2023 NBA Mock Draft: Full 2-Round Projections at the New Year

Jonathan WassermanJanuary 5, 2023

2023 NBA Mock Draft: Full 2-Round Projections at the New Year

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    Brandon Miller, Alabama
    Brandon Miller, Alabama Chris McDill/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Conference play is picking up, and that means NBA teams are spreading their scouts out across the nation.

    This is a time when prospects validate their hot starts and when breakout names start to emerge.

    Our first 2023 mock draft has a new lottery pick and names added to the board who'd been off the radar in 2021-22.

    Meanwhile, the top two projected picks appear as strong as ever, giving the 2023 draft similar vibes to the one that had Zion Williamson and Ja Morant go No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

    Draft order based on standings heading into Wednesday's games. Stats up to date entering Wednesday's games.

Top Five

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    Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite
    Scoot Henderson, G League IgniteMercedes Oliver/NBAE via Getty Images

    1. Detroit Pistons: Victor Wembanyama (Metropolitans 92, PF/C, 2004)

    Add a 27-point, 12-rebound, MVP effort in the LNB All-Star Game to Wembanyama's scouting reel. He continues to astonish with his ball-handling control and coordinated finishes off drives for a 7'4" big. He'd actually had a few off-games to end December, whether he was missing threes or forcing tougher shots inside the arc. But it still sounds like only medical red flags could lead to the eventual lottery winner hesitating on Wembanyama, who turned 19 years old on Wednesday and still leads France's top league in scoring, rebounding, shot-blocking while averaging 1.6 threes and 2.3 assists for 11-4 Boulogne-Levallois.

    2. Charlotte Hornets: Scoot Henderson (G League Ignite, PG, 2004)

    Just as questions began to surface about whether Henderson would shut it down until the draft (broken nose), he returned to average 19.5 points and 6.5 assists in four games over an eight-day span. Explosive finishing, dribble creativity, mid-range scoring/shot-making, improved three-point shooting and enough playmaking have helped paint Henderson as the draft's second No. 1 overall talent. Improving as a decision-maker (shot selection and turnovers) stands out as the only important area he'll need to prioritize early in the pros.

    3. Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson (Overtime Elite, PG/SG, 2003)

    Thompson's stock will be tied to how well the top NCAA prospects look. At this point, he still appears like the draft's most enticing prospect outside of Wembanyama and Henderson, mostly due to his superhero athletic abilities, playmaking at 6'7" and defensive coverage. While debate still swirls around his shooting—whether it can improve and how it would affect his outlook if it doesn't—Thompson still offers enough scoring potential with his transition play, handle/quickness for creating and elevation into two-point short shots/finishes.

    4. San Antonio Spurs: Ausar Thompson (Overtime Elite, SG/SF, 2003)

    Thompson will battle his brother, Cam Whitmore, Nick Smith Jr., Keyonte George and Brandon Miller for top-five interest. Right now, Thompson's total athleticism—quickness, bounce, flexibility, coordination—and defense remain ahead of the pack. Signs of improved shooting and the likelihood for more should ultimately give him an edge, especially now that Smith's knee problems have resurfaced and Whitmore hasn't flashed the most convincing shooting or passing skills yet.

    5. Orlando Magic: Cam Whitmore (Villanova, SF, Freshman)

    Occasional flashes of pull-up shooting and drives have been encouraging for Whitmore's scoring development, but his physical tools and athleticism (for transition, cutting and putbacks) still fuel most of his production and value. While he could stand to improve his pick-and-roll play and decision-making (14 turnovers, five assists), Whitmore has still showcased promising shot-making to complement the pressure he can put on the rim.

Late Lottery

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    Maxwell Lewis, Pepperdine
    Maxwell Lewis, PepperdineDarryl Oumi/Getty Images

    6. Orlando Magic (via Bulls): Keyonte George (Baylor, PG/SG, Freshman)

    The eye test, production and some unexpected passing from George have kept scouts from nitpicking at inefficient percentages. They see a surefire scorer with dangerous shot-making versatility and range, attacking burst and enough passing feel for coaches to use him for playmaking.

