It is officially time for the 2023 NBA Draft!
Thursday night, the lives of 58 young basketball players will forever be changed when they hear their names called and receive the hat for which NBA franchise they will be representing to begin their careers.
In what appears to be a very deep and talented draft, there are not many questions at the top of the draft board anymore, as the top three picks seem to be figured out. There are no doubts about Victor Wembanyama going first overall to the San Antonio Spurs. Right behind him, it continues to look increasingly likely that the Charlotte Hornets will be going with Brandon Miller over Scoot Henderson.
A decision that has come right down to the wire, the Miller vs. Henderson debate created various trade rumors over the last few weeks and a lot of uncertainty as to how this draft could play out. With Henderson expected to be available with the third overall pick, the Portland Trail Blazers do seem to be comfortable with the idea of selecting the young guard.
Thursday night will see plenty of trades and moves that will have a direct impact on how the Eastern and Western Conferences play out during the 2023-24 season. From moving up to moving down in the draft, we are in store for a very exciting event.
ClutchPoints NBA insider Brett Siegel has constructed his fifth and final NBA Mock Draft 5.0 filled with the latest intel, rumors and rumblings from executives, scouts and agents around the league.
1. San Antonio Spurs – C Victor Wembanyama – France (Metropolitans 92)
Despite receiving calls from a handful of different teams offering their best for the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, the San Antonio Spurs have only joked around with their rivals. Victor Wembanyama is heading to the Spurs and will be the third player in franchise history to be the top pick of the draft, joining the likes of David Robinson and Tim Duncan. If you ask me, Wembanyama is going to be just as good as these two legends, if not better!
2. Charlotte Hornets – SF/PF Brandon Miller – Alabama
After bringing in both Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson for a second round of workouts on Monday, the Hornets are widely expected to draft Miller in this spot, sources told ClutchPoints. This was the case several weeks ago at the NBA Draft Combine, and further evaluations and interviews have nearly confirmed this. Miller's scoring abilities and defensive potential is too much for Charlotte to pass up on here, especially given how well he will fit in with the Hornets. Mitch Kupchak and Michael Jordan will be making this selection for the Hornets, a pick that will finally get LaMelo Ball the scoring help on the wing he needs.
3. Portland Trail Blazers – PG Scoot Henderson – G League Ignite
While there is still always a chance Scoot Henderson goes second overall to Charlotte, the Portland Trail Blazers are prepared to take him with the third pick. It will be interesting to see how he fits alongside Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons in the backcourt. Could drafting Scoot possibly mean Simons will be on the move? This is certainly still a possibility this offseason, as the Blazers are looking to do everything they can to get back to the playoffs right now. Lillard trade rumors continue to swirl, but all indications point towards Lillard remaining in Portland as the team has no intentions of dealing him at this time. Henderson exhibits real All-Star qualities in his game, which is why the Blazers will not pass up on him.
4. Houston Rockets – PG/SG Amen Thompson – Overtime Elite
The Houston Rockets have interest in several players in this spot, but sources say Amen Thompson is the player they have been the most enamored with. Thompson had a very impressive workout with the Rockets, and Houston really likes the upside he presents given his athleticism and playmaking abilities. Alongside Jalen Green, the Rockets could create a dynamic and versatile pairing by selecting Thompson. It is worth noting that the Rockets have talked with several teams this week about trades involving both this pick and the No. 20 pick. At this point, though, it would be surprising to see Houston trade out of this spot.
5. Detroit Pistons – SG/SF Ausar Thompson – Overtime Elite
GM Troy Weaver and the Detroit Piston's front office have not made their intentions known for this draft, as they have several players listed on their draft board with this fifth pick. Jarace Walker and Cam Whitmore are two names connected to Detroit, but Ausar Thompson has emerged as the most intriguing player for the Pistons to add with the No. 5 pick. Like his brother Amen, Ausar is a high-level athlete who can really thrive in any role needed of him. Thompson is a strong defender and is really going to move the needle in Detroit by being a natural scorer out on the wing. The Pistons are looking to turn themselves into a threat with their young, versatile talents, and Thompson would be yet another great fit for them seeing as he can be a playmaker out on the wing. Playing alongside Cade Cunningham is the best situation for Ausar in this draft. There will be teams looking to trade up to this spot, but at this time, it seems more likely that the Pistons will hold onto their pick.
