2023 NBA mock draft: Gearing up for next summer’s Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes

Although the 2022 draft remains the primary focus for NBA teams — at least for the 22 teams no longer pursuing a championship this season — evaluations are also being made and intel is being gathered for a 2023 draft that projects as potentially historic.

Much of that sentiment has to do with the presumptive No. 1 pick — 7-foot-3 French big man Victor Wembanyama, an 18-year-old with guard skills who a growing legion of evaluators believe can be an NBA All-Star … as a rookie. The chance to select Wembanyama, a generational talent with the ability to instantly transform a team’s fortunes, will be greatly coveted and figures to be a subplot that runs throughout the 2022-23 NBA season.

As that storyline unfolds, ESPN draft experts Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz have been watching, collecting data and talking to evaluators about all of the potential 2023 picks, updating their 2023 NBA mock draft accordingly. Givony and Schmitz offer projections below for all 59 projected picks, including evaluations of every first-rounder.

The 2023 draft order is based on ESPN projections, and reflects the current state of picks owed and owned. Also, please note that anyone currently in the 2022 draft — including those just testing the waters — was not considered for this edition of the 2023 mock.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

Victor Wembanyama
Age: 18.3

Wembanyama is the true prize of this class and the best prospect in the world regardless of age. I’ve long considered the 18-year-old French big man the best prospect I’ve personally ever evaluated, and at 7-3 with a 7-9 wingspan and 9-7 standing reach, he’s starting to turn that sky-high potential into real production for the ASVEL team in France.

After missing some time because of injury earlier in the year, Wembanyama has hit stride over the past 10 games (EuroLeague and France Pro A), averaging 13.0 points, 5.9 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 21.6 minutes while shooting 63% from 2 and 50% from 3. Even more impressive than the production has been how Wembanyama is getting his numbers. ASVEL is springing him free with off-ball screens like a wing, unleashing his feathery shooting touch. With his handle and footwork on display, he has been looking like a bigger Kevin Durant at times by splashing self-created step-back 3s. He’s starting to add a more advanced midpost package, fading into back-shoulder turnarounds with incredible ease. He’s getting to lobs no other player on the planet could even think of. On top of that, he’s protecting the rim at an elite level — well ahead of Rudy Gobert at the same stage — while also showing the ability to step out and switch onto guards unlike any player we’ve previously seen at his height. Wembanyama is the only player in EuroLeague history to record a block percentage over 12%.

He still has his lapses on the defensive glass, can get a little overzealous offensively and with a lean frame has some questions to answer about his durability. But Wembanyama is a one-of-one-caliber prospect, a franchise changer and a future NBA MVP so long as he can stay healthy. He’s the exact type of superstar that could quickly turn the Thunder into a playoff team and future contender the moment he puts on that Oklahoma City hat. — Schmitz

2. Detroit Pistons

Scoot Henderson
G League Ignite
Age: 18.2

Henderson had an excellent debut season with Ignite, posting 14.3 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.6 steals in 28 minutes per game despite being just 17 years old. He was especially impressive down the stretch, shooting the ball much better as the season moved on and making real strides as a playmaker as well.

Henderson’s physical tools give him NBA All-Star-caliber upside. He has a terrific frame, a near 6-9 wingspan and powerful explosiveness operating in the open court, playing off hesitation moves and finishing downhill drives above the rim, often in highlight-reel fashion. He’s also a flashy passer who shows the ability to create off a live dribble and get teammates involved unselfishly.

Henderson’s decision-making, shooting and defense all need work, but that’s to be expected at his age and he has huge potential to grow into, making him a real candidate as the potential No. 1 pick if Wembanyama doesn’t take the next step in his development. — Givony

3. Orlando Magic

Nick Smith
Age: 18.0

The Arkansas-bound 18-year-old guard was one of the biggest winners of the high school All-Star circuit and is the clear front-runner to be the first NCAA player to hear his name called from the 2022 high school class. While he did have some ups and downs during Hoop Summit week, Smith put on an absolute show in Chicago during a Jordan Brand Classic scrimmage in one of the more impressive performances I’ve seen live from a prospect in that type of setting.

Smith showed the whole bag with NBA execs in attendance, making 3s off the bounce, changing speed and direction suddenly with incredible footwork, finishing creatively in traffic, spraying the ball out to open teammates, threading the needle in the open court and bringing energy on the defensive end of the floor. We’ve seen shifty shot-creating guards like Smith before, but it’s a rarity when they also share the defensive motor and intensity that he brings to the court. He routinely shows real leadership qualities as well, getting on teammates for lack of effort or taking ownership of his own mistakes.

