The Chronicle's 2023 NBA mock draft

Dariq Whitehead handles the ball in Duke's NCAA tournament victory against Oral Roberts.
Dariq Whitehead handles the ball in Duke's NCAA tournament victory against Oral Roberts.

On Thursday evening, Dereck Lively II and Dariq Whitehead will anxiously await their names being called at the NBA Draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. The Chronicle offers its predictions on where the two former Blue Devils will end up, plus the rest of the lottery.

Andrew Long

V. 119 Sports Editor

Duke’s picks:

Dereck Lively II: 19th, Golden State. Lively’s start to life in Durham was rocky at first, but toward the end of the year, the 7-foot-1 Philadelphia native finally began to prove his defensive capabilities when they mattered most. This was clearest when he thrashed North Carolina at Cameron Indoor Stadium with 14 rebounds and eight blocks to completely stall the Tar Heel offense, but his contributions continued to be game-changing throughout Duke’s ACC tournament win and 10-game winning streak to close the season. It’s rare to find players of Lively’s size who are so defensively capable across the floor and can ice out even the most prolific of big men.

Because of this unique list of talents, Lively was the top incoming player in his freshman class and has understandably caught the eye of NBA scouts after declaring for the draft in April. However, for all of Lively’s defensive tools, he still has a way to go on the offensive front. Fortunately for him, Golden State already has that side covered with arguably the game’s best-ever shooter in Steph Curry and an ensemble cast featuring Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and Jordan Poole. Head coach Steve Kerr’s squad lacks anyone close to Lively’s size in the paint, though. An extra defensive asset and some length would add a new dimension and new option for the seven-time champions.

Dariq Whitehead: 16th, Utah Jazz. As opposed to his towering counterpart, Whitehead’s strengths are not in his size or defensive capacity as much as they are in his creative and shooting abilities. The New Jersey native showed flashes for the Blue Devils, but was hamstrung by injuries throughout the year and usually entered games as the first guy off the bench to add some offensive spark. Now, when he did play, he played well and was remarkably effective in spite of his fewer-than-expected minutes. Whitehead averaged 8.3 points per game on just 20.6 average minutes, in addition to a team-leading 42.9% mark from three.

Whitehead, for all his injury troubles, has astronomical potential as an offensive linchpin and was a top-three player in his class for a reason. His form is great, his shooting stroke is clean and his ability off the dribble is top-notch. Under the right system, and with a team built to his strengths as its leading scorer, there’s no reason he couldn’t light the league on fire. The Jazz have a talented guard room and an undisputed star in Lauri Markkanen, but have space for an explosive small forward who can add some extra firepower to a team that already finished fifth in the league in scoring. Strike when the iron’s hot.

The lottery:

  1. San Antonio Spurs — Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92 (France)
  2. Charlotte Hornets — Brandon Miller, Alabama 
  3. Portland Trail Blazers — Scoot Henderson, G-League Ignite
  4. Houston Rockets — Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite
  5. Detroit Pistons — Cam Whitmore, Villanova
  6. Orlando Magic — Jarace Walker, Houston
  7. Indiana Pacers — Taylor Hendricks, UCF
  8. Washington Wizards — Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite
  9. Utah Jazz — Anthony Black, Arkansas
  10. Dallas Mavericks — Cason Wallace, Kentucky
  11. Orlando Magic — Gradey Dick, Kansas
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder — Bilal Coulibaly, Metropolitans 92
  13. Toronto Raptors — Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana
  14. New Orleans Pelicans — Keyonte George, Baylor

Rachael Kaplan

V. 119 Sports Managing Editor

Duke’s picks:

Dereck Lively II: 19th, Golden State. Lively is undoubtedly a defensive player. With 2.4 blocks per game — good for ninth in the nation — and more rebounds than points, whichever team he ends up on will be gaining strength on the opposite end. The second-best 3-point shooting squad in the regular season, led by Curry, doesn’t need another sharpshooter: It needs a reliable defensive center. Lively has four inches on every member of the Warriors’ 2022-23 roster, adding an entirely new dimension to Kerr’s forced small-ball lineup. The Philadelphia native found his niche in Cameron — that same skill set will suit him well in the Bay Area. 

