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2023 NBA Mock Draft: How 3 Blockbuster Trades Could Impact Top 10

Zach Buckley

Mocking the NBA draft is, at best, an inexact science.

Throw some fake trades into the mix, and you're bound to create chaos.

But chaos is what this talent grab is sometimes all about. The potential for that is, after all, one of the biggest draws to the offseason.

So, we're firing up the trade machines and brokering three, landscape-altering blockbusters within the first 10 picks of this mock. Let the chaos commence.

1. San Antonio Spurs: Victor Wembanyama, PF/C, Metropolitans 92

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The Spurs may have submitted this pick as soon as the ping-pong balls bounced their way at the draft lottery.

San Antonio needed a franchise centerpiece and just gained access to the league's most anticipated prospect since (at least) LeBron James. ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski, who seldom speaks in hyperbolic tones, called Victor Wembanyama "the most highly anticipated player to ever enter the NBA" and "maybe the greatest prospect in the history of team sports."

That should ring as nonsensical, and yet nothing feels totally out of reach for the French phenom. The 19-year-old looks like a cheat code come to life, a 7'5" teenager with an 8'0" wingspan and the ability to do everything on the basketball court. Yes, everything: block shots, rebound, initiate offense, create shots, hit three-pointers on the move, screen, finish, distribute, switch on defense—you name it, it's in his bag.

He could reach something less than his best-case scenario and still find his way to the Hall of Fame. His potential is truly mind-boggling.

2. Charlotte Hornets: Brandon Miller, SF, Alabama

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Theoretically, the Hornets have a major decision to make between Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson, and many feel they have a tier to themselves beneath Wembanyama. In reality, Charlotte's mind might already be made up.

Hornets general manager Mitch Kupchak seemingly tipped his hand when telling reporters his club could "take into consideration not only the overall talent but also the position."

Miller is a 6'9" wing. Henderson is a 6'2" wing guard. It isn't hard to figure out the superior on-paper fit with Charlotte's franchise player, LaMelo Ball, a primary playmaker who handled a top-20 usage rate this season.

Maybe that's why ESPN's Jonathan Givony found it "hard to find a single NBA executive at the draft combine" who felt Henderson would be taken second overall.

Beyond fit, Miller might just be a better prospect than Henderson given his size, shooting and defense.

3. Portland Trail Blazers: Amen Thompson, PG/SG, Overtime Elite

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If the Hornets are fairly set on Miller, then the draft starts here. Portland could go a number of different directions, and it publicly sounds prepared to trade this pick in order to get Damian Lillard some immediate assistance.

At the lottery, Blazers general manager Joe Cronin told Yahoo Sports' Jake Fischer his team is "trying to win and trying to maximize Damian's timeline." At some point in this process, though, Portland might conclude this roster has too many holes to ever become a contender during whatever remains of the 32-year-old's prime.

Should the Blazers embrace life after Lillard (more on that scenario later), they might bypass Scoot Henderson to snatch up the wildly intriguing Amen Thompson.

ESPN's Jonathan Givony reported the 20-year-old will "get long looks from Portland," and the Blazers might prefer the pairing of Thompson, a 6'7" two-way playmaker with explosive athleticism, with 6'3" scoring guard Anfernee Simons over Henderson's fit in an undersized backcourt.

TRADE at 4. Toronto Raptors (via Rockets): Scoot Henderson, PG, G League Ignite

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Toronto Raptors receive: Kevin Porter Jr., Kenyon Martin Jr., No. 4 pick and 2025 first-round pick (top-four protected)

Houston Rockets receive: Pascal Siakam

If Scoot Henderson makes it to the No. 4 pick, the Rockets' phone lines will be blowing up.

The Raptors have a chance to win the bidding war by dangling Pascal Siakam, exactly the kind of instant-impact star Houston reportedly plans to chase. If the Rockets ironed out any type of long-term agreement with the 29-year-old, who has just one year left on his contract, he'd be a big enough prize to justify parting with this many long-term assets.

