2023 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: A surprise big trade into the top 6

Jun 19, 2023, 7:00 AM | Updated: 7:51 pm

NBA Zach LaVine #8 of the Chicago Bulls dribbles up the court against the Miami Heat during the sec...

Michael Reaves/Getty Images

And just like that, the 2023 NBA Draft is three days away!

While the headlines have been centered around French phenom Victor Wembanyama, the draft is loaded with talent that can contribute right away. Plus, who will round out the top-three selections, will Brandon Miller surpass Scoot Henderson on draft night? Will there be any trades? Is Portland going to stay in the lottery?

There are so many questions left to be answered, but for now, let’s predict how it will play out Thursday.

Here is Sactown Sports’ final 2023 NBA Mock Draft.

1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama

NBA Comp: Nobody

Team: Metropolitans 92

Draft Age: 19.4

Whether it’s this week, last week, a few weeks ago, or last year, nothing has changed. Wemby is still the pick at No.1.

Just like in 1987 and 1998, the San Antonio Spurs have landed the No. 1 overall pick to draft a franchise-altering center. This time around may be the most significant as well, with French phenom Victor Wembanyama coming to the NBA.

Wemby has been on most scouts radars for quite some time, standing at an enormous 7’4” with an eight-foot wingspan.

The Frenchman has been playing professional basketball in the LNB for a few years now, playing for Metropolitans 92 this past season. Averaging 21.8 PPG and 10.6 RPG, Wembanyama has helped his team reach the finals in league competition.

He’s more than just stats though, Wemby possesses the rare five-tool skillset that any athlete covets. His ability to initiate offense, make the right read and then score over everyone else is uncanny. Couple that with his defensive instincts and length around the rim, it’s almost unfair. He also has a dribbling package that few big men have EVER had in pro basketball.

Touted as the best prospect since LeBron, some believe Wembanyama can be the best defensive player in the NBA by Year 3. And he couldn’t have landed at a better spot to reach those lofty expectations.

Under Gregg Popovich and the Spurs guidance, Wemby will thrive as the de facto star on the team. Supported by emerging prospects like Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson, the big man will be able to win some ball games in a hurry.

Don’t be surprised if San Antonio is creeping around the play-in next season, this kid is that good.

2. Charlotte Hornets: PG Scoot Henderson

NBA Comp: A mix of Anthony Edwards, Ja Morant, Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose all rolled into one guy

Team: G League Ignite

Draft Age: 19.3

The talk as of late has been a 50/50 split between Henderson and Alabama’s Brandon Miller for second overall. And while most think the latter could end up in Charlotte, pivoting to the guy every team is trying to trade for, yeah, that sounds like the Hornets.

In any other draft class, Scoot would be in the conversation for the first overall selection. Picture Anthony Edwards, Ja Morant and Russell Westbrook had a baby: That’s the talent Scoot has on the court. Standing at 6’3”, 200 pounds, Henderson is what you want in a prototypical point guard and leader for your ball club.

Build like a linebacker, the 19-year-old has flashed explosive playmaking and poise the last two years for the G League Ignite team. Already having a deep bag on offense, his defensive tenacity is also inspiring, often looking to pickpocket his opponents using instinct. And when he’s running at you, look out, there’s no stopping the express once he gets going.

His most impressive performance of the year came last October when The Ignite played Wembanyama and his French side in two exhibition games. Henderson took the opportunity to showcase his talents with a national audience, dropping 28 points and nine assists in a losing effort. How he scored was also impressive, taking on Wemby a few times to put him in the blender. Whether it was a stepback three or a drive to the basket, Henderson did it all with the brightest lights on him.

His development as a shooter is the only concern, hitting 42.9% of his field goals and a grim 27.5% of his threes. Regardless, his intangibles of the court should negate concerns.

Teaming up with Steph Curry and Under Armor, Henderson is a gym rat, always wanting to perfect his craft with countless hours of work. Adored by teammates and coaches alike, Scoot could be a Hall-of-Famer when his career is over.