Dariq Whitehead: 17th, Los Angeles Lakers. Whitehead presents a bit of a challenge. In terms of potential, the 6-foot-7 forward’s ceiling is as high as they come. However, as Blue Devil fans know all too well, his freshman, and only, year in the collegiate game was marred by constant injury. The third-ranked recruit only started seven games while appearing in 28 — in those 28, he averaged 8.3 points while shooting 42.9% from three. His pure athleticism is undeniable, but his consistency is in question. The Lakers could greatly benefit from his long-range shot without placing too much on his shoulders — and injured foot — at once. 

The lottery:

  1. San Antonio Spurs — Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92
  2. Charlotte Hornets — Brandon Miller, Alabama
  3. Portland Trail Blazers — Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite
  4. Houston Rockets — Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite
  5. Detroit Pistons — Taylor Hendricks, UCF
  6. Orlando Magic — Cam Whitmore, Villanova
  7. Indiana Pacers — Jarace Walker, Houston
  8. Washington Wizards — Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite
  9. Utah Jazz — Anthony Black, Arkansas
  10. Dallas Mavericks — Bilal Coulibaly, Metropolitans 92
  11. Orlando Magic — Gradey Dick, Kansas
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder — Cason Wallace, Kentucky
  13. Toronto Raptors — Keyonte George, Baylor
  14. New Orleans Pelicans — Jordan Hawkins, UConn

Mackenzie Sheehy

V. 119 Blue Zone Editor

Duke’s picks:

Dereck Lively II: 14th, New Orleans Pelicans. Largely touted as the No. 1 player in his class and a five-star recruit, Lively’s time at Duke got off to an inauspicious start with an injury plaguing him early on in the season. That said, the Philadelphia native came into his own in the twilight of the 2022-23 campaign, finishing the year averaging 5.2 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 blocks. If his talent continues to develop as it did while he was in a Blue Devil uniform, Lively has the capabilities to develop into a lethal center and a mainstay in any NBA team. As he continues to show off his shooting range and multifaceted talents in workouts, he puts himself in a great position as a potential lottery pick. 

Dariq Whitehead: 30th, LA Clippers. While Whitehead was slated to be a major headliner for Duke’s freshman class, he arguably fell short of expectation. After missing several games due to a foot injury, the Newark, N.J., native struggled to find his place as a substitute. However, his true talents began to show toward the end of the season with his elite 3-point shooting and incredible court vision. Whitehead could prove to be an asset for any NBA team in need of a scoring talent. It is unlikely that he will be a lottery pick, but the forward has the potential to reshape any organization if he continues to develop on both ends of the court, turning himself into a major shooting threat. 

The lottery:

  1. San Antonio Spurs — Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92
  2. Charlotte Hornets — Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite
  3. Portland Trail Blazers — Brandon Miller, Alabama
  4. Houston Rockets — Cam Whitmore, Villanova
  5. Detroit Pistons — Jarace Walker, Houston
  6. Orlando Magic — Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite
  7. Indiana Pacers — Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite
  8. Washington Wizards — Anthony Black, Arkansas
  9. Utah Jazz — Cason Wallace, Kentucky
  10. Dallas Mavericks — Taylor Hendricks, UCF
  11. Orlando Magic — Gradey Dick, Kansas
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder — Kobe Bufkin, Michigan
  13. Toronto Raptors — Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana
  14. New Orleans Pelicans — Dereck Lively II, Duke

Ranjan Jindal

V. 119 Assistant Blue Zone Editor

Duke’s picks:

Dereck Lively II: 12th, Oklahoma City Thunder. Lively is an anomaly for lottery picks based on sheer stats, but the numbers do not tell the whole story. The Philadelphia native’s draft stock is rapidly rising as a rim-protecting center, and it would not surprise me if he went even higher than the 12th pick. If Lively does get selected here, he would fit in nicely to a Thunder team that has plenty of offensive firepower but is in need of a defensive stopper. In addition, Lively already has a solid shooting stroke and time with NBA coaches will improve his offensive playmaking capabilities. Oklahoma City is a young and improving team that should factor into the Western Conference playoff conversation again with the return of last year’s second-overall pick Chet Holmgren — who could form a dangerous big-man duo with Lively. 

