February 22, 2024

2024 NBA Mock Draft: French star Alex Sarr goes No. 1; Kentucky has two players in top four



Alex Sarr


C

France

• 7’1″

/ 217 lbs

Projected Team

Detroit

PROSPECT RNK

2nd

POSITION RNK

1st

Sarr spent part of this season sidelined with a hip injury but is back now and looking like a real candidate to go first in this draft. He’s a 7-1, high-energy, versatile frontcourt prospect from France who can switch onto smaller players and also rim-protect. Think Jaren Jackson Jr. but without the established 3-point shot. Is Sarr a can’t-miss prospect? No. But he would be a nice fit in Detroit next to Jalen Duren and could become the piece that ultimately returns the Pistons to respectability.

Kentucky

• Fr

• 6’3″

/ 187 lbs

Projected Team

San Antonio

PROSPECT RNK

9th

POSITION RNK

3rd

PPG

12

RPG

4.3

APG

4.2

3P%

53.7%

Nobody, and I mean nobody, had Sheppard projected this high — or even as a lottery pick — in the preseason. And, obviously, this is really high. But in a draft that’s been labeled weak, relatively speaking, for at least a year now, why not make a bet on a 6-3 guard who can dribble, pass, shoot and guard his position. As The Athletic’s Kyle Tucker recently pointed out, as of Feb. 7, Sheppard was the only player in college basketball who had recorded 90-plus assists, made 50-plus 3-pointers, created 50-plus steals and committed less than 40 turnovers on the season. He’s just a basketball player, plain and simple, and a super-impressive one even if he has mostly been coming off of Kentucky’s bench this season.


Zaccharie Risacher


SF

France

• 6’9″

/ 204 lbs

Projected Team

Washington

PROSPECT RNK

1st

POSITION RNK

1st

Risacher could be the first or second player from France selected in this draft depending on how franchises at the top ultimately settle on their evaluations of him and Sarr. Either way, Risacher shouldn’t last long given that he’s a good-enough athlete to play either forward spot. Also worth noting: he’s shooting nearly 50% from 3-point range this season.

Kentucky

• Fr

• 6’3″

/ 176 lbs

Projected Team

Charlotte

PROSPECT RNK

10th

POSITION RNK

3rd

PPG

15.5

RPG

3

APG

4.1

3P%

43.3%

An NBA-record seven former Kentucky players were named NBA All-Stars this season, three of whom are guards — Devin Booker, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tyrese Maxey — who didn’t even manage to earn First Team All-SEC honors while at UK. Could Dillingham be the next? He’s a little on the small side, and the defense needs to improve in terms of the discipline he shows on that end of the court. But Dillingham is the type of dynamic shot-creator and scorer who could become the latest in a line of prospects who ended up being better NBA players than they were Kentucky Wildcats.

Colorado

• Fr

• 6’8″

/ 190 lbs

Projected Team

Portland

PROSPECT RNK

3rd

POSITION RNK

1st

PPG

14.7

RPG

3.7

APG

1.9

3P%

52%

Williams is the brother of Oklahoma City standout Jalen Williams. He’s taller and a lot more heralded at the same age as his sibling, which is among the reasons the Colorado freshman will likely be the second player from his family to be selected in the lottery in a three-year span. He needs to add weight and continue to develop as a 3-point threat, but there are reasons to believe he’ll do both things. That’s why Williams is widely viewed as one of the safer options inside the top 10.

Baylor

• Fr

• 6’5″

/ 195 lbs

Projected Team

Toronto

PROSPECT RNK

5th

POSITION RNK

2nd

PPG

14.2

RPG

4.5

APG

1.7

3P%

34.4%

In college basketball this season, Walter is my favorite guard prospect who doesn’t call Kentucky home. He’s a 6-5 teenager with a 6-11 wingspan who has already shown signs that he could be a big-time scorer at the next level. Walter also seems capable and committed to guarding his position, which suggests he should be a real asset on both ends of the court.

Tennessee

• Sr

• 6’6″

/ 213 lbs

Projected Team

Memphis

PROSPECT RNK

12th

POSITION RNK

4th

PPG

20.2

RPG

4.7

APG

2

3P%

39.1%

The Grizzlies being projected to land in the lottery is a byproduct of Ja Morant’s 25-game suspension, his season-ending shoulder surgery and what seems like a million other injuries up and down the roster. Regardless, if healthy, Memphis should be capable of contending in the West next season — which could lead to the Grizz moving this pick for a veteran better-equipped to help immediately. Time will tell. But if the Grizzlies keep the pick, Knecht, who will be 23 years old on the night of the draft, looks like the type of rookie who could help as a shooter and playmaker off the bench.


