2023 NBA Mock Draft
Zach Buckley@@ ZachBuckleyNBAIncluded Columnist IVMay 30, 2023

2023 NBA Mock Draft: How 3 Blockbuster Trades Could Impact Top 10

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NBA draught mocking is, at best, an imperfect science.

Add some fake trades to the mix, and trouble is sure to follow.

In some circumstances, this talent grab is all about mayhem. After all, one of the main attractions of the offseason is the potential for that.

Within the first 10 selections of this mock, we’re shooting up the deal makers and brokering three hits that change the picture. Let the chaos begin.

1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama, PF/C, Metropolitans 92

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This selection may have been sent by the Spurs as swiftly as the ping-pong balls at the draught lottery game.

San Antonio needed a focal point for the organisation and quickly became the league’s best-prepared for possibilities after (at least) acquiring LeBron James. Victor Wembanyama was referred to as “the most extremely prepared gamer to ever enter the NBA” and “possibly the best possibility in the history of group sports” by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, who hardly ever uses hyperbolic language.

That must sound absurd, but for the French phenom, nothing seems utterly out of reach. The 19-year-old is a 7′ 5″ teenager with an 8′ 0″ wingspan who can do anything on the basketball floor. He looks like a cheat code come to life. Yes, he can do anything: block shots, rebound, initiate offence, create shoots, make three-pointers while moving, screening, dispersing, or switching to defence.

Even if he doesn’t achieve his ideal outcome, he will still find a way to the Hall of Fame. His capacity is quite astounding.

2. Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller, SF, Alabama

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Theoretically, the Hornets must choose between Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson, and many believe they are in a different league from Wembanyama. Charlotte’s mind might actually be ruined right now.

Mitch Kupchak, the Hornets’ general manager, may have given away something when he told press media that his team would “think about not just the total skill but also the position.”

Miller stands at 6′ 9″. A wing guard standing 6′ 2″, Henderson. LaMelo Ball, the franchise player for Charlotte, is a key playmaker with a top-20 use rate this season, making him an excellent on-paper fit.

It may be for this reason that ESPN’s Jonathan Givony found it “tough to discover a single NBA executive at the draught integrate” who thought Henderson would be picked in the second round.

Miller might just be a far better option than Henderson given his size, shooting, and defence, aside from being physically healthy.

3. Portland Trail Blazers: Amen Thompson, PG/SG, Overtime Elite

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The draught will start here if the Hornets are largely committed to selecting Miller. Portland may go a number of different paths, and it has made it clear that it is willing to trade this option to provide Damian Lillard with immediate backup.

Joe Cronin, the Blazers’ general manager, told Yahoo Sports’ Jake Fischer that his team was “trying to win and trying to optimise Damian’s timeline” at the lottery. But eventually Portland might come to the conclusion that this team is too weak to ever be competitive for the remainder of the 32-year-old’s prime.

The Blazers may pass on Scoot Henderson in order to sign the incredibly intriguing Amen Thompson if they are forced to adjust to life without Lillard (more on that topic later).

According to ESPN’s Jonathan Givony, the 20-year-old will “get long looks from Portland,” and the Blazers may decide to combine Thompson, a 6′ 7″ two-way playmaker with explosive athleticism, with 6′ 3″ scoring guard Anfernee Simons instead of Henderson because of Henderson’s fit in a small backcourt. Thompson is a scoring guard with explosive athleticism.

TRADE at 4. Toronto Raptors (through Rockets): Scoot Henderson, PG, G League Ignite

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Toronto Raptors get:(Top-four secured) Kenyon Martin Jr., No. 4, Kevin Porter Jr., and Kenyon Porter Jr.

Houston Rockets get: Pascal Siakam

The Rockets’ phone lines will be ringing off the hook if Scoot Henderson falls to the No. 4 selection.

Pascal Siakam, who is the kind of instant impact star Houston allegedly plans to pursue, might help the Raptors win the bidding battle. The 29-year-old, who just has one year left on his contract, would be a sizable enough prize to justify parting with this many long-term assets if the Rockets reached any sort of long-term agreement with him.

