NBA mock draft 2024: Instant projection after Hawks’ stunning lottery win

The order for the 2024 NBA Draft is finally set, and the Atlanta Hawks are the lucky winners of the lottery with the No. 1 overall pick. The Hawks entered the drawing with the 10th-best odds overall with a three percent chance at the first pick, and somehow cashed it in. The Washington Wizards, Houston Rockets, San Antonio Spurs, and Detroit Pistons round out the rest of the top-five.

The 2024 draft class has had very little consensus at the top since our first projection the day after the 2023 draft. Alex Sarr, a French big man who played in Australia, has been seen as a slightly frontrunner to go No. 1 overall an athletic 7’1 big man. French forward Zaccharie Risacher will also attract interest early with his combination of size (6’9), shooting, and on-ball defense. The first college basketball player selected could be shifty Kentucky guard Rob Dillingham, or UConn’s 7’2 shot-blocking center Donovan Clingan.

With the lottery order now finalized, here’s our instant projection of how the 2024 NBA Draft will play out.

1. Atlanta Hawks – Alex Sarr, C, France

It’s easy to dream on Sarr’s long-term upside with the most impressive physical tools of any player in this draft class. At 7’1 with a nearly 7’5 wingspan, Sarr is a super mobile big man who can blow up plays on switches, erase shots at the rim defensively, and fly in transition with speed and coordination. For all of his talent, Sarr still looks nothing like a typical No. 1 overall pick. He can’t create for himself offensively against a set defense, his jump shot is a bit more theoretical than reliable to this point, and he rarely plays with force around the rim. If Sarr ultimately ends up as a center, he’s going to need to add significant strength and learn how to play through contact. If he becomes a four, he’ll either need to play with a stockier five with shooting ability or work to develop his own three-point shot. While he’s far from a lock to be a future NBA star, it’s easy to see a pathway for the 19-year-old to eventually get there. Athletic play finishers who can defend the perimeter and protect the rim are a rare breed. If Sarr can figure out how to make an offensive impact, he could be the type of versatile big every team covets.

2. Washington Wizards – Nikola Topic, G, Serbia

Topic has been the No. 1 player on our board all season for his blend of scoring and playmaking as an offensive initiator. The 6’5 lead guard showed the ability to dust defenders off the dribble and generate rim pressure at will to set up good looks for himself and his teammates. Despite being one of the youngest players in this draft class (he turns 19 on Aug. 10), Topic was among the most productive offensive players in the Adriatic league for Mega Basket. His long strides and extension finishes help him score over length around the rim, and he has good vision when the defense keys in on his drives. Unfortunately, Topic injured his knee in Jan. after transferring to Crvena zvezda and hasn’t showed the same explosiveness since returning for last month. Scouts will poke holes in his outside shot and his ability to guard, but if he can regain his burst going to the basket, Topic’s ability to collapse opposing defenses makes him a possible blue chip talent in this class.

3. Houston Rockets – Rob Dillingham, G, Kentucky

Dillingham is an impossibly shifty shot creator for himself and others thanks to his deep shooting range, soft touch, and tremendous vision as a passer. The 6’2 guard has the best handle in the class with the ability to link dribble-crossovers, change direction, and get off a good look at the rim against bigger defenders. He’s the rare guard prospect whose shooting ability feels equally dangerous off the dribble and off the catch: Dillingham can punish unders with deep pull-ups, and also has a fantastic feel for relocating around the three-point line to knock down spot-ups. Dillingham’s scoring is so dangerous that it often lulls defenders into forgetting about his excellent playmaking ability. He can throw a well-placed lob for a big man or whip a pass to a corner shooter when defenses key in on stopping him. So what’s the catch? The NBA doesn’t have much love for smaller guards these days, and Dillingham’s thin frame will make him a target on the defensive end and cause problems for him as a finisher. He can also get a little wild with his shot selection, though he played much more under control than originally anticipated when he arrived at Kentucky. If a guard like Darius Garland can succeed in the NBA, Dillingham can, too.

