One of the most exciting stages of the NBA offseason is the completion of the draft lottery, because it gives us mock draft “experts” the chance to predict every pick with the order finally set. The Orlando Magic are officially on the clock and the bizarre 58 pick NBA Draft is open for session.
Some big changes in this mock are the rise of Shaedon Sharpe and his AND-1 mix tape into the Top 10, Jaylin Williams using his sensational NCAA Tournament to surge into the first round and wild-card Overtime Elite PG Jean Montero slipping into the mid-second round, which could easily change several times from now until draft night.
If you’re looking for players like Terquavion Smith, Christian Koloko, Christian Braun and Dalen Terry, they are currently projected in our 2023 NBA Draft until further details specify if they will stay in the upcoming draft and hire an agent. So, without further ado, check out the most extensive two-round mock draft you’ll find now that we know when all 58 picks will be made!
1. Orlando: Jabari Smith 6-10 220 PF Auburn Fr.
Smith landed as the top pick for a large portion of the college season and even looked like the consensus top pick for some time. Now, Smith is back on top due to his immense two-way impact and his long arms, defensive versatility and projection as a disruptive defender with unlimited offensive potential. At 6’10, Smith elevates high above his defenders and knocks down jumpers at an absurd clip, including 42% from the perimeter. What would set him over the top as a potential superstar is his ability to create his own shot off the dribble inside the arc, rather than relying simply on his length to shoot over defenders. Developing as a ball handler is easier said than done, so it remains to be seen how efficient Smith can become in shot creation.
Why the Magic take Smith: Of course every team wants to win the lottery, but it also puts a ton of pressure on the front office to get this pick right, and with so much talent at the top of this draft, this pick could end up haunting the Magic. Smith is the safe choice and one that few will be able to argue with. Orlando GM John Hammond has always been a big proponent of length, so that would point towards Chet Holmgren (and his 7-6 wingspan} at 1. But perhaps picks such as Mo Bamba have taught the Magic GM that it’s not only about length. Smith doesn’t have nearly the length (7-foot-1 wingspan) but moves better and comes with a more NBA ready frame. There’s also the chance that Orlando moves down a few spots seeing value in the top 3-4. Smith will make a massive impact on the defensive end with his energy, length and versatility to guard on both the perimeter and the post. The freshman phenom finally gives the Magic a true franchise talent to build around.
NBA Comparison: Rashard Lewis
2. Oklahoma City: Chet Holmgren 7-0 195 PF/C Gonzaga Fr.
You’ll find Holmgren at the top of the majority of big boards, but for all the intrigue, there are certainly some major question marks as well. His thin frame is problematic for a center, and he likely will need some time to put on weight and muscle before he can hold his position and make a real impact in the NBA. The great ball handling and point forward skills may be lost to some degree similar to Anthony Davis, and Holmgren could also run into strength and durability issues based on his body type. Still, his incredibly versatile skillset makes him as unique of a prospect as we’ve seen in many years, and one that will be as difficult to pass over as he is to draft.
Why the Thunder take Holmgren: For some time it has felt like Holmgren would somehow end up going to the Thunder, and rumors are already beginning that OKC may use their cache of draft picks to move up a spot to grab him. Sam Presti will likely be thrilled if Holmgren makes his way past the Magic because this pairing makes too much sense for both parties. With such an intriguing skillset, landing a player who can do Nikola Jokic types of things makes him very intriguing.
NBA Comparison: Kristaps Porzingis
3. Houston: Paolo Banchero 6-10 250 PF Duke Fr.
Banchero is much stronger and has a more mature game than Smith and Holmgren, and their styles are incredibly different. Banchero is an impressive shot creator with an unstoppable spin move off the dribble that allows him to get by his defender and finish at the rim. He struggles defensively, but showed some flashes that coaches will be able to work with at the next level. There are also no doubts that he can play the same style at the next level, as he is already 250 pounds and undoubtedly has the strength to bang with NBA bigs and even log time at center in today’s lean towards small ball lineups.
Why the Rockets take Banchero: The backcourt in Houston has a ton of potential and talent, but there are plenty of holes to fill on the wing. Banchero can play as a stretch-four in time if he continues to improve his 3-point jumper and also take pressure off the backcourt as a slashing playmaker from the wing. Jalen Green and Banchero will have a lot of fun playing together and the Rockets have a few other picks in the draft to surround them with players who best suit their new stars.
NBA Comparison: Julius Randle
4. Sacramento: Jaden Ivey 6-4 195 PG/SG Purdue So.
During his breakout sophomore season, Ivey solidified his status as a lottery pick, but that wasn’t enough for him. His dedication to his craft, Ja Morant-esque explosiveness and newly improved 3-point jumper helped him move up to a consensus top 5 pick with a chance to compete to go first overall. The top four players are fairly clear, but Ivey is the only guard of the bunch and with the switch to guard oriented play and durability/longevity, he could make these top teams pay for passing on him at the top of the draft. And take note, of the four remaining playoff teams (Warriors, Mavs, Heat and Celtics), no player 6-foot-10 or taller receives more than 25 minutes per game. An illustration of the game’s shift towards smaller players. For a number of reasons, but mainly his talent, Ivey is currently our top rated prospect available.
