Rex Foster’s NBA Mock Draft 3.0

Oct 4, 2022; Henderson, NV, USA; NBA G League Ignite guard Scoot Henderson (0) reacts to a three-point score by guard Mojave King (7) against the Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 during the third quarter at The Dollar Loan Center. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The National Basketball Association has been nothing less than euphoric in the past week, especially for small-market franchises. My beloved Denver Nuggets are in their first NBA Finals, and the San Antonio Spurs won the draft rights to Victor Wembanyama. With this big development, it’s time for another NBA mock Draft.

Rex Foster’s NBA Mock Draft 3.0 – Post Lottery

A quick note about the Nuggets – how awesome is it to see this team finally reach their full potential? Backlashed with an ACL tear, back injuries, small market bias, player frustration, trade rumors, racism, and countless times being doubted in the media, this Nuggets squad has fought through hell to get to where they are now. I want to give credit to coach Michael Malone. Nobody in this league wants to win more than him. You can tell that he just cares more than any other coach. He is the team’s ultimate teacher (look at MPJ’s defensive strides!) and leader. He has seen it all and won’t give up until he’s covered in champagne. 

I have implemented a new twist for the third edition of my mock draft series. For rebuilding teams, I listed their core of young players. For teams with a more content roster, I listed their starting lineup, and just for fun, I included little tidbits for other teams. Additionally, with prospect comparisons, I have included a little taste of every team’s future. 

I hope you enjoy it! 

NBA Mock Draft – The Lottery: Top 5

1. San Antonio Spurs

Victor Wembanyama | 7-4 Center | 19 years old | France

Imagine: 7’4 Kevin Durant with Rudy Gobert’s shot blocking

Core: Victor Wembanyama, Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, Jeremy Sochan, Tre Jones

Previously in my second mock draft, I claimed Detroit would be the best pairing for Wembanyama’s sake. I would like to take that statement back. San Antonio couldn’t be a better fit for Wembanyama. Gregg Popovich gets the opportunity to coach the greatest prospect since LeBron James and has a pretty decent track record for developing talent (I don’t know, ask Tim Duncan, Kawhi Leonard, 2nd rounder Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker. Dejounte Murray is doing just well too).

The sweet thing about Wemby being a Spur is that he was the missing piece for a rebuilding franchise. Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, and Jeremy Sochan were all quality draft selections in the post-Kawhi era, but not the monumental player teams orbit around. Wembanyama is that exact piece San Antonio needed, and now they finally have their guy. (P.S. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Spurs make the playoffs in two years. It would be fun for them to take on a gigantic salary like Jordan Poole or even Bradley Beal). 

2. Charlotte Hornets

Scoot Henderson | 6-2 Guard | 19 years old | G-League Ignite

Imagine: 2011 Derrick Rose

Core: Scoot Henderson, LaMelo Ball, P.J Washington, Mark Williams, Nick Richards

Charlotte has some decisions to make. The Hornets could (A) select the prospect who fits the team’s roster dynamic best (Brandon Miller), (B) shop this pick for a team willing to trade for Scoot Henderson (hello Washington and Utah) and gain a win-now player, or (C) take the best player available (Scoot Henderson). Personally, I would love to watch a backcourt of Scoot Henderson and LaMelo Ball. The scoring and playmaking would just be off the charts. If the fit turns sour, no problem, trade Scoot (or, God knows, probably LaMelo) for a boatload of assets. 

3. Portland Trail Blazers

Brandon Miller | 6-9 Wing | 20 years old | Alabama

Imagine: Slightly lengthier Paul George

Potential Trade Partners: Chicago, Toronto, LA Clippers

Portland is currently shopping their 3rd overall selection to bolster their roster around Damian Lillard. If Portland finds no rightful suitors, then Brandon Miller should be an easy pick. Miller would complement the promising, young backcourt of Simons and Sharpe relatively well with an immaculate amount of shot-making. 

