For over half the league, the 2023 pre-draft process is full steam ahead. A summer of individual workouts, team interviews, and rampant media speculation begins now.
The 2023 NBA Draft class has the potential to be one of the strongest in recent memory. It starts, of course, will the most hyped individual prospect since LeBron James, but it goes much deeper than Victor Wembanyama. The entire lottery class is rock-solid, with several potential stars littered throughout the 2-14 range.
Beyond that, it’s hard to sift through the late first round and projected second-round picks without coming to one simple conclusion: most of these players feel like NBA players, or at the very least like they could one day reach the level of NBA player. There’s a healthy mix of upside swings and high-floor college vets. And, with the league’s new collective bargaining agreement on the horizon, it’s more important than ever to find affordable contributors via the draft.
Scouting departments around the NBA have been going full-tilt all season, but now the real work begins. Evaluating prospects with a full season of context — both for the prospect and for the team. Teams who underperformed will be looking for potential solutions. Teams building in the right direction will look to determine which prospects fit that trajectory.
The primary challenge of making big boards is the lack of specific team context. Every prospect, to some extent, is a product of their environment. A prospect who thrives in one system, under one coaching staff, with one set of teammates, may not find the same success with another franchise. Every team is different in terms of personnel and management structure. Every prospect is different in terms of what makes them tick and what they need to succeed.
Some prospects need playing time and immediate confidence from coaches and teammates. Others need a few years on the bench, observing and learning, before they’re ready to contribute to winning.
We can’t know specific team context before the draft, of course. What we can know, however, are the general trends of NBA basketball. Which player archetypes are thriving, and which player archetypes are outmoded? Which prospects feel adaptable to multiple schemes or systems? Which prospects need a specific set of circumstances, but feel destined for success if that set of circumstances is actualized?
For our latest mock draft, in which can consider specific prospect-team pairings, click here!
2023 NBA Draft Big Board: Ranking the top 60 prospects
Victor Wembanyama, generously listed at 7-foot-5 and 220 pounds over at ESPN, will be the No.1 overall pick in 2023. He’s the most hyped prospect since LeBron James and probably the most unique prospect in modern NBA history. He’s everything the league currently values — length, dynamic shooting, defensive versatility, scalable offense — plugged into the most absurd physical frame one could think of. There aren’t too many holes in Wembanyama’s game. He’s an excellent movement shooter with what might be the first actually unguardable jumper. Despite his high center of gravity, he’s more than capable of negotiating tight spaces off the bounce and fluidly moving into his pull-up jumper. Slower defenders are vulnerable to straight-line drives. His length and touch make up for his lack of strength finishing inside. On defense, he just inhales shots in the paint and is too long to actually drive by. Even if you get a step on Wembanyama, he’s capable of channeling Mr. Fantastic to swat the ball from behind.
Check out our detailed scouting report on Victor Wembanyama here.
Scoot Henderson is the current favorite to follow Wembanyama on draft night. The twitchy 6-foot-2 guard was thrust right into a starring role for the G-League Ignite. He has room to grow as a decision-maker, but Henderson’s dynamic athleticism, three-level scoring, and flashes of on-ball defense cement his standing near the top of the draft board. He needs to trim the fat off his shot chart right now, but Henderson’s explosive live-dribble playmaking makes it easy to believe in him as a lead initiator and future star point guard.
Check out our detailed scouting report on Scoot Henderson here.
At 6-foot-7, Amen Thompson is the most impressive athlete in the draft. The main knock against him will be the lack of high level competition at Overtime Elite, opposed to his piers who are facing collegiate or professional competition. That said, Thompson possesses unique size and explosiveness for a lead ball-handler, and he might be the best passer on the board. He needs to get more consistent from 3-point range, but Thompson is a gifted finisher with the handles and shiftiness needed to break down defenders at the next level. He can finish with power or finesse around the rim and he’s electric in the open court, where his speediness and playmaking are on full display. He can also guard multiple positions.
Check out our detailed scouting report on Amen Thompson here.