Dariq Whitehead: 22nd, Brooklyn Nets. Frankly, any team that can get Whitehead in the late first round could be getting a major draft steal. Arguably his greatest skill — his high-flying athleticism — was hindered all season due to injury, so teams have not been able to truly gauge his talent. The flip side to this is a lack of in-game experience, which led to some evident defensive mistakes last season. Nevertheless, I think Whitehead’s ability to score from all three levels on the court at a high level makes him an attractive prospect. Brooklyn has back-to-back picks in the late first round, and the Montverde product could inject some fuel into a rebuilding team with a lot of young talent. It’s possible that his absence from pre-draft workouts could hurt Whitehead’s draft stock and he could fall into the last couple of picks of the round. However, Whitehead would fit well with the Nets, where he will generally have the freedom to create his own shot and play amongst other offensively-gifted young players. 

The lottery:

  1. San Antonio Spurs — Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92 
  2. Charlotte Hornets — Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite
  3. Portland Trail Blazers — Brandon Miller, Alabama
  4. Houston Rockets — Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite
  5. Detroit Pistons — Cam Whitmore, Villanova
  6. Orlando Magic — Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite
  7. Indiana Pacers — Jarace Walker, Houston
  8. Washington Wizards — Anthony Black, Arkansas
  9. Utah Jazz — Bilal Coulibaly, Metropolitans 92
  10. Dallas Mavericks — Taylor Hendricks, UCF
  11. Orlando Magic — Gradey Dick, Kansas
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder — Dereck Lively II, Duke
  13. Toronto Raptors — Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana
  14. New Orleans Pelicans — Keyonte George, Baylor

Dom Fenoglio

V. 119 Assistant Blue Zone Editor

Duke’s picks:

Dereck Lively II: 13th, Toronto Raptors. As a big that can legitimately defend at all five positions, Lively is an attractive prospect for a number of teams. If the Raptors choose to trade away their best player in Pascal Siakam as some rumors have suggested, they will be left with a glaring gap in the frontcourt. While Lively still has room to grow in the offensive department, he can help anchor a young defense in Toronto. His shot-blocking and ability to cover a switch on the pick-and-roll were what stood out for the 7-foot-1 center at Duke, and both are welcome additions in the NBA. If he can develop a more consistent post game and midrange shot, Lively has the potential to be one of the most impactful players in his class. After taking small forward Scottie Barnes with the fourth-overall pick in 2021, the Raptors may look to Durham for another young talent.

Dariq Whitehead: 17th, Los Angeles Lakers. With all of the freshman talent on display for the Blue Devils last season, Whitehead was left as the odd-man out, coming off the bench down the stretch. However, that did anything but slow him down. He scored 16 points in the semifinals of the ACC tournament against Miami and 13 against Oral Roberts in the NCAA tournament. With his knack to score, Whitehead projects as an immediate impact player as a rookie, even if his role is somewhat limited. Although there are still concerns about his long-term health, the Lakers may take a chance on the Duke product at No. 17. This feels similar to the Nuggets snatching up Christian Braun with the 21st pick last year; while the team is not addressing a glaring need and already has its stars, it is getting a seasoned scorer with big-game experience. Should Whitehead continue to develop at all three levels on offense, Los Angeles will be getting a steal at 17th.

