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Who is the best NBA mock draft?

With the 2023 NBA draft approaching, basketball fans and analysts alike are busy creating mock drafts predicting which players will be selected by which teams. Mock drafts are a fun way to speculate about the future of the NBA’s young talent. But with so many mock drafts out there, which one is the most accurate and insightful?

The 2022 NBA Draft

Before analyzing this year’s crop of mock drafts, let’s recap the actual results of the 2022 NBA draft held on June 23rd:

Pick Team Player
1 Orlando Magic Paolo Banchero
2 Oklahoma City Thunder Chet Holmgren
3 Houston Rockets Jabari Smith Jr.
4 Sacramento Kings Keegan Murray
5 Detroit Pistons Jaden Ivey

The Orlando Magic shocked many by taking Paolo Banchero with the number one overall pick instead of the favored Jabari Smith Jr. Meanwhile, Chet Holmgren went to the Thunder at number two while Smith slipped to the Rockets at number three. Further down, the Kings took Keegan Murray fourth and the Pistons selected Jaden Ivey fifth.

2023 Mock Draft Factors

When analyzing 2023 mock drafts, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Player rankings – Which prospects are ranked as lottery picks and in what order?
  • Team needs – Which players are matched to teams based on roster construction and fit?
  • Previous draft accuracy – How did the mock drafter do projecting the previous year’s draft?
  • Expertise – What are the credentials and experience level of the draft prognosticator?

The best mock drafters combine an astute understanding of team needs and prospect potential to make insightful connections. They also demonstrate a proven track record of forecasting the unpredictable draft. Now let’s examine this year’s top mock drafts.

The 2023 NBA Mock Drafts

Jonathan Givony – ESPN

Longtime draft expert Jonathan Givony released his initial 2023 mock draft for ESPN in June. Here are his projected top five picks:

Pick Team Player
1 Houston Rockets Victor Wembanyama
2 San Antonio Spurs Scoot Henderson
3 Detroit Pistons Amen Thompson
4 Orlando Magic Nick Smith
5 Oklahoma City Thunder Dariq Whitehead

Givony has French phenom Victor Wembanyama going first to Houston, followed by Scoot Henderson to San Antonio at number two. He slots shooting guard Nick Smith to Orlando at four while power forward Dariq Whitehead rounds out the top five to OKC.

The Ringer – Kevin O’Connor

The Ringer’s NBA Draft expert Kevin O’Connor published his first 2023 mock draft in May. Here is how he projects the top five:

Pick Team Player
1 Houston Rockets Victor Wembanyama
2 Detroit Pistons Scoot Henderson
3 Orlando Magic Amen Thompson
4 Oklahoma City Thunder Nick Smith
5 Indiana Pacers Cam Whitmore

O’Connor has a similar one-two punch at the top with Wembanyama and Henderson. One key difference is Cam Whitmore jumping up to number five to the Pacers after missing Givony’s first five.

Bleacher Report – Jonathan Wasserman

Jonathan Wasserman published his first 2023 mock draft for Bleacher Report in May. Here is how he predicts the lottery:

Pick Team Player
1 Houston Rockets Victor Wembanyama
2 Detroit Pistons Scoot Henderson
3 Orlando Magic Ausar Thompson
4 Oklahoma City Thunder Nick Smith
5 Indiana Pacers Cam Whitmore

Wasserman joins O’Connor in slotting Scoot Henderson to the Pistons at two. His major difference comes at three where he projects Ausar Thompson to the Magic over brother Amen Thompson.

The independent scouting site published their first 2023 mock draft in May. Here is their projected top five:

Pick Team Player
1 Houston Rockets Victor Wembanyama
2 Oklahoma City Thunder Scoot Henderson
3 Orlando Magic Cam Whitmore
4 Detroit Pistons Nick Smith
5 Indiana Pacers GG Jackson is highest on Cam Whitmore, ranking him third to the Magic ahead of consensus top prospects Smith and Thompson. They also have a surprise with GG Jackson going to the Pacers at five.

Early 2023 Mock Draft Trends

Although it is still extremely early in the 2023 draft process, we can identify some initial trends from these top mock drafts:

  • Victor Wembanyama is the consensus first overall pick to the Houston Rockets.
  • Scoot Henderson is projected top two in each mock, most frequently to the Detroit Pistons.
  • Nick Smith is slotted top five in every mock, as high as number three to the Magic.
  • Cam Whitmore has seen his stock rise, going top five in multiple mocks.
  • Thompson twins Amen and Ausar are possible top five selections.

