Way-too-early 2023 NBA Draft big board has sky-high potential

Dariq Whitehead - Nike Hoop Summit
Dariq Whitehead - Nike Hoop Summit / Steph Chambers/GettyImages
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Spurs 2023 NBA Draft big man prospects

Again, similar to the two previous categories, we're looking for perimeter shooting in this draft class' bigs. In this case, however, rather than scoring upside, I think rim protection is the most valuable secondary skill we're looking for in a big. Essentially, if any bigs in this draft qualify as a modern stretch five that can protect the rim, we will be highly interested. Passing upside would be an added bonus, particularly in a prospect whose jump shot still needs to be developed.

Honorable Mention: James Nnaji - FC Barcelona

This young big man playing in the ACB may be the best pure rim-protecting draft prospect out of Europe for the time being, being the youngest player to put up five blocks in a single ACB game at only 17 years old. On first analysis, his defensive instincts appear to be very strong, he moves well for his size, and he’s an aggressive rebounder.

Outside of finishing lobs out of the pick and roll and/or the dunker’s spot, Nnaji’s offensive game is still in the very early stages of development, which is why he’s starting out only as an honorable mention. But high-feel bigs with international experience are almost always deserving of a shoutout, and if Nnaji is able to show a bit more offensive versatility, he could easily move up the list.

Other bigs we’ll be monitoring:

Kyle Filipowski - Duke

Adem Bona - UCLA

Leonardo Okeke - Joventut Badalona

Vincent Iwuchukwu - USC*

*We were saddened to hear this past week that Vincent Iwuchukwu suffered cardiac arrest during a USC team workout this past July. While it isn’t clear at this time if and when he’ll be cleared to play for USC, we still believe he is an NBA-level prospect and deserving of a mention here. We will be monitoring his situation closely moving forward.