Ausar Thompson was named Overtime Elite league MVP. While the spotlight currently favors his brother, Ausar should be getting plenty of top-5 looks himself because of the laundry list of physical attributes he shares with Amen — size, explosiveness, speed, coordination. He’s more comfortable off the ball too, and he’s more advanced on the defensive end. Bigger guards who can blend connective playmaking, star-level finishing, and elite perimeter defense at Ausar’s level, while also being top-top percentile athletes, are not common.
Check out our detailed scouting report on Ausar Thompson here.
An explosive 6-foot-7, 230-pound power athlete on the wing, Cam Whitmore kept NBA scouts intrigued all season despite bouts of inconsistency. He can defend up and down the positional spectrum and he possesses impressive open-court athleticism. Tie that in with steady growth as a shooter and playmaker, and there’s reason to believe Whitmore’s game will only get better from here. Plus, he played for Villanova, one of the top developmental hotspots in the country.
Check out our detailed scouting report on Cam Whitmore here.
The NBA values versatility above all else, and Jarace Walker provides a lot of it. On defense, he has the potential to guard 4-5 positions on any given night. He’s strong enough to battle bigs inside, quick enough to contain guards at the point of attack, and he ties it all together with tremendous instincts off the ball. He makes his presence felt consistently on the defensive end. He has more work to do offensively, but Walker’s impressive athleticism and potential as a downhill scorer shine through. If he can make the 3-point shot a regular staple of his game, Walker will have very few glaring weaknesses at the next level.
Check out our detailed scouting report on Jarace Walker here.
Brandon Miller is an electric and efficient three-level scorer at 6-foot-9, possessing a blend of size and shot-making prowess that immediately jumps off the screen. He was one of the most productive freshmen in the country, with remarkable efficiency beyond the arc and countless examples of advanced shot creation upside. It’s easy to decipher the path to stardom when watching a player his size move so fluidly with the ball. If he can tap further into his passing upside and increase his comfort level operating in traffic, Miller could become the next trademark 3-and-D wing to break into NBA stardom. The primary concern right now is character following Miller’s adjacency to a murder charge in Tuscaloosa.
Check out our detailed scouting report on Brandon Miller here.
A talented floor spacer and shot-blocker at the four spot, Taylor Hendricks has been one of the biggest risers during the college basketball season. He doesn’t have much on-ball juice yet, but Hendricks’ fluid athleticism and impressive instincts on defense should have scouts hooked. He has the potential to switch screens and guard five positions every night. The 19-year-old has genuine Best Defender In The Draft potential.
A big guard who can function as a wing in some lineups, Anthony Black is the kind of malleable, connective-tissue offensive player so many good teams covet. He doesn’t create his own shots with much success, but Black is a gifted passer who can influence winning without dominating touches. He can sling every pass in the book out of pick-and-rolls, he’s great at kickstarting transition offense, and he does the little things to keep the ship sailing smoothly. His versatility and basketball I.Q., even if it isn’t paired with imminent star potential, should keep Black in the lottery conversation.
Check out our detailed scouting report on Anthony Black here.
A 6-foot-8 wing who can shoot the everliving crap out of the ball, it’s not hard to see the path to NBA relevance for Gradey Dick. He’s an elite shooter with the size to compete on defense and a genuine eye for playmaking. He has an excellent sense of when to move and cut — and he’s a talented finisher in the lane relative to your typical shooting specialist. Put him next to a couple good creators at the next level and Dick has serious Star In His Role potential.
Check out our detailed scouting report on Gradey Dick here.
While Nick Smith Jr. lacks the eye-popping athleticism of his top-five counterparts, he more than makes up for it with skill and craft. The 6-foot-5 guard from Arkansas can absolutely obliterate defenses off the dribble, intermingling changes of speed and direction with advanced handles and feather-soft touch from everywhere on the court. His ability to shoot on the move, combined with his ability to keep defenders engaged off the ball, makes Smith the perfect modern comboguard. If he can tap further into his playmaking acumen, there’s undeniable All-Star potential.
Check out our detailed scouting report on Nick Smith Jr. here.
His own star ascending next to teammate Victor Wembanyama, Bilal Coulibaly has no doubt benefited from the ocean of eyeballs on Metropolitans 92 this season. He’s still putting the pieces together, but at 18 years old, he’s very clearly an NBA athlete. His explosiveness shines on timely cuts to the rim, put-back jams, and tantalizing defensive highlights.
