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2023 NBA Mock Draft: Round 1 Picks & Predictions

2023 NBA Mock Draft: Round 1 Picks & Predictions

I hope you enjoyed the title and the parade, Denver. It was well-deserved, and that moment should be remembered forever.

Moment is the keyword, though.

The NBA moves at a frantic pace, and the NBA Finals was about four storylines ago. Since then, we’ve had the Ja Morant suspension announced, Bradley Beal being traded, the annual Damian Lillard trade conversations, a tone-deaf Father’s Day post featuring Miles Bridges by the NBA’s official account, and reports that Zion Williamson won’t be a Pelican come Thursday.

Man, I love this league.

The NBA Draft is one of the parts I love the most, and as I always do here at FantasyPros, I’m going to give you my full first-round mock and analysis and what the players can mean for real life and fantasy.

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  1. San Antonio: Victor Wembanyama (C – Metropolitans 92)
    I’m not sure there could be a better landing spot than San Antonio for Wemby. Not just the fit of the team, but learning under Gregg Popovich who is going to have to put retirement off for a few years. He’s a top-five dynasty pick right away and a third-rounder for 2023-24. He has fantasy-breaking potential.
  2. Charlotte: Brandon Miller (SF – Alabama)
    This is a mock, so it’s about what I think will happen – not what should happen. Scoot Henderson is the clear second-best player in this draft, but the Hornets have a history of making boneheaded decisions in the draft. This will be the latest, as Miller is the lock of the first round to bust.
  3. Portland: Scoot Henderson (PG – G League Ignite)
    Whether Portland keeps this pick or not remains to be seen, as a trade with New Orleans for Williamson makes too much sense. If not, Henderson and Lillard will be so much fun to watch. I’m expecting an immediate impact like Ja Morant made.
  4. Houston: Amen Thompson (G – Overtime Elite)
    For fantasy, this is the Thompson brother that we want to go first, as Amen is a fantastic point guard with playmaking ability, which can help run the young, fun offense in Houston. If James Harden signs there, going with Cam Whitmore makes more sense. Thompson can be an impact player but more so in dynasty.
  5. Detroit: Cam Whitmore (SF – Villanova)
    I like Whitmore more than Miller, and the Pistons could use an elite-level wing to pair with their All-Star-level guards and Jalen Duren. Jarace Walker would be a solid pick here, but I like the inside-out ability of Whitemore more in Detroit.
  6. Orlando: Anthony Black (G – Arkansas)
    This was a tough one, as Ausar Thompson fits the mold for what the Magic like, but they need scoring from their guards. Black is advanced despite being 19 years old and can play right away in a shared role with the Magic. He shot 45 percent from the field at Arkansas.
  7. Indiana: Taylor Hendricks (PF – UCF)
    He’s risen up draft boards as the draft has neared, with Indiana seeming like the spot where he fits the most. It’s easy to see why, as he’s still raw but can slot in as a 3-and-D guy right away for the Pacers. I like him more than Miller long term but would take Miller in fantasy for redraft purposes.
  8. Washington: Jarace Walker (PF – Houston)
    It doesn’t seem likely that Walker would fall this far, and if he does, do we trust Washington to do the right thing by taking him? They are in the middle of a rebuild, and Walker being the face of the franchise would be a good start after the Johnny Davis debacle of last year.
  9. Utah: Ausar Thompson (G/F – Overtime Elite)
    A fantastic real-life pick, but a meh fantasy player. He can still be useful for defensive stats, he just lacks the playmaking and scoring that his brother possesses.
  10. Dallas: Cason Wallace (G – Kentucky)
    I’d be shocked if Dallas kept this pick. If they do, though, Wallace makes too much sense for the Mavericks. They need a competent scoring guard for Luka Doncic and maybe Kyrie Irving.
  11. Orlando: Gradey Dick (SG/SF – Kansas)
    More shooting for the Magic! Dick is a polarizing player in the draft, but his ability to knock down shots from behind the arc will keep him in the lottery. Sneaky offense fantasy upside but doesn’t offer much defensively.
  12. OKC: Bilal Coulibaly (SF – Metropolitans 92)
    The mystery player of the draft and one of my favorites is going to make the Thunder even more fun to watch. They have the roster that affords them to be patient with Coulibaly, and while I doubt we see much from him in his rookie year, he’s a top-five player in this class for long-term upside.
  13. Toronto: Jalen Hood-Schifino (PG – Indiana)
    Maybe this is too easy to actually happen, but the Raptors find themselves in an interesting position with a new head coach, Fred VanVleet leaving, and in a will they or won’t they situation when it comes to a rebuild. Hood-Schifino, a late-season riser at Indiana, could fill that point guard void right away.
  14. New Orleans: Dereck Lively II (C – Duke)
    The Pelicans are going to make some moves, we just don’t know which moves they will make. However, if we assume everything stays the same, the one thing they need is a rim-protecting big man. Lively was one of the better defenders down the stretch at Duke, and he’d be a welcome addition in the Big Easy.
  15. Atlanta: Kobe Bufkin (SG/SF – Michigan)
    A shot-making wing could help take the pressure off of Dejounte Murray and Trae Young.
  16. Utah: Keyonte George (SG – Baylor)
    He’s very young but has top-10 upside in this class. Utah has three first-round picks, and I could see them investing in George, knowing there will be ups and downs during his rookie year.
  17. Lakers: Jett Howard (Wing – Michigan)
    The fit just makes too much sense for the Lakers roster as Howard can be a useful bench piece – if they keep the pick.
  18. Miami: Jordan Hawkins (SF – UConn)
    Parlaying an NCAA Tournament win with a trip to Miami is a hell of a way to start your career. I trust Hawkins’ shot-making ability in Miami.
  19. Golden State: Kris Murray (PF – Iowa)
    Yeah, Sacramento would be a cool story, but give me Murray in Golden State as a potential Draymond Green replacement.
  20. Houston: Nick Smith Jr. (G – Arkansas)
    A little bit of a buy-low opportunity here for Houston after a disappointing freshman season for Smith. It’s a little crowded in Houston, but we aren’t drafting for need.
  21. Brooklyn: Dariq Whitehead (SF – Duke)
    You have two back-to-back picks, Brooklyn. Why not use one on a player who was a top-five player in the draft before his injuries? Can the shooting improvements stick at the next level?
  22. Brooklyn: Brice Sensabaugh (G – Ohio State)
    The Nets are going to need some scorers as teams focus on Mikal Bridges. Few did it better than Sensabaugh last year.
  23. Portland: Leonard Miller (SF – G League Ignite)
    A high-upside pick that fits the Portland mold. Expect them to develop him slowly.
  24. Sacramento: Colby Jones (SG – Xavier)
    A big man would make sense for the Kings, but Jones is too enticing here at No. 24 to pass on for the Kings. He’d be a perfect second-team playmaker.
  25. Memphis: Noah Clowney (PF – Alabama)
    The Grizzlies are in an interesting spot, as last year’s picks – David Roddy and Jake LaRavia – didn’t have the instant impact they hoped for. Ziaire Williams didn’t develop, and Brandon Clarke is out for the year. Look for the Grizzlies to get some Steven Adams insurance.
  26. Indiana: Brandon Podziemski (G – Santa Clara)
    I wouldn’t be surprised to see Podziemski go to the Grizzlies or for the Pacers to target another wing. But his three-point potential makes him a nice bench piece for the rising Pacers.
  27. Charlotte: Olivier-Maxence Prosper (Wing – Marquette)
    A big man to pair with Mark Williams who has the ability to hit a three.
  28. Utah: Rayan Rupert (SF – New Zealand Breakers)
    Another wing for the Jazz, who can make a defensive impact right away.
  29. Indiana: Jordan Walsh (SF – Arkansas)
    His stock has taken a major hit, but he’s decided to stay in the NBA Draft instead of returning to school. He’s likely a second-rounder, but his defense could put him in the backend to the Pacers or Clippers.
  30. Clippers: Jaime Jaquez Jr. (SG – UCLA)
    That window is closing for the Clippers. Why not go after a 22-year-old advanced shotmaker who does what every other member of the team does?

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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