Monday, July 15, 2024

2024 NBA mock draft roundup: Experts weigh in on Hawks, Wizards, other lottery picks

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While the NBA playoffs have reached the conference finals round, the other 26 franchises and their fanbases are focused on the offseason — including the NBA Draft.

The 2024 NBA Draft order is set and the Atlanta Hawks surprisingly earned the top pick despite having just a 3% chance of winning No. 1 overall. The Washington Wizards earned the No. 2 pick and Houston rounds out the top three.

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Last year’s draft saw one of the most exciting prospects in recent memory go No. 1 overall in Victor Wembanyama. The Spurs big finished his first season as the runaway favorite for Rookie of the Year.

There isn’t a prospect of Wembanyama’s caliber in this class, but there are plenty of options for the Hawks, Wizards, and Rockets at the top of the lottery. Here are the latest predictions on what will happen in June’s NBA Draft from experts USA Today, ESPN, CBS Sports, and Bleacher Report:

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2024 NBA Mock draft roundup

1. Atlanta Hawks

USA Today: Alex Sarr, Perth (Australia) Wildcats

ESPN: Alex Sarr, Perth (Australia) Wildcats

CBS Sports: Alex Sarr, Perth (Australia) Wildcats

Bleacher Report: Zaccherie Risacher, JL Bourg (France)

A near-consensus at No. 1 here. Sarr’s 7-foot-4 wingspan and athleticism make him an ideal defender. He’ll be a contributor early on that side of the court but will need to improve his shot and off-hand finishing.

Risacher’s a productive scoring wing and shooting incredibly well this season at 42.4% from three-point range. He’s a solid playmaker on offense but will need to improve in scoring inside.

USA Today: “A strong defender and shot-blocker who plays with force on both ends; has good hands, uses his body well and though he doesn’t have the prettiest shot, he gets it to go in. His brother player, Olivier, is on two-way G League contract with Oklahoma City.”

Bleacher Report: “In a draft where there isn’t an obvious, sure-thing All-Star at the top, Risacher’s floor and valued three-and-D archetype could give him an edge with a team that saw AJ Griffin struggle with injuries and Saddiq Bey go down late to an ACL tear.”

2. Washington Wizards

USA Today: Zaccherie Risacher, JL Bourg (France)

ESPN: Zaccherie Risacher, JL Bourg (France)

CBS Sports: Zaccherie Risacher, JL Bourg (France)

Bleacher Report: Alex Sarr, Perth (Australia) Wildcats

All four mocks agree that Sarr and Risacher will be the top two picks.

USA Today: “A strong defender and shot-blocker who plays with force on both ends; has good hands, uses his body well and though he doesn’t have the prettiest shot, he gets it to go in. His brother player, Olivier, is on two-way G League contract with Oklahoma City.”

Bleacher Report: “The Wizards will eventually need to find a point guard, but at No. 2, Sarr’s physical talent, evolving skill versatility and defensive upside create visions of upside that could be difficult to resist.”

USA Today: Nikola Topic, PG, Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)

ESPN: Reed Sheppard, G, Kentucky

CBS Sports: Donovan Clingan, C, UConn

Bleacher Report: Donovan Clingan, C, UConn

Three new names for the Rockets here. Topic’s size (6 feet, 6 inches) and impressive playmaking at point guard make him an intriguing prospect. He can finish around the rim but needs to improve his jump shot and defense.

Sheppard’s a great shooter – 52.1% from deep on 4.4 attempts per game – and an energetic defender despite his smaller frame (6 feet, 3 inches and 187 pounds). He’s a good playmaker as well and can contribute on the offensive end in multiple ways early on in his career.

Clingan helped power a dominant run to the NCAA title for the Huskies with his imposing height (7 feet, 2 inches) and wingspan (7 feet, 7 inches). He’s a productive scorer inside on offense and a good inside defender on the other end. His free throw shooting is cause for concern (55.8% career in college) as is his shooting in general.

USA Today: “The Serbian point guard, who has been sidelined with a knee injury, has great size for his position; loves to drive to the rim and can finish with either hand; can shoot the 3 but will need to improve his percentage. Strong passer, not flashy, but sees the court and can make the right pass.”

CBS Sports: “Clingan was one of the most impactful bigs in college basketball the last two seasons, and he helped key UConn’s title run this last postseason with a star turn as a defensive monster. He plays with great anticipation and his length affects how teams attack inside, making him an interesting if slightly out of the box pick for the Rockets here to pair next to Alperen Sengun.”

