(B/R) — The 2022-23 NBA season is past its midway point, and the upcoming draft class continues to look strong with the top prospects maintaining high levels of play—not to mention new, intriguing prospects are starting to emerge.
A few international players have made waves overseas lately, giving NBA teams more exciting names to consider.Multiple NCAA prospects have also been added to board, including a freshman who’s starting to look like a first-round pick.
This mock draft order was based on the standings heading into Monday, January 16.
1. Houston Rockets: Victor Wembanyama (Metropolitans 92, PF/C, 2004)
After sinking his former team with a game-winning putback last week, Wembanyama followed up by making all three of his three-point attempts in another win Sunday. No college player has ever averaged over 1.5 threes and 3.0 blocks per game, and Wembanyama is doing it at 19 years old in a professional league.
Aside from his shooting and rim protection, it’s still his ball-handling, creation and shot-making versatility that separate Wembanyama from any other 7-footer the NBA has seen.
Winless since Dec. 26, the Houston Rockets can at least start to think or dream about the space and defense a Jabari Smith Jr.-Wembanyama pairing could provide. However, Houston may also have to consider the possibility of using a big frontcourt with Alperen Şengün, who’s making a serious sophomore jump.
2. Charlotte Hornets: Scoot Henderson (G League Ignite, PG, 2004)
It continues to look like Henderson will go No. 2 with a best-player-available case that even teams with established lead guards won’t turn down.
A few recent off games over the past week won’t change anything. Averaging 19.7 points and 6.0 assists per game with elite positional explosiveness and enough flashes of improved shooting, he’s already swayed scouts to lock in their All-Star point guard evaluations. Charlotte would ultimately have no problem using multiple playmakers and moving LaMelo Ball to more of a combo role.
3. Detroit Pistons: Amen Thompson (Overtime Elite, PG/SG, 2003)
Averaging 16.5 ppg and 5.7 apg on 63.9% shooting, Thompson still looks enticing at No. 3. There isn’t another obvious NBA pro who can match his combination of 6-foot-7 wing size, ball-handling, quickness for creation, playmaking skill and explosive finishing.Despite questions about Thompson’s shooting, teams will value his potential to generate easy offense with his signature athleticism/elusiveness and a knack for setting up teammates. Still, Thompson is coming off a game Monday in which he hit three three-pointers, so there is also some hope and plenty time for improvement.
4. San Antonio Spurs: Ausar Thompson (Overtime Elite, SG/SF, 2003)
A handful of general managers and executives were recently on hand for Thompson’s 25-point game earlier in the month. He’s coming off another noteworthy performance Monday, having made 3-of-5 three-pointers to help keep selling scouts on his shot-making development.
We’re seeing more translatable creation, dribble jumpers and shooting flashes this season, a big deal for a 6-foot-7, 19-year-old wing with unbeatable levels of speed, quickness and bounce. It’s not out of the question that certain teams wind up preferring him to Amen, given Ausar possesses a skill set that’s better suited for half-court scoring.
5. Orlando Magic: Nick Smith Jr. (Arkansas, PG/SG, Freshman)
Scouts sound frustrated by the Smith’s situation, which has him out indefinitely with a vague knee injury after only playing five games. Teams wouldn’t be surprised if they’ve seen the last of the freshman until the draft. History tells us that there will still be front offices willing to rely on high school scouting and the eye test from a small sample size at Arkansas, assuming no medical red flags appear. The Cleveland Cavaliers took Darius Garland at No. 5 in 2019 despite a meniscus injury that ended his season two weeks in.
A creative ball-handler and versatile shooter with an advanced floater/finishing package, playmaking ability and 6-foot-5 size, Smith may ultimately be the draft’s most well-rounded guard. Unless doctors reveal anything worrisome before June, he should be locked into the top-eight range, regardless of whether he suits up again.