6. Orlando Magic – PG/SG Anthony Black – Arkansas
Over the last few days, a lot of attention has been cast on Anthony Black. There is a lot of belief amongst league circles that the Orlando Magic are high on his potential. The Magic are always very quiet with their draft plans, though, which is why this is a pick where the draft could get interesting. Between his abilities to make a difference defensively and being a complete floor general with the ball in his hands, Black could immediately take over Orlando’s backcourt and be the steady presence they need alongside Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero. The Magic are in a spot where they can truly feel the air on this pick since someone is bound to fall out of the top five. Could they go with Cam Whitmore instead as a more athletic option on the wing? Will they look to package both of their lottery picks to potentially move up and grab one of the Thompson twins? These are questions nobody has answers to, but if they want Black, the Magic will have to take him here, as he will not be available by the time they are on the clock again.
7. Indiana Pacers – PF Jarace Walker – Houston
It is very likely that either Taylor Hendricks or Jarace Walker will be the Indiana Pacers’ selection here, assuming both players are on the board. Walker is not expected to fall past the Pacers with this No. 7 pick, but Indiana is not marrying themselves to this selection. Teams looking to trade up into the lottery have been in contact with the Pacers, and the team is interested in hearing all offers that come their way. It is a known fact that Indiana is looking to add a versatile forward, hence why exploring trade talks for a more experienced option makes sense. With his size and stature, Walker has a chance to be exactly what the Pacers are wanting. Whether they go with Walker or Hendricks here, the Pacers will be adding a player who brings impact immediately at the power forward position. Indiana needs talent next to Myles Turner in the frontcourt, so Walker would certainly be an appealing option due to his length and defensive intensity.
8. Washington Wizards – SF/PF Cam Whitmore – Villanova
The Washington Wizards made headlines the day before this year’s draft, as they sent former All-Star Kristaps Porzingis to the Boston Celtics in a three-team deal that netted them Tyus Jones from the Memphis Grizzlies. The Wizards also added Jordan Poole from the Golden State Warriors in exchange for veteran Chris Paul. With Jones and Poole forming their backcourt of the future in Washington and the Wizards recently taking Johnny Davis in the first round of last year’s draft, selecting an athletic, versatile wing makes a lot of sense for this rebuilding team. While he has slid down some draft boards recently due to reports of some concerns in his workouts, Cam Whitmore is still a top-tier prospect in my mind. His versatility and value out on the wing is what the Wizards need and would make him a great addition for them given his two-way nature of play. Whitmore would be the dynamic player Washington is lacking thanks to his ability to run in transition and his promise as a capable three-point threat, . The Wizards need some athletes on their roster and will certainly have the chance to grab this kind of player in this spot. They also have interest in Anthony Black and Kobe Bufkin, but having numerous names in their backcourt now, Whitmore should stand out on Washington’s draft board.
9. Utah Jazz – PF Taylor Hendricks – UCF
Much like the Pacers, the Utah Jazz are exploring all of the trade options coming their way and are in a spot where they are looking for a high-impact forward. While they could go with a guard in this spot, it would be hard for the Jazz to pass up on the chance to draft Taylor Hendricks. A prospect many are sleeping on, Hendricks is a terrific defensive talent who would thrive next to Walker Kessler in Utah, suddenly creating one of the better defensive frontcourts in the league. Hendricks can make shots from the perimeter and is already a lob-threat when rolling to the rim. A modern-day power forward who can defend at a very high level and stretch his game out to the perimeter, Hendricks would be the best scenario for Utah on draft night, especially since he would allow All-Star Lauri Markkanen to play more out on the wing. The Jazz are expected to be busy during the draft, as they own three first-round picks this year. Moving up in this year's draft is certainly possible given the assets they own. If they have their eyes set on a higher ranked prospect, they could just go out and get him. Anthony Black, Kobe Bufkin and Jarace Walker have also been linked to the Jazz this past week leading up to the draft.
10. Dallas Mavericks – C Dereck Lively II – Duke
It would be very surprising if the Dallas Mavericks keep this pick on Thursday night. Dallas is looking to bring in experienced players who can influence winning right now, especially after they traded for Kyrie Irving at the trade deadline this past season and are expected to sign him to a new contract this summer. Any team looking to trade up will have several prospects on their radar such as Taylor Hendricks, Bilal Coulibaly and Dereck Lively II. In the crazy event that the Mavericks keep this pick, Lively stands out given this team’s need for frontcourt help. Truly one of the better talents in this year’s draft between what he can do as a shot blocker and versatile big man offensively, Lively has stood out during the pre-draft process in every workout he’s had. Proving to have an outside shot, Lively would be the big man the Mavericks have been searching for over the years. This pick is where the draft could begin to get very interesting and a domino effect could begin, especially if a team trades up to grab Lively or someone else.
