It’s NBA Draft week, and outside of the first pick, there are still plenty of questions to be answered on Thursday night. The consensus is the NBA Draft starts at the Houston Rockets’ selection at No. 4, and they could go any number of ways. The options only get more complex for the Detroit Pistons next at No. 5. There are several potential selections and also a sense there could be a trade back. Detroit Bad Boys contributors Austen Flores and Max Sturm decided the best way to prepare for Thursday’s draft was to go pick for pick and provide a breakdown of each selection in the top 10.
Let us know in the comments your thoughts on the picks and which rookie you want in Pistons’ threads next season.
*while it would be fun, this article has a full No trade clause*
2023 NBA Mock Draft
1. Victor Wemanyama
I’m not going to spend much time on this pick. It is comically self-explanatory. Wembanyama is the most talented and sought-after prospect since Lebron James graduated from St. Vincent in 2003. One could argue that he is in the category with the likes of guys named Wilt and Kareem as a prospect, but that can be saved for another piece.
Though Pistons fans have the right to be bitter about their lottery fortunes, there is no denying that this is a near-best-case scenario for the French teenager. With a franchise that has had generational success led by other lottery bigs in David Robinson and Tim Duncan, Wemby will have an opportunity to receive first-class coaching and benefit from an organizational structure that is rare in today’s NBA. The Spurs have a sneaky good quartet of role players, cap space, and future picks to make additional moves to surround their prized pick with talented pieces that fit around him.
Best of all, Wembanyama comes in at the top of the totem pole that lacks another young star that may feel the need to compete for shine with him. This will be his team from day one, and everybody knows it. He will be able to grow into the role under a coach who has done this a time or two. From the lens of a basketball purist, there is no disputing that this is a match made in heaven. —Sturm
2. Scoot Henderson
There is still technically some drama about what Charlotte will do at No. 2. While I’d like to think they won’t blow it, it’s hard to know with the Hornets. Both Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller will reportedly work out with the team one final time before the June 22 draft.
Plenty of factors will go into this choice, but as it stands today we’ll have them taking one of the better guard prospects we’ve seen in recent memory. Scoot Henderson is a bursty, dynamic athlete at lead guard who can find his spots at all three levels. The 19-year-old is built like a bull and attacks the room with vigor. Henderson’s fiery competitiveness is what really sets him apart from not only Miller, but most other non-No. 1 overall picks. He averaged 17.4 points and 6.4 assists per game on 44% shooting for the G League Ignite last season and progressed as a shooter. The “it” factor is something that has been attached to Henderson’s name for a while, as he would be the top pick in most other drafts.
LaMelo Ball has the keys to the offense as it stands today, but adding another dynamic playmaker in Henderson would set them up with one of the scarier backcourts in the league. While both naturally do most of their damage with the ball, I think their games can co-exist well. Drafting Miller makes sense for a team that has lacked consistent wing contributors over the last few seasons and will certainly be in play here. —Flores
3. Brandon Miler
With Scoot coming off the board second, the Blazers, assuming no trades are made, have a near no-brainer decision at 3. Brandon Miller is a great positional fit for Portland and also is widely believed to be in a tier alongside Henderson that is above the rest of the lottery prospects. At 6-foot-9, he can slot in at the 3 or play some small ball 4 for stretches. His shooting will allow him to space the floor for Dame Lillard, Anfernee Simons, and Shaedon Sharpe. As he grows into his role, I believe that he will have the ball handling and passing chops to be a secondary playmaker in certain lineups that can supplement the previously mentioned stars.
If the Dame trade rumors continue to gain traction, and the franchise decides to hit the reset button, I believe this is still an easy selection for the Blazers. Miller could ease the potential blow of losing Lillard, Jerami Grant, and other veterans, and provide the organization with a high-floor building block that has All-Star potential alongside Sharpe.
The disclaimer here is Miller’s well-documented personal and legal issues. Teams will surely do their due diligence on this incident, and depending on what comes back could be the only reason that Miller could potentially drop out of the top 3. —Sturm
4. Amen Thompson
Houston has done well stockpiling young talent since the departure of James Harden in 2021, but it will be hoping to take a leap this offseason. Some speculation has the Rockets potentially moving the pick as they transition into the offseason with significant cap space and enough youngsters already on the roster to fill up a ride at Disney World. Yet, with there seemingly being a dropoff in talent after the third pick, it would be interesting to see what type of return this pick would yield.
If they do hold on to it, Amen Thompson is a good fit in Houston. The Overtime Elite prospect couples a wild athletic profile at lead guard with elite vision that could make him a premier NBA floor general if all breaks right. At 6-foot-7, Thompson has a great frame that allows him to get to the rim easily and has a natural feel for the game on both ends. Like his twin brother Ausar, shooting will ultimately determine his ceiling. Amen showed little progression on that front and oftentimes seemed to avoid shooting in favor of relentless attacks at the rim.
Jalen Green has proven he can score the ball but may not become the playmaking threat the Rockets thought they drafted. Thompson would be a great connective piece for a young team that has the talent but needs someone to set the table for them each night. —Flores
5. Cam Whitmore
Though Pistons Twitter seems to be divided on the pick, this would be a best-case scenario for the franchise, in my opinion. Whitmore is one of the youngest prospects in the draft and has the highest ceiling of any prospect left on the board. Best of all, he fits the Pistons roster with ease and could quickly slide into a starting role.
Yes, there are some legitimate weaknesses with Cam (namely, he oddly seems to have a hard time going right, and a historically low assist rate), and yes, he has a higher chance of being a bust than some of the other prospects that could be drafted here. However, if all breaks right for him, you are looking at adding a potential All-Star at a premium position in today’s game.
