By Luke Scotchie
The 2023 NBA Trade Deadline has come and gone. Several teams have undergone significant roster turnover—some fixing their weaknesses while others created new ones. Many teams look a lot different than they did since my last mock draft. Some teams may have completely flipped their big boards as a result of this change and are scouting new players that better fit their new rosters. Teams have changed, and so has draft speculation.
Now that the NBA rosters are mostly locked in for the rest of the season, we have a slightly clearer idea of what the 2023 NBA Draft will look like. Teams that were unable to solve their deficiencies at the deadline will almost certainly look to do so in June, and enough NCAA and overseas games have passed to where we have a pretty firm idea of what each prospect can bring to the NBA. With that in mind, now is the perfect time to release my latest 2023 NBA Mock Draft, the first one since the deadline.
If you are new to these mocks, I should clarify a couple of things. First, this is not a list that ranks these players’ production or potential. This is simply how I believe the 2023 NBA Draft should go down if it were to take place today. In addition, this is not a mock of what I think each team will do. These picks are made based on what I would do if I was the general manager of every NBA team and had control of these selections.
With that out of the way, here is my updated mock draft.
*Draft order is based on the NBA’s standings as of Feb. 21, 2023.
**This mock was created without inclusion of Alabama’s Brandon Miller, given the recent news regarding his role in the shooting and death of Jamea Jonae Harris on Jan. 15, 2023. I believe Miller’s actions that night were wildly irresponsible and deserving of punishment from the University of Alabama, and it is impossible to project his draft stock until we learn of the full repercussions of his involvement. This whole situation is obviously horrible, awful and heartbreaking for everyone involved. I hope that Harris receives justice to the fullest extent and that her family and friends find peace in this unimaginably difficult time for them.
- Houston: Victor Wembanyama—Metropolitans 92
- San Antonio: Scoot Henderson—G-League Ignite
- Detroit: Amen Thompson—Overtime Elite
- Charlotte: Jarace Walker—Houston
- Orlando: Cam Whitmore—Villanova
- Indiana: Ausar Thompson—Overtime Elite
- Orlando (via Chicago): Gradey Dick—Kansas
- New Orleans (via LA Lakers): Keyonte George—Baylor
- Toronto: Anthony Black—Arkansas
- Portland: Cason Wallace—Kentucky
- Washington: Nick Smith, Jr.—Arkansas
- Utah: Jalen Hood-Schifino—Indiana
- Oklahoma City: Taylor Hendricks—UCF
- Golden State: Maxwell Lewis—Pepperdine
- Atlanta: Jett Howard—Michigan
- Utah (via Minnesota): GG Jackson—South Carolina
- LA Lakers (via New Orleans): Brice Sensabaugh—Ohio State
- New York (via Dallas): Kris Murray—Iowa
- Brooklyn (via Philadelphia): Terquavion Smith—NC State
- Houston (via LA Clippers): Kyle Filipowski—Duke
- Miami: Rayan Rupert—New Zealand Breakers
- Portland (via New York): Dereck Lively II—Duke
- Sacramento: Dariq Whitehead—Duke
- Brooklyn: Noah Clowney—Alabama
- Memphis: Colby Jones—Xavier
- Indiana (via Cleveland): Leonard Miller—G-League Ignite
- Utah (via Philadelphia): Jordan Hawkins—Connecticut
- Charlotte (via Denver): Julian Phillips—Tennessee
- LA Clippers (via Milwaukee): Jalen Wilson—Kansas
- Indiana (via Boston): Kel’el Ware—Oregon
You may have noticed a certain player has risen quite high over the course of this past month. Yes, I have officially bought into Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino, so much so that he has officially cracked the lottery. After a rough start, Hood-Schifino has finally started to put it all together, averaging 12.6 points with 38% shooting from three for the 17th-ranked Indiana Hoosiers (as of Feb. 22). He is incredible as a pick-and-roll ball-handler—one of the best in college basketball. Hood-Schifino seems to make the right play nearly every time when he comes off screens. He can whip laser-precise passes to open teammates with his incredible court vision just as easily as he separates himself from defenders to get easy buckets.