11. Orlando Magic – SG Gradey Dick – Kansas
This is another spot teams looking to trade up in this year’s lottery are targeting, especially since the Magic own the No. 6 pick earlier. Having depth in their frontcourt and really needing to add a sharpshooter on the perimeter, Gradey Dick has stood out as a potential target for the Magic the last few weeks. Arguably the best shooter in this draft, Dick has a chance to really surprise many with his playmaking abilities and defensive instincts. As a player with a high understanding for where to be and move on the floor, the former Kansas Jayhawk will instantly open up Orlando’s offense.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder – SF Bilal Coulibaly – France (Metropolitans 92)
Two names to watch for the Oklahoma City Thunder in this spot are Bilal Coulibaly and Dereck Lively II, if he is to fall here. They could also potentially look at a two-way guard like Kobe Bufkin, but Coulibaly offers upside as a raw, dynamic wing who fits the mold of a player the Thunder like in the draft. Coulibaly has been one of the biggest risers in this draft class because of the potential he has on the defensive side of the floor. Still just 18 years old, Coulibaly is one of the youngest players in this draft class and has an enormous amount of potential to grow into an elite-level two-way wing because of his length and perimeter shooting abilities. He checks off all the boxes for being a key secondary talent in this league for many years to come, which is exactly what the Thunder are going to need next to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Chet Holmgren moving forward. The Thunder have interest in the French wing, and it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone if they take him in this spot ahead of other teams intrigued by his abilities.
13. Toronto Raptors – PG/SG Kobe Bufkin – Michigan
There is a growing belief across the league that Kobe Bufkin will be a lottery pick in this year’s draft. Discussions amongst league circles point to the scenario that the Toronto Raptors are not prepared to start fresh this offseason. The idea of running things back by keeping their core group together is still in the realm of possibilities, especially after Gary Trent Jr. opted into his deal with the team instead of becoming a free agent. Bufkin presents the Raptors with a sturdy secondary playmaker in their backcourt who can really get after it on both ends of the floor. With Fred VanVleet being one of the best free agents available, the Raptors must begin to put together a contingency plan should he depart this summer. Bufkin is no VanVleet, but he’s longer than the All-Star guard and would fit in perfectly as a guard who can make an impact off the ball. The Raptors are always a question mark in the draft, though, and they could shock everyone with a completely different selection like they have in past years. However, going with a guard makes the most sense for them here.
14. New Orleans Pelicans – SG Jalen Hood-Schifino – Indiana
The New Orleans Pelicans are going to be a team to watch during the draft. Trading Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram does not seem likely, and this team can compete with anyone else in the Western Conference when healthy. From trading up to trading down, all options are on the table for the Pelicans. I believe this is a spot where New Orleans could move down a few spots with a handful of interesting players on the board. Should they stay in this spot, adding a little more backcourt depth and shooting depth makes sense for the Pelicans, which makes Jalen Hood-Schifino an intriguing name for them to consider. Hood-Schifino has continued to rise up draft boards, with some scouts believing that the Indiana product has All-Star potential. He’s a bigger guard who is a very capable three-point shooter with length that makes him a potential defensive threat as well. He should be able to make an impact coming off the bench from his very first game in the NBA.
15. Atlanta Hawks – PG Cason Wallace – Kentucky
De’Andre Hunter, John Collins and Clint Capela have been players brought up in trade discussions surrounding the Atlanta Hawks leading up to the draft. Cutting some costs and getting some of their youth such as AJ Griffin and Jalen Johnson more playing time are two points of emphasis in Atlanta right now. If the Hawks make a deal with the Mavericks, an idea that has been floated by many, Cason Wallace may still be their target. Wallace is a strong defensive guard who has evolved as a playmaker and scorer out on the perimeter. He would fit in very well given the Hawks don’t have much backcourt depth and could become the team's starting point guard down the road if All-Star Trae Young was to ever ask out.
16. Utah Jazz – PG/SG Keyonte George – Baylor
There are several prospects the Jazz are targeting in this year’s draft, and Baylor’s Keyonte George is one of the guard prospects in this draft Utah has interest in, sources said. Rafael Barlowe has also reported on Utah having interest in George. A combo guard who can score in many different ways, George is also a very underrated rebounder for a guard. Outside of Jordan Clarkson and Collin Sexton, the Jazz do not have many viable guard options, which is why adding one with a first-round pick in this year’s draft makes sense. This pick could be in play, though, and it is no secret that the Jazz are looking to secure a second lottery pick behind their No. 9 overall selection.
