The 2023 NBA draft is finally approaching on Thursday, June 22. Many Portland Trail Blazers fans have been looking forward to the draft since the organization shut down Damian Lillard toward the end of the regular season.
Most of the focus is on what the Blazers decide to do with their No. 3 overall selection and whether or not they ultimately decide to keep or trade the pick.
Regardless of which team makes the selection, the player is somewhat solidified, likely being either Brandon Miller or Scoot Henderson. However, the Blazers’ No. 23 overall pick, which they received from the New York Knicks in February’s Josh Hart trade, could go in various directions.
What Portland decides to do with the No. 3 overall pick could also dictate what it does with the No. 23 selection.
For example, if they choose to trade the No. 3 pick to go all-in with Lillard in an attempt to contend for a championship, an NBA-ready type player who is more developed would make more sense at No. 23.
If the Blazers keep their pick at No. 3, then they could be more patient with the development of their pick No. 23 prospect and swing for someone who is more raw with higher upside.
Some intriguing prospects are projected to be available at No. 23 that could help fill some positional needs and weaknesses. Here is a compilation of recent mock drafts from various sites for the No. 23 pick.
Yahoo Sports: Kris Murray, Iowa, Forward
Kris Murray is a 6-foot-8 junior from the University of Iowa. He’s the brother of Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray, who had an extremely productive rookie season after being selected No. 4 in last year’s draft.
Kris had a breakout junior season, averaging 20.2 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.2 blocks, and 1.0 steals per game on 48/34/73 shooting splits. At 22 years old, he’s already more developed than other prospects entering this year’s draft, with his stats reflecting his well-balanced game.
Yahoo Sports’ Krysten Peek wrote: “The Iowa forward showed a lot of improvement over the last two seasons and capped off his junior year with first-team All-Big Ten honors. His defense is what separates him from other forwards in this draft class, being able to guard multiple positions.”
Murray could be an excellent fit for Portland, given his NBA readiness and two-way game.