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2023 NBA Mock Draft

By: Davidson Crooks

Hello sports fans, and welcome back to the IE Sports Radio Blog. In my younger years, I loved reading mock drafts (mainly NBA & NFL) and seeing where players would go in the mocks. I would always be keen on where the “experts” mock a player to my squad and question if that player would fit in. Then you try to envision this player will be a future hall of famer, role player, all-star or the a bust. Well, I’m here to give my two cents on who should go where in this 2023 NBA Draft. Victor Wembanyama is the clear number one pick (some say generational) but there are other good players in this draft who can help turn a franchise around.

#1 San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama/France

Wembanyama has been the clear-cut top pick since November for many reasons. He’s a 7’4 big who moves gracefully around the court, has a nice jump shot, can drive, and even play down low at times. Victor will need to bulk up a little, but the sky is his limit if he can stay injury free.

#2 Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller/Alabama

I still believe that the college route is the best move for most young basketball players. Brandon Miller greatly benefited playing at Alabama with Nate Oates, and this past season really helped his draft stock. The top college prospect goes to a Hornets team that needs a reset on the wing after now three years of the terrible Gordon Hayward signing.

#3 Portland Trail Blazers: Scoot Henderson/G-League

The main question for the Blazers is whether they will keep this pick or move it for a veteran to help Damien Lillard. I think they should trade Lillard and reset, but what do I know. If they stay, then Henderson is the best available player. The Blazers can run it back with Dame, add Scoot in the fold, and see how things go in 2023-24. We will know by the trade deadline if it works or not.

#4 Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson/G-League

I do wonder if James Harden decides to leave Philly and goes back to Houston, will the 76ers ask for a sign & trade? Regardless, Thompson is a combo guard who is versatile and brings something different to the back court with Jalen Green & Kevin Porter. Being 6’7 doesn’t hurt his stock either.

#5 Detroit Pistons: Cam Whitmore/Villanova

The Rockets pick was tough to decide, and this pick for the Pistons is hard to predict as well. Cam Whitmore is a high-flyer who can finish with authority in the fast break, play the passing lanes well, and can shoot from the perimeter. He should fit well with new coach Monty Williams, who may see him as a younger Mikal Bridges.

#6 Orlando Magic: Ausar Thompson/G-League

The Magic can go a lot of ways here. They could go PG with the uncertainty regarding their current options. They can also look at the front court for depth behind Wagner & Banchero (and to move Jonathan Isaac). Ausar Thompson is versatile like his brother, but is more suited on the wing. He has high upside, and with the Magic still feeling out their roster, he is worth the gamble.

#7 Indiana Pacers: Jarace Walker/Houston

Another tough call. The Pacers could go with either Walker or Taylor Hendricks at the four spot. I went with Walker because he gives you a little more offensively like moving off the ball and cutting to the basket. The outside shot needs polish, but Indiana would be pleased with this pick.

#8 Washington Wizards: Anthony Black/Arkansas

The Wizards are in wholesale change in the front office, and one of the spots they need to address is point guard. Black is a big guard at 6’7, and his versatility and defense should fit well with Kyle Kuzma (if brought back), Corey Kispert, and Bradley Beal. Curious to see who stays and who goes.

#9 Utah Jazz: Cason Wallace/Kentucky

Jordan Clarkson is a free agent and Horton-Tucker has a player option and could be looking for a bigger payday. Cason Wallace gives the Jazz a guard who can play all three levels of the game (shooting, passing and defense). With him, losing Clarkson & Tucker won’t be a big deal.

#10 Dallas Mavericks: Taylor Hendricks/UCF

There are two things the Mavs can do with this pick. They can take Hendricks to replace Christian Wood and Dwight Powell at the four spot, or they trade this pick for veteran help for a Luka and Kyrie back-court (assuming the latter is re-signed) and reshape the roster that way. Either way, Dallas needs help down low in a bad way.

#11 Orlando Magic: Gradey Dick/Kansas

With their second lottery pick, the Magic go with shooting by selecting Gradey Dick. Dick can provide the outside scoring and spacing needed for this squad. Plus, this pick will represent a little insurance in the back court. Sounds like a win-win to me.

#12 Oklahoma City Thunder: Dereck Lively/Duke

OKC is good at every level expect the five spot and taking swing at Lively wouldn’t hurt that cause. Lively didn’t have the season he wanted at Duke this past year, but that shouldn’t prevent the Thunder from drafting the 7’2 big man with an NBA ready defensive game.

#13 Toronto Raptors: Nick Smith Jr./Arkansas

The Raptors could be big players in the draft depending on how the team approaches the future. Will Pascal Siakam, Fred VanVleet and O.G. Anunoby be part of the roster next year? If not, Toronto takes best player available in Smith Jr. Smith was hurt earlier this season, but came back and showed why he was considered a top prospect coming out of high school.

#14 New Orleans Pelicans: Jalen Hood-Schifino/Indiana

Hood-Schifino is a 6’6 guard who can bring some much-needed stability in the back court, especially with his passing. Kira Lewis hasn’t shined like I thought he would by now, and putting Jalen here could ease that selection from a couple years ago that hasn’t panned out.

#15 Atlanta Hawks: Keyonte George/Baylor

I’m still baffled that the Hawks re-signed Bogdan Bogdanovic when he has underwhelmed since his signing. George can provide insurance if Bogdanovic can’t stay on the floor. The Hawks can also go with someone down low, but they would be reaching based on which bigs are remaining.

