There is no such thing as a sure thing, but there’s no way that the San Antonio Spurs will not select Victor Wembanyam as the No. 1 pick overall in the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft. But beyond that pick is plenty of intrigue and mystery. With that said, go ahead and read on for more about our 2023 NBA mock draft in the first round of this event, as brought to you by JefeBet.
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Predictions, Picks, and Preview for the First Round of the 2023 NBA Draft
1. San Antonio Spurs – Victor Wembanyama, Center, Metropolitan 92
The only correct answer here for the Spurs is Victor Wembanyama. Widely regarded as the best NBA prospect since LeBron James – if not of all time – Wembanyama is a physical freak with otherworldly skills for his size who is expected to be the cornerstone of a franchise with a proven winning tradition and a future Hall of Fame head coach in Gregg Popovich.
2. Charlotte Hornets – Scoot Henderson, Point Guard, G League
If it weren’t for Wembanyama, would be the top target by teams in the 2023 NBA Draft. Nevertheless, Henderson offers scintillating potential with his athleticism, explosiveness, and scoring abilities.
3. Portland Trail Blazers – Brandon Miller, Small Forward, Alabama
Miller will be among those to go early in this year’s draft and for plenty of good reasons. He’s still young at 20 but his all-around game already looked so polished during the one year he had in Tuscaloosa with the Crimson Tide.
4. Houston Rockets– Amen Thompson, Guard, Overtime Elite
Amen Thompson is going to be a prayer answered for the team that takes him. The Rockets are brimming with young studs, but what’s another incredibly young, game-changing player for Houston to add to its developing core?
5. Detroit Pistons – Cam Whitmore, Small Forward, Villanova
Like the Rockets, Detroit has plenty of incredible young players who have yet to hit their full potential like Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey. Bojan Bogdanovic is not part of the long-term vision of Detroit, so finding a high-upside youngster as a small forward in the draft makes sense a lot of sense for the team.
6. Orlando Magic– Ausar Thompson, Guard/Forward, Overtime Elite
The Magic hit it big in the 2022 NBA Draft with Paolo Banchero, who eventually won the 2022-23 NBA Rookie of the Year award. The Magic are pretty crowded at the guard and forward positions, but Thompson is still worth adding based on his upside alone. Orlando takes him and worries about his fit with the rest of the team later. It’s a good problem to have for the Magic.
7. Indiana Pacers– Jarace Walker, Power Forward, Houston
Walker is a banger. He’s got the bulk and length to compete at a high level in multiple positions. He will provide the Pacers with defensive toughness and will fill the gaps Indiana needs to become a bigger contender in the East.
8. Washington Wizards – Taylor Hendricks, Power Forward, UCF
Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma could be gone in Washington this offseason, but even if they picked up their options, the Wizards can still use insurance in the frontcourt by taking Hendricks.
9. Utah Jazz – Anthony Black, Guard/Forward, Arkansas
The Jazz traded Rudy Gobert last year and got a mighty haul for it. Black will be another win for Utah.
10. Dallas Mavericks – Gradey Dick, Small Forward, Kansas
Kyrie Irving didn’t seem to work alongside Luka Doncic. But Gradey Dick can be that guy who can excel with the Slovenian as a dead-eye shooter. Remember, Dick shot over 40 percent from behind the arc in his only year in Lexington.
11. Orlando Magic – Cason Wallace, Point Guard, Kentucky
Another guard for the Magic? Just like what we’ve mentioned before about Ausar Thompson, the Magic will just have to take the best available talent.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Jordan Hawkins, Shooting Guard, Connecticut
Hawkins was a key piece of the UConn Huskies team that went all the way in the 2023 NCAA tournament and won the national title. He is a versatile scorer with good scoring abilities as an off-the-ball shooter.
13. Toronto Raptors– Keyonte George, Shooting Guard, Baylor
In his only year in Waco with the Bears, Keyonte George showed great promise as a scorer, playmaker, and defender. He’s going to need his offensive skills polished more but he’s already got a solid base and the right mindset.
14. New Orleans Pelicans – Nick Smith Jr., Guard/Forward, Arkansas
The Pelicans are rumored to be eyeing to trade this pick to move up in the 2023 NBA Draft, But if they ended up keeping the No. 14 pick, Nick Smith out of the Razorbacks program, New Orleans will get a two-way player that can contribute to the team from the get-go.
15. Atlanta Hawks – Kobe Bufkin, Guard, Michigan
Bufkin isn’t going to supplant Trae Young atop the pecking order in the backcourt for the Hawks but he will give a new dimension to the guard positions of Atlanta. He is an excellent scorer off the dribble and has good size for a guard which can translate to better defense and rebounding for the Hawks.
