The 2023 NBA Draft is finally here, and our Lineups.com team has you covered with NBA Draft Grades and NBA Draft Tracker for the entire first round, as well as an analysis of each pick! Even though there has not been an official first pick yet, it is quite clear that the San Antonio Spurs will be pulling the trigger on drafting Victor Wembanyama with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Wembanyama is arguably the greatest NBA prospect in the history of basketball and, perhaps, in the history of any professional sport.
However, once Victor Wembanyama goes off the board to the San Antonio Spurs, anything can happen; the Portland Trail Blazers and Charlotte Hornets could draft Brandon Miller, Scoot Henderson, or Amen Thompson, but there have also been talks of these two teams trading their high draft picks for more established, win-now players like Zion Williamson or Pascal Siakam. Throughout the 2023 NBA Draft, we will continue to update this page as every pick comes in and give a brief analysis and our first-thought grades for them.
NBA Draft Grades – 1st Round
Our 2023 NBA Draft Tracker has you covered with all of our NBA Draft Grades and a brief analysis that details how our Lineups.com experts feel about the respective team’s selection. The NBA Draft has been a defining moment for a number of franchises over the years and has been the start of both glorious triumphs and chaotic disasters. There are no bigger off-season moments outside of a historic free agency class than the NBA Draft. Take a look at all of the first-round NBA Draft grades below!
1. San Antonio Spurs – Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92
Analysis: The obvious pick at No. 1 here. He has the potential to be one of the greatest players of all time, and San Antonio is the perfect fit, as they develop players as well as any organization in the NBA.
2. Charlotte Hornets – Brandon Miller, Alabama
Analysis: As a team fit, this is like a glove; however, Scoot Henderson has an All-NBA upside, in our opinion. Miller has an All-Star upside, and that is why this is a “B” grade, but Scoot could have formed a generational backcourt with LaMelo.
3. Portland Trail Blazers – Scoot Henderson, G-League Ignite
Analysis: Let’s hope this starts the rebuild. Grabbing Scoot with the third pick is not the perfect fit at the moment (at least, until the Blazers start moving pieces), but at No. 3, with an All-NBA talent like Henderson on the board, you take the best available. Terrific pick.
4. Houston Rockets – Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite
Analysis: Amen is a superb athlete with elite playmaking upside; we comped him as “shades of Penny Hardaway.” Pairing a selfless playmaker like Amen with a scoring-focused two-guard like Jalen Green is a perfect fit.
5. Detroit Pistons – Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite
Analysis: Detroit made the right decision here; the Pistons need a high-upside defender who can serve a role as a secondary playmaker. Further, he could fit in at the small forward position next to Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham, two high-usage players. Thompson can connect the dots offensively.
6. Orlando Magic – Anthony Black, Arkansas
Analysis: This is a reach with the sixth overall pick, but it does fit the Magic’s clear need for playmaking guards. Black is a versatile playmaker and perimeter defender with a strong feel for the game. He has decent upside but may not be worth the swing with the No. 6 pick.
7. Indiana Pacers (traded to WAS) – Bilal Coulibaly, Metropolitans 92
Analysis: I am a huge believer in Coulibaly, and the fit with Washington is like a glove. The Wizards have committed to the rebuild, and swinging for the fences with a versatile 18-year-old (and 6-foot-8) forward like Bilal is a terrific pick. This pick gets an A- because Washington did not need to trade up one pick to grab him. Indiana was going to pick Walker, no matter what.
8. Washington Wizards (traded to IND) – Jarace Walker, Houston
Analysis: Indiana with a fabulous trade back to No. 8 to not only get their guy but snag some draft capital in the process. Walker is basically a Bam Adebay0-type as a power forward and should fit in seamlessly with Myles Turner in the frontcourt.
9. Utah Jazz – Taylor Hendricks, UCF
Analysis: What in the world is Utah doing? Unless the Jazz move this pick, it is extremely confusing. Hendricks is a high-upside power forward who is a versatile defender with terrific switchability and a solid shooting stroke; however, they already have Markkanen and Kessler as their starting frontcourt for the foreseeable future. This lands a “C” grade from me.
10. Dallas Mavericks (traded to OKC) – Cason Wallace, Kentucky
Analysis: Cason Wallace is a great bench fit/second unit fit for the Thunder: an unexploitable defender with a catch-and-shoot upside. This move gives the Thunder more depth; their bench is amongst the worst in the league. Still, they are taking on Davis Bertans contract and not addressing frontcourt needs, so this will be a “B.” Also, Cam Whitmore was still on the board.
Analysis: This grade has nothing to do with Howard’s upside as an NBA player but, rather, his fit with the Orlando Magic. Whitmore, Bufkin, and Dick were all still on the board, too. Howard’s ceiling is playing a similar role to Franz Wagner’s for Orlando; it is hard to see them playing much at the same time.
12. Oklahoma City Thunder (traded to DAL) – Dereck Lively II, Duke
Analysis: Dallas off-loaded Davis Bertans’ contract, moved back two spots, and still got their guy, Dereck Lively, a player who will instantly beef up their horrendous frontcourt. Lively will be perfect in the pick-and-roll (eventually, pop, too) with Luka. Love this pick.
13. Toronto Raptors – Gradey Dick, Kansas
Analysis: Toronto needs shooting; it has been one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the NBA for a while. The Raptors went with a low-risk pick at No. 13 by brining in a solid, rangy, tall wing who can also shoot.
