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Rex Foster’s 2023 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

Mar 18, 2023; Birmingham, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide forward Brandon Miller (24), second in this NBA Mock Draft dribbles against Maryland Terrapins guard Don Carey (0) during the second half at Legacy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

Even though the NBA Draft takes place on June 22nd, it is never too early to start making mock drafts! Two things are for certain: Victor Wembanyama is going to be taken first overall, and the future of the NBA is in special hands. The league is over-flooding with prime talent, and this draft class is proof. Join me in following this draft with a five-mock series! I am proud to present the first mock draft of 2023. The draft order of this mock draft was simulated on Tankathon. Special thanks to Noah Weiss (@noahweissphotography) for prospect graphics.

Rex Foster’s 2023 NBA Mock Draft 1.0: Post Play-In

The Lottery (picks 1-14)

1. Detroit Pistons

Victor Wembanyama | Center | France | 19 years old

No surprises here. Wembanyama is the most promising NBA prospect since LeBron James. With a 7 ‘4 frame and the ability to do literally anything on a basketball court, Wembanyama can flip the switch for a losing franchise. Detroit is the best-case-scenario team for Wenbanyama, with Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey leading a dynamic backcourt.

2. Portland Trail Blazers

Brandon Miller | Forward | Alabama | 20 years old

Even with the guard-heavy Blazers drafting second in this hypothetical lottery order, Miller has a real chance of jumping Scoot Henderson as the second prospect taken. Miller is the perfect player for the modern NBA, a pure shooter who can fit into any lineup. I do get some Jabari Smith Jr tingles with Miller, not to mention his involvement in an off-the-court scandal at Alabama this year. Regardless, he is the ideal fit in Portland, suiting up next to Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, and Jerami Grant (if he chooses to stay). Not only does he fit their current needs with Damian Lillard’s aging timeline, but he also would be a future cornerstone for Portland’s next chapter.

3. Houston Rockets

Scoot Henderson | Guard | G-League Ignite | 19 years old

For months, the consensus was Webmanyama would go first, then Scoot Henderson would be taken second – no questions asked. However, that narrative has gotten pretty choppy in previous months. Henderson had an underwhelming tail end to an exciting season playing for G-League Ignite. Despite his recent flaws, Henderson is the easy take here. As an explosive, glitchy walking highlight – Henderson will succeed in the league, joining a team in desperate need of a star.

4. San Antonio Spurs

Amen Thompson | Guard | Overtime Elite | 20 years old

San Antonio’s rebuilding roster lacks a star and desperately needs to land a top-three pick. I don’t love Amen Thompson, but there is no other choice for San Antonio, who are drafting fourth in this mock draft. Thompson is the only prospect remaining who provides flashes of promising star potential. Amen is debatably the best athlete in this draft shining in fastbreak opportunities and also displaying promising defensive upside. However, the halfcourt offense (especially shooting) needs to improve – which is why I worry, especially with Thompson assuming the starring role of this franchise.

5. Charlotte Hornets

Jarace Walker | Forward | Houston | 19 years old

Only two years ago, I thought the future was bright for the Hornets. LaMelo Ball looked like a future top-20 player, Miles Bridges continued to develop his game, and PJ Washington looked promising (he has shown some real strides to close out the season!). Yet, Charlotte still continues to disappoint. In my opinion, Walker is the best player available due to his versatility, defensive prowess, and athleticism. He could be a good pick-and-roll pairing with Ball.

6. Orlando Magic

Gradey Dick | Guard, Forward | Kansas | 19 years old

I have a sense that Dick’s draft stock will start to rise into the early-ish lottery come June. Yes, Orlando could select Villanova forward Cam Whitmore here, but I have questions about his pairing alongside Paolo Banchero. Dick is an upper-echelon sniper who has an unbelievable feel for the game. He will be targeted on defense, but while being surrounded by other elite defenders in Orlando, there shouldn’t be an alarming red flag. Orlando should take Dick at six instead of waiting for the possibility of snagging him at 11.

7. Indiana Pacers

Cam Whitmore | Forward | Villanova | 18 years old

Whitmore sliding to seven is a dream for the Pacers. The only glaring hole in Indiana’s quick rebuild are the forwards. As an active cutter, Whitmore doesn’t need the ball in his hands – a perfect pairing alongside Tyrese Haliburton, who dishes out 10.4 assists per game (second in the league). Whitmore also provides impressive rebounding, especially on the offensive end, and can defend exceptionally well on and off the ball.