4. San Antonio Spurs – Ron Holland, F, G League Ignite

The G League Ignite had such a miserable season that the NBA shut down the entire program. The nightmare context of the team’s season makes evaluating their top prospects even more challenging, and no one is more representative of that than Ron Holland. Holland entered this draft cycle last summer as the potential No. 1 overall pick in the class, but his turnover issues, inefficient scoring, and outsized role now have some wondering if he’s even a top-10 pick. I think that’s overthinking it: Holland is still a big 6’8 wing with high-level speed and leaping, a motor that never stops running, and some untapped playmaking potential. Holland is at his best offensively by getting downhill and attacking the basket with force. He can jump higher and hang in the air longer than his opponents, and also has no issues playing through contact. His jump shot remains a major work in progress (23.7 percent from three on 97 attempts), and his decision-making off the dribble can be problematic, too (93 turnovers to 90 assists). Holland should have an easier transition defensively. He’s quick enough on his feet getting around screens to handle wing stopper duties, he’s strong enough to provide resistance as the low man, and he has a knack for grabbing 50/50 balls. Holland will need to fix his jump shot to warrant a pick this early in the draft, but his physical gifts, relentless mentality, and youth (he doesn’t turn 19 until July 7) still makes him a top prospect.

5. Detroit Pistons – Zaccharie Risacher, F, France

Risacher is a 6’10 forward out of France who can space the floor, defend at the point of attack, and provide some slashing ability to the basket. His hot start as a three-point shooter for JL Bourg in the top French pro league helped him skyrocket up draft boards, with ESPN still sticking with him as the No. 1 player in the class. This part of the draft feels more appropriate for someone with his skill set in our view, especially with his shooting tailing off over the last two months. Risacher mostly plays off the ball, and ideally projects as a high-volume, highly accurate three-point shooter. Given that he’s only a 71.9 percent free throw shooter, there’s reason to be skeptical that his touch is really that elite. Where Risacher is really impressive is as a wing stopper: he’s able to smother smaller players with his length, and he’s impressive at getting around screens to stay attached to his man. There’s definitely an avenue for Risacher to be a very good 3-and-D style wing, but the lack of creation ability makes him feel more like a top-10 pick than a top-3 pick to me.

6. Charlotte Hornets – Matas Buzelis, F, G League Ignite

Like his teammate Holland, Buzelis fell short of his lofty early season expectations partially as a byproduct of the Ignite’s dysfunction. Peel back the layers and there’s still an interesting prospect here even after a rough campaign. At 6’10, Buzelis shows flashes of a dribble/pass/shoot skill set. He has real creativity as a driver, showing the ability to change directions with crossovers and step-throughs when he puts the ball on the floor. He’s better at attacking tilted defenses, meaning he profiles more as a secondary handler who will need to prove his jump shot is legitimate to earn close outs from opposing defenses. Buzelis only shot 26 percent on 115 three-point attempts with Ignite and only made 69.6 percent of his free throws. Buzelis reportedly shot better than 40 percent from deep as a senior at prep powerhouse Sunrise Christian, and having him this high is a bet on his shot bouncing back in a better team context. While his offense underwhelmed, Buzelis’ defense looked a little better than expected. He’s a good rotational defender who knows how to use his length to block shots (he had 64 blocks in 34 games). Buzelis will greatly benefit from adding strength to his frame and learning to play through contact. If he can rediscover his shooting stroke, he looks like a nice secondary scorer with plus size who can handle and space the floor.

