February 28, 2024

PBA mock draft: Prolific guards go 1-2, recovering star lands at 3

PBA mock draft: Prolific guards go 1-2, recovering star lands at 3
Art by Royce Nicdao

The annual PBA Draft is always something to look forward to, as it can represent either a new beginning or the continuation of a rebuild. It also signals the entry of fresh talents, which the league needs to revitalize fan interest and rejuvenate the competition.

And with the draft just a few days away, One Sports has put on its analyst’s hat once more to guesstimate which 12 rookie hopefuls will hear their names called first on draft day—and which teams will pick them.

Without further ado, here is One Sports’ mock draft for the 2023 PBA Draft:

1st pick – Terrafirma Dyip: Stephen Holt

The Dyip need the best available talent, and Holt fits the bill, having been a double-digit scorer in US NCAA Division 1 basketball. Sure, he is already 31, but he gives Terrafirma a proven bucket-getter heavy on international experience—and, at 6-foot-4, a perfect complement to point guard Juami Tiongson.

2nd pick – Blackwater Bossing: Schonny Winston

Like Holt, Winston is a bucket-getter, and he can provide the Bossing some serious firepower at the 2 or 3 slots. That he was once invited to join Gilas practices speaks to his undeniable talent.

3rd pick – Rain or Shine Elasto Painters: Zavier Lucero

It's possible Lucero won’t be playing in Season 48 as he recovers from his torn ACL. Regardless, expect Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao to nab the do-it-all former UP Fighting Maroon and wait it out because Lucero can be a force on both ends.

4th pick – Rain or Shine Elasto Painters: Luis Villegas

Villegas, listed in the UAAP as 6-foot-8, is a Guiao-type big—tough but with a nice touch from the perimeter. Given the fiery mentor’s wish for size, the one-and-done UE Red Warrior is a logical choice here.

5th pick – NorthPort Batang Pier: Keith Datu

While JM Calma held the fort for NorthPort in the PBA On Tour, the entire Batang Pier frontcourt needs some size—something the 6-foot-7 Datu can provide right away. The PBA 3x3 standout also provides a decent touch and some athleticism.

6th pick – Phoenix Fuel Masters: Kemark Cariño

While big man Larry Muyang appears ready for a bigger role, it would be hard to pass up on Cariño, a 6-foot-8 big who can shoot, pass, and move his feet. He’d be a perfect fit next to Muyang, Jason Perkins, and Sean Anthony.  

7th pick – NLEX Road Warriors: Brandon Bates

NLEX gets a Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser play-alike with the 6-foot-9 Bates—strong, highly physical, and athletic. Hard to pass that one up, for sure.

8th pick – Meralco Bolts: Ken Tuffin

The Bolts are practically complete, so getting a talented shooter like Tuffin at 8 is a luxury. The former FEU Tamaraw can be Allein Maliksi’s understudy and provide 3-point shooting for Meralco.

9th pick – Converge FiberXers: Ricci Rivero

Rivero is a great unknown at this point, as he has not played any basketball of consequence. But he is an athletic slasher who’ll be an excellent fit for coach Aldin Ayo’s high-octane, fast-paced, up-and-down system.

10th pick – Converge FiberXers: Christian David

While Justin Arana and Geo Ambohot are fast becoming cornerstone big men for Converge, coach Ayo sure could use more size. Enter David, who’ll give the FiberXers are mobile big who can slot in at any frontline position and fit in seamlessly.

11th pick – NorthPort Batang Pier: Fran Yu

Yu already showed out in the PBA On Tour for NorthPort, and nabbing him as a late first-rounder seems just about right. But don’t be surprised if Yu proves to be a steal.

12th pick – Terrafirma Dyip: Tsutomu Tateishi

The Dyip got a certified playmaker at first overall, now they get some much-needed ceiling with Tateishi, a 6-foot-9 Fil-Japanese center who played for the College of St. Benilde Blazers in the NCAA.

It shouldn't be a surprise if Kyt Jimenez, probably one of the buzziest names heading into the draft, makes a jump in the first round, but nabbing him later on should be a given. Fil-Am Shean Jackson, who was among the highest leapers in the Draft Combine, alongside former JRU Heavy Bomber John Amores and ex-Ateneo Blue Eagle Raffy Verano could also be solid picks.  

The 2023 PBA Draft will take place on Sunday, September 17, at Market! Market! in Taguig. Catch the entire draft on One Sports at 4 p.m. 

(GM)