the size and athleticism to smother opposing guards and has the potential to be a great value here in our NBA Mock Draft.

14. New Orleans Pelicans – Jordan Hawkins, G/F UCONN

The Pelicans are another team that could trade this pick as they try to make a playoff push. Would they be interested in adding Obi Toppin? If New Orleans does stay here, expect them to add shooting. With Dick already off the board, Hawkins is the best shooter on the board. 

15. Atlanta Hawks – Jalen Hood-Schifino G, Indiana

The Hawks are another team that is feeling pressure to make a deeper playoff run and might be willing to deal this pick. If they stay, Hood-Schifino is a well-rounded prospect who won the Big Ten’s Rookie of the Year award and while he’s an inconsistent spot-up shooter, he showed solid ability to hit pull-up shots off of the dribble and make good passes.

16. Utah Jazz (via Timberwolves)- Jett Howard, G Michigan

After adding Anthony Black to the backcourt with their first pick, Utah gets another versatile player in the 6’8″ Howard who can score and shoot like a guard but can also defend wings. 

Jett Howard goes 16th in our NBA Mock Draft
Jett Howard at Michigan in 2023 (wikimedia commons)

17. Los Angeles Lakers – Kobe Bufkin, G Michigan

What are the skills that work best with LeBron James? Shooting and defense. Bufkin is the best scorer left on the board and given the inconsistency of the Lakers’ backcourt in their recent playoff loss, more scoring from those spots is what the doctor ordered. 

18. Miami Heat – Leonard Miller, F G-League

Despite their playoff success, the Heat were the 25th-best offense in the NBA this season because they have very few creators off the bounce. Miller can be that from the PF position, so he’s the pick in our NBA Mock Draft. He’s a terrific, fluid athlete and an elite finisher at the rim, making 67% of his shots on penetration.

19. Golden State Warriors – Dariq Whitehead, G/F Duke

The Warriors tend to like well-rounded prospects who contribute in multiple capacities and they don’t mind drafting young players who will take time to develop into their roles. That fits with Whitehead, who was an elite prospect coming out of high school but will be coming off foot surgery. 

20. Houston Rockets (via Clippers) – Kris Murray, F, Iowa

The Rockets added a young and talented guard in Auser Thompson with their first pick, but if they are bringing back Harden then they aren’t going to take two project players. Murray is NBA-ready and whil he’s not quite as good as his brother (Keegan), he will quickly enter the rotation as a three/four with the upside to be a starter based on his scoring prowess.

21. Brooklyn Nets (vis Suns) – Dereck Lively, C Duke

The Nets have Nic Claxton under contract for one more year, but can draft his replacement in Lively and not have to worry about pauing $10+ million a year for a defense-first center. Lively is an elite rim protector who averaged 2.5 blocks per game this season. He’s limited on offense, but this is the type of gamble a rebuilding team like Brooklyn takes because if he becomes even an average offensive player, he would be one of the most impactful picks in this draft. 

22. Brooklyn Nets – Bilal Coulibaly, SF, France

Brooklyn is back again in our NBA Mock Draft, and this time they swing for the fences with Victor Wembanyama’s teammate. Coulibaly has shown off when people came to see his teammate and projects as a potential NBA Defensive Player of the Year candidate who has explosive athleticism and has shown flashes of plus shot-making. 

23. Portland Trail Blazers (via Knicks) – Brice Sensabaugh, F Ohio State

If Portland trades their earlier pick but keeps this one, they’d likely be looking for an NBA-ready player. Sensabaugh makes, well, sense here in our NBA Mock Draft since he is an NBA-ready scoring wing whose shooting would fit well alongside Lillard.

24. Sacramento Kings – Max Lewis, G/F, Pepperdine

The Kings could use a little more shooting, so while Lewis has some work to do on the defense end, he goes to Sacramento in our NBA Mock Draft because he has the ability to knock down shots from deep and the size/wingspan to be a matchup issue on the wing.

25. Memphis Grizzlies – Colby Jones, G, Xavier

We’re certainly not the first people to say this, but the Grizzlies could replace Dillon Brooks with Jones since Jones is a 6’6″ plus defender whose scoring efficiency, passing, and decision-making would be an immediate fit in Memphis. 

26. Indiana Pacers (via Cavaliers) – Noah Clowney, F, Alabama

Clowney is an upside pick here. He’s 6’10” with a 7’3″ wingspan, plays defense at a really high level and rebounds, which makes him a good complement to an offensive-first forward like Hawkins. Clowney has good shooting mechanics while taking over four 3-point attempts per game, so if he starts hitting those shots consistently, the upside is great.

27. Charlotte Hornets (via Nuggets) – G.G. Jackson, F, South Carolina

We’ve reached the part of our NBA Mock Draft where talent meets red flags. Jackson has some questions about his maturity and effort and could flame out of the league. However, he was playing in college as a 17-year-old and has elite shot-making potential. 

28. Utah Jazz (via 76ers) –  James Nnaji, C, Barcelona

Utah has a competitive team and already made a first round selection, so they can swing for the fences here. Nnaji is 6’11” with a 7’5″ wingspan and is an impressive athlete around the rim. 

29. Indiana Pacers (via Celtics) – Rayan Rupert, F, New Zealand

This is Indiana’s third first-round pick in our NBA Mock Draft, so they’ll take a developmental prospect in Rupert who is a French teen playing on a New Zealand team in an Australian basketball league. Got that? He’s also 6’7″ with a 7’3″ wingspan and strong instincts on the defensive end. If he grows into more of an offensive game, he could be a star. 

30. Los Angeles Clippers (via Bucks) – Branden Podziemski G/F, Santa Clara

The Clippers seem to love competitive and tough players who work hard on defense. Podziemski was one of the biggest risers at the NBA Draft Combine and could certainly go higher than this. He showed good defensive versatility and a sweet stroke from behind the arc.

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