7. Portland Trail Blazers – Donovan Clingan, C, UConn

Clingan tied together UConn’s back-to-back national championship teams with his monster combination of size and rim protection. At 7’2 with a reported 7’7 wingspan, Clingan will be among the biggest players in the NBA from the day he’s drafted. He has an easy translation as a shot-blocking center in drop coverage who will put a lid on the rim. Clingan showed a bit more quickness and coverage versatility defensively as a sophomore, and his starring role against Zach Edey in the national championship game now has some thinking he could be a candidate for No. 1 overall. We still have a few concerns. Clingan only played 49 percent of available minutes for UConn all season, and topped 30 minutes in a game just four times as a sophomore. How often can he stay on the floor? Clingan is also only a 55.8 percent free throw shooter and a total non-threat from three. His interior finishing is good-not-great because he isn’t an explosive leaper. His best offensive skill set is his passing, where he can used as a hub for dribble-handoffs, and has an ability to hit cutters. Mostly, a team would be drafting Clingan for his defense and shot-blocking, and it could still return top value in a weaker draft.

8. San Antonio Spurs – Stephon Castle, G, UConn

Castle is a big, physical guard who can lockdown defensively while playing a connective role on offense. At 6’6, 220 pounds with a 6’9 wingspan, Castle has a tremendous combination of quickness and power that allows him to handle tough defensive assignments at the point of attack. He’s very good at sliding his feet, getting over screens, and keeping his chest in front of ball handlers. He has strong hands to rip the ball away on digs, and he shows good instincts as a help defender. Offensively is where the question marks lie for Castle, and it starts with his jump shot. He only hit 26.7 percent of 75 attempts from three-point range this year, and his tenancy to turn down open looks was even more discouraging than his percentages. He did shoot 75 percent on free throws, though, so it’s not like his touch is totally broken. If the shot comes along, Castle has some other offensive skills to work with. While he doesn’t have the greatest burst as a driver, Castle is still a load going downhill and uses his strength well to create space and finish at the basket (54.4 percent on two-pointers). He’s also a good offensive rebounder who can get putbacks and keep possessions alive. It isn’t hard to imagine Castle playing a similar role to Marcus Smart or maybe Jrue Holiday, but the shot must come around for him to hit his potential.

9. Memphis Grizzlies – Reed Sheppard, G, Kentucky

No one saw Sheppard as a one-and-done coming into the season, but his early emergence as Kentucky’s best player quickly changed that. The 6’2 guard was a blistering shooter from three-point range and a turnover-forcing machine until an underwhelming performance in the first round of the NCAA tournament ended the Wildcats’ season. Sheppard’s ability to overcome his tiny frame in the NBA will have to start with elite shooting ability. He knocked down 52.1 percent of his threes on 144 attempts this year, an incredible number that stacks up with any prospect to hit the draft over the last decade. Sheppard was also a major defensive playmaker, using his razor sharp hands to record an impressive 4.6 percent steal rate and 2.5 percent block rate. Sheppard’s advanced metrics were so good that he posted a top-15 box score plus-minus for any freshman since 2009, and the rest of the list is littered with good NBA players. Sheppard doesn’t feel like he has enough juice to play on-ball in the NBA, and his lack of size will make it easy to shoot over the top of his closeouts regardless of how good his hands are. As long as he keeps shooting it at an elite level, he should make a positive NBA impact regardless.

10. Utah Jazz – Cody Williams, F, Colorado

The younger brother of ascendant Oklahoma City Thunder star Jalen Williams, Cody Williams is a toolsy but raw wing prospect who could pay off big down the line with proper development. At 6’8 with a 7’1 wingspan, Williams is a long and rangey athlete with real speed and coordination in the open floor. He was an excellent finisher around the basket as a freshman, converting nearly 59 percent of his looks from two-point range. He also hit 41.5 percent of his threes, but only took 41 attempts all season due to nagging injuries and a reluctance to shoot over contests. Williams’ lack of three-point volume is scary for his projection given that he doesn’t have great burst as a ball-handler, either. He does have real defensive tools, though, and could emerge as a wing stopper as he adds strength. Williams certainly passes the eye test with his open floor passing and attacking, but his handle in tight spaces limits him significantly against a set defense. As long as Williams goes to a patient team with a clear developmental plan, he should have a high enough skill level to turn into a good NBA wing eventually.