17. Los Angeles Lakers – PF Noah Clowney – Alabama
There are several options the Los Angeles Lakers could go with here. Jordan Hawkins is a popular choice given the team’s need for three-point shooting, but Noah Clowney presents a lot of upside as a prospect with lottery talent. Still just 18 years old, Clowney is already a top-tier defender and could really be utilized in many different ways if his three-point shot comes around. Clowney has received interest from teams inside the top 20 of this year’s draft and is truly one of the wild cards on the board. Energy and rebounding are two things he could bring to the Lakers instantly, making him a great, youthful addition to have in their frontcourt alongside Anthony Davis. Los Angeles could go in many different directions with this pick, especially seeing as they are dangling it in some trade discussions revolving around Mo Bamba and Malik Beasley.
18. Miami Heat – PG/SG Nick Smith Jr. – Arkansas
With Bradley Beal now in Phoenix, the Miami Heat have turned their attention to Damian Lillard with no luck going their way in what would be a potential blockbuster trade. Once projected to be a lottery pick, Nick Smith Jr. is expected to fall out of the lottery and could realistically go anywhere in the first round. With a great feel for how to get to his spots and a high understanding for scoring, Smith has no problem initiating his team’s offense and can really open things up for the Heat on that end of the floor, especially with Gabe Vincent set to become a free agent. I would expect Miami to explore the possibility of trading down in this spot, making Smith a player teams could look to trade up for here amongst other names such as Jordan Hawkins and possibly Olivier-Maxence Prosper.
19. Golden State Warriors – SG Brandin Podziemski – Santa Clara
The Golden State Warriors made headlines hours before this year's draft, as they traded Jordan Poole to the Washington Wizards in exchange for 12-time All-Star Chris Paul. This franchise is looking to win as many titles as they can right now, which is why the Warriors will be targeting an older, more experienced player in this draft should they hold onto the No. 19 pick. Rising up draft boards as of late, Brandin Podziemski would be a really solid choice here for the Warriors given they now have an open spot in their backcourt. He’s a smart playmaker who can also play off the ball as a three-point shooting threat, something that would make him a valuable asset on Golden State's bench, and Podziemski really is a do-it-all type of player. He never gives up on any play, and the Santa Clara product can be a win-now option for the Warriors at the shooting guard position.
20. Houston Rockets – SG Jordan Hawkins – UConn
The Rockets will likely be moving on from this draft pick in order to gain more future draft capital. Jordan Hawkins is one of the best shooters in this draft class and is undoubtedly the best player available in this spot for any team looking to trade up. Whether it is in catch-and-shoot situations or coming off a screen, Hawkins will make an impact as a perimeter shooting threat right away during his rookie year. If he is available here, Hawkins could get consideration from the Rockets, but they are also looking at other options such as Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Noah Clowney, Brice Sensabaugh and other versatile forwards.
21. Brooklyn Nets – SF/PF Leonard Miller – G League Ignite
With his draft range being anywhere from 15-30, Leonard Miller is another wild card in this year’s draft. A lengthy athlete who has really shot the ball well throughout the pre-draft process, Miller could wind up being another steal in the early 20s of this year’s draft. As they dangle some of their wings on the trade block, the Brooklyn Nets will likely look to target a forward with one of their back-to-back picks in the 20s. An explosive and athletic wing who could be a high-impact defender, Miller would be a great, young player for the Nets to develop long-term.
22. Brooklyn Nets – SF Dariq Whitehead – Duke
Both of the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round picks are in play to be traded, as the team is exploring all of their options leading up to Thursday. With Cam Johnson being a restricted free agent, it would not hurt one bit for the Nets to add another wing to their roster, especially one with the scoring upside Dariq Whitehead has. Despite undergoing a second foot surgery that will keep him out leading up to training camp, Whitehead is an explosive scorer who left high school as a projected top-10 pick. A foot injury suffered at the start of his freshman year at Duke is why his stock has slipped a little bit, but do not sleep on Whitehead because he could end up being the steal of this draft. The Nets are going to be a sneaky team this offseason. They have a ton of draft picks, a young emerging star in Mikal Bridges and a culture surrounding their organization that expects to win. They could just be plotting their next big move at this moment.
