Despite the draft lottery taking place on May 16th, all focus in the NBA community is centered on an exciting postseason. However, it’s nice to check in on NBA mock drafts every few weeks or so. That’s where I come in. I have done all the research for your occasional NBA draft tune-in.
This is the second version of my five-series mock draft. Thank you for checking this out, and I hope you enjoy it (or maybe learn something!)
Rex Foster’s 2023 NBA Mock Draft 2.0
The Top Five
1. Detroit Pistons
Victor Wemanyama | Center | France | 18 years old
Detroit wins the Wemby sweepstakes in this mock draft! Simply from a roster standpoint, I believe Detroit is the best fit for Wembanyama. The 7’4 Frenchman joins Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren to form a very promising young Pistons core.
2. San Antonio Spurs
Scoot Henderson | Guard | G-League Ignite | 19 years old
Imagine: Derrick Rose
I view Scoot Henderson’s fit with San Antonio to be somewhat comparable to Anthony Edwards and Minnesota. Two hyper-athletic scorers made for primetime television, only to get drafted by small-market franchises. Adding Henderson to the Spurs roster finally gives San Antonio an identity for their future.
3. Orlando Magic
Brandon Miller | Forward | Alabama | 20 years old
Imagine: Slightly lengthier Paul George
By drafting Miller, Orlando now has three wings who can all play alongside each other. Miller can space the floor for reigning rookie of the year Paolo Banchero, while Franz Wagner can provide playmaking potential. Miller is a high-level scorer who is a match-made-in-heaven pairing alongside Banchero.
4. Charlotte Hornets
Amen Thompson | Guard | Overtime Elite | 20 years old
Imagine: Ja Morant (simply from an athleticism standpoint)
Personally, I am not as high as others on Amen Thompson simply because of his poor three-point shooting. However, there is a case to be made that Thompson is the most athletic player in this draft class. Additionally, Amen has key fundamentals to become a solid defender at the highest level. However, questions arise as to if he can fluidly play alongside LaMelo Ball – another high-usage guard.
5. Houston Rockets
Taylor Hendricks | Forward | UCF | 19 years old
Imagine: Jaden McDaniels
Over the past few weeks, Taylor Hendrick’s draft stock has taken a monumental leap. Hendrick’s playstyle can fit into any NBA system with consistent 3-point shooting and a high defensive motor. If, say, James Harden returns to Houston this summer, Hendricks would space the floor alongside Harden and Jalen Green. Hendricks is the player that championship-caliber teams crave.
6. Portland Trail Blazers
Cam Whitmore | Forward | Villanova | 18 years old
Imagine: O.G Anunoby
Whitmore carries a trait that gives me confidence that he can have a 13+ year career – competitiveness. As an explosive athlete, Whitmore can drive inside the paint with ease and is an offensive rebounding threat. There is a good possibility that Portland might trade their lottery pick, but Whitmore would fit well alongside a budding backcourt of Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, and (possibly) Damian Lillard.
7. Indiana Pacers
Jarace Walker | Forward | Houston | 19 years old
Imagine: Julius Randle (but more careful with the basketball)
Similar to Portland, the Pacers already have their backcourt of the future set in stone. Being a strong forward, Walker has the positional versatility to fit in smaller lineups. Walker also has tremendous pick & roll potential to pair with dynamic cornerstone point-guard Tyrese Haliburton. I would be happy with Indiana selecting any of the previous three picks in Hendricks, Whitmore, or Walker, as they all serve as key fits to this young, budding roster.
8. Washington Wizards
Ausar Thompson | Guard | Overtime Elite | 20 years old
Imagine: 76ers Andre Igoudala
Like my first mock draft, I have Ausar Thompson landing at 8 to the Wizards. At first, I was more critical of this fit, but after more thought and consideration – I really like this pairing. Across the NBA draft community, Thompson has received comparisons to (young) Andre Iguodala – a high IQ player with elite athleticism and defensive prowess. Washington seems pretty keen on pushing for the playoffs, and Ausar can be a good addition if all works out.
9. Utah Jazz
Cason Wallace | Guard | Kentucky | 19 years old
Imagine: Jrue Holiday (but a pinch shorter)
Let’s list a few Kentucky guards drafted since 2015. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, De’Aaron Fox, Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, Tyrese Maxey, Immanuel Quickley, Tyler Herro. The Utah Jazz are in prime position to draft the next dynamic Kentucky guard. However, there’s more reason to get excited about Wallace other than his alma mater’s proven success in developing elite NBA talent. Wallace is a demanding off-defender on and off of the ball who also possesses promising scoring potential.
