The 2023 men’s NCAA tournament was defined by upsets: from No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson pulling out an unbelievable victory over Purdue in the first round to zero No. 1 seeds even reaching the Elite Eight, this was one of the most unpredictable brackets in history. In the end, the UConn Huskies claimed the national championship.
With college basketball season now over, it’s time to turn our attention to the 2023 NBA Draft. While no one was ever going to catch 7’5 French super prospect Victor Wembanyama for the No. 1 overall pick, several players made strong cases to move up the board with their performances in March. There are also a few players who feel destined for a slide on draft night because they struggled during the tournament.
Here’s our latest projection of the first round of the 2023 NBA Draft. We used one lottery simulation at Tankathon to determine the draft order. Check out our pre-tournament mock draft to see how the board has changed.
There’s more analysis about the big movers after March Madness following the table.
NBA mock draft 2023: Post-March Madness projection
|1||Charlotte Hornets||Victor Wembanyama||Big/Forward||Metropolitans 92 (France)|
|2||Detroit Pistons||Scoot Henderson||Guard||G League Ignite|
|3||Oklahoma City Thunder||Brandon Miller||Wing||Alabama|
|4||Houston Rockets||Amen Thompson||Guard||Overtime Elite|
|5||San Antonio Spurs||Jarace Walker||Forward||Houston|
|6||Portland Trail Blazers||Ausar Thompson||Wing||Overtime Elite|
|7||Indiana Pacers||Cam Whitmore||Wing||Villanova|
|8||Washington Wizards||Cason Wallace||Guard||Kentucky|
|9||Orlando Magic||Taylor Hendricks||Forward||UCF|
|10||Utah Jazz||Dariq Whitehead||Guard||Duke|
|11||New York Knicks (via Mavs)||Anthony Black||Guard||Arkansas|
|12||Orlando Magic (via Bulls)||Gradey Dick||Wing||Kansas|
|13||Utah Jazz (via Wolves)||Jett Howard||Forward||Michigan|
|14||Toronto Raptors||Keyonte George||Guard||Baylor|
|15||Atlanta Hawks||GG Jackson||Forward||South Carolina|
|16||New Orleans Pelicans||Nick Smith Jr.||Guard||Arkansas|
|17||Los Angeles Lakers||Brice Sensabaugh||Guard/Wing||Ohio State|
|18||Houston Rockets (via Clippers)||Kris Murray||Forward||Iowa|
|19||Golden State Warriors||Kyle Filipowski||Big||Duke|
|20||Miami Heat||Maxwell Lewis||Wing||Pepperdine|
|21||Brooklyn Nets||Rayan Rupert||Wing||New Zealand Breakers (France)|
|22||Brooklyn Nets (via Suns)||Jalen Hood-Schifino||Guard||Indiana|
|23||Portland Trail Blazers (via Knicks)||Dereck Lively II||Big||Duke|
|24||Sacramento Kings||Jordan Hawkins||Guard||UConn|
|25||Memphis Grizzlies||Noah Clowney||Big/Forward||Alabama|
|26||Indiana Pacers (via Cavs)||Leonard Miller||Forward||G League Ignite|
|27||Utah Jazz (via 76ers)||Donovan Clingan||Center||UConn|
|28||Charlotte Hornets (via Nuggets)||Colby Jones||Guard||Xavier|
|29||Indiana Pacers (via Celtics)||Jordan Walsh||Wing||Arkansas|
|30||Los Angeles Clippers (via Bucks)||Julian Strawther||Wing||Gonzaga|
The Charlotte Hornets win lottery for Victor Wembanyama in this sim
The very top of the lottery standings are already finalized before the NBA regular season finishes its final week. The Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets, and San Antonio Spurs will each have a 14 percent chance at the No. 1 overall pick and the rights to Wembanyama. In this simulation, the Hornets cash in on a 12.5 percent chance to jump from fourth to first. Maybe Michael Jordan can still get his majority ownership stake back?
The pairing between Wembanyama and Hornets star LaMelo Ball would be so much fun. Ball is one of the NBA’s best young playmakers as a 6’8 guard with tight ball handling ability and incredible passing vision. Wembanyama should find immediate success in the NBA as a play-finisher on both ends of the floor, catching lobs and finishing off putbacks on offense while protecting the rim as a shot-blocker on defense.
Wembanyama also has tons of creation upside with the ball in his hands, but he could ease into those skills in Charlotte with Ball as his top running mate. In case anyone doubts how talented Wembanyama is, he reminded us this weekend. This is one of his wildest highlights ever.
Wemby got his own rebound for the jam— NBA (@NBA) April 2, 2023
Watch live on the NBA App
: https://t.co/b5MGDG4xqB pic.twitter.com/SBJNqoNSSx
A putback dunk off your own missed stepback three? Not sure I’ve ever seen that one before. We’re going to be repeating that phrase a lot when watching Wemby.
Brandon Miller’s poor March Madness won’t hurt his draft stock much
Alabama freshman wing Brandon Miller entered the NCAA tournament as the top NBA prospect in the field, the biggest star on a No. 1 seed with national title aspirations, and with a real chance at going No. 2 overall in the draft if he played well enough.
Instead, Miller’s March Madness run was a bust. He shot 8-for-41 from the field and 3-of-19 from three-point range as the Crimson Tide were upset in the Sweet 16 by San Diego State. While Miller’s postseason performance was undeniably disappointing, it shouldn’t impact where he goes in the draft all that much. We had Miller at No. 4 before the tournament. He comes in at No. 3 in this projection only because he feels like a better fit on the Thunder.