The Raptors would leave this with two things in mind above all else: A clear, forward-looking identity and a reliable co-star for Scottie Barnes. He and Henderson could manage either side of a pick-and-roll, and they would enchant the crowd on the outside court and do two-man magic in the half court. They might enjoy passing, passing, and aggressive perseverance while creating all kinds of mayhem on defence.

It would be simpler to distribute the winnings from high-priced complimentary reps Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., and Jakob Poeltl with Siakam out and Henderson in.

O.G. Anunoby may even be on the Raptors’ shopping list, even if they may think a Barnes-Henderson core would work best with him. Martin must also be a clean fit for that group, and Toronto would have time to see if Porter could find his particular area of expertise.

5. Detroit Pistons: Cam Whitmore, SF, Villanova

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Detroit suffered a calamity in the draught lottery, falling to the No. 5 pick despite having endured the most defeats of any team the season before.

Cam Whitmore, who may be the best player available and the player who most fits the Pistons’ needs on the wing, may still make this a successful draught for the team.

Whitmore might be the fourth-most skilled prospect in the draught, according to an NBA executive, who spoke to Michael Scotto of HoopsHype.com.

Thumb surgery may have thrown Whitmore’s one-and-done season at Villanova off course, but it had no effect on his lofty ceiling. His athleticism is explosive, and he completes, defends, and produces off the dribble. Additionally, he won’t turn 19 until after this draught, giving him more time to develop than most of his classmates.

TRADE at 6. Path Blazers (through Magic): Jarace Walker, PF, Houston

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Portland Trail Blazers get: Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Isaac, the sixth overall pick, the eleventh overall pick, and the first-round pick in 2025 (top-three protected)

Orlando Magic get: Damian Lillard

Lillard can likely start packing his bags if the Blazers retain the No. 3 pick. The young people moving to Portland may appreciate not feeling the strain of his ticking clock hanging over their heads, but he does not want to wait for potential clients to establish.

If that option is not chosen, Lillard will probably do so, acting in this case as the project’s fast-forward button for a rising Magic team that has played winning basketball for the last four months or more.

Portland may view Jarace Walker as a tone-setting protector with significant offending benefits if it leans towards a restoration. His floor is impossible to predict without knowledge of how his shooting and handling will develop, but it climbs as a result of his playmaking, finishing, and defensive flexibility. Even though he is not often the key contributor to a team’s success, he does a lot of things that help teams succeed.

In addition, this trade would provide the Blazers their third lottery pick and a future first-round pick with weak defensive potential. Amen Thompson and Anfernee Simons would form the backcourt, and Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs would have enough opportunities to secure a long-term position. Jonathan Isaac would largely focus on the money, but if he could ever overcome his physical issues permanently, he would still be intriguing in theory.

7. Indiana Pacers: Taylor Hendricks, PF, UCF

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According to Marc Stein, the Pacers, who have three picks in this preliminary (Nos. 26 and 29, as well), would not mind combining the picks to advance.

If things continue in this manner, Indiana must be content to wait while watching Taylor Hendricks take over the role of power forward.

The 19-year-old could play the centre as a small-ball 5 or the frontcourt alongside Myles Turner. Tyrese Haliburton might benefit from his finest screener because he can blow up to the rim or pop out to the border because to his combination of completing and spacing.

8. Washington Wizards: Ausar Thompson, SG/SF, Overtime Elite

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The Wizards are expected to engage in “aggressive activity” this offseason now that Michael Winger is in charge of the front office, according to Marc Stein.

It is tough to predict with certainty where Washington will go since that aggression may involve either encircling Bradley Beal or removing him to start anew.

Whatever the case, Ausar Thompson could step in and provide quickness, defence, and complementary playmaking, or he might become a permanent focal point if he tightens his deal with and improves his outside shot.

9. Utah Jazz: Anthony Black, PG/SG, Arkansas

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Lauri Markkanen, an All-Star on the wings, and Walker Kessler, a developing centre, are both players for Allure. However, their backcourt could use some energy, especially if Jordan Clarkson were allowed to bounce alone.