USA Today: Rob Dillingham, G, Kentucky

ESPN: Rob Dillingham, G, Kentucky

CBS Sports: Reed Sheppard, G, Kentucky

Bleacher Report: Nikola Topic, PG, Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)

A near-sweep of Kentucky guards for San Antonio here. Sheppard’s running mate in Lexington, Rob Dillingham, is similarly a smaller guard but a productive scorer. He improved his playmaking over the course of the season and plays hard on defense even with a small frame by NBA standards.

USA Today: “As a smaller guard, he is elite at creating own shot, through spot-up shooting or dribble penetration because of his speed and ball-handling. Will need to get stronger and improve shot selection. Even though Kentucky lost in the first round, Dillingham is a hot prospect.”

CBS Sports: “Sheppard aced the testing at the Combine with a 42-inch max standing vertical that ranked tied for first. Paired with a stellar freshman season in which he displayed shooting and defensive potential, he could be a perfect plug-and-play for the Spurs’ backcourt to build around next to Victor Wembanyama.”

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USA Today: Stephon Castle, G, UConn

ESPN: Matas Buzelis, F, G League Ignite

CBS Sports: Dalton Knecht, G, Tennessee

Bleacher Report: Stephon Castle, G, UConn

Three new prospects for the Pistons at No. 5. Castle offers lots of energy on defense with a combo guard frame at 6 feet, 6 inches tall and a 6-foot-8 wingspan. His shooting is lacking at this stage but is a solid playmaker on that end of the court.

Buzelis is big for a wing at 6 feet, 11 inches tall and can fit into most schemes on offense thanks to his passing. He’s a streaky shooter who struggled in the G League and plays solid off-ball defense.

Knecht was one of the top scorers in the country this past season and shot 39.7% from deep on 6.5 attempts per game. He struggled at times against longer defenders but still can shoot at will while moving. He will need to improve his defense at the NBA level.

USA Today: “While his stats don’t jump out, he is a big guard, who can slide in at the 4 when a situation dictates. Can create own shot but will be most useful on the defensive end to start career. He doesn’t force shots, picks his spots and was tough to defend in the tournament, scoring 21 against Alabama in the semifinals and 15 against Purdue in the final on a combined 13-for-26 shooting.”

ESPN: “Buzelis has terrific size at 6-foot-10 and explosive athletic ability, and he has shown promising signs of perimeter shooting and rim-protection prowess over the past few years. The fact that he doesn’t need the ball in his hands to be successful but has significant upside to grow into with his developing frame could be attractive with this pick.”

USA Today: Reed Sheppard, G, Kentucky

ESPN: Donovan Clingan, C, UConn

CBS Sports: Tidjane Salaun, F, Cholet (France)

Bleacher Report: Reed Sheppard, G, Kentucky

Lots of options for the Hornets at No. 6. There’s the scoring, playmaking point guard (Sheppard) and the imposing post presence (Clingan).

Salaun is a bit of a wild card. The 6-foot-9 wing has a 7-foot-1 wingspan and the athleticism to fill multiple positions. He needs to improve his on-ball defense and shot off the dribble.

USA Today: “[Sheppard] can flat out score, especially off screens, using floaters or pulling up in transition. Lacks elite athleticism but handles ball well enough to warrant look at point guard. Will compete defensively, and rebounds well for his size.”

CBS Sports: “There was just as much scuttlebutt centered around Salaun at the combine as there was any other prospect despite Salaun being one of the few not in attendance. He had a 19-point game in the French league playoffs and looked as good as he has all season in doing so with deep 3s and an aggression we’ve not seen much. He could be a surprise pick in a wide-open top 10, and his range probably starts around No. 4.”

USA Today: Donovan Clingan, C, UConn

ESPN: Nikola Topic, PG, Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)

CBS Sports: Stephon Castle, G, UConn

Bleacher Report: Dalton Knecht, G, Tennessee

Four different prospects fall to Portland at No. 7 in each mock draft. Clingan’s presence in the paint on both ends, especially defensively, could help in the Trail Blazers’ rebuild from the bottom of the Western Conference. Topic offers playmaking alongside Anfernee Simons.

Castle could work himself into the rotation with Simons and Scoot Henderson. Knecht is more of a finished product than other more developmental options at No. 7 and could offer a higher ceiling as a rookie.