Check out our detailed scouting report on Bilal Coulibaly here.
The recent legacy of Kentucky guards in the NBA is quite strong. Cason Wallace will look to keep the momentum going. He’s an excellent perimeter defender at 6-foot-3, possessing the length and physicality needed to stonewall ball-handlers at the point of attack. He’s not a freak athlete, but Wallace plays with spirit and contributes in myriad ways offensively, from a bankable 3-point shot to nifty floaters and proficient passing. He won’t explode past defenders, but he has the skill, craft, and poise to get by just fine.
Dariq Whitehead just checks a lot of boxes. At 6-foot-7, he provides good size and physicality on the wing. He takes pride in his defense and is switch-friendly. On offense, he’s a crafty and dynamic shot-maker who makes an effort to move the ball and get teammates involved. His limited athleticism is a mark against him, and he will have to work hard to shed the “streaky” label that preceded his arrival at Duke, but the base skill set is quite tantalizing. Injuries are the main impediment between Whitehead and lottery consideration right now. He just wasn’t healthy or consistent enough to wow NBA decision-makers at Duke, but the shooting numbers were in a good place by season’s end. What happens when his burst and elevation returns?
A talented three-level scorer who can make shots from any angle, Keyonte George should have no trouble finding his way to points in the NBA. A strongly built 6-foot-4 guard, George will need to get better at elevating teammates in the long run, but there are flashes of legitimate passing upside to complement his impressive shot-making. On defense, thanks to his broad shoulders and impressive bulk, he can guard bigger wings or stick with guards at the point of attack. He shot below 40 percent from the field at Baylor, but his shot profile and level of craft are promising.
Something of an oddball prospect, Andre Jackson’s draft case is built almost entirely beyond the box score. He doesn’t score much at all, but he’s a noteworthy athlete who exerts immense influence over the game defensively while operating as play-connector offensively. He’s smart, unselfish, and hard-working. His talent for winning was on full display during UConn’s NCAA championship run; he’s one of the draft’s great thinkers. He might not possess the upside of other first-round prospects, at least not as a scorer, but few non-lottery prospects feel like better bets to be positive-impact NBA players.
A 6-foot-8 wing with picturesque shooting mechanics, Jett Howard should pop for a lot of NBA teams. He can shoot off movement, he can shoot spotting up, or he can attack closeouts. His floater and in-between game are well-developed, and while he won’t create much for others, Howard profiles as an excellent complementary talent with room to grow. Theoretical positional versatility and his fiery competitive spirit boost Howard’s stock. He needs to get to a better place defensively to maximize his NBA potential.
Dereck Lively II is next in a long line of physically imposing centers from Duke. He’s 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-7 wingspan, nimble feet, and impressive defensive instincts. He projects as possibly the best rim protector in the draft behind Wembanyama. He will catch lobs, inhale rebounds, and put his 230-pound frame to good use on the block. After struggling out of the gates, he improved at a remarkable rate over the second half of the season. His rapid growth in terms of defensive awareness and consistency should have NBA teams convinced of his trajectory long-term.
A bulky 6-foot-6 guard with feather-soft touch and advanced playmaking instincts, Jalen Hood-Schifino has genuine potential to crack the lottery if the right team latches on. He lacks explosiveness on drives to the rim, but a wide array of floaters and touch shots — combined with his ability to play physically through contact — allow Hood-Schifino to offset those limitations. He’s a tremendous passer with flashes of impressive defense too. If he can get 3s to fall consistently, NBA teams should be banging down his door.
At 6-foot-10, Leonard Miller’s fluid athleticism and unique skill level will have NBA teams salivating. He has a long way to go developmentally (especially with his jumper), but he averaged a double-double in the G-League and showed tremendous touch on shots around the rim. The production is hard to deny. He can handle the ball in tight spaces, create for teammates, and defend multiple positions – plus he’s a committed defender who crashes the glass, even if he’s prone to lapses in awareness or understanding at this stage of his career. Some will argue that you’re drafting the idea of Leonard Miller this early, but hey – it’s a pretty wonderful idea.
