2023 NBA Draft on B/R

2023 NBA Mock Draft: Full 2-round predictions ahead of Christmas

B/R draft expert Jonathan Wasserman updates his mock draft following new developments.

Jarace Walker, Houston Cougars.

Editor’s Note: For More of Jonathan Wasserman’s coverage of the 2023 draft on Bleacher Report or to read this article on BleacherReport.com, click here.

(B/R) — New developments in the 2023 NBA draft discussion include more breakout freshmen, injuries and a few struggling prospects who are losing scouts’ support.

While most scouts believe the top two picks are obvious, there has been debate over who’s next. Arkansas’ Nick Smith Jr., Villanova’s Cam Whitmore, Baylor’s Keyonte George and Alabama’s Brandon Miller have entering the conversation with Overtime Elite’s Thompson brothers.

That still leaves a handful of prospects who look like strong late-lottery options.

There is some concern over the strength of the 2024 draft class, so there could be extra interest from teams looking to move up or add picks in 2023.

The mock draft order was created based on standings heading into December 20.

1. Detroit Pistons: Victor Wembanyama (Metropolitans 92, PF/C, 2004)

With Cade Cunningham lost for the season, the Pistons’ focus moves to Killian Hayes’ and Jaden Ivey’s on-ball development—and Wembanyama. Aside from giving the Pistons another potential (likely) All-Star, he’d also provide Detroit’s frontcourt with some needed inside-out offense.

The leading scorer, rebounder and shot-blocker in France’s top league, Wembanyama continues to churn out production off both outrageous wingspan-fueled plays and unprecedented creation and shot-making skill for a 7’4″ big.

2. Charlotte Hornets: Scoot Henderson (G League Ignite, PG, 2004)

With the league’s second-worst record, the Hornets should be focused on talent over fit in the draft. Scouts see a gap between Henderson and the next-best prospects, so Charlotte should ultimately envision a functional backcourt that includes LaMelo Ball’s signature passing and Henderson’s special explosiveness and pull-up game. The Ignite point guard has missed the last month with a broken nose, but word out of the G League Showcase in Las Vegas has him nearing a return.

3. Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson (Overtime Elite, PG/SG, 2003)

Henderson figures be a target for the Rockets, but they could also see Thompson as an exciting playmaker to pair with Jalen Green. The 6’7″ guard is averaging 5.9 assists for the City Reapers, using his incredibly quick dribble and burst to create advantages and his gravity and vision to set up teammates. While Thompson hasn’t needed a jumper to score with Overtime given his ability to penetrate, elevate for separation and finish in the lane, he did make two threes in his last game. Any signs of shooting potential could help scouts talk themselves into further improvement.

4. San Antonio Spurs: Nick Smith Jr. (Arkansas, PG/SG, Freshman)

While the Spurs should prioritize drafting the best player available, their need for a shot-creator and lead guard could give Smith an edge if there isn’t an obvious answer on the board. He’s struggled with his three-ball as of late, but the bigger sample size dating back to high school says Smith is a versatile shot-maker off pull-ups, spot-ups and runners. Despite lacking serious burst or strength, he makes things happen off the dribble with enough shiftiness, footwork and live-dribble vision.

5. Orlando Magic: Cam Whitmore (Villanova, SF, Freshman)

The Magic would draft Whitmore to impact games with his explosiveness and power while his half-court skills develop. Orlando and others will buy his tools, athleticism and aggression for transition offense, driving through contact, finishing and defensive playmaking. They’ll be willing to bet on the flashes of dribble moves and shot-making eventually turning into sharper, more consistent creation and shooting. So far, he’s a bit behind in those areas, starting 6-of-22 from three with two assists in four games.

6. Washington Wizards: Ausar Thompson (Overtime Elite, SG/SF, 2004)

Thompson’s athletic abilities are so unique and functional that NBA teams will show extra patience when it comes to his skill development. Even without a reliable perimeter game, he’s an easy bucket and high-impact defender thanks to his lightning quickness and leaping at 6’7″. This past month, he’s also started to show signs of improved shooting. Just enough of those from here on out should put him in the conversation in the Nos. 4-6 range.

7. Orlando Magic (via Bulls): Keyonte George (Baylor, SG, Freshman)

The eye test loves George, whose frame, handle and burst for attacking, self-creation moves and shooting confidence/range scream NBA scoring guard. The playmaking IQ he’s showcased just adds another layer of combo versatility and level of upside.

8. Toronto Raptors: Brandon Miller (Alabama, SF, Freshman)

Coming off a 36-point outburst with six threes against Gonzaga, Miller’s shot-making continues to impress and appears less fluky by the week. His combination of 6’9″ size, three-point shooting, passing flashes and defensive tools will make teams ignore his struggles finishing around the basket.

9. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jarace Walker (Houston, PF, Freshman)

Teams will look past Walker’s pedestrian per-game numbers. Instead, they’ll picture what proper development will do for a 6’8″, 240-pound forward who has the skill set to live-dribble pass and shoot along with the tools to smother multiple positions defensively.

Jett Howard, Michigan Wolverines.

10. New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers): Jett Howard (Michigan, SG/SF, Freshman)

Howard figures to be a popular late-lottery target. His 6’8″ size, consistent shooting, shot-making versatility, IQ and defensive tools create an easy fit and valued archetype. Still, occasional flashes of off-the-dribble scoring hint at another level of upside for Howard to reach.

11. Indiana Pacers: Cason Wallace (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)

While Wallace’s scoring has been down, lottery teams will be valuing his versatility and defense. An excellent shooter and smart passer who impacts games by pressuring the ball and forcing turnovers, he’s going to look like a fit with valued role-playing strengths for every team in the late-lottery range.

12. New York Knicks (via Mavericks): Gradey Dick (Kansas, SG/SF, Freshman)

After only five weeks, Dick looks capable of immediately providing an NBA rotation with shooting, floor spacing and ball-moving. He possesses a perfect storm of complementary scoring ingredients with 6’8″ size, elite shot-making, athletic finishing, sound decision-making and confidence.

13. Golden State Warriors: Anthony Black (Arkansas, PG/SG, Freshman)

We continue to see lottery teams fall for jumbo playmakers. The 6’7″ Black has popped as a primary facilitator and defender. While his game is predicated on mismatch positional tools and instincts for passing and blowing up plays on defense, he’s also surprised with how well he’s shot the three early.

14. Utah Jazz (via Timberwolves): GG Jackson II (South Carolina, PF, Freshman)

For a 6’9″ forward who just turned 18 years old last week, Jackson’s wing skills, perimeter self-creation and shooting versatility will look super enticing. His lack of passing and defensive upside hurts his perceived ceiling, but his shot-making, tools and energy should still create a high floor to fall back on.

15. Atlanta Hawks: Terquavion Smith (North Carolina State, PG/SG, Sophomore)

Smith has delivered on scouts’ request to improve his finishing and playmaking. But his NBA moneymaker will still be providing instant offense with shot-making and microwave scoring.

16. Utah Jazz: Dariq Whitehead (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)

Questions about Whitehead’s finishing, shooting consistency and shot selection have started pop up. But he also doesn’t turn 19 until next summer, and at 6’7″ and 220 pounds with downhill athleticism, strong shot-making skill off the dribble and the ability to separate into jumpers fairly easily, his enticing scoring and defensive potential remain intact.

17. Miami Heat: Kel’el Ware (Oregon, C, Freshman)

Instead of nitpicking Ware’s inconsistent production, scouts will put more stock into his flashes of skill that create a valued stretch 5/rim protector archetype. At 7’0″, he’s looked comfortable and confident shooting threes, while his size, length, mobility and IQ all point to a surefire pick-and-roll defender and shot-blocker.

18. Chicago Bulls (via Blazers): Kyle Filipowski (Duke, PF/C, Freshman)

Filipowski has been Duke’s best player early on. His three-point shooting, ball-handling to attack and body-controlled finishes will draw NBA interest.

19. Sacramento Kings: Maxwell Lewis (Pepperdine, SG/SF, Sophomore)

At 6’7″, Lewis has been the most efficient scoring wing in the draft discussion. He’s produced with a combination of self-creation into pull-ups, drives and post-ups and ultra-efficient spot-up shooting. Considering Pepperdine’s weaker strength of schedule, passing key tests against Gonzaga during conference play could help Lewis start to generate lottery buzz.

20. LA Clippers: Ricky Council IV (Arkansas, SF, Junior)

Council’s hot start is looking more real with every 20-point game. His combination of 6’6″ size and exciting athleticism has led to some wild finishing highlights, though he’s also demonstrated impressive ball-handling and burst to beat defenders and tough shot-making skill off his own creation.

21. New York Knicks: Noah Clowney (Alabama, PF, Freshman)

Recent three-point shooting, active rebounding and shot-blocking have propelled Clowney into the draft discussion. As long as his jumper doesn’t break down, there is bound to be interest in a 6’10” freshman who can stretch the floor, attack closeouts and make off-ball plays around the basket at both ends.

Tyrese Proctor, Duke Blue Devils.

22. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Brice Sensabaugh (Ohio State, SG, Freshman)

Though he isn’t a quick or bouncy athlete, Sensabaugh has been too productive to ignore. He boasts an interesting mix of positional strength, shooting and scoring instincts.

23. Los Angeles Lakers (via Pelicans): Tyrese Proctor (Duke, PG/SG, Freshman)

Proctor’s comfort level appears to be rising, as he’s starting to have more success converting off self-creation and threes. While his lack of burst does limit his scoring and playmaking upside, his 6’5″ size, ball-handling, shot-making potential and passing IQ hint at a fit to play on or off the all.

