One more week!
The moment of truth is steadily approaching. Over the last few weeks, there has been no shortage of rumors regarding what the Charlotte Hornets plan on doing with the second pick. Unsurprisingly, the wisely tight-lipped Hornets front office has kept everyone guessing since the moment the purple and teal appeared on the card for the no. 2 pick during the lottery last month.
The favorites for the pick, Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller, both worked out for Charlotte in the last week. Mock drafts seem to be evenly split, with each one of them going second in their fair share of mocks from analysts across the NBA sphere.
Jake Fischer of Yahoo! Sports published a great article today that was packed with intel from around the league, including some on the Hornets. Among the most interesting bits: the Hornets front office wants to bring both of them back to town again for another round of evaluation. Fischer also notes that Henderson measured just under 6-foot-4 in shoes at his workouts.
After leaning towards putting Miller in the second slot for this mock, the reports coming out of Henderson’s workout at the Spectrum Center pulled me back in. As always, the picks in the mock are based in equal parts on what I would do, what I think teams will do and the available rumors and intel scattered around the interwebs.
1. San Antonio Spurs – Victor Wembanyama, Center, Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 (France)
LJ Ellis of SpursTalk recently reported that Victor Wembanyama won’t participate in Summer League after finishing up his season with Metropolitans 92. The Mets are currently down 2-0 to Monaco in the French league finals, and will be eliminated unless they win three games in a row, starting with Thursday at 1:30 PM.
2. Charlotte Hornets – Scoot Henderson, Guard, G League Ignite
If Henderson measured in at nearly 6-foot-4 in shoes at his workouts, score another one for Team No Shoes Measurements Are Useless. The perception of a player — from fans, media and NBA opponents alike — revolves around their appearance on the court. Henderson looks 6-foot-4 with the ball in his hands. Size concerns, which were never going to preclude him from success in the first place, might’ve shrunk even further.
3. Portland Trail Blazers – Brandon Miller, Forward, Alabama
In my mind, this is the best of both worlds for Charlotte and Portland. The Hornets get an elite rim pressure guard and culture-setter, and the Trail Blazers land a dynamite 6-foot-9 shooter and ball-handler that can help Damian Lillard chase a championship from the jump.
4. Houston Rockets – Amen Thompson, Guard, Overtime Elite
Thompson and Jalen Green would immediately become the most athletic guard duo in the league. The fit might not be clean at first unless Thompson makes a massive leap as a shooter in his rookie season, but in due time, it could very well become a backcourt with a pair of perennial All-Stars.
5. Detroit Pistons – Cam Whitmore, Forward, Villanova
A lot of the intel from plugged-in mainstream sources seems to be pointing towards Whitmore in Detroit. It makes sense given his fit on the wing next to Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey, and he gives the Pistons three of the most athletic players in the NBA at their respective positions in Whitmore, Ivey and Jalen Duren.
6. Orlando Magic – Gradey Dick, Guard, Kansas
This could turn out a bit lofty for Dick come draft night, but the Magic need high-feel wings that can shoot, defend and play off Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. Ausar Thompson, Black and Wallace aren’t great shooters right now and Walker is a clunky fit with Orlando’s frontcourt depth. It might not be a bad idea for the Magic to opt for fit at six and then play the board at 11.
7. Indiana Pacers – Ausar Thompson, Guard, Overtime Elite
In DraftExpress’ most recent mock, Jonathan Givony stated that Thompson was headed to Indiana for a workout (which he’s since withdrawn from). With Tyrese Haliburton, Bennedict Mathurin and Myles Turner in place, adding an athletic wing with high upside gives the Pacers a quality mix of potential and established talent.
8. Washington Wizards – Anthony Black, Guard, Arkansas
Whether the Wizards hold on to Bradley Beal or trade him, another ball-handler and initiator is sorely needed on this roster. The only true point guard on the roster is Monte Morris — Black could alleviate the playmaking burden on the team’s vets and contribute defensively early on while the jumper comes along.
9. Utah Jazz – Jarace Walker, Forward, Houston
This would probably be considered a fall for Walker, arguably the second-best freshman in college basketball last season behind Miller. I really like his fit between Walker Kessler and Lauri Markkanen as a connective playmaker and hybrid big/wing defender. Danny Ainge just seems like a Jarace Walker guy.
10. Dallas Mavericks – Cason Wallace, Guard, Kentucky
Wallace would be an ideal selection for the Mavericks regardless of what happens with Kyrie Irving this summer. A defensively-inclined backcourt mate for Luka Dončić makes a ton of sense, and though Wallace measured in a bit small at the combine, he should still be able to defend both guard spots in the NBA.
11. Orlando Magic (via CHI) – Bilal Coulibaly, Guard, Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 (France)
Having already landed Dick with the sixth pick, the Magic can afford to take a swing here. Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman said a few weeks ago that Coulibaly had a promise inside the lottery, and his physical and athletic traits check all of Jeff Hammond and Jeff Weltman’s boxes.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Leonard Miller, Forward, G League Ignite (Canada)
Miller has seen his stock rise pretty consistently since he withdrew from the 2022 NBA Draft, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that continued up to draft night. Miller slots in nicely alongside Chet Holmgren as a forward that can get to the lane off the bounce, finish efficiently inside with a versatile shot profile and is more than willing to put in the dirty work defensively.