For as talented as he is, Smith still has room to grow as a decision-maker, ball handler versus aggressive pressure, and shooter, as he’s more streaky than knockdown at this stage. While still refining a few aspects of his game, the Little Rock-born Smith has legitimate star power and has an excellent situation to showcase his talent on an Arkansas team that could compete for a national championship. With the NBA valuing shot-creating guards who can defend more than ever, Smith should be highly sought after if he has the type of freshman season I think he’s capable of in Fayetteville. –– Schmitz

4. Houston Rockets

Dillon Mitchell
Age: 18.5

Mitchell’s ascent has been remarkable, as he wasn’t considered a top-100 caliber recruit a year ago but is now firmly in lottery consideration after transferring to Montverde Academy, having an outstanding senior year and then blowing NBA people away during the all-star game circuit, particularly in practices.

Mitchell might be the most explosive athlete in the high school game, as it’s hard to find players with his combination of quickness and leaping ability, allowing him to make a plethora of SportsCenter highlight reel-type plays on both ends of the floor.

More than just a dunker, Mitchell has increasingly been dropping impressive flashes of passing and touch inside the arc, even if his skill level still has a way to go. He makes up for the gap with the intensity and versatility he brings defensively, showing the ability to take on everyone from point guards to big men, and being a significant playmaker crashing the glass, getting into passing lanes and protecting the rim. Mitchell will need to continue to improve and show he can put the ball in the basket frequently enough to warrant this high of a ranking, but it’s hard to find players with this type of long-term upside, especially now that he has grown to 6-9. — Givony

5. Sacramento Kings

Ausar Thompson
Overtime Elite
Age: 19.2

Thompson has as high an upside as any prospect not named Wembanyama thanks to his NBA tools on the wing at 6-7 with a 6-10 wingspan, quickness with the ball, incredible fluidity, elite leaping ability and strong overall basketball instincts on both ends of the floor.

Thompson finished the Overtime Elite season averaging 15.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists, 2.4 blocks, 1.8 steals and 27.4 minutes across 27 games. While the level of competition needs to improve, Thompson’s film is eye-opening regardless of the opponent. He’s capable of functioning as a lead shot-creator for stretches, attacking the rim into powerful or finesse finishes with a slow-to-fast pace you see from some of the NBA’s best creators. He’ll have to continue to address his shooting (25.8% from 3 and 64.8% from the free throw line), but Thompson has touch and is capable of rising into midrange pull-ups and even pull-up 3s. He’s a comfortable live dribble passer, showing the type of ambidexterity necessary to pick defenses apart in the NBA.

On top of that, Thompson has incredible defensive instincts and quickness reminiscent of a young wing like Herb Jones. Like most teenagers, his consistency and motor can still improve on that end, but he gravitates toward the ball and gets to blocks around the rim few NBA wings could. So long as Thompson can continue to improve his shooting while being challenged more by the level of competition next season, there’s no reason he can’t solidify his standing as a top-five — and maybe even top-three — pick in a league that covets defensive versatility and wing creators. — Schmitz

6. San Antonio Spurs

Amen Thompson
Overtime Elite
Age: 19.2

The older of the twins by one minute, Amen isn’t as quite as productive as his brother, but is more of a ballhandling, shot-creating guard who is virtually unstoppable in the open floor, showing an incredible combination of power, quickness and explosiveness getting off his feet. His footwork and body control as a slasher lead to some outrageous moments when paired with his quick-twitch ability to change gears out of hesitation moves or in-and-out dribbles, and he’s a willing ball mover on top of that who can really pass off a live dribble. Thompson is an outstanding defender as well, showing an incredible knack for rebounding, blocking shots and getting in passing lanes, often being tasked with guarding point guards, but having the size and strength to hold his ground against big men as well.

Shooting is the big thing teams will want to monitor next season — he shot just 23% for 3 and 53% from the free throw line. OTE says it will significantly upgrade the level of competition its teams face next season, something NBA teams pointed out they’d like to see improve, which could include some matchups with international opponents. — Givony

7. Indiana Pacers

Dereck Lively
Age: 18.2

The No. 1 player in his high school class, Lively has an incredibly high floor as a fluid, rangy two-way big who offers a lot of the same things scouts loved about Evan Mobley at a young age. Standing 7-1 in shoes with a 9-4 standing reach, Lively’s clear NBA skill is his shot-blocking as he displays excellent timing and instincts, putting a lid on the rim. He’s also incredibly vocal in pick-and-roll, calling out coverages, bringing the type of personality NBA coaches like from a young big and even showing the ability to step out and switch. Lively is also a lob threat who has the court sense and feel to play out of the short roll as a playmaker. On the flip side, Lively has a high center of gravity and struggles a bit to play through contact offensively — particularly as a finisher — at this stage of his physical development. While he has shown shooting potential out to 3, that hasn’t quite materialized in a game setting consistently yet, which isn’t uncommon for teenage bigs. Even with his vocal nature, he’s not the most naturally aggressive player yet.

