The 2023 NBA Draft will be wild.
The event itself, which takes place Thursday, is always a fun show, but the selection process will offer basketball fans a glimpse into the war rooms of their favorite teams.
Where will the Hornets go with the second-overall pick? How will the Trail Blazers build around Damian Lillard?
I answer those questions and plenty more in our official 2023 NBA Mock Draft.
1. San Antonio Spurs - Victor Wembanyama (C), Metropolitans 92, France
Earlier in the week, Wembanyama was at -20000 odds to be the first overall pick. This is, pardon the cliche, a slam dunk of a pick.
The 19-year-old possesses a towering frame at 7-foot-4, which he combines with an excellent touch from deep and strong defensive instincts. He's not just a one-tool player who thrives because he's a giant. Wembanyama's game is elite, and we'll all be watching his career with great interest.
2. Charlotte Hornets - Scoot Henderson (PG), G League Ignite
I've seen lots of reports suggesting the Hornets go with Brandon Miller over Henderson at No. 2. I'm not buying it. Henderson is a high-IQ scorer, known for explosiveness and vertical ability. To me, that sounds like a star you want on your team.
3. Portland Trail Blazers - Brandon Miller (SF), Alabama
If the Blazers truly want to compete, Miller is their guy. The Alabama product is a gifted scorer, capable of knocking down threes, while also contributing on the glass. Miller is a dynamic weapon — one that Lillard should have zero complaints about playing alongside.
4. Houston Rockets - Amen Thompson (SF), Overtime Elite
The clunky shooting mechanics remain a stain on Thompson's otherwise impeccable profile. Beyond that, the small forward possesses A+ athleticism to go along with excellent playmaking skills.
There's a bit of work to do here, but if everything clicks, Thompson's upside is astronomical.
5. Detroit Pistons - Cam Whitmore (SF), Villanova
Whitmore is one of my favorite players in this year's draft. He's physically dominant as a wing player and plays with enough energy and grit to outshine any concerns about the lack of outside scoring touch.
6. Orlando Magic - Anthony Black (PG), Arkansas
Black is the perfect type of player to feed Paolo Banchero, last year's No. 1 overall pick, and get the offense moving in the right direction.
The Arkansas product isn't a glorious shooter, but his passing and defending make him more valuable than one might think. Black and Markelle Fultz might jockey for playing time, though Magic fans shouldn't complain about too much depth at the guard position.
7. Indiana Pacers - Jarace Walker (PF), Houston
The Pacers are lucky to get Walker at No. 7. The Houston power forward is a big, long bruiser with a surprising penchant for offensive outbursts. Walker's capacity to score is there, and with an already steady floor in the front court, Indiana will love pairing him up with Myles Turner.
8. Washington Wizards - Taylor Hendricks (PF), UCF
The Wizards are a gong show right now. Kyle Kuzma and Kristaps Porzingis are out the door in free agency, and the organization just dealt Bradley Beal.
Enter Hendricks, a versatile forward with a mean streak on defense and a capable offensive game. If the Wiz can grab him at No. 8, the UCF product will be a big part of the franchise's upswing.
9. Utah Jazz - Bilal Coulibaly (SF), Metropolitans 92, France
Wembanyama's teammate in France, Coulibaly made a name for himself as a complementary piece, thriving as an athletic wing scorer. The jump shot is coming along but like his future No.1 overall teammate, the fundamentals to be an NBA contributor are well-established.
10. Dallas Mavericks - Kobe Boufkin (SG), Michigan
The Wolverines sophomore is an excellent complement to perennial MVP contender Luka Doncic. Boufkin can score and defend in a variety of roles. Dallas will ask lots of him in year one, but he'll be ready.
11. Orlando Magic (From CHI) - Ausar Thompson (SF), Overtime Elite
Ausar, like his brother Amen, is an aggressive downhill scorer with pristine physical attributes. He excels as a cutter and manufactures points in the paint.
Why the drop to No. 11? I don't think NBA defenses will respect his shooting ability. In the modern NBA, it's hard to be a franchise player without a solid three-ball. Thompson's way short in that category.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder - Jalen Hood-Schifino (PG), Indiana
We're getting close to the broken record point of the first round: great athlete, good defensively, needs to clean up the jumper.
Hood-Schifino is toolsy, but not dominant in any one area. He lacks touch, physicality and finishing ability but is otherwise a fine choice for a budding OKC squad.
13. Toronto Raptors - Carson Wallace (PG), Kentucky
On paper, Wallace is basically Fred VanVleet 2.0. He's an excellent catch-and-shoot option but comes up short as an iso scorer. All to say, the 19-year-old needs talented pieces around him to make a difference. What better system to join than the team-oriented Raptors?
14. New Orleans Pelicans - Keyonte George (SG), Baylor
While he's a bit of a liability on defense, George is an exciting scorer who can spruce up New Orleans' offense. Now, the Pelicans might trade away this pick, but if they don't, George's combo of three-point finesse and interior scoring is a steady addition.
