KSL Sports: 2023 NBA Mock Draft

Jun 21, 2023, 4:42 PM | Updated: Oct 9, 2023, 2:08 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The NBA Draft is Thursday, and with the Utah Jazz owning three first-round picks, it it’s time for the 2023 KSL Sports Mock Draft.

The Jazz have been particularly secretive about the draft this year opting not to announce player workouts while shielding Danny Ainge and Justin Zanik from the public eye.

With teams finalizing their draft boards, here’s the final Mock Draft based on the latest intel around the NBA.

KSL Sports Final NBA Mock Draft

1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama – C – France

There is zero mystery about who the Spurs plan to take with the top pick and Victor Wembanyama represents one of the best prospects to enter the NBA Draft in more than a decade.

Health permitting, Wembanyama will be the best player from this draft class and one of the most exciting physical specimens ever to play the game.

However, we’ve never seen a build quite like that of Wembanyama, and his game will require more development than many realize before he’s fully dominating the league.

2. Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller – F – Alabama

Personally, I would put Scoot Henderson over Brandon Miller due to his larger body of work, leadership skills, and overall upside.

But, the overlap between Henderson and Hornets All-Star LaMelo Ball likely pushes Charlotte to select Miller in hopes that he develops into the prototypical big-scoring wing that every team in the NBA covets.

Worst case scenario, he’s a great shooter and passer who can defend multiple positions. Again, I would favor Scoot, but Miller is a solid pick.

3. Portland Trail Blazers: Scoot Henderson – PG – G League Ignite

Having Scoot Henderson fall in their lap has a chance to be a game-changer for the Trail Blazers regardless of whether they keep him or not.

Portland can likely receive a king’s ransom for the pick from a team thinking Henderson has a chance to be a superstar, or they can opt to simply keep him and see how he fits alongside Damian Lillard.

Personally, I would use this opportunity to jump-start a rebuild in Portland while sending  Lillard to a contender of his choosing, but it doesn’t seem like that’s the most likely outcome.

Pairing Lillard and Henderson, and moving on from one of Shaedon Sharp or Anfernee Simons seems like a realistic possibility and one that could allow Portland to thread the needle of building a more competitive roster, while also developing one of the more exciting prospects to enter the NBA in some time.

4. Houston Rockets: Amen Thompson – G – Overtime Elite

Super athletic lead ball handlers with go-to scoring potential who are also incredible passers are uniquely rare in the NBA, and that makes Amen Thompson a bit of a no-brainer for Houston at four.

The questions about Thompson’s jump shot are legit, but with his elite physical tools, ball skills, and reported stellar work ethic, I think this is an easy pick.

5. Detroit Pistons: Ausar Thompson – G – Overtime Elite

For many, this is where the draft truly begins, including the Utah Jazz who will start to get a better idea of who might be on the board at nine based on what Detroit does at five.

The Pistons are rumored to be shopping this pick, but have also been closely tied to Jarace Walker, Taylor Hendricks, and Cam Whitmore with the selection.

However, for many of the same reasons the Rockets took Amen, I think the Pistons are going to take Ausar who can be argued is the best player available, and would pair well next to Cade Cunningham in the backcourt.

There is certainly positional overlap in Detroit after selecting Jaden Ivey last summer, but if you have to move Ausar to small forward to get him on the floor, he’s got the size and athleticism to do it.

6. Orlando Magic: Taylor Hendricks – F/C – Central Florida

This is probably slightly higher than some boards have Taylor Hendricks heading into draft night, but he makes a lot of sense in Orlando.

The Magic traditionally value length, athleticism, and versatility, and have a desperate need to add shooting to their roster.

Outside of Brandon Miller, Hendricks is the best shooter projected to be selected in the top 10, and having played in their backyard at Central Florida, the Magic should have more familiarity with him than anyone else in the league.

Don’t be surprised if Orlando adds backcourt depth here instead, but I’ll give Hendricks the slight edge.