16. Utah Jazz (from Minnesota)– Jalen Hood-Schifino, Guard, Indiana
Some of the needs the Jazz have on their checklist ahead of the 2023 NBA Draft can be filled by the Indiana product. A 6-6 guard, Hood-Schifino can rebound the ball, create for his teammates, and make things happen as a scorer or table-setter with the ball.
17. Los Angeles Lakers – Brice Sensabaugh, Small Forward, Ohio State
The Lakers can still be considered a title contender next season. Anthony Davis, when healthy, remains among the best players in the league, while LeBron James, even at his age, should continue to be productive. Sensabaugh will not likely break out right from the start for a team like the Lakers, but he’s got an intriguing upside that should excite LA fans.
18. Miami Heat – Leonard Miller, Small Forward, G League
The Heat famously overachieved last season despite a bunch of undrafted players on their roster. Leonard Miller is going to need time to fully develop in the NBA, but the Heat do appear to be more than capable of polishing players and making them perform at a high level.
19. Golden State Warriors – Dereck Lively II, Center, Duke
In 27 games for the Duke Blue Devils in the last college basketball season, Lively averaged just 5.2 points but grabbed 5.4 rebounds and swatted away 2.4 blocks per contest.
20. Houston Rockets (from LA Clippers)– Kris Murray, Power Forward, Iowa
The twin brother of Sacramento Kings small forward and shooter, Keegan Murray, Kris projects to be a good offensive weapon and role player at the very least. He shot 58.3 percent from inside the arc in his last season with the Hawkeyes.
21. Brooklyn Nets– Jett Howard, Shooting Guard, Michigan
Howard turned heads last season in Ann Arbor with great play on the court. In fact, he got a nod to be part of the Big Ten All-Freshman Team and another nod for his inclusion in the Third Team All-Big Ten selection.
22. Brooklyn Nets – GG Jackson, Power Forward, South Carolina
Jackson has some sleeper feel to him, and the Nets could stumble upon a gem by taking the South Carolina product, who averaged 15.4 points and 5.9 rebounds last season for the Gamecocks.
23. Portland Trail Blazers (from New York)– Rayan Rupert, Shooting Guard, New Zealand Breakers
The Blazers can add another young high-upside prospect to the team via the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft. Rupert has steadily been generating interest heading into the draft, partly because of his tremendous length. Rupert stands 6-6 with a 7-3 wingspan.
24. Sacramento Kings– Dariq Whitehead, Shooting Guard, Duke
Whitehead could have been viewed as a higher pick in this draft but he recently underwent foot surgery. Nevertheless, he’s still young and could ultimately end up as a steal. He will not have to get pressured with the workload in Sacramento, which has a clear No. 1 point guard in De’Aaron Fox, but there can still be a chance for him to carve out a solid role.
25. Memphis Grizzlies– Bilal Coulibaly, Small Forward, Metropolitan 92
Wembanyama isn’t the only first-round prospect on the Metropolitan 92 roster. There’s also Coulibaly, who’s played sweet music with the French ultra-unicorn.
26. Indiana Pacers (from Cleveland)– Colby Jones, Shooting Guard, Xavier
Jones comes with plenty of experience having played three years with the Musketeers in college. He had shown great improvement with his 3-point shooting last season during which he shot 37.8 percent from behind the arc after making only 30.3 percent of his threes in his first two years in college.
27. Charlotte Hornets (from Denver via New York and Oklahoma City)– Noah Clowney, Power Forward, Alabama
The Hornets can still certainly use some frontcourt improvement. Clowney is among the best rim protectors in the draft and has the motor that can make him a favorite in Charlotte.
28. Utah (from Philadelphia via Brooklyn)– Maxwell Lewis, Small Forward, Pepperdine
Lewis has great size at 6-7 and a nice touch from deep. He averaged 1.5 3-pointers per game in two seasons with Pepperdine, converting them at a 35.4 percent success rate. At this late in the draft, he’s someone teams can afford to roll the dice on.
29. Indiana (from Boston)– James Nnaji, Center, Barcelona
Some mock drafts have Nnaji projected to be selected in the higher teens to early 20s of the first round, so if he’s still available at this point, the Pacers could have a steak in the form of the Barca big.
30. LA Clippers (from Milwaukee via Houston)– Brandin Podziemski, Shooting Guard, Santa Clara
The Clippers sure can insect some youth to their backcourt. Terrance Mann and Bones Hyland are still young, and Podziemski should look right next to those guys.
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