8. Washington Wizards

Ausar Thompson | Wing | Overtime Elite | 20 years old

This is familiar! The Wizards are drafting in the mid/late lottery yet again! There is absolutely no direction in this Washington franchise, and they always tend to find themselves in the middle. Oh well, Ausar Thompson is the best player on the board, and the Wizards might as well gather another young asset. Ausar is the twin brother of Amen Thompson and (like his brother) has electric athleticism. The absolute maximum ceiling of this team is a second-round playoff appearance with a core of Bradley Beal, Kristaps Porzingis, and Kyle Kuzma. Maybe Washington could package an intriguing prospect like Thompson along with Deni Avdija and some picks to gather another fringe all-star.

9. Utah Jazz

Anthony Black | Guard, Wing | Arkansas | 19 years old

I am a huge fan of Anthony Black. Given Danny Ainge’s previous drafting history, I would assume he is a fan of Black as well. A true floor general, Black makes the right plays and is a promising defender. His lengthy frame clogs passing lanes, and his hustle helps to force turnovers. This would be a great addition to a franchise making an impressive quick rebuild.

10. Dallas Mavericks

Taylor Hendricks | Forward | UCF | 19 years old

Two months after acquiring Kyrie Irving, Dallas is paying the consequence of trading a vital part of their rotation – Dorian Finney-Smith. While the Doncic/Irving pairing is looking strong (for the most part), the rest of the Mavericks roster looks horrendous. Dallas is in desperate need of defense and spacing. Hendricks can hopefully stop the bleeding with his polished defensive game and consistent three-point shooting. Although Hendricks has high 3&D potential, UCF was 0-2 against top-25 teams last season.

11. Oklahoma City Thunder

Cason Wallace | Guard | Kentucky | 19 years old

Many scouts see Wallace as the best perimeter defender in this draft class – and for a good reason. Wallace has good defensive fundamentals, especially with his incredible core strength, and more importantly – is aware off of the ball. Like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Wallace’s offense is centered around getting to the rim. Across draft boards and scouting reports, Wallace sparks comparisons to Milwaukee all-star guard Jrue Holiday. A backcourt of SGA, Dort, and Wallace could rise to be one of the NBA’s best.

12. Orlando Magic (via Chicago)

Dereck Lively II | Center | Duke | 19 years old

Sure, Orlando could bolster their guard or forward depth here with their second first-round pick. Personally, I have confidence Markelle Fultz and Cole Anthony can be Orlando’s solidified backcourt of the future (especially after Fultz’s statement season). Lively makes sense in Orlando because of his dominant rim protection and rim running. 

13. Toronto Raptors

Nick Smith Jr. | Guard | Arkansas | 19 years old

If it weren’t for nagging injuries last season, Smith Jr. would have probably been an earlier lottery selection – similar to Michael Porter Jr. in 2018. With the possibility of Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. leaving in free agency this Summer – Masai Ujiri should add some youth to his backcourt. Smith Jr. is a terrific scorer who really enhances his play with a big man. Jakob Poeltl is a perfect teammate for Smith Jr., and it would be really fun to see him in pick & roll action with Scottie Barnes.

14. New Orleans Pelicans

Keyonte George | Guard | Baylor | 19 years old

In my opinion, George is the best player left on the board. As a savvy 3-level scorer, George would complement last year’s draft pick, Dyson Daniels, nearly perfectly. With George, the Pelicans are adding a pure bucket-getter. The only thing missing in New Orleans is health. If Zion Williamson plays fifty games next season – it should be considered a success.

2023 NBA Mock Draft – Middle of the First (picks 15-22)

15. Atlanta Hawks

Colby Jones | Wing | Xavier | 21 years old

This is pretty early for Jones to come off the board, but Atlanta doesn’t care – they desperately need spacing. Jones provides a reliable catch & shoot skillset and is NBA-ready.

16. Utah Jazz (via Minnesota)

Jett Howard | Wing | Michigan | 19 years old

Danny Ainge has a lot of options with the 16th pick. He could select a promising defensive wing in Rayan Rupert, a high-ceiling prospect like Maxwell Lewis, or a scoring maestro in Brice Sensabaugh. However, Ainge takes Jett Howard – a proficient catch-and-shoot wing who can space the floor for Anthony Black and Lauri Markkanen.

17. Los Angeles Lakers

Brice Sensabaugh | Guard | Ohio State | 19 years old

The Lakers have a plethora of options for drafting at 17. My best guess is that Los Angeles flips this first-round pick into some form of win-now asset. If they decide to keep the pick, Rob Pelinka should prioritize rim protection and defense. Sensabaugh…. provides neither caveat but is an electric scorer who can provide a spark immediately to an injury-ridden Lakers team.