    7. Oklahoma City Thunder: Brandon Miller (Alabama, SF, Freshman)

    While Miller continues to strengthen his case as a 6'9" shooter, he's also made 60.0 percent of his twos over Alabama's last five games, a potentially important development that should sway teams to feel safe considering him with a top-five pick.

    8. Toronto Raptors: Nick Smith Jr. (Arkansas, PG/SG, Freshman)

    With Smith out indefinitely due to knee trouble, medical reports will factor heavily into the freshman's draft stock. It wouldn't be shocking if his season was over after just five games at Arkansas, though he mostly backed up the preseason hype in December, showcasing enticing creation and three-level shot-making skill for a 6'5" potential lead guard.

    9. New Orleans Pelicans (via Lakers): Jett Howard (Michigan, SG/SF, Freshman)

    At 6'8", averaging 2.5 threes with 34 assists to 13 turnovers, Howard has showcased the type of shot-making and decision-making for NBA teams to picture an easy fit. Flashes of self-creation also hint at untapped scoring potential.

    10. Washington Wizards: Cason Wallace (Kentucky, PG/SG, Freshman)

    While scouts try to assess the height of Wallace's ceiling, they're comfortable with the floor tied to his passing IQ (55 assists, 24 turnovers), shooting accuracy (45.6 percent 3PT) and signature defensive pressure/anticipation (2.3 steals per game).

    11. Utah Jazz (via Timberwolves): Maxwell Lewis (Pepperdine, SG/SF, Sophomore)

    With scouts traveling to Spokane for Lewis versus Gonzaga, using it as a key evaluation to gauge the legitimacy of his outstanding start, the sophomore delivered with 20 points and five assists on 9-of-14 shooting. Showing no problems creating or hitting contested shots, the 6'7" sophomore even delivered a handful of high-level passes in a playmaking role. Confidence continues to rise in Lewis' separation and shot-making skill and overall potential to initiate offense.

    12. Atlanta Hawks: GG Jackson II (South Carolina, PF, Freshman)

    For a 6'9" 18-year-old, Jackson's handle for creation, shooting versatility, athletic finishes and energy should be enough to convince lottery teams to look past inefficiency, questionable shot selection and limited passing/defensive numbers.

    13. Utah Jazz: Gradey Dick (Kansas, SF, Freshman)

    Dick feels like a lock to wind up somewhere in the late-lottery to mid-first round, with those teams expected to value the certainty tied to his 6'8" size, elite shooting, efficient finishing and decision-making.

    14. Golden State Warriors: Jarace Walker (Houston, PF, Freshman)

    Inconsistent offense has led to some scouts questioning Walker's scoring potential, but 6'8", 235-pound size, versatility and defensive upside will keep interest from fading.

Nos. 15-30

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    Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State
    Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio StateRich Schultz/Getty Images

    15. Phoenix Suns: Anthony Black (Arkansas, PG/SG, Freshman)

    Despite questions about Black's self-creation and upside as an NBA scorer, his ability to play-make for teammates and defend guards at 6'7"—plus the encouraging start from three (13-of-36)—highlights valued versatility and multiple ways for him to impact games.

    16. New York Knicks: Kel'el Ware (Oregon, C, Freshman)

    Ware has mixed eye-opening games with quiet ones, but the flashes will be powerful enough to entice lottery teams and get them thinking about a shot-blocker who'll eventually stretch the floor, create for himself out of the post and generally make good reads/decisions.

    17. Miami Heat: Terquavion Smith (NC State, PG/SG, Sophomore)

    Smith finds himself in a slump (15-of-55 last three games), as some of the finishing issues he had last year have begun to resurface. There is still too much evidence of special shot-making and improving playmaking that will help first-round teams picture instant offense.