23. Portland Trail Blazers – SF/PF Olivier-Maxence Prosper – Marquette
Olivier Maxence-Prosper has been gaining a ton of attention in the 20-30 range of this year’s draft. He is a lengthy forward who can really make a difference for his team defensively. Standing 6’7” with a 7’1” wingspan, O-Max would be a terrific fit for a Trail Blazers team that desperately needs to improve on defense. After already drafting Scoot Henderson earlier, Prosper gives the Blazers yet another young, athletic option to add to their rotations. Portland could really go anywhere with this pick, though, as adding an older player who can aid in winning right now makes sense, as does targeting some frontcourt help.
24. Sacramento Kings – SF/PF Kris Murray – Iowa
Kris Murray is projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to right here in this spot to the Sacramento Kings. If he is available, the Kings should have no problem selecting the twin brother of 2022-23 All-Rookie performer Keegan Murray. Kris is just a smart player who understands his role and can be a catch-and-shoot threat just like his brother out on the perimeter. While he is not the most athletic player, nor an elite-level scorer like others in this draft class, the Kings know what they would be getting with Murray and he would instantly improve their bench unit. There would be no better story in this year's draft than Kris reuniting with Keegan in Sacramento.
25. Boston Celtics – SG/SF Jaime Jaquez Jr. – UCLA
After trading away Marcus Smart to acquire Kristaps Porzingis from the Wizards, the Boston Celtics now find themselves in an intriguing spot late in the first round. While they could look to replace Smart in the backcourt with another ball-handling guard, Jaime Jaquez Jr. has really seen his draft stock rise over the last month and is a versatile talent Boston should be interested in. He can do a little bit of everything out on the floor, and teams have been impressed with his ability to hold his own out on the wing as a three-point shooter. Jaquez is a smart defender, he sees plays before they develop and he just has a high understanding for the game, which is what the Celtics need on their bench right now. Maybe other names like Brandin Podziemski or Olivier-Maxence Prosper move the needle for the Celtics in this spot, but Jaquez’s ability to fill many different needs screams Boston Celtics basketball.
26. Indiana Pacers – SG/SF Rayan Rupert – France (New Zealand Breakers)
Why Ryan Rupert’s stock has slipped slightly is unknown, but he is a young and dynamic wing who can instantly make an impact defensively for his team in the NBA. Whether or not he can develop into a capable three-point shooter and scorer is a whole separate conversation, but Rupert is still just 19 and will be a work in progress. At this point, the Pacers will have the ability to draft a guy they can devote time to in terms of developing, which is why this pick makes sense. The Pacers have already been active in trade discussion, as they traded their No. 29 pick and the No. 32 pick to the Denver Nuggets. They may not be done making moves just yet and could have their eye on a higher rated prospect.
27. Charlotte Hornets – SG/SF Jett Howard – Michigan
Jett Howard’s draft stock has been all over the place, so where he ends up at this point is simply a matter of opinion. A smart player who can positively impact his team’s offense with his shooting and playmaking abilities on the perimeter, Howard would be a key secondary option on the Hornets' bench. Charlotte just needs players who can help them win games and impactful talents that can continue to grow. While he has work to do defensively in terms of his footwork and awareness, Howard’s offensive skills definitely cannot be questioned. He will be a three-point threat immediately during his rookie year and has character that fits the culture the Hornets are attempting to build.
28. Utah Jazz – SG Ben Sheppard – Belmont
No player in this draft has more positive energy than Ben Sheppard, and he’s a very strong three-point shooter as well. Defensively, there is room to grow, but Sheppard gives it his all every single possession and is the epitome of a culture guy for any team that drafts him. The Jazz need some added depth in their backcourt, so Sheppard could be a great secondary scoring option for them to have on the bench, especially since he’s a proven perimeter player. After seeing his stock rise over the last several weeks, there is a chance he could go higher in the early 20s of this year’s draft. Utah owns three first-round picks, though, and the general consensus is that they will not be using all of them, which makes this pick available for teams looking to trade up.
29. Denver Nuggets – SF Maxwell Lewis – Pepperdine
With Bruce Brown opting out of his contract, the Denver Nuggets are likely going to turn their attention to finding versatile, two-way talents on the wing after trading into the first-round. There are a handful of players they could be targeting here, and Maxwell Lewis is a very intriguing name for them to consider. Lewis is not the most athletic nor the best scoring wing in this draft, but he is a poised basketball player with a lot of potential on the offensive end of the floor. Lewis can shoot from the perimeter and has a 7’0” wingspan that brings potential for him to be a factor defensively as well. Keep an eye on other names such as Julian Phillips, Andre Jackson Jr., Trayce Jackson-Davis and Colby Jones in this spot for Denver.