7. Indiana Pacers: Jarace Walker – F/C – Houston

The Pacers are bizarrely thin in the frontcourt, and though Myles Turner offers spacing as a center, he’s not all that positionally diverse.

Enter Jarace Walker who will likely log time at all three frontcourt positions throughout his career, can defend all over the floor, and has more on-ball than he showed at Houston.

Cam Whitmore will get a serious look here, but with Tyrese Haliburton and Bennedict Mathurin already on the roster, frontcourt depth is likely a larger need than perimeter scoring.

8. Washington Wizards: Anthony Black – PG – Arkansas

I am a little surprised that after trading Bradley Beal we haven’t heard a wider range of potential prospects being discussed with the Wizards at pick eight, but they’ve been heavily tied to point guards throughout the draft process, and there is good reason.

As they begin their rebuild, Washington will simply select the best player available, and it just so happens that Anthony Black fits the billing, and also fills a position of need.

Again, I suspect Whitmore may be in play here more than has been suggested, but Black earns the nod.

9. Utah Jazz: Cam Whitmore – G/F – Villanova

Even a few days ago this projection would have seemed preposterous, but suddenly a significant number of prominent mock drafts have Cam Whitmore slipping out of the top five and falling to the Jazz at number nine.

First and foremost, there seems to be a consensus top nine players in the draft, something even the Jazz alluded to in their lone media availability, and somebody in that group simply has to fall to nine.

While there are no perfect players in the draft, rumored poor workouts, low-level playmaking, and clunky overall fit with the teams selecting in front of the Jazz seem to have Whitmore taking a late slide.

Outside of his impressive physical tools and scorers mentality, I think there are real questions about Whitmore’s game which may require a team to make him a dominant ball-in-hand player, and that may not fit the Jazz roster-building goals.

Though he certainly has significant upside due to his build, ball skills, and athleticism, I fully understand why he might be on the board for the Jazz despite previous projections.

10. Dallas Mavericks: Dereck Lively – C – Duke

With many believing there’s a clear delineation in talent between picks nine and ten, Dallas can simply go with the best fit in this next tier of the draft.

After a disappointing season at Duke, Lively has claimed boards in the predraft process, and is frequently mentioned as an option for Dallas.

He fits a need as a rim protector and lob threat whose offensive weaknesses will be covered up by Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving.

11. Orlando Magic: Cason Wallace – G – Kentucky

After adding shooting with the sixth pick in Hendricks, I think Orlando could go a lot of different directions at 11, even if Gradey Dick seems to be the most obvious target.

If the Magic pass on Anthony Black at six, I could see them bolstering their backcourt depth with another physical defender on Cason Wallace who could become the eventual successor to Markelle Fultz.

Wallace is not projected to be selected this high in most mocks, but I think this is a relatively safe swing for Orlando.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Bilal Coulibaly – G/F – France

I really don’t think the Thunder have an easy choice here at 12, needing to add size next to Chet Holmgren without an obvious high-value big man on the board.

Taylor Hendricks or Jarace Walker would be a dream fit, but neither will fall this far, and I suspect Lively will be off the board to the Mavericks.

Trading back should be a real consideration for OKC (Brooklyn Nets 21st/22nd picks, or Jazz 16th/28th picks) who could then target players like Leonard Miller or Noah Clowney while also adding another draft asset.

Begrudgingly, I will slot Bilal Coulibaly as the highest upside swing for the Thunder who have shown incredible patience in this rebuild, but I don’t love adding a long-term project to this roster.

13. Toronto Raptors: Kobe Bufkin – G – Michigan

With Fred VanVleet likely on his way out of Toronto, the Raptors are going to need a new lead ball handler to run the offense.

Kobe Bufkin is still evolving as a playmaker, but he’s a superb finisher who showed real shooting chops toward the end of his college career.

This is a great combination of the best player available and fit, and an A+ option for the Raptors.

14. New Orleans Pelicans: Gradey Dick – G – Kansas

At some point, you need a knockdown shooter and I think Gradey Dick is a good overall value at 14.