More than anything, the Raptors would walk away from this deal with two things: A clear-cut, future-focused identity and a long-term co-star for Scottie Barnes. He and Henderson would dazzle in the open court and work two-man magic in the half court, as both players could handle either side of a pick-and-roll. They could play with pass, passing and in-your-face tenacity, creating all kinds of chaos on defense.

With Siakam out and Henderson in, Toronto would be playing for tomorrow, making it easier to split from high-cost free agents Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr. and Jakob Poeltl.

The Raptors could even shop O.G. Anunoby, though they might see him fitting with a Barnes-Henderson core. Martin should be a clean fit for that group, too, and Toronto would have time to see whether Porter could find his niche.

5. Detroit Pistons: Cam Whitmore, SF, Villanova

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The draft lottery was a disaster for Detroit, as it slipped to the No. 5 pick despite enduring more losses than anyone this past season.

This could still be a productive draft for the Pistons, though, as Cam Whitmore might be both the best prospect on the board and the one who best addresses their needs on the wing.

"After the top three of Wembanyama, Henderson and Miller, Whitmore might be the fourth most talented prospect in the draft," an NBA executive told HoopsHype's Michael Scotto.

Whitmore's one-and-done season at Villanova was thrown off course by thumb surgery, but it did nothing to drop his sky-high ceiling. He is an explosive athlete who competes, defends and creates off the dribble. He also won't turn 19 until after this draft, giving him more time to grow than most of his peers.

TRADE at 6. Trail Blazers (via Magic): Jarace Walker, PF, Houston

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Portland Trail Blazers receive: Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs, Jonathan Isaac, No. 6 pick, No. 11 pick and 2025 first-round pick (top-three protected)

Orlando Magic receive: Damian Lillard

If the Blazers keep the No. 3 pick, then Lillard can probably start packing his bags. He doesn't want to wait for prospects to develop, and Portland's incoming youth might appreciate not having the pressure of his ticking clock hanging above their heads.

So, if that pick doesn't go, Lillard likely does, in this case serving as the fast-forward button for an ascending Magic team that played winning basketball for the campaign's final four months-plus.

If Portland leans into a rebuild, it could view Jarace Walker as a tone-setting defender with significant offensive upside. His ceiling is tough to set without knowing how his shooting and handle will develop, but his floor is elevated thanks to his playmaking, finishing and defensive versatility. He does a lot of things that helps teams win, even if he's not always the primary reason for that success.

This trade would also get the Blazers their third pick in this lottery, plus a future first with light protection. Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs would have ample opportunities to lock down a long-term role on a backcourt with Amen Thompson and Anfernee Simons. Jonathan Isaac would mostly make the money work, but he's theoretically still interesting if he could ever shake his injury issues for good.

7. Indiana Pacers: Taylor Hendricks, PF, UCF

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The Pacers, who own three picks in this first round (Nos. 26 and 29, too), wouldn't mind consolidating the selections to move up, per Marc Stein.

If this is how things shake out, though, Indiana should be perfectly content staying put and watching Taylor Hendricks slide right into its power forward vacancy.

The 19-year-old could fit in the frontcourt with Myles Turner or man the middle as a small-ball 5. His combo of finishing and spacing could make him a perfect screener for Tyrese Haliburton, since he can explode to the rim or pop out to the perimeter.

8. Washington Wizards: Ausar Thompson, SG/SF, Overtime Elite

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With Michael Winger now running the front office, the Wizards are expected to pursue "aggressive activity" this offseason, per Marc Stein.

Of course, that aggressiveness could include either loading up around Bradley Beal or shipping him out to start over, so it's hard to say exactly where Washington will head.

No matter with this pick, though, since Ausar Thompson could step in and supply athleticism, defense and complementary playmaking or become a long-term centerpiece if he tightens his handle and improves his outside shot.

9. Utah Jazz: Anthony Black, PG/SG, Arkansas

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The Jazz have an All-Star on the wing in Lauri Markkanen and an ascending center in Walker Kessler. Their backcourt could use some juice, though, especially if they let Jordan Clarkson bounce in free agency.