Hood-Schifino separates himself from other elite play-making and scoring guards with his defense. He is a phenomenal, active and engaged point-of-attack defender, making him one of the best two-way guards in this draft. NBA teams are looking far and wide for players who are adept shooters, facilitators, pick-and-roll managers and point-of-attack defenders, and Hood-Schifino puts all of that into one player.
Despite some concerns with ball security, I think he’ll be a very valuable starter in the NBA, and him being named to an All-Star team in the near future is not out of the question. He’s my pick to be the unexpected breakout star of this draft class. He should fit very well on this Utah Jazz team that could use some guard depth.
Come to think of it, Utah made out pretty well in this draft scenario. In addition to Hood-Schifino, the Jazz take a flier on the high-upside GG Jackson and replace the recently traded Malik Beasley’s shooting by adding Jordan Hawkins. I believe with proper coaching, development and slight adjustment of his game, Jackson could be one of the best power forwards in basketball. He has the physical tools and skillset to do so—as I’ve stated in my previous mock draft—and I think that immense potential could be realized from the same team that turned Walker Kessler into a Rookie of the Year candidate.
Even if Jackson doesn’t work out, it’s hard to mess up Hawkins, one of the best shooters in this draft. He provides much-needed guard depth as well as someone who can get himself open for easy threes. These three draft picks would set Utah up very nicely for the future, and they would make the inevitable losses of Beasley and Jarred Vanderbilt much easier to digest for Jazz fans.
Beasley and Vanderbilt are now part of a Lakers team that did a brilliant job rebuilding their roster during the deadline. They’ve found ways to fill several of their holes while not compromising too much of their assets. Still, they’re not a perfect team. They could use a backup small forward and maybe just one more shooter. Why not fill both of those holes with one selection and draft Ohio State’s Brice Sensabaugh, one of college basketball’s best shooters and bucket-getters? Sure, his defense is a huge concern, but playing him alongside the likes of Vanderbilt, Anthony Davis and Rui Hachimura should ameliorate that. Sensabaugh is a great fit for this Lakers team that suddenly has a future that doesn’t look so bleak.
I’ve always loved the prospect of Arkansas’ Anthony Black to the Toronto Raptors, and I’m very happy that I get to mock it. Both Fred VanVleet and Gary Trent Jr. will become free agents in the near future, and it’s likely that at least one of them will leave soon. Replacing that roster spot with Black would be a perfect fit, given that he’s a fantastic facilitator who can get these phenomenal off-ball players the ball.
But the defensive improvement Black would give to the Raptors’ backcourt is what really excites me about this pairing. He’s a phenomenal point-of-attack defender and very tall (6’7”) for his position. It’ll be very hard for opposing guards to get past him. Black just makes so much sense for this team, and he’s someone I bet Raptors general manager Masai Ujiri has had his eye on for a while.
A familiar face has made his return to my mock drafts, this time on perhaps the perfect situation for him. Dereck Lively II had a dreadful start to the year, but his elite defense that includes eight blocks against archrival North Carolina has shown why he deserves to have his name back in first-round conversations. He needs a clear-defined role on a team with adequate spacing for him to succeed in the NBA, and there isn’t a better scenario for that than one of the NBA’s best shooting teams in Portland, which desperately needs both perimeter defense and a reliable backup center.
The final player-team fit I feel is worthy of discussion is Tennessee’s Julian Phillips to the Charlotte Hornets. Earlier in the season, I was very high on Phillips due to his elite defense. But I wasn’t sure whether or not his lackluster jump shot could keep up in the NBA, so he dropped on my board ever-so slightly. He finally re-appears on my big board because the defensive impact he has on the court cannot be overstated, and tweaking his mechanics could make his shot passable enough to where those concerns won’t even matter. In this mock, he joins a Hornets team that needs forward depth, especially if they choose not to re-sign PJ Washington.
Of course, none of these picks are set in stone. The draft order will change, and so will the draft. But the draft, its selections and team needs are finally starting to come into focus, and it will only get clearer between now and on Jun. 22, when Commissioner Adam Silver walks to the podium at Barclays Center to announce who will be selected with the first pick.