Which is why Charlotte can’t pass on him.

It may seem redundant at first but pairing LaMelo Ball with Henderson might actually work. The former is great passing and hitting spot-up threes, while the latter plays defense and attacks the basket.

Already getting the co-sign from other NBA stars (Steph Curry) and impressing in his workouts with play and measurements. Henderson’s stock has only risen in the last few weeks.

Two perennial All-Star guards in the Queen City; that’s a very exciting start for the post-Jordan Hornets.

3. Portland Trail Blazers: SF Brandon Miller

NBA Comp: Paul George/Brandon Ingram

College: Alabama

Draft Age: 20.5

Portland is in an interesting spot, wanting to compete next season with Damian Lillard still around. Because of that, they are likely to move the pick for win-now players. But let’s say they don’t and just select Brandon Miller.

At 6’9″, 200 pounds, the Alabama prospect falls into the Paul George/Brandon Ingram mold perfectly. His shotmaking ability is uncanny, able to rise up over his defender from anywhere on the court. He also possesses a sweet shooting stroke that translates to the NBA on Day 1. Averaging 18.8 PPG while shooting 38.4% from the three-point line bodes well for his development long-term.

Miller’s stock has also risen thanks to his defensive versatility, able to play three positions on the court at all times.

The only concerns with the Alabama star is off-court, particularly one incident where a women was killed by a handgun he allegedly provided. Miller & the Crimson Tide have remained cooperative in the investigation, as he has not been charged with anything at this time. For those reasons alone, teams could be a little less bullish on adding him to their rosters.

Washington shouldn’t be one of those teams.

If The Trail Blazers finally feel like it’s time to rebuild, the 20-year-old prospect would be a nice piece to add to an emerging backcourt of Anfernee Simons and Shaedon Sharpe.

4. Houston Rockets: G Amen Thompson

NBA Comp: Taller Ja Morant with a shakier shot

Team: Overtime Elite

Draft Age: 20.4

Houston is in a similar situation as Portland, except they don’t have a de-facto superstar to sell to the biggest bidder. Much speculation has centered around a James Harden return to Texas. If that’s their plan, keeping this pick makes no sense. If it’s not, then drafting a playmaker like Amen Thompson is the move.

In this case, the second path is chosen.

The younger Thompson twin has the making of an elite playmaker in the NBA, using quick-twitch bursts to attack the rack before kicking out to a wide-open teammate. He can also score as well, taking it to the cup with great finishing moves. He’s also shown a willingness to shot, an area of his game that would make him an All-Star level talent in the league.

The key here is that shot though, especially considering his shaky at best mechanics. He’s very stiff in his shooting motion, with shoulder and hand placements all caddywhompus. That will be a major fix at the next level, with teams having to consider that in the draft process.

Additionally, a lack of competition is also concerning, playing for Overtime Elite the last two years.  For example: The twins played against Bronny James and Sierra Canyon last season. That’s a high school team.

Nevertheless, his potential as a two-way threat makes it worthwhile for a rebuilding franchise like Houston to take him this high. It’ll just be a long, long wait until he reaches his true potential.

5. Detroit Pistons: SF Cam Whitmore

NBA Comp: Bigger Ant with a more limited dribbling package

College: Villanova

Draft Age: 18.9

Detroit has a few options with the fifth overall pick Thursday. With Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey already occupying the backcourt, the Pistons need to find a wing for the future to build with.

Villanova’s Cam Whitmore would fit like a glove.

Whitmore has been described as a semi truck with a Ferrari engine on the inside, a true force of nature when attacking the rim. But he’s more just a slasher, showcasing a shooting range and dribbling package that makes him exciting for years to come.

He also has killer defensive instincts, unafraid to get physical and hard-nosed on defense. His size and overall width at 6’6”, 235 pounds makes him a candidate to play three positions in the NBA. The Pistons can use a guy like this, allowing Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey to be the stars. Whitmore fills in the gaps, doing the dirty work as a prominent member of the supporting cast.

