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Center prospects that could go in the first round of the NBA Draft

This is not considered an especially strong center class so not many players are likely to go in the first round

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
Victor Wembanyama blocks a shot against G League Ignite
Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images

On yesterday’s Bleav in Wizards podcast, I was joined by Garrett Johnson, a scout for Between the Lines Sports and a Wizards fan. In this episode, we broke down the center class heading into the 2023 NBA Draft.

As always for more detail and exposition, check out the full episode. However, for the sake of discussion, here are the viable center prospects who could potentially hear their name called in the first round on draft night.

Victor Wembanyama, 7’4, Metropolitans 92, consensus ranking: 1

Stats: 21.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 3.2 blocks, 30.4% 3PT (5.3ATT), 46.5% FG, 82.9% FT

Case for: total alien.

Case against: maybe he gets bored of dominating here on Earth and decides to return to his home planet

Metropolitans 92 v G League Ignite
Victor Wembanyama dunks against the G League Ignite
Photo by David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images

Dereck Lively 7’1, Duke, consensus ranking: 18

Stats: 5.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 2.4 blocks, 15.4% 3PT, 65.8% FG, 60% FT

Case for: good rim-protecter / runner, easy to envision his NBA role, elite prospect pedigree

Case against: limited offensive skillset, not very versatile, struggled to make an impact at the college level (although may have been held back due to injuries to start the year)

Duke v Tennessee
Lively blocking a shot in the NCAA tournament
Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images

Trayce Jackson-Davis, 6’9, Indiana, consensus ranking: 32

Stats: 20.9 points, 10.8 rebounds, 4 assists, 2.9 blocks, 58.1% FG, 69.5% FT

Case for: very productive, plays hard, strong, improved passer

Case against: undersized center, doesn’t project as much of a floor-spacer

Kent State v Indiana
Jackson-Davis finishing against Kent State in the NCAA tournament
Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

James Nnaji, 6’10, Barcelona, consensus ranking: 33

Stats: 3.8 points, 2.1 rebounds, .5 blocks, 68.4% FG, 52.4% FT

Case for: long, athletic, projects as a prototypical rim-runner/ shot-blocker

Case against: raw, limited offensive skillset

Virtus Segafredo Bologna v FC Barcelona - 2022/2023 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague
James Nnaji dunking for Barcelona
Photo by Luca Sgamellotti/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images

DaRon Holmes II, 6’10, Dayton, consensus ranking: 44

Stats: 18.4 points, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 1.9 blocks, 31.6% 3PT, 59% FG, 66.9% FT

Case for: good low-post scorer, runs the floor hard, was very good defensively at the college level, was very productive despite playing with limited spacing

Case against: limited floor-spacing potentially, questionable translation of shot-blocking to the NBA level

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 25 Dayton at Rhode Island
DaRon Holmes II dunking against Rhode Island
Photo by Erica Denhoff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Adem Bona, 6’10, UCLA, consensus ranking: 46

Stats: 7.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 blocks, 67.5% FG, 57.3% FT

Case for: bouncy athlete, good finisher, good lateral mobility, good shot-blocker

Case against: still very much a work in progress, doubtful to provide floor-spacing

Northwestern v UCLA
Adem Bona dunking against Northwestern during the NCAA tournament
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images