NBA teams should take the patient approach with GG Jackson. Once the top recruit in the high school class of 2023, Jackson instead graduated early and went to Carolina as a 17-year-old. He’s the youngest player on the board and thus should be afforded some extra leniency by decision-makers who see the obvious upside in a physical, fluid 6-foot-9 forward who can space the floor, create off the dribble, and defend multiple positions. That said, his shot selection and general decision-making were all over the place. Jackson will need the right infrastructure around him and good coaching to succeed.
With Brandon Miller soaking up the spotlight in Alabama, you wouldn’t be blamed for overlooking Noah Clowney. The 6-foot-10 freshman, however, has been steadily climbing up draft boards on the strength of his multi-faceted defense and upside as a rim-runner. He will have NBA teams over the moon if the offensive skill set catches up to the raw athletic tools.
His efficiency wavered under the burden of a massive role at Pepperdine, but Maxwell Lewis has entrenched himself in the first-round discussion. He has excellent size on the wing at 6-foot-7, combined with comfort shooting on the move and the ability to attack downhill, using long and purposeful strides to keep the defense off-balance. A more streamlined NBA role should do him a lot of good.
He more than doubled his 3-point attempts compared to last season and he hit them at a prodigious rate. Drawing expanded duties as a sophomore, Jordan Hawkins led UConn to the national championship with his impressive shot-making and boundless energy. Sometimes, all it takes to carve out an NBA role is one elite, translatable skill. Hawkins certainly has one that teams value.
A wrist injury interrupted his season, but the early body of work from Rayan Rupert in Australia’s NBL is quite impressive. Only a handful of prospects every year play genuine minutes against high-level professional competition. Standing 6-foot-7 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Rupert is one of the best perimeter defenders on the board. He’s a monster at the point of attack, frequently bottling up ball-handlers and converting turnovers into transition offense. If he can progress as a shooter, it’s hard to imagine he won’t stick around in the NBA.
A bulky 6-foot-5 wing who scores with patience and precision, Brice Sensabaugh was the best scoring freshman in college basketball. He can make the net sing from 3-point land and he can leverage his strength advantage in the post. He regularly torches defenses with tough shot-making, but his defense has been deeply problematic and could hold him back at the next level. Also, will the difficult contested jumpers fall at the same rate in the NBA?
Colby Jones is another box-checker, well-rounded to the extreme. He posted career-best numbers across the board, most notably as a 3-point shooter. He drops some seriously impressive passes, with a play style geared toward elevating teammates. Jones isn’t the best athlete on the board, but he’s capable of finishing with craft around the rim and hitting some funky shots in the paint. With versatile defense and Swiss Army Knife potential offensively, Jones profiles as the quintessential modern role player if the 3-point shot is here to stay.
A 6-foot-6 guard with genuine craftiness off the dribble, three-level shot-making ability, and impressive rebounding numbers for his size, Podziemski is rapidly ascending draft boards. A lot of concern with the 20-year-old is tied to the lack of high-profile competition faced at Santa Clara, but just last season the Broncos produced an immediately impactful first-round pick in Jalen Williams.
A lanky guard with excellent body control and some advanced passing chops. Bufkin emerged as one of Michigan’s most reliable offensive weapons, frequently flying around screens or DHOs before attacking downhill off the catch. He competes hard defensively too. If you buy the development of his jumper as a reliable weapon, then there’s a clear path to regular NBA minutes as a connective playmaker and off-ball scorer.
A physically imposing center with rim-rocking power and impressive shot-blocking instincts, James Nnaji has honed his skill set with one of the best teams in Europe — Barcelona. He will set massive screens, roll hard to the rim, and do the things you expect of a quality role-playing big, but he’s still in the early stages of development as far as decision-making is concerned.
DaRon Holmes is one of the best shot-blockers in college basketball. His instincts around the rim, paired with a well-rounded approach to the offensive end, make it very easy to project him as a successful role player in the NBA. Long term, there’s reason to believe in his jumper.
Another twin, for good measure. Kris Murray will undoubtedly draw comparisons to his brother Keegan, the No. 4 pick in last year’s class. Those comparisons are, of course, mostly surface-level (quite literally). That said, the twins should join each other at the professional level next season thanks to Kris’s blend of size and shooting, as well as his ability to drive the lane with long strides, precise footwork, and feather-soft touch.
