2023 NBA mock draft: Best fit vs. best available for the first round

Is Amen or Ausar Thompson the better fit for the Houston Rockets at No. 4 in the NBA draft? Dale Zanine/USA TODAY Sports

The best long-term talent available or the best roster fit for the present? It's a timeless question that has vexed NBA executives and scouts and one that will loom over the 2023 NBA draft June 22 (8 p.m. ET, ESPN and ESPN App) at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

All 30 teams will approach the question differently. Some teams are seeking a player to complement their existing roster and would prefer to fill a need. Others are trying to replace a player they expect to lose in free agency. Many teams will look to the future, selecting on the basis of potential and attempting to identify a prospect who can grow into a significant long-term talent regardless of roster fit, with an eye on eventually ending up with one of the best players in the draft.

ESPN NBA draft experts Jeremy Woo and Jonathan Givony conducted their own draft, alternating first-round picks with two competing agendas in mind -- a player who is best equipped to help a team win a game tonight, versus the prospect who is the best long-term talent available at that slot.


1. San Antonio Spurs

Best fit: Victor Wembanyama | Metropolitans 92 | PF/C | Age: 19.4

Best available: Wembanyama

It goes without saying that the first pick is the easiest pick in the draft, and neither the Spurs nor the NBA has been compelled to dance around who will be selected No. 1. The Spurs could have a roster full of 15 centers and Wembanyama would still be the best fit. -- Jeremy Woo

2. Charlotte Hornets

Best fit: Brandon Miller | Alabama | SF | Age: 20.5

Best available: Miller

Pairing LaMelo Ball with Scoot Henderson is far from an impossible task, but it is one that would take time to find chemistry for the guards on both ends of the floor, particularly on defense. Many NBA executives feel that Henderson's hunger for scoring will eventually make him more of a combo guard better suited playing with a pass-first point guard such as Ball. It's very difficult for young guards in his mold to avoid being net negatives early in their career, however, especially with the inconsistency he has shown with his perimeter shooting, decision-making and defensive intensity.

Miller's fit on the Hornets is without question cleaner, considering how little talent Charlotte has on the wing. His ability to make shots in dynamic fashion from all over the floor, create for others off a live dribble, defend multiple positions and generally play the big guard/wing role every NBA team covets currently gives him the edge for me in terms of fit and long term. -- Jonathan Givony

3. Portland Trail Blazers

Best fit: Scoot Henderson | G League Ignite | PG | Age: 19.3

Best available: Henderson

The matter of best available here wasn't especially complicated, as Henderson sits inside the general consensus top three and has a case to go ahead of Miller as the No. 2 prospect, at least for some teams. The question of Portland's best at this spot is more up for debate, considering its guard-heavy roster. Ultimately, Henderson is physically ready and more experienced than the other top candidates at this spot, and if you view him as more of a natural combo, the pairing with Damian Lillard would be imperfect but potentially quite dangerous for defenses. Henderson would supply the Blazers' backcourt with a more downhill, attack-minded dimension, would allow Lillard to spend more time operating as a threat away from the ball and would presumably become the next face of the franchise in time. -- Woo

4. Houston Rockets

Best fit: Ausar Thompson | Overtime Elite | PG/SG | Age: 20.3