4. Houston Rockets

Amen Thompson | 6-7 Guard | 20 years old | Overtime Elite

Imagine: Taller Ja Morant (with better defense and worse shooting)

Core: Jalen Green, Amen Thompson, Alperen Sengun, Tari Eason, Jabari Smith

With a team full of hungry shot-makers, Thompson could provide what he’s best at – playmaking. Arguably the most explosive player in the draft, Thompson also is a freak athlete – which gives him more high defensive upside. If Thompson buys in (and that’s a big if), he could turn Houston’s rebuilding ship in the right direction. I also love his pairing with Ime Udoka, a defensive-minded, gritty coach. 

5. Detroit Pistons

Taylor Hendricks | 6-9 Forward | 19 years old | UCF

Imagine: Jaden McDaniels

Core: Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Taylor Hendricks, James Wiseman, Jalen Duren

Out of the remaining forwards on the board, I tend to favor Hendricks because of his balance. A consistent three-point shooter at the college level while also a top defender in his draft class. While Hendricks doesn’t have the upside of Whitmore or Walker, Detroit should make the safe selection here. Cunningham, Ivey, Hendricks, and Duren is a rock solid young core! Now, Cunningham needs to make the leap to validate that he’s the man in Detroit. 

NBA Mock Draft – The Lottery: 6-14

6. Orlando Magic

Gradey Dick | 6-6 Guard | 19 years old | Kansas

Imagine: If Malik Monk and Bojan Bogdanovic had a kid

Core: Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Markelle Fultz, Gradey Dick, Wendell Carter Jr.

Orlando could gamble on a high-upside player here, or they can take the right player. Dick is the perfect player for Orlando with his elite shot-making ability to pair alongside Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. It’s surprising to see that other mocks have Orlando play the patient game and take Dick at 11. Indiana, Washington, Utah, and Dallas are all very realistic landing spots for Dick. Dear Orlando – don’t fool around, and please take your guy when you have the chance. 

7. Indiana Pacers

Jarace Walker | 6-8 Forward | 19 years old | Houston

Imagine: Aaron Gordon 

Core: Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin, Myles Turner, Jarace Walker, Aaron Nesmith 

If I were Indiana, I would value the defensive-minded Walker over the offensive upside of Whitmore. The glaring hole in Indiana’s successful rebuild has been a dependable and versatile perimeter defender. Walker does just that. He will be assigned to the Jayson Tatums and even Giannis Antetokunmpos of the world. Additionally, Walker could be a sneaky good pick & roll duo with Tyrese Haliburton and can be used as a small-ball center.  

8. Washington Wizards

Anthony Black | 6-7 Guard | 19 years old | Arkansas

Imagine: Josh Giddey (with more length and a pinch more burst)

Starting 5: Monte Morris, Bradley Beal, Kyle Kuzma*, Kristaps Porzingis*, Daniel Gafford

I am pretty stuck with this Wizards pick. Whitmore is the best player available and Ausar Thompson isn’t that close behind. But at the same time, Anthony Black is right up there talent-wise with Whitmore and Thompson. From Washington’s standpoint, they are completely stuck in the middle between contention and rebuilding. They have been for about four years now. Regardless, this is the right pick. Black has an A+ size, which bodes well for defense while also having a pure feel for playmaking. 

*player option this offseason

9. Utah Jazz

Cam Whitmore | 6-7 Wing | 18 years old | Villanova

Imagine: Corey Brewer (but a pinch smaller and heftier) 

Core: Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, Cam Whitmore, Collin Sexton

What a fit for Utah! Without needing to trade up, the Jazz select one of the primer talents in this draft class. Whitmore sliding to 9 is almost comparable to Deni Avdija in 2020 or Nerlens Noel in 2013. Still only 18 years old, there is room to grow for the Villanova product. As an active shot creator, Whitmore can be the focal point of Utah’s blank(ish) backcourt canvas. 