Anthony Black might begin playing a key role as early as next season, given that both his defensive versatility and his disseminating skills appear to be sure things at the next level. He might start off as a port early in his career and include his greatest value as a person who develops their colleagues.

If the 19-year-old succeeds in shooting on the go and eluding protectors, his ascent to fame will be determined.

TRADE at 10. Toronto Raptors (through Mavericks): Leonard Miller, SF/PF, G League Ignite

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Toronto Raptors get: Josh Green, the No. 10 pick, and Tim Hardaway Jr. are both first-round picks in 2027.

Dallas Mavericks get: OG Anunoby

The Mavericks will undoubtedly turn to the trade market in order to get the instant-impact gamer they need from the No. 10 pick.

OG Anunoby is as good as they can hope to get, as his superior shot-making and defence would make him the ideal third banana alongside Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic, both of whom the team is still working to re-sign.

Although this is probably not the highest number of picks the Raptors might receive for Anunoby, the quality of this plan may be superior to that of the others. A No. 10 selection can be an enormous offer. The same can be said for a weak decision made by an organisation that is currently terrified of losing its franchise face. Josh Green’s ability to replace the three-and-D, together with Tim Hardaway Jr.’s shooting ability (though he is merely a money-matcher), may be enough to convince the Raptors to act.

All of this will probably hinge on Toronto’s investigation into Leonard Miller, a resident of Scarborough who keeps ascending draught boards.

The 19-year-old needs to become more consistent with his shooting and defensive efforts, but if everything works out, he may be a 6’9″ guard who can handle, shoot, distribute, rebound, and defend the paint.

Late Lottery

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11. Portland Trail Blazers (through Magic): Gradey Dick, SG/SF, Kansas

The Blazers might play it relatively safe and choose Dick, who may be this draft’s best shooter, after making some significant beneficial swings on Amen Thompson and Jarace Walker. He would be quite useful for just his space, and his vision, handling, and protective effort can all elevate him over an expert.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jordan Hawkins, SG, UConn

The Thunder made enough progress last season to start considering including group dynamics in their draft-night negotiations. If so, they might add Hawkins to improve their mediocre three-point shooting. Defences would need to pay great attention to him at all times due to his shooting and off-the-ball activity.

13. Toronto Raptors: Keyonte George, SG, Baylor

George would join the team to help this team make up for some of the scoring punch that it would surprisingly lack, continuing Toronto’s draft-change strategy. The rebuilding Raptors would be able to give him the time he needs to learn the keys of consistency, and he can produce area and rating from wherever.

14. New Orleans Pelicans: Nick Smith Jr., PG/SG, Arkansas

Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram are two shot-makers that the Pelicans need more than anyone. Smith has a tendency to go on streaks, but when he’s on, he’s a scoring threat from all angles with the quickness and strength to create his own scoring opportunities.

Nos. 15-20

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15. Atlanta Hawks: Cason Wallace, PG/SG, Kentucky

If the lottery game proceeds as planned, the Hawks would be happy to stop Wallace’s mini-slide here even if they decide not to enter the draught with the intention of acquiring a guard. He is a tall, active defender who runs a clean offence and takes use of his spot-up opportunities. He might finally provide some support for Trae Young and give the front office a backup plan should they ever decide to deal the defensively frail flooring general.

16. Utah Jazz (through Timberwolves): Bilal Coulibaly, SG/SF, Metropolitans 92

Allure may be well on their way to creating the league’s next protective power after their selection of Anthony Black. Coulibaly would be a perfect fit for that vision, having the physique and drive to be a flexible stopper on the wing. His improved shooting may go a long way towards helping him develop a valuable offensive identity.

17. Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bufkin, SG, Michigan

Bufkin may be able to secure early rotation minutes in Los Angeles thanks to his defensive strength and ability to contribute off the ball. His final product would shine beside a talent like LeBron James, and he could create his own opportunities with a large repertoire of dribble moves.