    18. Chicago Bulls (via Blazers): Brice Sensabaugh (Ohio State, SG/SF, Freshman)

    Even if limited athleticism and a 235-pound frame make it tough for scouts to picture a star NBA scoring wing, Sensabaugh has been too efficient (52.4 percent FG) and effective getting to his spots, separating in the mid-range and shooting threes in volume (46.6 percent, 4.5 attempts per game).

    19. Los Angeles Clippers: Dariq Whitehead (Duke, SF, Freshman)

    Whitehead is slowly building back rhythm with his shot-making and self-creation moves into drives and jumpers. At 18 years old, a delayed start (due to an injury) and strong defensive tools should buy him wiggle room with scouts. Gradually answering questions about his shot selection, finishing and shooting consistency should help scouts gain back confidence in evaluators preseason scouting which suggested that Whitehead possessed star scoring potential.

    20. Indiana Pacers: Taylor Hendricks (Central Florida, PF, Freshman)

    Scouts have been buzzing about Hendricks, especially his defensive tools and movement. But he's also at 41.0 percent from three and consistently delivering big finishes above the rim. Scouts were mostly unfamiliar with Hendricks until last month, and he figures to continue raising their confidence with more consistent shooting, highlight dunks and shot-blocking during conference play.

    21. Sacramento Kings: Noah Clowney (Alabama, PF, Freshman)

    Clowney's archetype is an obvious draw, being a 6'10" freshman who looks comfortable from three and moving defensively while blocking shots and rebounding.

    22. New York Knicks (via Mavericks): Colby Jones (Xavier, PG/SG, Junior)

    Improvement as a shooter and big games against Gonzaga and Connecticut have scouts taking Jones seriously. Teams will see an easy fit in a 6'6", interchangeable guard/wing who's averaging 5.6 assists, making 45.0 percent of his threes and providing defensive toughness/versatility.

    23. Brooklyn Nets (via 76ers): Rayan Rupert (New Zealand Breakers, SG/SF, 2004)

    After missing two months, Rupert returned to score 14 points with two threes on Wednesday, an encouraging sign for a projected three-and-D wing whom international scouts have been waiting to fully assess. Last year, we saw Ousmane Dieng use the second half of the NBL season to improve his stock, and Rupert should have a similar opportunity, though with a different, less versatile, more defined skill set for off-ball scoring.

    24. Los Angeles Lakers (via Pelicans): Kyle Filipowski (Duke, PF, Freshman)

    Production and a valued stretch-big skill set should keep Filipowski in the first-round mix all season, though a recent shooting slump has led to some questions about his true comfort level from NBA range.

    25. Indiana Pacers (via Cavaliers): Kris Murray (Iowa, PF, Junior)

    Though Murray isn't as threatening with the ball as Keegan was, he's showcased similarly translatable off-ball scoring with his spot-up and movement shooting, cutting and offensive rebounding. He's coming off his third 30-point game (versus Penn State) of the season.

    26. Memphis Grizzlies: Jordan Walsh (Arkansas, SF, Freshman)

    With Trevon Brazile out for the season, Walsh is starting to showcase his value with off-ball scoring, defensive versatility/IQ and constant hustle plays. There is a path for Walsh to climb boards as his touches and confidence increase.

    27. Charlotte Hornets (via Nuggets): Jordan Hawkins (Connecticut, SG, Sophomore)

    Even without showing any substantial improvement to his creation, Hawkins is building a first-round case around plug-and-play shot-making in an off-ball scoring role.

    28. Houston Rockets (via Bucks): Dillon Mitchell (Texas, PF, Freshman)

    Special quickness and bounce for finishing and defensive versatility could be enough for Mitchell to draw first-round interest. He's shown too little as a creator, shooter or passer to compete for realistic consideration with the lottery freshmen.

    29. Utah Jazz (via Nets): Ricky Council IV (Arkansas, SF, Junior)

    Averaging 17.9 points, 2.5 assists and 1.8 steals, Council has caught scouts' attention with his handle and quickness for creation, athleticism for finishing and defending and impressive touch on short jumpers and paint attempts. Limited three-point shooting and funky mechanics are holding him back from flying up boards.

