2023 NBA mock draft — Will Scoot Henderson play for the Ignite again?

Victor Wembanyama has cemented himself as the overwhelming favorite to be the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NBA draft behind an MVP-caliber season in France. But after him? Increasing uncertainty.

Scoot Henderson, the presumed No. 2 pick, hasn’t played since Nov. 18 after spending three weeks in concussion protocol following a nasal fracture, causing him to miss the G League Winter Showcase, which was heavily attended by NBA decision-makers.

We had an opportunity to watch Henderson participate in three separate practices in Las Vegas, where he looked every bit the elite prospect he’s billed as. G League officials said he is being held out due to an abundance of caution as the risk of soft tissue damage is exponentially higher after suffering a concussion and their performance staff wants “to protect his body for his long-term goals.”

Several NBA executives in Las Vegas declared they would be surprised if Henderson played in another game this season because he’s all but assured of being a top-3 pick.

That thinking was shot down emphatically by G League Ignite officials, who said Henderson is an elite competitor who refuses to entertain that type of discussion and will be back on the court soon.

Behind Henderson, the college basketball picture is even murkier, with injuries, absences and underwhelming or inconsistent play of several highly-regarded prospects muddying the picture significantly.

Arkansas freshman Nick Smith Jr. has once again been ruled out indefinitely, this time for “right knee management,” an issue that already caused him to miss his team’s first six games. Smith has played five games so far this season, shooting 39% from the field and struggling defensively but still showed significant flashes of what made him such a highly touted prospect coming out of high school. NBA teams are hopeful this isn’t the last we see of him.

Fellow five-star freshmen Cam Whitmore, Brandon Miller, Cason Wallace, Jarace Walker, Keyonte George, Anthony Black, Kel’el Ware, Kyle Filipowski, Gregory Jackson II, Dillon Mitchell, Dariq Whitehead, Dereck Lively, Julian Phillips, Adem Bona, Jordan Walsh and Amari Bailey have all been up and down this season. With many prospects yet to play more than a handful of games against high-level competition, the conference schedules will go a long way in helping NBA executives determine how to rank prospects, a process that most say is still in an early stage.

While many prospects have work to do to shore up their standing, others have done well to make a case for themselves as legitimate first-round prospects. Here are a handful of players who caught our eye in December along with our latest mock draft.

