2023 NBA Draft Night Recap and Grades
June 24th, 2023
By Alan Lu
The NBA draft was held on Thursday on June 22nd. It was a fun-filled night that saw twists and turns, and surprises throughout the 2023 NBA Draft. Victor Wembanyama was selected first overall by the San Antonio Spurs, which was expected, but there were some stunning moves that were made throughout the night. Here is a snapshot of my thoughts on who I feel which NBA teams did well in this draft, and which teams made curious moves that maybe didn’t look quite as good as their counterparts.
The San Antonio Spurs selected Metropolitans 92’s center, Victor Wembanyama first overall in the 2023 NBA Draft.
(Photo: Justin Lane/EPA-EFE, via ABS-CBN News)
15. Kobe Bufkin, Michigan
The Atlanta Hawks have been stocking up small, score-first combo guards, and Kobe Bufkin is a very athletic, aggressive playmaker that can score and make plays with the ball in his hands. He is a solid defender, and he played very well in Jett Howard’s absence this past season, as he’s shown that he can be a lead guard. The Hawks still run the risk of being too undersized defensively, but Bufkin is a solid prospect that will help make their team fun to watch.
39. Mouhamed Gueye, Washington State
He is an athletic, high-motor big man that has a versatile set of skills, but isn’t outstanding at any one particular skill. He will shoot jumpers, but is inconsistent at them. He can help a team protect the paint, but isn’t a particularly elite rebounder or shot blocker. Right now, he’s more of an upside pick than a polished player at this stage. He’ll need to continue to refine his game, but he’s flashed a lot of skills that makes him an intriguing second round pick, even if Atlanta making a trade to get him at 39 may be a sizable reach.
46. Seth Lundy, Penn State
Seth Lundy played very well this past season, and he is a smart, skilled swingman that projects into a 3 and D role. He is a very good shooter off the catch, and he’s shown the ability to be a movement shooter in the 2023 NBA Draft Combine. He doesn’t possess ideal physical tools, but his basketball IQ and skill set could enable him to be a solid role player in the NBA.
The Atlanta Hawks’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: C+ (26th Overall)
38. Jordan Walsh, Arkansas
He is an athletic, skilled swingman that had an up and down, freshman season at Arkansas. He struggled to make shots consistently, but he is a high-motor, high-flyer that can make plays on both ends of the floor. He also moves the ball well and handles it well for a player his size. He’ll need to significantly improve his jump shot, but he is a versatile forward that could end up being a better player in the NBA than he was in college.
The Boston Celtics’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: C (27th Overall)
21. Noah Clowney, Alabama
The Nets made swung for the fences and made an upside pick by selecting Clowney at 21. He is an athletic, high-motor big man that has flashed a lot of skills, but hasn’t been consistent at this stage of his career.
Clowney is a versatile player that has flashed the ability to shoot threes and handle the basketball, but hasn’t shot the ball well overall, and can struggle to consistently create his own shot. He’s shown some defensive versatility, but sometimes can be too undisciplined in games. That said, he has plenty of room to grow, as he is a young, athletic big man with upside and a versatile skill set. He’s more of an upside pick than a polished player at this stage, but if developed properly, he could develop into a versatile player that could help the Nets in a variety of ways at the NBA level.
22. Dariq Whitehead, Duke
The Nets made a good pick by selecting Whitehead at 22. He is an athletic sharpshooter that thrives at knocking down spot-up jumpers, and he excels at making hustle plays. He’s dealt with injuries and is recovering from a broken foot, so he’s struggled to stay on the floor or to be a consistent shot creator, but when healthy, Whitehead has shown that he can be a solid player on both ends of the floor.
51. Jalen Wilson, Kansas
The Nets also made a good value pick by selecting Jalen Wilson at 51. He helped Kansas win the National Championship last year, and he had a very good season this year, as he’s put his skills altogether. He’s an athletic slasher that thrives as a scorer off the dribble, and he excels at making hustle plays. He’ll need to improve his jump shot, but Wilson has the shown that he can be a solid role player in the NBA.
The Brooklyn Nets’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: C+ (25th Overall)
2. Brandon Miller, Alabama
The Hornets were able to pair their star point guard LaMelo Ball with a very talented forward in Brandon Miller. He is a tremendously skilled scorer that can really shoot it from deep, excels as a movement shooter in games, and can finish plays above the rim. He can make a wealth of highlight reel-worthy plays, and he is also a rangy defender.
