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Postseason basketball is on the horizon. Which NBA Draft prospects are trending toward a first-round pick?
March Madness is right around the corner, and with it comes a new wave of NBA Draft mania. NBA rosters have solidified after the trade deadline and the postseason picture is starting to take shape, so fans are speculating more than ever on where their team might end up in the draft — and, by extension, who they might pick.
When the NCAA Tournament kicks off, NBA fans and scouts alike will be tuned in to see which prospects rise to the occasion and which prospects fall flat. Every year, there’s a player who comes out of nowhere with a monster tournament performance and parlays it into an NBA opportunity.
Who gets picked in the first round of our 2023 NBA Mock Draft?
Per usual, the lottery order has been determined by Tankathon simulation. There’s no point in basing it strictly off the standings, because that’s now how the draft works. The future of the league will be determined by the bounces of a few ping-pong balls, however logical or illogical it may feel.
Last month, the Portland Trail Blazers rocketed up to the top spot. This month, one of the league’s foremost tankers is rewarded with the opportunity of a generation. Of course, when it comes to the actual picks 1-30, it’s impossible to account for the months of game tape and media narratives yet to unfold. Therefore, team fit and my personal evaluation of each prospect factors heavily into the decisions made here. As the draft gets closer and we get more intel on the thinking of individual front offices, future mocks will change to reflect that.
You can read our most recent top-60 prospect rankings right here!
Jaime Jaquez Jr.
G, UCLA, Indiana Pacers
Littered with multiple quality options at No. 30, the Pacers opt for the four-year senior from UCLA. A battle-tested upperclassman with a veteran’s demeanor and obvious glue guy potential, Jaquez would have no trouble acclimating to the Pacers’ balanced, selfless offensive ecosystem.
G, Houston, Los Angeles Clippers
We’ve heard a lot about the Clippers’ desire for reinforcements in the backcourt this season — to the extent that they defied the protestations of their fanbase to sign the notoriously fickle Russell Westbrook. Marcus Sasser can provide immediate juice to the second unit with impressive shot-making and no shortage of competitive spirit.
G, Connecticut, Charlotte Hornets
Few 3-point shooters in college basketball have reached the level of Jordan Hawkins this season. He’s a gifted marksman who would have a field day receiving passes from LaMelo Ball.
G, Indiana, Utah Jazz
Jalen Hood-Schifino’s unique combination of size and playmaking flare has him soaring up draft boards. The Jazz have invested a lot in Collin Sexton and Talen Horton-Tucker, but neither have been particularly impressive this year. Hood-Schifino brings size and versatility as a guard, but his reliance on difficult shots could give some GMs pause.
F, United States, Indiana Pacers
With multiple first-round picks at their disposal, the Pacers can afford to take the patient approach with a prospect like Leonard Miller. He’s not the most finely-tuned prospect on the board, but his combination of athleticism and skill at 6-foot-10 is uncommon. His flashes of connective playmaking and defensive versatility warrant a first-round investment.
F, Illinois, Memphis Grizzlies
At 6-foot-10, Coleman Hawkins presents Memphis with impressive defensive versatility and a diverse complementary skill set on offense. His 3-point numbers have been on a downswing lately, but there’s reason to believe he can correct course in the future.
G, France, Brooklyn Nets
A nimble wing defender with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Rayan Rupert is one of the most interesting two-way prospects on the board. The Nets have a long list of 3-and-D wings on the roster currently, but Rupert’s potential as a secondary ball-handler gets him the nod here. Plus, you can’t really have too many quality defenders on the wing.
F, Iowa, Sacramento Kings
Without a hint of irony, the Kings select Kris Murray. There’s often value to be found in 6-foot-9 forwards who can move and shoot like Murray, something Sacramento proved interested in just last season when they drafted Murray’s twin brother, Keegan, with the No. 4 pick.
DaRon Holmes II
C, Dayton, Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers are one long-anticipated Damian Lillard trade request away from full-on rebuild. The first place to start might be the frontcourt, where Jusuf Nurkic has seemingly aged out of winning basketball. DaRon Holmes is one of the best shot-blockers and rim runners on the board.
G, Ohio State, Brooklyn Nets
Brice Sensabaugh has been undeniable in his freshman season at Ohio State. Few underclassmen have approached his productivity on the offensive end. He’s clearly an elite shooter, needing very little space to bury his defender in an ocean of nylon. At 6-foot-5, he’s built like a tank. That said, his slow feet on defense could sink his draft stock. I’ll be seated for the Cam Thomas and Brice Sensabaugh bucket-seeking lineups in Brooklyn, though.
C, Duke, Miami Heat
The Heat clearly thought it worthwhile to seek out the services of a versatile offensive big who can space the floor in Kevin Love. In Kyle Filipowski, they find more of a long-term solution. Filipowski has been the best player at Duke, and his skill set is such that he could either play behind Bam Adebayo or alongside him.
F, Xavier, Houston Rockets
The Rockets are a mess of undisciplined, one-way players right now. Colby Jones won’t solve all their problems, but there’s a certain appeal in a player who so clearly profiles as a successful pro. While Jones may not possess star upside, he checks a ton of boxes across the board. His quick processing speeds, versatile defense, and bankable 3-point shot all suggest a long and fruitful career at the next level.
F, South Carolina, Utah Jazz
The Jazz swing for upside with GG Jackson, the ultra-young USC product who was originally expected to declare for the 2024 draft before heading to Columbia a year early. The decision may or may not work out in his favor: Jackson no longer projects as a top-five pick, but he’ll get an extra year of NBA salary and development to kickstart his career.
F, Alabama, New York Knicks
Noah Clowny, listed at 6-foot-9 with long arms and springy athleticism, wreaks absolute havoc on the defensive end for one of the best teams in college basketball. Tom Thibodeau isn’t always inclined to rely on young players, but Clowney’s hard-edged play could make him the rare exception.
G, Pepperdine, Los Angeles Lakers
Maxwell Lewis has all the hallmarks of an effective Swiss Army Knife: he competes hard on defense, shoots a beautiful 3-ball, and processes the game at a high level. He’s posting absurd numbers for Pepperdine, but he profiles more as a connective passer and finisher on a team led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
F, Central Florida, Atlanta Hawks
The John Collins era has to end at some point. It just has to. If the Hawks find themselves in the market for another power forward, Taylor Hendricks would be a logical choice here. He doesn’t possess much on-ball juice, but he’s a confident 3-point shooter and terrific team defender who would pair seamlessly with either Clint Capela or Onyeka Okongwu in the frontcourt.