Sidy Cissoko improved constantly over the course of the G-League season. He can be something of an erratic decision-maker on both sides of the ball, but the tools are all there. He’s 6-foot-7 with powerful athleticism and a real nose for the ball. He mucks up the floor for opposing offenses and shows potential as a downhill driver and perimeter shooter. If he can clean up simple mistakes and really nail down the 3-point shot, NBA teams will have no trouble imagining a productive future at the next level.
Jordan Walsh runs the risk of getting overshadowed by the sheer volume of talent on the Arkansas roster. He’s a tremendous athlete on the wing and a whirlwind defensive presence. His main challenge is proving to NBA teams that he can shoot.
The Wichita State transfer blossomed on an extremely talented Arkansas team. At 6-foot-6, Council is a fearless and physical slasher who has no trouble embracing contact at the rim.
Despite limited offensive production, Julian Phillips should intrigue NBA teams on the basis of his size (6-foot-8), fluidity of movement, and potential as a two-way role player. He’s one of the top wing defenders on the board and only 19 years old.
Something of a dinosaur in his ability to score with power and finesse in the post, many will question whether or not Trayce Jackson-Davis is a decade late to the NBA. Those questions are justified, but his ambidextrous finishing, polished footwork, and multi-faceted skill set make me generally optimistic about his potential to carve out a lane.
Jaime Jaquez Jr. projects as a rock-solid role player. He doesn’t explode off the screen and he needs to get his 3-point numbers back on track, but he’s a gritty two-way player with scoring craft, a real eye for playmaking, and all the intangibles you’d expect with an accomplished four-year player.
Playing against grown men in the Adriatic League, the teenage Nikola Durisic has proven his mettle on both sides of the ball. At 6-foot-8, he’s a strong and physical defender capable of guarding several positions. Offensively, he’s quick to impress with playmaking flare and signs of shot-making potential. He has to get more efficient and choose his spots more wisely, but he has the foundation of a gifted multi-faceted contributor.
An experienced collegiate wing in one of the nation’s top programs, Julian Strawther should continue to draw attention all summer thanks to his combination of size and shooting on the wing. He’s more than just 3-and-D, though — Strawther is an under-appreciated athlete who can get out in transition and play above the rim every now and then.
There’s a lot to like here: at 6-foot-10, Coleman Hawkins combines excellent effort and versatility on the defensive end with a budding offensive repertoire. The 3-point shot looks legit and he’s starting to show more life as a passer. There’s plenty of room for bigs like that in today’s game.
Dillon Mitchell is arguably the best athlete in the draft. He has the potential to be an absolute stud on defense due to his length, quickness, and high level of intensity. He crashes the glass, explodes into passing lanes, and racks up highlight blocks on the regular. His offensive contributions are similarly sourced: easy finishes around the rim resulting from hustle and explosive athleticism. If he can continue to grow as a passer, great. If he can show consistent touch around the rim and start adding range to his scoring arsenal, watch out.
Limited efficiency is cause for concern (especially from 3-point range), but Judah Mintz is a spry, bubbly ball-handler with plenty of passing flare and a penchant for big shots. If he can hammer out the long-distance shooting and assuage concerns about his lack of size on defense, Mintz could intrigue teams as early as the first round.
Listed at 6-foot-7 and 240 pounds, Kobe Brown is one of the more unique prospects on the board. He absolutely scorched the nets for Missouri this season (45.5 percent from 3) and he’s remarkably nimble with the ball in hand, attacking defenders off the catch and fluidly hitting pull-up jumpers. He can also bully smaller defenders in the post. What really makes Brown pop, however, is his quick processing speed and impressive passing acumen in the frontcourt.
Marcus Sasser is a magnificent shooter with deep range — on the move, pulling up, standing still, it doesn’t really matter. He’s shifty off the bounce and has no trouble creating space to get into his jump shot. Unfortunately, he’s 6-foot-2 in shoes and will be unavoidably limited on the defensive end despite his impressive commitment to that side of the ball.
