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December 6, 2023

2023 NBA Draft Big Board: Final prospect rankings and the players our experts feel strongest about

2023 NBA Draft Big Board: Final prospect rankings and the players our experts feel strongest about

The finish line is in sight, folks. The 2023 NBA Draft is now just days away, and so to celebrate the special occasion, today — as we do every year — we’re releasing the final CBS Sports Prospect Rankings comprised from a consensus of our staff’s rankings.

Our final Top 90 is an effort to smooth out outlier views and to paint a broad picture from a high-level perspective of what we think of this class with rankings from yours truly, CBS Sports’ Gary Parrish, Matt Norlander, David Cobb, and Colin Ward-Henninger as well as 247Sports’ Adam Finkelstein. Not everyone had the same rankings, of course, and there were some experts that were higher and lower on certain prospects — which we will get to below — but the goal is to give insight and analysis for how we as a staff are thinking of the 202 NBA Draft Class.

Generally speaking, much of our staff thinks of the class in the same way — Victor Wembanyama was the consensus No. 1 and Brandon Miller and Scoot Henderson were consensus top-four talents — but everyone comes at the game from a different perspective and thus can view players either much higher or much lower than the rest. (Norlander, for instance, ranked Duke’s Dereck Lively II as a top-three talent. We’ll let him explain his rationale below.)

Final CBS Sports consensus Big Board Top 10 RKPLAYERSCHOOLYEARPOSHT1Victor WembanyamaFrance-C7-42Scoot HendersonG League Ignite-PG6-23Brandon MillerAlabamaFrSF6-94Amen ThompsonOvertime Elite-SF6-65Cam WhitmoreVillanovaFrSF6-66Ausar ThompsonOvertime Elite-SF6-67Jarace WalkerHoustonFrPF6-78Anthony BlackArkansasFrPG6-69Taylor HendricksUCFFrPF6-810Gradey DickKansasFrSF6-6You can find the complete consensus Big Board on the NBA Draft Prospect Rankings page

Norlander: Why Dereck Lively II is my No. 3Head on over to my annual big board mock draft to get more of a sense of where I’m coming from on this. It’s key to know I’m projecting LONG-TERM. I have the Duke one-and-doner third on my big board because I think he has a healthy chance at having the third-best career of any player in the 2023 pool. Keep in mind Lively was viewed by some as the best prospect in the high school Class of 2022. He was an above-average defender at Duke, and got off to a slower start because of an offseason injury. I think he adds 15 pounds of muscle in the next couple of years, fills out his frame and grows into a good 3-point shooter. Combine that with his size, high-end defensive ceiling and his fit as a switchable 5, and it’s all very tempting.

Boone: Why Andre Jackson Jr. is a top-20 prospectThere is lottery buzz surrounding UConn product Jordan Hawkins because of his sharpshooting, and Huskies big man Adama Sanogo has gotten rave reviews during the pre-draft process as a potential draft pick because of his size and shooting, but for my money give me Andre Jackson Jr. long-term over all three. He’s a defensive menace whose game projects neatly into the NBA structure because of his connective-tissue type game and selfless style of play. The only weak spot in his game is his shot — he hit 28.1% from 3-point range last season — but he has the requisite size, playmaking and intangibles worth gambling on to develop into a legitimate NBA rotation player in time. I’m buying all the stock.

Cobb: Why I have Gradey Dick at No. 8Dick shot 40.3% from 3-point range on 5.7 attempts per game as a true freshman at Kansas. But he’s more than just a shooter. At 6-foot-8, he’s long and athletic enough to defend multiple positions. He’s also adept at attacking close-outs by putting the ball on the floor. At just 19, Dick is still early in his development, and the fact that his game translated so seamlessly to the reigning national champions at the college level is a great omen. That’s especially true when you consider how promising former KU wing Christian Braun looked during his rookie season with the Nuggets. Braun is more athletic than Dick, but they played similar roles at Kansas and Dick was a better collegiate 3-point shooter. At worst, Dick will be a 3-point specialist off the bench for years in the NBA. But he’s also got the frame, game and intangibles to develop into a fringe All-Star.

Finkelstein: The case for Brandon Miller over Scoot HendersonAdmittedly I am conflicted about whether I favor Miller or Henderson. On one hand, Miller’s size, shooting, passing potential, rate of improvement, and even rebounding are all extremely encouraging, but the lack of rim pressure and the struggles he has as a finisher, are concerning. On the other hand, Scoot’s burst, power, explosiveness, instinctual creativity, floor vision, and passing are all top notch, but the shooting, defense, and even the subtle inconsistencies in that killer instinct he gets credit for give me some pause. A month ago, I would have said I was 60/40 Miller, but the more intel I gather and the more I revisit the film, the closer this gets for me. 

Ward-Henninger: The case for Henderson over Miller
Given the current state of the Charlotte Hornets, positional fit should be irrelevant with the No. 2 pick in the draft. They need to take the best prospect, and that is Henderson — the type of strong, athletic, dynamic guard who tends to have success at high levels in the NBA. I had one source tell me that he wouldn’t be SHOCKED if, when all’s said and done, Henderson has a better career than Victor Wembanyama. You just don’t hear anyone saying that about Miller, who has more to his game than just “3-and-D,” but also has a much longer and more arduous path to superstardom. Even next to LaMelo Ball, Henderson will be impactful from Day 1 given his NBA frame and experience playing against grown professionals over the past two years. If I’m the Hornets, I’m not overthinking this. For two years, Henderson has been second to Wembanyama on draft boards for a reason. He’s a potential superstar that you’re lucky to get at No. 2.

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