I think the Kansas sharpshooter has a little more to his game than he showed at Kansas as a freshman, but even if he only ends up as a floor spacer, that works for this roster.

If New Orleans ends up moving on from Zion Williamson or Brandon Ingram, they may prefer a higher upside swing, but Dick is a good value at 14.

KSL Sports Post Lottery Mock Draft

15. Atlanta Hawks: Jett Howard – F – Michigan

Like Oklahoma City, I don’t love the guard-heavy board for Atlanta.

Jett Howard is a bit of a reach at 15 due to his poor defense and rebounding numbers, but he has the potential to be an elite shooter, and his passing should give him a secondary skill that keeps him in the league.

Quin Snyder got a lot out of Bojan Bogdanovic in Utah playing him alongside a dynamic scoring guard in Donovan Mitchell and a defensive-minded center in Rudy Gobert.

I think he could work similar magic for Howard in Atlanta next to Trae Young and Clint Capela.

16. Utah Jazz: Jalen Hood-Schifino – PG – Indiana

The Jazz are rumored to like Anthony Black in the top 10, but if he isn’t available at nine, they may look to shore up their point guard position at 16.

Between Keyonte George, Nick Smith Jr., and Jalen Hood-Schifino there are a lot of options for lead ballhandlers, but I’d give the Indiana point guard the slight edge.

I’m not totally sold on Hood-Schifino’s shooting, but if it develops into a consistent weapon, he’s going to be a load to handle offensively with his size and playmaking out of the pick-and-roll.

Of the guards available at 16, Hood-Schifino’s highest highs were better than the other one-and-done contenders.

17. Los Angeles Lakers: Jordan Hawkins – G – UConn

This almost seems like too obvious of a fit, pairing LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers with one of the draft’s best shooters, and arguably the best player from the NCAA Tournament.

Hawkins athleticism is underrated by many, and I think there may be more to his game with better NBA spacing, but regardless, he’s a knockdown shooter who will make life easy for the Lakers existing stars.

18. Miami Heat: Keyonte George – G – Baylor

The Miami Heat missed out on Bradley Beal, and Damian Lillard might only be a pipedream at this point.

After badly struggling to create shots in isolation at times last year, the Heat get perhaps the best bucket-getter left on the board in Keyonte George who is a knockdown spot-up shooter with some serious upside as an isolation creator.

He might not have traditional Heat DNA, but I think this is a sneaky good pick who fits in Miami even if they hold onto Tyler Herro.

19. Golden State Warriors: Andre Jackson – Wing – UConn

I haven’t liked the Golden State Warriors’ approach in recent years of drafting only high-upside youngsters and trying to make them fit on a veteran-laden championship contender.

Maybe it’s too on the nose then to simply take one of the more connective upperclassmen available, but I like Andre Jackson as a fit, even if he’s a bit of a reach.

The Warriors dynastic run was heavily aided by players like Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green, and Jackson has those types of intangibles as a pure winner who thinks the game at a high level.

Golden State made good use of Juan Toscano-Anderson, and I think Jackson can fill that role and more.

20. Houston Rockets: Olivier-Maxence Prosper – F – Marquette

Houston has plenty of youth on their roster and if they plan to chase James Harden this summer, adding an experienced wing defender that can guard multiple positions makes a lot of sense.

I like the Rockets collection of rangy wings, but you can never have too many.

Olivier-Maxence Prosper has helped his stock significantly in the pre-draft process and makes some sense here.

21. Brooklyn Nets: Brandin Podziemski – G – Santa Clara

Brookyln has significant question marks in their backcourt with Spencer Dinwiddie not fully fitting their timeline, and Ben Simmons rehabbing his back.

We do know they’re arguably the worst shooting backcourt in the NBA and could use a boost in that area that could contribute next season.

Brandin Podziemski is one of the best shooters in the draft, and the problems with his size could be hidden playing next to bigger guards in Dinwiddie at Simmons.