With that said, Lively looks like a clear NBA starter with the approach and skill potential to develop into even more than that, especially after what should be a competitive freshman campaign on a loaded Blue Devils team. Lively earns rave reviews off the court, and is the type of two-way connector who should be able to impact winning in a big way in the ACC. With Myles Turner a free agent after next season, the Pacers would have to be thrilled to land the best non-Wembanyama 7-footer in the draft and a franchise center. — Schmitz

8. Portland Trail Blazers

Dariq Whitehead
Age: 17.7

Whitehead has one of the highest floors of any player in the freshman class — a battle-tested four-year contributor at Montverde Academy who has been on the radar since he was 14. He has good size and length for a wing at 6-7 with a near 6-10 wingspan, and is a willing and capable defender who showed the ability to slow down guards and wings alike with his strong intensity level, physical style and excellent awareness off the ball. Offensively, Whitehead has made major strides with his jumper, showing the ability to hit shots in increasingly dynamic fashion, be it running off screens, pulling up in transition or playing off step-backs, although he’s still very much on the streaky side, especially in terms of shot selection.

Whitehead is also a good decision-maker as a passer who was well-coached and does a lot of things that contribute to winning. He’s not the most explosive athlete around, having some limitations as a ball handler and shot creator and playing a somewhat inefficient style this season, especially when his tough shots weren’t falling. Still, he’s one of the youngest players in this class, not turning 18 until August, and is already as proven a player as you’ll find in the high school ranks. — Givony

9. Washington Wizards

Keyonte George
Age: 18.4

One of the best scorers in this class with an impressive résumé coming out of IMG Academy, the strong-framed 6-4, 220-pound guard is a big-time shot-maker from 3 with the type of shooting versatility NBA teams covet. Although they’re different in terms of height and physicality, the success of a shot-making guard like Jordan Poole certainly helps boost George’s intrigue, as he’s a microwave scorer who can catch fire out of a variety of different actions, rising into highly contested jumpers like few prospects in his class. While more scorer than point guard and still improving as a decision-maker, George has shown glimpses of playmaking potential, threading the needle with left-handed passes in transition that suggest he’ll be capable of playing some minutes on the ball down the road, especially after a year of seasoning with a Baylor program that generally has success with multiple-guard lineups.

George showed glimpses of competitiveness on the defensive end during the high school all-star circuit as well, although his motor fluctuated quite a bit during his high school career, an area that will surely be challenged in Waco, Texas. George will also benefit from adding more ways to impact the game when his shot isn’t falling, especially considering the type of tough shots he tends to take. More powerful than shifty and not overly long, George continuing to improve as a passer, ball handler and finisher will make the 18-year-old an even tougher cover in the Big 12. Whether it’s Poole, Cam Thomas or a star like Bradley Beal, there is no shortage of players similar to George finding success in the NBA. — Schmitz

10. Los Angeles Lakers

Kel’el Ware
Age: 18.0

Ware is one of the biggest players physically in this class, a 7-footer with a well-proportioned frame, a huge standing reach and impressive quickness getting off his feet. Ware has excellent hands, soft touch out to the 3-point line and impressive body control and dexterity as a finisher, giving him significant upside to grow into offensively. He also shows excellent instincts as a shot-blocker, covering ground fluidly and making a high impact with his length when he’s in position to make a play.

He’s still at an early stage of development, walking around defensively much more than you’d like to see and slow to react to things happening on the floor. Ware’s shot selection, decision-making and competitiveness are still a work in progress, as he doesn’t quite know what his limitations are and can be fairly mistake-prone on both ends of the floor. It’s difficult to tell if his lack of productivity against low-level competition was more so due to his youth, bad habits or just his extremely early stage of development, with NBA comps ranging from Jarrett Allen to Jaxson Hayes to JaVale McGee, with a better jump shot at the same age. — Givony

11. New York Knicks

Cameron Whitmore
Age: 17.8

No player improved his draft stock in the month of April more than Whitmore, who averaged 18 points, 5 rebounds and 3.3 assists in just 17 minutes per game across the Nike Hoop Summit, Jordan Brand Classic and McDonald’s All American games while also shining in practice settings. Whitmore is a power wing at 6-7 with a strong upper and lower body who resembles the Cavs’ Isaac Okoro, the No. 5 overall pick in 2020. Although not overly long (6-7 wingspan), Whitmore brings a no-nonsense approach to the floor. He competes on the defensive end, runs the court hard in transition, attacks the rim aggressively and even showcases the type of playmaking potential and handle you don’t traditionally see from downhill wings with his frame and vertical pop. Even if his decision-making is still improving, Whitmore isn’t short on vision, as he made a handful of impressive deliveries off the live dribble with either hand over the course of Hoop Summit week. He’s also a comfortable ball handler with an impressive blend of power and shift, which pairs well with his underrated playmaking ability.