10. Dallas Mavericks 

Dereck Lively II | 7-1 Center | 19 years old | Duke

Imagine: Jaxson Hayes

Starting 5: Kyrie Irving*, Luka Doncic, Tim Hardaway Jr, Reggie Bullock, Dereck Lively II

For consecutive mocks, I have Dallas selecting Lively at the 10th spot. In all likelihood (or Livelyhood), the Mavericks will shop this lottery pick for a win-now player (Alex Caruso comes to mind). Look, there are many needs for this Dallas team, and selecting Lively would solve many of their defensive problems. Christian Wood is just not going to cut it as your long-term center. 

*Unrestricted free agent (plus it’s Kyrie)

11. Orlando Magic (via Chicago)

Ausar Thompson | 6-7 Wing | 20 years old | Overtime Elite

Imagine: 76ers Andre Iguodala

Revised Core: Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Markelle Fultz, Gradey Dick, Ausar Thompson, Wendell Carter Jr

This is probably Ausar Thompson’s floor for the draft. It’s funny because most mocks have Orlando taking Ausar with their sixth pick and Dick with their eleventh pick. I have the roles reversed in this version. In short, Ausar sliding to 11 would be a tremendous pick for the Magic because of his value and fit to the team. Thompson would be a great defensive fit in the backcourt alongside Markelle Fultz. 

12. Oklahoma City Thunder

Leonard Miller | 6-10 Forward | 19 years old | G-League Ignite

Imagine: Stretchy Paul Millsap

Core: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jalen Williams, Josh Giddey, Chet Holmgren, Lu Dort

If there is one thing GM Sam Presti likes, it’s tall, lengthy, high-upside prospects. Leonard Miller fits those criteria. Miller is a force of nature when attacking the rim (made 67% of baskets at the rim last year) and is a fluid athlete as well. This is the epitome of an OKC draft pick. If he lives up to his potential, a frontcourt of Holmgren and Miller could be one of the NBA’s best. 

13. Toronto Raptors

Cason Wallace | 6-4 Guard | 19 years old | Kentucky

Imagine: Jrue Holiday (but a pinch shorter)

Players 25 or younger: Scottie Barnes, O.G Anunoby, Gary Trent Jr*, Precious Achiuwa

Wallace is the best guard and player available here at the tail end of the lottery. With Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. poised to leave in free agency this offseason, it would be idiotic for Masai Ujiri not to select a guard. At Kentucky, Wallace displayed promising two-way potential with sturdy defensive knowledge and catch & shoot consistency. Kentucky guards tend to succeed in the league and Wallace looks like the next man in line. 

*Player option

14. New Orleans Pelicans

Kobe Bufkin | 6-4 Guard | 19 years old | Michigan

Imagine: Immanuel Quickley 

Players 25 or younger: Zion Williamson, Trey Murphy III, Dyson Daniels, Herb Jones, Naji Marshall

As a hyper-quick scorer, Bufkin would mesh well with Dyson Daniels in the Pelicans’ backcourt. If New Orleans stays healthy for 65% of this year (and that’s a big ask), the Pelicans can be one of the NBA’s best teams. New Orleans, year after year, is slowly adding to their arsenal of young talent, but none of it matters when Zion Williamson continues to struggle with injuries. 

NBA Mock Draft – Middle of the First Round

15. Atlanta Hawks

Keyonte George | 6-4 Guard | 19 years old | Baylor

Imagine: Bradley Beal

Starting 5: Trae Young, Dejounte Murray, DeAndre Hunter, John Collins, Clint Capela

The Hawks don’t really have a glaring hole or overwhelming need on their roster currently. They have positional depth, a healthy amount of scoring, and defensive talent. However, getting a nice lead ball-handler in George from a successful college program in Baylor would be a nice pick here at 15. 

