2023 NBA Mock Draft: Vendetta Blogger Edition
The 2023 NBA Draft is almost upon us. Recently, I and some of the other Vendetta writers got together and made a mock draft video. We did this as if we were the general managers, rather than go with what we think will happen on draft night. Without further delay, here is the blogger edition of our 2023 NBA Mock Draft.
Note: Each writer will give an explanation for their respective picks.
1. San Antonio Spurs (Chickster) – Victor Wembanyama, C, France
I heard this guy is pretty good, plus he’s like 7-foot-5! Surely he can figure out how to be good in the NBA. (Generational prospect, so excited the Spurs got him!)
2. San Antonio Spurs (from Charlotte) (Chick) – Scoot Henderson, PG, G-League Ignite
Charlotte Receives: 33, 2024 TOR 1st, 2025 ATL 1st, 2026 ATL 1st
San Antonio Receives: 2
Spurs Perspective (Chick): I personally think the Spurs got a steal here. I thought about offering Toothpaste No. 44 instead of 33 but I figured it was best not to be ludicrous here. Getting Toothpaste to bite on the 1st round picks on average to decent teams was key here. Yes, he got three first-rounders and basically another late-round first-rounder with No. 33. However, I don’t think the 2024 TOR team will be THAT bad. They’ll be a lottery team, if not a fringe playoff team.
Until the Hawks trade Trae Young, the Hawks will be somewhat competitive, much like the Blazers with Damian Lillard. That’s why I was okay with trading the 2025 and 2026 Hawks picks the Spurs have. Those will be like the 2024 Toronto pick. Either a lottery or worse player. Four lottery guys (or worse) for Henderson, the consensus 2nd best player in the draft? No question.
Hornets Perspective (Griffin Crest): I traded No. 2 because I was offered close to four first-round picks that would be in my opinion better than one guy (Brandon Miller).
The Spurs traded a haul for him, but it’s well worth it. They still have plenty of picks afterward and still get their PG of the future. The Spurs still have Charlotte’s 1st round pick and theirs next year in 2024, they have their 1st round pick and Chicago’s in 2025 and their 1st round pick in 2026 still. This really furthers the Spurs’ rebuild.
While this team is clearly not ready to contend yet, they’re building one of, if not the best, young squads in the NBA. The starting 5 for the Spurs looks like Henderson, Devin Vassell, Jeremy Sochan, Wembanyama and Zach Collins. The rebuild is working very nicely.
3. Portland Trail Blazers (Jackson Law) – Amen Thompson, PG, Overtime Elite
I got jumped for Henderson, but that’s fine. Amen Thompson is a building block for the future. I’m high on both Thompson twins and Amen’s ability to distribute the ball will become valuable when you see what’s coming.
4. Houston Rockets (Griffin) – Brandon Miller, SF, Alabama
I took Brandon Miller because I thought he would fit well with the Rockets; best player available and they need a shooter on the wing.
5. Detroit Pistons (James Herrick) – Cam Whitmore, SF, Villanova
The Detroit Pistons badly need help on the wing. More specifically, young talent on the wing. Whitmore is a great solution to that problem. The Villanova product adds a ton of upside to an already strong young core. If Whitmore can find some consistency in his shooting, the Pistons hit a home run with this pick.
6. Portland Trail Blazers (from Orlando) (Jackson) – Ausar Thompson, SG, Overtime Elite
Orlando Receives: Damian Lillard
Trail Blazers Perspective (Jackson): Blazers need to go fully into rebuild mode. In a perfect world, Scoot is the future and one of the Thompson twins is here to take along. Dame has done well for the city but it would be foolish to try and keep building around him when you have the perfect opportunity to reset. Fultz has great backup value and Issac is a swing that if he pans out, you have a solid defender. The picks are way down the line, increasing the potential that the Magic could have some down years and those picks become valuable.
Magic Perspective (Matt Hanifan): There’s a reason why I don’t run a professional sports organization. Good thing the Magic have an extra stock of a half-dozen first-round picks (including No. 11) to work with. This feels ridiculously short-sighted, but when you have a chance to land Lillard without having to give up your two franchise pillars, you go for it. You hear that, Orlando! WE’RE GOING FOR IT!!!
Pick perspective: I told you I was high on the Thompson twins. Why not keep them together in the NBA? The chemistry between the two with Amen handling the ball and Ausar moving off the ball. It’s hard to not fall in love with the idea of an uber-athletic backcourt with two players that can be franchise players by themselves. But together with future picks? The rebuild would be off to a hot start.
7. Indiana Pacers (Chick) – Jarace Walker, PF, Houston
Jarace Walker comes into the Pacers roster and will look to make an immediate impact. He’s a tough-as-nails player that will help the Pacers defense with his length and his ability to be versatile on defense. While the ability to score will need to be improved to an NBA level, the Pacers were No. 26 in the NBA in defensive rating, somewhere Walker can help improve if the team can score around him.