Whitmore’s clear swing skill is his shooting, as he’s just a 22% 3-point shooter (46 attempts) and a 50% free throw shooter (58 attempts) according to our database. He’s far from a nonshooter, but speeding up and fine-tuning his stroke could certainly move him into the top-10 conversation, especially when you consider that he has a relatively high floor as a 3-and-D wing with additional upside given the glimpses of shot creation he has shown. Whitmore is one of the most NBA-ready prospects the Wildcats have ever hauled in, and could be the type of one-and-done lottery pick to help usher in the Kyle Neptune era in Philly. — Schmitz

12. Atlanta Hawks (from Charlotte)

Cason Wallace
Age: 18.4

Wallace was one of the best defenders in the high school game, a long-armed combo guard with outstanding toughness, intensity and instincts getting in passing lanes, chasing down blocks and crashing the glass energetically. He made major strides over the past year with his playmaking ability and perimeter shooting, showing good mechanics and range on his pull-up jumper, even if he’s still on the streaky side offensively. He is still developing as a shot creator, but has nice fluidity operating at different speeds and plays an unselfish style that has helped him win plenty of games everywhere he has been.

Wallace doesn’t blow you away with his skill level or explosiveness currently and still has some questions to answer regarding his ability to transition to the point guard position full-time as his size suggests suits him. Teams will appreciate the competitiveness, versatility and businesslike approach he brings, but productivity will ultimately help determine how high he ends up being picked. — Givony

13. Atlanta Hawks

Kyle Filipowski
Age: 18.4

The 6-11, 230-pound Filipowski is a versatile, modern big who can do a little bit of everything offensively: handling the ball in the open court, playing pick-and-roll, popping to open space for catch-and-shoot 3s and scoring out of the post with turnaround jumpers. The 18-year-old Wawayanda, New York, native is also really light on his feet for his size, regularly playing above the rim in space. With measurements similar to Kelly Olynyk’s, Filipowski’s negative wingspan and average standing reach will make it that much more important that he turns himself into a knockdown shooter and taps into the glimpses of passing potential he has shown to help neutralize the length he is bound to see in the NBA.

He’s also still finding his identity on the defensive end of the floor, as he’s not quite rangy enough to consistently chase around modern forwards, yet isn’t the rim protector you’d hope for in a center. Not laden with the same type of high-level experience as prospects from powerhouses Montverde or IMG, Filipowski could take some time to adjust to the length of top-tier ACC teams from an offensive efficiency standpoint. With that said, he has the type of frame, skill level and mobility to thrive in Duke’s offense alongside Dereck Lively, with all the makings of a future lottery pick, especially if the Blue Devils use him like they did Paolo Banchero, giving him the freedom to push off the break, handle in 4/5 pick-and-rolls and create in space. — Schmitz

14. Orlando Magic (via Chicago)

Jarace Walker
Age: 18.6

Walker is coming off an outstanding season at IMG Academy, emerging as a two-way force with impressive versatility while dropping flashes of ability as a midrange shooter, ball handler and passer that gives him significant room for growth long-term. He doesn’t have great size for a power forward, standing just 6-7½ in shoes, but makes up for that and then some with his huge 7-2 wingspan, chiseled frame and intriguing combination of power and explosiveness, which should allow him to even see some minutes as a small-ball center in the NBA.

Walker is a highly competitive defender who shows the ability to slow down guards, wings and big men alike, being quick off his feet for blocks, and a force in the passing lanes thanks to his length. He’s an inconsistent offensive player with questionable shooting mechanics and decision-making who nevertheless impacts the game in a plethora of ways, especially with his passing and ability to push the ball off the defensive glass. His physical style of play, outstanding demeanor and competitive spirit give him a high floor as a prospect. Making strides with his jumper could propel him firmly into top-10 candidacy. — Givony

15. Cleveland Cavaliers

Julian Phillips
Age: 18.4

One of the only uncommitted one-and-done prospects in the country, Phillips is long and fluid at 6-7 with measurements similar to wings ranging from Jaden McDaniels to Terrance Ferguson to a young Herbert Jones. Although lean and wiry at this stage, the 18-year-old Phillips has the type of positional length and on-the-move shooting potential NBA teams generally look for in a teenage wing prospect. A Columbia, South Carolina, native, Phillips, who originally committed to LSU, led a strong Link Academy squad in scoring during three Geico High School Nationals games at 15.7 points in 25.7 minutes before falling to Whitehead, Lively and Montverde in the Finals. We couldn’t get quite as extensive of a look at Phillips as other elite prospects since he didn’t compete in the Nike Hoop Summit or Jordan Brand Classic, but from watching him at various high school events and studying his film, it’s easy to see him generating lottery buzz depending on where he ultimately decides to spend his draft-eligible year.