However, there is some risk involving his character, as he allegedly may have been involved in a major, tragic, off-court incident. They also passed on Scoot Henderson, a similarly tremendously skilled prospect that doesn’t have those same possible character issues, although Miller’s size, ability to shoot and move off the ball, and defend could make him a better fit for Charlotte. Controversy aside, Miller was one of the best players in college basketball, and he could be a future NBA superstar in the league.
27. Nick Smith, Arkansas
He is a very athletic, skilled combo guard that came in as one of the highest ranked recruits in college basketball. Smith can put up points in a hurry, make spectacular shots, and he also has the physical tools to be a solid defender. However, he had an injury-plagued season that limited him this season, and he tends to take a lot of contested shots that may hurt his shooting percentages. He had an underwhelming season overall, but Smith is a very talented player that could end up being a significantly better NBA player than he was in college.
31. James Nnaji, FC Barcelona (Nigeria)
The Hornets dealt the 34th and 39th overall picks to move up to get 31 from Boston to select James Nnaji. Nnaji is a very athletic, high-motor big man that projects to be a solid rim protector in the NBA, but he will need to expand his skill set offensively. Right now, his defense is ahead of his offense, but he could project to be a solid role player in this league.
41. Amari Bailey, UCLA
The Hornets also used the 41st pick to select Bailey, an athletic, skilled combo guard that can do a little bit of everything, but also can be too inconsistent in games. He is a solid pick at 41, and he is a fairly high upside pick that was had at very good value at this spot.
The Charlotte Hornets’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B- (18th Overall)
35. Julian Phillips, Tennessee
The Bulls managed to trade into the draft, as they gave up two future second rounders to Washington to acquire the 35th pick, which enabled them to select Julian Phillips.
The Bulls made an intriguing upside pick, as they get one of the best athletes in the draft. Phillips is a high-flyer that can throw down riveting dunks on the break, and he is a rangy defender that can guard multiple positions. On the other hand, he’ll really need to improve his jump shot, and he doesn’t seem to operate nearly as well in a half court. Phillips is more of an upside pick than a polished player, but with continued development, he could develop into a solid role player in the future.
The Chicago Bulls’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: C+ (24th Overall)
49. Emoni Bates, Eastern Michigan
The Cavaliers made a very good pick by selecting Emoni Bates with the 49th overall pick. They get a really tall, athletic and skilled forward that can flat out score the basketball. Bates can operate as a one-man show with the ball in his hands, and he is a gifted scorer that can make shots from anywhere on the floor.
Bates also is a very good ball handler, and he has impressive footwork and shooting touch that will enable him to make the toughest of shots. On the other hand, his penchant for taking tough shots can sometimes get him into trouble, and there are questions about if he’ll add much elsewhere, or if he can blend in with other good players in an offense. Still, Bates is really good at knocking down shots, and he is a high-upside prospect that may be one of the biggest steals of this draft.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B (12th Overall)
12. Dereck Lively, Duke
Lively had an up and down freshman season, but he is a very tall, athletic center that excels as a rim protector, as he can really help a team protect the paint. He is an excellent shot blocker, and he’ll make it difficult for opponents to get easy shots in the lane.
On the other hand, he didn’t show a whole lot of offensive skills in college and was far too passive on offense this year, but has reportedly shown a much improved jump shot in workouts. If so, Lively could be a really good player in the NBA, and could end up being far better than he was in college.
24. Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Marquette
He is a very athletic, high-motor combo forward that was a standout performer at the 2023 NBA Draft Combine. Prosper shined at the combine, and his draft stock surged as a result. He is a hustle player that has a non-stop motor, and he is a rangy defender that has shown great defensive potential. He’ll need to improve his jump shot, but Prosper could end up being the consummate role player in the NBA.
The Dallas Mavericks’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B (9th Overall)
29. Julian Strawther, Gonzaga
Strawther had a solid collegiate career at Gonzaga, and he is a skilled, sharpshooting forward that can reliably knock down shots, especially from deep. He’s also shown that he can make clutch shots in big moments of the game.
On the other hand, he doesn’t possess ideal athleticism, and will need to improve in the other facets of the game, especially on the defensive end. Strawther is a fairly polished player that could contribute right away, and while he may not have as much upside as the other prospects, he could end up being a solid role player in this league.