Why the Kings take Ivey: We usually spend the draft lottery analyzing the teams who are affected by the lottery, but in this case, nobody fared worse in the lottery than Jaden Ivey. Each of the top three teams have pieces to build around in the backcourt, and not much else surrounding them, which directs them to the fascinating 6’10 and taller players who round out the top three. The Kings made a huge leap and received a ton of criticism for trading Tyrese Haliburton, but they can still upgrade their backcourt with Ivey who can play either guard position. Keegan Murray is a possibility here knowing how Sacramento drafts, but they would be foolish to pass up Ivey if he’s available to them.
NBA Comparison: Ja Morant
5. Detroit: Keegan Murray 6-8 225 PF Iowa So.
Sophomore superstars in the Big Ten were the story of college basketball this season and Murray is the third and final who is represented in the upcoming lottery. After watching Luka Garza dominate last season for the Hawkeyes, Murray took it upon himself to fill these shoes and some in his second season. He is an athletic, versatile wing who can shoot from beyond the arc and defend any player on the floor. He could be the top wing defender in the draft and even blocked two shots per game as a legitimate rim-protector for the Hawkeyes. He can be used in a Mikal Bridges role or even as a small-ball 5 who can control the interior.
Why the Pistons take Murray: It was a disappointing night for Pistons fans falling out of the top four, but there are worse options to have than Keegan Murray with the fifth pick. He’ll bring versatile defense to a team that really needs to improve on this end of the floor and his offensive fit on this roster is almost too good to be true. Cade Cunningham will create a ton of space for a player who averaged over 23 points in a major conference of college basketball. While not the home run pick they hoped for, the Pistons add a contributing piece around their budding star in Cunningham.
NBA Comparison: Otto Porter
6. Indiana: Bennedict Mathurin 6-7 210 SG/SF Arizona So.
If you’re looking for athletic scorers in this draft, look no further than Arizona’s All-American. Mathurin is a big-game player who can drive to the rim and posterize your best defender or light you up with a barrage of threes and a pretty floater. He doesn’t always give the most effort defensively, but he has the frame and length to be a plus defender with consistent focus on the that end of the floor.
Why the Pacers take Mathurin: It would’ve been awesome to see Jaden Ivey stay home and try to turn around the Pacers franchise, but the lottery likely ended the chance of that happening as they fell to the sixth pick in the draft. Mathurin feels like an Indiana type of pick and is an exciting and explosive player who will at the least provide quite a highlight reel with poster dunks and big-time shots like he did to make a name for himself for the Wildcats this past season.
NBA Comparison: Jason Richardson
7. Portland: Johnny Davis 6-5 195 SG Wisconsin So.
Another sophomore standout guard in the Big Ten resided in Madison as he took the conference by storm to lead Wisconsin to a 3-seed in the NCAA Tournament. After representing the USA in the summer, Davis returned to college with refined skills on both ends of the floor. His elite defensive skill will serve him well as he gets a feel for the NBA game, but his three-level scoring is what makes him special. He has potentially the highest motor in the draft and once he improves his 3-point jumper, he’ll be a consistent 20 PPG scorer for many years.
Why the Trail Blazers take Davis: When Portland ultimately made the decision to move Damian Lillard’s buddy CJ McCollum to New Orleans, they likely had somebody like Davis in mind. Davis is not nearly as versatile as CJ, but he offers some of the potential scoring punch and at a much cheaper price tag. He is a similar scoring threat who can get it done at all three levels, and while he needs to improve from the perimeter, there is no questioning the work ethic and determination Davis plays with, and he’s a more ready prospect than some of the other options which works better with the Dame Lillard remaining prime years time line.
NBA Comparison: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
8. New Orleans (via LAL): Shaedon Sharpe 6-5 200 SG Kentucky Fr.
Despite never playing a single minute for the Wildcats, Shaedon Sharpe is a projected top-10 pick with one of the highest ceilings in a draft class that oozes with potential. The highlight tape, which is one of the few things we have to work with scouting Sharpe, is certainly tantalizing, but we at NBADraft.net have concerns about how he will live up to the expectations of the NBA without playing a competitive game in college or the G-League this past season.
Why the Pelicans take Sharpe: Willie Green and the Pelicans proved this postseason that they have plenty of role players to go around and support the stars of the show in New Orleans. With Zion Williamson ready to return next season, should they elect to keep him, they should have immense star power. Sharpe’s high ceiling gives Green a potential fourth star who can ultimately replace McCollum as a crucial piece when his contract expires in two years.