    30. Indiana Pacers (via Celtics): Jalen Wilson (Kansas, SF/PF, Junior)

    A dramatic bump in usage for Wilson has led to more contested shots and a lower finishing percentage, but through 14 games, Wilson has hit more threes (31) than he hit all last season (30) while shooting 41.5 percent on pull-ups and 46.4 percent off screens (per Synergy Sports).

Nos. 31-45

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    Marcus Sasser, Houston
    Marcus Sasser, HoustonAP Photo/Kevin M. Cox

    31. Detroit Pistons: Sidy Cissoko (G League Ignite, SG/SF, 2004)

    Cissoko hit a pair of three-pointers in front of NBA executives at the G League Showcase, and though he's still missing a bread-and-butter skill, there is Swiss Army knife versatility tied shot-making potential, playmaking flashes and defensive tools.

    32. Philadelphia 76ers (via Hornets): Marcus Sasser (Houston, PG/SG, Senior)

    Despite Sasser's lack of playmaking, teams could picture a shot-making specialist who can spread the floor or generate offense in ball-screen situations.

    33. Boston Celtics (via Rockets): Leonard Miller (G League Ignite, SF/PF, 2003)

    Miller's unpolished offense was evident at the G League Showcase, but he's been productive at 18-19 years old all season, giving teams enticing glimpses of scoring versatility with grab-and-go transition scoring, finishing on the move and spot-up threes.

    34. San Antonio Spurs: Nikola Đurišić (Mega, SF, 2004)

    One team figures to look past Đurišić's shooting slump and instead buy his good-looking stroke, 6'8" size, feel for the game and off-the-dribble flashes.

    35. Orlando Magic: Coleman Hawkins (Illinois, PF, Junior)

    The ability to shoot, pass and switch creates versatility and an easy fit that outweighs Hawkins' limited scoring and upside.

    36. Los Angeles Lakers: Dereck Lively II (Duke, C, Freshman)

    A limited offensive game and role will cause Lively to either slip or return to Duke. He's becoming more of a second-round option for a team that values his rim protection and potential to eventually shoot threes.

    37. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jaylen Clark (UCLA, SF, Junior)

    Teams willing to ignore upside for role-playing certainty could look into Clark, whose special defensive instincts, passing and improved complementary play-finishing have put him in the draft conversation.

    38. Toronto Raptors: DaRon Holmes II (Dayton, C, Sophomore)

    The NBA draw to Holmes still stems from his physical tools and athleticism for finishing and shot-blocking, but he's averaging 25.6 points over Dayton's last five games, showing more post footwork, improvised paint shots and even some occasional shooting touch.

    39. Los Angeles Lakers (via Bulls): Emoni Bates (Eastern Michigan, SF, Sophomore)

    Bates will have to adjust to a much lower-usage role in the pros, but for a 6'9" wing, his shot-making (2.9 3PTM) is dangerous enough to bet on in the 30s.

    40. Denver Nuggets (via Wizards): Jaime Jaquez Jr. (UCLA, SF, Senior)

    Though Jaquez's three-point shooting remains a question mark, he's bound to win over a team with physicality, versatility and defensive toughness.

    41. Memphis Grizzlies (via Timberwolves): Judah Mintz (Syracuse, PG/SG, Freshman)

    Seemingly flying below the radar due to poor three-point shooting, Mintz should start to generate more attention with his tough shot-making, setup passing and energy used for transition scoring and defensive playmaking.

    42. Atlanta Hawks: Terrence Shannon Jr. (Illinois, SF, Senior)

    Improved shot-making with Illinois makes Shannon a more compelling prospect whose 6'6" size, athleticism and defense weren't enough for scouts when he played for Texas Tech.

    43. Charlotte Hornets (via Jazz): Julian Strawther (Gonzaga, SF, Junior)

    Still limited off the dribble and defensively, Strawther should draw second-round interest with his shooting and touch shots for a 6'7" wing.