Anthony Black could soak up major minutes as soon as next season, since his defensive versatility and distributing both seem like sure things at the next level. He could emerge as a connector early in his career and add his most value as someone who elevates their teammates.

Whether the 19-year-old ascends to stardom will hinge on if he makes strides shooting on the move and separating from defenders.

TRADE at 10. Toronto Raptors (via Mavericks): Leonard Miller, SF/PF, G League Ignite

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Toronto Raptors receive: Tim Hardaway Jr., Josh Green, No. 10 pick and 2027 first-round pick

Dallas Mavericks receive: OG Anunoby

The Mavericks need the No. 10 pick to deliver an instant-impact player, which will almost certainly lead them to the trade market.

OG Anunoby is about as good as they can realistically hope to get, as his elite defense and shot-making would make him an ideal third banana alongside Luka Dončić and Kyrie Irving, whom the team still plans to re-sign.

This probably isn't the most picks the Raptors could get for Anunoby, but this package's quality could outweigh the others' quantity. A No. 10 selection can be a big deal. Ditto for an unprotected pick from a team already fearful of its franchise face wanting out. Throw in a three-and-D replacement in Josh Green—and maybe Tim Hardaway Jr.'s shooting, though he's really just a money-matcher—and this might be enough for the Raptors to bite.

This likely all hinges on Toronto's evaluation of Leonard Miller, the Scarborough native who keeps climbing draft boards.

The 19-year-old needs to become more consistent with his shooting and defensive engagement, but if everything pans out, he could function like a 6'9" guard who can handle, shoot, pass, rebound and protect the paint.

Late Lottery

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11. Portland Trail Blazers (via Magic): Gradey Dick, SG/SF, Kansas

After taking some big upside swings on Amen Thompson and Jarace Walker, the Blazers could play it relatively safe and snatch up Dick, who might be this draft's best shooter. He'd be immensely helpful for his spacing alone, and his vision, handle and defensive effort can all make him more than a specialist.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder: Jordan Hawkins, SG, UConn

The Thunder showed enough improvement last season that they could start letting team fit become a part of their draft-night debates. If they do, they might add Hawkins to beef up their middling three-point attack. His shooting and off-ball activity would force defenses to keep a close eye on him at all times.

13. Toronto Raptors: Keyonte George, SG, Baylor

Toronto's draft transformation would continue here, with George coming onboard to help replace some of the scoring punch this club would suddenly be without. He can create space and score from anywhere, and the rebuilding Raptors would be able to give him the time he needs to learn the keys of consistency.

14. New Orleans Pelicans: Nick Smith Jr., PG/SG, Arkansas

The Pelicans need all the shot-makers they can get around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. Smith can be a bit streaky, but when he has it rolling, he's a scoring threat from everywhere with enough handles and quickness to create his own scoring chances.

Nos. 15-20

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15. Atlanta Hawks: Cason Wallace, PG/SG, Kentucky

The Hawks may not go into the draft thinking about getting a guard, but if this is how the lottery goes, they'd gladly stop Wallace's mini-slide here. He's a long, energetic defender who runs a clean offense and converts his spot-up chances. He could finally provide some stability behind Trae Young and offer an alternative should the front office ever decide to deal the defensively challenged floor general.

16. Utah Jazz (via Timberwolves): Bilal Coulibaly, SG/SF, Metropolitans 92

After the Anthony Black pick, the Jazz could be well on their way to building the league's next defensive power. Coulibaly would fit the same vision with the physical tools and motor to be an all-purpose stopper on the wing. His improved shooting could go a long way toward helping him find a useful identity on offense.

17. Los Angeles Lakers: Kobe Bufkin, SG, Michigan

Bufkin's defensive intensity and ability to add value off the ball could help him find early rotation minutes in L.A. His finishing would shine alongside a creator like LeBron James, and he could create his own chances with a deep bag of dribble moves.