USA Today: “Clingan really improved his draft position as UConn won its second consecutive title. A strong big man with capable hands who is tough to defend in the low post; a worker on the glass, especially offensively and can operate in pick-and-rolls as the screener going to the basket. Has rim protecting skills. Playing away from the basket on both ends will be his challenge in the NBA.”

Bleacher Report: “At 23 years old with a strong frame, outstanding shotmaking ability and a competitive edge, Dalton Knecht could look like a sure thing worth adding at No. 7. He comes with a level of skill, polish and professionalism that Portland could value over the perceived upside of bigger projects like Cody Williams and the Ignite teenagers.

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USA Today: Dalton Knecht, G, Tennessee

ESPN: Tidjane Salaun, F, Cholet (France)

CBS Sports: Nikola Topic, PG, Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)

Bleacher Report: Ron Holland, G, G League Ignite

Four different choices for the Spurs here. Knecht could slide into the starting rotation right away and contribute. Salaun’s potential alongside fellow Frenchman Wembanyama is intriguing. In CBS Sports’ scenario, Topic takes the playmaking load off from Sheppard, freeing him up as a scorer on offense.

Holland’s size (6 feet, 8 inches tall) and athleticism make him a versatile defender with impressive blocks on his resume. His free throw and jumper need improving but can finish at the rim and shoot off the dribble quite well.

USA Today: “Strong on catch-and-shoot 3s, can drive to the basket with power and finesse and is athletic. Will need work defensively, and yes, he’ll be 23 years old by the draft, but that shouldn’t be a detractor. He delivered great offensive performances late in the season, scoring 40 against Kentucky and 37 against Purdue in the Elite Eight.”

Bleacher Report: “Holland would give San Antonio one of the best athletes in the draft and a quick wing defender. And his handle and feel continue to improve in the half court. Despite questions about Holland’s shooting and decision-making, it still took a high level of functional athleticism and attacking ability—plus capable shotmaking—to average 19.5 points at 18 years old in the G League.”

USA Today: Ron Holland, G, G League Ignite

ESPN: Dalton Knecht, G, Tennessee

CBS Sports: Matas Buzelis, F, G League Ignite

Bleacher Report: Rob Dillingham, G, Kentucky

Another quartet of different options at No. 9 for Memphis here. Scorers Knecht and Dillingham could pair well with Ja Morant‘s playmaking. Holland would help on the defensive end. Buzelis – the sole forward in the group – offers fantastic upside with more time.

USA Today: “Sustained season-ending thumb injury but showed his potential as a high-flying wing who flourishes off the dribble and in transition and likes to score; solid shot-blocker for his size; good body control while in the air. His 3-point shot needs improvement.”

ESPN: “Considering the team’s timetable, and the urgency surely in place to make a run back to the NBA playoffs next season, finding plug-and-play options who can contribute immediately without too long of a development runway will likely be important… At 23 years old and coming off an All-America season, Knecht looks like an attractive option with that in mind.”

USA Today: Matas Buzelis, F, G League Ignite

ESPN: Stephon Castle, G, UConn

CBS Sports: Ron Holland, F, G League Ignite

Bleacher Report: Cody Williams, F, Colorado

Utah gets a mix of prospects at No. 10 overall. Buzelis gives them a project with upside. Castle could work well alongside Collin Sexton and Holland could have a great impact on one of the league’s worst defenses.

The sole new prospect at this pick, Williams’ ball handling and finishing at the rim are his best traits. His defense is solid but his lean frame (180 pounds at 6-foot-8) and lack of spot shooting could hold him back.

USA Today: “Good leaping ability, surprises with his dunks, soft shooting touch, plays through contact.”

Bleacher Report: “He’s been pegged right now as a safe pick, but it sounds like he could also go much earlier than No. 11, with scouts intrigued by his positional size/length and production/efficiency for a player who still has so much room and time to improve his skill level.”

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USA Today: Cody Williams, F, Colorado

ESPN: Ron Holland, F, G League Ignite

CBS Sports: Kyshawn George, F, Miami (FL)

Bleacher Report: Matas Buzelis, F, G League Ignite

All forwards for the guard-heavy Chicago Bulls at No. 11 overall. Williams and Holland both offer a lot on the defensive end and Buzelis could help in a playmaking role on offense.

