2023 NBA Draft Preview: Top Prospects & Mock Draft
Victor Wembanyama is projected as the consensus number-one pick in the 2023 NBA mock draft. The way he has played this season has not just landed him in the first spot, but he’s risen to one of the most unquestioned projected number-one picks ever. He’s on the level as generational prospects like Ewing, Shaq, Duncan, LeBron, and Anthony Davis were coming out. He is probably in the top tier with Shaq and LeBron.
|1||San Antonio Spurs||Victor Wembanyama||19.3|
|2||Charlotte Hornets||Brandon Miller||20.4|
|3||Portland Trailblazers||Cam Whitmore||18.8|
|4||Houston Rockets||Scoot Henderson||19.2|
|5||Detroit Pistons||Anthony Black||19.3|
|6||Orlando Magic||Taylor Hendricks||19.4|
|7||Indiana Pacers||Ausar Thompson||20.2|
|8||Washington Wizards||Jarace Walker||19.7|
|9||Utah Jazz||Amen Thompson||20.2|
|10||Dallas Mavericks||Gradey Dick||19.4|
|11||Orlando Magic||Cason Wallace||19.5|
|12||Oklahoma City Thunder||Nick Smith||19.0|
|13||Toronto Raptors||Keyonte George||19.5|
|14||New Orleans Pelicans||Kobe Bufkin||19.6|
|15||Atlanta Hawks||Jordan Hawkins||21.0|
|16||Utah Jazz||Leonard Miller||19.4|
|17||Miami Heat||Gregory “GG” Jackson II||18.4|
|18||Golden State Warriors||Dariq Whitehead||18.7|
|19||New York Knicks||Brice Sensabaugh||19.5|
|20||Houston Rockets||Rayan Rupert||18.8|
|21||Brooklyn Nets||Jett Howard||19.6|
|22||Indiana Pacers||Noah Clowney||19.0|
|23||Brooklyn Nets||Sidy Cissoko||19.1|
|24||Portland Trailblazers||Jalen Hood-Schifino||19.9|
|25||Memphis Grizzles||Kris Murray||22.7|
|26||Sacramento King||James Nnaji||18.7|
|27||Utah Jazz||Brandin Podziemski||20.2|
|28||Charlotte Hornets||Dereck Lively II||19.4|
|29||Los Angeles Clippers||Terquavion Smith||20.3|
|30||Indiana Pacers||Maxwell Lewis||20.8|
We’ve always had Victor Wembanyama #1 mainly on the defensive tools. I had some criticisms about the 3-point shooting coming into the season even while everyone was losing their minds over his shooting off 2 exhibitions. He’s not Dirk like some were talking him up as with his shooting. While I still believe those criticisms were fair (he has upped his shooting to 29% from three after being a 27% guy the rest of his career) it’s pretty much back to what it was. That said who cares. The outside shooting is decent enough, and it’s everything else he is doing is now at an elite level. He’s even making his free throws at a level (80% vs 66%) that you can now expect shooting improvements to eventually come. He doesn’t have a true shooting under .500% and a pedestrian 15 PER like last season anymore. He’s now putting on elite productions in a high level of basketball as you would expect for the amount all-time best-prospect hype he was getting off of 2 exhibitions game. It’s all deserved now, and he’s backing up the generational prospect, the best since LeBron talk, and that’s become far more believable now. He had a breakout season even as they top prospect which is hard to do. The San Antonio Spurs would be a good landing spot. The Houston Rockets also seem the most poised to try to get better this season talking about adding James Harden.
The numbers look great, and it’s mostly driven by shooting a high volume from three at a 40% rate for Alabama’s Brandon Miller. He is getting to the line a decent amount game. Watching the video of Brandon Miller I question his lateral quickness and ball handling, but he did shoot 41% on high volume (99 threes) in high school. He backed it up with 84% from the line too. The 3 point shooting I don’t question, he can be a nice shooter in the NBA. I just question what he is beyond all of that. Can he defend and get by players and facilitate well enough to play on the wing? Being an elite 3-point shooter might be enough by itself and will certainly have value. He also seems rugged enough rebounding that he might be able to play PF effectively when he gains weight if the ball handling and quickness aren’t totally there for the wing. The main problem no one acknowledges is he’s way older than most other freshman. He turned 20 on November 22nd. There is also the off court concerns as well and with the shot making versatility and playmaking ability. He’d fit on the Detroit Pistons and give them even more size on the perimeter.
