2023 NBA Mock Draft: Latest Projections After Scouting Combine

NBA Mock Draft
NBA Analysis Network

If you’re a fan of a rebuilding team, you’re probably ready for the NBA playoffs to end. After all, the draft is right around the corner. 

The anticipation is killing some people. Of course, it’s easy for others to handle. For example, the San Antonio Spurs already know who they’ll be selecting. 

Victor Wembanyama could be a game-breaker. On the other hand, there is plenty of intrigue around this year’s draft. The order of the lottery made for some interesting situations. 

Will the Hornets draft Scoot Henderson with LaMelo Ball on the roster? Is Portland going to trade their pick? Will the Rockets make their selection with James Harden’s return in mind? 

Here’s how we expect the draft to play out. 

No.1 – San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama

There is no intrigue here. Victor Wembanyama is the most anticipated NBA prospect since LeBron James. The Spurs will select him with the first overall pick. 

No. 2 – Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller 

In stark contrast, there’s plenty of speculation around this pick. Still, the latest noise suggests that the Hornets are leaning toward Miller over Scoot Henderson. With a superstar point guard on the roster, that’s a defensible decision. 

No. 3 – Portland Trail Blazers: Scoot Henderson 

Here, the Blazers are a stand-in for whoever they trade their pick to. Henderson won’t make it past three. With that said, if the Blazers wanted to just select him and trade Damian Lillard, that would make sense too. 

No. 4 – Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson 

Is Harden coming back? We don’t know, and we don’t care. Thompson is a quintessential boom-or-bust prospect, but the Rockets are in no position to pass on his upside. He may have the second-highest ceiling in this whole draft. 

No. 5 – Detroit Pistons: Cam Whitmore 

In some ways, the fun really starts there. There is no definitive fifth overall prospect. The Pistons could easily go with Ausar Thompson, but we’ve got them banking on Whitmore’s higher floor. His combination of strength, burst, and vertical make for obvious half-court creation abilities. 

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No. 6 – Orlando Magic: Ausar Thompson 

This one is a bit tricky. With Franz Wagner looking as promising as he has, Thompson may not be the right pick. The Magic also need shooting – they could justify selecting Gradey Dick. Here, we’ve got them in Best Player Available mode. 

No. 7 – Indiana Pacers: Jarace Walker 

The Pacers need a 4. This choice should boil down to one of Jarace Walker or Taylor Hendricks. We think Walker’s superior passing and face-up game give him a higher offensive ceiling. 

No. 8 – Washington Wizards: Anthony Black 

Should the Wizards draft for team need, or for upside? It doesn’t matter. Either way, they’re taking the 6’7 point guard with elite floor vision. 

No. 9 – Utah Jazz: Gradey Dick 

The Jazz are in an interesting position. This team was somewhat competitive this year when they were expected to tank. If they intend on continuing down that road, Dick is a great choice. This is the best shooter in the draft, and a day-one contributor. 

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No. 10 – Dallas Mavericks: Taylor Hendricks 

The Mavericks are another team who may shop their pick. On the other hand, Hendricks might be NBA-ready as a solid 3-and-D wing. If Dallas is open to keeping their pick, this is the choice. 

No. 11 – Orlando Magic: Keyonte George 

Will Orlando keep both of their lottery picks? They may want to consolidate. On the other hand, this team needs a guard who can create offense in the halfcourt and space the floor. George is the pick if they decide to satisfy those needs at 11. 

No. 12 – Oklahoma City Thunder: Cason Wallace 

On the one hand, the Thunder may have their backcourt of the future in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey. On the other hand, there are some redundancies between the two. Here, they’re taking the best point-of-attack defender in the draft in Wallace. 

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No. 13 – Toronto Raptors: Nick Smith Jr. 

The Raptors could get cute here and select Leonard Miller. He’s Canadian, and exactly the type of defensive wing they’ve sought in recent years. Here, we’ve got them finally conceding the need for shot-creating guards. Nick Smith fills a lot of holes for this team. 

No. 14 – New Orleans Pelicans: Jordan Hawkins 

Arguably, the Pelicans only landed in the lottery due to injuries. They’ll be looking to compete next season. Why not add a sharpshooter like Hawkins?