#16 Utah Jazz (via Minnesota): Bilal Coulibaly/France

Bilal Coulibaly is a guy who has been on my radar for a couple of years and will fit like a glove with the Jazz. He’s young with a lot of potential to be a two-way player. Coulibaly can shoot the ball well, can jump with ease and is working on seeing the floor better.

#17 Los Angeles Lakers: Jordan Hawkins/UCONN

D’Angelo Russell had four months to show the Lakers he can be a part of the franchise long term, but his playoff play left a lot to be desired. I hope they don’t trade the pick and consider getting a player of Hawkins caliber & upside (in case Austin Reaves leaves). He’s too good to pass up at 17.

#18 Miami Heat: Kris Murray/Iowa

I thought of putting a guard here, but Miami has done a great job finding guys in the undrafted route and developing them as starters or role players. Putting Murray here at 18 was a pick of need and the Heat need a stretch four who is also versatile on the defensive end. 

#19 Golden State Warriors: Jaime Jaquez/UCLA

Jaquez could slip to the second round (due to age) or a veteran team like the Warriors will draft him to be a role player for them. Jaquez is not flashy but a solid all way around player and will fill a need at the forward position since Jonathan Kuminga hasn’t panned out for Golden State.

#20 Houston Rockets (via Clippers): Jett Howard/Michigan

Since Houston went with Amen Thompson with their first pick, I think they go with a big wing and Howard fits the bill. Offensively Jett comes ready on that end, but his defense would need shaping up for Coach Ime Udoka’s liking. He brings more upside on the perimeter.

#21 Brooklyn Nets (via Suns): Leonard Miller/G-League

Miller was talked about as a top five pick a year ago (perhaps going to college would’ve helped his draft stock). He’s a 6’10 forward who can finish with contact, run a fast break and has decent handles. His shooting can use some work but once you clean that up, the sky is the limit for him.

#22 Brooklyn Nets: Kobe Bufkin/Michigan

Spencer Dinwiddie was alright in his return to Brooklyn, but the organization will need to look at the future if Dinwiddie’s play doesn’t improve. You have a young guy (Bufkin) to groom for that spot. Bufkin could go earlier in the draft but this a good spot for him.

#23 Portland Trail Blazers (via NY): Noah Clowney/Alabama

Clowney was an under the radar commit for Alabama and really blossomed into a nice inside/out player for the Tide. He needs to work on the catch & shoot part of his three-point shooting but that will come with time. Jerami Grant is a free agent, and there is a good possibility he leaves.

#24 Sacramento Kings: Trayce Jackson-Davis/Indiana

The playoffs showed the Kings need scoring down low. Sabonis didn’t dominate as he should have against the Warriors. Jackson-Davis is a beast down low and plays the pick & roll game well. His outside game needs development, but that shouldn’t be the focus for him in the short term.

#25 Memphis Grizzlies: Colby Jones/Xavier

For a high seeded playoff team, Memphis has a surprising amount of drama. Colby Jones will bring a mature mindset to the team and could be an upgrade over Dillion Brooks. He took a big jump in scoring this past season (15 points per game) and three-point land (37.8 from three).

#26 Indiana Pacers: Brice Sensabaugh/Ohio State

Bennedict Mathurin replaced Buddy Hield in the starting lineup (later than he should have) and proved why he is one of the most intriguing young players in the NBA. Sensabaugh has a lot of potential as a scoring threat, so you can take a flyer on him to play behind Mathurin & Hield.

#27 Charlotte Hornets (via Denver): Maxwell Lewis/Pepperdine

Kelly Oubre is a free agent and probably won’t be brought back to the team. Lewis was very productive despite the Waves’ struggles this season. With Brandon Miller going earlier to Charlotte, Lewis should come in as a glue guy.

#28 Utah Jazz (via Philly): GG Jackson/South Carolina

GG Jackson reclassified to be eligible for this draft and his season was more of a letdown for the Gamecocks. Jackson has some upside, and it will be good for him to land in Utah where it won’t be much pressure on him to be the “guy”.

#29 Indiana Pacers (via Boston): James Nnaji/Nigeria

James Nnaji is a player that the Pacers can stash for a couple of years in Spain until Myles Turner’s contract is up. Nnaji has a surprisingly nice face up game for a young player and plays sound defense. Just let him grow his game overseas and reap the rewards later.

#30 L.A. Clippers (via Milwaukee): Brandin Podziemski/Santa Clara

After transferring from Illinois to Santa Clara, Podziemski came in and lead the Broncos in scoring & rebounding (20 pts, 8.8 reb). Steve Balmer may not like it, but he may have to rebuild sooner rather than later to contend in the West. Podziemski can come in and be a good role player early.

Let me know your thoughts, and who YOU want your favorite team to pick. The NBA draft is a little over a week a way, so be sure to check back and see how I did. Tune in to Fast Break on Sundays at 8PM EST/5PM PST. Don’t forget to check out all of the awesome shows here at IESR. Follow me on twitter @Spawn4288 and the show “Fast Break” @FastBreakIESR. Shout out to our Patreon supporters and all you loyal listeners that continue to help us grow. Thank you for reading, and we will see you next time on IE Sports Radio; your direct feed for ALL that is sports.

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