32. Jalen Pickett, Penn State
Jalen Pickett is a strong, mobile guard that can play either backcourt position, and he’s a fairly polished player that can contribute right away. He is a versatile guard that can post up, score off the dribble, and shoot it from deep. He’s a reliable playmaker that can set the table, and he also competes defensively and tends to be in the right spots on that end of the floor. He doesn’t possess ideal athleticism and may be close to being topped out as an overall player, but Pickett is a fairly solid prospect that could be a solid rotational guard in the NBA.
37. Hunter Tyson, Clemson
Hunter Tyson is a mobile, skilled swingman that may project into a 3 and D role in the NBA. He is a sharpshooter that can shoot it from deep, and he is a savvy player that can move off the ball to get extra baskets. While he’s not an elite athlete, he’s a fairly solid position defender that tends to be in the right spots on that end of the floor. He may be close to being topped out as an overall player, but Tyson is a fairly solid prospect that could contribute right away and be a solid rotational forward in the association.
The Denver Nuggets’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: C+ (22nd Overall)
5. Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite (Oakland – CA)
The Detroit Pistons made a very good pick by selecting Ausar Thompson. While Ausar may be less regarded twin amongst the Thompson twins, he still is a very good prospect, nonetheless.
Amen Thompson may be the better athlete barnone, but Ausar is still a very good athlete. Ausar is also the better outside shooter, and has actually won more awards and championships in the Overtime Elite League than his twin brother. In fact, Ausar Thompson was the 2023 OTE MVP this past season.
While it’s still uncertain as to how well he’ll play right away, especially since the OTE is still pretty much a new league, Ausar Thompson is a very athletic, skilled swingman that has a lot of upside. He is a versatile playmaker that excels with the ball in his hands, and he also can score on off-ball motion plays. He’s shown that he can knock down outside shots in high stakes games, and he is a rangy defender that can cover a lot of ground. Make no mistake, both of the Thompson twins are really good prospects, and Detroit may have secretly made a really good pick in selecting Ausar Thompson at 5 in this year’s draft.
25. Marcus Sasser, Houston
Marcus Sasser is an agile, skilled point guard that has a solid set of skills that could enable him to excel in the NBA. He is a good shooter that can score the basketball, reliably runs the point at well, and he is also a solid team defender. He may not always look to make the spectacular play and doesn’t possess eye-popping athleticism, but Sasser is a fundamentally sound basketball player that has the penchant for making sound basketball plays, and he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA.
The Detroit Pistons’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B+ (4th Overall)
Golden State Warriors
19. Brandin Podziemski, Santa Clara
Podziemski was one of the biggest risers in this year’s draft, and he went from starting the season as a virtual unknown to being drafted in the top 20 this year. The Warriors raised eyebrows by passing on Whitmore to select Podziemski, and there’s concerns about the Warriors being too small, which could hurt them defensively.
That said, Podziemski is a very skilled basketball player that has shown plus-level athleticism. He is a good shooter that can reliably run the point, and he is a crafty offensive player with the ball in his hands. He’ll need to improve his defense, but he could be a solid replacement for Jordan Poole, as he could fit that role well with the Warriors.
57. Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana
It was surprising that Trayce Jackson-Davis fell this far in the draft. While big men don’t seem to be coveted nearly as much in the draft as before, Jackson-Davis is still a very productive big man that has shown to be a first-round talent. He is an agile, high-motor big man that operates well in the post, and he also passes the ball well for his size. He’ll need to continue to improve his face-up skills and defense, but he is a polished prospect that could contribute right away and could project well into a backup big man role in the NBA.
The Golden State Warriors’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: C+ (21st Overall)
The Houston Rockets selected Cam Whitmore with the 20th overall pick, which was the steal of the draft night, and the Rockets had a tremendous draft night on Thursday.
(Photo: Sarah Stier/Getty Images, via VU Hoops)
4. Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite (Oakland – CA)
The Rockets were able to get arguably the best athlete in the entire draft in selecting Amen Thompson. Amen Thompson is a fantastic athlete that can finish with explosive dunks, and he is a gifted shot creator that can consistently score off the dribble as well as rack up assists with the ball in his hands. He also is a rangy defender that is a ball hawk, and he will come away with plenty of rebounds, steals, and blocks in games. He’ll need to significantly improve his jump shot, especially from three-point land, but Thompson could end up being one of the best players to come out of this draft.
