2023 NBA Mock Draft
The 2023 NBA Draft has been the talk of the sports world for some time now with several elite prospects and one generational prospect heading to the NBA. When it comes to the NBA Draft it seems like every year at least one team makes a glaring mistake when a much more tantalizing prospect was available at the time. Sometimes the same team is the victim of that mistake year in and year out. This edition of the Def Pen Sports 2023 NBA Mock Draft will feature what each pick should be and not necessarily what the team will do or what the current speculation is about the pick. This mock draft will focus more on the best player available over fit.
1. San Antonio Spurs- Victor Wembanyama
The projection for the number one overall selection has not changed for this site since the publication of the Way Too Early version last summer. Victor Wembanyama is being mentioned in the same breath as Kareem and Lebron as prospects for a reason. The Spurs won their rebuild.
2. Charlotte Hornets- Scoot Henderson
This pick could make or break the Hornets’ future with LaMelo Ball. The debate between Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson will continue, but the G League guard is the clear-cut second-best player in the draft. In most drafts, Henderson would be the easy number one overall selection.
3. Portland Trail Blazers- Trade the Pick (Brandon Miller)
For better or worse, Portland is still attempting to find a way to build a contender around Damian Lillard. That has proved difficult, but landing this pick could help them package a trade together to land some veteran talent around the star point guard. Will it be enough?
4. Houston Rockets- Amen Thompson
The Rockets need young and talented potential. Amen Thompson played in Overtime and overall there is nothing but unknowns about how that league will produce talent. Thompson is pretty clearly a top-five pick and well the Rockets could use the talent.
5. Detroit Pistons- Ausar Thompson/Cam Whitmore
The losers on draft lottery night were also certainly the Detroit Pistons. They were hoping to be about four spots higher on this 2023 NBA Mock Draft. They have two good options here on the wing in Thompson and Cam Whitmore. Both have some developing to do but have plenty of potential for the next level.
6. Orlando Magic- Ausar Thompson/Cam Whitmore
The Magic have a promising young core and for now, just need to add talent that they think they can develop. Their selection should be fairly easy if the draft shakes out this way. Just take whichever of the two promising wings is available with the pick.
7. Indiana Pacers- Trade the Pick (Taylor Hendricks)
The Pacers wanted to sign Deandre Ayton last offseason and with him seemingly available again, the team may as well contact the Suns and ask about the cost of a trade. This pick doesn’t necessarily have to be in that deal, but for a team in no man’s land, they may as well make the call.
8. Washington Wizards- Cason Wallace
Do the Washington Wizards have a realistic path to contention or a rebuild? With Bradley Beal wanting to stay, the answer is probably not unless they strike gold in the mid-lottery or luck out and win a lottery draft. Cason Wallace will be great depth, but a change the game star isn’t always available here.
9. Utah Jazz- Anthony Black
Talent and depth are the focus for Utah as they begin their rebuild in earnest. They have some young talent and plenty of draft capital to work with. Anthony Black could be a special player or even a perfect glue guy down the road. NBA teams need both as they rebuild.
10. Dallas Mavericks- Jarace Walker/Keyonte George/Brice Sensabaugh/Gradey Dick
The end of the lottery can sometimes just come down to what the team needs and what their scouts value in a player. Walker, George, Senseabaugh, and Dick all have their upsides and could be ordered in about any way talent-wise. It will be up to what the team needs.
11. Orlando Magic (Via CHI)- Jarace Walker/Keyonte George/Brice Sensabaugh/Gradey Dick
With three of these prospects left the Magic will just need to decide which prospect they like the best and which one helps fill out their team. Each player has positives and negatives and aren’t tier one or even tier two prospects.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder- Jarace Walker/Keyonte George/Brice Sensabaugh/Gradey Dick
Two of these prospects will be left and just like the Magic, Oklahoma City will need to decide which one fits their roster better as they look to end their rebuild and begin their hunt for a championship.
13. Toronto Raptors- Jarace Walker/Keyonte George/Brice Sensabaugh/Gradey Dick
This pick is fairly easy. Take the talented prospect that was not selected or trade the pick on draft night. The 2023 NBA Mock Draft has plenty of hard decisions and the Raptors are not exempt from that either.
