The 2023 NBA Draft is now almost two weeks away — and the only thing we know for sure is that the San Antonio Spurs will select Victor Wembanyama with the first pick. After that, things could go any number of directions with the biggest question revolving around what Charlotte will do with the second pick.
Brandon Miller? Scoot Henderson? Somebody else?
For now, I'm continuing to believe the Hornets will use the pick on Miller, the 6-foot-9 wing from Alabama who was the best freshman in college basketball this past season. He made 38.4% of the 7.5 3-pointers he attempted per game for the Crimson Tide while helping them secure the No. 1 overall seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. Simply put, of the prospects who could reasonably be in the conversation to possibly go second overall, Miller is the best fit to play into the future alongside franchise point guard LaMelo Ball, and that's largely why I think Charlotte will ultimately select him.
Based on conversations I've had with people around the league, the role Miller played in a series of events in January that led to the shooting death of a 23-year-old woman named Jamea Harris — according to police, Miller brought the gun that was used to kill Harris to the scene of the incident — has been thoroughly vetted, and the prevailing thought seems to be that it's not a reason to pass on a talent this immense. Front offices are mostly labeling it as a poor decision made by a young person as opposed to a reflection of Miller's character, and nearly everything I've heard about him suggests that's probably the proper way to view it.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Wembanyama has been described as the most unique, and arguably best, teenage basketball prospect the world has ever seen. If things break the right way, the French sensation could eventually become the best offensive and the best defensive player in the NBA.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Alabama • 6'8" / 200 lbs
Reasonable minds can disagree on whether Miller or Scoot Henderson is the second-best prospect in this draft because most believe it's very debatable. What's less debatable is that Miller is a better fit with franchise point guard LaMelo Ball, and that's among the reasons Charlotte should probably go that direction.
Round 1- Pick 3
There's a lot of speculation that Portland will move this pick for an experienced piece who is better equipped to help Damian Lillard win now. Either way, Henderson, a super-athletic lead guard who skipped college for the G-League Ignite, should be the third player selected in this draft by the Blazers or somebody else.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Cam Whitmore SF
Villanova • 6'5" / 235 lbs
Whitmore reportedly had a super-impressive pro day in California that very much has him under consideration to be a top-four pick. The wing is a great athlete with a top-shelf body and in possession of most of the attributes that are usually necessary to star in the NBA.
Round 1 - Pick 5
The Pistons already have young guards like Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey on the roster — but it would still be difficult to pass on a talent like Amen Thompson at this point in the draft. It's not a perfect fit, but Detroit's new coach, Monty Williams, would have a fun time figuring out how to make it work.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Ausar Thompson is Amen's twin brother and a comparable talent whom some believe is actually the superior talent. He would be a nice building block in Orlando next to frontcourt standouts Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Houston • 6'8" / 235 lbs
Walker will enter the NBA with incredible physical attributes and should be more capable of making an impact defensively than offensively. In time, he'll be able to play the four and some small-ball five, and stardom is possible if his offensive game develops as he grows older.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Indiana • 6'4" / 216 lbs
Hood-Schifino is, in my opinion, the best prospect available at this point in this mock draft. He's a super-talented combo guard who has a more-dependable 3-point shot than what he showed in his one season at Indiana.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Arkansas • 6'7" / 185 lbs
Black has great size for his position and the ability to make plays out of pick-and-rolls. Those attributes combined with a high basketball IQ make him a sensible option for a Utah franchise rebuilding.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Gradey Dick SF
Kansas • 6'8" / 205 lbs
It's hard to know what the Mavericks' roster will look like next season given the uncertainty surrounding the Kyrie Irving situation. But every franchise needs more shooting, and Dick is arguably the best shooter in this draft.
From Chicago Bulls
Round 1 - Pick 11
Baylor • 6'4" / 185 lbs
I have the Magic taking a big guard with their first pick in this draft, so this is a decent spot to grab a backcourt partner. George wasn't the most consistent freshman in the country in his one season at Baylor, but his ability to navigate pick-and-rolls, put pressure on defenses and score is undeniable.
