Draft week is upon us and, with it, the unofficial start of the NBA’s offseason frenzy. Insiders have dubbed the 2024 class of prospects as one of the weakest in recent memory with no individual managing to separate themselves from the pack just yet. Expect some movement on draft night as teams look to outfox one another and either jumpstart a rebuild or strengthen their playoff rotation. As always, the draft is characterised by its unpredictability, so expect some surprises as we get closer.
  1. Atlanta Hawks | Alexandre Sarr (PF/C, Perth Wildcats, Intl.)

The fact that Atlanta’s plan for the No.1 pick remains clouded and up in the air this late into the process speaks volumes about the leaguewide evaluations of the class. Sarr has spent much of the year atop big boards and mock drafts and will undoubtedly be on the Hawks’ list even if no workout between the two parties eventuates. A smooth athlete with bankable defensive skills and what teams hope is a level of untapped offensive potential, the Hawks may view the Frenchman as the best available player. Plenty of smoke has surrounded the Hawks’ pick with Risacher and Clingan both mentioned as potential candidates along with suggestions that a trade could eventuate.

  1. Washington Wizards | Donovan Clingan (C, UConn, So.)

Sarr likely remains Washington’s preferred target but if the Frenchman is off the board they may turn their attention to UConn’s championship-winning bigman Clingan. Standing at 7’ 3” and possessing exciting potential as a defensive anchor, Clingan fills the most obvious hole on Washington’s roster and would immediately slot into the starting five. The offensive upside may not be at the level generally expected of picks this high but the marriage a lot of sense for a Wizards team looking to for a jumpstart to their rebuild.

  1. Houston Rockets (from Brooklyn) | Reed Sheppard (PG/SG, Kentucky, Fr.)

Sheppard has been pegged as Houston’s most likely target since they received the No.3 pick. A knockdown shooter and strong decision-maker, Sheppard would provide Houston will valuable backcourt depth immediately with the vision of the 20-year-old succeeding Fred VanVleet as a starter sometime down the track. He works hard defensively and possesses the IQ to hold his own, but his lack of size may be difficult to get past.

  1. San Antonio Spurs | Stephon Castle (PG/SG, UConn, Fr.)

The Spurs are expected to be active on the phones in the lead-up to and throughout the draft as they fill in the puzzle around last year’s No.1 selection Victor Wembanyama. An NCAA champion, Castle has been on San Antonio’s radar throughout the draft process and would likely battle it out with Risacher – if he’ still on the board – at this slot. A dogged defender with playmaking upside, Castle’s ceiling – like many players in this class – will be determined by the strides he makes a shooter (he shot just 26.7% on 2.2 nightly attempts in his one year at UConn).

  1. Detroit Pistons | Zaccharie Risacher (SF, JL Bourg, Intl.)

It’s hard seeing Detroit pass on Risacher if he’s still on the board at No.5 even if they’ve had eyes on Buzelis throughout the draft process. A 3&D wing, Risacher would slot seamlessly into the Pistons’ lineup and provide much-needed floor spacing for Cade Cunningham and co. who were one of the league’s worst shooting teams a year ago. Risacher’s ability to create his own shot will dictate his ceiling as he makes the leap to the NBA.

  1. Charlotte Hornets | Dalton Knecht (SF, Tennessee, Sr.)

Charlotte will be looking for a guy to complement their core of LaMelo Ball, Brandon Miller, and Mark Williams and Tennessee’s Knecht could prove their target. A phenomenal three-pointer shooter with the ability to score off the dribble and create good shots, Knecht would be a seamless fit for the Hornets but the question will be whether or not they see him as the best player on the board as they continue their rebuild.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers | Matas Buzelis (SF, G-League Ignite, 2004)

With an already jammed backcourt, Portland will have their eyes on frontcourt help with No.7 and Buzelis’ talent may be too much to overlook should he remain on the board. Buzelis endured a difficult year in the G-League but, at 6’ 10”, is a skilled playmaker who boasts some upside on both sides of the ball. He shot the ball poorly and was one of several casualties of Team Ignite’s lacklustre season but could be a worthy upside bet at this stage of the draft.

  1. San Antonio Spurs (from Toronto) | Tidjane Salaun (SF, Cholet Basket, Intl.)

San Antonio have shown in past years that they have no issue selecting a player higher than expected if they deem him the best available player. Salaun enters the draft as a type of international man of mystery but possesses an upside that is sure to catch the eye of one team. He’s extremely raw but stands at 6’ 9” with a 7’ 1” wingspan and showed some shooting and defensive upside this past year in France. More often than not, these types of prospects fail to pan out but, when they do, it can be franchise-altering.