Nikola Topic


PG

Serbia

• 6’6″

/ 201 lbs

Projected Team

Atlanta

PROSPECT RNK

4th

POSITION RNK

1st

Topic remains sidelined in Europe with a knee injury, but that shouldn’t prevent him from going in the top 10 of this draft. The 6-6 wing is a high-level shot-creator and accomplished scorer who has been a professional since the age of 16. In Atlanta, Topic could lighten the scoring load on Trae Young, who is currently seventh in the NBA in field goal attempts per game despite shooting below 44% from the field.

USC

• Fr

• 6’5″

/ 210 lbs

Projected Team

Houston

PROSPECT RNK

8th

POSITION RNK

2nd

PPG

15.6

RPG

2.6

APG

4.1

3P%

30.6%

Collier remains an interesting prospect, but his likely only season at USC has not gone well. The 6-5 point guard only guided the Trojans to an 8-8 start before being sidelined with a hand injury. In those 16 games, the five-star freshman turned it over 3.6 times in 28.5 minutes per contest while missing nearly seven out of every 10 3-pointers he attempted. Both numbers are concerning and suggest that Collier needs to show improvement when he returns presumably later this month to lessen some concerns that have shown themselves.

Connecticut

• Fr

• 6’6″

/ 215 lbs

PPG

10.6

RPG

4.5

APG

3.2

3P%

31.3%

Castle is among the reasons UConn is in position to repeat as college basketball’s national champion despite losing three of the top six scorers from last season’s team. In the simplest terms, he’s a five-star high school prospect with great positional size who has been playing a big role nicely for one of the nation’s best teams. That’s an encouraging combination even if concerns about his not-quite-there-yet jumper are legitimate.

Duke

• Soph

• 7’0″

/ 248 lbs

Projected Team

Chicago

PROSPECT RNK

15th

POSITION RNK

3rd

PPG

17.3

RPG

8.5

APG

2.8

3P%

35.1%

Among the main things Filipowski needed to do this season to improve his stock is make a higher percentage of 3-point shots to show that he can truly be a stretch-big at the next level. So far, so good. The 7-foot center has made 35.6% of the 3.5 3-pointers he attempted per game. That’s 7.4 percentage points better than what Filipowski shot from beyond the arc as a freshman, which is obviously an encouraging development for Duke’s second-year star.


Tidjane Salaun


SF

France

• 6’9″

/ 212 lbs

Projected Team

San Antonio

PROSPECT RNK

6th

POSITION RNK

2nd

How about a third French player in the lottery? Salaun is a wing with size who is an emerging shooter and plus-defender with a good motor. At this point, he’s more of a spot-up shooter than an off-the-bounce shooter. But Salaun is still only 18 years old, point being there’s plenty of time to expand his game on both ends.

Purdue

• Sr

• 7’4″

/ 300 lbs

Projected Team

New Orleans

PROSPECT RNK

18th

POSITION RNK

4th

PPG

23.1

RPG

11.7

APG

1.7

Edey will be one of the most polarizing prospects in the draft. On one hand, he’s an unstoppable force at the collegiate level, which makes him intriguing. On the other hand, he’s a non-shooter who might struggle to guard in space at the next level. Either way, I’m convinced there’s a place for Edey in the NBA, and with Pelicans center Jonas Valanciunas in the final year of his contract, it makes sense that Edey’s place in the NBA could start in New Orleans.

Kansas

• Sr

• 6’7″

/ 212 lbs

Projected Team

New York

PROSPECT RNK

20th

POSITION RNK

7th

PPG

19.5

RPG

6.4

APG

4.6

3P%

36.1%

McCullar’s decision to spend a fifth season playing college basketball is paying off — both in NIL money and as it pertains to his draft stock. The 6-7 wing is averaging a career-high 19.5 points while shooting a career-high 36.1% from 3-point range. In a draft short on top-tier talents, using a lottery pick on an older prospect who should be plug-and-play at the next level isn’t the world’s worst idea.


Matas Buzelis


PF

G League Ignite

• 6’8″

/ 209 lbs

Projected Team

Miami

PROSPECT RNK

11th

POSITION RNK

2nd

PPG

12.4

RPG

6.6

APG

1.5

3P%

27.3%

Buzelis is the type of long prospect who can move all over the floor in ways that front offices really value these days. That he’s shooting below 30% from 3-point range for a terrible G League Ignite team is a bit of a concern, especially considering there have long been questions about whether Buzelis will ever truly be a knockdown shooter. But his positional versatility and ability to pass at his size should make the Chicago native close to a lock to go somewhere in the top 20.