First round

1. Detroit Pistons

Victor Wembanyama | Metropolitans 92 | PF/C | Age: 18.9

2. Houston Rockets

Scoot Henderson | G League Ignite | PG | Age: 18.8

3. San Antonio Spurs

Amen Thompson | Overtime Elite | PG/SG | Age: 19.9

4. Charlotte Hornets (to Atlanta if 17-30)

Nick Smith Jr. | Arkansas | PG/SG | Age: 18.6

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

Ausar Thompson | Overtime Elite | SG/SF | Age: 19.9

6. Orlando Magic

Cam Whitmore | Villanova | SF/PF | Age: 18.4

7. Washington Wizards

Brandon Miller | Alabama | SF | Age: 20.0

8. New Orleans Pelicans (from Los Angeles Lakers)

Jarace Walker | Houston | PF | Age: 19.3

9. Orlando Magic (from Chicago Bulls)

Cason Wallace | Kentucky | PG/SG | Age: 19.1

10. Indiana Pacers

Jett Howard | Michigan | SG/SF | Age: 19.2

11. Utah Jazz (from Minnesota Timberwolves)

Keyonte George | Baylor | SG | Age: 19.1

12. Toronto Raptors

Anthony Black | Arkansas | PG/SG | Age: 18.9

13. Golden State Warriors

Kel’el Ware | Oregon | C | Age: 18.6

14. LA Clippers

Kyle Filipowski | Duke | PF/C | Age: 19.1

15. Miami Heat

Gregory Jackson II | South Carolina | PF/C | Age: 18.0

16. Atlanta Hawks

Dillon Mitchell | Texas | PF | Age: 19.2

17. Portland Trail Blazers

Gradey Dick | Kansas | SG/SF | Age: 19.0

18. Sacramento Kings

Rayan Rupert | New Zealand Breakers | SG/SF | Age: 18.5

19. Utah Jazz

Dariq Whitehead | Duke | SG/SF | Age: 18.3

20. New York Knicks

Terquavion Smith | NC State | SG | Age: 19.9

21. Los Angeles Lakers (from New Orleans Pelicans)

James Nnaji | Barcelona | C | Age: 18.3

22. New York Knicks (from Dallas Mavericks)

Dereck Lively II | Duke | C | Age: 18.8

23. Charlotte Hornets (from Denver Nuggets)

Taylor Hendricks | UCF | PF | Age: 19.0

24. Brooklyn Nets

Brice Sensabaugh | Ohio St. | SF/PF | Age: 19.1

25. Phoenix Suns

Sidy Cissoko | G League Ignite | SG/SF | Age: 18.7

26. Memphis Grizzlies

Leonard Miller | G League Ignite | SF/PF | Age: 19.0

27. Utah Jazz (from Philadelphia 76ers)

Maxwell Lewis | Pepperdine | SF | Age: 20.4

28. Houston Rockets (from Milwaukee Bucks)

Nikola Durisic | Mega MIS | SG/SF | Age: 18.8

29. Indiana Pacers (from Cleveland Cavaliers)

Jaime Jaquez Jr. | UCLA | SF | Age: 21.8

30. Indiana Pacers (via Boston Celtics)

Coleman Hawkins | Illinois | PF | Age: 21.0

Second round

31. Detroit Pistons

Marcus Sasser | Houston | PG/SG | Age: 22.2

32. Boston Celtics (from Houston Rockets)

Reece Beekman | Virginia | PG | Age: 21.2

33. San Antonio Spurs

Terrence Shannon Jr. | Illinois | SG/SF | Age: 22.4

34. Philadelphia 76ers (from Charlotte Hornets)

Kris Murray | Iowa | PF | Age: 22.3

35. Oklahoma City Thunder

Noah Clowney | Alabama | PF | Age: 18.4

36. Orlando Magic

Julian Phillips | Tennessee | SF | Age: 19.1

37. Charlotte Hornets (from Washington Wizards)

Ousmane Ndiaye | Baskonia | PF/C | Age: 18.7

38. Los Angeles Lakers

Colby Jones | Xavier | SF | Age: 20.5

39. Los Angeles Lakers (from Chicago Bulls)

Ricky Council IV | Arkansas | SG/SF | Age: 21.3

40. Sacramento Kings (from Indiana Pacers)

Jordan Hawkins | Connecticut | SG | Age: 20.6

41. Memphis Grizzlies (from Minnesota Timberwolves)

Keyontae Johnson | Kansas St. | SF | Age: 22.5

42. Toronto Raptors

Julian Strawther | Gonzaga | SF | Age: 20.6

43. Indiana Pacers (from Miami Heat)

Adem Bona | UCLA | C | Age: 19.7

44. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Golden State Warriors)

Jordan Walsh | Arkansas | SF/PF | Age: 18.8

45. Brooklyn Nets (from Atlanta Hawks)

Andre Jackson | Connecticut | SG/SF | Age: 21.1

46. LA Clippers

Jalen Wilson | Kansas | SF/PF | Age: 22.1

47. Boston Celtics (from Portland Trail Blazers)

Emoni Bates | Eastern Michigan | SG/SF | Age: 18.9

48. Sacramento Kings

Amari Bailey | UCLA | PG | Age: 18.8

49. Charlotte Hornets (from Utah Jazz)

Mouhamed Gueye | Washington State | PF/C | Age: 20.1

50. Minnesota Timberwolves (from New York Knicks)

Ryan Kalkbrenner | Creighton | C | Age: 20.9

51. Atlanta Hawks (from New Orleans Pelicans)

Matthew Murrell | Mississippi | SG | Age: 21.0

52. Denver Nuggets (from Dallas Mavericks)

Azuolas Tubelis | Arizona | PF/C | Age: 20.7

53. Atlanta Hawks (from Brooklyn Nets)

Kevin McCullar Jr. | Kansas | SF | Age: 21.7

54. Phoenix Suns

Oscar Tshiebwe | Kentucky | C | Age: 23.0

55. Memphis Grizzlies

Jaylen Clark | UCLA | SG/SF | Age: 21.2

56. Milwaukee Bucks

Juan Nunez | Ratiopharm Ulm | PG | Age: 18.5

57. Milwaukee Bucks (from Cleveland Cavaliers)

Caleb Love | North Carolina | SG | Age: 21.2

58. Boston Celtics

Zach Edey | Purdue | C | Age: 20.6

Note: The Chicago Bulls and Philadelphia 76ers forfeited a 2023 second-round draft pick.

Taylor Hendricks | 6-9 | PF | Age: 19.0 | UCF | No. 23 in Top 100

Hendricks has emerged as one of the most productive freshmen in college basketball, leading UCF in scoring at 15.3 points per game while shooting 46% from 3. At 6-foot-9 with long arms and a strong combination of mobility and explosiveness, he has a clear NBA physical profile and brings coveted floor spacing and high-energy defense, and crashes the offensive glass.