  1. Memphis Grizzlies | Devin Carter (PG, Providence, Jr.)

Carter has shot up the boards in recent weeks and will draw consideration from Memphis if he is still on the board at No.9. Viewed as an NBA ready contributor thanks to his defensive prowess and connectivity on offence, Carter looms as a potentially key addition for a Grizzlies team in win-now mode.

  1. Utah Jazz | Rob Dillingham (PG, Kentucky, Fr.)

Dillingham was one of college basketball’s most electric scorers and could go higher than No.10. Listed at just 6’ 1” and 164 lbs, his lack of size is his biggest weakness, but Utah may be content with taking a punt on him and worrying about the rest later. He’s a tremendous shooter and a strong ball-handler but there will always be concerns surrounding guards of his stature.

  1. Chicago Bulls | Ron Holland (SF/PF, G-League Ignite, 2005)

Having shipped off Alex Caruso for the younger Josh Giddey, Chicago’s awaited rebuild may be in the works. A dynamic athlete who showed some signs of life as a finisher and defender in the G-League, Holland makes some sense for the Bulls as an upside swing. His shooting numbers were concerning but Chicago may view him as their best bet at a star this late in the lottery.

  1. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Houston) | Kyle Filipowski (C, Duke, So.)

Bigman depth was always going to be a key priority for OKC heading into the offseason and Duke’s Filipowski may fit the bill should they look to draft to patch up their centre rotation. A strong passer with the ability to stretch the floor, Filipowski will fit into OKC’s five-out offence and, at 7’ 0”, shore up their bigman depth.

  1. Sacramento Kings | Tristan da Silva (SF/PF, Colorado, Sr.)

Sacramento will look to add an NBA-ready prospect having fallen short of the playoffs this past season. Colorado’s da Silva provides a 3&D presence on the wing and, at 23, should have an easier time transitioning to the pros than a teenager. His athleticism may lower his ceiling as a player but his ability as an initiator should fit in nicely alongside the likes of De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.

  1. Portland Trail Blazers (from Golden State) | Cody Williams (SF, Colorado, Fr.)

The younger brother of OKC stud Jalen, Williams could go far higher than No.14 if a team buys his long-term upside but Portland feel like a strong fit for the Colorado product. Williams is raw but has the size and finishing ability to entice scouts despite his less-than-impressive athleticism and shooting numbers.

  1. Miami Heat | Nikola Topić (PG, KK Crvena Zvezda, Intl.)

An ACL tear looks to have sunk Topić’s stock but, at No.15, he is well worth a swing. His passing gifts and ability to finish at the rim had him atop mocks earlier in the draft process and Miami, who have his fellow countryman Nikola Jović on the roster, may be the team to take the punt on him. Whilst his outside shooting is still a work in progress, there is enough talent for a team this late to bank on.

  1. Philadelphia 76ers | Jared McCain (PG/SG, Duke, Fr.)

Philadelphia will have a number of options at No.16 and, with a decisive offseason looming, may be able to strike gold by unearthing a low-cost asset. McCain is one of the draft’s best shooters – a skill Philadelphia will be desperate to add alongside Joel Embiid – and showed some steady playmaking chops in his one year at Duke. He’s small and a subpar athlete but his feel for the game meshed with a super shooting stroke will earn him consideration at this pick.

  1. Los Angeles Lakers | Isaiah Collier (PG, USC, Fr.)

The consensus No.1 ranked high school recruit heading into the season, Collier had a down year at USC but may have shown enough to entice the Lakers at No.17. LA didn’t allow their oodles of backcourt depth to stop them from drafting a guard at this slot a year ago and, given Collier’s talent and relationship with USC teammate Bronny James, may look to him this time around. His strong frame and ability to get to the rim are the skills his believers will cite but his recklessness with the ball and lack of perimeter game hurt him this past season.

  1. Orlando Magic | Kyshawn George (SG, Miami, Fr.)

One of the league’s worst shooting teams a year ago, the Magic will look to address that over the summer and may start at the draft. George is still raw but is a big guard – which Orlando love – and shot the ball well in his one year at Miami. No.18 may be a little higher than anticipated but his size, shooting, and passing ability may be enough to catch the attention of the Magic despite his lack of athleticism and physicality.

  1. Toronto Raptors (from Indiana) | Tyler Smith (PF/SF, G-League Ignite, 2004)

Toronto have often liked big forwards who project to shoot and Smith could be their guy at No.19. He shot the ball well in the G-League this past season and, at 6’10, has the size to become a multi-positional defender. He was poor defensively this past year however and was largely ineffective as a scorer aside from catch-and-shoot threes but could be a worthy gamble at this spot.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers | Johnny Furphy (SG, Kansas, Fr.)

Cleveland are in a state of some flux with several of the starters being floated as potential trade targets for other teams. Furphy may be a target for them at No.20 with his combination of size and shooting making him a malleable prospect for the Cavs. He’s raw and there’s no guarantee his defence holds up at the next level, but the Australian teenager has impressed in his workouts and showed enough in his one year at Kansas to get looks in the top 20.

