Groupthink tends to be pervasive in mock drafts.
Quite fortuitously, that seems not to be the case yet when it comes to the 2023 NBA Draft. As of now, the consensus for this coming draft lasts for all of one pick.
That unpredictability is fun.
It’ll be helped along even more by the fact that so many teams currently hold multiple picks — the Jazz have three picks, as do the Pacers, while the Hornets, Blazers, Rockets, Magic, and Nets each have two, which will inevitably lead to more movement and additional permutations of possibilities.
June 22 may as well be an eternity away as it pertains to player evaluation, so this will evolve and presumably look significantly different in its final iteration then. But for now, here’s a start …
1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92 (France)
Duh. Whether he’s 7-foot-3, 7-4, or 7-5 (honestly I have seen all three listed heights across various sites), and regardless of how skinny he is, Wembanyama’s size and skills make him the most no-brainer pick in years.
2. Charlotte Hornets: Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite
Can he and LaMelo Ball play together and be complementary pieces without getting in one another’s way too much? I think so. Yes, it’s a wing-driven league now, but none of them are good enough to pass up Scoot.
3. Portland Trail Blazers: Brandon Miller, Alabama
The Blazers are making this pick available. Miller’s stock is low now due to a poor NCAA Tournament and a bad round of interviews … soon enough, everyone will be re-focused on his measurables and production.
4. Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite
The Rockets have been collecting talent, but without much of a direction. Thompson is said to have the playmaking chops to be the lead guard they’ve lacked. He also is the most explosive athlete in this draft.
5. Detroit Pistons: Cam Whitmore, Villanova
In Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, Detroit already has two ball-dominant players, so let’s get them a guy who’s a good athlete, positionally versatile, and who’s purely focused for now on getting the ball in the hoop.
6. Orlando Magic: Gradey Dick, Kansas
Seems high, right? Probably is. But a curveball’s gonna happen somewhere. Selecting Dick would enable Orlando to continue adding wings with size, while also addressing a glaring absence of outside shooting.
7. Indiana Pacers: Jarace Walker, Houston
The Pacers, frankly, need talent just about everywhere, and Walker’s well-rounded game would fit well next to Myles Turner. His 3 is developing but decent, and he’s a physical specimen who can rebound and pass, too.
8. Washington Wizards: Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite
Would they be better served upgrading at point guard? It’s a fair argument. But the other Thompson twin is perceived by some to have star potential as a playmaking wing, and the Wiz can’t pass that up.
9. Utah Jazz: Taylor Hendricks, Central Florida
I reeeeeeally considered Black here, as I do believe they intend to get bigger at guard and on the wings. But Danny Ainge said the team needed to address shooting and defense, and the UCF forward excels at both.
10. Dallas Mavericks: Anthony Black, Arkansas
I’m guessing the Mavs look to add vet help, but whoever selects Black is getting an extremely intelligent decision-maker who is tremendous defending at the point of attack. Shooting needs to be more consistent.
11. Orlando Magic: Cason Wallace, Kentucky
While the Magic got progress from Markelle Fultz and used a recent top-5 pick on Jalen Suggs, they’d be getting a different PG dimension from Wallace, who’s defense has been compared to … Jrue Holiday.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Leonard Miller, G League Ignite
Just feels like an OKC-type player. They love guys with great positional size, and the 6-10 Miller has that. He really excelled as the season went on, showing rebounding prowess and the ability to attack the rim.
13. Toronto Raptors: Nick Smith Jr., Arkansas
Both of Toronto’s starting guards are free agents, so adding a little insurance — in a guy with a 6-8 wingspan — couldn’t hurt. He mostly underwhelmed last year, but has shown playmaking and scoring skills in spurts.
14. New Orleans Pelicans: Jordan Hawkins, Connecticut
They could use a more natural PG than CJ McCollum, but last year’s lottery pick, Dyson Daniels, ought to fill that role. So, with a dearth of reliable shooting, they could add a guy who’s great at firing away on the move.