Ron Holland


PF

G League Ignite

• 6’6″

/ 204 lbs

Projected Team

Portland

PROSPECT RNK

7th

POSITION RNK

1st

PPG

20.6

RPG

6.6

APG

3.1

3P%

24.0%

Holland skipped college to play for the G League Ignite, where he’s leading the team in scoring but almost never leading it to victories. He’s also shooting below 25% from 3-point range and averaging roughly as many turnovers as assists. As you can see, I’m lower on Holland than most based on what I’ve seen in the G League. But I’ll be happy to revisit the evaluation if and when Holland shows improvement in any of the areas mentioned.

Kansas

• Fr

• 6’9″

/ 202 lbs

Projected Team

Orlando

PROSPECT RNK

31st

POSITION RNK

10th

PPG

8.3

RPG

4

APG

0.7

3P%

40.5%

Furphy changed Kansas’ season when Bill Self inserted him into the starting lineup after a loss at UCF, and the 6-9 guard has already done enough to establish himself as a serious one-and-done candidate. He comes from a family of athletes in Australia and is shooting above 50% from the field and above 40% from 3-point range. If those numbers stay steady, Furphy cracking the lottery should not be ruled out.

Virginia

• Soph

• 6’8″

/ 216 lbs

Projected Team

Toronto

PROSPECT RNK

27th

POSITION RNK

4th

PPG

9.4

RPG

7.3

APG

0.8

3P%

24%

Some consider Dunn a high-floor/low-ceiling prospect who has the potential to be an elite defender who guards multiple positions but will maybe never amount to much on offense. I don’t completely disagree with the sentiment. But using the 18th pick in a weak draft on a high-IQ, high-energy player who projects as the best versatile defender in this draft doesn’t seem like the type of thing a franchise would regret.

Marquette

• Sr

• 6’11”

/ 235 lbs

Projected Team

Atlanta

PROSPECT RNK

32nd

POSITION RNK

5th

PPG

14.4

RPG

7.3

APG

2.6

3P%

0%

Ighodaro doesn’t project as the type of big who will stretch the floor because he doesn’t even take 3-pointers at Marquette. But the 6-11 athlete is a versatile defender and lob threat who could be a real weapon in Atlanta in lineups with Trae Young.

Connecticut

• Soph

• 7’2″

/ 280 lbs

Projected Team

Phoenix

PROSPECT RNK

14th

POSITION RNK

2nd

PPG

12.6

RPG

6.5

APG

1.3

3P%

20%

Clingan is among the center prospects who have the size and talent as a real rim-protector to help a contender as a rookie the same way the Mavericks’ Dereck Lively is helping a contender as a rookie. That acknowledged, the 7-2 center hasn’t had the type of jump in production some predicted once Adama Sanogo left UConn and allowed Clingan to slide into the starting lineup. A foot injury that sidelined him for five games this season is another area of concern.


Tyler Smith


PF

G League Ignite

• 6’11”

/ 224 lbs

Projected Team

New Orleans

PROSPECT RNK

16th

POSITION RNK

3rd

PPG

12.1

RPG

4.7

APG

1.4

3P%

39.7%

Smith making nearly 40% of the roughly four 3-pointers he’s attempting per game for the G-League Ignite this season is a huge positive for the Overtime Elite alum. To stick in the NBA, the defense will have to improve dramatically. But Smith’s shooting alone could prove valuable for a New Orleans franchise that ranks in the bottom half of the NBA in 3-pointers made per contest.

Baylor

• Fr

• 7’0″

/ 235 lbs

Projected Team

Philadelphia

PROSPECT RNK

24th

POSITION RNK

5th

PPG

10.5

RPG

5.8

APG

0.2

3P%

0

Missi is an incredible physical specimen who is excellent at the rim on offense and in possession of enough athleticism, size and strength to really excel defensively. The 7-footer from Cameroon would be fortunate to land in Philadelphia, where he could learn from and back up reigning MVP Joel Embiid.