22. Brooklyn Nets: Noah Clowney – F/C – Alabama

Noah Clowney’s percentages at Alabama weren’t terrific, but I believe in his long-term potential as a shooter.

Don’t be surprised if a team with cap space tries to pry Cam Johnson out of Brooklyn, and Clowney wouldn’t be a bad fallback as a floor-spacing forward if they lose him to free agency.

23. Portland Trail Blazers: Kris Murray – F – Iowa

After adding yet another young ballhandler to the roster in Scoot Henderson, Portland could use a floor-spacing forward that is ready to contribute as a rookie.

Outside of free agent Jerami Grant, I’m not sold on any of Portland’s wings, and Murray would provide instant depth that could earn the trust of Lillard early on.

24. Sacramento Kings: Jaime Jaquez – G – UCLA

Sacramento is finally in win-now mode, so taking one of the one-and-done players slipping down the board doesn’t make a ton of sense.

The Kings guards thrived off of Domantas Sabonis’s high IQ, and adding Jaime Jaquez’s steady all-around game and leadership into the mix would make life even easier for De’Aaron Fox and Malik Monk.

I really like the versatility here with Jaquez seeing the court early in his career.

25. Boston Celtics: Ben Sheppard – G/F – Belmont

After shipping Marcus Smart to Memphis the day before the draft, the Boston Celtics now need more depth in the backcourt and someone who might be more NBA-ready than your traditional rookie.

Ben Sheppard was one of the big winners at the combine showing off his excellent shooting stroke and potential as a secondary ballhandler.

Defensively, Sheppard like most guards is a significant step down from Smart, but the effort is there, and at just over 6-foot-5, he has the frame to defend multiple positions.

26. Indiana Pacers: Rayan Rupert. – G/F – New Zealand

After getting one lanky defender in Jarace Walker in the frontcourt, the Pacers add another in Rayan Rupert to occupy the backcourt.

Between Haliburton, Mathurin, Walker, and Turner, the Pacers have plenty of shot-takers on offense, and could love adding a defensive menace into the mix.

The shooting numbers are questionable, but there is some long-term belief that it may develop.

27. Charlotte Hornets: Nick Smith Jr. – G – Arkansas

At some point, Nick Smith Jr.’s slide has to stop, and Charlotte isn’t a bad landing spot.

After passing on Scoot Henderson at two, the Hornets still land one of the most talented young guard prospects in the draft at 27, and can afford to let him develop slowly behind Ball.

This is likely far too low for Smith Jr., but it’s not totally out of the realm of possibilities.

28. Utah Jazz: Dariq Whitehead – SF – Duke

Danny Ainge has traditionally favored a few things in the draft — shooters, highly-rated high school prospects, and big-bodied wings.

Standing just under 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, having knocked down 43 percent of his threes as a freshman, as the former top overall recruit, he checks some intriguing boxes.

There are questions about his long-term health after having two foot surgeries in the last 12 months, and he was underwhelming for stretches even when he was on the floor at Duke, but the Jazz can afford to take a gamble after landing Whitmore and Hood-Schifino earlier in the draft.

29. Denver Nuggets: Leonard Miller – F – G League Ignite

Though the consensus might be for the Denver Nuggets to take a guard to replace Bruce Brown in the rotation, they may also look for an eventual replacement for Jeff Green who was a key piece in their title run.

Leonard Miller offers some of the same skills as Green, and may even be a better shooter, despite his pedestrian numbers in the G League.

Miller was extremely productive late in the season for the Ignite and might be the best player available on the board.

This would be a steal for Denver.

30. Los Angeles Clippers: Marcus Sasser – G – Houston

After their trade for Malcolm Brogdon fell apart, the Clippers will still be looking for help in the backcourt, and grab the most NBA-ready option in Marcus Sasser.

Sasser is a strong shooter, a steady ball handler, and will quickly pick up Ty Lue’s offense.

The guard is a little smaller than most point guards in today’s league, but his leadership and point-of-attack defense will fit in well next to Paul George and Kawhi Leonard.

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Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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