18. Miami Heat: Brice Sensabaugh, SG, Ohio State

The offense’s erratic shooting and few scoring options are frequently to blame when the Heat hit difficult patches. Sensabaugh, a versatile scorer who made 40.5 percent of his long-range attempts while playing for the Buckeyes, would come as an immediate shock.

19. Golden State Warriors: Kris Murray, PF, Iowa

Due to the new cumulative bargaining agreement in the NBA, the Warriors will have to examine their costs and raise their demand for low-cost components. Murray should get right to work as a three-and-D forward.

20. Houston Rockets (by means of Clippers): Jett Howard, SG/SF, Michigan

The Rockets might absolutely reject this selection as well if they really do trade the No. 4 pick for an immediate boost. However, if they decide to keep it, they might get more bang for their buck by spending it on Howard, a 6’8″ wing with a long-range knockdown shot.

Nos. 21-30

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21. Brooklyn Nets (by means of Suns): Bobi Klintman, PF, Wake Forest

The Nets should take at least one major swing with back-to-back selections while their reset is still in progress. Klintman is as boom-or-bust a draught class as there is. He didn’t contribute much at Wake Forest (5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game), but as a 6’10” forward with exceptional mobility for his stature and two-way flexibility, he’s an NBA fantasy.

22. Brooklyn Nets: Dereck Lively II, C, Duke

The Nets must add weight inside if they want to compete next season. Lively, a 7’1″ man who weighs 230 pounds, may help them accomplish it. He would quickly establish himself as a pick-and-roll screener, rebounder, and shot blocker.

23. Portland Trail Blazers (through Knicks): James Nnaji, C, Barcelona

Jusuf Nurki won’t be around for too long if Portland moves beyond Damian Lillard. Nnaji, a strong interior player with a 7’7″ wingspan, might be included in the frontcourt succession plan.

24. Sacramento Kings: Rayan Rupert, SG/SF, NZ Breakers

Regardless of how they choose to approach Harrison Barnes’ free agency, the Kings may be in need of additional wing depth. If his offence advances earlier than expected, Rupert might carve himself a specialised role as a long, high-energy protector and need to extend his style into additional minutes.

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Dariq Whitehead, SG/SF, Duke

The Grizzlies will constantly remain in the marketplace for shooting as long as Ja Morant is piloting the offense, and they might require border defense with Dillon Brooks relatively en route out. If Whitehead gets healthy, he ‘d examine both boxes.

26. Indiana Pacers (by means of Cavaliers): Jalen Hood-Schifino, PG/SG, Indiana

The Pacers may want to replace T.J. McConnell’s backup backcourt with someone younger and more energetic as he approaches his 31st birthday. Hood-Schifino needs more flavouring, but if he does, he might be a competitive two-way player who is also dependable as a passer and shot-maker.

27. Charlotte Hornets (through Nuggets): GG Jackson, PF, South Carolina

The Hornets need to pursue upside wherever feasible, and Jackson, the class’s youngest player, has a lot of it. The 18-year-old currently boasts strength and athleticism comparable to NBA players. And even though his video game isn’t getting better, a client franchise might someday have a versatile defender and a potent scorer.

28. Utah Jazz (through 76ers): Brandin Podziemski, PG/SG, Santa Clara

Allure may catch among the stronger shooters in this draught after this mock previously emphasised defence. Podziesmski establishes three-level scoring with playmaking and durability after helping himself out with a superb integrate revealing.

29. Indiana Pacers (by means of Celtics): Noah Clowney, PF, Alabama

The Pacers may decide to focus even more on their problematic power forward position with their third pick of the first round. Clowney is a versatile defender who never gives up and has shown just enough shooting to think that it will eventually be a part of his toolkit.

30. Los Angeles Clippers (through Bucks): Colby Jones, PG/SG, Xavier

Regardless of whether they bring back Russell Westbrook, the Clippers might want to add to their depth at guard. Jones is unproven as a long-range shooter, but he could fill some gaps as a versatile defender and reliable facilitator.

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