Even the best prognosticators cannot predict the future with certainty this far out. As the 2022-23 NCAA and international seasons unfold, prospect stocks will rise and fall. Teams will land higher or lower in the lottery odds. The draft order and team needs will crystallize before next June. Until then, these early mock drafts provide a useful baseline of projections.

Most Accurate 2022 NBA Mock Draft

While it’s too early to declare a winner for 2023, we can review last year’s mocks and identify which pundits came closest to nailing the 2022 NBA draft results. Let’s revisit some 2022 mocks from the final week before last year’s draft:

Bleacher Report

Jonathan Wasserman’s final mock draft for Bleacher Report correctly predicted the top two picks, with Orlando taking Paolo Banchero at one and OKC selecting Chet Holmgren at two. However, he had two misses in the top five, projecting Keegan Murray third to Houston and Jaden Ivey fourth to Sacramento.

The Athletic

Sam Vecenie’s final Athletic mock draft accurately forecasted Orlando’s surprise pick of Banchero at one. He also correctly slotted Jaden Ivey to the Pistons at five. However, Vecenie missed on picks two through four.


Jonathan Givony’s final ESPN mock properly predicted Banchero to the Magic at one. And unlike other pundits, he accurately projected Keegan Murray to the Kings at four. However, Givony missed on picks two, three and five.

The Ringer

Kevin O’Connor’s Ringer mock draft matched Vecenie by correctly calling Banchero first and Ivey fifth. But he did not accurately predict any of the second through fourth picks.

Most Accurate 2022 Mock Draft

Based on the above analysis, Jonathan Givony’s final ESPN mock draft was the most accurate in forecasting the actual 2022 NBA draft results. By properly projecting Banchero to Orlando at one and Murray to Sacramento at four, Givony outperformed other reputable draft experts. His long track record of draft insights likely contributed to his correct predictions when other analysts missed.

In such an unpredictable draft like 2022, nailing even two picks precisely is an impressive achievement. It exemplifies Givony’s skill for blending prospect evaluation with team needs analysis. As we look ahead to 2023, Jonathan Givony emerges as a leading voice among basketball draft prognosticators.

Key Components of Accurate NBA Mock Drafts

Reviewing last year’s draft yields some key insights into what makes an accurate NBA mock draft:

  • Player evaluation – The ability to properly rank prospects based on talent, potential and readiness.
  • Team needs analysis – Matching player skills with team roster construction and strategic goals.
  • Intangibles – Considering factors like prospect motivation, work ethic and personality fit with the franchise culture.
  • Inside sources – Tapping into backchannel information from agents, scouts and front office executives.
  • Historical trends – Using past draft patterns to predict future team behavior.

The best mock drafters synthesize all of these components. They combine film study and statistical analysis to evaluate prospects. This player ranking system gets cross-referenced with a deep understanding of each franchise’s needs and tendencies. Top analysts also leverage insider league intel while accounting for historical precedent. An accurate mock requires excellence across all facets of the scouting and prediction process.

Methodology for 2023 NBA Mock Drafts

The 2023 mock draft landscape will evolve significantly between now and next June. But already analysts are using the following processes to formulate their draft projections:

  • Tapping their industry sources, especially scouts, to get the behind-the-scenes scoop on prospect rank within teams.
  • Closely monitoring the 2022-23 NCAA and international seasons to assess prospect performance and development.
  • Factor combine measurements and athletic testing results into player evaluations after the NBA Draft Combine.
  • Incorporating updated team needs and draft priorities based on free agency moves and trades.
  • Accounting for odds movement in the draft lottery as the final regular season standings solidify.
  • Talking directly to prospects, agents and coaches to gather intel and background.

By synthesizing all of these puzzle pieces, top draft experts attempt to construct the most accurate mock draft picture possible. Of course, even the best prognosticators cannot account for the surprises and unpredictability inherent to the NBA draft. But utilizing the right methodology and information sources gives mock drafters the best chance at forecasting the future.


Producing an accurate NBA mock draft requires an intricate synthesis of prospect evaluation, team needs analysis and intuition. With the 2023 draft still many months away, Jonathan Givony’s track record helps his ESPN mock stand out as an early frontrunner. But much will change between now and next June. As players and teams evolve, the top mock drafters will display their skills by adeptly adjusting their projections.

While the mock draft game is focused on the future, we can still learn from the past. Jonathan Givony’s performance predicting the 2022 NBA draft demonstrates the factors that make a mock accurate. His ability to balance player rankings with team tendencies helped him outperform other experts. As draft time draws closer, the analyst who best blends these elements of player evaluation, team needs, insider intel and intuitive feel is likely to produce the most accurate 2023 mock.