Adem Bona is an enthusiastic and explosive dunker who will gladly supply his future NBA point guard with a lob threat and play finisher inside. He can also defend the paint quite well, with quick enough feet to survive the increasing pace and space of the modern game.
A teenager competing and thriving at the highest level of European basketball, it’s getting harder to ignore Tristan Vukcevic. He’s 6-foot-11 and one of the purest shooters on the board. Can he hold up defensively is the question. He’s slow in space and he doesn’t possess much vertical pop. Still, his combination of size and skill – and strong early professional track record – make him worth a look in the second round.
One of the most electric performers in college basketball, Terquavion Smith will supply instant entertainment value for whichever team drafts him. He’s a nutty pull-up shooter with deep range and unquenchable confidence. He needs to show he can defend on a regular basis, but Smith’s shooting and playmaking upside will keep him glued to draft boards.
At 7-foot-4 and 285 pounds, Zach Edey occupies quite a lot of space on both sides of the ball. There are obvious and valid concerns about his potential to hold up defensively in the NBA — he doesn’t move very well in space — but he can still wall off the paint, inhale rebounds, and contribute with surprising skill on the offensive end. He was the 2023 Naismith College Player of the Year and he’s going to earn some looks at the next level.
Despite wavering efficiency, Jalen Wilson handled an increased workload with aplomb in his senior season. His 3-point numbers skyrocketed and he showcased never-before-seen versatility as a scorer, which should interest NBA teams in search of more offensive punch. He has a real chance to enter the first round conversation if he hasn’t already.
Adjusting to a new role at Kansas, fourth-year wing Kevin McCullar Jr. upped his 3-point rate without sacrificing the small things that make him unique. A smart connective passer who supplied the Kansas defense with frenzied activity, McCullar possesses strong role-player traits on both sides of the ball.
Amari Bailey is a talented downhill scorer and creator, showing a willingness to look for teammates out of the pick-and-roll that should have NBA scouts intrigued. His 3-point shots are falling, now he just needs to ratchet up the volume.
One of college basketball’s most productive guards. What Miles lacks in 3-point volume, he makes up for with fearlessness driving the lane and impressive finishing ability for a 6-foot-1 guard.
NBA teams will need to give Keyontae Johnson the all-important medical all-clear, but years after collapsing mid-game in 2020, the former Florida Gator is back to full strength and then some for his new team. He can spread the floor, attack the lane, and defend a couple positions. He profiles well as a two-way role player at the next level.
Terrence Shannon cooled off considerably from 3-point range after a hot start to the season. His ability to hit perimeter shots could ultimately determine his NBA future. Scouts will otherwise have no problem buying the explosive athleticism, slashing potential, and defensive intensity.
One of the country’s top defensive guards, Reece Beekman’s steadfast offensive improvement — most notably from 3-point range — has edged him into the draft conversation. He’s a smart, well-rounded lead guard who doesn’t make a ton of mistakes. He has vision operating out of the pick-and-roll and he’s especially comfortable playmaking in transition.
A battle-test and accomplished college star, Drew Timme has certainly earned his opportunity at the next level. How his game fits in the modern NBA is an open-ended question, but there’s still appeal in such a skilled, dominant post-scorer.
Not unlike throwing a dart in a dark room. Emoni Bates was once a top recruit who felt destined for top-five pick status. Until he wasn’t. Now at Eastern Michigan after his dreadful stint in Memphis, Bates is looking to rebuild his draft stock. He put up numbers, albeit one has to remember the context of those numbers (it’s Eastern Michigan). At 6-foot-9, his combination of size and shot-making is not easy to find. That said, Bates’ complete lack of explosion at the rim is a concern when projecting his efficiency long-term.
Playing an increased role in year three with the Bruins, Jaylen Clark gave NBA teams plenty to be excited about. He defends smart and hard, with enough 3-point shooting and off-ball scoring upside to complement teammates on that side of the ball too.
He will have to prove that he can score and defend well enough to stay on the floor in the NBA, but Juan Nunez is one of the smartest players on the board – an expert manipulator with the ball in hand, lulling defenders to sleep with stop-start handles before rocketing perfectly-placed passes from anywhere, to anywhere on the court.