By Hocine LOUKKAF on 5/30/2023
Finally we know ! This lottery look like the perfect fit for both San Antonio and Wembanyama, even if it won’t stop conspiracy rumors about the lottery being rigged.
#1 Victor Wembanyama, 7-5 PF/C, Metropolitans 92 (France), 2004
The only safe pick in this draft, it’s not hard but impossible to envision another selection at #1. And now it looks like the fit with the Spurs once led by fellow Frenchman Tony Parker is perfect. Wemby has averaged 23.8pts and 13.3rbds over the last seven games, despite shooting a mere 4/31 3pt during that stretch but the Spurs couldn’t dream of a better ending to their process.
#2 Scoot Henderson, 6-3 PG, G-league Ignite, 2004
The Hornets have their PG of their future with Lamelo but Scoot is hard to miss. Drafting Henderson could make it up for Ball’s tendency to get injured and even a backcourt of Ball and Henderson, two very different players, could work and make the Hornets one of the most fun to watch franchise.
#3 Brandon Miller, 6-9 SF, Alabama, Fr
Portland will have a tough decision to make as whether they think they can satisfy Lillard and be ambitious through the draft and the offseason or let Dame go. With Sharpe set to blow up, Miller seems the best choice to finally fix this SF spot and bring consistent shooting.
#4 Amen Thompson, 6-6 PG/SG, Overtime, 2003
The KPJ experience hasn’t worked and the Rockets need a true PG now. Amen Thompson’s explosiveness and toughness should create plenty of opportunities for his young teammates as Green, Sengun and Jabari have the potential to improve and win games. He measured very well at the Combine and will need to prove the hype was real.
#5 Jarace Walker, 6-7 PF/SF, Houston, Fr
Walker’s versatility (21rbds 7as and 10bl over the two tournament’s games) is exactly what the Pistons need. Walker could play the PF alongside Duren and bring that toughness and unselfishness the young Pistons need.
#6 Ausar Thompson, 6-6 SG/SF, Overtime 2003
The Magic need a dynamic SG and that’s what Ausar brings to the table. Despite not being a natural shooter, he has improved dramatically from three with 15/34 over the last four playoff games and could be a perfect match to the rising Magic. if he can ever become a PG, he has the tools to be even more efficient than Fultz.
#7 Cam Whitmore, 6-6 SF, Villanova, Fr
Reminiscent of Celtics forward Jaylen Brown, Whitmore had his ups and downs for the rebuilding Wildcats of Villanova. Yet, he has that athleticism and explosiveness the Pacers lack as the SF position with Nwora or Nesmith being more shooters with less upside.
#8 Anthony Black, 6-7 PG/SG, Arkansas, Fr
The best player by far of the Razorbacks in the blowout loss against UConn (20pts 5st), Black’s lack of shooting won’t be a problem with Beal, Kuzma or Porzingis in the roster. He could be that glue guy that really helps the Wizards improve next year.
#9 Gradey Dick, 6-8 SG/SF, Kansas, Fr
Dick has had a solid year for one of the best programs in the nation, averaging an impressive 40% 3pt on 5+ attempts per game. He may lack athleticism but doesn’t lack effort as he averaged 8.7rbds over his last three games. Could fill the void at SF for the Jazz if the Jazz don’t use their picks to trade up.
#10 Cason Wallace, 6-3 PG, Kentucky, Fr
With six games with 30% or less FG over his last nine games, Wallace has really struggled to finish the season. Yet, he’s also been impressive when he was on, recording 21pts 9rbds 4as in Kentucky’s loss against Kansas State, but also displaying his passing and IQ when he was cold shooting the ball (11as 1to against Mississipi State, 5as 1to vs Vanderbilt and Providence). A local from Dallas’ suburb, he could learn from Luka to improve his offense while defendiNg the best outside scorer on the other team.
#11 Dereck Lively, 7-0 C, Duke, Fr
More was expected from Lively, whose offensive struggles have not helped Duke during the tournament (4pts in 65min). Yet, he’s also proved he was already a great defender, combining 23rbds and 8bl in these two games. Lively could be a great rim protector to develop behind the oft-injured WCJ.
#12 Taylor Hendricks, 6-9 PF/SF, UCF, Fr
The high-riser at the end of the college season, We can’t forget either that he also had his struggles as he recorded 5pts on 2/12 FG in the AAC quarterfinal against Memphis and 9pts on 3/10 FG in what could be his final college game against Oregon. His physical tools and potential as a shooter could convince the Thunder to draft him.
#13 Nick Smith, 6-4 PG, Arkansas, Fr
Bothered by knee issues, Smith has never been able to live up to his draft hype despite some nice performances (25pts 6as vs Kentucky). He was non-existent in the win against Kansas (0pt 1as 1rbd in 16min) and had one decent half against UConn before disappearing for the second half. Toronto might lose FVV and may take the risk at 13.
#14 Jalen Hood-Schifino, 6-6 PG, Indiana, Fr
As a 6-6 PG, Hood-Schifino’s profile is enticing. He will need to improve a lot of things to be efficient, starting with his poor 41% FG (including 12 games with 33% FG or less) due to his bad shooting and average athleticism driving to the basket. Yet, his size could allow him to function with McCollum.