On top of his quickness, length and leaping ability, Phillips’ shooting stroke is his most projectable NBA skill. He’s comfortable rising into catch-and-shoot jumpers off pin-downs and staggers, while also elevating in midrange spots with sharp footwork. With that said, he’s not all that physical of a finisher at this stage and is still searching for a more consistent defensive motor, despite having the tools to defend multiple perimeter spots and make plays off the ball. Overall, Phillips is one of the more intriguing non-lottery prospects in this class as he possesses several of the ingredients teams look for in an NBA wing. — Schmitz

16. Toronto Raptors

Jordan Walsh
Age: 18.1

Walsh is one of the most impressive players physically in the class, a strong-framed, long-armed, highly explosive leaper with terrific quickness and defensive versatility. He can slow down guards on the perimeter and put a body on big men inside the paint, covering ground seamlessly and showing outstanding instincts getting in passing lanes and crashing the glass.

Offensively, Walsh is a mixed bag, a force in transition and getting downhill in the half court with long strides and a willingness to absorb contact in the paint. While he shows some flashes of passing ability, his decision-making and skill level often leave something to be desired, especially from the perimeter, where he’s a very inconsistent shooter. Walsh’s toughness, motor and physical tools will intrigue NBA teams, but how his scoring ability evolves as a freshman will play a big role in how he’s ultimately viewed as a prospect. –– Givony

17. New Orleans Pelicans

Anthony Black
Age: 18.2

The 18-year-old Black is one of the more versatile guards in the country, with the ability to play on the ball at 6-7 as a lead playmaker while also adding value as a fill-in-the-gaps wing when the ball isn’t in his hands. Operating as a lead facilitator at times for Texas powerhouse Duncanville alongside elite 2023 recruit Ron Holland, Black became a proven passer who plays a ball-moving style predicated on transition hit-aheads and heady pick-and-roll reads. He’s not the most dynamic ball handler and is still evolving as a half-court scorer and perimeter shooter, which is what makes him an excellent fit alongside a guard like Nick Smith at Arkansas.

Although his streaky spot shooting hampers him some when the ball isn’t in his hands, Black proved during Nike Hoop Summit week that he’s capable of filling a role by running the floor, moving off the ball, getting downhill off the catch and staying active on the offensive glass. He’s also a well-rounded defender with the feet and feel to check multiple positions, even if he’s not overly long with a 6-7 wingspan. As was the case for other 6-6, feel-based guards like Lonzo Ball before him, Black will have to prove he can make enough shots both off the catch and the dribble to keep the defense honest. He’s also not the most offensively aggressive player. But scouts are likely to appreciate his versatility, feel and positional size, especially if he’s able to play a major role on a talented Arkansas team that appears poised for another NCAA tournament run. –– Schmitz

18. Minnesota Timberwolves

Gradey Dick
Age: 18.4

Dick fits an obvious mold the NBA is actively seeking as a 6-7 wing who made 47% of his 3-pointers this season, on significant volume, per Synergy. The Jayhawk-to-be shows the ability to rise up beautifully off screens, pull up in transition or execute step-backs in small doses, while being nearly automatic spacing the floors from the corner. While known for his jumper, he shows some ability to do more than that, as he has a good feel for the game and some explosiveness filling lanes in transition, attacking closeouts and going out of his area for rebounds on occasion. His defense improved significantly over his high school career, as he shows good activity, smarts and competitiveness, but he does have plenty to prove in this area with his thin frame and lack of length and physicality. Kansas hasn’t had a one-and-done player since Josh Jackson in 2017, so it remains to be seen how much of a fast track Dick will be on with the defending national champions. — Givony

19. Utah Jazz

James Nnaji
Age: 17.7

Nnaji is arguably the most NBA-ready prospect in this class from a physical perspective, standing 6-10, 245 pounds with a huge 7-7 wingspan and the type of frame that would make even a powerful big like Isaiah Stewart proud. He also has similar measurements to a young Bismack Biyombo. After a rapid ascension from Nigeria to Hungary and now to Barcelona, Nnaji was a surprise success for the Spanish powerhouse this season, logging over 150 Euroleague and Spanish ACB minutes in his debut season under hard-nosed head coach and former NBA guard Šarūnas Jasikevičius.

Nnaji is still improving his offensive decision-making, perimeter defense and ability to play without fouling, but he’s an elite offensive rebounder, an excellent rim-protector (4 blocks per 40 minutes in ACB play) and the type of highly regarded worker who should continue to improve. While his ceiling might be limited somewhat by his shortcomings as a half-court scorer or offensive hub, he has a clear role as an offensive-rebounding, shot-blocking center who has the agility to eventually add value defending the perimeter, as we’ve seen from Stewart with the Pistons. –– Schmitz

20. New York Knicks (from Dallas)

Brandon Miller
Age: 19.4

At 6-9 with a nice frame, fluidity and dynamic shot-making prowess, Miller looks like an easy one-and-done candidate on first glance, as the NBA is actively scouring the globe for players in this mold. Miller shows real offensive versatility with his ability to handle and pass in addition to his tough shot-making ability, giving him a great framework to build off in addition to his solid scoring instincts and budding defensive versatility he shows in smaller doses.