NBA Comparison: Xavier Henry
9. San Antonio: AJ Griffin 6-6 220 SF Duke Fr.
After a back injury limited Griffin to begin the season, he exploded onto the scene for the Blue Devils once he finally got healthy. The freshman forward hovered around 50% from 3-point range before a late season slump and used his solid frame to score in the lane and defend with strength. With an extremely high floor and the ability to contribute immediately to whoever drafts him, Griffin has moved up boards and figures to settle into the top 10
Why the Spurs take Griffin: The 6’6 freshman forward is receiving looks as high as fifth in this draft making this great value for the Spurs. They made the fifth fewest threes per game this past season and AJ Griffin made a living from the outside in his lone season with the Blue Devils. His threat from the outside will do wonders from a floor spacing perspective and allow the talented young players around him to have space to go get their own shot knowing that Griffin will be there for them to kick it out and still get a great look.
NBA Comparison: Jamal Mashburn
10. Washington: TyTy Washington 6-3 195 PG Kentucky Fr.
Injuries derailed not just Kentucky’s season but also Washington’s, and he still ranks as our top natural PG in this draft class. His natural playmaking instincts were on full display in a 17-assist effort against Georgia in January with only two turnovers. The star freshman has a terrific feel for the game and is an ultra-efficient scorer around the rim and inside the arc. His draft range is unpredictable, but we’ve seen enough star players come from Kentucky and exceed expectations and love his confidence, making TyTy a top-10 pick here.
Why the Wizards take Washington: No one really knows what the future holds for Bradley Beal and the Wizards backcourt as a whole, but adding Washington to Washington assures the organization that they are in safe hands as they build a competitive roster. There are a plethora of Kentucky guards lighting up the league and Washington has the IQ and playmaking potential to be a player that contributes quickly.
NBA Comparison: Andre Miller
11. New York: Ochai Agbaji 6-5 215 SG Kansas Sr.
Agbaji is a natural winner and one of the best shooters in the draft who will be an immediate impact player at the next level. He received feedback after entering the 2021 NBA Draft and used that to improve upon his weaknesses this summer. He came back an entirely different player on the offensive end, improving his shot-creating and scoring to the tune of 19 points per game, a consensus All-American selection and a national championship for the Jayhawks.
Why the Knicks take Agbaji: The Knicks desperately need to get back to winning and the “proven winner” of this draft falls to them here at the end of the lottery. Agbaji won 109 games in four years with the Jayhawks and developed into a consensus All-American in his final season as he led his team to a national championship. For a team that needs to get back to winning, you can’t ask for more of a winner than this guy.
NBA Comparison: Desmond Bane
12. Oklahoma City (via LAC): Jalen Duren 6-11 250 PF/C Memphis Fr.
In a class riddled with imposing centers who could go from 10-30, Jalen Duren is the most impressive and looks to be a likely lottery selection. His brute strength, explosiveness and mobility allow him to defend at an elite level around the rim and extend his defensive coverage to the perimeter to mitigate pick-and-roll action and erase shots in the paint. Combined with his rim-running, efficiency and rebounding instincts as well as passing ability, Duren has some Bam Adebayo potential to be an impactful center for a long time in this league.
Why the Thunder take Duren: It’s genuinely intriguing to consider Jalen Duren and Chet Holmgren paired on the same team, but the Thunder have a realistic chance to make this a reality with where their lottery selections are. They have the potential to limit paint points with these two on the floor and their blend of strength and skill could cause headaches for opposing coaches trying to prepare for this long and youthful duo.
NBA Comparison: Andre Drummond
13. Charlotte: Tari Eason 6-8 215 SF/PF LSU So.
Our last extended mock draft had Eason just outside the lottery at pick 15, but re-evaluating his overall game allowed him to jump back into the lottery at pick 13. Being a versatile defender is as important of a skill as any in the modern game and it’s difficult to find anyone as productive or versatile as Eason. He also showed a knack to make winning plays offensively even though he doesn’t wow in any specific area on that end of the floor.
Why the Hornets take Eason: The Hawks and Pacers are averaging 138 points per game against the Hornets in the play-in tournament over the past two seasons. Needless to say, Charlotte is looking for lockdown defenders and they may have found the best defender this draft has to offer with Eason. He immediately raises the level of the team’s defense and could be a contributor off the bench right away for Charlotte and an eventual replacement for Miles Bridges.
NBA Comparison: Marcus Morris
14. Cleveland: Malaki Branham 6-5 180 SF Ohio St. Fr.
The more you watch Malaki Branham, the more there is to like about his skill set. The freshman wing has a lot of Khris Middleton in his game with shot-creation skills at all three levels. He also shot well from both the free-throw line and the 3-point arc at 83% and 41%, respectively. He was one of the best players in the country at finishing around the rim and is able to score on the move as well as on spot-ups.
Why the Cavaliers take Branham: The Cavs have one of the best frontcourts in the league with Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen, a dynamic playmaker running the show in Darius Garland, but they still need more shooting from the wing and scoring to complement this young core. Branham proved to be an elite two-point scorer and certainly could play in a spot-up role as an efficient perimeter scorer. The Cavs want to keep winning and Branham’s talent and potential should blend in perfectly with an up and coming Cleveland team.
