College basketball fans hardly got to know Cam Whitmore during his freshman season at Villanova as he made a late debut due to injury and then starred for a Wildcats' team that missed the NCAA Tournament. But those who followed the Big East or Villanova closely saw the makings of a potential NBA star as Whitmore validated his five-star prospect rating in just 26 games of college ball.
At 6-foot-6 and 235 pounds, Whitmore boasts an NBA-ready frame and the game to match it. He can defend multiple positions and score in a variety of ways. He also answered some questions about his athleticism at the NBA Draft Combine by tying for third in max vertical leap at 40.5 inches behind only Julian Phillips and Mojave King, who are both much leaner.
Between the tools and the skill he demonstrated at the college level, Whitmore has a chance to be Villanova's earliest selection since 1950 when the draft rolls around on June 22. Paul Arizin went No. 3 overall from 'Nova in 1950 while Tom Hoover and Jim Washington went No. 6 overall in 1963 and 1965, respectively.
But even amid Villanova's rise under Jay Wright in the 2000s, the program's only lottery picks were Randy Foye (No. 7 in 2006) and Mikal Bridges (No. 10 in 2018). In this mock draft, Whitmore goes No. 5 to the Detroit Pistons who are amassing a heap of young talent after finishing .500 or worse for a seventh consecutive season.
Round 1 - Pick 1
No need to overcomplicate things. Wembanyama is regarded as one of the best prospects of all-time and will become the centerpiece of San Antonio's franchise. The Spurs have largely been searching for an identity since the end of the Duncan-Parker-Ginobli days. Now, they have one. Wembanyama is 7-4 and can do it all. He'll fill the arena, bring eyes to the franchise's TV broadcasts and attract other players who want to play with a world-class talent. It's been proven that San Antonio can win big, and Wembanyama is the type of player who can help it regain competitive footing in the Western Conference in the relatively near future.
Round 1 - Pick 2
Alabama • 6'8" / 200 lbs
The Hornets have a natural opening on the wing next season with Kelly Oubre Jr. hitting free agency. Given that LaMelo Ball and fellow guard Terry Rozier are in the fold for years to come, Miller is an easier fit than Scoot Henderson in Charlotte. At 6-9, Miller hit 38.4% of his 3-pointers on 7.5 attempts per game as a true freshman for an Alabama team that earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. He's also a plus defender and three-level scorer. His connection to a fatal shooting is concerning, but Miller's on-court upside is so high that it won't damage his stock in a significant way.
Round 1- Pick 3
Portland has nearly $300 million committed to 6-2 Damian Lillard and 6-3 Anfernee Simons over the next four seasons. On the surface, Henderson seems like a poor fit since he is a 6-2, ball-dominant guard. But if he's available at No. 3, his upside warrants finding a way to make it work. The Trail Blazers patiently developed Simons as Lillard and CJ McCollum ran the show, and the dividends have been solid. They could do the same with Henderson or trade one of the other guards and throw him into a featured role out of the gate. It's not as if there is some polished player available here who can immediately help Portland get back to the Western Conference Finals while Lillard is still in his prime. A trade would also make sense.
Round 1 - Pick 4
Thompson is an athletic playmaker who can play on or off the ball. At 6-6, he should pair well with Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr. With that trio and a front court of Jabari Smith and Alperen Sengun, the Rockets would likely start five players age 23 or younger next season. But a full, long-term nucleus would finally be in place that also includes several other promising young pieces completing a theoretical 2023-24 rotation. Perhaps Houston would prefer to trade this pick to get a bit older and more competitive. But if they keep it, Thompson is a good fit.
Round 1 - Pick 5
Cam Whitmore SF
Villanova • 6'5" / 235 lbs
The Pistons have their backcourt of the future established in Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham. They are also overflowing with promising young bigs in Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren and James Wiseman. The only question mark is on the wing, and Whitmore looks like a perfect fit. With an NBA-ready frame, he's the type of one-and-done prospect who won't need excessive seasoning before he's ready to help. He shot a stellar 57.8% on 2-pointers at Villanova and a respectable 34.3% on 3-pointers while also playing solid defense.