Miller was at times more of a theoretical prospect in high school than an overly productive, efficient player, as his shot selection, decision-making and intensity often left a lot to be desired at the very low level of competition he played against in Tennessee. Getting stronger, tougher and showing he can play a winning style in college could certainly make him a lottery-level prospect, but some of the doubts that have arisen around his profile could also cause him to slide if he struggles to make the transition to the college level. — Givony

21. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Denver)

Rayan Rupert
Age: 17.9

Rupert is one of the most intriguing international prospects outside the top five in this class thanks to his combination of length (6-6 with a 7-3 wingspan) and shot creation on the perimeter. Rupert, who might still have a few inches of growth ahead of him, is the son of former Euroleague player and national team captain Thierry Rupert, who tragically died in 2013, and the brother of Iliana Rupert, who plays for the French national team and the WNBA’s Las Vegas Aces.

As a prospect, Rupert is far from a finished product. He’s contact-averse, he lives off a lot of tough pull-up 2s, and he’s still not a consistent threat from 3 — he shot just 20% from 3 over four Adidas Next Generation Tournament games in early April. But much like a shorter Brandon Ingram, he can get to his midrange pull-up against even the rangiest of defenders, with an incredibly high release and solid elevation. He’s also incredibly disruptive defensively thanks to his excellent hands and elite length, which helped him average 4.0 steals per game at the ANGT in April. Rupert can stand to improve his decision-making, physicality, 3-ball and defensive rebounding, and it remains to be seen where he’ll play his draft-eligible season next year — he’s currently finishing up at INSEP, a well-known under-18 academy in France. But few prospects can offer the same type of positional length and shot-creation potential, which gives Rupert lottery upside. — Schmitz

22. Philadelphia 76ers

Chris Livingston
Age: 18.5

Livingston was an early bloomer who received quite a bit of attention as a high school freshman before bouncing around some and ending up at Oak Hill Academy. He’s a strong-framed combo forward who is physically ready for the college level, playing the type of hard-nosed, aggressive style on both ends of the floor that John Calipari likes from his forwards. Livingston is very effective attacking in a straight line, pushing the ball in the open court, and using his strength around the rim. He can pass the ball effectively as well, even if his decision-making and shot selection leaves something to be desired at times.

Livingston’s jumper was streaky in high school, but he has shown some ability to make shots with his feet set throughout his career, the evolution of which will play a big role in how he’s perceived as an NBA prospect. He also has some multipositional versatility defensively with his length, strength and toughness. Livingston mostly played the 4 in high school but doesn’t have great size for the position at 6-7, so it will be interesting to see how he’s utilized at Kentucky and what that means for the Wildcats’ offensive spacing. — Givony

23. LA Clippers

Sidy Cissoko
Age: 18.0

Cissoko is a powerful 6-7 guard/wing who offers an intriguing blend of strength, court vision and defensive potential. A late bloomer who didn’t truly burst onto the scene in Europe until the 2021 U18 European Championships, Cissoko had some tremendous highs playing for Baskonia’s second team in LEB Gold, scoring 16 points or more eight times against grown men at just 17 years old.

An above-the-rim athlete in Spain, Cissoko didn’t look quite as quick or vertically explosive in a Nike Hoop Summit setting, and his lack of wiggle and handle slowed him down in shot-creation situations. But when viewed through the lens of a playmaking wing who doesn’t need to be the primary ball handler, Cissoko is quite interesting. With measurements similar to RJ Barrett’s at the same stage, Cissoko has the body to guard wings (and even some small-ball 4s) when fully motivated. He’s not a consistent shooter right now, converting just 26% of his career 170 3s according to our database, but his mechanics are projectable, and if Cissoko can make just enough spot 3s to force hard closeouts, he’ll be able to use his physicality and court vision to add value as a playmaker, as we saw in the Nike Hoop Summit game.

Cissoko played with much better defensive energy than we saw at times in LEB Gold action, collecting three steals and one block in just 23 minutes while dazzling with several no-look feeds. He’s comfortable in pick-and-roll — using both sides of the floor as a passer — even if he can be a bit wild or careless with his decision-making. Overall, Cissoko is still finding his identity as a player. But the French-Senegalese prospect has a solid foundation to work with given his size, strength, defensive potential and playmaking potential. –– Schmitz

24. Brooklyn Nets

J.J. Starling
Notre Dame
Age: 18.1

Starling passes the eye test and then some, with good size for the off-guard spot to go along with a long wingspan, an excellent frame and impressive explosiveness. He has deep range on his jumper, with picture-perfect mechanics, footwork and balance, showing the ability to make 3-pointers with his feet set or off the dribble. More than just a shooter, he has some versatility with his ability to defend multiple positions, score in the open floor, get downhill in a straight line and move the ball unselfishly, even if his ballhandling and overall consistency are still very much a work in progress. Starling doesn’t always insert himself into games as much as his talent level suggests he should, as his confidence wavers at times as he’s still figuring out how good of a player he actually is, which could make him more of a multiyear college player if he doesn’t hit the ground running at Notre Dame. –– Givony

25. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee)

Amari Bailey
Age: 18.2

Although he might not be the surefire top-five pick his high school ranking suggests, Bailey proved during the high school all-star circuit that he’s not just a big name with a massive social media following. Bailey is a competitive, hard-nosed 6-4 guard who brings energy and physicality defensively, can make the type of live-dribble pick-and-roll deliveries you see from today’s NBA combo guards, and is willing to do the little things that impact winning — a recipe for early playing time under Mick Cronin in Westwood. On the flip side, Bailey doesn’t quite have the same physical upside as some guards in this class with a similar frame, wingspan (6-7) and leaping ability to Jalen Suggs at the same stage.

Because he’s not overly rangy with the ball in his hands, Bailey will have to continue improving as a perimeter shooter and finisher around the rim to remain efficient at the collegiate and NBA level. He’s capable of rising into midrange pull-ups comfortably, but is still inconsistent from beyond the arc at this stage. With all that said, it’s important for fans and scouts alike to try to look at Bailey through a different lens than what his No. 5 high school ranking and Instagram would suggest, because if they don’t, they’re likely to miss on a really good basketball player — a two-way competitor who makes winning plays and makes his teammates better. –– Schmitz

26. Boston Celtics

Ousmane Ndiaye
Telekom Bonn
Age: 18.1

Ndiaye is one of the most intriguing long-term prospects in Europe at close to 6-11 with a 7-2 wingspan, a smooth shooting stroke, defensive instincts, positional rebounding (8.8 per game) and flashes of court vision rare for his size. Having dealt with knee injuries in the past and not having all that much high-level experience to his name, Ndiaye isn’t an instant-impact type of prospect as he’s likely a few years away from being able to help an NBA team. He also didn’t have the most consistent season for Rhoendorf of the German 3rd division, shooting just 31.8% from 3 with more turnovers than assists and some issues defending the perimeter and finishing versus length and physicality. With that said, the shooting potential is undoubtedly NBA-level, as he even has shown the ability to create space with step-backs and generate offense for his teammates in space. It remains to be seen what Ndiaye will look like as his body matures and he faces a higher level of competition, but the talent is worthy of real consideration in the first round as he can offer the type of length and shooting few players in this draft class can. –– Schmitz

27. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Miami)

Arthur Kaluma
Age: 20.1

Kaluma finished his freshman season in exhilarating fashion, posting 24 points (4-of-10 from 3), 12 rebounds and 3 assists in an NCAA tournament loss to eventual national champion Kansas that was easily the best game of his career. At 6-8, with a near 7-foot wingspan and chiseled 225-pound frame, Kaluma has strong physical tools, allowing him to see minutes anywhere from 3 to 5 for Creighton. When at his best, Kaluma is making shots from beyond the arc, finishing lobs, finding teammates on the move, crashing the glass, using his length to slow down smaller opponents on the perimeter, and using his strength to put a body on bigger opponents in the paint, giving him the type of versatility every NBA team is looking for from a wing-forward.

With that said, he was very streaky shooting the ball from the perimeter as a freshman (27% from 3) and averaged twice as many turnovers as assists, as the game moves too fast for him at times and he doesn’t always know his limitations. He’ll have a chance to move even higher if he makes the jump as a sophomore his late-season 2021-22 progress suggested, as he’ll be surrounded with quite a bit of talent on a Creighton team that will be a preseason Big East favorite for many. –– Givony

28. Golden State Warriors

Nikola Djurisic
Mega Mozzart
Age: 18.1

Djurisic has good size for a wing, standing 6-8 with a strong frame. He’s a versatile player who can handle the ball, pass on the move and has clear shot-making prowess, even if his decision-making and efficiency left a lot to be desired this season. Djurisic was able to carve out a role as a 17-year-old playing versus grown men in the Adriatic League because of the physicality and intensity he brings on the defensive end, as he looked capable of slowing down guards, switching onto bigger players, denying off the ball and pushing much older players around despite his youth and lack of experience.