18. Miami Heat: Brice Sensabaugh, SG, Ohio State

When the Heat hit rough patches, they almost always stem from the offense's inconsistent shooting and limited scoring options. Sensabaugh would provide an immediate jolt as a versatile scorer who splashed 40.5 percent of his long-range looks with the Buckeyes.

19. Golden State Warriors: Kris Murray, PF, Iowa

The NBA's new collective bargaining agreement will force the Warriors to watch their spending and increase their need for cheap contributors. Murray should hit the ground running as a three-and-D forward.

20. Houston Rockets (via Clippers): Jett Howard, SG/SF, Michigan

If the Rockets really trade the No. 4 pick for an instant upgrade, they could certainly flip this selection, too. Should they keep it, though, they could get mileage out of investing it in Howard, a 6'8" wing with a knockdown shot from distance.

Nos. 21-30

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21. Brooklyn Nets (via Suns): Bobi Klintman, PF, Wake Forest

The Nets are midway through a reset and should take at least one huge swing with back-to-back picks. Klintman is about as boom-or-bust as this draft class gets. He barely made a peep at Wake Forest (5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 20.5 minutes per game), but he's a theoretical NBA dream as a 6'10" forward with two-way versatility and impressive fluidity for his size.

22. Brooklyn Nets: Dereck Lively II, C, Duke

If the Nets want to compete next season, they have to bulk up on the interior. Lively, who packs 230 pounds on his 7'1" frame, could help them do that. He would immediately make his presence felt as a shot-blocker, rebounder and pick-and-roll screener.

23. Portland Trail Blazers (via Knicks): James Nnaji, C, Barcelona

If Portland moves on from Damian Lillard, then it won't hang onto Jusuf Nurkić much longer. Nnaji could factor into the frontcourt succession plan as a physical interior player with a 7'7" wingspan.

24. Sacramento Kings: Rayan Rupert, SG/SF, NZ Breakers

The Kings could be in the market for wing depth regardless how they plan to approach Harrison Barnes' free agency. Rupert could carve a niche role as a long, high-energy defender and force his way into more minutes if his offensive development moves ahead of schedule.

25. Memphis Grizzlies: Dariq Whitehead, SG/SF, Duke

The Grizzlies will always be in the market for shooting as long as Ja Morant is piloting the offense, and they could need perimeter defense with Dillon Brooks seemingly on the way out. If Whitehead gets healthy, he'd check both boxes.

26. Indiana Pacers (via Cavaliers): Jalen Hood-Schifino, PG/SG, Indiana

With T.J. McConnell pushing past his 31st birthday, the Pacers could want to get younger and more dynamic with their backup backcourt. Hood-Schifino needs more seasoning, but when he gets it, he could be an aggressive two-way contributor who's equally effective as a passer and shot-maker.

27. Charlotte Hornets (via Nuggets): GG Jackson, PF, South Carolina

The Hornets should be chasing upside whenever possible, and Jackson, the youngest player in this class, offers plenty of it. The 18-year-old already has NBA-level strength and athleticism. And while his game lacks refinement, a patient franchise could one day have a versatile defender and explosive scorer.

28. Utah Jazz (via 76ers): Brandin Podziemski, PG/SG, Santa Clara

After prioritizing defense earlier in this mock, the Jazz could pounce on one of this draft's better shooters. Podziesmski, who helped himself with a great combine showing, pairs three-level scoring with playmaking and toughness.

29. Indiana Pacers (via Celtics): Noah Clowney, PF, Alabama

With their third pick of the opening round, the Pacers could double-down on their problematic power forward spot. Clowney is a versatile defender who never lacks for effort, and he's flashed just enough shooting to think that'll be a part of his arsenal eventually.

30. Los Angeles Clippers (via Bucks): Colby Jones, PG/SG, Xavier

Whether the Clippers bring back Russell Westbrook or not, they might want to add to their guard depth. Jones could fill in some cracks as a versatile defender and reliable playmaker, though he is unproven as a long-range shooter.

Statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference and

Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.


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