6. Washington Wizards: Cam Whitmore (Villanova, SF, Freshman)
Just as questions started to pop up about Whitmore’s shooting, he’s now buried 10-of-20 threes over Villanova’s last four games. He went for 26 points in one against Xavier. His first step/move off the catch and his explosion as a cutter fuel translatable off-ball finishing, though it’s the glimpses of isolation pull-ups that hint at more enticing scoring potential. The knock on Whitmore right now focuses on his half-court creation for high-percentage looks and playmaking (10 assists in 12 games).
7. Toronto Raptors: Brandon Miller (Alabama, SF, Freshman)
Coming off a 31-point game against LSU, Miller is having the best three-point shooting season ever recorded for a freshman. None have finished a season at 45% on at least seven attempts per game, and that’s where Miller is now (56-of-121). That’s an incredible stat for a 6-foot-9 wing. He’s also been more efficient finishing inside the arc by picking the right spots and lanes to attack. Already 20, Miller is old for his class, and scouts do have some questions about his potential to create. But unless he hits a wall hard over the next few months, his positional tools, ridiculous shot-making accuracy and passing flashes will keep top-five teams interested.
8. New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers): Jarace Walker (Houston, PF, Freshman)
Walker combined for 44 points against SMU and Cincinnati, showing scouts untapped scoring potential tied to his shot-making, face-up game and touch. Getting teams to buy the self-creation and shooting flashes should result in top-10 interest, considering how easy it already is to picture his 6-foot-8, 240-pound frame translating to finishing/defense and his passing carrying over.
9. Orlando Magic (via Bulls): Keyonte George (Baylor, SG, Freshman)
With a 27-point game against Baylor and 32-point outburst versus West Virginia this month, George has showcased the type of self-creation, shot-making skill, shooting versatility and driving touch that’s easy to picture translating to on- and off-ball scoring. Though he hasn’t been super efficient finishing inside the arc, George has shown he can add value in other areas with playmaking and defensive toughness.
10. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jett Howard (Michigan, SG, Freshman)
Howard had the scouting world buzzing after a 34-point shot-making clinic against Iowa. It was his spot-up and movement shooting that generated attention early in the season. But he’s looking sharper creating and scoring off the dribble, while his secondary playmaking and passing just seem like bonus.11. Phoenix Suns: GG Jackson II (South Carolina, PF, Freshman)
Jackson has been up and down, mixing creation flashes, tough shot-making and exciting finishes with inefficient shooting and tough shot selection. For a late-lottery team assessing a 6-foot-9, brand-new 18-year-old, his production, ball-handling and dribble jumpers will still outweigh his inconsistency and shooting percentages (39.8% overall, 31.4% on 3-pointers).
12. Utah Jazz: Maxwell Lewis (Pepperdine, SG/SF, Sophomore)
Lewis has taken a big step forward with his creation and shot-making. It’s translated to 19.6 ppg, a 62.4 true shooting percentage and believable visions of an NBA three-level scoring wing.
13. Portland Trail Blazers: Gradey Dick (Kansas, SF, Freshman)
Lottery teams are going to see value and an easy fit in Dick’s 6-foot-8 size, his 48% on 3-pointers, shot-making versatility, sound decision-making and tough defense.
14. Atlanta Hawks: Noah Clowney (Alabama, PF, Freshman)
Clowney continues to gain steam and sell scouts on his shooting, off-ball scoring finishes, defensive versatility and rebounding. It all hints at a stretch 4 and an easy fit. Clowney is just 18 years old, though, so scouts don’t see a reason to pinpoint a ceiling or specific archetype.
15. Golden State Warriors: Cason Wallace (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)
Back spasms may be behind Wallace’s recent slump (six points over last three games), though there are some questions about his half-court creation. Regardless, there will be lottery teams that value his versatility and still see translatable shooting, passing IQ and defense.
16. Utah Jazz (via Timberwolves): Brice Sensabaugh (Ohio State, SG, Freshman)
Sensabaugh’s efficient production (16.9 ppg, 50.5% shooting), scoring instincts and shooting consistency (46.1% on 3-pointers) have gradually helped reduce worries over his unusual weight for a wing (235 pounds) or athletic limitations.