13. Toronto Raptors – Dariq Whitehead, Guard, Duke
A second foot surgery has ruled Whitehead out for Summer League. It doesn’t seem to have hurt his stock much, though. Some team in the teens or early-twenties is going to take a swing on the off-ball shooting production at Duke and the flashes of explosion and creation at Montverde Academy. Toronto could use a guard/wing with size and shooting.
14. New Orleans Pelicans – Dereck Lively II, Center, Duke
The Jaxson Hayes experiment doesn’t look like it’s going on for much longer in New Orleans. Lively has better feet on the perimeter, is a bit bigger though not as bouncy, and has a much stronger shooting projection.
15. Atlanta Hawks – Kobe Bufkin, Guard, Michigan
Even though Atlanta has Trae Young and Dejounte Murray locked in as the starting backcourt, there isn’t much reinforcement behind them. Bufkin’s size and defensive aptitude allows head coach Quin Snyder to experiment with some three-guard lineups and keep Young away from the action as often as possible.
16. Utah Jazz (via MIN) – Jalen Hood-Schifino, Guard, Indiana
After grabbing a high-feel forward in Walker at nine, the Jazz add a jumbo pick-and-roll playmaker with excellent pace and control in Hood-Schifino. The Utah roster currently lacks a guard with the combo of size and playmaking feel equal to the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
17. Los Angeles Lakers – Taylor Hendricks, Forward, UCF
This would be a slide for Hendricks, but he couldn’t have landed in a better situation. One of the easier paths to title contention since 2003 has been to acquire LeBron James and surround him with positional size, defense and spot-up 3-point shooting. Hendricks shot 38.9% from deep, totaled 36 dunks and posted a 5.9 BLK% as a freshman.
18. Miami Heat – Brice Sensabaugh, Guard, Ohio State
The variance of Miami’s shooting from role-players got them past three of the East’s top four playoff teams. Against Denver, that variance shifted to volatility. Only Kyle Lowry and Gabe Vincent sank at least 10 threes and half the rotation finished the series with a sub-50 eFG%. Sensabaugh’s scoring talent is undeniable at this stage of the draft.
19. Golden State Warriors – Jordan Hawkins, Guard, Connecticut
Some mainstream analysts have drawn comparisons between Klay Thompson and Hawkins. Why not allow the protege to study under the mentor himself? The Warriors can never have enough shooting gravity to pull defenses away from Steph Curry, and Hawkins has the winner’s mentality necessary to succeed under head coach Steve Kerr.
20. Houston Rockets (via LAC) – Kris Murray, Forward, Iowa
The Rockets seem poised to move this pick given their reported desires to make a playoff push next season and their lack of draft assets in the second round. If they can’t trade out, Murray might be the most ready-made option for a young team looking to take a step forward.
21. Brooklyn Nets (via PHX) – Keyonte George, Guard, Baylor
The Nets are in a really interesting spot. With three picks in this draft and some attractive trade assets, they could make a move in either direction — towards competitiveness or a full-scale rebuild. Cam Johnson’s restricted free agency makes things even more interesting. George is probably the highest-ranked prospect among the consensus left on the board here.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Forward, Marquette (Canada)
Brooklyn snags a couple of prospects with high ceilings and relatively low floors, though the reward outweighs the risk in the 20s if George pans out as a microwave-scoring combo guard and Prosper can do enough with the ball to keep his versatile defense and toughness on the floor.
23. Portland Trail Blazers (via NYK) – Nick Smith Jr., Guard, Arkansas
Portland landed a high-floor and high-upside wing in Miller at three. Why not take a shot in a combo that has a strong chance to outplay his draft position? Smith’s game is raw and inconsistent in a lot of areas, but he does possess elite touch at the first and second level and pick-and-roll feel to build off with the Blazers’ new G League team.
24. Sacramento Kings – Sidy Cissoko, Forward, G League Ignite (France)
It’s been hard to nail down a solid draft range for Cissoko, who has lottery-level upside but didn’t show enough flashes as a shot creator or off-ball shooter to cement his status in the top-14. As someone who’s high on Cissoko, it wouldn’t surprise me if he goes in the lottery, but most mocks have him in the mid-first to early-second round.
25. Memphis Grizzlies – Brandin Podziemski, Guard, Santa Clara
Memphis has a ton of rookie-scale contract players in the picture right now, but none in the high-feel shooter, two-way connector mold of Podziemski. Luke Kennard has one more year left on his deal and Air Podz has the size and ability to defend bigger guards next to Tyus Jones. He also worked out for the Grizzlies today, coincidentally.
26. Indiana Pacers (via CLE) – Jett Howard, Guard, Michigan
I’ve been low on Howard relative to consensus all season, but he’s inched up my board during last-minute film reviews and internal debate. A strong-bodied 6-foot-8 shooter with playmaking feel out of screens/DHOs can only fall so far in the draft.