30. Los Angeles Clippers – SF Brice Sensabaugh – Ohio State
After having their potential three-team deal with the Boston Celtics and Washington Wizards that would have sent Malcolm Brogdon to Los Angeles fall through, this pick is still very much in play to be dealt by the Los Angeles Clippers. Looking to add experienced, “win-now” talent to their roster, the Clippers will gauge interest in this pick. Brice Sensabaugh is the highest rated player available and has a natural scoring ability, making him the player teams will show interest in to trade up ahead of the start of the second round. If the Clippers keep this pick, there is truly no telling as to who they could target, as they have a full roster right now.
31. Detroit Pistons – SF/PF G.G. Jackson – South Carolina
Falling out of the first round is not what G.G. Jackson imagined, but landing in Detroit would be a good spot for him. Learning from Monty Williams and getting more time to develop with a young, athletic and high-upside team would be advantageous to one of the youngest players in this draft. Jackson is a natural scorer who is still 18. Project or not, he is definitely the type of prospect Detroit is looking for.
32. Denver Nuggets – PF Trayce Jackson-Davis – Indiana
Finding some more depth behind two-time MVP and recent Finals MVP Nikola Jokic should be a priority for the Nuggets moving forward. While not a true center, Trayce Jackson-Davis is a strong rebounding presence who brings fortitude to this roster on the defensive side of the floor. TJD understands his role in pick-and-roll sets and can be a secondary playmaker with the ball in his hands anywhere on the floor. The Indiana big man is the perfect mold of player for Denver to have on their bench in the frontcourt.
33. San Antonio Spurs – SG Colby Jones – Xavier
Drawing attention from some teams with late first-round picks, Colby Jones is a two-way guard who can contribute in any role right away. Tre Jones is a free agent San Antonio will likely bring back, but the Spurs will still need some other ball handlers and playmakers in their backcourt. Jones would be a solid, more experienced player from this draft class to come in and help hold things down for this young, growing Spurs team.
34. Charlotte Hornets – SF/PF Julian Phillips – Tennessee
Julian Phillips is a very athletic wing who is still very raw as an overall talent. Whoever drafts Phillips must be willing to devote time to his development, but there are aspects of his game like his rebounding skills and defensive instincts that make him a valuable pick. Charlotte could look for future value and trade out of this spot, but Phillips would make sense for them as a rookie on a two-way contract.
35. Washington Wizards – SG/SF Sidy Cissoko – G League Ignite
After getting this pick from the Celtics in the deal that sent Porzingis to Boston, the Wizards will have plenty of options. There are several guards available, but Washington needs to add talent on the wing, making Sidy Cissoko an intriguing name for them. A strong wing who plays physical on both ends of the floor, Cissoko is a player who creates his own energy. He understands his role and where to be on the floor defensively, which makes Cissoko a great target for the Wizards in the second round. If he can improve as a three-point shooter, this could go down as one of the biggest steals in this draft.
36. Orlando Magic – C James Nnaji – Nigeria (Barcelona)
After taking Anthony Black and Gradey Dick, it is time for the Magic to add some big man depth. A handful of teams are monitoring James Nnaji leading up to the NBA Draft, and there is a lot of momentum surrounding him right now. Some teams in the late first-round region of the draft may be willing to take a swing on him, while several teams in the early second-round range could look to trade up and grab him as a result. A 7’0” big man with a 7’7” wingspan, Nnaji could just be the best shot blocker in this draft class the Magic can stash in their frontcourt. Wendell Carter Jr. is really the only frontcourt talent Orlando has under contract long-term, hence why addressing this depth makes sense.
37. Denver Nuggets – SG Andre Jackson Jr. – UConn
Known for his defensive abilities on the wing, Andre Jackson Jr. helped lift UConn to a championship this year. The Nuggets are coming off a championship and looking to continue adding impactful talents on the wing. This is a great spot for Jackson and the Nuggets alike. Should he be available, it is hard to imagine Denver would pass up on the lengthy shooting guard.
38. Sacramento Kings – SF Jordan Walsh – Arkansas
Jordan Walsh has emerged throughout the pre-draft process as a key defensive player who can run in transition, and both his length and defensive instincts make him a valuable second round target for a team like the Kings. Walsh can truly guard any position and has shown flashes of an improved jumper in workouts. Finding a player who can make an impact defensively in their second unit should be a point of emphasis for Sacramento here and Walsh's potential stands out.
