There will be a host of young men ready to find out their fate on June 22 in USA; the 23rd down under.
That’s when lives will be altered at the 2023 NBA Draft and family’s fortunes will change forever.
Most of the Draft buzz, of course, has been centred around Victor Wembanyama, who we’ve written about extensively. When San Antonio secured the number one pick in the Draft Lottery, you can guarantee that jersey manufacturers were already pumping out Wembanyama merchandise, knowing too well that the Spurs will take the French phenom with the top pick.
The top five are just about locked in too, with the likes of Scoot Henderson, Brandon Miller and OTE’s Thompson twins likely to make up the group.
And there are two other prospects in the draft race with close ties to Australia — Rayan Rupert and Mojave King. Both recently worked out for various NBA teams.
So let’s find out more about the players that Australia’s keeping a close eye on, as the picks come in.
2023 NBA Draft prospects on Australia’s radar
Age: 19 (DOB: May 31, 2004)
Team: New Zealand Breakers
Draft Projection: Mid-first round
Known as a defensive-minded wing who’s not afraid to get to the bucket on the offensive end, the Frenchman is projected to be picked midway through the first round. He’s listed as 6’7 – but the 19-year-old is definitely still growing – that, combined with his 7’3 wingspan and professional experience at such a young age, makes him a great pick up for a team willing to mould him into a solid 3 and D wing.
And while Aussies and Kiwis will be supporting Rupert in this next phase of his career, it will be a different story when he suits up for his national team. NBA veterans Rudy Gobert, Nic Batum and Evan Fournier, together with the next generation, led by Wembanyama, Usman Dieng and now Rupert, the French national team are going to be a problem in the future.
Age: 21 (DOB: June 11, 2002)
Team: G-League Ignite
Draft Projection: Late second round
Already a three year pro, Mojave King has been on NBA radars since he was a teenager, with the NBA Global Academy. The now 21-year-old has taken the long road to get here, but is well placed to feature on an NBA court in the upcoming season.
King was born in New Zealand but has called Australia home since he was six.
As part of the NBL Next Stars program, it was anticipated that King would declare for the 2021, if not 2022 Draft. However, his first two years as a pro were far from ideal.
Signing with the Cairns Taipans in 2020, King averaged 6.2 points, 2.5 rebounds and 0.5 assists. It wasn’t any better in Adelaide the following season, with King’s minutes going from 16.6 minutes per game to just 10.
In September 2022, King signed with the G-League Ignite, following in the footsteps of Dyson Daniels, who was picked at number 8 in the 2022 Draft by the New Orleans Pelicans.
The NBA style of play suited King’s game, as his stocks began to rise yet again. The explosive guard averaged 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds, and 1.2 assists, and was rewarded with a call up to the Rising Stars game at NBA All-Star Weekend in Salt Lake City.
King’s defensive prowess, especially at the perimeter, is a big positive in his game. So too is his athleticism and ability to go downhill. He’s projected to go late in the second round of the 2023 NBA Draft, but whether he’s picked up on draft night or not, it’s likely we’ll see him on an NBA court next season.