NBA teams are lining up from near and far just for the chance to be in position to possibly draft Victor Wembanyama, the 7-foot-4 French phenom who right now looks like the clear No. 1 prospect in the 2023 NBA Draft class. Houston looks purposely dreadful and in line to finish with the worst record in the NBA (again). Detroit looks determined to a fault to giving players who may or may not be adding value big minutes. And Orlando is rolling out all kinds of oddball lineups with little success, even as No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero sets the world on fire as a rookie.
The commitment to
tanking productively struggling is very real and it is spectacular.
But Wembanyama is far from the only prize at the top of next year's class. It's a very deep prospect pool with a nice blend of one-and-done flavor and international zest to go with one of the strongest non-college, non-international talent pools to date, with both Overtime Elite and the G League Ignite contributing as many as two lottery talents.
So who should we be watching as the college basketball season starts to really ramp up? Who is rising and falling after the first week (and change) of the season? And which teams are positioning to be in the mix for No. 1 next summer?
Our latest mock draft below reflects the most up-to-date information we have with the draft order set by SportsLine's projected NBA standings.
Round 1 - Pick 1
Barring some significant change in the next few months, Wembanyama is as locked as the No. 1 in this class as any No. 1 has been in the last decade. He's been dominating with Mets 92 and recently helped France's senior national team secure a FIBA World Cup berth while averaging 19.5 points and six boards in a pair of qualifiers.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Henderson is the clear consolation prize for whichever teams finishes runner-up in the Wembanyama sweepstakes. He'd be a pretty clear No. 1 pick contender in most years with the way he can explode by defenders with his speed, and his competitive spirit is unrivaled among guards in this class. Tough lead guard who plays hard on both ends and will make some NBA team very happy.
Round 1- Pick 3
It's early still in the Overtime Elite season but Thompson, whose twin brother, Amen, is also a top-five prospect, is averaging 17 points, 5.5 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 4.0 steals per game. He brings elite positional size to the shooting guard position and has some of the most explosive athleticism you'll see from a prospect in this draft.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Thompson's a slightly more capable playmaker than his twin brother, Ausar, but a similar prospect in many ways because of his positional size. He's a really fluid athlete whose best trait comes on offense as a selfless playmaker with tremendous vision.
From Los Angeles Lakers
Round 1 - Pick 5
Arkansas • Fr • 6'5" / 185 lbs
The No. 1 overall recruit ranked by 247Sports in the 2022 cycle, Smith Jr. has yet to play this season for Arkansas as he nurses a knee injury. But he's a top-five prospect in this class viewed as the No. 1 talent in college hoops because of his creative scoring and ability to attack with an aggressive style.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Kentucky • Fr • 6'3" / 195 lbs
I was already plenty high on Wallace -- I had him No. 7 in my last mock -- but even No. 6 this time around feels low. He's a game-changing defensive prospect with great hands, length and anticipation for such a young player. He's coming off an eight-steal game vs. Michigan State that tied for the most all-time in a single game in the UK record books.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Baylor • Fr • 6'4" / 185 lbs
George developed a track record in high school as a flame-throwing menace who could heat up and light up scoreboards from anywhere with his endless confidence and scoring ability. He's already doing that at Baylor, too -- he's averaging 16.0 points per game -- but what really sticks out thus far has been his role as a creator and passer in Baylor's system. He's averaging just shy of 7.0 assists per game on the season. If he can be a microwave scorer AND a selfless passer, a combo guard with that skill set won't escape the top five in this draft.
Round 1 - Pick 8
Cam Whitmore SF
Villanova • Fr • 6'6" / 235 lbs
A preseason right thumb injury that required surgery has so far held Whitmore out of action for Villanova this season, but he remains a clear top-10 talent in the class. Had a really strong summer with Team USA and fits the archetype of a slashing wing with size that the NBA values.
From Chicago Bulls
Round 1 - Pick 9
Duke • Fr • 6'6" / 217 lbs
Whitehead suffered a right foot fracture in the preseason that required surgery and has kept him off the court to start the season for Duke, though his return could come this month. He's a clear top-10 talent in this class with his blend of bursty athleticism and attacking mentality. He could be one of the most important pieces for Duke and its title hopes this season and his game projects very well to the NBA level.
Round 1 - Pick 10
Arkansas • Fr • 6'6" / 210 lbs
The appeal here with Black lies in his versatility as a combo guard with great size capable of playing both on and off the ball. He's spent most of the last year transitioning to playing point full time, a role at Arkansas that he's not seized entirely but has potential in. There's not a ton of explosiveness to his game, but he has the finesse, positional size and passing that reminds of Cade Cunningham.