17. LA Clippers: Anthony Black (Arkansas, PG/SG, Freshman)
Despite Black’s ups and downs, there will still be plenty of interest in a 6-foot-7 playmaker and point-of-attack defender who’s a capable shooter and threatening off-ball finisher.
18. Indiana Pacers: Kel’el Ware (Oregon, C, Freshman)
Though Ware’s production wavers behind Oregon’s veteran bigs, during predraft workouts, he’s a good bet to reinforce the belief that he possesses more shooting skill and touch than he’s shown. Teams won’t nitpick at the stats of a soon-to-be 19-year-old stretch-5 rim protector.
19. New York Knicks (via Mavericks): Terquavion Smith (North Carolina State, PG/SG, Sophomore)
While Smith has made admirable strides with his playmaking, it’s the instant offense and shot-making firepower that will interest teams in the mid-to-late first round.
20. Miami Heat: Taylor Hendricks (UCF, PF, Freshman)
Taylor has emerged as a one-and-done three-and-D prospect, wowing scouts with his shooting, defensive playmaking and athletic finishes.
21. New York Knicks: Dariq Whitehead (Duke, SG/SF, Freshman)
Streaky shooting continues to affect the performance of a freshman wing who averages fewer than one free-throw attempt per game and struggles around the basket. He’ll still have lottery and first-round suitors who’ll remain patient due to his age (18), high school tape, defensive tools and advanced creation and shot-making flashes.
22. Sacramento Kings: Kris Murray (Iowa, PF, Junior)
Already with four 30-point games, Murray is making a similar to jump to the one Keegan made last season. Though most of his creation comes from the post, his off-ball scoring with spot-up and movement shooting, cutting and offensive rebounding are what teams can see translating.
23. Los Angeles Lakers (via Pelicans): Jordan Hawkins (UConn, SG, Sophomore)
Despite Connecticut’s recent struggles and Hawkins’ limitations off the dribble, teams could see value in him this late because of his plug-and-play shot-making. At 6-foot-5 with an easy stroke and high release, he’s already hit 49 threes in 17 games at a 39.2 percent clip.
24. Indiana Pacers (via Cavaliers): Rayan Rupert (New Zealand Breakers, SG/SF, 2004)
Rupert’s minutes have been limited since his return from injury in early January, but for a 6-foot-6, 18-year-old wing, his shot-making and defensive outlook remain easy to buy.
25. Houston Rockets (via Bucks): Jalen Hood-Schifino (Indiana, PG, Freshman)
Averaging 19.3 ppg and 5.0 apg in Indiana’s last six games, Hood-Schifino could be playing himself into the 2023 draft. Though turnover-prone, he’s showcased impressive passing IQ for a 6-foot-6 ball-handler, and he’s been effective and accurate getting into his pull-up and connecting from deep, having made 22-of-50 3-pointers and 45.5% of his 77 dribble jumpers.
26. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Kyle Filipowski (Duke, PF, Freshman)
A 7-footer with a 3-point stroke, the ability to attack closeouts and score out of the post, Filipowski will draw interest for his modernized skill set. Scouts just have some doubt over his real range and how well he’ll create and defend at the NBA level.
27. Utah Jazz (via Nets): Marcus Sasser (Houston, PG/SG, Senior)
A late-first-round team figures to picture a 2023-24 rotation player in Sasser, who could provide immediate offense with his shooting versatility and ability to create for himself.
28. Memphis Grizzlies: Colby Jones (Xavier, PG/SG, Junior)
Since 2015, only eight players averaged at least 14 ppg, 5 apg and 5 rpg on 40% from 3-point range, and five were lottery picks. Putting up those numbers, Jones has improved his shooting and playmaking to create versatility that’s going to draw first-round interest.29. Charlotte Hornets (via Nuggets): Leonard Miller (G League Ignite, SF, 2003)
To a rebuilding team, Miller could look like a project worth investing time into, given the rarity of a 6-foot-10 scoring wing and his potential to attack, use touch and hit rhythm threes.