20. Cam Whitmore, Villanova
Cam Whitmore experienced a surprisingly surreal draft day slide, and it seems like it happens to one or two players every year. Reports had surfaced about NBA teams being scared off by his medicals, as he had started the season off on the injured list before later playing for Villanova. That said, we’re in a league where Joel Embiid is the regular season MVP, and he missed the first two seasons of his NBA career after dealing with foot issues, but now is healthy and available to play. Michael Porter Jr. had dealt with back and leg issues, but now is a significant contributor on an NBA championship team for the Denver Nuggets. Bradley Beal and Chris Paul frequently have missed games recently, but that hasn’t stopped NBA teams from giving them massive contracts and from trading for them. Therefore, NBA teams probably shouldn’t have freaked out about Whitmore’s medicals as much as they did.
The Houston Rockets are made a tremendous value pick by snagging Whitmore at 20. He is a very athletic, energetic swingman that could end up being one of the best two-way wings in this draft. He is a high-flyer that excels at attacking the hoop to score the basketball, has shown the ability to shoot it from deep, and is an underrated defender. He has an enormous amount of upside, and he could end up being a star player in the NBA.
The Houston Rockets’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: A (2nd Overall)
8. Jarace Walker, Houston
The Indiana Pacers made a trade with Washington to be able to select Jarace Walker at 8. Walker is a strong, athletic combo forward that can do a little bit of everything, and he is a very good defender that can defend multiple positions. He operates well as a ball mover and also can throw down powerful dunks above the rim. He’s not an elite shot creator, but his versatility, skill set, and basketball IQ could enable him to thrive in the NBA.
26. Ben Sheppard, Belmont
He is an agile, skilled swingman that soared up draft boards by having a strong showing at the 2023 NBA Draft Combine. He is a sharpshooter that can put up points in a hurry, and he also can do a little bit of everything on the floor. He didn’t often play against top competition in college, but he showed that he could more than hold his own at the combine, and he could project to be a solid player in the NBA.
47. Mojave King, G-League Ignite (New Zealand)
He is an athletic, energetic swingman that quietly had a good season with the G-League Ignite. He is a skilled guard that can score in a variety of ways and is an underrated defender. He’ll need to be more consistent in games, but he could end up being a solid role player in the league.
55. Isaiah Wong, Miami (Fl)
The Pacers also made a solid pick by drafting Wong at 55. Wong is an athletic, skilled combo guard that can score and distribute the basketball, and he’s improved his jump shot lately. He may not possess as much upside as some of the other prospects, but he is a polished player that could contribute right away, and could end up being a solid role player in the association.
The Indiana Pacers’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B+ (6th Overall)
Los Angeles Clippers
30. Kobe Brown, Missouri
The Clippers made a solid pick by selecting Brown at 30. Brown is a strong, skilled combo forward that can shoot and distribute the ball, and he is a tall, playmaking point forward that excels at making hustle plays on both ends of the floor. He may be one of the more underrated prospects in this draft, and he could end up being a solid player in this league.
48. Jordan Miller, Miami (Fl)
The Clippers get an athletic, 3 and D forward in Jordan Miller, who teamed up with Wong to help lead the Miami Hurricanes to get to the Final Four of the 2023 NCAA Tournament. He may not be an elite shot creator or playmaker, but his ability to shoot and defend could enable him to excel as a role player in the association.
The Los Angeles Clippers’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B- (16th Overall)
Los Angeles Lakers
17. Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana
Whitmore’s draft day slide was surprising, but instead of taking him at 17, the Lakers decided to select Jalen Hood-Schifino instead. Hood-Schifino isn’t nearly the same level of athlete or defender that Whitmore is, and he may not have quite as much upside as his counterpart.
On the bright side, Hood-Schifino is a solid playmaker that can reliably run the point, and he also has the size to play off the ball as a shooting guard. He also may be one of the best mid-range shooters in this draft. He isn’t an explosive athlete and can sometimes be prone to questionable shot selection, but Hood-Schifino is a skilled playmaker that has turned in some dominant performances this season, and he could fill in for Austin Reaves if they lose him in free agency.
40. Maxwell Lewis, Pepperdine
Maxwell Lewis is an athletic, skilled swingman that can shoot and score the basketball. He can knock down shots from anywhere on the court, and he is also a rangy defender. He’ll need to trust his outside shot more in games and improve his playmaking skills, but he is a talented prospect that could end up thriving in the league.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B- (20th Overall)
45. Gregory “G.G.” Jackson II, South Carolina
It wasn’t just Whitmore that was having a draft day slide, but so was Gregory Jackson II. After having reclassified to play college basketball this year, Jackson decided to play for South Carolina and entered as one of the most talented freshmen and prospects in college basketball. He had some very good games at times, but had an up and down season overall, as he struggled to handle the heavy offensive load on a middling South Carolina team this year.