14. New Orleans Pelicans- Nick Smith Jr.
Nick Smith Jr has fallen on the order during the draft process. Falling to the Pelicans would be an ideal landing spot for the Arkansas guard. The pressure will be limited and he can have some room to grow into his potential. This could be the steal of the 2023 NBA Draft.
15. Atlanta Hawks- Jett Howard/Dariq Whitehead (Trade the Pick)
Jett Howard and Dariq Whitehead bring different skills to the table and both could be valuable depth down the road for Atlanta. The Hawks could also look to trade this pick and players for an upgrade on the roster.
16. Utah Jazz (Via MIN)- Jett Howard/Dariq Whitehead
See the above paragraph for the Utah Jazz. They have plenty of draft capital and need to spend it trying to find talent that can be leveraged either as depth or trade pieces in the future. Finding talent at 16 is harder but not impossible.
17. Los Angeles Lakers- Kris Murray
The Lakers will likely be running it back with Lebron James, Anthony Davis, and maybe a third star. They need talented depth that can shoot at an effective rate. If Kris Murray turns into the same type of player as his brother, this is a perfect fit even as a rookie.
18. Miami Heat- GG Jackson/Terquavion Smith/Leonard Miller
The Miami Heat made the NBA Finals this year and will want to build on that as their star players get older. They have a few options here for depth and while Pay Riley is full of surprises, these are the best options talent-wise.
19. Golden State Warriors- GG Jackson/Terquavion Smith/Leonard Miller (Trade the Pick)
For the Warriors the next step is unclear. Do they push to continue their dynasty or is it time to begin at least a soft reset on the roster? A lot of this may depend on what Draymond Green decides to do, but the team won’t know that on draft night.
20. Houston Rockets- GG Jackson/Terquavion Smith/Leonard Miller
With this much draft capital, the team just needs to draft the best player available with each and every pick they have. Eventually, they could package these players together for a star, but they aren’t quite ready for that as a team at the moment.
21. Brooklyn Nets (Via PHO)- Jordan Hawkins/Rayan Rupert
The Nets have a chance to make their rebuild short and relatively painless. Drafting well in the early to mid-20s will be vital for them moving forward. Hawkins and Rupert both have a chance to be special in the NBA.
22. Brooklyn Nets- Jordan Hawkins/Rayan Rupert
With the team having back-to-back selections they may as well take both of the prospects here that could be really good depth players in the NBA. The hope would be that one or both of them are developed into something special.
23. Portland Trail Blazers (Via NYK) – Trade the Pick (Dereck Lively II)
For every reason that the team should trade the third overall pick, they should also trade the 23rd overall pick. Adding more talent around Damian Lillard is the name of the game for Portland until they decide to reset everything.
24. Sacramento Kings- Maxwell Lewis/Noah Clowney
The Kings have built a winning roster and now it’s just about adding depth and upgrading talent when they can. Determining who can be reliable depth in the mid-20s takes a keen eye and some luck. Scouting will be key for the future of the team.
25. Memphis Grizzlies- Maxwell Lewis/Noah Clowney
At the moment Memphis has bigger problems than their position on this 2023 NBA Mock Draft. Drafting a player is important, but their main focus has to be on star point guard Ja Morant. They can not afford to lose their current momentum.
26. Indiana Pacers (Via CLE)- Sidy Cissoko (Trade the Pick)
At some point, the Pacers will need to package their picks and players into trying to land a star player for their franchise. Unless they get lucky with their draft picks, they are not heading toward contending at the moment.
27. Charlotte Hornets (Via DEN)- Emoni Bates
The Hornets have nothing to lose and are nowhere near being a contending team right now. They can afford to take a swing at the fences and select Emoni Bates. The former top recruit has fallen from grace but has the talent to be a solid NBA player. He could be a diamond in the rough.
28. Utah Jazz (Via PHI)- Colby Jones/Amari Bailey/Bilal Coulibaly
Best player available
29. Indiana Pacers (Via BOS)- Colby Jones/Amari Bailey/Bilal Coulibaly (Trade the Pick)
Best player available
30. Los Angeles Clippers (Via MIL)- Colby Jones/Amari Bailey/Bilal Coulibaly
Best player available