30. Indiana Pacers (via Celtics): Tristan Vukčević (KK Partizan, PF/C, 2003)
Scoring double figures in three of his last four games, including a 25-point effort against KK Zadar, Vukčević has started to give scouts more glimpses of shooting and off-the-dribble scoring. For a 19-year-old 7-footer, his production, stroke (39.5% on 3-pointers), skill fluidity and mobility are becoming a draft storyline to start monitoring.
31. Indiana Pacers (via Rockets): DaRon Holmes II (Dayton, PF/C, Sophomore)
NBA teams will buy Holmes’ elite finishing and inside scoring, but he’s also up to 19.4 ppg, demonstrating more footwork and touch for half-court scoring.
32. Philadelphia 76ers (via Hornets): Ricky Council IV (Arkansas, SG/SF, Junior)
The combination of 6-foot-6 size, supreme athletic ability, creation skill and two-way playmaking should make it easier for scouts to look past Council’s inconsistent shooting.
33. Detroit Pistons: Jalen Wilson (Kansas, SF, Junior)
A shooting slump hasn’t stopped Wilson from scoring, a tribute to the effectiveness of his physical tools, driving, finishing and mid-range skill.
34. San Antonio Spurs: Keyontae Johnson (Kansas State, SF, Senior)
Johnson is back on NBA radars, producing and impressing with his shooting, post game, passing and off-ball scoring. One team will give a chance to a 6-foot-6, 230-pound forward with this level of versatility and commitment following a two-year layoff.
35. Orlando Magic: Bilal Coulibaly (Metropolitans 92, SF, 2004)
Playing for Metropolitans 92, Coulibaly is getting second-hand attention from NBA teams visiting to watch Victor Wembanyama. Coming off consecutive games of 21 points and 34 points in France’s U21 league, Coulibaly is emerging as an interesting upside pick at 18 years old with 6-foot-7 size, athletic slashing ability, shot-making potential and defensive tools.
36. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Wizards): Jordan Walsh (Arkansas, SF/PF, Freshman)
Walsh’s offense may be too far behind for first-round teams, but he’s still an intriguing pick in the 30s for his excellent defense at 6-foot-7, energy and toughness and driving and shooting potential out of spot-ups.
37. Toronto Raptors: Jaime Jaquez Jr. (UCLA, SF/PF, Senior)
Teams could value Jaquez’s floor over searching for upside. A 6-foot-7, 225 pounds, he’s physically and competitively equipped for the next level, while his two-way versatility helps make up for the lack of one signature skill.
38. Los Angeles Lakers: Sidy Cissoko (G League Ignite, SG/SF, 2004)
It’s still difficult to identify a skill NBA teams can bank on with Cissoko, though, for a 6-foot-8 18-year-old, enough flashes of passing, shot-making and defense still create enticing versatility.
39. Los Angeles Lakers (via Bulls): Coleman Hawkins (Illinois, PF, Junior)
Scouts will ignore Hawkins’ lack of scoring production and instead value his 1.3 threes per game, 3.3 assists and tools and mobility for defensive versatility.
40. Denver Nuggets (via Thunder): James Nnaji (Barcelona, C, 2004)
Nnaji will win a team over with his NBA physical profile and the likelihood it translates to easy baskets, rebounds and interior defense.
41. Phoenix Suns: Nikola Đurišić (Mega MIS, SF, 2004)
Just 6-of-38 from three, Đurišić is making it difficult for teams to confidently give a first-round grade. He’s looking more like a second-round option who’ll remain appealing as a 6-foot-8 wing with ball-handling, passing and shot-making skill.
42. Charlotte Hornets (via Jazz): Terrence Shannon Jr. (Illinois, SG/SF, Senior)
With 6-foot-6 size, slashing athleticism and defense representing Shannon’s foundational strengths, he’s improved enough as a shot-maker and passer to reenter the first-round discussion.
43. Boston Celtics (via Blazers): Jaylen Clark (UCLA, SF, Junior)
While the improved scoring production has helped UCLA, it’s the passing, defense and serviceable open shooting that will interest NBA teams.