Hendricks has some questions to answer: His two worst games have come against the best teams UCF has faced in Miami and Missouri — and he doesn’t appear to be much of a shot-creator or passer, while at times the game moves too fast for him on both ends. Games against the likes of Houston and Memphis will be studied closely by NBA executives in the coming weeks.

Still, Hendricks’ combination of physical tools, intensity, perimeter shooting and potential defensive versatility is highly intriguing, especially considering he just turned 19 a month ago.

Brice Sensabaugh | 6-6 | SF/PF | Age: 19.1 | Ohio State | No. 24 in Top 100

At 29 points per 40 minutes, Sensabaugh isn’t just the best per-minute scorer in this freshman class, he’s one of the most dangerous offensive players in college basketball. After initially limiting his playing time because of defensive concerns, Ohio State inserted him into its starting lineup earlier this month. He had his best performance of the season at the CBS Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden, where NBA executives saw him explode for 22 points, eight rebounds and three assists against North Carolina, including the potential game-winning shot over one of the best defenders in the country in 23-year-old Leaky Black.

Sensabaugh doesn’t look like a potential one-and-done prospect at first glance as he’s undersized for the power forward position he often plays at 6-6 with wide hips, thick legs and average length. He clearly needs to continue to improve his conditioning, something he has started to address since leading the Nike EYBL in per-minute scoring at 38.5 points per 40 minutes in summer 2021.

But he’s a better athlete than he gets credit for, possessing impressive body control and some underrated explosiveness as a finisher around the basket.

Sensabaugh is an elite perimeter shooter, converting 49% of his 3-point attempts this season. He’s dynamic with his shot-making ability, showing the ability to hit pull-up jumpers, relocate off shot fakes for difficult side-step attempts, and he has a quick release and polished footwork getting into spot-up 3-pointers. He’s also capable of creating offense for himself in the post, elevating in midrange spots or attacking the rim aggressively with his strong frame and solid ballhandling ability.

After looking somewhat like a black hole early in the season, Sensabaugh has shown some passing chops in small doses, posting 10 assists in his past two games after generating just two assists in the first month of the season.

Defensively is where the biggest questions remain, as Sensabaugh often looks lost off the ball, rarely gets in a defensive stance, shows bad closeout technique and gets scored on frequently in the post. His lack of size, length and quickness is an issue, but so is his lack of intensity. He generates very few steals, blocks or rebounds to complement his incredible scoring prowess. He has struggled with foul trouble in some of the toughest games he has played in thus far, something that could be a bigger issue now that he’s receiving starting-caliber minutes going into Big Ten play.



Brice Sensabaugh goes baseline for a big Buckeyes dunk

Maxwell Lewis | 6-7 | SG/SF | Age: 20.4 | Pepperdine | No. 28 in Top 100

Lewis took a circuitous route to Pepperdine, enrolling at four different high schools and then making a pit stop at the failed Chameleon BX program, a training program intended to prepare prospects for the NBA draft. He was forced to sit out his first six games at Pepperdine because of NCAA eligibility concerns but had some impressive showings in the WCC before suffering a season-ending wrist injury in February.

Now a sophomore, Lewis is in the midst of a highly productive season, posting 18.7 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.3 blocks and 1.1 steals in 32 minutes per game, shooting 57% inside the arc, 39% for 3 and 85% from the free throw line, putting him firmly on the NBA radar despite his team stumbling to a 5-7 record against Division I competition.

Lewis looks the part of an NBA shooting guard, standing 6-7 with a 6-10 wingspan and a thin, but intriguing frame that should be able to carry plenty of weight. He’s a fluid mover with long strides, smooth hesitation moves and a wide array of jab-step, rocker-step, crossover and behind-the-back moves that suggest significant talent he has yet to tap into. He finishes creatively around the basket, shows dynamic shot-making prowess inside and outside the arc and finds teammates unselfishly passing off a live dribble or making the right reads out of the pick-and-roll. Lewis makes a handful of tantalizing plays each game of which few prospects are capable.

But Lewis has plenty of question marks as well; he lacks a degree of physicality playing through contact, gets to the free throw line infrequently and turns the ball over excessively. He gets targeted mercilessly by low-major opponents, getting scored on so consistently that it suggests both apathy and a clear lack of awareness. Despite this, he can recover for blocks and steals thanks to his length and talent, but he is more or less a sieve.

Games against Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, San Francisco and BYU will be important for Lewis to solidify his standing, as his production has fallen off significantly against top-100-caliber competition this season.