15. Atlanta Hawks - Gradey Dick (SF), Kansas
Cough, cough, Kyle Korver? Like another all-time shooting great, Dick possesses the sweetest jump shot in the draft. He shot 43% from beyond the arc this year with Kansas, cementing his status as a terrifying threat from deep.
While Dick profiles as a future role player, he's a perfect rotation piece for Trae Young's Hawks for 2023-24.
16. Utah Jazz (From MIN) - Dariq Whitehead (SG), Duke
A polarizing prospect, Whitehead is an excellent on-ball scorer who's unafraid to mix it up on defense. He's intelligent and physically gifted, though his body has failed him in recent years.
He's undergone two foot surgeries in the last year, which might scare teams away. The Jazz can be patient, so I like them to take a chance on this boom-or-bust pick.
17. Los Angeles Lakers - Jett Howard (SG), Michigan
A dead-eye shooter from deep, Howard's shortcomings occur on defense, where he's often miffed by quick movement in the backcourt. The Michigan product might be lost guarding an NBA defense, but he knows how to shoot and he does it damn well. That tool alone gives him enough carry to thrive in LA.
18. Miami Heat - Brice Sensabaugh (SF), Ohio State
Sensabaugh doesn't have a sky-high ceiling, but he's good when he plays within his limits. He lacks quickness and power, but the small forward is very creative off the dribble and can hammer threes on a regular basis.
Miami could use his spunky style on the wing.
19. Golden State Warriors - Dereck Lively II (C), Duke
The 7-foot-2 center is great at protecting the rim, and that ability alone carries him into the first round. The Dubs need reliable big men, even if those seven-footers are one-dimensional. Lively is young, and there's hope his offensive game develops as he secures some NBA reps.
20. Houston Rockets (From LAC) - Jordan Hawkins (SG), Connecticut
The wiry Hawkins might get exploited by NBA offenses — we'll see how that goes — but he's an excellent catch-and-shoot guy who can be counted on for big three-pointers in pressure moments. He's certainly not a No. 1 or even No. 2 option, but there's a role for him on any team that fancies itself a contender in the future.
21. Brooklyn Nets (From PHX) - Nick Smith Jr. (SG), Arkansas
Smith is all touch, no power, but that's fine for a guy with a diverse offensive game. He's good on the perimeter and is shifty enough to get to the hoop. Opposing defenses could crush him with contact, but perhaps there's a chance he adds some muscle before his pro debut.
22. Brooklyn Nets - Leonard Miller (SF), G-League Ignite
Miller is a perfect plug-and-play forward with good instincts and a long frame. The Nets always seem to shake up their roster's makeup, so having a do-it-all forward like Miller could make trades and signings easier.
24. Sacramento Kings - Olivier-Maxence Prosper (SF), Marquette
Harrison Barnes is a free agent, so Sacramento would be wise to consider Prosper as his replacement. The Marquette product is scrappy and while he's not super dynamic, his up-down athleticism gives him good NBA fundamentals.
25. Memphis Grizzlies - Brandin Podziemski (SG), Santa Clara
Podziemski is a solid combo guard, better known for creative shotmaking abilities than silky smooth athleticism. He's staunch as a defender, though also a bit slow.
Either way, the 20-year-old progressed well at Santa Clara, and with the Grizz bracing for a Ja Morant suspension, some in-house options, Podziemski included, will get a shot.
26. Indiana Pacers (From CLE) - Colby Jones (SG), Xavier
Jones is a perfectly capable role player, which the Pacers should value deeply. He's not especially outstanding in one area but can help his team win in a variety of ways on a given night. Indiana can do a lot worse at No. 26.
27. Charlotte Hornets (From DEN) - Kris Murray (PF), Iowa
The twin brother of Kings forward Keegan Murray, Kris is an NBA-ready stretch-four who understands his skillset and doesn't push beyond it. At 23 years old, he might have a lower ceiling, but his physicality is advanced beyond a lot of other rookie forwards and his basketball IQ is a bit more polished.
28. Utah Jazz (From PHI) - Ben Sheppard (SG), Belmont
Sheppard thrives on the outside, even with a hand in his face. With a weaker at-the-rim game, he'll need to figure out how to work around defenses that squeeze him on the perimeter.
His touch is there and he's a good catch-and-shoot option, making him a decent buy-low candidate for Utah at No. 28.
29. Indiana Pacers - Trayce Jackson-Davis (PF), Indiana
With their third first-round pick of the draft, why not have the Pacers go with homegrown big man Jackson-Davis?
Unlike so many other candidates in this draft, Jackson-Davis is a traditional big man, happy to bash as an interior scorer and gobble up rebounds. Surely there's a place for him off the Pacers bench.
30. Los Angeles Clippers - Tristan Vukcevic (C), KK Partizan, Serbia
Ivica Zubac needs some help. The Clippers lack depth in the five spot, making Vukcevic an intriguing late-round flier.
He's a good midrange shooter who can also step back for a three or two. I'd be a little concerned about the Serbian's workload and experience gap, but maybe LA can ease him in.