NBA Comparison: Khris Middleton
15. Charlotte (via NO): Blake Wesley 6-5, 185 PG/SG Notre Dame Fr.
Wesley just misses out on the lottery here, but after sitting outside the top-100 in the freshman recruiting rankings coming into the season, you have to think he’s thrilled with climbing as high as the 15th pick in just one season in South Bend. He is an athletic combo guard and an explosive slasher who is still working on his perimeter shooting game after shooting 30% on five attempts per game. Stats aside, he really took off and won games after Coach Brey put his faith in Wesley and gave him to keys to the team as the team’s facilitator and primary ball handler. His dramatic development from high school until now is impressive and suggests that further development is on the way as he gains more strength.
Why the Hornets take Wesley: He may not be ready to play consistent minutes immediately, but Charlotte won’t need him to as they can focus on an immediate contributor with the 13th pick as they take a chance on Wesley at 15. Patience is a virtue, and the Hornets could be thrilled in a few years looking back on drafting a talent like this outside of the lottery to add to an intriguing young nucleus.
NBA Comparison: Byron Scott
16. Atlanta: Jeremy Sochan 6-9 230 PF Baylor Fr.
If you love defense and you love tenacity, Sochan is the player for you. He’d fit right in on the late 80’s Pistons with his mean streak and frustration he causes on the court. With length and athleticism, he is a formidable defender who is still developing his offensive game, but in the meantime, he is a serious lob threat and incredible defender who can earn minutes by locking down an opposing team’s best player in his minutes and bringing the house down with incredible dunks.
Why the Hawks take Sochan: The Hawks struggled early this season finding motivation to play hard in games that meant significantly less than their incredible playoff run in 2021. Drafting Sochan should immediately fix this problem as he is a high-energy forward who brings a mean streak and intriguing athleticism. Like Wesley, his perimeter shooting is a work in progress, but he competes hard, is a versatile defender who can guard nearly any position on the floor.
NBA Comparison: Kyle Kuzma
17. Houston (via BKN): Mark Williams 7-0 240 C Duke So.
Since the middle of the 2020-21 college season, Williams has looked the part of a special prospect with his strength and athleticism on the interior for the Blue Devils. He emerged as one of the best shot-blockers in the nation and he will continue to show that as a massive seven-footer with good footwork and strength to handle opposing centers.
Why the Rockets take Williams: The Rockets have plenty of finesse with Alperen Sengun in the frontcourt, but now it’s time for some power with Williams. The Duke standout was unstoppable down the stretch and helped lead the Blue Devils to the Final Four this past season. His skills and athleticism around the rim on both ends of the floor are highly sought after in today’s game and Williams should be a durable and imposing center to anchor the Rockets defense for many years to come.
NBA Comparison: Clint Capella
18. Chicago: Kendall Brown 6-8 205 SF/PF Baylor Fr.
Sochan might come higher on this list, but Kendall Brown was a top-10 recruit for a reason and remains in the top-20 despite less production than many hoped in his lone season with Baylor. He possesses an NBA frame on the wing and could rival the vertical leap record at the combine with insane athleticism and an uncanny ability to find space to throw down lobs from his teammates.
Why the Bulls take Brown: Patrick Williams looks to have a bright future with the team but a team can never have too many dynamic wings. Chicago gets another here with Brown and finds another lob threat for Lonzo Ball who loves throwing the ball around the rim. Don’t worry Lonzo, Brown will be there to throw it down from day one.
NBA Comparison: Al-Farouq Aminu
19. Minnesota: MarJon Beauchamp 6-6 200 SG G-League Ignite So.
Beauchamp might be the first G-League Ignite prospect to go at pick 19, but there is not much separating the top three as you will see with the next two picks. Beauchamp earns the first selection due to his more polished skills and production with the Ignite and a solid frame for a modern NBA wing. The would-be sophomore is a more efficient two-point scorer than his Ignite teammates after shooting 68% from inside the arc in 12 showcase appearances for the squad and will immediately produce at the next level thanks to his experience in the G-League.
Why the Timberwolves take Beauchamp: Jaylen Nowell has a team option that will be exercised for next season, but it is unlikely that him or Malik Beasley, who has a $16 million team option after next season, will be with the team after next year. The T-Wolves can plug a future hole with Beauchamp at shooting guard and take a chance on his massive upside and could form a three-headed monster in the backcourt alongside D-Lo and Anthony Edwards heading into the 2024 season.
NBA Comparison: James Anderson
20. San Antonio (via TOR): Jaden Hardy 6-4 200 SG G-League Ignite Fr.
The former top-five recruit struggled mightily to start his G-League Ignite career, which caused him to drop outside of the lottery and into the mid-late first round. As the season went on, Hardy started to impress and showed why he was such a highly touted recruit coming out of high school. The 6’4 combo guard is a phenomenal slasher and certainly has the range to be successful from the perimeter at the next level.