#15 Keyontae George, 6-4 SG, Baylor, Fr
George came to Baylor as the next big prospect yet he has been disappointing, recording three single-digit scoring games in the last four games he played 20+min. He had the reputation of being an outsanding scorer and could come from the bench as an energizer for the Hawks.
#16 Leonard Miller, 6-10 PF/SF, G-League Ignite, 2003
Miller has taken advantage of his G-League season to develop his toughness and agressiveness. He projects as an athletic combo forward who still has room to improve his shot and handles. A potential poor man’s Lamar Odom, which would be a nice pick in the late teens for the Jazz.
#17 Jordan Hawkins, 6-5 SG, Connecticut, So
The player who has benefited the most from the college tournament, Hawkins bounced back after the loss against Marquette in the Big East tournament (5pts on 2/11 FG) to average 16.3pts and combine 21/42 3pt in six games, helping the Huskies win a fith national title. His shot alone could convince the Lakers to draft him.
#18 Kris Murray, 6-7 SF, Iowa, Jr
Murray has improved tremendously since last year, almost doubling all his averages, while still having room to be better (only 33.5% 3pt). An interesting combo forward who could come from bench and contribute offensively for the Heat.
Sensabaugh’s mix of shooting and strength makes him an intriguing prospect but also a hard player to projet as he’s a bit stuck between positions, not big enough to play the four and not athletic enough to play the three. He will probably be better suited for the SF spot with good physical training.
#20 Kobe Bufkin, 6-5 SG, Michigan, So
The young sophomore (still 19) has improved in all stat categories while shooting with far better percentages than during his freshman year. He has been particularly impressive at the end of the season with only one game under 45% FG over the last twelve games. Another versatile guard who could help Houston’s backcourt coming from the bench.
#21 Jett Howard, 6-7 SG, Michigan Fr
Juwan’s son was not expected to contribute that much from his freshman year but he also did that in a disappointing year for Michigan. Jett is a tall swingman who can shoot but also possesses some counter moves to score. His biggest weakness is his defense and athleticism which could cause him big troubles against elite athletes.
#22 Trayce Jackson-Davis, 6-9 PF/C, Indiana, Sr
The only senior of this mock, TJD has been dominant all year and totally out of control over his last games, with a streak of six 20+pt games, and averages of 24.7pts 10rbds 5.2as and 3bl during that stretch (sic). If only he had developped a consistent outside shot, he would be considered a lottery pick by now. Definitely someone who could help the Nets frontcourt.
#23 Bilal Coulibaly, 6-6 SG/SF, Levallois (France)
The main gamble at this stage, Coulibaly has seen playing time in French pro A and taken advantage of the hype surrounding Wemby. He has above average athleticsm and physical tools around which he needs to keep improving everything from his skills (handles, shooting) to his IQ. Yet, he has the upside to be better than some players who will be selected before him on draft night and would be another spectacular player for the Blazers.
#24 GG Jackson II, 6-9 PF, South Carolina, Fr
A once top 5 projected prospect, GG Jackson had multiple 20+pt games, ten to be exact, but at the same time, had multiple awful shooting games where he shot 30% FG or less with 10+ attempts. With Sacramento playing mostly with shooters around Sabonis, GG Jackson could be another weapon and has the upside to overachieve his draft rank.
#25 Rayan Rupert, 6-7 PG/SG, NZ Breakers (New Zealand), 2004
Rupert was supposed to be the next tall playmaker coming from France like Ntlikina or Dieng before him. Yet, even if his defensive potential is obvious, he has struggled more than anything offensively in the NBL (6.6pts on 36% FG and 25% 3pt). The Grizzlies could like him as a versatile defender to develop.
#26 Andre Jackson Jr, 6-6 SG/SF, Connecticut
UConn do-it-all swingman Jackson Jr is one-consistent-shot away from being the perfect glue guy. A versatile defender, he can also act as a secondary ball handler. The Pacers cannot a find a way not to use him.
#27 Bobbi Klintman, 6-10 PF, Wake Forest, Fr
Despite his unimpressive stats, the Swedish combo-forward ended the season with at least 7rbds in six of his last seven games, including four 10+rbd games. He is also able to handle the ball and shoot, which could intrigue the team of the state he had his lone basketball college season in.
#28 Colby Jones, 6-6 SG, Xavier Jr
Not the most spectacular or youngest prospect, Jones may be one of the most polished guard and has proved it in the NCAA tournament, averaging 12.3pts 9rbds and 5.7as. A high IQ player who could be a solid contribution from the bench.
#29 James Nnaji, 6-11 C, FC Barcelona (Spain)
Nnaji’s role for European powerhouse Barcelona has been inconsistent but the Nigerian showed on some occasions he could be useful against top-tier competition and has some elite physical tools. A rim-protecting C to develop and who could contribute behind Turner.
#30 Maxwell Lewis, 6-7 SG/SF, Pepperdine, So
Lewis has intriguing physical tools with nice length, but also good shooting and skills, despite a lack of elite athleticism. He could have displayed more consistency from outside but projects as a potential 3 and D for the Clippers.