If he is to develop into an all-star, his jumper would need to keep improving. He also has a more limited dribbling arsenal at the moment, an area of focus upon entering the league.

Regardless, Detroit shouldn’t think twice here and select a guy that is plug-and-play from Day 1 in Whitmore.

6. TRADE!!! Chicago Bulls: SG/SF Ausar Thompson

Details: ORL gets Zach Lavine, Alex Caruso; CHI gets Cole Anthony, Jonathan Issac, Gary Harris, #6 overall pick

NBA Comp: Shaun Livingston with serious hops

Team: Overtime Elite

Draft Age: 20.4

The first trade of the draft sees the Bulls deal Zach Lavine to the Magic for pieces and a top-six draft pick.

This gives Orlando a real scoring threat to pair with Paolo Banchero & Franz Wagner, while also keeping their second first-round pick (No.11). On the flip side, Chicago decides to begin the rebuild process by dealing Lavine. More moves should be expected in the Windy City.

But first, it’s time to draft their new wing of the future in Ausar Thompson.

They may share the same last name, but Ausar plays a little different than his brother.

For one, his shot is much more pretty than Amen’s, using a fluid motion to release the ball at a high point. While only shooting 33% from the three-point line, concerns about his jumper needing work aren’t present with this twin.

As for what does work, his athleticism is awesome. He’s liken energizer bunny on the court, always looking to attack the rim with vigor and force. He’s definitely not afraid to be physical in the paint. Ausar also has a plethora of moves to get an open shot in the NBA, making him ideal as a second or third option.

But just like his brother, his shot will be the key to his development. His handles can also be a bit loose at times, making him a concern against plus defenders.

The Bulls will probably look past those concerns to add a guy that can develop properly as they begin their rebuild. Maybe Ausar can learn a thing or two from DeMar DeRozan for a season. Maybe DeRozan gets traded for more youthful assets, who knows.

One thing is for sure though: It’s time to look to the future in Chicago.

7. Indiana Pacers: F Taylor Hendricks

NBA Comp: Jerami Grant meets MPJ

College: UCF

Draft Age: 19.5

The Indiana Pacers have a lot of things going for them right now. Tyrese Haliburton looks like a future All-NBA player, Benedict Mathurin looks to be the real deal, and Myles Turner is coming off his best season as a pro. The one thing the Pacers are missing is a three & D forward that can play multiple positions defensively.

Taylor Hendricks solves that problem and then some.

Hendricks blossomed last season at UCF, averaging 15.1 PPG and seven rebounds in his freshman year. He was also lethal from deep, shooting 39.4% from behind the arc.

His physical traits are what makes him so enticing, standing 6’8” with a 7’1” wingspan. And frankly, he looks bigger than that. Hendricks excelled as a weak-side help defender in college, routinely making jaw-dropping defensive stops for the Knights.

His ability to be a team player should excite the Pacers’ front office, adding a do-it-all forward to an already budding unit could be a return to the postseason for Indiana in a few years.

8. Washington Wizards: G Anthony Black

NBA Comp: Taller Ricky Rubio/Prime Lonzo Ball

College: Arkansas

Draft Age: 19.4

The Wizards have lacked a quality point guard since John Wall was in his prime. Anthony Black could change that in D.C.

Black was a phenomenal teammate at Arkansas, a floor general for the Razorbacks last season. While his assist numbers are lower than expected (3.9 APG), his willingness to make the right basketball plays was apparent when watching film. He. thrives in the set-up role thanks to his size as well, standing 6’6″ as the primary ball handler.

He also thrived when attacking the basket, either getting a solid shot with the floater, or finding a teammate for an alley-oop slam. Defensively, he’s very sound, using instincts to swipe the ball away for a quick transition bucket. He also plays within himself, willing to stand upright as the opposition tries to drive on him.

The key for Black’s development will be his jumper, only shooting 30.1% from the outside in college. A lack of a shot will allow NBA defenses to sag off him, making it harder to get an open look for his teammates. But, he’s shown a desire to improve that area of his game, enough to at least take the shots when he’s left open.