Round 1 - Pick 11
Texas • Fr • 6'7" / 193 lbs
Texas coach Chris Beard said Mitchell's defense that it is a "game-changer." He has the length, anticipatory timing and explosiveness to be a multi-level threat in that facet. Mitchell's already putting up huge highlights for Texas as a lob threat and do-it-all defender, too. Really like his chances of rising as the season rolls along.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Duke • Fr • 7'1" / 230 lbs
You'll notice there's not many centers in the top of this mock . . . until here. Lively gets the nod as the No. 1 big in this class at No. 12, maybe a smidge lower than consensus based solely on how I'd value the guards and wings in this class, but good enough to go in the lottery. His 7-foot-1 frame fits neatly into how modern NBA bigs play the game.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Creighton • Soph • 6'6" / 222 lbs
This is doing some projecting on my part -- Kaluma right now isn't viewed in NBA circles as a surefire first-rounder -- but the physical tools and frame are gambles I'd be willing to take in this range. If he can hit above 35% from 3-point range and improve his outside shot I like his prospects a lot more.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Gradey Dick SF
Kansas • Fr • 6'6" / 204 lbs
One of the pleasant surprises of the early college hoops season has been what I've seen from Dick. He was billed as a shooting specialist -- and he has been that, absolutely, hitting 43% of his 3-pointers -- but he brings a lot more to the table than expected. His body control and athletic ability is impressive. He seems to know where to be on the court and when with an on-court IQ well above freshman levels.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Alabama • Fr • 6'9" / 200 lbs
Miller didn't make my first mock back in July, which was clearly a mistake in hindsight. He's leading Alabama in scoring on the season, hitting 40% from 3-point range and averaging nearly 10 rebounds to boot. Long, rangy wing who is a smooth athlete and natural scorer.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Miller tested the NBA Draft waters and had some first-round buzz before ultimately withdrawing and committing to the G League Ignite. He's a very "toolsy," talented player who is raw but has tons of potential. The Ontario native Would be a very "Raptors-y" pick.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Oregon • Fr • 7'0" / 210 lbs
In a class short on true center talents, Ware will carry a lot of interest given his 7-foot frame. At his size his movement and ball skills are talents worth betting on.
Round 1 - Pick 18
NC State • Soph • 6'3" / 163 lbs
Smith ultimately came back to school after drawing significant interest in the NBA Draft process and has a chance to build on his first-round prospects. Very skilled scorer who has loads of athleticism. Needs to continue adding to his frame but has a huge ceiling. One of my favorite prospects in the class.
Round 1 - Pick 19
South Carolina • Fr • 6'8" / 214 lbs
GG Jackson was the No. 1 player in the 2023 class before reclassifying and enrolling early at South Carolina, likely making him the youngest player on the draft radar right now for 2023. He's already stuffing the stat sheet for South Carolina even at such a young age and could be a candidate to average a double-double on the year with the way he tenaciously crashes the boards and scores it inside.
Round 1 - Pick 20
Dayton • Soph • 6'9" / 221 lbs
Holmes quietly put together a solid freshman season at Dayton last year. He's off to a sluggish start by comparison but a gifted athlete with great size and a knack for making plays above the rim.
From Philadelphia 76ers
Round 1 - Pick 21
Houston • Fr • 6'7" / 249 lbs
If you thought this Houston team was so deep and talented that Walker may be marginalized, you'd have thought wrong. He's been a stud already for the top-five Cougars with a team-leading 7.3 rebounds per game while adding 13.0 points per game, second on the team. Gives great energy on both ends and can be a dominant player on the interior.
From Dallas Mavericks
Round 1 - Pick 22
Duke • Fr • 6'5" / 175 lbs
Proctor is a bit of a mystery prospect who reclassified to be a part of Duke's class this year instead of next year. He may not have a huge role with the way Duke's roster is currently constructed but NBA teams might be happy if he keeps a low profile this season. Proctor is a lottery-level talent with good playmaking chops and size.
From Cleveland Cavaliers
Round 1 - Pick 23
Gonzaga • Jr • 6'6" / 209 lbs
Strawther's in line to see a big bump in role and production for No. 2 Gonzaga and so far, so good. He's made strides as a scorer and really been aggressive on the boards grabbing and running. Love his size and his style of play. The hope is that his 3-point efficiency will be maintained as he goes from a bit player to a feature piece.
From New Orleans Pelicans
Round 1 - Pick 24
Amari Bailey SG
UCLA • Fr • 6'3" / 191 lbs
Keeping Bailey in L.A. would be a dream scenario for the Lakers. Crafty scorer who exudes confidence and plays an aggressive, fun style that'd be well-suited in the purple and gold.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Sasser is as expected off to a hot start with Houston after drumming up a ton of buzz in the offseason. Maybe a smidge undersized for a score-first guard but he's a walking bucket, and his playmaking has improved each year.
Round 1 - Pick 26
UCLA • Sr • 6'6" / 226 lbs
With Johnny Juzang and Jules Bernard gone, Jaquez's stats haven't ticked up -- yet -- but his efficiency has been really impressive. He's almost hitting a career-high 43% from 3-point range and averaging a career-best 2.7 assists per game as the Bruins mold him into a do-it-all weapon.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 1 - Pick 27
Kentucky • Fr • 6'6" / 219 lbs
Livingston was ineffective against Michigan State in UK's loss to the Spartans at the Champions Classic earlier in the week, tallying one point and playing in only 12 minutes, but the positional size here is a great foundation piece on which to build. If you're buying an improved jumper he brings a lot of things you want to the table as a 3-and-D wing.
From Denver Nuggets
Round 1 - Pick 28
Duke • Fr • 7'0" / 230 lbs
Filipowski has looked the part of a lottery pick thus far this season for Duke with three double-doubles in three games while averaging 14.0 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game. With Dereck Lively working his way back into the mix those numbers may trail off a tad, but he's going to be a perfect fit in the NBA with the way he can rebound and shoot it.
From Boston Celtics
Round 1 - Pick 30
Gonzaga • Soph • 6'2" / 180 lbs
The start of the season has been a mixed bag for Hickman, who has an opportunity to develop into Gonzaga's leading assist man. But I'm betting on the talent to eventually win out here. He needs to cut down on the turnovers and isn't an elite passer but is capable enough to play on and off the ball with the way he can handle and score it.
Round 2 - Pick 1