8. Washington Wizards (Trey Daubert) – Gradey Dick, SG, Kansas
Give me the Dick. This Wizards team is lost and needs to rebuild. Maybe Dick is all Washington needs to turn the corner. Word on the street is fudge is around the corner. Or maybe that’s the stench of Brad Beal, who we couldn’t find a taker for. Dick was the best player on our board and we feel really good about his ability to make it splash from deep at a really efficient rate.
9. Utah Jazz (Trey) – Nick Smith Jr, PG, Arkansas
We like how the board fell so there was no need to trade. We believe Nick Smith is a franchise icon at the point guard position. Big time recruit and gives us a foundational piece to a future contender.
10. Dallas Mavericks (Jackson) – Taylor Hendricks, PF, UCF
Somehow, the Mavericks have a top-10 pick. Going after a player like Hendricks gives the Mavs what all teams look for in larger wings. He can guard on the perimeter and inside, is athletic and can stretch the floor. There’s little to dislike and a lot to love about Hendricks.
11. Orlando Magic (Matt) – Jordan Hawkins, SG, UConn
The Magic need plenty of shooting, as they were among the bottom seven teams in 3-point shooting frequency and percentage in 2022-23. They have two young, established wings in Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner and, in this very hypothetical and unrealistic scenario, Lillard, one of the best guards in the NBA who’s an excellent shot-maker in his own right. Let’s add arguably the top movement shooter in this class in Hawkins, who doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be effective. He’s a good-not-great athlete with some defensive chops, but he’s got phenomenal two-level scoring prowess that can elevate the Magic offense. But he’ll definitely need to add muscle at the next level.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (Griff) – Leonard Miller, SF, G-League Ignite
13. Toronto Raptors (Matt) – Anthony Black, G, Arkansas
Predicting what direction the Raptors will go in is impossible. Fred VanVleet declined his $22.8 million player option (we did this draft beforehand, but I guess that worked out in the end), making him an unrestricted free agent (Raptors still own his bird rights). They have choices to make with the futures of Gary Trent Jr., who also has an $18.6 million player option and center Jakob Poeltl, a free agent.
Regardless, they lack shot creation and Black–a personal favorite prospect of mine–is one of the best creators in this class. With just his passing alone, can make almost every pass with both hands, is adept in the pick-and-roll and is a very good connector.
While Black doesn’t create a lot of separation off-the-bounce, he’s still strong and crafty enough to get to his spots and has good vertical bounce. Black, 19, is also a very competitive defender at the point-of-attack and projects to be a multi-positional defender at the next level. He’s a perfect player for Darko Rajakovic to develop and he’s 6-foot-7 — so, yeah, he’s definitely a player Masai Ujiri would consider selecting. This is a slam dunk for Toronto if he falls this far.
14. New Orleans Pelicans (James) – Kobe Bufkin, PG, Michigan
Kobe Bufkin is a young guard that can provide some depth and insurance behind CJ McCollum. With legit combo guard abilities, Bufkin can play off-ball in moments where Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson control the offense while adding upside as a ball handler.
15. Atlanta Hawks (Matt) – Cason Wallace, PG, Kentucky
Wallace is another elite defensive prospect — one of the best in this class outside of some guy named Victor Wembanayama, whoever that is. In real life, no, he should not fall past the lottery; I’m not sure he should fall outside the top 10, but I digress.
Wallace fits into a backcourt without much backcourt defense outside of Dejounte Murray. He’s a good complement to Young and showed flashes of a knockdown shooter at Kentucky early in the season. He has a good in-between game, but his real upside comes defensively. He’s truly a tenacious defender on- and off-the-ball, playing much bigger than his 6-foot-4 height suggests.
This a great spot for Wallace, since his point-of-attack defense theoretically helps the back-line of De’Andre Hunter, John Collins, Clint Capela and Onyeka Okongwu while subsequently adding much-needed shot creation. I’m interested, in this very hypothetical scenario, how he’d fare off-ball with Young and Murray, but I believe he’d become more acclimated as time goes on. Wallace is also very good insurance for them, too.
16. Utah Jazz (Trey) – Dereck Lively II, C, Duke
The Lively pick was easy for us too. Twin towers alert. If lively can figure out that shot the length we can present in the front court is damn good.
17. Los Angeles Lakers (Jackson) – Noah Clowney, PF, Alabama
Clowney is definitely a project but brings great size and hustle to the Lakers. A 6-foot-10 forward that can run the floor and plays great defense to go along with the ability, with a little more work, to stretch the floor. Clowney is a home run swing of a pick but I think it could turn out well.
18. Miami Heat (Matt) – Jalen Hood-Schifino, PG, Indiana
I have my questions about Hood-Schifino’s consistencies as a shooter and decision-maker and how that can impact one’s ceiling, but if there’s any organization that can harvest such inconsistencies and squeezes the absolute best out of said player, it’s Erik Spoelstra and the Miami Heat.
