2023 NBA Mock Draft 9.0: Hornets, Rockets set dominoes in motion

Victor Wembanyama, NBA Draft, NBA Mock Draft (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images)
Victor Wembanyama, NBA Draft, NBA Mock Draft (Photo by OLIVIER CHASSIGNOLE/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Amari Bailey, Jaime Jaquez Jr. (Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)
Amari Bailey, Jaime Jaquez Jr. (Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports) /

Amari Bailey. 31. 64. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. G. UCLA

Amari Bailey performed well at the combine and reminded NBA scouts of why he entered his freshman season at UCLA with five stars above his name. The Pistons get creative playmaking and defensive toughness to back up Cunningham and Ivey in the backcourt.

Marquette. Olivier-Maxence Prosper. 32. player. Pick Analysis. F. 100. Scouting Report

Oliver-Maxence Prosper was another big standout at the combine, using his 6-foot-8 frame and bouncy athleticism to torch defenses as a straight-line driver. He can space the floor and he should defend multiple spots in due time. The Pacers get more size and athleticism to strengthen the frontcourt.

29. Pick Analysis. G. France. player. Scouting Report. Rayan Rupert. 33

Rayan Rupert’s middling production in Australia’s NBL may have led some NBA front offices to sour on him, but he’s a fluid athlete who can handle the rock, hit 3s, and defend his tail off at 6-foot-7. The Spurs’ international scouting is world-renowned, as is their skill development program. This is the perfect low-risk, high-reward second round investment.

Andre Jackson Jr.. 34. player. 170. Scouting Report. F. Connecticut. Pick Analysis

Andre Jackson is a winner, and he proved it during the Huskies’ NCAA championship run. He doesn’t shoot well and that limits his ceiling, but he’s a springy athlete with preternatural basketball I.Q. He loves to play in transition and he will make the small efforts — as a defender, as a screener, as a passer — to elevate teammates and impact winning.

18. Pick Analysis. Nigeria. James Nnaji. player. Scouting Report. C. 35

James Nnaji has seen his role increase with Barcelona, one of the best professional programs in Europe. He’s a monster athlete with a 7-foot-7 wingspan who profiles as a reliable rim-runner and defensive enforcer.

Jordan Walsh. player. 38. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. F. Arkansas. 36

The Magic double down on their sea of length with Jordan Walsh, the 6-foot-7 defensive specialist with a plus-8 wingspan and untapped offensive potential. He needs to get more consistent from 3, but Walsh was a five-star recruit who displayed a remarkable lack of ego in embracing his role for the ultra-talented Razorbacks.

Scouting Report. Indiana. Trayce Jackson-Davis. 37. player. 149. Pick Analysis. C

OKC loves to find interesting and unique intersections of size and skill. Trayce Jackson-Davis can provide more muscle and physicality in the paint. He’s slightly undersized for a traditional center, but he plays effortlessly above the rim offensively and he’s a tremendous passer for his position.

84. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. G. Pepperdine. Maxwell Lewis. 38. player

Maxwell Lewis’ Pepperdine team went 2-14 in conference play in the WCC, which isn’t exactly known for its high level of competition. His apathy on defense likely harmed his stock, but there’s obvious upside tied to his size (6-foot-7), athleticism, and slashing ability.

170. North Carolina State. Terquavion Smith. 39. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. G. player

The Hornets take another local kid in Terquavion Smith, whose pull-up shooting and spark-plug nature could make him the heir apparent to Terry Rozier in Charlotte’s backcourt.

Pick Analysis. F. Julian Phillips. 40. Scouting Report. Tennessee. player. 73

Julian Phillips has a lot to prove offensively, but he’s a dynamic athlete with great positional size at 6-foot-7. The Nuggets can invest in his defensive stopper potential while hoping the shooting comes along later.

Scouting Report. 41. 170. Pick Analysis. F. Serbia. Tristan Vukcevic . player

Tristan Vukcevic lit up the combine with his shot-making skills. The NBA loves 7-footers who can bomb 3s and face up on the perimeter, but Vukcevic is a stiff athlete who will get destroyed in space defensively. He doesn’t have the strength to battle in the post either. Finding his position on defense will be paramount to making him stick in the NBA.

France. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. G. Sidy Cissoko. 42. 142

Sidy Cissoko’s inconsistent jumper and lack of finishing moves on offense limit his appeal, but the Wizards can afford to bet on a 6-foot-7 athlete with Cissoko’s playmaking instincts and defensive versatility.

Ricky Council IV. 43. player. F. Arkansas. 34. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis

Ricky Council is one of the best at-rim finishers in the draft. His burst getting downhill, combined with his contortionist skills in the paint, make him an easy scoring bet if the 3-point shot progresses to the point of respectability.

