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Alright, it’s time for a 2023 NBA Draft Big Board

I need to get these #takes off my chest.

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Basketball: Overtime Elite-Cold Hearts at City Reapers Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

We’re less than 24 hours from the first of March. Conference tournaments are about to get underway and the NCAA Tournament is just around the corner. Our beloved Charlotte Hornets may be on an absolute heater right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t ever-so-slowly turn an eye towards the 2023 NBA Draft. LaMelo Ball is sidelined indefinitely with a fractured ankle; it can’t hurt to think about other things.

Charlotte’s exact draft position will be determined at the NBA Draft Lottery on May 16, but until then we can operate with under the presumption they’ll be picking somewhere inside the top-eight. The Hornets currently have the fourth-best lottery odds, and Tankathon has a nice chart displaying the percent chance they have at landing in a given spot.

Regardless of where the Hornets land in May, they’re going to have the opportunity to select a high-quality prospect in a draft class that’s as deep with potential all-stars as any in recent history. Obviously, Victor Wembanyama is the grand prize with Scoot Henderson a welcomed consolation, but the entire top-10 is littered with talent. After the top-two, though, opinions on which prospects are at the top of the class begin to vary widely.

In each of their recent mock drafts, The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie and Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman had Brandon Miller, Amen Thompson and Jarace Walker coming off the board for picks three through five in some order. After that, it’s a bit hazier, with Ausar Thompson, Arkansas teammates Nick Smith Jr. and Anthony Black, Keyonte George, Gradey Dick, Taylor Hendricks, Cason Wallace and Cam Whitmore among the group of players off the board by the 12th pick. Venture into the depths of Draft Twitter, and the list of high-end lottery prospects grows three times as long.

By no means am I an “amateur draft scout” of sorts similar to those who write about the NBA draft for major media outlets — I prefer the term “armchair draft analyst” that my pal James Plowright uses. This is my fifth year assembling a big board, though, so I’ve got some seasoning. Some might remember me singing teenage LaMelo Ball’s praises until the cows came home in the summer of 2020. To Ball’s credit, that worked out well for me (much better than ranking Killian Hayes fourth in the same class, for example). We’ve all got hits and misses. Over the last few years, I’ve been documenting them all on this wonderful website of ours since we Hornets fans have had a special interest in the draft as of late, for better or for worse.

Here’s my first top-30 of the draft cycle. The next iteration will probably be a top-60, but I’m not confident enough in the ordering after the 40-45 range to publish it yet. Next draft cycle, I might switch to an alphabetically-sorted tiers system. Ranking my 53rd-favorite prospect is no small task in a deep class. But, alas. I’ll have some notes below, but don’t hesitate to let me know what you all think and which prospects you’re excited about as well.

2023 NBA Draft Big Board Top-30

Victor Wembanyama Big 7-2/230lbs Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92 (France)
Scoot Henderson Guard 6-2/195lbs G League Ignite (Carlton J. Kell HS)
Amen Thompson Guard 6-7/199lbs Overtime Elite (Pine Crest HS)
Ausar Thompson Wing 6-7/207lbs Overtime Elite (Pine Crest HS)
Cam Whitmore Wing 6-7/225lbs Villanova
Brandon Miller Forward 6-9/200lbs Alabama
Jarace Walker Big 6-8/220lbs Houston
Nick Smith Jr. Guard 6-5/185lbs Arkansas
Keyonte George Guard 6-4/185lbs Baylor
Brice Sensabaugh Wing 6-6/235lbs Ohio State
Dariq Whitehead Wing 6-6/190lbs Duke
Jalen Hood-Schifino Guard 6-6/213lbs Indiana
Gradey Dick Wing 6-7/195lbs Kansas
Maxwell Lewis Forward 6-7/195lbs Pepperdine
Taylor Hendricks Forward 6-9/210lbs UCF
Jett Howard Wing 6-8/215lbs Michigan
Anthony Black Wing 6-7/195lbs Arkansas
GG Jackson Big 6-8/220lbs South Carolina
Cason Wallace Wing 6-4/193lbs Kentucky
Leonard Miller Forward 6-10/211lbs G League Ignite (Canada)
DaRon Holmes II Big 6-10/220lbs Dayton
Brandin Podziemski Guard 6-5/205lbs Santa Clara
Judah Mintz Guard 6-4/170lbs Syracuse
Terquavion Smith Guard 6-4/165lbs North Carolina State
Jordan Hawkins Guard 6-5/185lbs Connecticut
Rayan Rupert Guard 6-6/192lbs New Zealand Breakers (France)
Julian Strawther Wing 6-7/208lbs Gonzaga (Puerto Rico)
Kris Murray Forward 6-8/225lbs Iowa
Sidy Cissoko Wing 6-8/200lbs G League Ignite (France)
Dereck Lively II Center 7-1/215lbs Duke

-Both of the Thompson twins would be ideal fits alongside the Hornets current core to me. An infusion of elite athleticism, defensive playmaking, high motor and rim finishing would do wonders for the team’s consistency on both ends of the floor. Amen would add another passing threat while Ausar has shown promise as a developing shooter.

-The shot-creation, strength and defense combination present in Cam Whitmore is really enticing. Not here to litigate Brandon Miller’s off-the-court situation, but the shooting package is really legit and could provide immediate dividends next to LaMelo.

-The “my guys” starting five for this class; Judah Mintz, Jalen Hood-Schifino, Brandin Podziemski, Brice Sensabaugh, DaRon Holmes II. If any of these players are available when the Hornets are on the clock late in the first, I’ll be doing voodoo rituals while the five-minute timer ticks down. Jordan Hawkins and Julian Strawther would be great fits, too.

-If the Hornets are still interested in going the developmental route, GG Jackson and Leonard Miller fit the bill. Jackson could also return to South Carolina and, if things break right, be a top-10 pick in 2024. Miller already has experience in the G League from playing with Ignite this year, where he’s been impressive in adapting to a supporting role.