Lewis’ physical tools, scoring instincts and youthful demeanor suggest significant upside with a strong end of the season and pre-draft process, he might be someone a team will take a flyer on in the first round, hoping to eliminate some of his bad habits.

Jaime Jaquez Jr. | 6-6 | SF/PF | Age: 21.8 | UCLA | No. 30 in Top 100

Jaquez has been on NBA radars for what seems like forever, as a four-year starter who is on track to finish his UCLA career as a top-10 scorer in program history.

After a slow start, Jaquez has been playing like the All-American he was billed as when electing to return for his senior season, carrying UCLA to an 11-2 start that puts it firmly in contention for a return to the NCAA Final Four, which Jaquez helped propel the Bruins to in 2021.

Jaquez is playing a different role this season, tasked with significant offensive responsibility as UCLA’s primary half-court creator. He sees his touches in various ways, alternating between the low post, midpost and the perimeter, where he plays a lot of pick-and-roll and is asked to create his own shot frequently in isolation. Playing exclusively off two feet with a wide array of jump-stops, pump-fakes, reverse pivot moves and bully-ball plays, Jaquez doesn’t have the most aesthetically pleasing style. He relies heavily on his aggressiveness and physicality, bullying weaker opponents with polished footwork and creativity finishing around the basket. He’s an excellent passer who can drive and dish and make intelligent skip passes, and he knows how to draw fouls, but he’ll likely need to play a different style in the NBA than the one he does in college.

Jaquez is shooting fewer 3-pointers this season than ever before and has converted just 23% of his attempts, a significant dropoff from the 39% he made as a sophomore. He still shows shot-making prowess with strong mechanics and a polished midrange game, converting 49% of his attempts on decent volume, as well as 77% of his free throws. NBA teams will likely want to see his 3-point volume and accuracy rise but considering his heavy on-ball role for one of the most efficient offenses in college basketball, it’s not clear that will happen.

On the other end of the floor, Jaquez remains one of college basketball’s premier off-ball defenders, showing outstanding instincts and awareness rotating to help teammates, fighting over screens, busting up dribble handoffs, generating a significant amount of deflections and steals, and providing timely rim protection. Seeing most of his minutes at power forward, his below-average size and quickness renders him less effective as a one-on-one defender, especially when switched onto faster players. NBA teams will have some questions about his ability to transition into being more of a wing.

Jaquez is likely to be a polarizing prospect come draft time, as some teams might view him as a jack of all trades, master of nothing who doesn’t have the explosiveness, perimeter shooting or upside they covet. Others could be attracted to his feel for the game, his productivity and the many ways he contributes to winning on both ends of the floor. He’s making a case for consideration as a first-round pick with his play this season, something that would only be amplified with a deep NCAA tournament run.



Jaime Jaquez Jr. fights off defender for and-1

Noah Clowney | 6-10 | PF | Age: 18.4 | Alabama | No. 35 in Top 100

Playing for a non-sneaker-affiliated grassroots program in Team Dickerson and away from the bright lights at Dorman High School in South Carolina, it’s easy to understand why Clowney slipped below the radar prior to enrolling at Alabama.

Back-to-back SEC freshman of the week honors and an impressive 16-point, 11-rebound, two-block performance in a win at No. 1-ranked Houston changed things quickly, especially once NBA scouts learned Clowney is the age of a high school senior, turning 18 only last summer.

At 6-10, with a thin but well-proportioned frame, a 7-2 wingspan and excellent mobility, Clowney has strong physical tools for a big man, even though he needs to add bulk to his lanky frame.

Clowney isn’t the most polished or consistent offensive player but shows nice versatility to build around long term. He steps into open 3-pointers confidently (10-for-36 in 11 games) with acceptable mechanics, attacks closeouts with his head up, is quick off his feet for above-the-rim finishes, shows ability to make basic reads and passes, and plays with the type of aggressiveness you like to see from a player his age.

Defensively, he brings good energy crashing the glass and strong instincts and mobility rotating for blocks inside the paint and beyond the arc. He also shows the ability to anchor a drop defense much more effectively than most players with his level of experience, staying down on fakes patiently and being difficult to shoot over with his standing reach. His lack of strength is an issue at times guarding older players, and he’s still figuring out the nuances of defending on the perimeter, struggling a bit in space because of his somewhat upright stance, but it’s never due to a lack of effort.

Clowney might not yet be done growing and could still have another notch he can get to athletically, which would help him find another degree of explosiveness and physicality to match his speed and quickness getting off his feet. His decision-making is a work in progress, and his struggles from the free throw line (56%) temper some of the enthusiasm around his hot-shooting start (primarily fueled by one 5-for-12 outlier game from beyond the arc against South Dakota State).