Still, Jackson is a tremendously athletic forward that showed a variety of skills and has a great deal of upside. He’ll need to be a more consistent shooter and will need to improve his decision making in games, but he is a high-flyer that could end up being a better NBA player than he was in college.
56. Tarik Biberovic, G-F, Fenerbahce Beko (Bosnia and Herzegovina)
The Memphis Grizzlies drafting Tarik Biberovic might be the second-biggest surprise of the 2023 draft, behind Whitmore’s slide to 20. Biberovic seemingly came out of nowhere to get drafted, but upon a closer look at his game, he’s an agile, skilled forward whose versatility could enable him to be an effective role player in the NBA. It’s uncertain as to when he’d come over to the league, but he’s played at a fairly high level overseas, and he has a fairly solid set of offensive skills combined with an aggressive defensive disposition that could allow him to make it to the NBA someday.
The Memphis Grizzlies’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B (7th Overall)
18. Jaime Jaquez Jr., UCLA
When Whitmore was having his draft day slide, it was briefly thought that the Heat would stop his slide, and that he’d be the perfect Heat culture player for them, and one with a lot of upside at that. The Heat didn’t go with Whitmore, but they decided to pick Jaquez instead. While Jaquez may not have the same level of athleticism or upside Whitmore has, Jaquez has a game that screams Heat culture all over it.
Jaquez is an athletic, high-motor forward that competes relentlessly. He is skilled, crafty scorer that can make shots out of the post and off the dribble, is an unselfish player that will move the ball, and is a high-motor defensive player that will make plenty of plays to help his team. He’ll need to improve his jump shot, but Jaquez projects to be a solid role player in the league.
The Miami Heat’s 2023 Draft Night Grade: C+ (23rd Overall)
36. Andre Jackson Jr., Connecticut
The Bucks maneuvered to get the 36th pick, and they drafted a very solid player in Andre Jackson Jr. Jackson is a smart, skilled point forward that has terrific court vision, and he is also a solid defender. He is an athletic player that can finish plays above the rim, but he also can make the spectacular pass and do so effortlessly.
The only issue is that Jackson isn’t really a shooter, but he may not fit quite as well, because even though Giannis is one of the best superstars in the game, Giannis doesn’t shoot well from the outside either, so Milwaukee might not have enough floor spacing to fit both of them on the floor at the same time. Jackson willl need to improve his jump shot, but he is a savvy table-setter that has a knack for making everyone else around him better.
58. Chris Livingston, Kentucky
Livingston is an athletic forward that came in as a highly touted recruit after having been a 2022 McDonald’s All-American, but he didn’t play as much as expected and had a relatively disappointing freshman season. He didn’t shoot as much as expected or very well, but he’s a high-motor player that excels at making hustle plays. He’ll still need to refine his overall game, but he’ll have great tutelage from the players and coach that he’ll be around for next season.
The Milwaukee Bucks’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B (13th Overall)
33. Leonard Miller, G-League Ignite (Canada)
Leonard Miller’s draft day slide to 33 was very surprising in addition, and it worked out well for the Timberwolves, who made moves to get to this spot to be able to take him.
Miller is a very athletic, energetic big man that handles the ball well, and he is a rangy defender that excels at making hustle plays. He’ll need to improve his jump shot, and the Timberwolves run the risk of having too many big men and not enough shooters, but he is a high upside prospect that could end up being a solid player in the association.
53. Jaylen Clark, UCLA
Jaylen Clark is an athletic, strong swingman that played very well for UCLA before going down to a season-ending Achilles injury just before the 2023 NCAA Tournament began. Concerns about his Achilles was going to prevent him from going in the first round, but Clark is a tough as nails player that plays very good defense and is an unselfish player that moves the ball well. He’ll need to be a more consistent shooter and shot creator in games, but he could end up being a solid role player in the league.
The Minnesota Timberwolves’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B (14th Overall)
New Orleans Pelicans
14. Jordan Hawkins, Connecticut
The Pelicans drafted an agile, sharpshooting guard in Jordan Hawkins, and he helped lead UConn to win the National Championship this year. He was terrific in the 2023 NCAA Tournament, and he is arguably the best movement shooter in this year’s draft. He moves incredibly well off the ball, and he has a super quick release that easily enables him to get his shot off. He doesn’t stand out in the other skills, but Hawkins is a terrific shooter that also has solid athleticism, and he will likely be a solid player in the NBA.