    44. Denver Nuggets (via Heat): James Nnaji (Barcelona, C, 2004)

    For an 18-year-old in Euroleague and the Spanish ACB, Nnaji just showing he belongs (with his physical tools, finishing and defense) should help scouts see a future NBA big.

    45. Minnesota Timberwolves (via Knicks): Reece Beekman (Virginia, PG, Junior)

    Now 14-of-29 from three, Beekman has been accurate when left open, a promising development for such a high-IQ passer and defender.

Nos. 46-60

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    Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State
    Keyontae Johnson, Kansas StateAP Photo/Eric Gay

    46. Phoenix Suns: Isaiah Wong (Miami, SG, Senior)

    Averaging 23.8 points and 6.4 assists over Miami's last five games, Wong is becoming tough to ignore with his scoring instincts, shot-making and improving playmaking.

    47. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Warriors): Andre Jackson Jr. (Connecticut, SF, Junior)

    Jackson is building an outlier case, turning heads without scoring by passing, defending and consistently making wild athletic plays at both ends.

    48. Boston Celtics (via Blazers): Azuolas Tubelis (Arizona, PF, Junior)

    Tubelis is producing his way into the draft discussion, averaging 20.1 points and 8.7 boards off a combination of rim-running effort, good hands, touch in the paint and the occasional open jump shot.

    49. Los Angeles Clippers: Keyontae Johnson (Kansas State, SF, Senior)

    Two years after collapsing mid-game as a junior for Florida, Johnson has resurfaced onto NBA radars at Kansas State, producing (18.4 PPG) with potentially translatable off-ball scoring skills for play-finishing, driving and catch-and-shooting.

    50. Sacramento Kings (via Pacers): Ousmane Ndiaye (Baskonia, PF, 2004)

    This late, a team figures to take an upside flier on a 6'11" shot-maker firing 4.3 threes in 22.3 minutes in Spain's second division.

    51. Sacramento Kings: Malcolm Cazalon (Mega MIS, 2001)

    Auto-eligible and on scouts' radar for the past few years, Cazalon looks draft-and-stash worthy now, as he's scoring in more ways and making plays defensively for Mega.

    52. Indiana Pacers (via Mavericks): Arthur Kaluma (Creighton, SF, Sophomore)

    Inconsistency will keep Kaluma from climbing boards, but gambling on a 6'7", 225-pound athlete and shot-maker will appear worth it in the Nos. 46-60 range.

    53. Philadelphia 76ers: Forfeited

    54. Atlanta Hawks (via Pelicans): Mike Miles (TCU, PG, Junior)

    While Miles' lack of three-point volume will keep scouts hesitant, he's made dramatic strides off the dribble, with the 6'1" guard averaging 7.7 free-throw attempts and shooting 63.6 percent inside the arc.

    55. Milwaukee Bucks (via Cavaliers): Oscar Tshiebwe (Kentucky, PF/C, Senior)

    With few obvious pros left on the board, Tshiebwe's translatable rebounding and paint activity could sway a team in the Nos. 46-60 range.

    56. Memphis Grizzlies: Alex Fudge (Florida, SF/PF, Sophomore)

    Athleticism, 6'8" size and defensive playmaking create an intriguing foundation for Fudge, who's also 8-of-20 on threes and 21-of-23 on free throws.

    57. Milwaukee Bucks: Eric Gaines (UAB, PG, Junior)

    Entering the year on breakout watch with a new team, elite athleticism and pesky defense, Gaines is starting to show signs of improving playmaking and shooting.

    58. Chicago Bulls (via Nuggets): Forfeited

    59. Brooklyn Nets: Adam Flagler (Baylor, PG/SG, Senior)

    Scoring, shooting and playmaking efficiency should help Flagler convince second-round teams to ignore his physical and athletic limitations.

    60. Boston Celtics: Trayce Jackson-Davis (Indiana, PF/C, Senior)

    With a recent 10-assist triple-double against Nebraska and a nine-block game against Kansas, Jackson-Davis could be showing NBA teams just enough bonus improvement to complement his signature post game and finishing.