  1. New Orleans Pelicans (from Milwaukee) | Kel’el Ware (C, Indiana, So.)

With Jonas Valančiūnas a free agent, New Orleans could be in the market for some bigman depth, and they have several options at this slot. Ware, Edey, Missi and Holmes II all seem to be in a similar tier for most scouts, so, if New Orleans do opt to take a big, it will come down to preference with all four bringing different skillsets to the table. The Ware doubters have pointed at his questionable motor and decision-making, but New Orleans may be enticed by his jumping ability and shooting upside which could prove of particular importance should he team up with Zion Williamson.

  1. Phoenix Suns | Tyler Kolek (PG, Marquette, Sr.)

Phoenix’s lack of a traditional floor general was a theme throughout the year and Marquette’s Kolek should be high on their boards. A fantastic passer who is comfortable with the ball in hands and showed an ability to score inside and out, the 23-year-old would slot directly into Phoenix’s backcourt rotation should they use their pick on him.

  1. Milwaukee Bucks (from New Orleans) | Jaylon Tyson (SG, California, Jr.)

Milwaukee will be eager to find a ready-made contributor with their first-round pick and Tyson could suffice. A well-rounded offensive player who blossomed this season at Cal having taken on a larger role, Tyson could solve a problem for Milwaukee in the backcourt. He can score in a variety of ways but his value on the Bucks will be determined by his effectiveness off-ball and the improvements he can make as a defender.

  1. New York Knicks (from Dallas) | Yves Missi (C, Baylor, Fr.)

With Isaiah Hartenstein set to hit free agency and Mitchell Robinson’s health far from reliable, New York would be wise to use one of their back-to-back firsts on a big. Missi may be their guy, but Edey and Holmes II will both draw consideration. Missi’s strong frame and presence on the glass could see him thrive in the Knicks’ rotation from the outset even if he enters the draft a little raw.

  1. New York Knicks | Ryan Dunn (SF, Virginia, So.)

Odds are New York are involved in a draft day trade but, if they are to keep both picks, Dunn could be the guy. Widely viewed as the best perimeter defender in this year’s draft class, it’s not hard to see Dunn work under head coach Tom Thibodeau. Offensively he is limited and it will likely prevent him from playing closing minutes in the near future but defence-only players have found their ways into playoff rotations before.

  1. Washington Wizards | Zach Edey (C, Purdue, Sr.)

There is very little chance Edey falls this far; one team will take a chance on one of the best college players in recent memory, but which team is anyone’s guess. The back-to-back National Player of the Year, Edey enjoyed a legendary career at Purdue averaging 25.2 ppg and 12.2 rpg on 62.3% shooting as a senior. At 7’ 4”, Edey is unstoppable around the rim and provides a court presence unlike any other, but his footspeed will likely make him a target defensively against any modern offence. He’s this draft’s most fascinating prospect but where he falls is difficult to predict.

  1. Minnesota Timberwolves | Baylor Scheierman (SF, Creighton, Sr.)

Minnesota may view Scheierman as a player who can contribute immediately if needed, particularly if Kyle Anderson takes off in free agency. A well-rounded offensive player with the ability to shoot, pass, and do a little off the dribble, Scheierman will need to overcome his lack of athleticism defensively to stay on the floor at the next level.

  1. Denver Nuggets | DaRon Holmes II (PF/C, Dayton, Jr.)

Finding cost-effective Nikola Jokić insurance would be a major boost for Denver and Holmes II looks to fit the bill. His menacing ability as a shot-blocker coupled with his energy on offence will draw the attention of teams in the first round whilst his strides as a three-point shooter will ultimately determine his ceiling. He’s somewhat of a tweener but, should everything click, Holmes II could end up someone that can be plugged in either behind or alongside Jokić.

  1. Utah Jazz (from Oklahoma City) | Ja’Kobe Walter (SG, Baylor, Fr.)

Walter is unlikely to fall this far but, if he were to, Utah would jump on him in an instant thanks to his size at the guard position and shot-making ability. He suffered through an inconsistent campaign at Baylor with questions surrounding his athleticism, ability to attack, and strength defensively but has the talent to make teams regret passing on him.

  1. Boston Celtics | Pacôme Dadiet (SG, Ratiopharm Ulm, 2005)

Boston has the ability to take a bit of a swing at No.30 and French wing Dadiet may be the beneficiary. He’s raw but exhibited some shot-making ability in the German league this past season and, at 6’ 8”, has the sort of size that NBA teams love.

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The post 2024 NBA Mock Draft: Projecting the 1st round first appeared on The Sporting Base.

The post 2024 NBA Mock Draft: Projecting the 1st round appeared first on The Sporting Base.