2023 NBA Draft: 3 Sleepers who could vault into the top 5 on draft night

Cam Whitmore, Villanova Wildcats (right) Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Cam Whitmore, Villanova Wildcats (right) Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Taylor Hendricks could vault into the top five of the 2023 NBA Draft.
Taylor Hendricks, University of Central Florida Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports /

3. Taylor Hendricks, Central Florida

Hendricks doesn’t get enough attention as a 6-foot-9, possibly 6-foot-10 forward with a 7-foot-1 wingspan who’s versatile defensively and has become a knockdown three-point shooter. His trajectory points toward an oversized three-and-D forward who can guard three through five and protect the rim. He played center in high school and dabbled there in his one-and-done season at UCF, as well.

He’s long enough and smart enough defensively to guard multiple positions, but unlike most wings of that archetype, he’s a fantastic deterrent at the basket – he averaged 1.7 blocks last season – with his above-average leaping ability, experience defending near the rim, and quick second jump.

He doesn’t bite on pump fakes, aggressively fights through screens, and sets a tone defensively for his team.

Offensively, Hendricks averaged 15.1 points and 7.0 rebounds as a freshman while hitting 39.4 percent of his shots behind the arc. He’s a three-and-D tweener; rather than playing mostly as a wing, his best position in the NBA will be a four, through he can vacillate three through five.

He can face up from the perimeter and shoot over defenders if he’s in rhythm. He’s a potentially unstoppable screener in pick-and-roll action; he’s long, athletic, and times his runs to the rim well, but he can also pick-and-pop to knock down an open shot or draw the defense out toward the perimeter.

His biggest flaw is a lack of shot creation. He doesn’t have the tightest handles and isn’t super efficient shooting off the bounce. But as a three-and-D player who can protect the rim like a center, Hendricks’ versatility and ceiling are off the charts.

Fits in top five: Hornets, Blazers, Pistons

dark. Next. Blazers 2023 NBA Draft Big Board: Final pre-draft rankings

Get ready for a wild night on June 22. Trades are likely going to shake up the top of the draft, and the potential of certain prospects being picked higher or lower than expected will be a direct result of it.

In the simplest terms: come draft night, don’t be surprised to be surprised.