The lottery:

  1. San Antonio Spurs — Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92
  2. Charlotte Hornets — Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite
  3. Portland Trail Blazers — Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite
  4. Houston Rockets — Ausar Thompson, Overtime Elite
  5. Detroit Pistons — Brandon Miller, Alabama
  6. Orlando Magic — Anthony Black, Arkansas
  7. Indiana Pacers — Cam Whitmore, Villanova
  8. Washington Wizards — Taylor Hendricks, UCF
  9. Utah Jazz — Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana
  10. Dallas Mavericks — Keyonte George, Baylor
  11. Orlando Magic — Gradey Dick, Kansas
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder — Bilal Coulibaly, Metropolitans 92
  13. Toronto Raptors — Dereck Lively II, Duke
  14. New Orleans Pelicans — Kobe Bufkin, Michigan

Sophie Levenson

V. 119 Sports Features Editor

Duke’s picks:

Dereck Lively II: 15th, Atlanta Hawks. Coming into the 2022-23 season as the top recruit in his class, Lively was often overshadowed by teammate Kyle Filipowski— the other big man in the paint — during the early part of the season, especially in the box score. But Lively was a true rookie in that his freshman season saw considerable improvement, and the Westtown School product worked his way to a spot on the All-ACC defensive team before heading into an exciting and successful postseason. In Duke’s ACC semifinal clash with Miami, Lively put up eight points with three blocks and three assists to push the Blue Devils past the Hurricanes using that 7-foot-1 stature — which a team like the Hawks could really use — to his advantage. If Lively is lucky, he may be selected a little higher than his skills may really warrant, and the center is certainly not as much of a hot commodity in this draft as past Duke products. Nonetheless, he brings defensive solidity and height — solid assets for any NBA roster.

Dariq Whitehead: 19th, Golden State Warriors. Missing out on minutes all season means that Whitehead will likely not be snagged in the lottery round. A clever coach, however — like athletic mind Steve Kerr — might see the talent that the court did not see as frequently as expected last season, and pick up the Montverde Academy product early on. Sharpshooting Whitehead fits the Golden State bill with a 42.9% success rate beyond the arc that he couples with a powerful athletic presence to make him a clear asset to any team looking for a fresh pair of hands. But the 2022 Naismith High School Player of the Year has two things going against him: He’s young and, thanks to season injuries, relatively inexperienced. Anyone who has seen Whitehead on the floor, however, knows that he simply does not play like a recent freshman; on the contrary, his game is defined by the patience and mentality of a far more veteran guard. If Whitehead is given the chance to develop on a court with storied players like Curry and Wiggins, he will have every chance to harness his talent to become one of the best young players in the league.

The lottery:

  1. San Antonio Spurs — Victor Wembanyama, Metropolitans 92 
  2. Charlotte Hornets — Scoot Henderson, G League Ignite
  3. Portland Trail Blazers — Amen Thompson, Overtime Elite
  4. Houston Rockets — Cam Whitmore, Villanova
  5. Detroit Pistons — Brandon Miller, Alabama
  6. Orlando Magic — Taylor Hendricks, UCF
  7. Indiana Pacers — Gradey Dick, Kansas
  8. Washington Wizards — Keyonte George, Baylor
  9. Utah Jazz — Cason Wallace, Kentucky
  10. Dallas Mavericks — Anthony Black, Arkansas
  11. Orlando Magic — Jett Howard, Michigan
  12. Oklahoma City Thunder — Bilal Coulibaly, Metropolitans 92
  13. Toronto Raptors — Kobe Bufkin, Michigan
  14. New Orleans Pelicans — Jalen Hood-Schifino

Rachael Kaplan profile
Rachael Kaplan | Sports Managing Editor

Rachael Kaplan is a Trinity junior and sports managing editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


Andrew Long profile
Andrew Long | Sports Editor

Andrew Long is a Trinity junior and sports editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


Ranjan Jindal profile
Ranjan Jindal | Assistant Blue Zone editor

Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


Dom Fenoglio | Assistant Blue Zone editor

Dom Fenoglio is a Trinity sophomore and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


Sophie Levenson | Sports features editor

Sophie Levenson is a Trinity sophomore and sports features editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


Mackenzie Sheehy profile
Mackenzie Sheehy | Blue Zone editor

Mackenzie Sheehy is a Trinity sophomore and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.

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