Washington will need to work with him on that, but his natural PG abilities should make him a great fit right away.

9. Utah Jazz: PG Cason Wallace

NBA Comp: Smaller Jrue Holiday/Mike Conley

College: Kentucky

Draft Age: 19.6

The Utah Jazz might be ahead of schedule in their rebuild. Last season was a wake-up call for the NBA that Danny Ainge isn’t playing around. Trading their two former stars for massive draft capital, Utah is now sent up for several years of rebuilding with Will Hardy at the helm.

This year’s draft should be about finding players that have potential and fit with the team. Cason Wallace fits the profile for both.

Wallace is a defense-first point guard that doubles as an offensive initiator, averaging 11.7 PPG and 4.7 APG at Kentucky. He uses craftiness and IQ to make plays on the basketball court, while also possessing the talent to score in a variety of ways.

His defense is what makes him an all-around player though, able to pickpocket the best of them in the college game. While only 6’2″, having a longer wingspan (6’8″) will allow him to use his skills at the next level. He’s also a player that plays within himself, never forcing the issue when the look isn’t there.

That’s the kind of guy Utah and Will Hardy are looking for, giving them a new Mike Conley to grow with the young guys.

10. Dallas Mavericks: PF Jarace Walker

NBA Comp: Larry Johnson/Julius Randle

College: Houston

Draft Age: 19.8

The Mavericks could very well trade this pick for ready-now talent to help Luka Doncic. If they don’t, Jarace Walker would be the most ready player available at No.10.

Walker is a wrecking ball on the court, able to muscle his way to the basket at will. But he also has a soft touch and quality shot that makes him more dynamic as a scorer. He averaged 11.2 PPG and 6.8 RPG on 34.7% shooting from three in his lone season at Arkansas.

His defensive versatility will make him rotational piece right away, able to play the four and small-ball five for any team. Dallas can use a defensive savant in the frontcourt, offsetting the woes of the backcourt. And then when they feel he’s ready, allow him to play as the third scorer in the post and around the basket.

11. Orlando Magic: SG Gradey Dick

NBA Comp: A mix of Reggie Miller, Gordon Hayward, Kyle Korver

College: Kansas

Draft Age: 19.6

After trading away the sixth pick for a win-now scoring machine in Zach Lavine, Orlando needs to build on that by adding more shooting.

Kansas’ Gradey Dick is that guy.

Described as a “flamethrower” by many, the freshman guard was money for the Jayhawks, hitting 40.3% of his shots from deep last season. If you give him a crease, he can make the tough bucket.

He’s also shown some off-the-dribble abilities that could raise his ceiling exponentially. If that continues to develop, we’re talking about a whole different role for Dick in the NBA.

For now though, he’s a sniper, something the Magic will always need.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: C Dereck Lively II

NBA Comp: Mitchell Robinson

College: Duke

Draft Age: 19.3

The first center, besides Wembanyama, is off the board to OKC.

While Lively had an up-&-down season at Duke, his flashes late showed why he was a top recruit a year ago. An excellent rim runner, most of his highlight plays are on lob attempts where he attacks the rim. He uses his verticality & size well to beat the defender to the ball.

His defensive potential is really exciting though, reminiscent of Mitchell Robinson for the New York Knicks. Lively is able to move his feet well, guarding multiple positions before baiting them into blocked shot. He averaged 2.4 BPG in college.

There have also been some rumors of an improved shot, including accuracy from the three-point line.

The Thunder desperately need a rim protector, especially after narrowing missing the playoffs without one last season.

A future front court of Chet Holmgren and Dereck Lively II in OKC; now that’s exciting.

13. Toronto Raptors: G Jalen Hood-Schifino

NBA Comp: Jamal Murray/Devin Booker

College: Michigan

Draft Age: 19.7

Every year, a Jamal Murray/Devin Booker type of player slips into the mid-teens in the draft. Case in point: Tyrese Maxey and Immanuel Quickley in 2020, or Cam Thomas in 2021. This year’s class has Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino.