Round 1 - Pick 12
UCF • 6'9" / 210 lbs
Hendricks is an out-of-nowhere prospect who is the type of tall, athletic and a proven shooter Oklahoma City prioritizes. He made 39.4% of the 4.6 3-pointers he attempted in his one season at UCF while becoming a one-and-done lottery pick despite being ranked outside of the top 80 in the Class of 2022.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Jett Howard SG
Michigan • 6'8" / 215 lbs
The Raptors ranked 28th this season in 3-point percentage, which is among the reasons Howard makes sense for them. He can play multiple positions, reliably make shots from the perimeter and is just, broadly speaking, a good-sized player with a well-rounded skillset, in part because he's the son of a former NBA player and high-major college coach.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Connecticut • 6'5" / 190 lbs
Assuming Zion Williamson is ever healthy enough to play consistently, the Pelicans will need to surround him with shooting. Hawkins made more than 38% of the 7.6 3-pointers he attempted per game this season while helping UConn win the national championship.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Duke • 7'1" / 230 lbs
Having a real and young rim-protector to grow with Trae Young would be a move in the right direction for an Atlanta franchise that's stalled. Lively's one season at Duke got off to a rough start and was statistically unimpressive, but he showed enough down the stretch as an impactful defender to solidify himself as a top-20 pick.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Arkansas • 6'5" / 185 lbs
Smith dealt with a less-than-perfect knee all season that limited him to just 17 games, most of which he struggled in relative to expectations that accompanied him to Arkansas. That's among the reasons he won't be selected where most projected he'd go a year ago, but he should still go somewhere inside the top 20 based on the ability to score he showed when he was healthy in high school.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Ohio State • 6'6" / 235 lbs
Sensabaugh, like Hendricks, was a sub-80 prospect in the Class of 2022 who was surprisingly great in his one year at Ohio State. If he improves as a perimeter defender, the 6-6 wing could develop into the type of 3-and-D player who could help LeBron James keep the Lakers as legitimate contenders in the West.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Kentucky • 6'4" / 195 lbs
The Heat could stand to add a young point guard to the roster as Kyle Lowry enters the final season of a three-year contract. Wallace is a nice option considering he's a playmaker who has a chance to be above average on both ends of the court given the way he enthusiastically takes on the role as an on-ball defender.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Kobe Bufkin SG
Michigan • 6'4" / 195 lbs
There's some thought that the Warriors might try to move off of Jordan Poole's contract this summer. If so, Bufkin could be a long-term replacement as an interesting two-way player who made 35.5% of the 3.7 3-pointers he attempted per game this season at Michigan.
From Los Angeles Clippers
Round 1 - Pick 20
The Rockets should still very much be in a take-the-best-prospect-available mode — and there are a lot of people who believe that person, at this point in this mock draft, would be Coulibaly. He's Wembanyama's less-famous teammate who has solidified himself as a first-round option during this postseason run in France.
From Phoenix Suns
Round 1 - Pick 21
UCLA • 6'6" / 226 lbs
Jaquez should enter the NBA at the age of 22 ready to contribute immediately. I've been a big believer in him for a while and assume he'll be, at worst, an impactful role player on a winning team for many years to come.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Noah Clowney PF
Alabama • 6'10" / 210 lbs
Defensive versatility is a desired skillset these days, and it also happens to be Noah Clowney's strongest attribute. The 6-10 forward has a 7-2 wingspan and the necessary enthusiasm to guard different types of players all over the court.
From New York Knicks
Round 1 - Pick 23
Kris Murray PF
Iowa • 6'8" / 225 lbs
Much like his brother who plays for the Kings, Murray projects as a combo forward who can stretch the floor on offense and guard multiple positions on defense. The Iowa alum won't be a top-five pick like his twin was last year, but he should comfortably go somewhere in the first round.
Round 1 - Pick 24
Miller had a nice season with the G-League Ignite, averaging 16.9 points and 10.1 rebounds as a 19 year-old playing against professionals. There's still a lot of development that needs to be done, but the physical tools to make it are all in place.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Duke • 6'6" / 217 lbs
Grizzlies are in the market for a wing considering they're uninterested in bringing Dillon Brooks back into the franchise. Whitehead would be a nice option if he falls this far considering he has good positional size and shot 42.4% from 3-point range in his one season at Duke.
From Cleveland Cavaliers
Round 1 - Pick 26
Rupert remains unreliable offensively and very much a project. But he's a 6-6 wing with a 7-3 wingspan who has all the prerequisites to be a great perimeter defender if his shooting comes around enough to make him playable at the NBA level.
From Denver Nuggets
Round 1 - Pick 27
Marquette • 6'8" / 215 lbs
Prosper emerged as a real first-round option thanks to a wonderful performance at the combine. He has a 7-1 wingspan and can be a versatile defender thanks to a motor that runs full-speed.
From Philadelphia 76ers
Round 1 - Pick 28
Jalen Wilson SF
Kansas • 6'8" / 230 lbs
Wilson is the latest Kansas alum to develop into a legitimate NBA player after spending multiple years under Bill Self. He made a huge leap from his third season to his fourth season with the Jayhawks while earning Big 12 Player of the Year honors.
From Boston Celtics
Round 1 - Pick 29
Houston • 6'1" / 196 lbs
Sasser is a combo guard who played a big role in helping Houston secure a No. 1 seed in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. His ability to make plays and reliably hit jumpers will give him a chance to stick in the NBA even if he is a little on the small side.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 1 - Pick 30
Pepperdine • 6'6" / 207 lbs
Lewis is the rare non-Gonzaga WCC player with realistic first-round aspirations. He's a 6-7 wing with a 6-10 wingspan who can shot-create and punish teams from the 3-point line, both of which are qualities NBA franchises value immensely.