This year’s NBA Draft featured a three-way battle for No. 1 between Paolo Banchero, Chet Holmgren, and Jabari Smith. Smith was the favorite for months leading up to the draft before a wild last-second swing with Orlando taking Banchero, Oklahoma City taking Holmgren, and Smith falling to Houston at No. 3.
Barring something disastrous happening, there won’t be much of a battle for No. 1 in 2023. Victor Wembanyama is the heavy frontrunner, but the rest of the draft is actually quite even and difficult to predict, giving a number of players more than enough room to slide up and down mock drafts and big boards over the next 12 months.
That said, it’s never too early to get into scouting mode and work up a mock draft. Here’s a way-too-early look at what the 2023 NBA Draft could look like.
30. Julian Strawther (SF) – Gonzaga
This was a tough choice between Strawther and his Gonzaga teammate, Nolan Hickman, but Strawther’s athleticism, length, and shooting ability on the wing are too much to pass up. That said, he does need to improve off the dribble and find more consistency with his jump shot, which can still be a bit streaky at times. He also needs to improve defensively to warrant being a first-round pick, but that’s definitely something he was told in the pre-draft process this summer.
Strawther knows where he needs to improve and will have every opportunity to take advantage of that on another loaded Gonzaga team this season. I see him piecing it together with an increased role.