Why the Spurs take Hardy: They showed last season that they aren’t afraid to pick the high-upside project player when they selected Joshua Primo in the lottery, so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them do something similar here at 20. A backcourt with Dejounte Murray and Hardy is one that could shine for many years if they both play up to their potential.
NBA Comparison: Buddy Hield
21. Denver: Dyson Daniels 6-6 200 PG/SG G-League Ignite Intl.
There were plenty of players to enjoy watching on the Ignite this past season, but none were as enjoyable on a consistent basis like Dyson Daniels. With the right opportunity, the Australian point guard could be a triple-double threat every night with the length to pull down rebounds and the playmaking instincts to rack up plenty of assists.
Why the Nuggets take Daniels: This season proved that the Nuggets need another playmaker to take some pressure off their two-time MVP Nikola Jokic. Daniels versatility would be welcomed, and he gives them depth in the backcourt/wing as the team has run into some challenging times with injuries to key players.
NBA Comparison: Marko Jaric
22. Memphis (via UTAH): Max Christie 6-6 190 SG Michigan St. Fr.
Christie entered the 2021 season expected to be the best shooter in the incoming freshman class. He didn’t quite enjoy this status, but you can’t deny the NBA frame and shotmaking potential he will bring to the NBA. Picturesque shooting mechanics and a high free throw percentage (82%) indicate that his shooting struggles from beyond the arc were a fluke and a team will be willing to take that chance just outside the lottery.
Why the Grizzlies take Christie: Ja Morant is owed a major extension this offseason and it will likely make it impossible to extend Dillon Brooks once his contract expires at the end of next season. With Christie, they can find Brooks’ replacement and groom him for an entire year to figure out his jump shot and allow him to grow so he can be ready when he is called upon in a larger role next season. The Warriors struck gold late in the first with a young Jordan Poole, and although Christie didn’t put up huge numbers, the talent is there for him to make a big splash in a few seasons.
NBA Comparison: Evan Fournier
23. Brooklyn (via PHI): Nikola Jovic 6-10 205 PF/C Serbia Intl.
There are four 6’10 players in this draft that have the potential to be shotmaking superstars. Three of them are projected in the top-four and Nikola Jovic is the fourth. His highlight tape is mesmerizing as you can see him moving with guard-level quickness on the perimeter to separate from defenders and smoothly knock down triples and get to the basket as well as any prospect in the draft.
Why the Nets take Jovic: They already have a 6’10 point guard who is one of the best defenders and playmakers in the league (from what we saw a year ago before he sat the entire season out). They also have a 6’10 forward who is one of the greatest scorers in the league’s history. All good things come in threes, so why wouldn’t the Nets try? I, for one, would love to see how it works out with all of them on the court at once.
NBA Comparison; Jonas Jerebko
24. Milwaukee: Kennedy Chandler 6-1 170 PG Tennessee Fr.
The five-star point guard had an argument as the best player in college basketball down the stretch of the 2022 season and proved it by dominating Kentucky in the SEC Tournament who actually had the National Player of the Year in Oscar Tshiebwe. His incredible speed and developing perimeter jumper allowed him to frustrate opposing defenses and bring an SEC Championship home to Knoxville as a true freshman.
Why the Bucks take Chandler: Jrue Holiday is getting older and there is a major hole behind him in the rotation for Milwaukee. Chandler has the potential to eventually replace Holiday as the starter and has the talent to at least plug a hole as the backup point guard for a perennially competitive team. The Eastern Conference won’t be happy for a long time if they allow a player this skilled to fall to Giannis and the Bucks late in the first round.
NBA Comparison: Mario Chalmers
25. San Antonio (via BOS): Jalen Williams 6-6 195 SG/SF Santa Clara Jr.
Although he lacks speed, Williams is a bulky wing with shot-creating skills who can work in the backcourt as a primary initiator or as an off-ball threat from the wing. He is versatile on both ends of the floor and proved to be an exceptional scorer as the star player for Santa Clara in his junior season in the WCC. This is a name to track throughout the pre-draft process as he attempts to prove that he can play with the top competition in the nation.
Why the Spurs take Williams: They have plenty of young, talented wings but Lonnie Walker and Joe Wieskamp are restricted free agents this offseason. Dejounte Murray will warrant quite an extension with only two years on his current deal remaining, and any player of this caliber that you can control on a rookie contract saves the salary cap for bigger players to build around Murray. Williams has a lot of versatility and fits as a Spurs type of player with his great intangibles.
NBA Comparison: Shake Milton
26. Dallas: Jaylin Williams 6-10 240 PF/C Arkansas So.
No not that Jaylin Williams! Arkansas didn’t have a ton of success in basketball for a long time before Jaylin Williams showed up. In two seasons, he has led the Razorbacks to consecutive Elite Eight appearances and was the heart and soul of both NCAA Tournament runs. He is a versatile defender with natural winning and leadership qualities and is one of the most frustrating players in the world to play against. No one in the country was better at drawing charges and if he can develop a consistent perimeter jumper, he will be a fan favorite for many years to come in the NBA.