16. Utah Jazz (via Minnesota)

Nick Smith Jr. | 6-4 Guard | 19 years old | Arkansas

Imagine: Lonnie Walker IV (with a boosted float game)

Revised Core: Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, Cam Whitmore, Collin Sexton, Nick Smith Jr

Whew! This ends a streak of four straight guards being drafted. If GM Danny Ainge pulls both Whitmore and Smith Jr, the Jazz would end the night being considered a “winner” of the draft. Once touted as a high lottery pick, Smith suffered a knee injury at the beginning of the NCAA season. Yes, Smith needs to improve in some areas (particularly shot selection and defense). Playing in Utah, under a patient and steady rebuild, Smith can regain his once dominant stride.  

17. Los Angeles Lakers 

Jordan Hawkins | 6-5 Wing | 21 years old | UConn

Imagine: Richard Hamilton

Funny LeBron Moments: 

The Lakers are in win-now mode, and Hawkins is a win-now prospect. There is a history of LeBron’s preference come draft night – winners. Not only did Hawkins dazzle in the NCAA tournament, but he also fits perfectly alongside James and Co. A polished three-&-D prospect, this pairing between Hawkins and Los Angeles was meant to be. 

18. Miami Heat

Bobi Klintman | 6-10 Forward | 20 years old | Wake Forest

Imagine: Nicholas Batum

Frontcourt Players: Bam Adebayo, Kevin Love, Cody Zeller, Omer Yurtseven

Klintman is the ultimate high-risk, high-reward prospect. With a well-rounded proportion of size, length, and shooting, Klintman (with the proper development) can fit in any NBA lineup. Klintman is a project prospect and would benefit from being drafted under the appropriate wing. Miami can be that team for Bobi, as the Heat are one of the best developmental teams (if not the best) in the NBA. 

19. Golden State Warriors

Jalen Hood-Schifino | 6-6 Wing/Guard | 20 years old | Indiana

Imagine: Spencer Dinwiddie

2022 Luxury Tax: $346 million 

There is a bunch of uncertainty heading into this offseason for the Warriors. My assumption would be that Golden State dumps Jordan Poole’s massive $124M contract to a team like San Antonio or Orlando this summer. Do the Warriors bring back Draymond Green and Klay Thompson? Taking Hood-Schifino gives Golden State some neutrality and balance in their backcourt. A poised defender and playmaker, Hood-Schifino is the safe call here at 19. 

20. Houston Rockets (via Los Angeles Clippers)

Kris Murray | 6-8 Wing | 22 years old | Iowa

Imagine: Keegan Murray (or Tobias Harris if it cleanses your palate)  

Revised Core: Jalen Green, Amen Thompson, Alperen Sengun, Tari Eason, Jabari Smith, Kris Murray

I really like Murray’s fit with Houston. Murray is a smart player who can be reliable on defense and overall control his composure. Houston is full of young, hungry shot makers dying for their next contract. Murray knows his role, and that’s all Houston needs him to be. Space the floor and play defense. 

21. Brooklyn Nets (via Phoenix)

Bilal Coulibaly | 6-7 Wing | 18 years old | France

Imagine: Torrey Craig

Player Assets: Cameron Johnson, Cam Thomas, Nic Claxton, Day’Ron Sharpe 

It would be wise for Brooklyn to load up on high-upside prospects. Coulibaly, Victor Wembanyama’s teammate in France, is just that guy for the Nets. A promising defender who has shown strides of shot-making last season with the Metropolitans 92. 

22. Brooklyn Nets

Dariq Whitehead | 6-6 Wing/Guard | 18 years old | Duke

Imagine: Derrick White

Draft Capital: Ten first-round picks throughout 2028

Whitehead is worth taking a chance on. Like Nick Smith Jr, Whitehead was once a highly-touted lottery pick, only for his freshman season to be stung by injuries. There is a lot to be excited about with Whitehead. He made 42% of his three-pointers at Duke, moves without the ball, and has a 6-9 wingspan. Yes, Whitehead had an ugly year at Duke, but let’s not fully rely on his injury-riddled season for a whole evaluation. 