The New Orleans Pelicans’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B (11th Overall)
New York Knicks
The Knicks did not have a pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
The New York Knicks’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: I (Incomplete)
Oklahoma City Thunder
10. Cason Wallace, Kentucky
The Thunder traded up a couple of spots to acquire and absorb the contract of Davis Bertans to take him off Dallas’ hands, and to be able to select Cason Wallace at 10. While there were more athletic, higher upside prospects on the board, this looks to be a fairly solid pick here by Oklahoma City.
Wallace is an agile, skilled point guard that is a terrific defender, especially for his position. He is a ball hawk that will absolutely rack up steals, and he is a pesky defender that can routinely shut opponents down. He isn’t a consistent offensive player though, but he shot the ball well early on before his percentages started to tumble a bit. He’ll need to be a more consistent player in games, but his jump shot, ability to run a team, and strong defensive skills could allow him to thrive as a role player in this league.
50. Keyontae Johnson, Kansas State
Keyontae Johnson collapsed in a frightening on-court incident a couple of years ago when he played at Florida, but he made a full recovery since, and he had a terrific season at Kansas State. It’s a great story that he made a full recovery from myocarditis and from his incident, and he is a strong, mobile swingman that excels in a number of ways, and projects well into a 3 and D role in the NBA.
The Oklahoma City Thunder’s 2023 Draft Night Grade: B- (19th Overall)
6. Anthony Black, Arkansas
The Magic made a solid pick by selecting Anthony Black at 6. He is a tall, athletic ball-handling point forward that can create shots for himself and others, and he is an aggressive playmaker that excels at making plays on both ends of the floor. He’ll need to improve his jump shot, but he has the tools to be a star player in the NBA.
11. Jett Howard, Michigan
This pick raised eyebrows, especially since he wasn’t expected to go this high, and more athletic players were on the board, but this might be a good pick here. While Howard isn’t an elite athlete, he is a mobile, skilled swingman that can shoot and pass the basketball. He can run the point if needed to do so, and he also is a movement shooter that can reliably knock down shots. There are some questions about his athleticism and defense, but Howard could be a solid complementary player for Orlando.
The Orlando Magic’s 2023 Draft Night Grade: B (15th Overall)
The 76ers didn’t have a draft pick in this year’s draft, but they were able to sign Terquavion Smith and Azuolas Tubelis to two-way contracts. That came after the draft ended though, but they should definitely earn plaudits and praise for finding good undrafted players this year.
The Philadelphia 76ers’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: I (Incomplete)
52. Toumani Camara, Dayton
The Suns decided to keep their pick this year, and they decided to use it to select Dayton forward, Toumani Camara. Camara is a very athletic, energetic combo forward that thrives at making hustle plays, but he’ll need to be a more consistent shooter in games. This is a solid pick that could bolster their depth, and Camara could end up being a versatile role player that could help the Suns in the future.
The Phoenix Suns’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: C (28th Overall)
Portland Trail Blazers
3. Scoot Henderson, G-League Ignite (USA – Marietta, GA)
The Trail Blazers made a great value pick in drafting Scoot Henderson at 3. Henderson is a very athletic and skilled point guard that excels at attacking the hoop to score and get assists, and he can throw down highlight reel-worthy dunks above the rim. He’ll need to be a more consistent shooter and defender in games, and in terms of fit, if they keep Lillard, Portland will have a very small backcourt that struggle defensively. That said, Henderson is an explosively athletic, very productive guard that could be an NBA superstar.
23. Kris Murray, Iowa
Kris Murray is a skilled, versatile combo forward that can do a little bit of everything on the court. While his skill set may not be eye-popping on the surface, he can help a team in a variety of ways, and he may be one of the more polished players in this draft.
43. Rayan Rupert, New Zealand Breakers (France)
Rupert is a very athletic, high upside prospect that played in Australia’s top league, the NBL this past season. He competed in a very high-end league, and he is an unselfish player that will play tough, aggressive defense. He’ll need to significantly improve his jump shot, but he could end up being a solid role player in the NBA.