Why the Mavericks take Williams: The Mavs sent Kristaps Porzingis out the door at the trade deadline and now can use this pick to help fill out their frontcourt and Williams is an ideal player to do it. He is a solid screener who can fade off these screens to knock down 3-pointers and also roll to the basket and finish around the rim. I have a feeling Luka will love this pairing and thank his front office within a few weeks of playing with Williams.
NBA Comparison: Bobby Portis
27. Miami: Walker Kessler 7-1 245 C Auburn So.
The 2020 freshman class in Chapel Hill didn’t exactly flourish in Chapel Hill as Kessler struggled to make a real impact alongside Caleb Love and RJ Davis. They all excelled as sophomores, but Kessler did it at Auburn as the premier shot-blocker in the nation. He posted more blocks than over 300 teams in the sport and altered countless more shots. You won’t find a better rim protector in this year’s class and probably many more draft classes to follow.
Why the Heat take Kessler: It’s quite simple really. The Heat blocked the fewest amount of shots in the entire NBA and are heading to the Eastern Conference Finals anyway. If they can bring in a record-breaking shot-blocker to an already formidable defense and talented roster, who knows where they’ll go if they start protecting the rim.
NBA Comparison: Cole Aldrich
28. Golden State: Orlando Robinson 7-0 235 C Fresno St. Jr.
Robinson is an elite mid-major prospect who started all 90 games in his career at Fresno State and can extend his range beyond the arc. He has great size as a seven-footer and brings rebounding and an interior scoring threat, averaging nearly 20 points per game with the Bulldogs as a junior.
Why the Warriors take Robinson: The Grizzlies exposed the Warriors’ lack of a true rebounder on the interior throughout the Western Conference Semifinals and James Wiseman’s inability to stay healthy has opened the door for another big man to come in and fill that void. Robinson can be that guy and has the range to continue to open up the floor offensively for the Splash Brothers to do their thing. This is a perfect match late in the first.
NBA Comparison: Nokola Vucevic
29. Memphis: Patrick Baldwin 6-9 220 SF/PF Wisconsin-Milwaukee Fr.
After deciding to play for his father, a Northwestern basketball legend, there were hopes that Baldwin would obliterate the competition and solidify his status as a lottery pick. Instead, he dealt with injuries and inefficiency when he actually did play, and he is holding onto a first-round projection by a thread at the moment. The fascination with his game is the same shotmaking skills we see from players like Jabari Smith although his flashes are fewer and much farther between.
Why the Grizzlies take Baldwin: There’s no better time than the late first round to go for a boom or bust prospect and the Grizzlies have plenty of role players to go around. What they want here is the potential for another star who can play alongside Ja Morant for the next decade. They are one of the best talent-developing organizations in the league so if anyone can get the most out of Baldwin, why wouldn’t it be them?
NBA Comparison: Jalen Johnson
30. Oklahoma City (via PHX): Caleb Houstan 6-8 205 SG/SF Michigan Fr.
A majority of the five-star freshmen disappointed in their debut seasons in relation to the lofty expectations and Houstan was no different. He didn’t play terribly by any means, but every time it looked like he figured things out, he would regress to his previous level and frustrate the Wolverine faithful. However, his size and today’s premium on shooting gives a player like him intrigue, despite the fact that he lacks a great feel for the game or great fluidity.
Why the Thunder take Houstan: Sam Presti has a history of promising and selecting long term prospects and there is no better time to do that than late in the first round. The fact that Houstan elected to skip the NBA Draft Combine signifies a promise and it’s possible that it came from Presti with the 30th pick. Additionally, Presti’s buy low, sell high approach and Houstan’s hype coming into the season makes this plausible, granted we view this pick as a reach.
NBA Comparison: RJ Hunter
31. Indiana (via HOU): EJ Liddell 6-7 240 PF Ohio St. Jr.
Liddell experienced a slide last season that caused him to return to Ohio State after measuring only just over 6’5 barefoot at the 2021 NBA Draft Combine. He received his feedback and improved dramatically as a perimeter shooter in his junior season for the Buckeyes. He brings elite defense to the professional game on both the perimeter and in the post and his improved jumper should allow him to stay in this draft and make an immediate impact in his rookie season.
32. Orlando: Leonard Miller 6-9 195 SF HS Sr.
Miller is a major talking point right now after being granted eligibility for the upcoming draft despite still being a high school recruit from Canada. He stands at 6’9 and plays with point guard skills and plenty of athleticism. He’s surely a project pick, but one with a ton of potential and a lot of buzz right now.
33. Toronto (via DET): Bryce McGowens 6-6 175 SG Nebraska Fr.
A sluggish start to the season plummeted McGowens’ draft stock, but a late season surge has him competing to sneak back into the first round. He is an uber-athletic combo guard who slithers to the basket and can finish with authority around the rim. He projects as a high upside guard who may need some time to develop, but could be one of those guys who is worth the wait in 2-3 years.