At almost 20 years old, the Pittsburgh native has the makings of an elite scorer in the NBA, using touch and patience to get to his spot at will. JHS’s shot creation in the midrange is second to none, able to rise up, or around, defenders to get a tough bucket. That’s in large part due to his 6’10” wingspan, testing well at the NBA combine last week.

But when you get to the tape, it’s clear that his game is tailored made for the modern NBA.

His defense is also at a solid level, showing flashes of potential for the Hoosiers. Hood-Schifino does a good job of staying engaged as a defender, keeping his arms up while moving his feet well. 1-on-1 defense will need to be an area of focus at the next level, but he’s shown enough signs to feel good about it right now.

Continuous development in terms of consistency and three-point shooting will be the key for JHS moving forward. Only shooting 33.3% from behind the arc is decent, but if he wants to be an All-Star, he’ll need to get that number higher. Having individual games of 35 and 33 points, respectively, is one thing. To do it on a night-to-night basis is completely different.

Besides that, JHS is primed to be another big-time bucket-getter in the league. With him still on the board at No.13, Toronto wisely takes him as the team’s combo guard of the future, especially with Fred VanVleet on the way out.

14. New Orleans Pelicans: G Keyonte George

NBA Comp: Bradley Beal/Jaden Hardy

College: Baylor

Draft Age: 19.6

The Pelicans are also at a crossroads in terms of needs on the roster. Already equipped with a strong core, it’s about adding depth for the future now, or trading for a win-now player.

In this scenario, they choose the first option by drafting Baylor standout Keyonte George.

George excelled as a bucket-getter for the Bears, averaging 15.3 PPG as a freshman. He was effective from all over the court, making tough pull-up jumpers from three constantly. He also showed a willingness to rebound, snagging 4.2 boards a game.

The key for George is the same as all young scorers: Consistency.

Only shooting 37.6% from the field is staggering, especially because that’s his whole bread & butter on offense. But maybe teams can look past the efficiency, given he was asked to be a primary scorer for the defending national champions at 19 years old.

New Orleans is in the market for top-end talent and grabbing George with the 14th pick is a move that helps them in the long run.

15. Atlanta Hawks: F Bilal Coulibaly

NBA Comp: Baby Giannis w/ better jumper

Team: Metropolitans 92

Draft Age: 18.9

With the first draft of new general manager Landry Fields’ reign, he takes a big swing on a potential All-Star in Bilal Coulibaly.

The gifted 18-year-old stands at 6’7″, with a 7’3″ wingspan, allowing him to be a pest on the defensive end. He also has fluid movement and quick feet laterally to stay in front of his opponent. The Frenchman also uses instinct and angles to swipe the ball away, often taking it to the rim in transition.

His three-point shooting will need to improve (sub-35%), but he’s shown a willingness to take the shot when the opportunity arises. That bodes well for three & D potential in the NBA.

The trick here is how raw he is as a prospect, just recently emerging as a starter for the Mets. But that might be a good thing also.

When turning on the tape, his movement and stride in transition remind me of Giannis Antekoumpo at a young age. So full of talent but unaware of how to use it properly. At the very least, Coulibaly will be a stellar defender in the NBA. At his peak, he could be an All-Star-level player by the age of 25.

Atlanta is hoping for his high ceiling to pan out.

16. Utah Jazz: SF Leonard Miller

Team: G League Ignite

Draft Age: 19.5

17. TRADE; Utah Jazz: G Kobe Bufkin

Details: LAL gets Jordan Clarkson, No.28 overall pick; UTA gets No.17 overall pick

College: Michigan

Draft Age: 19.7

18. Miami Heat: G/SF Jordan Hawkins

College: UConn

Draft Age: 19.1

19. Golden State Warriors: SG/SF Colby Jones

College: Xavier

Draft Age: 21

20. Houston Rockets: SG/SF Rayan Rupert

Team: New Zealand Breakers

Draft Age: 19

21. Brooklyn Nets: G Dariq Whitehead

College: Duke

Draft Age: 18.9

22. Brooklyn Nets: G Brice Sensabaugh

College: Ohio State

Draft Age: 19.6

23. Portland Trail Blazers: PF/C Noah Clowney

College: Alabama

Draft Age: 18.9

24. Sacramento Kings: F Oliver-Maxence Prosper

College: Marquette

Draft Age: 20.9

At 6’8, Prosper logged most of his minutes with Marquette at the power forward position, although he was able to defend positions one through five thanks to his 7’1 wingspan and impressive physicality.