14. New Orleans Pelicans – Jordan Hawkins, UConn
Analysis: Hawkins resembles fellow UConn alumni Ray Allen in a lot of ways. The Pels add a win-now movement shooter in Hawkins that will be a great addition to their backcourt depth, an area that they needed to improve.
15. Atlanta Hawks – Kobe Bufkin, Michigan
Analysis: Bufkin is a phenomenal value pick at No. 15; he’s sort of a James Harden-lite / Jordan Poole-caliber offensive weapon. The only question is how the fit will be with Dejounte Murray and Trae Young.
16. Utah Jazz (via Minnesota Timberwolves) – Keyonte George, Baylor
Analysis: George is amongst the most impressive scorers/creators in isolation in this year’s draft; however, efficiency is a concern. He projects more like a Jordan Clarkson type of player, yet Utah literally already has Clarkson on its roster. The upside is there, but the fit is a bit head-scratching.
17. Los Angeles Lakers – Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana
Analysis: The Lakers need three-point shooting more than anything, and JHS was spotty at times from deep. If they believe in his shooting upside, then it is a great pick. Regardless, he is a special P&R combo guard who should buy into the culture immediately.
18. Miami Heat – Jaime Jaquez Jr, UCLA
Analysis: We buy into the role and experience combined with the team fit and culture. Jaquez is a win-now player who will provide depth and offensive efficiency. This would have been a little early for Jaquez to go off the board for any other team except Miami.
19. Golden State Warriors – Brandin Podziemski, Santa Clara
Analysis: Podz is an exceptionally efficient shooter both off the dribble and in the catch-and-shoot. Further, he has displayed high-upside playmaking, strong movement, and he is a terrific rebounder. Great value pick and a strong organizational fit, too.
20. Houston Rockets (via Los Angeles Clippers) – Cam Whitmore, Villanova
Analysis: Houston could have taken Whitmore at No. 4, and it would have been a strong pick. Now, the Rockets land Whitmore at No. 20. Their draft tonight is an A++.
21. Brooklyn Nets (via Phoenix Suns) – Noah Clowney, Alabama
Analysis: This is early for Clowney to come off the board, and I don’t love the fit in Brooklyn. The Nets seem to be trying to win now but went with a rebuild pick here. This is hard to understand.
22. Brooklyn Nets – Dariq Whitehead, Duke
Analysis: Whitehead is a fantastic shooter off the dribble and in the catch-and-shoot; he fits a very specific need for Brooklyn and has immense upside if he ever gets that explosion he had in high school back. High reward pick here for a player who should see the floor quickly.
23. Portland Trail Blazers (via New York Knicks) – Kris Murray
Analysis: This is exactly what we expected Portland would do, as it believes it is still in “win now” mode. Murray is a solid shooter, a strong finisher, has great size, and is an above-average athlete. Great value and a great fit.
24. Sacramento Kings (traded to DAL) – Olivier-Maxence Prosper, Marquette
Analysis: Dallas brought in two elite frontcourt defenders who are uber-athletic and fit the organizational direction. This is a big-time move for the Mavs, as their frontcourt was amongst the weakest and most thin last season.
25. Memphis Grizzlies (traded to DET via BOS) – Marcus Sasser, Houston
Analysis: While I love Marcus Sasser’s overall game and playmaking/shooting ability, this fit does not make a ton of sense. The Pistons are rebuilding, and Sasser does not fit that mold.
26. Indiana Pacers (via Cleveland Cavaliers) – Ben Sheppard, Belmont
Analysis: Size and shooting matter, and Indiana is happy to get that here with Sheppard at No. 26. Sheppard has skyrocketed up draft boards recently due to impressive measurements and strong individual workouts. He should provide off-the-bench depth at the two or three for Indiana.
27. Charlotte Hornets (via Denver Nuggets) – Nick Smith Jr, Arkansas
Analysis: This is a solid value for Charlotte and a “swing for the fence” pick at the end of the first round. Smith has a high upside as a combo guard somewhere in the vein of Markelle Fultz.
28. Utah Jazz (via Philadelphia 76ers) – Brice Sensabaugh, Ohio State
Analysis: The Jazz saved their somewhat head-scratching draft by stealing Sensabaugh toward the end of the first round. Brice likely slid due to health concerns, but he is an elite shotmaker and has terrific size; he will fit in perfectly here.
29. Indiana Pacers (traded to DEN, via Boston Celtics) – Julian Strawther, Gonzaga
Analysis: A fantastic shooter off the dribble with great size and a high IQ. Strawther is a great win-now pick for Denver.
30. LA Clippers (via Milwaukee Bucks) – Kobe Brown, Missouri
Analysis: We keep talking about it, but win-now players are key for teams like Los Angeles, Golden State, and Denver. Brown definitely fills a need coming off the bench for the Clippers and gives them more versatility.
NBA Draft Grades + Live Draft Tracker
As the 2023 NBA Draft begins, our Lineups.com team will start up a live NBA Draft Tracker through our Lineups YouTube channel with updated NBA Draft Grades! We will post the link below to make sure everyone can tune in and see our live reactions and draft analysis in real time! At times, the NBA Draft can be predictable, as Victor Wembanyama will undoubtedly be the first player off the board; however, there have already been a number of trade rumors for picks in the top ten. These trades can make or break franchises: just look at Kawhi Leonard being dealt from the Pacers to the Spurs on draft night, as well as Kobe Bryant and Chris Webber!