34. Oklahoma City: Jamaree Bouyea 6-2 180 PG San Francisco Sr.
Bouyea put on an absolute show in the first round of the NCAA Tournament that all Thunder fans should go watch as we project him to land in OKC early in the second round. He also had a great day Monday at the G-League Elite Camp with the top vertical and five assists in 21 minutes during the first scrimmage. I expect his name to continue to climb as we approach the draft in June.
35. Orlando (via IND): Ryan Rollins 6-4 180 SG Toledo So.
Rollins is a popular sleeper pick and an underrated prospect that I am a huge fan of. He reads the game at a fast pace and makes consistent good decisions for others and is a fluid shooter with the mechanics and range to create his own shot and score at a high clip at the next level. If he can show a commitment to his defensive game and prove he can score against any competition in the pre-draft process, expect him to rise as high as the first round by June.
36. Portland: Trayce Jackson-Davis 6-9 245 PF Indiana Jr.
One of the most productive big men in the nation who plays a lot taller than 6-9 with long arms and a massive vertical. He could play the 4 or 5, but needs to develop a perimeter jumper and improve at the free throw line if he wants to carve out a more consistent role for himself.
37. Sacramento: Trevor Keels 6-4 220 PG/SG Duke Fr.
There weren’t a lot of big moments in Keels’ freshman season after bursting onto the scene with 25 points in his first career game against Kentucky. He looked like a lottery pick in that game but never reached that same level again as he fell in the pecking order behind fellow stars at Duke. Still, he is a powerful guard who uses his body to create space in the lane and can create for others as well on the drive.
38. San Antonio (via LAL): Wendell Moore 6-5 215 SG/SF Duke Jr.
Much like his teammate Keels, Moore is a powerful driver and tremendous playmaker with the versatility to run the point or play as a secondary initiator on the wing. After struggling for two seasons on the perimeter, Moore put in the work this summer to become a consistent threat on the outside and reaps the benefits here as an early second round pick who could easily climb into the first round.
39. Cleveland (via SA): Ismael Kamagate 6-11 230 C France Intl.
A lengthy, shot-altering big who has great mobility and size to defend at all levels in the NBA. He isn’t afraid to pull the trigger on jump shots although his range doesn’t yet expand to the perimeter. He also is a solid playmaker in the post with powerful, accurate passing and the body control and vision necessary to create offense in the short roll for others.
40. Minnesota (via WAS): Iverson Molinar 6-3 190 PG Mississippi St. Jr.
Add another lightning quick point guard to the Knicks locker room. Molinar is tough to defend on the perimeter with a quick first step and phenomenal finishing skills inside the arc and in the paint. There’s plenty of room for improvement from 3-point range, but he was a 43% shooter as a sophomore and could easily return to this form if he finds some confidence in his abilities.
41. New Orleans: Jean Montero 6-2 175 PG/SG Overtime Elite Intl.
The Overtime Elite program could very easily be fantastic for the game of basketball. It might be already. However, until we know for sure how it grooms and develops prospects, it is difficult to project a player much higher than this without seeing any results before. Montero is an exceptional prospect and could be way too high or way too low, but as the litmus test for this program, he sits at pick 41 and a wonderful learning experience for the future.
42. New York: Hugo Besson 6-3 195 PG/SG France Intl.
A high-IQ point guard who can immediately play solid minutes and run an offense with efficiency and poise, but Besson isn’t a prospect with the upside of many of his fellow prospects at this position.
43. Los Angeles Clippers: Julian Champagnie 6-8 215 SF St. Johns Jr
Julian plays a lot like his brother Justin as a solid three-level scorer with good size and athleticism. Has the tools and scoring experience to put the ball in the hoop and could be a solid role player, but his potential doesn’t reach much more than that.
44. Atlanta: JD Davison 6-3 195 PG/SG Alabama Fr.
You can’t dispute the pure talent and athleticism in Davison’s game, but he struggled as much as any freshman in the nation with an excess of turnovers and no real success as a shooter from the outside. If he can figure out how to use his incredible vertical and athleticism to his advantage and cut down on turnovers, this is a lottery talent falling to the Hawks in the middle of the second round, which is a value you can’t pass up, much like Sharife Cooper last season.
45. Charlotte: Michael Foster 6-8 250 PF G-League Ignite Fr.
Foster was a top-10 recruit coming out of high school this season and despite shooting the highest percentage from the perimeter out of the four draft-eligible players, there is a wide gap between him and his three teammates. He can immediately play 20 minutes per game as a stretch four with a bulky frame and physical rebounding that any team would love to have.
46. Detroit (via BKN): Keon Ellis 6-6 175 SG Alabama Sr.
A freak athlete with great length for the professional game and streaky shooting that promises to be anything but consistent. This past season he went 0-8 from the field and 0-7 from the perimeter against Mississippi State before drilling five in the first half against Kentucky and finishing 7-11 from beyond the arc in the very next game. If he brings any sort of consistency with him and uses his length to become a plus defender in the NBA, this is absolutely a steal in the second round, but it’s also a very big “if”.