The Portland Trail Blazers’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: A- (3rd Overall)
34. Colby Jones, Xavier
The 34th overall pick changed hands several times, and the Kings managed to acquire this pick to select Colby Jones. He is a smart, skilled combo guard that can shoot and pass the basketball, and he is a fundamentally sound player that tends to make the right basketball plays in games. He may need to show that he can guard upper echelon opponents on the floor, but Jones has all the makings to be a solid role player in the league.
54. Jalen Slawson, Furman
After they traded their 38th overall pick, the Kings kept their last pick of the draft, and they used it to select Slawson. Slawson had a very good senior season in which he helped lead his team to a surprising win over Virginia in the 2023 NCAA Tournament. He isn’t an overwhelming athlete or shot creator, but he is a high-motor player that profiles well into a 3 and D role, and he also is an unselfish player that will distribute the basketball. This late in the draft, the Kings made a fairly solid pick by adding a versatile forward to their team.
The Sacramento Kings’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B- (17th Overall)
San Antonio Spurs
- Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92 (France)
This is a slam-dunk, absolute win of a pick. Wembanyama is a once-in-a-lifetime, generational talent, and he is a tremendously athletic and skilled, 7-4 center that can do it all on the basketball court. He is a very skilled scorer that can make the toughest shots look easy, handles the ball like a guard, and he is a terrific defender that can cover a lot of ground. He had an excellent season in France, and he will likely end up being an NBA superstar in the future.
44. Sidy Cissoko, G-League Ignite (France)
The Spurs stopped Cissoko’s draft day slide, and they were able to get great value by selecting in the mid second round. Cissoko is a tall, very athletic swingman that can run the point or play off the ball, and he has solid playmaking and defensive skills. He’ll need to improve his jump shot and shot creation skills, but he could project to be a solid role player in the NBA.
The San Antonio Spurs’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: A (1st Overall)
13. Gradey Dick, Kansas
The Raptors made a solid, sensible draft choice in drafting Gradey Dick at 13. Dick is an athletic sharpshooter that can knock down outside shots and score on off-ball motion plays, and he can score on high-flying dunks above the rim. This move can allow them to either keep moving in their current direction, which would be to try to win while also spending time to develop their younger players, or they could also elect to tear it down and opt for a rebuild completely. Dick will need to improve his shot creation skills and defense,
The Toronto Raptors’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B (10th Overall)
9. Taylor Hendricks, UCF
The Utah Jazz got tremendous value by selecting Taylor Hendricks with the ninth pick. He’s a very athletic, skilled combo forward that can really shoot the basketball, and he also is a rangy defender. He may not be as gifted of a shot creator as some of the other players drafted above, but he projects to be a solid all-around player for the NBA.
16. Keyonte George, Baylor
He is an agile, skilled combo guard that came into the season as a highly touted recruit to Baylor. He had an up and down freshman season, but when he’s on his game, he’s shown the knack for making the spectacular play. He can tend to be too inconsistent in games and sometimes displays spotty shot selection, but he is a high upside prospect that could end up thriving in the league.
28. Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State
He is a strong, skilled combo forward that can really shoot the basketball, and he could project to be a solid 3 and D player in the league. He’s not an explosive athlete and will need to continue to improve his playmaking and defensive skills, but his ability to make shots and size could enable him to have a long career in the NBA.
The Utah Jazz’s 2023 Draft Night Grade: B+ (5th Overall)
7. Bilal Coulibaly, Metropolitans 92 (France)
Coulilbaly was the biggest riser of this year’s draft, but after the strong season he had this year with Metropolitans 92, it’s very much warranted. He teamed up with Wembanyama to lead his team to the French League finals, and he is a very athletic combo forward that played better and better as the season progressed. He’s shown emerging offensive skills and is a high-flyer that can make hustle plays. He’ll need to show that he can excel just as much without his super teammate Wembanyama, but he could end up being a very good player in the NBA.
42. Tristan Vukcevic, Partizan (Serbia)
Vukcevic is a skilled, sharpshooting big man that had an excellent showing at the 2023 NBA Draft Combine. He is a crafty scorer that really excels at making shots. He’ll need to show that he can play just as well in the other areas, but at 42, the Wizards got great value in making this selection.
The Washington Wizards’ 2023 Draft Night Grade: B (8th Overall)
Those were my thoughts on how the draft fared. It was a fun, entertaining event, and I enjoyed watching it as it unfolded. It was an exciting NBA season, and it will be interesting to see how things will unfold in free agency. Thanks for reading.