The Heat has plenty of question marks with the pending free agencies of Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, as well as what to do with Kyle Lowry‘s expiring $29.7 million. Though Hood-Schifino brings in very strong passing ability–especially in the pick-and-roll–as well as strong pull-up shooting inside the arc. He doesn’t feature a ton of rim pressure, which the Heat lack, but is strong enough to generate consistent enough paint touches. Regardless, this is a good spot for Hood-Schifino to develop into a secondary creator.
While the Warriors certainly don’t need help scoring from deep, they could use some work scoring in the midrange and in the paint. That’s where Jalen Wilson can make an impact for the Warriors. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, Donte DiVincenzo and Andrew Wiggins will all shoot enough from 3 to stretch the floor. But the Warriors haven’t had a post-scorer in years. Draymond Green is not that guy, but maybe Wilson can be. He was an offensive workhorse for the Jayhawks at Kansas, he can definitely help the Warriors be even scarier on offense. Does his defense need work? Yes, but he does provide serious value to this team.
20. Houston Rockets (Griff) – Keyonte George, SG, Baylor
I took Keyonte George because he was the best player available for them.
21. Brooklyn Nets (James) – Bilal Coulibaly, SF, France
With two consecutive picks, the Brooklyn Nets have the luxury to take swings at high-upside talents. The first of those swings come in the fashion of Bilal Coulibaly. Couliably’s length and athleticism give him the potential to be an elite perimeter defender. If Couliably pans out, the Nets would have one of the best defensive wing pairings in Mikal Bridges and Coulibaly.
22. Brooklyn Nets (James) – Gregory Jackson II, PF, South Carolina
The second homerun swing for the Nets is G.G. Jackson II. Jackson, 18, is incredibly talented for his age. At South Carolina, he had his fair share of struggles, but he also displayed absurd upside. At the moment, Jackson is a promising scorer that can create his own shot. That said, he has a laundry list of issues that need to be ironed out if he wants to be a starter in the NBA. Still, you rarely get a chance to draft a player with the upside of Jackson post-lottery.
23. Portland Trail Blazers (Jackson) – James Nnaji, C, FC Barcelona
I honestly made this pick assuming I would move Jusuf Nurkic in the off-season. Even if I was unable to, Nnaji brings size, strength and rebounding to this Blazers team. Standing 6-foot-10 and weighing in at 225 pounds, Nnaji would be a monster to deal with on offense and defense.
24. Sacramento Kings (Trey) – Jett Howard, SG, Michigan
This pick is probably one that I’m least confident in but this may give us the wing depth we need. He’s 6-foot-8 and just a freshman. I guess I could have pulled the cheese trade with the Celtics but the Kings had a great year and didn’t want to do them dirty.
25. Memphis Grizzlies (Jackson) – Colby Jones, SG, Xavier
Jones does a little of everything. He has good hands on defense, can shoot, attack the rim, run point, pass or pretty much anything else you need from a combo guard. Jones reminds me a lot of former Grizzlies guard De’Anthony Melton, just a guy who when you need something done, he would get it done.
26. Indiana Pacers (Chick) – Trayce Jackson-Davis, PF, Indiana
Trayce Jackson-Davis is as versatile as they come on the offensive end. I think TJD can be a nice utility knife for the Pacers. I’m not really sure what his role is with the Pacers but they can mold TJD however they want. TJD will get you buckets, just have to let him how you want him to score.
27. Charlotte Hornets (Griff) – Brice Sensabaugh, SF, Ohio State
28. Utah Jazz (Trey) – Julian Strawther, SF, Gonzaga
We also believe Julian Strawther is a first-round player. The Gonzaga guys are translating better to the NBA level. We think Strawther can turn into a 3-and-D wing that can provide a scoring punch.
29. Indiana Pacers (Chick) – Oscar Tshiebwe, C, Kentucky
I made Karl disappointed with this one, but that was expected. I cringed a little after I made this pick too. This is a clear-cut 2nd round pick that I reached on and I’m willing to admit that, but here we are. So what can Oscar Tshiebwe do? Rebound. The Pacers were No. 22 in rebounding in 2022. Oscar Tshiebwe has flaws, but there is some good to him. He’s willing to do a lot of the dirty work that some players in the NBA don’t like to do. He’s willing to fight in the paint, he’s willing to rebound, he’s willing to set screens. Is he a 20 min a night guy that Chickster should have used a 1st rounder on? No, but reaches and busts happen all the time, I was due for one.
30. Los Angeles Clippers (Matt) – Kris Murray, PF, Iowa
The Clippers have plenty of upcoming decisions to make with Marcus Morris, Robert Covington, Nicolas Batum, Eric Gordon and, to some extent, Paul George! Why not draft one of the more NBA-ready wings at the back end of the first round? Kris isn’t as polished as Keegan, his brother who was selected No. 4 overall by the Kings a year ago, but is a good interior scorer and defender who can contribute from Day 1. His 3-point shooting dipped to below 34 percent, but his 72.9 free-throw percentage as a junior suggests he could be a 35-to-40 percent long-range shooter at the next level. He’s a safe wing to select at No. 30, in my estimation.
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