Whitmore started the season off injured but has played 12 games so far averaging 13.1ppg, 5.0apg with a 21.3 PER and .572 true shooting. Getting a late start and starting behind that stands out as pretty solid. He didn’t have the benefit of playing many stat-padding early-season OOC games. He’s played only 2 non-P6 games so I respect that production. Really standard numbers12ppg, 5rpg, 20 PER, 35% three’s. Facilitating is the biggest question mark for me. Missing time hurt the NCAA tournament chances. The Indiana Pacers should have him high on their board for where they expect to draft.
Henderson likely has some built-in bias at this point as long as he has been ranked 2nd on draft boards. He just can’t hit three-pointers only shooting 27% after shooting 17% last years and that is a concern for G League Ignite. Unlike international or college this is an NBA three though and he is young. The free throw shooting career is solid enough at 75.5% it’s believable he can be a solid enough three-point shooter at some point eventually. I’m more skeptical on that personally that he will ever be an even average three point shooter when he’s starting at this level but his production for G League Ignite was pretty poor. He’s also apparently grown as he’s listed at 6-4 now but even that didn’t really help for G League Ignite. That at least is the quality size for a point guard in this NBA Draft but the lack of a jump shot is an issue. He would fit on the Orlando Magic in central florida.
Amen Thompson and twin brother Ausar Thompson are productive twin brother, in the raw stats you can find but the few shooting percentages out there are terrible. I believe you have to work under the assumption they can’t shoot, which has been the scouting report on them. I’ve seen 25% from three listed as their results from Overtime Elite. Overtime Elite doesn’t put the percentages on their offical Overtime Elite website despite having per 40 minute stats, they conveniently left the percentages off. That’s a redflag to me as wing. They are also both nearly 20 years old as well. NBA teams are looking at them much higher than we have them in the 2023 NBA mock draft reportedly. I could see them dropping though before the draft. I think the lack of shooting will be a problem for an NBA offense even as athletic as they are.
Wallace has been really efficient but he’s shooting and he is facilitating decent enough. The only real issue is he never gets to the free throw line. He’s already pretty productive by Kentucky standards, but as we’ve seen with many of their prospects you probably need to give them a bump. Their talent usually exceeds what they are doing at Kentucky. He has solid size for a combo guard as well. In today’s NBA I lean toward guards unless the bigs have insane potential.
Anthony Black faded as the season went on, but he’s still impressive and looks the part at 6-7. After watching the video Anthony Black has a great handle and is facilitating like a point guard at 6-7 and he’s just turned 19. The numbers for Anthony Black aren’t very impressive overall though.
He’s not destroying teams or playing that efficiently, and he was part of a bad South Carolina team last season. He’s still been better than I would have expected vs this older version of college basketball turned 18 during the season at South Carolina. He’s the youngest player in this draft, and he’s made the 3-pointer decent enough. I think he gets better over the rest of the season. Age is driving most of this, and you always take the younger player IMO when the rest is pretty equal. We have him mocked to the Los Angeles Lakers currently but I would expect him to be moved if was the pick draft night.
Nick Smith Jr
Nick Smith Jr is the mystery man after dealing with injuries and getting a late start. You would like to have seen more shot making in the time he played but he has physical tools for a point and defensive versatility. This isn’t the worst thing if you are a top rated prospect as he’s done nothing to discredit the preseason hype if there are reasons. He was decent enough with his reputation I believe remains intact mostly.
Whitehead is the consensus #1 player in this class in college basketball coming in. The one thing he has going for him is that he’s 18.5 years old. if he were 20 like Miller no way you even think of drafting him. His stint as the 8th best player on Duke durning is freshman season this year. That has certainly taken some of the shine off of his star but there is still potential. He does deserve some pass as he fractured his foot in August which had to set him back some I’m not sure he will go to the NBA draft combine but it might help him. Oklahoma City Thunder, would be a good spot after losing in the play in tournament.