Pick Analysis. Houston. 44. Scouting Report. G. Marcus Sasser. player. 29

Marcus Sasser gives San Antonio another source of shooting and shot creation in the backcourt. He’s one of the best pull-up marksmen on the board, but there are defensive concerns tied to his small frame.

45. 211. F. Furman. Jalen Slawson. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis

Another small-school investment for Memphis. Jalen Slawson is a tremendous wing defender who makes up for his limited scoring arsenal with intuitive passing. Best case scenario, he could fill some of the void left by Kyle Anderson’s departure last season.

Gonzaga. Julian Strawther. player. Pick Analysis. F. 46. 125. Scouting Report

Julian Strawther was one of the best 3-and-D wings in the country at one of the best programs in the country. It’s not hard to see the appeal for Atlanta, who could use more size and shooting on the wing following Kevin Huerter’s departure.

C. Mouhamed Gueye. 47. player. 20. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Washington State

Mouhamed Gueye is a very rough gem that will need a lot of polishing at the next level, but his mobility, explosiveness, and flashes of mid-range shooting touch make him a very interesting long-term bet for the Lakers in the back quarter of the draft.

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. F. 77. Missouri. Kobe Brown. 48. player

The Clippers add skill and size at the 4-spot, a glaring need for the team following Marcus Morris’ sharp decline last season. Brown will have to prove he can stick on the defensive end, but he’s a crafty face-up scorer and elite 3-point shooter at 6-foot-8, 250 pounds.

Keyontae Johnson. player. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. Kansas State. 49. 156. F

The Cavs’ lack of size and versatility on the wing killed them in the playoffs. The immediate solution probably won’t arrive with the 50th pick, but Keyontae Johnson is a noteworthy athlete who can defend a few positions, hit spot-up 3s, and fly above the rim for finishes.

Scouting Report. F. 50. player. Pick Analysis. Serbia. Nikola Durisic. 149

Nikola Durisic began the season as a potential lottery pick before sliding into the second round mix due to inconsistency and injuries. At 6-foot-8, there’s still untapped potential as a shot-creator and multi-positional defender. Maybe the Thunder, who have multiple picks and a lot of depth, can stash him overseas for another year.

Scouting Report. Eastern Michigan. 51. player. 147. Pick Analysis. F. Emoni Bates

Emoni Bates can make tough shots look easy and he has great theoretical size for his position at 6-foot-9, although he desperately needs to add muscle. The problem is, he doesn’t show an affinity for passing, nor does he possess the burst and elevation necessary to finish consistently around the rim.

66. Scouting Report. Penn State. Seth Lundy. player. Pick Analysis. F. 52

Seth Lundy is another combine standout who now seems destined for second round consideration. He shot 40.5 percent from deep last season and he’s a gritty positional defender, although not the quickest in space.

Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. F. 86. Kansas. Jalen Wilson. 53. player

Jalen Wilson operated well as the offensive centerpiece at Kansas. He’s impressive attacking downhill with plenty of craft and trickery around the basket, but he will need to get more consistent from 3-point range.

Clemson. 54. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. player. 84. F. Hunter Tyson

The primary drawback for Hunter Tyson is age, as the 24-year-old spent five years at Clemson. But he’s 6-foot-8 with a pristine jumper and good instincts for moving without the ball offensively. He could find a niche in Sacramento’s up-tempo, movement-heavy offense.

player. 55. UCLA. Jaylen Clark. 100. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. G

Jaylen Clark gets after it on the defensive end. His penchant for pickpocketing and disruption could make him stick in the Pacers’ backcourt, which is frightfully short on reliable defenders right now.

Princeton. Tosan Evbuomwan. 56. player. Scouting Report. F. 211. Pick Analysis

Tosan Evbuomwan looked great at the G-League Elite camp and parlayed that performance into a combine invite. At 6-foot-8, he was the biggest player on the floor for a Princeton team that went deep into March Madness. His passing skill in the frontcourt is quite unique and it could give the Grizzlies something to tinker with in the second unit.

player. 24. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. . Chicago Bulls. 57. Forfeit

FORFEIT . player. 93. Scouting Report. Pick Analysis. . Philadelphia 76ers. 58

Pick Analysis. Kentucky. Chris Livingston. 142. Scouting Report. F. 59. player

Chris Livingston was largely disappointing at Kentucky, but 19-year-old wings with his size, strength, and athleticism tend to receive patience from NBA teams.

Pick Analysis. player. 89. Scouting Report. C. Gonzaga. Drew Timme. 60

Drew Timme accomplished a lot at Gonzaga. Now it’s time to see if the tempo and style of NBA basketball has passed him by. The Bucks could need some extra size and muscle in the frontcourt depending on the outcome of Brook Lopez’s free agency. Timme’s strength and skill in the post still has utility.

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