24. Phoenix Suns: Rayan Rupert (New Zealand Breakers, SG/SF, 2004)

A wrist injury has kept Rupert sidelined, but there are sure to be suitors interested in a 6’6″ shot-maker and a long wing defender.

25. Utah Jazz (via Nets): Taylor Hendricks (UCF, SF/PF, Freshman)

Henricks has emerged as a one-and-done prospect with consistent highlight finishes, three-point shooting and shot-blocking. Although he isn’t much of a threat to create or pass, his tools, two-way athletic abilities and shot-making could be enough to warrant first-round consideration.

26. Charlotte Hornets (via Nuggets): Dillon Mitchell (Texas, PF, Freshman)

For a 6’8″ forward, Mitchell’s quickness and bounce alone could be enough to warrant first-round interest from teams intrigued by the easy baskets and defensive playmaking he’ll offer.

27. Memphis Grizzlies: Kris Murray (Iowa, PF, Junior)

From an NBA scouting standpoint, improved shot-making has been the notable development behind Murray’s breakout. While questions remain about his potential to create in the NBA, there is translatability tied to his off-ball scoring skills with three-point shooting, cutting, drives past closeouts and offensive rebounding.

28. Indiana Pacers (via Cavaliers): Dereck Lively II (Duke, C, Freshman)

Though there won’t be a huge demand for non-shooting, non-creator centers, a team interested in adding more easy baskets and rim protection could target Lively. He’s blocking shots at an excellent rate (4.6 per 40 minutes).

29. Indiana Pacers (via Celtics): Jordan Walsh (Arkansas, SF/PF, Freshman)

With Trevon Brazile out for the season, Walsh has started to capitalize on extra on-ball reps and touches. With a valued archetype, he’s going to earn a lot of fans for the versatility tied to his 6’7″ size, projectable shooting stroke, passing IQ, high-level defense and toughness.

30. Houston Rockets (via Bucks): Marcus Sasser (Houston, PG, Senior)

Sasser could be an option for a playoff team looking for immediate second-unit firepower with his ball-screen play and shooting versatility.

31. Detroit Pistons: Trevon Brazile (Arkansas, PF/C, Sophomore)

A torn ACL ruined a breakout season for Brazile, but some team figures to see a buy-low opportunity on elite leaping ability and improving three-point shooting.

32. Philadelphia 76ers (via Hornets): Jordan Hawkins (Connecticut, SG, Sophomore)

Shooting his way into the draft discussion with a sweet stroke, Hawkins is burying 3.1 threes in just 24.7 minutes per game while possessing NBA tools and plus athleticism.

33. Boston Celtics (via Rockets): Jalen Wilson (Kansas, SF, Junior)

Improved shooting has turned Wilson into one of college basketball’s top scorers. It’s also made him a more believable NBA prospect, although he previously intrigued scouts with his 6’8″ wing size, physical driving, finishing package, rebounding nose and ability to separate/convert in the mid-range.

34. San Antonio Spurs: Coleman Hawkins (Illinois, PF, Junior)

Fit and versatility are selling points to Hawkins, who isn’t too threatening of a scorer. However, he checks a valued mix of boxes with his improved shooting, passing and switchable defense for a 6’10” forward.

35. Orlando Magic: Julian Strawther (Gonzaga, SF, Junior)

Though Strawther hasn’t developed into a more threatening creator, his shooting mechanics/rhythm and touch shots are going to make teams see an off-ball scoring fit.

Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA Bruins.

36. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Wizards): Sidy Cissoko (G League Ignite, SG/SF, 2004)

Cissoko intrigues scouts with his solid 6’8″ frame, passing and defensive versatility and improving shooting. Without a surefire skill to carry over or a standout athletic trait, he isn’t a first-round lock.

37. Los Angeles Lakers (via Bulls): Nikola Đurišić (Mega, SF, 2004)

While Đurišić has struggled badly from three this season, he’s delivered enough evidence of shooting potential for a 6’8″, high-feel 18-year-old who can work off the dribble and pass.

38. Denver Nuggets (via Thunder): Leonard Miller (G League Ignite, SF, 2004)

Flashes of open-floor ball-handling, touch, shot-making and passing from a 6’10”, 19-year-old will keep scouts patient. Leonard just may be too time-consuming of a project for teams to take on with a first-round pick.

39. Toronto Raptors: Colby Jones (Xavier, SG/SF, Junior)

More playmaking and improved three-point shooting have turned Jones into a legitimate Swiss army knife prospect.

40. Los Angeles Lakers: Terrence Shannon Jr. (Illinois, SF, Senior)

A new role at Illinois has helped Shannon, who’s taken advantage of a green light to sell scouts on more shot-making, especially off the dribble, to complement his tools and athleticism for slashing and defense.

41. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Warriors): Judah Mintz (Syracuse, SG, Freshman)

Though it may be difficult for some to get past Mintz’s 172-pound frame, he compensates with shiftiness to create, tough shot-making and energy for transition offensive and defensive playmaking.

42. Denver Nuggets (via Mavericks): Emoni Bates (Eastern Michigan, SF, Sophomore)

Despite questions about Bates’ athleticism and decision-making, teams may have trouble resisting his self-creation and shot-making for an instant-offense role.

43. Sacramento Kings (via Pacers): Jaime Jaquez Jr. (UCLA, SF, Senior)

A strong two-way game in a win over Kentucky last week highlighted Jaquez’s versatility to score through contact, pass and impact games with defensive toughness. An effective pull-up jumper and improved free-throw stroke suggests there is hope for his three-ball.

44. Charlotte Hornets (via Jazz): Amari Bailey (UCLA, PG/SG, Freshman)

Bailey’s pick-and-roll facilitating, live-dribble passing and pull-up shooting have stood out most, though questions about his self-creation and three-point range will keep him from climbing into the first-round mix.

Caleb Love, North Carolina.

45. Indiana Pacers (via Heat): Arthur Kaluma (Creighton, SF, Sophomore)

Kaluma’s inconsistency has created some hesitation from scouts, but teams should still be willing to spend a second-round pick on an athletic, 6’7″, 225-wing with three-point range and flashes of shot-making versatility.

46. Memphis Grizzles (via Timberwolves): Jaylen Clark (UCLA, SF, Junior)

Clark is starting to build an NBA role-player case around versatility, defense and palpable impact (leads NCAA in box plus-minus). The improved shooting almost feels like a bonus that could push him further up boards.

47. Atlanta Hawks: James Nnaji (Barcelona, C, 2004)

The draw to Nnaji focuses on his physical profile for the interior, though bonus offensive potential has lit up on some drives and counter finishes in Euroleague and ACB play.

48. Boston Celtics (via Blazers): Julian Phillips (Tennessee, SG/SF, Freshman)

Freshmen have struggled to build draft cases at Tennessee recently, and Phillips is the latest. It wouldn’t be shocking to see him leave early and test the waters, hoping to use the predraft process to better sell his combination of 6’8″ size and shot-making.

49. Sacramento Kings: Reece Beekman (Virginia, PG, Junior)

Teams could take a chance on Beekman carving out a two-way playmaker role with his passing IQ and pesky defense.

50. LA Clippers: Alex Fudge (Florida, SF/PF, Sophomore)

Fudge is starting to make threes on a regular basis, a significant development for a 6’9″ forward with serious quickness and bounce for finishing and defensive playmaking.

51. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Knicks): Caleb Love (North Carolina, PG/SG, Junior)

Love’s three-point shooting is coming back after a slow start, though his improved two-point efficiency and play-finishing is what makes him a more believable pro prospect.

52. Philadephia 76ers: Forfeited

53. Atlanta Hawks (via Pelicans): Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana, PF/C, Junior)

Teams intrigued by the idea of adding another half-court scoring threat could detect value in Jackson-Davis’ post game, pick-and-roll finishing and passing.

54. Brooklyn Nets: Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky, PF/C, Senior)

One team figures to see a value pick in Tshiebwe, who could provide physicality, rebounding and second-chance points in a specialist role.

55. Phoenix Suns: Adam Flagler (Baylor, PG/SG, Senior)

Outstanding scoring, shooting and playmaking efficiency should help Flagler convince second-round teams to ignore his physical and athletic limitations.

56. Chicago Bulls (via Nuggets): Forfeited

57. Memphis Grizzlies: Matthew Murrell (Ole Miss, SG, Junior)

One of the nation’s most productive off-screen scorers, Murrell should have a chance at the next level with his movement and spot-up shooting.

58. Milwaukee Bucks (via Cavaliers): Kevin McCullar Jr. (Kansas, SG/SF, Senior)

An interesting role-player prospect with passing and defensive instincts, McCullar has started to show enough shooting improvement for teams to start thinking about him in the second round.

59. Boston Celtics: Tyrese Hunter (Texas, PG, Sophomore)

Hunter possesses the type of finishing bounce to help compensate for his 6’0″ height. He’s made encouraging strides this season with his spot-up and pull-up shooting.

60. Milwaukee Bucks: DaRon Holmes II (Dayton, C, Sophomore)

Holmes hasn’t added any new skill, but his tools, athleticism and motor could still translate to easy baskets and shot-blocking in a finishing, rim-running defensive role.

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Jonathan Wasserman is the lead scout and NBA Draft analyst for Bleacher Report. You can follow him on Twitter.

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