Djurisic will be well-positioned to have a strong season next season on a team that is run by his agency and is historically committed to giving young players minutes and the opportunity to play through mistakes. To rise into the top 20, he’ll need to cut down on turnovers, improve his finishing ability around the basket, and show that his excellent 3-point percentages this season can be maintained with higher volume. Finding a way to mature in terms of his body language and interactions with teammates, which can be very poor at times, would go a long way as well. — Givony

29. Memphis Grizzlies

Nolan Hickman
Age: 18.9

One of the best returning guards in the country, Hickman has an excellent opportunity to remind NBA scouts exactly why he was once a projected one-and-done prior to his freshman season in Spokane, Washington. With Andrew Nembhard now in the NBA, Hickman will take over the controls, giving him the perfect platform to showcase his court sense, poise and shooting touch. Hickman doesn’t quite have the size, blow-by speed or vertical pop teams look for in a surefire first-round pick, but so long as he’s productive and efficient as a table-setter for the Zags, I’d expect him to garner plenty of interest throughout the first round, especially if Drew Timme were to return for another year. The success of guards like Monte Morris, Tyus Jones and Jordan McLaughlin certainly helps Hickman’s case. — Schmitz

30. Phoenix Suns

Emoni Bates
Age: 18.2

Bates, one of the most hyped high school prospects in recent history, had a difficult freshman year at Memphis, shooting just 44% from 2-point range, 33% from 3 and posting nearly twice as many turnovers as assists. Bates is on the move after electing to enter the transfer portal, with first-year coach Kenny Payne and Louisville considered the favorites to land his services. Still only 18, Bates’ ability to gain strength and maximize his explosiveness will be major keys to reaching his potential, as he really struggled with the physicality of the college game, clearly lacking much in the way of elite length, quickness or vertical pop to play the wild style of basketball he was accustomed to at lower levels.

While his energy defensively was solid, his weak frame, average awareness and the lack of experience and high-level coaching he had received to this point in his career clearly worked against him on this end too. Bates still shows flashes of terrific scoring instincts, aggressiveness and shot-making prowess that aren’t that easy to find with a 6-foot-9 18-year-old. Finding ways to slow down, simplify things and hopefully shed the expectations that were put on him as a 14-year old-will be major keys to solidifying himself in the first-round conversation and maybe beginning to make up some of the ground he lost in the past two years. –– Givony

Second Round

31. Oklahoma City Thunder

Jordan Hawkins | UConn | SG | Age: 20.0

32. New York Knicks (from Detroit)

Jaime Jaquez Jr., | UCLA | SF | Age: 21.2

33. Orlando Magic

Roko Prkacin | Cibona Zagreb | PF | Age: 19.4

34. Boston Celtics (from Houston)

Andre Jackson | UConn | SG/SF | Age: 20.4

35. Sacramento Kings

Adem Bona | UCLA | C | Age: 19.1

36. San Antonio Spurs

Oscar Tshiebwe | Kentucky | C | Age: 22.4

37. Sacramento Kings (via Indiana)

Caleb Love | North Carolina | SG | Age: 20.6

38. Boston Celtics (from Portland)

Daimion Collins | Kentucky | PF/C | Age: 19.5

39. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Washington)

Alex Fudge | Florida | SF/PF | Age: 18.9

40. Los Angeles Lakers

Coleman Hawkins | Illinois | PF | Age: 20.4

41. New York Knicks

Colby Jones | Xavier | SG/SF | Age: 19.9

42. Atlanta Hawks (from Charlotte)

Matthew Cleveland | Florida State | SG/SF | Age: 19.6

43. Philadelphia 76ers (from Atlanta)

Matthew Murrell | Ole Miss | SG | Age: 20.3

44. Los Angeles Lakers (from Chicago)

Taran Armstrong | Cal Baptist | PG | Age: 20.3

45. Milwaukee Bucks (via Cleveland)

Ryan Kalkbrenner | Creighton | C | Age: 20.2

46. Toronto Raptors

Jazian Gortman | Overtime Elite | PG/SG | Age: 19.0

47. New Orleans Pelicans

Mike Miles | TCU | PG | Age: 19.6

48. Minnesota Timberwolves

Ariel Hukporti | Melbourne | C | Age: 20.0

49. New York Knicks (from Utah)

Nijel Pack | Miami | PG | Age: 20.9

50. New York Knicks (from Dallas)

Tyrese Hunter | Undecided | PG | Age: 18.7

51. Philadelphia 76ers

Giordano Bortolani | Universo Treviso | SG | Age: 21.4

52. LA Clippers

Zach Edey | Purdue | C | Age: 19.9

53. Brooklyn Nets

Tarik Biberovic | Fenerbahce | SF | Age: 21.2

54. Milwaukee Bucks

Jamarion Sharp | Undecided | C | Age: 20.6

55. Charlotte Hornets (from Boston)

Clifford Omoruyi | Rutgers | C | Age: 20.5

56. Indiana Pacers (from Miami)

Anton Watson | Gonzaga | PF | Age: 21.5

57. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Golden State)

Azuolas Tubelis | Arizona | PF | Age: 20.1

58. Memphis Grizzlies

Hakim Hart | Maryland | SF/PF| Age: 21.0

59. Phoenix Suns

Terrence Shannon Jr., | Texas Tech | SG/SF | Age: 21.7

Jonathan Givony is an NBA draft expert and the founder and co-owner of DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and international teams.

Mike Schmitz is an NBA draft expert and a contributor to DraftExpress.com, a private scouting and analytics service utilized by NBA, NCAA and international teams.

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