39. Charlotte Hornets – PG/SG Marcus Sasser – Houston
One of the best seniors in this draft class, Marcus Sasser is a gritty and strong guard who can play hard on both ends of the floor. Known for his scoring abilities at Houston, Sasser ushers confidence with the ball in his hands and he plays stronger than his 6’1” frame may suggest. The Hornets need experienced leaders like Sasser as they continue to build a young core.
40. Los Angeles Lakers – SG/SF Chris Livingston – Kentucky
The Lakers are always looking for star potential and after trading up to grab this pick from the Pacers, it seems like Rob Pelinka and this front office have a few prospects in mind. Chris Livingston has reportedly done well for himself in pre-draft workouts and his length sticks out on the wing. There are obviously things he needs to work on, but he hustles on every play and presents upside as a rebounder. Once thought to be a first-round pick entering college, Livingston could wind up being a diamond in the rough for the Lakers in this spot.
41. Charlotte Hornets – PF Tristan Vukcevic – Serbia (Partizan Belgrade)
A true stretch big man who can knock down multiple three-point shots a game, Tristan Vukcevic is an interesting international prospect to watch in the draft. While not a great athlete, you know what you are getting from the perimeter with Vukcevic, which is why the Hornets may be willing to gamble on him here. It is unlikely that Charlotte keeps all five of their draft picks.
42. Washington Wizards – SF Emoni Bates – Eastern Michigan
By trading Beal to the Suns and Porzingis to the Celtics, it is clear that Washington is going to be rebuilding. While they already took some high-potential perimeter players, they could look to do the same here with Emoni Bates. Entering college, Bates was pegged to be the “next best thing,” but everything just didn’t pan out in his favor. However, he still has the potential to be a special player in the NBA. In a rebuilding system that will allow him to grow, Bates could really thrive with the Wizards.
43. Portland Trail Blazers – SF/PF Kobe Brown – Missouri
Just like they did with Olivier-Maxence Prosper earlier in the draft, the Blazers should be looking to target athletic wings who can make an impact defensively. Kobe Brown can play a handful of positions and is a lengthy forward who presents potential as a two-way factor. Brown can rebound, score off the dribble and shot 45.5 percent from deep at Missouri this past year. He’s definitely the kind of player the Trail Blazers need.
44. San Antonio Spurs – PG/SG Amari Bailey – UCLA
The Spurs are actively exploring options to grab another first-round pick, and many around the league believe they are looking to target a key backcourt weapon who falls out of the lottery in this year’s draft. Keyonte George and Nick Smith Jr. are two names to keep an eye on for San Antonio if there is a trade up. Sources say the Spurs also have interest in UCLA’s Amari Bailey, a standout at this year’s NBA Draft Combine who is expected to be available in the second round. Bailey proved to be a capable ball handler and facilitator at the combine, and his athleticism would fit in well with a young, dynamic Spurs roster.
45. Memphis Grizzlies – PG Terquavion Smith – North Carolina State
After moving Tyus Jones for Marcus Smart, the Grizzlies lack backcourt depth with Ja Morant owning a 25-game suspension to begin the 2023-24 season. Terquavion Smith was once thought to be a first-round prospect a season ago and is a gifted athlete who could thrive in the Grizzlies' backcourt. Able to get to his spots on the floor and very quick with the ball in his hands, Smith is a solid secondary option for Memphis to gamble on here in their backcourt.
46. Atlanta Hawks – SG Julian Strawther – Gonzaga
If he is still on the board, Julian Strawther would be the best player the Hawks could grab based on fit. Atlanta made the Eastern Conference Finals not too long ago with shooters, which is why they need to add on to their arsenal. Strawther is a key three-point shooting threat in the second round of this draft and has shown the potential to grow into a very strong defender as well. He would immediately be a key bench shooter the Hawks could turn to at any moment in any game.
47. Indiana Pacers – SF Jalen Wilson – Kansas
Jalen Wilson was a proven winner at Kansas who can be utilized in many different ways. Whether on the wing off the ball or being his team’s facilitator offensively, Wilson just has a high understanding for the game of basketball. He makes the right decisions and is a threat to attack the glass on either side of the court. The Pacers will be looking for versatility at this point in the draft, something they could find in Wilson.
48. Los Angeles Clippers – SG Jaylen Clark – UCLA
Jaylen Clark is still growing as a scorer on the wing, but he is an above-average defender who can really get his team running in transition. Going to the Clippers, Clarke would likely be a two-way contract player who could make the most of his time by tightening the Clippers’ approach defensively.