18. Miami Heat

Jalen Hood-Schifino | Guard | Indiana | 20 years old

If Hood-Schifino falls to Miami, the Heat should pounce on the opportunity to steal him. The Heat have a reputation for developing talent, and Schifino can make an immediate impact. Hood-Schifino has a wide range across the mock draft community. Some see him as a potential lottery prospect, while others have him selected in the late first round. I especially like Hood-Schifino’s fit on the Heat because he brings something flavorful to a bland Miami offense with mid-range shooting and the ability to run the pick & roll with Bam Adebayo

19. Golden State Warriors

Jordan Hawkins | Guard | UConn | 21 years old

Unlike Moses Moody, the Warriors won’t need to wait for Hawkins to develop. He’s ready to play competitively at the NBA level and knows his role. Hawkins has a tremendous jump shot, can hold his own on defense, and brings a winning mentality to a winning culture.

20. Houston Rockets (via Los Angeles Clippers)

Rayan Rupert | Wing | France | 18 years old

Houston’s defense was non-existent this season. Already stacked with shot makers like Jalen Green, Kevin Porter Jr, and (hopefully) Jabari Smith Jr, the Rockets are in desperate need of a lengthy defensive-minded prospect like Rupert. A new core of Henderson, Green, Sengun, Eason, Smith Jr, and now Rupert is a pretty scary sight for NBA teams.

21. Brooklyn Nets

G.G Jackson | Forward | South Carolina | 18 years old

With Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving out of Brooklyn, the Nets should focus on developing young talent. Jackson, the sixth-ranked recruit of 2022, is a dynamic scorer with a strong work ethic. A year of development playing in the G-League and being around an NBA team can set Jackson up for a decade of success.

22. Brooklyn Nets (via Phoenix Suns)

Maxwell Lewis | Wing | Pepperdine | 20 years old

With back-to-back picks, I have the Nets taking two development-focused prospects. Lewis, like Jackson, has tremendous upside but needs some polishing. Though his form regressed at the tail end of his Sophomore year, Lewis already carries NBA-level skills.

2023 NBA Mock Draft – Late First Round (picks 22-30)

23. Portland Trail Blazers (via New York Knicks)

Noah Clowney | Big | Alabama | 18 years old

There’s no question that the Trail Blazers need a front-court makeover. Not only is Jusuf Nurkic not a part of Portland’s future plans, but Clowney is also one of the best prospects remaining on the draft board. Currently, Portland doesn’t have an identity and would be ahead of schedule on their rebuild by trading Damian Lillard while his value is still high. Clowney provides versatile defensive potential with promising perimeter and exceptional interior defense.

24. Sacramento Kings

Kris Murray | Forward | Iowa | 22 years old

Even if his brother wasn’t already in Sacramento, this would be a great fit for Murray and the Kings. After sixteen seasons of failing to make the playoffs, Sacramento has not only made the postseason but has exceeded expectations looking like a legitimate NBA contender. Instead of selecting a player who needs time to develop, the Kings shouldn’t lift their foot off the gas. Murray is a player who can come in right away and provide 3&D depth to a competitive team.

25. Memphis Grizzlies

Kobe Bufkin | Guard | Michigan | 19 years old

Though finishing second in the Western Conference, the Grizzlies felt the sting of De’Anthony Melton’s absence. Bufkin is a good offensive threat who should bolster Memphis’s backcourt.

26. Indiana Pacers (via Cleveland Cavaliers)

James Nnaji | Center | FC Barcelona | 18 years old

It doesn’t hurt to add more front court depth knowing that Myles Turner is partially made of glass. Nnaji won’t make an immediate impact for the Pacers and should spend time polishing his game in the G-League. With three first-round picks and ahead of schedule on their rebuild, Indiana can afford to take the risk on a project prospect. 

27. Charlotte Hornets (via Denver Nuggets)

Marcus Sasser | Guard | Houston | 22 years old

There seems to be no dog in Charlotte, no one who cares, no one who can hustle. Sasser, coming off his senior year playing at Houston, can be the strong-whipped personality of an unorganized Hornets franchise in a few years. Though there are other prospects left on the board with higher upside, Charlotte hasn’t had the ripest history of drafting late-round talent anyway.

28. Utah Jazz (via Philadelphia 76ers)

Leonard Miller | Forward | G-League Ignite | 19 years old

After drafting Anthony Black and Jett Howard, the Jazz can afford to draft a project prospect like Indiana selecting Nnaji. Miller has a big frame and can drive to the rim with long strides. More time in the G-League would benefit Miller significantly. 

29. Indiana Pacers (via Boston Celtics)

Julian Strawther | Wing | Gonzaga | 21 years old

Hey, why not pair Strawther with his old teammate Andrew Nembhard? Strwather has the positional versatility to play in an abundant amount of lineups. A true 3&D prospect, I love Strawther’s fit on the Pacers.

30. Los Angeles Clippers (via Milwaukee Bucks)

Dariq Whitehead | Guard | Duke | 18 years old

Whitehead is the best prospect available, concluding the first round. A once highly touted high school recruit, Whitehead has the potential to be a useful asset for a deprived Clippers team. 


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