10. Dallas Mavericks
Dereck Lively II | Center | Duke | 19 years old
Imagine: Jaxson Hayes
There are many glaring holes on this Dallas roster. As a win-now team, I would suspect the Mavericks to trade this lottery selection for a 3&D wing who can help provide immediately. However, if Dallas doesn’t trade this pick, Lively would make a bunch of sense. Personally, I am obsessed with lengthy, shot-blocking bigs like Lively. He fills the center position that Dallas so desperately needs.
11. Orlando Magic
Gradey Dick | Wing | Kansas | 19 years old
More spacing! Dick is a knockdown shooter that can space the floor and move extremely well off the ball. An active cutter and 3-point shooting specialist, Dick makes perfect sense for a team like Orlando, whose offense is now centered around Paolo Banchero.
12, Oklahoma City Thunder
Anthony Black | Guard | Arkansas | 19 years old
Imagine: Josh Giddey
Black’s value is too good to pass on for Sam Presti and the Thunder. A stealthy defender with lengthy arms, Brown can be another talented guard for Oklahoma City. Head coach Mark Daigneault can mix and match Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey, Lu Dort, and now Anthony Black in different lineups (or maybe all together with Chet Holmgren!).
13. Toronto Raptors
Keyonte George | Guard | Baylor | 19 years old
Imagine: Bradley Beal
This defensive-minded Toronto roster would benefit with a sparky scorer like George. With the possibility of Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. leaving this Summer, it would be smart to add a talented scorer to the backcourt.
14. New Orleans Pelicans
Nick Smith Jr | Guard | Arkansas | 19 years old
Imagine: Lonnie Walker IV (with a boosted float game)
In my last mock draft, I had Toronto selecting Nick Smith and New Orleans taking George. In short, both teams would benefit from adding electric scoring to the backcourt. Personally, I prefer George over Smith Jr simply because of Smith’s underwhelming season at Arkansas. Regardless, he is a solid late-lottery pick for a bland Pelicans backcourt.
2023 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Middle of the First (15-23)
15. Atlanta Hawks
Brice Sensabaugh | Forward | Ohio State | 19 years old
Imagine: Michael Redd (minus the wonky shot release)
If Atlanta decides to move forward with Trae Young moving into next season, Sensabaugh would be a nice floor spacer. By sending their future draft capital to San Antonio in exchange for Dejounte Murray last summer, Atlanta really needs to hit this pick. Sensabaugh is a proven bucket-getter who will make an impact anywhere in the NBA.
16. Utah Jazz (via Minnesota Timberwolves)
Maxwell Lewis | Wing | Pepperdine | 20 years old
Imagine: Trey Murphy III
Lewis has one of the highest offensive ceilings in this draft class. However, Lewis is a defensive liability and needs to polish his fundamentals. A patient, rebuilding team – like Utah – could be extremely beneficial for his development to become an important piece to any NBA team.
17. Los Angeles Lakers
Jordan Hawkins | Guard/Wing | UConn | 21 years old
Imagine: Richard Hamilton
LeBron loves winners in the NCAA tournament! Hawkins is also a player who can compete right away for a Lakers win-now Lakers squad. Alongside Austin Reaves and Max Christie, the Lakers have collected themselves a bunch of talented, young shooters.
18. Miami Heat
Jalen Hood-Schifino | Wing | Indiana | 20 years old
Imagine: Spencer Dinwiddie
The Miami Heat bring in a balanced two-way player who has a gifted defensive posture and can facilitate on the other end of the floor. Hood-Schifino is a hustler and a perfect embodiment of “Heat Culture”.
19. Golden State Warriors
Colby Jones | Wing | Xavier | 21 years old
Imagine: Blazers’ (or even Clippers) Nicolas Batum
In previous drafts, the Warriors have been keen on selecting development-heavy players. Their 2020 first-round pick, James Wiseman, was traded at the deadline. 2021 first-rounders, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody, were poised to make giant leaps this season – which has yet to happen (Moody has looked better these playoffs!). By selecting Colby Jones, the Warriors don’t need to wait. Jones is an NBA-ready talent with a very high basketball IQ and defensive motor.