George is a bit of a flyer at No. 11. He’s one of the better shooters in the class with NBA range in either catch-and-shoot or off-the-dribble situations. He could struggle on defense early on and isn’t as productive at the rim.

USA Today: “Williams’ perimeter defense and scoring ability make him a prime candidate for a top-five pick. Can get to the rim with ease, and finishes with power although listed at 6-8, 190 lbs. Has 3-point range, and his mid-range game is solid at the college level.”

CBS Sports: “Strong candidate to be a late-riser in this process. George shot 40.8% from 3-point range and rated in the 92nd percentile as a catch-and-shoot weapon as a freshman at Miami last season, per Synergy data. Huge frame and does a little of everything that will have NBA teams intrigued.”

USA Today: Isaiah Collier, PG, USC

ESPN: Cody Williams, F, Colorado

CBS Sports: Devin Carter, G, Providence

Bleacher Report: Tidjane Salaun, F, Cholet (France)

Oklahoma City just made the playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference so it’s a mix of players for them with their first pick.

Collier’s strong frame at 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 205 pounds gives him an NBA-ready body already. That physicality shines through in his attacking play style centered on getting to the rim and finishing. He needs to improve his shot and cut down on turnovers.

Carter’s length (6-foot-9 wingspan at 6 feet, 2 inches tall) and athleticism (tied for the best vertical at the NBA Combine) make him a standout defender at the position. His jump shot is improving to pair with above-average rim finishing.

USA Today: “Should be healed from hand injury suffered during season. Has an NBA-ready frame and gets to the rack and finishes. Still needs to work on inconsistent jump shot and can be a shut-down defender if he puts his mind to it.”

CBS Sports: “Few who had a better combine week than Carter, who broke a combine record in the 3/4-court sprint and tied for the best max standing vertical leap at 42 inches. He’s coming off a Big East Player of the Year season for Providence and has shown the improvement as a shooter that could make him a ready-made 3-and-D weapon with playmaking to boot.”

USA Today: Ja’Kobe Walter, G, Baylor

ESPN: Ja’Kobe Walter, G, Baylor

CBS Sports: Johnny Furphy, G, Kansas

Bleacher Report: Devin Carter, G, Providence

Two new prospects at No. 13 overall with guards across the board offering different skills. Walter was a standout shooter at Baylor. He was a good playmaker in high school but wasn’t asked to do that during his sole season in Waco thanks to a deep backcourt. His lack of high-level athleticism could hurt him slightly defense but he makes up for it with effort.

Furphy’s another standout shooter. He showed flashes of becoming a very good spot-up three-point shooter at the NBA level. He’s not bad at the rim, either, but his defense is lacking, especially in pick and roll situations. Carter provides a long, attacking guard to pair with Sacramento star De’Aaron Fox.

USA Today: “Typical 3-and-D player who will fit NBA teams looking for a shotmaker. Will need to make up deficiencies, such as questionable ball-handling skills. He competes defensively and rebounds well for a two-guard.”

CBS Sports: “You have to do some projecting here to buy into Furphy because of his limited role at Kansas and hit-or-miss production, but he can shoot it great from anywhere on the floor and has the ball skills to be an attacker off the bounce as well. Could be a nice long-term insurance plan in the event Malik Monk leaves Sac-town.”

USA Today: Jared McCain, G, Duke

ESPN: Zach Edey, C, Purdue

CBS Sports Ja’Kobe Walter, G, Baylor

Bleacher Report: Jared McCain, G, Duke

Portland gets another lottery pick from the Warriors that’s changed hands multiple times. Walter and McCain would both bring strong shooting to Portland. McCain’s playmaking and defense make him a great value at this spot as well. He’ll need to improve in finishing at the rim.

Edey’s the most unique prospect in this class. He’d be the biggest player in the NBA immediately at roughly 300 pounds and one of the tallest a 7 feet, 4 inches tall. He will very likely struggle when switching on defense but offers a physical presence in the paint on offense.

USA Today: “An efficient scorer on a talented team, McCain has range from 3 and can shoot it off the dribble or on the catch. Made eight 3-pointers in a game twice this season, including 8-for-11 against James Madison in the NCAA Tournament.”

ESPN: “Edey’s incredible productivity and size profile makes him a unique option for teams looking to develop a big in this part of the draft. While it’s probable he winds up as more of a situational role player in an NBA context due to his defensive limitations, it’s also hard to totally rule out the type of impact he could still have as a play-finisher and screener.”

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