NBA Mock Draft – Late First Round

23. Portland Trail Blazers (via New York)

Noah Clowney | 6-10 Forward | 18 years old | Alabama

Imagine: Chris Boucher

Players 25 or younger: Anfernee Simons, Shaedon Sharpe, Cam Reddish

Brandon Miller and Noah Clowney are teammates again (if Portland doesn’t trade their third overall)! Jusuf Nurkic, I’m devastated to say (not really), doesn’t have a long-term future on the Trail Blazers roster. Clowney is a more modern big that can protect the rim and space the floor. 

24. Sacramento Kings

Colby Jones | 6-6 Wing | 21 years old | Xavier

Imagine: Malcolm Brogdon

Starting 5: De’Aaron Fox, Kevin Huerter, Harrison Barnes*, Keegan Murray, Domantas Sabonis

Another “win-now” prospect for a “win-now” team. Expectations are sky-high in Sacramento next year. If the Kings want to get out of the first-round next postseason, a prospect like Jones could push Sacramento to a higher ceiling. 

*Unrestricted free agent

25. Memphis Grizzlies

Jett Howard | 6-8 Wing | 19 years old | Michigan

Imagine: Khris Middleton (but even more boring)

Starting 5: Ja Morant*, Desmond Bane, John Konchar??, Jaren Jackson Jr, Steven Adams

Dillon Brooks needs to be replaced. Jett Howard could be an easy solution not only for the short term but the long term as well. Howard doesn’t have the same defensive intensity as Brooks, but Brooks can’t nearly stroke it better than Howard. Every team wants more shooters, and that’s what Howard can bring to Memphis (not those types of shooters, Memphis has plenty). 

*Assuming suspension

26. Indiana Pacers (via Cleveland)

Brice Sensabuagh | 6-6 Wing | 19 years old | Ohio State

Imagine: Michael Redd (minus the wonky shot release)

Draft Capital: 9 first-round picks throughout 2029

Sensabaugh is a pure bucket-getter. He shot 48% from the field, 40% from three-point range, and 83% from the line at Ohio State. The scoring potential is obviously there with Sensabaugh, but his defense is non-existent. Still, this is good value for the Pacers, who already drafted a defensive forward in Jarace Walker earlier. 

27. Charlotte Hornets (via Denver)

Sidy Cissoko | 6-7 Wing | 19 years old | G-League Ignite

Imagine: Evan Turner

2013 first-round draft pick: Cody Zeller

Like Portland, the Hornets are pairing their lottery pick with a teammate (yay!). There are no questions that a LaMelo Ball/Scoot Henderson backcourt would work offensively. However, on the defensive end, there are real worries. Cissoko really thrived defensively for G-League Ignite last season with LaMelo. Maybe he could do the same for a young backcourt in need of defensive prowess.  

28. Utah Jazz (via Philadelphia)

Rayan Rupert | 6-7 Wing | 19 years old | France

Imagine: Mikal Bridges

2013 first-round draft pick: Shabazz Muhammad

Rupert has the physical tools and defensive upside that NBA teams look for in larger backcourt prospects. The Frenchman already has a year of professional basketball experience playing in New Zealand last year. Rupert is 6-7 and has a 7-3 wingspan (!!!) and quick lateral movement. All this sounds fantastic, but where Rupert really needs to develop is on the offensive end. A few years in the G-League would really polish Rupert into an NBA role player. 

29. Indiana Pacers (via Boston)

G.G Jackson | 6-9 Forward | 18 years old | South Carolina

Imagine: Marcus Morris

2013 first-round draft pick: Solomon Hill

Jackson is comparable to Sensabaugh with his high offensive potential and low defensive floor. The Pacers gamble and bet that one of the two scoring forwards will pan out. 

30. Los Angeles Clippers (via Milwaukee)

James Nnaji | 6-10 Center | 18 years old | Nigeria

Imagine: Clint Capela

Starting 5: Russell Westbrook, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Nicolas Batum, Ivica Zubac

The Clippers might as well develop a promising big man for their future. Nnaji has played professionally for a few years now and could progress quicker than his fellow classmates.