The calling card for Miller is his combination of size (expect him to measure at 6’9 or 6’10) and shooting. What we saw in the tournament is how much Miller can struggle if his shot isn’t falling. He’s not an explosive downhill driver when he puts the ball on the floor, and he relies more on craft than overpowering athleticism when he goes to finish at the basket. In fairness, Miller was reportedly nursing a groin injury suffered in the SEC tournament and wasn’t 100 percent physically in March.
While Miller might not have the downhill driving or passing ability of a true No. 1 option in the NBA, he should profile as a solid No. 2 option because of his size and shooting gravity. He ended the year as a 38.4 percent shooter from three on 276 attempts, which is an impressive intersection of volume and accuracy. He also flashed his defensive potential during March.
THIS SEQUENCE FROM BRANDON MILLER #MarchMadness @AlabamaMBB pic.twitter.com/NhUxH5VQMH— NCAA March Madness (@MarchMadnessMBB) March 19, 2023
Miller remains the favorite to be the first college player off the board in the 2023 NBA Draft, but his poor March Madness performance isn’t his only red flag. Miller will also be under scrutiny for his presence at the murder of 23-year-old Jamea Harris in Jan. Miller was not charged in the killing, but according to police testimony, he drove a car with a gun in it to the scene that night. The windshield of Miller’s car was reportedly struck twice with bullets. Former Alabama player Darius Miles was charged with capital murder and kicked off the team following Harris’ death. Miller did not face discipline.
6 players who helped their NBA draft stock in March Madness
Here’s a look at the players who moved up the board from our previous mock draft before the NCAA tournament.
- Taylor Hendricks, F, UCF: Hendricks didn’t play in the NCAA tournament, but Central Florida’s NIT berth gave scouts another look at their star freshman. They should like what they saw. Hendricks profiles as a modern NBA four who can stretch the floor out to three-point range on offense, block shots on defense, and finish plays above the rim on both ends of the floor. He ends the season shooting 39.4 percent from three on 155 attempts, and also finished top-100 in the country in block rate at 6.2 percent. Hendricks may never be a takeover scorer, but his size, athleticism, and two-way skill set now feels like it could earn him looks in the top-10.
- Dariq Whitehead, G, Duke: Whitehead’s freshman season was full of surprises, both good and bad. He missed the very start of the season after fracturing his foot, and never really looked like the explosive downhill driver he was supposed to be coming into the season. Instead, Whitehead rebranded himself as a shooter — which was supposed to be a weaker area of his skill set coming into the season. He hit 5-of-8 shots from three across Duke’s two NCAA tournament games, and ended the year shooting 42.9 percent from deep on 98 attempts. If Whitehead can regain his athletic burst, his newfound development as a shooter should give him valuable offensive versatility. There’s too much upside here for him to slip outside of the lottery despite a rollercoaster freshman year.
- Jarace Walker, F, Houston: Walker was already a projected top-10 pick in our last mock, but we moved him up two spots after his tournament run. The freshman forward had a reputation as a big-time one-on-one scorer when he came out of IMG Academy, but defense proved to be his best trait in college. He had 12 blocks in three games in Houston’s March Madness run, including six rejections against Auburn in round two. While Walker is a bit slow-footed for a modern four, his enticing passing and pull-up shooting flashes give him offensive upside in addition to his defensive gifts. Now he needs to turn those long twos into threes after finishing 35-of-101 from deep for 34.7 percent on the year.
I'm telling you there hasn't been anyone better than Jarace Walker at using his chest to guard 1v1 the last few years. Just a tremendous display of his strength to stop the drive then the length to block the shot pic.twitter.com/XNUpc5rXRo— The Amateur NBA Analyst (@droppingdimes20) March 24, 2023
- Dereck Lively II, C, Duke: Lively was the top recruit in the country coming into Duke according to some services, but ended his freshman year averaging only five points and five rebounds per game. While he was never as productive as Duke hoped, he did show why he was so highly regarded coming out of high school during March. Lively used his reported 7’7 wingspan to have six blocks against Oral Roberts in the first round. His 12.7 percent block rate ends the year at No. 3 in all of college basketball. He also shot 72.1 percent from two-point range, mostly on dunks and putbacks. Lively’s length and two-way play finishing has now moved him into our projected top-20.
- Jordan Hawkins, G, UConn: Hawkins is a gifted off-ball scorer who can shoot three-pointers with volume and bend opposing defenses by running around screens. There is no better movement shooter in the 2023 draft class: Hawkins is fast and nimble darting around the perimeter, and he can quickly square himself to the basket to hit shots. By averaging nearly eight attempts per game from three on the season, Hawkins proved he can get up shots against a variety of coverages and matchups. We pegged him to the Kings after Sacramento found so much success with Malik Monk’s movement shooting this season
- Donovan Clingan, C, UConn: Clingan didn’t even play 15 minutes per game for UConn this year, but the 7’1 freshman was a per-minute monster in terms of his production. Clingan has serious length which he uses to block shots and finish inside from the dunker’s spot. He’s also no stiff athletically, showing a good bit of agility in guarding ball screens throughout the Huskies’ tournament run. His length will play at any level of the game, and it could be enough to convince a team he’s worth a first round pick.