49. Cleveland Cavaliers – SG/SF Seth Lundy – Penn State
Emerging as one of the better shooters in this draft class at the combine, Seth Lundy can instantly provide perimeter depth during his rookie season. The Cleveland Cavaliers could surely use a shooter on their bench and need to find ways to add more depth on the wing. Lundy provides them with all of this and would be a plug-and-play talent for them right away.
50. Oklahoma City Thunder – PF Mouhamed Gueye – Washington State
Finding a big man for depth in the second round seems to be what the Thunder will look to do based on the thinking from rival teams around the league. The Thunder have Chet Holmgren coming back from injury, but they still lack frontcourt depth. Mouhamed Gueye’s measurement has drawn the attention of a lot of teams during the pre-draft process, and his length makes Gueye a second-round guy who can impact winning for his team right now. Standing 6’10” with a 7’3” wingspan, Gueye is certainly an intriguing option for a young, dynamic team like the Thunder.
51. Brooklyn Nets – PF Toumani Camara – Dayton
Another lengthy big man who has potential for growth, Toumani Camara has seen his draft stock increase in recent weeks. Being able to use his size to his advantage and run the floor in transition, Camara is a modern-day power forward who plays above the rim. The Nets need some more big-man depth behind Nicolas Claxton, so Camara should fit their current agenda.
52. Phoenix Suns – SG/SF Jordan Miller – Miami (FL)
Jordan Miller led the Miami Hurricanes to the Final Four this past year and has toughness that really stands out. Not afraid to crash the glass or seek out contact offensively Miller’s confidence in his game is what the Suns could really use. After trading for Bradley Beal, the Suns are going to need to round out their bench with these kinds of players. At this time, it is unknown if this is one of the second-round picks going back to Washington for Beal.
53. Minnesota Timberwolves – SG Ricky Council IV – Arkansas
He can run in transition, he can possibly be a factor defensively due to his length and he can put his opponents on a poster. Ricky Council IV is definitely the type of player the Timberwolves would want to target as a two-way contract player, especially for depth behind Anthony Edwards. Council has a chance to develop into an impactful role player given his athleticism. At this point in the draft, that is all you can ask for.
54. Sacramento Kings – C Oscar Tshiebwe – Kentucky
Oscar Tshiebwe was the best rebounder in college basketball this past year and is quite possibly the best rebounder in this draft class. Behind Domantas Sabonis, Tshiebwe could really provide value to the Kings as a primary source for rebounding, and he is beginning to expand his offensive game out to the perimeter. Tshiebwe is just a big body to move whether he is setting screens or boxing out opponents in the paint. Head coach Mike Brown values impactful players like this, making the Kentucky big man a target for Sacramento.
55. Indiana Pacers – SF Hunter Tyson – Clemson
A 40.5 percent three-point shooter at Clemson last year, Tyson Hunter has emerged as a potential second-round pick for many teams. He can knock down shots from anywhere on the perimeter and would provide All-Star guard Tyrese Haliburton with another weapon in the corners. You can never have too many shooters, and the Pacers would be getting a reliable one in this spot.
56. Memphis Grizzlies – SF Keyontae Johnson – Kansas State
Keyontae Johnson is the picture-perfect mold of what the Grizzlies look for in their draft prospects. He can defend at a high level, he plays above his size and he is a very capable three-point shooting threat off the ball. Memphis will need to have strong bench play with Ja Morant out if they are to continue finding success, and Johnson can be a solid depth option for them moving forward.
57. Washington Wizards – PF Tosan Evbuomwam – Princeton
A big man who runs the floor well and has great vision, Tosan Evbuomwam would be an interesting player for the Wizards to target at the end of the draft. A versatile forward who has great length, Evbuomwam is essentially a point forward who can take a lot of pressure off of his team’s backcourt to do all the heavy lifting in terms of playmaking.
58. Milwaukee Bucks – PF/C Colin Castleton – Florida
Shot blocking and awareness are the two things you get with Colin Castleton, a 6’11” big man who has a high understanding for playing in the paint. An older draft prospect, Castleton could provide the Milwaukee Bucks with a solid backup option in their frontcourt, especially with Brook Lopez being a free agent. There has been some talk that the Bucks will explore the possibility of shedding some salaries like that of Grayson Allen and/or Pat Connaughton, which could lead them to move up in this year’s draft.
*NOTE: The Chicago Bulls (57) and Philadelphia 76ers (58) forfeited their second-round picks this year due to violating the league’s tampering rules.
To see Brett Siegel’s FULL 2023 NBA Mock Draft 5.0, click here.
To see Brett Siegel’s 2023 NBA Draft Big Board 5.0 and Top-100 Rankings, click here.