Best of all, some of those weaknesses would be masked and his strengths amplified by sharing a roster with Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, and Jalen Duren. He shot 40% on catch-and-shoot threes, is an excellent off-ball cutter (and finisher at the rim), and he averaged nearly a steal and a half per game. The Pistons don’t need him to facilitate, as Cunningham and Ivey bring plenty of that into the fold. What this team is missing is a score-first player, a high-level defender on the wing, and someone who simply gets after it. Whitmore brings all of that to the table. If the Pistons front office buys his work ethic (I’ve not heard any concerns in this area), it makes too much sense. Guys with talent and athleticism can improve quickly. For example, Jaylen Brown shot 43% from the floor, just 30% from deep, while averaging more turnovers than assists in college. He is fresh off his first All-NBA appearance. —Sturm
6. Ausar Thompson
Outside of Portland, Orlando may have the most juice when it comes to potentially moving one or both of their first-round selections ( 6 and 11). The Magic have an already impressive young core and took a large leap forward this year in the win column. Trading up or out for an established player would make sense for a team that also may be looking to take a leap into contention next year.
If they do decide to stay at six here, adding an ultra-athletic, high-ceiling wing like Thompson may be hard to pass up for Orlando. Landing last year’s Overtime League MVP to a roster that won’t rely on him to be a high-level playmaker (at least to begin his career ) could prove to payoff down the road. Thompson, like his brother, steps into the NBA in the top 1% of athletes and is also one of the draft’s best defenders. He showed more improvement as a shooter down the stretch last season and projects better than his brother there.
Adding Thompson to a young core that includes Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner and Markelle Fultz would have me excited as a Magic fan. —Flores
7. Jarace Walker
Sometimes, you just need to add a “dude,” and say to heck with upside or fit. Jarace Walker seems to fit the mold of a Rick Carlise player and would fill several needs for the Pacers roster. Walker has a well-rounded game on both ends and would be able to play alongside Indiana’s young players. A Tyrese Haliburton-Walker pick-and-roll likely would have the Pacers staff salivating.
Whether the team elects to keep Myles Turner, or pivot and go after Deandre Ayton, Walker is a seamless fit next to both guys as he has shooting potential, passes well for his size and position, and can move his feet laterally and guard multiple positions.
The biggest questions with Walker are what his ceiling is, and if he has the true ability to play the “three,” which would unlock even more flexibility for him, and the team around him. Evaluators seem to be split on these questions. Though Walker may have less star potential than other prospects around him, he is a high-floor prospect with a well-rounded game, who projects to be an instant contributor. The Pacers would likely be ecstatic to add Walker to their already intriguing crop of young players, mixed with some tradable veteran pieces —Sturm
8. Anthony Black
The Wizards and their new front office were in the middle of the first big splash this offseason, moving Bradley Beal to Phoenix for Chris Paul, Landry Shamet and draft compensation. The move may point to a shift in the direction the team is headed, and they’ll now surely be in the market for more scoring.
Arkansas guard Anthony Black makes sense. He’s not a big-time scorer, but he makes offenses better. A big, high-IQ point guard who plays hard on both ends, Black would get an early opportunity in Washington to flourish, especially if Paul ends up being moved.
The Wizards will need to make this pick work after seemingly whiffing last year on Johnny Davis. I see Black’s floor being higher than most have him; someone with his size and intelligence should find a way to fit and contribute in a rotation. His defense is potentially his best attribute and is something the Wizards have lacked at the position for a long time. If his shot can become more consistent with time, he could be a steal here. —Flores
9. Taylor Hendricks
Utah is in a fun spot, as they are rebuilding but also have several desirable pieces that can contribute to winning now. Due to this outlook, they are not married to the need to draft for fit or to find a player that plays a specific position. Other than maybe Lauri Markennen, most guys on the current roster are expendable and could be moved to accommodate a lottery pick who plays their position.
At this point in the draft, if you’re Danny Ainge and company, why not take a player who not only has a high floor, but a potential for an even higher ceiling if all breaks right? That’s precisely what they’d be getting in Taylor Hendricks at 9. Hendricks is one of my favorite prospects in this draft; a monster athlete at 6-foot-9 who blocks everything, and can switch 1-5 defensively. In looking at his tape, when switched onto guards, he does more than simply get a hand up and avoid being blown by, he flat-out gets in their grill. He often forces steals, contested shots, and errant passes while guarding players on the perimeter. Even better, he shoots nearly 40% from three and can serve as a legitimate lob threat. Some scouts believe there is more to be tapped into with the ball handling and creation potential, and even think he could play some minutes on the wing. If that version of him is to become true, then he suddenly becomes one of the scariest players in the league and a steal at this slot in the lottery.
In Utah, Hendricks can come in and simply be himself in a low-pressure situation. Because of his floor spacing and shot blocking, he can play minutes alongside both Markennen and Walker Kessler. His versatility makes him work in basically any lineup trotted out. If he never improves, he still projects as a valuable player who can give real minutes in a playoff series. In a draft that lacks a ton of star potential, Hendricks is a worthy pick at 9.—Sturm
10. Gradey Dick
Dallas is furthest along in their timeline compared to other lottery teams and, if they hold the pick, will be looking to add someone who can contribute right away. Enter Gradey Dick. The Kansas forward may be one of the safer options in this class, and he adds another shooter to pair next to Luka Doncic and (potentially) Kyrie Irving.
Dick shot 40% from three last season and has a highly translatable game that will turn him into a contributor at the next level. He’s a sneaky off-ball cutter and did better down the stretch last year in creating off the dribble. While he may never be anything more than an average defender, he plays hard and has good size at 6-foot-7 to at least hold up.
Dallas has been a bad defensive team and may look to add someone who can bolster that with this pick. But landing Dick is a comfortable move here and makes them better. —Sturm