Round 1 - Pick 6
Gradey Dick SF
Kansas • 6'8" / 205 lbs
Assuming the Magic aren't giving up on ball-handling guards Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs or Markelle Fultz any time soon, they are set at point guard. With frontcourt players Franz Wagner, Paolo Banchero and Wendell Carter also under contract for multiple seasons, the need for Orlando is at shooting guard or on the wing, preferably in the form of a knockdown shooter. Dick checks that box with emphasis after shooting 40.3% from beyond the arc as a true freshman at Kansas. He's also solid off the bounce and athletic enough to defend multiple positions.
Round 1 - Pick 7
Houston • 6'8" / 235 lbs
The Pacers are set in the backcourt with young guards Tyrese Haliburton and Andrew Nembhard, they have a promising young wing in Bennedict Mathurin and longtime center Myles Turner remains in the fold through 2024-25. The missing piece needed to round out the nucleus appears to be at the four spot. Walker fits perfectly after shining for a veteran-laden Houston squad during his lone college season. The former five-star prospect is sturdily built and boasts a surprisingly refined offensive package and also has the tools to become an impact defender over time.
Round 1 - Pick 8
If Ausar Thompson is still available at No. 8, he's the obvious choice for Washington. Thompson is an athletic wing with high upside on both ends of the floor. The Overtime Elite program remains unproven in terms of producing NBA stars, but the Thompson twins have all the physical tools to validate their standing as likely lottery picks entering this draft. In fact, history could show that landing Ausar at No. 8 was a steal.
Round 1 - Pick 9
Arkansas • 6'7" / 185 lbs
The Jazz have Collin Sexton under contract for the next three seasons, but Black is a vastly different player capable of working on or off the ball. He's also rangy and brings an element of defensive prowess that differentiates himself from a normal point guard. His 3-point shot needs some work, but he's big enough to attack the paint and coordinated enough to pull up short of the rim for floaters and mid-range looks.
Round 1 - Pick 10
UCF • 6'9" / 210 lbs
The Mavericks suffered through the embarrassment of trading for Kyrie Irving only to disintegrate down the stretch. Now comes the reward: a lottery pick. Hendricks shined as a freshman at UCF, scoring 15.1 points per game on 53.5% 2-point shooting and 39.4% 3-point shooting while yanking down seven rebounds per game and blocking 1.7 shots. Hendricks won't interfere with Luka Doncic's ball-dominant ways, nor will he stifle the development of young scoring guards Josh Green and Jaden Hardy.
From Chicago Bulls
Round 1 - Pick 11
Duke • 7'1" / 230 lbs
Mo Bamba isn't on this team anymore. Orlando needs an interior enforcer, and Lively fits the bill. He's limited offensively to the dunker's spot, but the Magic have other players who can score. They don't have anyone like Lively, a tower who blocked 2.4 shots per game in just 20.6 minutes per contest during his lone season at Duke.
Round 1 - Pick 12
Baylor • 6'4" / 185 lbs
If George is still around at this stage of the draft, the Thunder should snatch him and figure out the fit later. He's a natural scoring guard and could lighten the offensive load of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who ranked No. 7 in the league with 20.3 attempts per game from the field this past season. If nothing else, he could be a spark plug off the bench or trade bait.
Round 1 - Pick 13
Connecticut • 6'5" / 190 lbs
Toronto finished 28th in 3-point percentage at just 33.5% this season. Hawkins can help solve that problem. The shooting guard enjoyed a breakout sophomore season, propelling UConn to a national title as he hit 38.8% of his long-range shots on 7.6 attempts per game.
Round 1 - Pick 14
Indiana • 6'4" / 216 lbs
After a standout freshman season at Indiana, Hood-Schifino could nicely compliment the Pelicans' nucleus of CJ McCollum, Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson. He's got good positional size and lots of offensive game.
Round 1 - Pick 15
Kentucky • 6'4" / 195 lbs
Atlanta has plenty of mouths to feed from an offensive standpoint. The Hawks need help defensively, and that's what Wallace can bring. He's a rangy guard who averaged two steals per game at Kentucky while playing on and off the ball. Over time, he could also develop into a scoring option.