44. Atlanta Hawks: Emoni Bates (Eastern Michigan, SF, Sophomore)
Teams will have questions for Bates during predraft interviews after he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor gun charge in October as part of a plea deal to dismiss two felony weapons charges against him. However, one team is bound to be enticed by the 19-year-old’s ability to create for himself, shoot off the dribble and drill 2.6 threes per game at 6-foot-10.
45. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Warriors): Judah Mintz (Syracuse, SG, Freshman)
Mintz will need to show scouts he has more shooting range, either the rest of the season or during predraft workouts, but he’ll earn looks for his production, creativity, playmaking, two-point shot-making and defensive energy.
46. Memphis Grizzlies (via Timberwolves): Brandin Podziemski (Santa Clara, Sophomore, SG)
With one of the year’s more out-of-nowhere breakouts, Podziemski is deserving of real attention now that he continues to produce into January. Some scouts may be skeptical over his athletic limitations and Santa Clara’s strength of schedule, but he’s showcased some high-level creativity, shot-making versatility and runner touch to average 18.7 points on 57.8 percent true shooting.
47. LA Clippers: Dillon Mitchell (Texas, PF, Freshman)
Extreme quickness and bounce for finishing and defense should keep interest alive in Mitchell, though it’s getting harder to detect any real upside in a 6-foot-8 forward who doesn’t handle or shoot.
48. Sacramento Kings (via Pacers): Reece Beekman (Virginia, PG, Junior)
With a draft case built around playmaking and pesky defense, Beekman has added another selling point to his resume by shooting 48.6 percent on his 37 three-point attempts.
49. Boston Celtics (via Mavericks): Dereck Lively II (Duke, C, Freshman)
Lively’s 7-foot-1 size and wingspan for finishing and shot-blocking will interest certain teams, but he hasn’t shown scouts anything that would differentiate himself from other one-dimensional centers.
50. Denver Nuggets (via Heat): Azuolas Tubelis (Arizona, PF/C, Junior)
With Tubelis starting to make 3-pointers (5-of-7 over his last six games), he’s beginning to look like a more believable NBA fit, though it’s still the rim running, post offense and offensive rebounding that will drive his value.
51. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Knicks): Arthur Kaluma (Creighton, SF, Sophomore)
Despite Kaluma showing just marginal improvement when scouts were expecting a breakout, some teams may be willing to stay patient and gamble on an athletic, 6-foot-7 wing’s shot-making development.
52. Sacramento Kings: Julian Strawther (Gonzaga, SF, Junior)
At 40.9% on 3-pointers, Strawther will have a chance to make a roster with his off-ball shooting and touch shots.
53. Atlanta Hawks (via Pelicans): Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana, PF/C, Senior)
Post scoring and pick-and-roll finishing will still represent Jackson-Davis’ calling cards, but obvious improvement to his passing could give him a valued differentiator skill.
54. Milwaukee Bucks (via Cavaliers): Adam Flagler (Baylor, PG/SG, Senior)
Averaging 5.3 assists to 1.7 turnovers, Flagler has also shot over 40% on 3-pointers in 13 out of 15 games. This late, it could be worth forgetting his limited tools and athleticism for his incredible efficiency and backcourt versatility.
55. Milwaukee Bucks: Andre Jackson Jr. (Connecticut, SF, Junior)
Though flawed without any realistic path to scoring upside, Jackson could look intriguing in the second round for his exciting athleticism, point-wing playmaking and defense.
56. Philadelphia 76ers: Forfeited
57. Brooklyn Nets: Kevin McCullar Jr. (Kansas, SG/SF, Senior)
Scouts admire McCullar’s passing and defense, though shooting remains an obvious swing skill, and he’s still a work in progress four years in.
58. Memphis Grizzlies: Eric Gaines (UAB, PG, Junior)
While it can be difficult to look past Gaines’ 165-pound frame, he’s one of the nation’s most explosive leapers, and he’s made considerable progress with his passing (4.6 spg) and shooting (22 of 54 on 3-pointers).
59. Chicago Bulls (via Nuggets): Forfeited
60. Boston Celtics: Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky, PF/C, Senior)
It’s going to take a specific team looking for immediate rebounding, activity and toughness to use a pick on Tshiebwe.
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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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