2023 NBA Mock Draft: Pre-NBA Finals edition

Brandon Miller NBA Mock Draft
FILE – Alabama forward Brandon Miller (24) reaches for a rebound against Vanderbilt during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. Miller is among the top prospects in next month’s NBA draft. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt, File)

Last week, we released version two of our NBA Mock Draft following the  2023 NBA Draft Combine. This week, we’ll fire up version three before the NBA Finals kick-off and then 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

This has not changed and will not change. 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 – Brandon Miller, G/F Alabama

This pick is between Miller and Scoot Henderson, but in this version, the Hornets take Miller to give LaMelo Ball a scoring forward to pair with up-and-coming young center Mark Williams. Charlotte will have plenty of interesting options to trade away this pick, but drafting Miller for his explosiveness and defensive ability could be worth keeping the pick. 

3. Portland Trail Blazers –  Scoot Henderson, G G-League

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 – Cam Whitmore, F Villanova

Whitmore has seemingly solidified himself as the 5th pick and his potential to stretch the floor could be intriguing to Detroit. He is just 18 years old, has shown the ability to shoot in streaks, has the ball-handling to improve as a slasher as well, and has shown a willingness to defend. He could be a dynamic scorer and provides the lineup flexibility to allow the Pistons to play him across multiple spots and continue to build around their young core. 

6. Orlando Magic – Auser Thompson, G/F Overtime Elite

The Magic are in a pretty good spot and have a solid core to build around. However, they could use some offensive upside in the backcourt while Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner dominate the wings. Auser is a better shooter than his twin brother Amen and will also give Orlando instant transition offense and defensive versatility. He has plus athleticism and upside to grow as a scorer. 

7. Indiana Pacers – Jarace Walker, F Houston

The Pacers could look to move up in a deal with Portland, but this is a no-trades NBA Mock Draft so, if they stay here, they could snag Walker, who is a powerful player with great defensive versatility and length who could fit well next to guards like Tyrese Haliburton and Benedict Mathurin. He’s a tough matchup for anyone given his “tweener” mold, and his perimeter shot is getting better, so there is key upside here. 

8. Washington Wizards – Anthony Black, G Arkansas

Washington is in a position to add the most talented player, and that’s Black if you’re considering upside. Some see him as a point guard, but he can play more of a combo guard role with the size to guard wings, which is what Washington needs with players like Kyle Kuzma and Deni Avdija on the wings. While Black’s shooting remains a question mark, he has great handle and elite passing ability. He would fit in perfectly with Utah’s rebuilding roster. 

9. Utah Jazz  – Taylor Hendricks, F UCF

Hendricks 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 alongside Lauri Markannen, Walker Kessler, and Collin Sexton.   

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) – Cason Wallace, PG Kentucky

The Magic need a shooter to space the floor and can also use a true ballhandler to play alongside Auser Thompson in the backcourt. Wallace is an intriguing guard at 6’4″ who can shoot, sees the floor well, and brings the defensive pressure that the Magic seem to love. 

12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Keyonte George, SG Baylor

The Thunder have some talent on their roster, but George’s shot-making would work well for them next to playmakers like Josh Giddey and SGA. George is a pure scorer who could help Oklahoma City whether he immediately enters the starting lineup at shooting guard or just factors into the rotation. 

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. 

Jordan Hawkins NBA Mock Draft
FILE – Connecticut’s Jordan Hawkins (24) drives against Iona’s Daniss Jenkins (5) in the second half of a first-round college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament, Friday, March 17, 2023, in Albany, N.Y. Hawkins is among the top prospects in next month’s NBA draft. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

15. Atlanta Hawks – Kobe Bufkin, G/F Michigan

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, Bufkin is a well-rounded prospect and is the best scorer left on the board. Considering he measured at 6’8″ at the Combine, he has increased flexibility which makes him a good fit for the Hawks here in our NBA Mock Draft. given the inconsistency of the Lakers’ backcourt in their recent playoff loss, more scoring from those spots is what the doctor ordered. 

16. Utah Jazz (via Timberwolves) –  Jalen Hood-Schifino G, Indiana

After adding Taylor Hendricks on the wind with their first pick in our NBA Mock Draft, Utah gets another versatile player in Hood-Schifino who won 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.

17. Los Angeles Lakers – Jett Howard, G Michigan

What are the skills that work best with LeBron James? Shooting and defense. The Lakers need a player who can do those two things right now because they need to capitalize on the final years of James. Howard can score in many different ways and is a smart player with former NBA veteran Juwan Howard as his dad. 

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 – Dereck Lively, C Duke

The Warriors have taken a few swings in the past on adding frontcourt depth, but none have really worked out so far. 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 good team like Golden State takes. If he becomes even an average offensive player, he would be one of the most impactful picks in this draft.  

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 while 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) – Dariq Whitehead, G/F Duke

The Nets are rebuilding, and this is the perfect pick for a rebuilding team. Whitehead was an elite prospect coming out of high school but will be coming off foot surgery. If he was 100% healthy, he might be a top-10 pick. 

22. Brooklyn Nets – Rayan Rupert, G/F, New Zealand

Brooklyn is back again in our NBA Mock Draft and this time they swing for the fences with 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 elite instincts on the defensive end. If he grows into more of an offensive game, he could be a star.  

23. Portland Trail Blazers (via Knicks) –  Noah Clowney, F, Alabama

If Portland trades their earlier pick but keeps this one, they’d likely be looking for an NBA-ready player. However, if they make the earlier pick then they need to add forward depth here in our NBA Mock Draft. Clowney is 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.

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 defensive 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 – Bilal Coulibaly, SF, France

The Grizzlies roll the dice here on 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. 

26. Indiana Pacers (via Cavaliers) – Bobi Klintman PF/C – Wake Forest

Even though the Pacers took Jarace Walker in the first round, they can add Klintman here since the 6’10” forward can be more of a small ball center and has a different skillset to Walker. Klintman moves fluidly and has shown an ability to handle the ball well for his size, shoot from the floor beyond the arc, and pass well. We know the Pacers are high on him, so snagging the Swedish big man here makes sense. 

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) –  Colby Jones, G, Xavier

This is Indiana’s third first-round pick in our NBA Mock Draft, but it’s time for them to add some guard help. Jones is a 6’6″ plus defender whose scoring efficiency, passing, and decision-making would be an immediate fit in Indiana next to Haliburton and Mathurin.  

30. Los Angeles Clippers (via Bucks) – Brice Sensabaugh, G Ohio State

The Clippers seem to love competitive and tough players who work hard on defense. Sensabaugh is that guy and an NBA-ready shooter which is good value here at the end of the first round of our NBA Mock Draft. 

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