The 20-year-old is a talented one-on-one defender thanks to his size, and there is also some offensive potential in Prosper’s game as well (shot 62 percent from two-point range during 2022-23).

Prosper’s three-point shooting needs work, but the forward proved that he is able to run into hot-stretches after shooting 34 percent from deep during his sophomore season with the Golden Eagles.

The Kings would come for the defensive potential, stay for the three-point shooting with the hopes of developing the wing into a three-and-D specialist–something that Sacramento sorely lacks.

At 6’8, 230 pounds with a 7’1 wingspan, Prosper has an NBA-ready build and appears to have the physicality that is needed to defend at the next level.

After being bullied in the paint during their first-round series against Golden State, it’s clear that the Kings need to add more physical, defensive-minded players to the fold as they build towards creating a championship-caliber product.

25. Memphis Grizzles: SF Jett Howard

College: Michigan

Draft Age: 19.7

26. Indiana Pacers: G Ben Sheppard

College: Belmont

Draft Age: 21.9

27. Charlotte Hornets: F Kris Murray

College: Iowa

Draft Age: 22.8

28. TRADE; Los Angeles Lakers:  SG/SF Nick Smith Jr.

College: Arkansas

Draft Age: 19.1

29. Indiana Pacers: G Bradin Podziemski

College: Santa Clara

Draft Age: 20.3

30. Los Angeles Clippers: F G.G. Jackson

College: South Carolina

Draft Age: 18.5


Thank you for reading Follow us on Twitter, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel.




Sacramento Kings assistant coach Jay Triano looks on during a game....

Joseph Jarosz

Jay Triano believes we haven’t seen the best version of the Kings yet this season

Jay Triano, Sacramento Kings assistant coach, talks to Sactown Sports about where the team is about 20 games into the season.

46 minutes ago

De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings shoots the ball against Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden Sta...

Brenden Nunes

Mike Brown has implemented new offensive aspects with postseason success in mind

Sacramento Kings head coach Mike Brown and center Domantas Sabonis explained some of their offense variances with postseason success in mind.

4 hours ago

James Harden #1 of the LA Clippers at Arena on November 27, 2023 in Los Angeles, Califor...

Gracenote Sports

Clippers search for better defense in rematch with Warriors

When the Clippers and Golden State Warriors met on Thursday, Los Angeles had no answer for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson down the stretch.

5 hours ago

De'Aaron Fox #5 of the Sacramento Kings looks on after a win against the Golden State Warriors duri...

Brenden Nunes

Potential outcomes for the Sacramento Kings upcoming schedule

With the inaugural In-Season Tournament beginning next week, the Sacramento Kings upcoming schedule has some potential variation.

5 hours ago

Former Sacramento Kings player Vlade Divac sits with Kings owner Vivek Ranadive before the game aga...

Brenden Nunes

Report: Vlade Divac rejoining Sacramento as a ‘Kings ambassador’

According to The Athletic's Sam Amick, former Sacramento Kings player and general manager Vlade Divac is rejoining the organization.

6 hours ago

Domantas Sabonis #10 of the Sacramento Kings shoots over Kevon Looney #5 of the Golden State Warrio...

Joseph Jarosz

Gary Payton says the Kings & Warriors could be rivals for a long time

NBA Hall of Famer Gary Payton joined "The Drive Guys" to talk about the rivalry brewing between the Kings and Warriors.

11 hours ago

2023 NBA Mock Draft 2.0: A surprise big trade into the top 6