2023 Mock Draft 2.0: Spurs roll the dice, Hornets win Wembanyama sweepstakes

Brandon Miller - San Diego State v Alabama
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. . Duke. . Dariq Whitehead. 22. player. 147

With their second pick in a row, the Nets then select Duke freshman Dariq Whitehead to pair with Hood-Schifino in the backcourt. The Nets’ time and patience in their rebuild factors into this decision similar to how it did with their previous selection in that the Nets can afford to ramp Whitehead up slowly coming off yet another foot surgery. 

For those that are unaware or may have forgotten, Whitehead was once considered to be one of the top NBA prospects in college basketball coming into the season but struggled to find his footing as a result of his injuries. Most notably, his athleticism appeared to be pretty significantly impacted, resulting in him struggling to create separation against defenders, explode into passing lanes on defense, and finish above the rim. Foot injuries can be particularly risky and debilitating, with Spurs center Zach Collins being a prime example, and NBA teams may struggle to buy into him as a result.

With that in mind, though, Whitehead still hit nearly 43% of his threes and wasn’t exactly a negative asset on either end of the floor. Those looking at stats alone may not quite understand this selection, but if you’ve been paying attention to him since his time at Montverde, you’ll know that Whitehead falling this far in the draft could look foolish in a few years were he to return to his pre-injury form.