Round 1 - Pick 16
Miller is a long forward with future upside who posted encouraging offensive numbers with G League Ignite last season. There is plenty of refining to be done here, but 6-9 players with 7-2 wingspans and shooting touch don't come along often.
Round 1 - Pick 17
Kris Murray PF
Iowa • 6'8" / 225 lbs
Murray can help right away after averaging 20.2 points and 7.9 rebounds for Iowa. He'll be 23 on opening night of the 2023-24 season and is a plug-and-play NBA wing. Not sold? Look at Sacramento, where Kris' twin brother, Keegan, started 78 games this past season on a playoff squad.
Round 1 - Pick 18
Amari Bailey SG
UCLA • 6'5" / 185 lbs
Bailey quietly made significant strides on a veteran-laden UCLA team during his freshman season. The former five-star prospect is a true combo guard who could be groomed for a rotation role as Kyle Lowry enters the final year of his contract.
Round 1 - Pick 19
Noah Clowney PF
Alabama • 6'10" / 210 lbs
Clowney lived in Brandon Miller's shadow during his freshman season at Alabama but managed to shine anyway. As a 6-10 stretch forward with tantalizing two-way potential, he would be a smart long-term play for a franchise with plenty of guards and wings under contract.
From Los Angeles Clippers
Round 1 - Pick 20
Kobe Bufkin SG
Michigan • 6'4" / 195 lbs
Bufkin took enormous strides as a sophomore at Michigan. The combo guard rated as the Wolverines' best defender, according to evanmiya.com. Getting a two-way player of his potential at this stage in the draft is great value.
From Phoenix Suns
Round 1 - Pick 21
Arkansas • 6'5" / 185 lbs
Smith's freshman season at Arkansas dampened his stock as knee issues kept him from finding a groove. But there's a reason 247Sports ranked him the No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2022. At 6-4, he's a dynamic combo guard with elite offensive potential.
Round 1 - Pick 22
Wembanyama isn't the only French prodigy in this draft class. Coulibaly has great athleticism and upside. He won't be 19 until late July and may need some G League reps while transitioning to the American game. But his upside as a versatile, two-way wing is clear.
From New York Knicks
Round 1 - Pick 23
Ohio State • 6'6" / 235 lbs
Sensabaugh has some developing to do defensively, but he was stunningly effective as a three-level scorer during his true freshman season at Ohio State. At 6-6 and with a built frame, his shooting touch is surprisingly smooth.
Round 1 - Pick 24
With a wingspan larger than that of many big men in this draft pool, Rupert projects as a high-impact defender. His offensive game needs to be polished, to say the least, but the young French wing is an interesting long-term project.
Round 1 - Pick 25
Santa Clara • 6'5" / 204 lbs
The Grizzlies like going for multi-faceted college players from off-the-radar locales. Podziemski fits the bill to perfection after hitting 43.8% of his 3-point attempts while also leading Santa Clara in rebounding and steals as a sophomore in 2022-23.
From Cleveland Cavaliers
Round 1 - Pick 26
Jett Howard SG
Michigan • 6'8" / 215 lbs
Howard outplayed his four-star prospect rating during one season at Michigan. The 6-8 wing averaged 14.2 points per game and hit 36.8% of his 3-pointers. The son of former NBA champion and current Michigan coach Juwan Howard has a bright future.
From Denver Nuggets
Round 1 - Pick 27
Wake Forest • Fr • 6'10" / 225 lbs
Originally from Sweden, Klintman played off the bench in his lone season at Wake Forest. He's not refined, but a franchise with vision can see a future NBA starter inside this versatile wing.
From Philadelphia 76ers
Round 1 - Pick 28
Connecticut • 6'6" / 198 lbs
Jackson is an elite facilitator and defender who crashes the boards and plays the "connector" role often coveted in today's game. His shot needs work, but the rest of his game is NBA-ready after three seasons at UConn.
From Boston Celtics
Round 1 - Pick 29
Duke • 6'6" / 217 lbs
Injuries slowed Whitehead during his freshman season at Duke, but there's a reason 247Sports ranked him the No. 3 prospect in the Class of 2022. Armed with a with a great 3-point shot for his size, Whitehead will play in the league a long time if he can stay healthy.
From Milwaukee Bucks
Round 1 - Pick 30