20. Houston Rockets (via Los Angeles Clippers)
Kobe Bufkin | Guard | Michigan | 19 years old
Imagine: Immanuel Quickley
Bufkin’s value is too high for the Rockets to pass on here at 20. An electric guard with a crafty handle and an elite scoring ceiling, Bufkin can become a nice spark plug for Houston. Yes, the Rockets still lack defensive prowess and size in the backcourt, but passing on Bufkin would be a mistake. Best player available > fit.
21. Brooklyn Nets (via Phoenix Suns)
Leonard Miller | Forward | G-League Ignite | 19 years old
Imagine: Stretchy Kyle Kuzma with a higher defensive upside
Around the mock draft community, there is increasing buzz that Miller could slide into the lottery. At 6’10, Miller has a good handle for his size and uses his size to his advantage. In the NBA, Miller can be an above-average defender and a threat when in transition for both sides of the floor. Currently, he still needs time to develop fundamentals and would benefit from more time in the G-League.
22. Brooklyn Nets
Sidy Cissoko | Wing | G-League Ignite | 19 years old
Imagine: Jeff Green
When a team has two first-round picks, it is typical to take a project prospect (like Miller) along with an NBA-ready prospect. However, I have the Nets taking another player who would benefit from playing in the G-League for a little more time. Cissoko, like Miller, is lengthy at 6 ‘7 with a 7’ 0 wingspan and is already an intense defender.
23. Portland Trail Blazers (via New York Knicks)
Bobi Klintman | Forward/Big | Wake Forest | 20 years old
Imagine: less polished Jaren Jackson Jr.
Over the last few weeks, Klintman has been attracting many NBA teams. Similar to Peyton Watson last year, Klintman didn’t have a massive role for his collegiate team last year. However, the potential is crystal clear. Klintman is the epitome of what NBA teams look for in players with a 6 ’10 frame. The Swedish forward can stretch the floor while being able to defend positions 1-5.
2023 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: Late First Round (Picks 24-30)
24. Sacramento Kings
Kris Murray | Forward | Iowa | 22 years old
Congruent to my previous mock draft, I had Kris Murray teaming up with his brother Keegan in Sacramento. Riding into next season with sky-high expectations, Murray fits the needs of the Kings. At 22 years old, Murray is NBA-ready and can benefit Sacramento by spacing the floor and being alert on defense.
25. Memphis Grizzlies
Jett Howard | Wing | Michigan | 19 years old
Imagine: Khris Middleton (but even more boring)
Memphis finished 23rd in team 3-point shooting last year. Selecting Howard gives the Grizzlies a knockdown deep shooter who tries hard on defense.
26. Indiana Pacers (via Cleveland Cavaliers)
Rayan Rupert | Wing | France | 19 years old
Imagine: Mikal Bridges
Indiana should continue to bolster their forwards and wings this Summer. Rupert does just that with an extreme defensive upside. With a 7’3 wingspan, Rupert can clog passing lanes, and contest shots, and be effective in the fast break.
27. Charlotte Hornets (via Denver Nuggets)
Bilal Coulibaly | Wing | France | 18 years old
Imagine: Keldon Johnson
Similar to Rupert, Coulibaly is a young, lengthy, intense defender. In the LaMelo Ball era, the Hornets have consistently carried one of the NBA’s worst defenses. With Ball, Thompson, and now Coulibaly, Charlotte has now built a very sexy backcourt.
28. Utah Jazz (via Philadelphia 76ers)
G.G Jackson | Forward | South Carolina | 18 years old
Imagine: Marcus Morris
I don’t necessarily like Utah drafting two high-risk players in Maxwell Lewis and now G.G Jackson, but the value is just too high to pass on the former Gamecock. Once a top-6 prospect coming out of high school, Jackson still provides flashes (at times!) of a dynamic three-level scorer.
29. Indiana Pacers (via Boston Celtics)
Noah Clowney | Big | Alabama | 18 years old
Imagine: Chris Boucher
This past January, Indiana re-signed center Myles Turner to a two-year – $60 million extension. However, it’s evident that Turner and the Pacers have a complicated relationship, with trade talks centered around Turner for a few years now. Clowney offers similar linguistics to Turner with solid rim protection and glimpses of becoming a reliable stretch-big.
30. Los Angeles Clippers (via Milwaukee Bucks)
Dariq Whitehead | Guard/Wing | Duke | 18 years old
Imagine: Derrick White
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported Friday that Whitehead will be having a second foot procedure but will be ready for the NBA season. The Clippers grab the best player remaining in this draft class to scrape together a crucial asset as a result of 2019’s horrendous Paul George trade.