Kentucky

• Fr

• 6’4″

/ 192 lbs

Projected Team

Milwaukee

PROSPECT RNK

29th

POSITION RNK

6th

PPG

12

RPG

1.9

APG

3.7

3P%

31%

I’ve been a believer in Wagner as an NBA prospect for years after watching him on the grassroots circuit as the son of a former lottery pick. Skeptics will point out that he doesn’t pop athletically or make shots from the perimeter reliably — and they’re right. But I still think, one way or another, Wagner will prove to be a longtime NBA player.


Ulrich Chomche


C

Africa

• 6’11”

/ 225 lbs

Projected Team

New York

PROSPECT RNK

33rd

POSITION RNK

6th

Chomche has visited multiple colleges over the past year — among them Texas and Arizona —and reportedly remains open to playing college basketball next season. As always, we’ll see. But the Cameroon native does have first-round potential considering he’s 6-11 with a 7-4 wingspan and regarded as one of the best athletes who could be available in this draft.

Sweden

• Fr

• 6’10”

/ 225 lbs

Projected Team

Denver

PROSPECT RNK

22nd

POSITION RNK

5th

Klintman is a two-way wing from Sweden who should be able to alternate between both forward spots. He initially declared for the 2023 NBA Draft after one year at Wake Forest but ultimately withdrew and pursued a professional opportunity in Australia. With another year of development under his belt, and not many great options in the 20s, Klintman will have a better chance to get a guaranteed contract in this draft than he did last year.

Kentucky

• Fr

• 6’8″

/ 203 lbs

PPG

8.1

RPG

3.6

APG

0.9

3P%

28.8%

Edwards was the highest-ranked prospect in Kentucky’s top-ranked recruiting class but has been largely disappointing all season. He’s sixth on the team in minutes played, sixth on the team in scoring and shooting below 30% from 3-point range. Off of his high school reputation alone, somebody will take a flier on the 6-8 wing because somebody always takes a flyer on a one-and-done player who was ranked in the top five of his high school class. But the truth is that Edwards has done very little at UK to suggest he should be selected anywhere close to where most had him projected before this season began.

Duke

• Fr

• 6’3″

/ 197 lbs

Projected Team

Minnesota

PROSPECT RNK

23rd

POSITION RNK

5th

PPG

12.8

RPG

4.5

APG

1.6

3P%

40%

Tyrese Proctor was regarded as Duke’s best backcourt prospect heading into this season — and he still might be. Eye of the beholder and all that. But it’s McCain who is having the better season by averaging 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds while making 40.0% of the 5.2 3-pointers he’s taking per game. With Mike Conley both 36 years old and headed for free agency, Minnesota adding a guard who can really shoot like him would be understandable.

Wake Forest

• Jr

• 6’5″

/ 185 lbs

Projected Team

Dallas

PROSPECT RNK

25th

POSITION RNK

8th

PPG

17.9

RPG

3.9

APG

2.5

3P%

39%

Sallis spent two years at Gonzaga but never got going and only averaged 4.4 points in those seasons. He’s been unlocked at Wake Forest, though. The 6-5 guard is averaging 17.9 points and making nearly 40% of the 5.6 3-pointers he’s attempting per game. He’s the latest example that highlights how sometimes a change of scenery is all a player needs, which is why folks are often misguided when they label student-athletes who transfer as people who are just “running from adversity.” Sometimes, in reality, they’re just running toward success.

Dayton

• Jr

• 6’10”

/ 235 lbs

Projected Team

Utah

PROSPECT RNK

30th

POSITION RNK

6th

PPG

19.7

RPG

7.6

APG

2.5

3P%

38.6%

Holmes is the rare top-55 high school prospect who enrolled at an Atlantic 10 school, and he’s the main reason Dayton has emerged as a Final Four threat. The 6-10 forward has gone from a good A-10 player as a freshman to an All-American candidate as a junior. He’s a sensible option at this point in the draft in part because of the way he’s gone from a non-shooter upon enrolling at Dayton to a real stretch-the-floor threat as a third-year player who is making above 38% of the 3-pointers he’s attempting.

Marquette

• Sr

• 6’3″

/ 195 lbs

Projected Team

Boston

PROSPECT RNK

34th

POSITION RNK

7th

PPG

15.1

RPG

4.8

APG

7.2

3P%

38.6%

Kolek has some obvious issues as an NBA prospect, most notably a lack of athleticism relative to what’s desired from lead guards. Still, at 6-3, Kolek is adequately sized for his position, terrific in pick-and-rolls, an A-plus passer and a reliable 3-point shooter. If you focus on what he can do instead of his perceived deficiencies, what you’ll see is a reigning Big East Player of the Year who is skilled enough to stick in the NBA for many years.





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