No. 15 – Atlanta Hawks: Dariq Whitehead 

Whitehead is a somewhat confusing prospect. He looked like a star in high school, but injuries limited his sole season at Duke. Here, the Hawks are putting more stock in early assessments of his game. 

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No. 16 – Utah Jazz: GG Jackson 

The Jazz already played it safe with their lottery pick. Why not swing for the fences here? There are real concerns about Jackson’s maturity and effort, but if he overcomes those issues, he could be a star. 

No. 17 – Los Angeles Lakers: Jett Howard

It’s hard to know what the Lakers will do this summer. Apparently, LeBron James might retire. If he doesn’t, they might as well go for an explosive athlete with shot-making potential like Howard. 

No. 18 – Miami Heat: Jalen Hood-Schifino 

The Heat have had a remarkable run in these NBA playoffs. With that said, Kyle Lowry’s age has shown at times. Here, they’re taking the best remaining point guard. Hood-Schifino has the body of a wing, but he passes like a seasoned NBA floor general. 

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No. 19 – Golden State Warriors: Kobe Bufkin 

Here, the Warriors are going for the best available prospect. Bufkin is a jack of all trades. He may not be a master of any, but his well-rounded skillset should suit this Warriors team. 

No. 20 – Houston Rockets: Dereck Lively III 

When the Rockets hired Ime Udoka, he mentioned the need to acquire a big man who contrasts Alperen Sengun’s skillset. Why not Lively? He’s very raw on the offensive end, but he may be the best defensive big in the draft. 

No. 21 – Brooklyn Nets: Bilal Couliably 

This is an upside grab for the Nets. Couilably may be raw, but Victor Wembanyama’s most famous teammate has an elite athletic profile that could portend shot creation at the next level.

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No. 22 – Brooklyn Nets: Brice Sensabaugh 

Frankly, Brooklyn is getting lucky here. We’ve got Sensabaugh dropping relative to other mocks. The Nets are picking up a three-level scorer with an NBA-ready body at 22. 

No. 23 – Portland Trail Blazers: Rayan Rupert 

We’re assuming that Portland will trade the third overall pick. With that in mind, they might as well gamble on upside at 23. In all likelihood, they’d be stashing Rupert on their new G-League team. This is a potentially elite defensive player with a 7’3 wingspan. 

No. 24 – Sacramento Kings: Kris Murray 

Are we mocking Murray to the Kings because they already employ his twin brother Keegan? A little. At the same time, every team could stand to double down on versatile, floor-spacing forwards. 

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No. 25 – Memphis Grizzlies: Noah Clowney 

When you get to this point in the draft, you’re not likely talking about day-one contributors. Clowney has the physical profile of a good defensive forward, but it may take some time for his three-ball to start dropping with regularity. 

No. 26 – Indiana Pacers: Leonard Miller 

Yes, we’ve got the Pacers taking two players who will play the 4. That’s fine. While Walker could be a day-one starter, Miller will need developmental time. Still, he’s a hyper-athletic forward with an impressive wing span. The Pacers are getting a player with a semblance of star potential at 26 here. 

No. 27 – Charlotte Hornets – Maxwell Lewis 

Lewis is a 6’7 wing with explosive leaping ability. He also wasn’t very productive at Pepperdine this season. Once again, we’ve got a team banking on upside. 

No. 28 – Utah Jazz: Colby Jones 

Jones is a big point guard who should be versatile on the defensive end. He’s also a solid playmaker. This is the safest prospect left on the board. 

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No. 29 – Indiana Pacers: Brandin Podziemski 

Yes, the Pacers have their point guard of the future in Tyrese Haliburton. This is the 29th pick. Here, we’ve got the Pacers looking at their backup point guard of the future in Podziemski. 

No. 30 – Los Angeles Clippers: Emoni Bates 

This is a reach. At one time, Bates was regarded as one of the best prospects in the world. Since that time, he’s fallen out of the first round in most mocks. As an organization in flux, the Clippers should gamble on any remaining upside he may have. 

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