Not considered a one-and-done candidate entering the season, Clowney could benefit from another year in college to improve his frame and continue to add polish on both ends of the floor, but he certainly checks some boxes NBA teams look for in a young big man.



Noah Clowney gets the lay-in to fall vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits

Azuolas Tubelis | 6-11 | PF | Age: 20.7 | Arizona | No. 52 in Top 100

After two strong campaigns to begin his Arizona career, Tubelis has exploded into one of the best players in college basketball as a junior, posting an outstanding 28.8 points, 12.5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1.5 steals and 1.3 blocks per 40, guiding Arizona to a 12-1 record and No. 5 ranking, and establishing himself as a legit first-team All-American candidate.

Tubelis shoulders a significant load for the No. 1-ranked offense in the country, doing so shooting 63% inside the arc and 80% from the free throw line. He runs the floor hard on every missed basket, looking to establish deep post position and use his outstanding touch around the basket, while drawing quite a few fouls with his unorthodox style of play. Arizona also gives him touches from the top of the key where he either makes smart high-low entry passes to 7-footer Oumar Ballo or beats slower-footed defenders off the dribble with his left hand.

Tubelis is shooting 43% from beyond the arc this season but has taken only one 3-pointer per game, less than he did his first two seasons in Tucson despite opponents daring him to beat them from outside. While he looks good stepping into rhythm 3-pointers thanks to his outstanding touch, he still has work to do on his footwork, shot prep and the extra motion he displays winding up and releasing the ball. Improving his free throw percentage from 68% his first two seasons to 80% this year is encouraging, but he’s a career 26.5% shooter from beyond the arc through 270 games and will likely need to score in different ways in the NBA than he does in college.

Tubelis’ defense is another area where NBA scouts have questions. While he has improved thanks to his terrific smarts, toughness and instincts, he doesn’t cover ground well when isolated due to his upright stance and average lateral quickness. He also lacks the length to be much of a deterrent contesting shots around the basket or on the perimeter and gets targeted a fair amount by opposing teams, fluctuating with his energy level.

Tubelis’ productivity and skill level should put him firmly in the draft conversation, but he’ll have to continue to make strides with his perimeter shooting, passing and defense to carve out an NBA role. Being a young junior, not turning 21 until late March, helps his cause, and the further he can take his team in the NCAA tournament, the more he’ll be able to win over franchises and show his game translates despite his unconventional style of play.



Azuolas Tubelis shows off vision with nice dime vs. Morgan State Bears

Jaylen Clark | 6-5 | SG/SF | Age: 21.2 | UCLA | No. 55 in Top 100

A defense-oriented role player his first two seasons, Clark has expanded his game and emerged as a highly efficient third option for an 11-2 UCLA team that many consider to be a legitimate Final Four contender.

Clark put his defensive prowess on full display earlier this month with a comprehensive shutdown of Kentucky freshman and projected top-10 pick Cason Wallace, under the watchful eyes of many NBA executives at Madison Square Garden, limiting him to seven points, zero assists and two turnovers on 2-for-13 shooting in UCLA’s win.

Clark’s combination of length, strength, quickness and intensity is highly impactful, as he regularly steps in for charges, helps off the ball and wreaks havoc getting in passing lanes and crashing the glass. He ranks first in steals among all prospects in the top 100 and is tops among guards in rebounding, but has also found ways to be productive offensively as well, averaging 22 points per 40 on an efficient 66% true shooting percentage while rarely turning the ball over.

Most of his offense comes in transition, posting up and attacking closeouts on straight-line drives, but he has also shown some flashes of effectiveness overpowering weaker defenders off the dribble, finishing through contact and splashing open 3-pointers, hitting 11-for-28 from beyond the arc through 12 games.

Despite the improved play, Clark has some things to prove in Pac-12 play, specifically how translatable or sustainable his offensive game is. He’s an average ball handler and passer who plays a lot of bully ball, using his strong frame, and sports a big windup on his stiff spot-up 3-pointer, needing time to get his jumper off and struggling when asked to shoot off the bounce. He’s a career 63% free throw shooter and 31% from beyond the arc but has tremendous touch around the basket that indicates he has room to grow in this area.

Already playing a similar role to the one he’d be asked to play in the NBA, Clark is in an outstanding situation to help UCLA to a deep NCAA tournament run, which would put him in position to hear his name called on draft night.



Jaylen Clark gets the steal and throws down a dunk as UCLA seals a 63-53 win vs. Kentucky.

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

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *