The 2023 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday, June 22, at 8 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN). The Portland Trail Blazers had a disappointing 2022-23 season, but the good news is they have picks No. 3, 23 (via Knicks), and 43 (via Hawks).
The late first round of the NBA draft presents a unique opportunity for teams to select more experienced and developed players. Some players typically available around this range may be overlooked due to their age and perceived lack of potential, making them great sleeper picks.
These five players mentioned are worth considering, especially if the Blazers are in win-now mode. While some of these sleepers may be projected to go in the second round, Portland has enough assets to maneuver around the draft, if needed.
If they don’t like the pick’s value at No. 23 and think they can get their player later, Portland could trade it to a team interested in moving up. The Charlotte Hornets and Indiana Pacers are potential trade partners with multiple picks in the draft, especially around that late-first, early second-round range.
Here are five hidden gems that align with the Blazers’ positional needs and can make an immediate impact.
Blazers NBA draft sleeper No. 1: Kobe Brown, Missouri, Forward
Kobe Brown has been garnering the NBA’s attention following his breakout senior year at Missouri, in which he averaged 15.8 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.5 assists, and 1.5 steals on 55/46/79 shooting splits.
At 6-foot-8, 250 pounds with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Brown poses a mismatch problem that is advantageous for himself and his teammates.
Brown’s offensive versatility is noteworthy since he can score almost anywhere on the court. He shot 62.3 percent at the rim and 44.3 percent on catch-and-shoot opportunities this year, a significant improvement from his first three seasons in college.
His passing abilities are also impressive and could make him an asset for Portland as a playmaking big that can have the ball in his hands while shooters get open off of screens.
Defensively, Brown’s strong-bodied stature enables him to guard multiple positions and make an impact both on-ball and as a help defender. However, his athleticism could be a concern against more explosive forwards and quicker guards.
Time will tell how that will translate in the NBA, but it’s definitely promising that he’s in better shape this season.
Overall, Brown’s well-rounded game and two-way versatility make him a great prospect that could fill many needs for the Blazers.