47. Memphis (via CLE): Ibou Dianko Badji 7-1 240 C Senegal Intl.
Certainly has the size to play in the pros at 7’1 and even shows flashes of jump shooting to open the paint for driving guards. An intriguing big man with the potential to be a star.
48. Minnesota: Yannick Nzosa 6-11 200 C Congo Intl.
Nzosa received plenty of lottery and first round buzz early in the season, but we’ve consistently projected him around this range due to major question marks around his offensive game that may never lead to production professionally. Despite these struggles, he is still an incredible defender and rim protector who gets out in transition with tremendous acceleration.
49. Sacramento (via CHI): Jared Rhoden 6-6 210 SF Seton Hall Sr.
Another player who did himself a favor at the G-League Elite Camp was Jared Rhoden. He showed he has the frame and strength to defend elite players on the wing and is the prototypical 3-and-D wing that so many teams are looking for late in the draft recently.
50. Minnesota (via DEN): Trevion Williams 6-10 255 PF Purdue Sr.
The intangibles and unique playmaking skills that Williams possesses are fascinating to dissect from a scouting standpoint. He went from a first-team all-conference player to a sixth man in his senior season and never complained for a second as he developed his game and performed his role masterfully. His collegiate production is impressive enough, but he is simply one of those guys you love to have in your locker room.
51. Golden State (via TOR): Jordan Hall 6-7 215 PG/SG St. Joseph’s So.
St. Joseph’s found a superstar in Hall who created a ton of their offense and played mostly as a point guard at 6’7. He recorded a triple-double in his freshman season and a little patience with his perimeter shot will work out in the end as he can catch fire in a flash and score from anywhere. There’s plenty to love about his game right now and the potential is even more enticing as a playmaking wing with great size and solid athleticism.
52. New Orleans (via UTAH): Matteo Spagnolo 6-4 190 PG Italy Intl.
A twitchy, skilled Italian point guard who manipulates defenders with his eyes and hesitations to create space for himself and get into the lane. Uses his smarts and exceptional body control to score to make up for his slightly above average athleticism. He is still only 19 and has the potential to enjoy a solid NBA career as he develops.
53. Boston: Brady Manek 6-9 230 PF/C North Carolina Sr.
Manek was the true darling of March Madness and did wonders for the Heels who went from getting blown out in the first round as an 8-seed in 2021 to reaching the National Championship as an 8-seed with the 6’9 senior joining the squad. He is a microwave stretch-four who plays with the energy and confidence that could even match Marcus Smart in Boston.
54. Forfeited Pick
55. Forfeited Pick
56. Washington (via DAL): Jake LaRavia 6-8 235 SF/PF Jr.
LaRavia is a fascinating playmaking wing with great size who can put the ball on the deck and get his own shot in the lane or in the post. He averaged over 14 points, six rebounds and nearly four assists per game in his first season at Wake Forest while shooting 61% on 2-pointers and 38% from the perimeter. His efficiency as a scorer and unique playmaking skillset for a bulky 6’9 wing make him one of the more intriguing players in this draft who can immediately start in the NBA despite projecting as a late second round pick.
57. Golden State: Kameron McGusty 6-5 190 SG Miami (FL) Sr.
McGusty is easily one of the oldest players in this class, but the Warriors won’t care as they look for guys who can immediately produce and maintain the level of success they’ve enjoyed the past decade. McGusty is one of those guys as he emerged as a prolific three-level scorer for the Hurricanes and averaged 18 points per game to lead them to the Elite Eight as a 10-seed in the NCAA Tournament.
58. Cleveland (via MIA): JD Notae 6-2 190 PG Arkansas Sr.
If you’re looking for excitement from a point guard, Notae is your guy, If you’re looking for efficiency, move to the next pick because he isn’t for you. The senior guard helped lead the Razorbacks to a second straight Elite Eight, but finished his two-year Arkansas career as a 39% FG shooter. A 1-13 display and -17 plus/minus in his first G-League Elite Camp scrimmage did him no favors either for those who doubt his efficiency can translate to the next level.
59. Portland (via MEM): Drew Timme 6-10 235 PF/C Gonzaga Jr.
Timme is one of the more productive college basketball players of the past two seasons, but his inability to score from the perimeter has him on the fringe of even being drafted this year. Even without an outside jumper, Timme scored around 19 points per game the last two years with masterful post moves and footwork that allows him to get around defenders and score with absurd efficiency around the rim.
60. Indiana (via PHX): Izaiah Brockington 6-4 195 PG/SG Iowa St. Sr.
The Cyclones went 2-22 last season and brought in a ton of new players to turn that tide this season. Brockington was the most impactful of the bunch as an energetic and athletic southpaw guard who will frustrate the heck out of you with his shot selection and immediately silence you as he drills long 2-pointers regardless of how well he’s defended. This mid-range mastery, powerful slashing and unmatchable energy will catch the eye of some team looking for a spark off the bench.