27. Charlotte Hornets (via DEN) – Rayan Rupert, Guard, New Zealand Breakers (France)
There have been no reports whether Rupert is willing to spend another year overseas or not, but his size, perimeter defensive versatility, ceiling as a shooter and underrated passing fit well next to all of Charlotte’s other guards and wings. If the jumper comes around, he’s going to significantly outplay this draft slot at 27.
28. Utah Jazz (via PHI) – Marcus Sasser, Guard, Houston
The Jazz added two high-feel playmakers and defenders for their position, and now they add one of the premium backup point guard prospects in the class in Sasser. He can shoot with range off the dribble, carve his way to the rim with a tight handle and defend the point of attack. Sounds a lot like Payton Pritchard as a prospect, a former Ainge pick.
29. Indiana Pacers (via BOS) – Jaime Jaquez Jr., Forward, UCLA
The Pacers have five picks in this draft and have already added two high-upside prospects with somewhat low floors. Picking up more of a surefire contributor in Jaquez might be the move with their second pick in the 20s. Indiana, along with Charlotte, seem like prime candidates to consolidate picks and trade up.
30. Los Angeles Clippers (via MIL) – James Nnaji, Center, Barcelona (Nigeria)
With Mason Plumlee entering free agency and Ivica Zubac as the only other center on the roster, Nnaji can slide in as the second or third big. Behind some high-level creators, Nnaji can be given a leash to develop offensively while impacting the game at the rim on defense.
31. Detroit Pistons – Julian Strawther, Guard, Gonzaga (Puerto Rico)
32. Indiana Pacers (via HOU) – GG Jackson II, Forward, South Carolina
33. San Antonio Spurs – Maxwell Lewis, Forward, Pepperdine
34. Charlotte Hornets – Jordan Walsh, Guard, Arkansas
Though it seems unlikely on the surface that the Hornets would add three 19-year-olds to a team with playoff hopes, Walsh is a fantastic fit. One of the best perimeter defenders in the class, he’s got a lot of skill and feel to tap into after playing a small role in Arkansas’ offense. He’s going to be in the top-30 of the finalized At The Hive Top-100.
35. Boston Celtics (via POR) – Trayce Jackson-Davis, Center, Indiana
36. Orlando Magic – Noah Clowney, Forward, Arkansas
37. Denver Nuggets (via WAS) – Colby Jones, Guard, Xavier
38. Sacramento Kings (via IND) – Ben Sheppard, Guard, Belmont
39. Charlotte Hornets (via UTA) – Kobe Brown, Forward, Missouri
We might be getting into Two-Way contract range here. Bryce McGowens was the highest-drafted player ever to sign a Two-Way deal at 40 last year, but with the third slot in the new CBA, maybe that range inches into the 30s now. Brown is a top-35 prospect for me with the ability to pass, dribble and defend bigger wings coupled with the 45.5% 3-point mark on career-high volume (112 total 3PA) from last season.
40. Denver Nuggets (via DAL) – Andre Jackson Jr., Guard, Connecticut
41. Charlotte Hornets (via OKC) – Adama Sanogo, Center, Connecticut (Mali)
Last but certainly not least, the Hornets take the national champ Sanogo and hopefully stash him on a Two-Way deal. Charlotte has plenty of frontcourt players on guaranteed deals already, but Sanogo has NBA-ready rebounding and interior finishing skill with a budding pick-and-pop game. Quality depth insurance with developmental upside.
42. Washington Wizards (via CHI) – Mouhamed Gueye, Center, Washington State (Senegal)
43. Portland Trail Blazers (via ATL) – Tristan Vukčević, Center, Partizan (Serbia)
44. San Antonio Spurs (via TOR) – Amari Bailey, Guard, UCLA
45. Memphis Grizzlies (via MIN) – Ricky Council IV, Guard, Arkansas
46. Atlanta Hawks (via NOP) – Seth Lundy, Guard, Penn State
47. Los Angeles Lakers – Chris Livingston, Forward, Kentucky
48. Los Angeles Clippers – Adam Flagler, Guard, Baylor
49. Cleveland Cavaliers (via GSW) – Keyontae Johnson, Forward, Kansas State
50. Oklahoma City Thunder (MIA) – Mike Miles Jr., Guard, TCU
51. Brooklyn Nets – Julian Phillips, Forward, Tennessee
52. Phoenix Suns – Jalen Slawson, Forward, Furman
53. Minnesota Timberwolves (via NYK) – Jalen Wilson, Forward, Kansas
54. Sacramento Kings – Tosan Evbuoman, Forward, Princeton (England)
55. Indiana Pacers (via CLE) – Hunter Tyson, Forward, Clemson
56. Memphis Grizzlies – Drew Timme, Center, Gonzaga
57. Chicago Bulls (via DEN) – FORFEITTED
58. Philadelphia 76ers – FORFEITTED
59. Washington Wizards (via BOS) – Jaylen Clark, Guard, UCLA
60. Milwaukee Bucks – Oscar Tshiebwe, Center, Kentucky (Congo)