15. Atlanta Hawks: Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana
What might Quin Snyder be looking to add? Atlanta’s roster has two talented starting guards, but is pretty bereft of talent behind Trae and Dejounte. The Hoosiers combo guard could fill that void, and add defense.
16. Utah Jazz: Kobe Bufkin, Michigan
OK, so 6-4 doesn’t fulfill that “get bigger” mandate, but he does have a 6-8 wingspan and is a feisty on-ball defender. Offensively, the combo guard excels in the midrange and is much-improved as an outside shooter.
17. Los Angeles Lakers: Dariq Whitehead, Duke
During the Lakers’ surprising run through the playoffs, their inconsistent beyond-the-arc shooting has cost them often. Whitehead had/has injury issues, and struggled defensively, but he hit 42% of his 3s for Duke.
18. Miami Heat: Keyonte George, Baylor
He’s a bit polarizing because he was fairly inefficient and turnover-prone, but given how staid Miami seems to be offensively, injecting a bit of his brand of creativity and craftiness certainly couldn’t hurt.
19. Golden State Warriors: Dereck Lively II, Duke
If nothing else, the Warriors’ loss to the Lakers showed that they’re a bit lacking in the size department. Lively was pretty bad offensively, averaging just 5 ppg, but he’s also a 7-1 rim-runner who averaged 2.4 blocks.
20. Houston Rockets: Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State
They’re lacking depth on the wings and also some scoring punch — and Sensabaugh could address both. He doesn’t have great athleticism, but uses his body well to create just enough space. Also shot 40.5% from 3.
21. Brooklyn Nets: Jett Howard, Michigan
A once-presumed lottery pick, getting blown by guarding in space has knocked him down. But he’s a 6-8, high-IQ wing who shoots well on the move. He does at least try on defense, but technique and focus wane.
22. Brooklyn Nets: G.G. Jackson, South Carolina
Brooklyn has assembled a pretty versatile, positionless roster, and the 18-year-old would fit right in. Has some scoring prowess and does a lot of the little things, but shot selection and passing really need work.
23. Portland Trail Blazers: Noah Clowney, Alabama
Another 18-year-old, he’s 6-10 with a 7-3 wingspan, and has shown himself to be a good rebounder and a willing defender. Offensively? Just 28% from 3 on 4 attempts per game, but scouts say his form is workable.
24. Sacramento Kings: Bilal Coulibaly, Metropolitans 92 (France)
Wemby’s teammate also impressed, and can make an instant impact as a defensive wing with a 7-3 wingspan who brings grit, effort, and smarts. He must improve his handles, and demonstrate consistent deep shooting.
25. Memphis Grizzlies: Kris Murray, Iowa
OK, so there are two groupthink picks, as seemingly everyone has Murray joining his brother in Sacramento. I like his fit in Memphis, which tends to like proven, well-rounded prospects. He can fill the Dillon Brooks hole.
26. Indiana Pacers: Sidy Cissoko, G League Ignite
Indy could stand to improve its depth on the wings, and Cissoko would be an intriguing gamble. He’s a secondary scorer-type who’s better at slashing than shooting, but he’s proven a menace as a team defender.
27. Charlotte Hornets: Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA
Jordan’s Hornets tend to draft either outlier skillsets or highly productive college vets, and Jaquez certainly was the latter as a four-year glue guy for the Bruins. He’s a defensive tone-setter and secondary playmaker.
28. Utah Jazz: Rayan Rupert, New Zealand Breakers
A 6-6 wing with a 7-2 wingspan, the Frenchman has the skills and motor to be a lockdown defender on Day 1. He has good handles and court vision, but has been a streaky shooter and needs to better absorb contact.
29. Indiana Pacers: Colby Jones, Xavier
Another wing upgrade for the Pacers, Jones filled many roles as a connective player for his team, and has shown some ability as a passer and team defender. Is the 38% from 3 he shot last year an outlier, though?
30. Los Angeles Clippers: Maxwell Lewis, Pepperdine
Could well be a boom-or-bust prospect, as he dominated as a scorer during the first half of the season, then struggled with decision-making, efficiency, and turnovers as more attention came his way.