NBA Mock Draft 2023: Victor Wembanyama Leads Strong Lottery Crop

Victor Wembanyama, presumed No. 1 pick of the Spurs in the 2023 NBA draft.

Getty Victor Wembanyama, presumed No. 1 pick of the Spurs in the 2023 NBA draft.

Not only will the upcoming NBA draft lead off with one of the most consequential No. 1 picks in league history (Victor Wembanyama), but there are countless subplots that will be resolved in the coming days — potential trades of the Nos. 2 and 3 picks, blockbuster moves that could send stars like Zach LaVine, Zion Williamson or Damian Lillard elsewhere, and a slew of potential All-Stars behind Wemby.

And there is depth in this draft. We will look at picks beyond the lottery and second-rounders, too.

Mock Draft Picks 15-30 | NBA Mock Draft 2nd Rounders

So let’s get into how scouts and execs see these picks:

  1. Spurs. Victor Wembanyama, C, France. Perhaps the easiest no-brainer pick in the past 20 years of the NBA draft. Wembanyama will be the most significant incoming prospect of his generation, and the Spurs are expected to focus on building the right roster around him quickly. “If he stays healthy, he is a guy who will change the game,” one NBA executive said. “San Antonio got so, so lucky on this one.”
  2. Hornets. Scoot Henderson, PG, G-League. This is where the draft begins. The Hornets have been willing to trade out of this spot, with multiple teams seeking Henderson. But the asking price is steep—the Hornets want a win-now star. “Scoot would be the No. 1 pick in most drafts and he really should go No. 2 here,” the exec said. “But Charlotte has LaMelo (Ball) so that has things up in the air. If the Hornets take someone else, it is pretty sure that the Blazers will keep the No. 3 pick and go with Scoot and a rebuilding situation.”
  3. Trail Blazers. Brandon Miller, SF, Alabama. He is a talented combo forward who can shoot from anywhere on the floor and can post up shorter defenders. The Blazers have been offering this pick in a trade package for a star to put with Damian Lillard, but there is some question about how sincere they are in attempts to deal the pick. “When push comes to shove, the Blazers want to rebuild,” one NBA exec said. “Miller would be a nice place to start for them.”

Picks 4-10: The Thompson Twins Arrive

4. Rockets Amen Thompson, G, Overtime Elite (City Reapers). Athleticism (44-inch vertical leap), size (6-foot-7) and wingspan (7-foot) make him an intriguing prospect—not to mention creative and accurate passing as a playmaker. But it’s the 2023 NBA here, and there is some question about his shooting. “If you think you can fix his shot, he is a sure Top 5 pick,” one NBA scout said. “He has the talent to play the (point guard) spot in the NBA.”

5. Pistons. Cam Whitmore, SF, Villanova. An end-of-season slump sent his shooting numbers south (30.9% from the 3-point line in his final 11 games), but he has had impressive workouts and ranks as a potential Top 5 guy. “Very explosive but I think his upside as a shooter is what really separates him,” one NBA exec said.

6. Magic. Ausar Thompson, SG, Overtime Elite (City Reapers). He is not quite the point-guard prospect that his twin brother, Amen, is and that is why some have Ausar ranked slightly lower. But he has great potential as a defensive player and is a very athletic scorer and rebounder. Like Amen, shooting is a big question. “He might be a notch down from his brother, talent-wise, but he might be the better defensive player.”

7. Pacers. Jarace Walker, F, Houston. If there is a pleasant surprise about this draft, it’s the number of top-level prospects who are NBA-ready on the defensive end, so often a weakness for incoming young players. Walker is one of the better defenders in this group, a combo forward who switches easily. He shot 34.7% from the 3-point line, which many scouts took as a big plus. “He has only scratched the surface, he can be a very good 3-and-D player, and that is the floor of what he can be,” the NBA scout said. “He’s huge (6-foot-8, 240, pounds) and a little like a more offensively talented Paul Millsap.”

8. Wizards. Anthony Black, PG/SG, Arkansas. He has very good instincts for the game and is another top prospect with a solid defensive base. Can he be a reliable lead guard? Maybe, maybe not. But everyone can agree, like many of the other prospects in this class, he needs to prove himself as a shooter. “That’s what it comes down to for him,” one scout said. “Are you going to get better as a shooter, where you can play alongside another combo guard and still get your shot?”

9. Jazz. Gradey Dick, SG, Kansas. The Jazz have been the subject of considerable speculation with this pick, but the sensible pick here is probably the right one—Utah needs a reliable young shooter as it proceeds in its rebuild, and Dick is the purest shooter in the draft (40.3% from the 3-point line last season). He has shot up the boards in recent weeks, and could go as high as No. 6 to Orlando. “He impressed in the workout process, probably made sure he was a lottery pick. More than that, he showed enough athleticism where you could see him being a Top 10 guy, a little more versatile than just a shooter,” one scout said.

10. Mavericks. Dereck Lively, C, Duke. Keep an eye on the Mavs as a potential-trade-outta-this-spot team as they look to add depth to their depleted roster. Dick will be a potential pick here, as the team needs a floor-spreader to go with Luka Doncic. But defense and rebounding are priorities in Dallas, and Lively can offer both—and is more offensively versatile than he showed at Duke. “The one thing with him is, did he hold back some last year because he was bring a good system player, or is he just not aggressive enough, not forceful enough?” one scout said.

Picks 11-14: Upside on Display

11. Magic. Bilal Coulibaly, SF, France. Scouts are split on Coulibaly, but there is no doubt that some see him as a home-run swing with as much upside as anyone in the draft outside of Wembanyama. The Magic have two picks in the Top 11, and if they wind up still being in this spot on Thursday night (they could trade one pick, or both), then look for them to be willing to take a boom-or-bust risk. “He has the potential to be a dominating wing defender, that is where you start,” one executive said. “If you are a team that already has a bunch of young guys you are developing—Orlando, Indiana, Utah, OKC—then you have to think about bringing him in and seeing how he develops. He has a long way to go but he could be a steal.”

12. Thunder. Taylor Hendricks, PF, Central Florida. Hendricks makes sense as a versatile combo big man who can give the team some much-needed defensive fierceness and could be an imposing combo with a healthy Chet Holmgren. “He’s got really good defensive instincts, and he can contribute offensively,” one scout said. “He has a pretty solid shot and probably does not get enough credit for it.”

13. Raptors. Cason Wallace, G, Kentucky. Toronto could be in for an overhaul, and the Raptors are expected to be busy ahead of draft night as they seek trades. They probably will need backcourt help one way or the other, though, and Wallace is a very good defender who can follow in the combo-guard footsteps of Fred VanVleet. “He is a shutdown defender on point guards,” one scout said. “He has a lot of Jrue Holiday in him and he might develop along the lines of Jrue Holiday, where he becomes a really good offensive player in time, too.”

14. Pelicans. Kobe Bufkin, SG, Michigan. The Pelicans are rumored to be in trade talks to bring in point guard Scoot Henderson, and there have been rumblings they are considering flighty big man G.G. Jackson from South Carolina at this spot, which would be a lotto shocker. But Bufkin is a solid perimeter guy who could give the Pels a scoring boost off the bench. “He has gotten a lot better in a short amount of time and you would have to hope he keeps moving up like that, with his shooting and using his speed to get his shot,” one NBA exec said. “He’s a future Sixth Man of the Year in the right situation.”

Click for Mock Draft Picks 15-30

Click for Complete NBA Mock Draft 2nd Rounders