11. Chicago Bulls – Isaiah Collier, G, USC

Collier was considered a potential top-3 pick coming into this draft cycle, but an up-and-down start at USC cooled interest before he came on strong late in the season. A stocky 6’4 point guard, Collier is a bulldozer who can generate paint touches at will. He has good vision as a live dribble passer, but had serious turnover issues with the Trojans. A charitable view would blame that on the lack of lobs threats and shooters around him necessary to maximize his playmaking. As a scorer, Collier can make tough finishes inside the arc, but defenses will go under screens on him until he proves he can punish it by making a pull-up jumper. His speed, power, and tight ball handling make him one of the best creation bets in this class, but the concerns about how he makes an impact off the ball if he doesn’t hit his top outcomes are real. At this point in the draft, it’s worth betting on his upside as a talented driver, playmaker, and two-level scorer.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder – Kyle Filipowski, C, Duke

This feels like the best match of player and team in the first round. The Thunder value high-feel passers, and Filipowski fits the bill with quality short roll passing and the ability to act as a hub in the halfcourt. OKC is also dedicated to playing five-out on offense, and Filipowski can do that too after knocking down 35 percent of his 112 attempts from three-point range as a sophomore at Duke. At 7-foot, 250 pounds, Filipowski can bang down low and help out on the glass despite a lack of length and athleticism. There will be questions about his quickness and ability to defend in space, but if the shot comes around, he’s skilled enough be a valuable offensive weapon.

13. Sacramento Kings – Dalton Knecht, F, Tennessee

It’s been a wild ride for Knecht, who went from JUCO ball to Northern Colorado to Tennessee, where he blossomed into college basketball’s most devastating perimeter scorer. The 6’6 wing has a tantalizing skill set as an off-ball scorer: he can be an accurate, high-volume three-point shooter, he’s athletic enough to attack the rim with force on closeouts, and he has a nice mid-range bag when he can’t get all the way to the hoop. The biggest question for Knecht will be his defense, where he’ll likely have a big target on his chest from the moment he enters the league. The Kings have a clear identity of whirling off-ball actions around De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis’ two-man, and a shooter like Knecht would fit right in.

14. Portland Trail Blazers – Tidjane Salaun, F, France

Salaum offers the promise of a supersized dribble/pass/shoot forward who is still just scratching the surface of what he could one day become. At the moment, Salaum still has a long way to go: his feel for the game is still developing to put it kindly, he struggles to score inside the arc, and his three-point shot runs cold more than hot. On the other hand, there’s no discounting Salaun’s tools: he’s massive for a forward at 6’9 with a 7’2 wingspan, he’s money from the free throw line (79 percent), and he doesn’t turn 19 until Aug. He needs to be thought of as a long-term developmental prospect, but his ceiling is high enough to get someone to bite inside the top-20.

15. Miami Heat – Devin Carter, G, Providence

Devin Carter’s breakout junior year was one of the true joys of the college basketball season. The 6’3 guard was always a tenacious point of attack defender, but he suddenly morphed into an effective offensive player as a junior for Providence. Carter fixed his three-point shot, and it opened up the rest of his game. He fired threes off the dribble and the catch with abandon, hitting 37.7 percent on 6.8 attempts per game. His improved shooting helped open up the lane for driving, which allowed him to make a big leap as a two-point scorer as well (56 percent as a junior after being a tick below 50 percent as a sophomore). Carter’s mentality as a ferocious on-ball pest helps make him a perfect fit for the Heat, and his improved offensive potency addresses some of the Heat’s biggest problems.

16. Philadelphia 76ers – Tyler Smith, F, G League Ignite

Smith was the only player on the G League Ignite roster who qualified as a pleasant surprise this year. The 6’11 forward came over from Overtime Elite and immediately proved he had deep shooting range, tough shot-making ability, and the athleticism to finish inside. Smith hit 36 percent of his threes on 161 attempts this year, showing an effortless spot-up shooting stroke that’s hard to contest at his size. Smith also showcases good explosion off the ground as a play finisher, particularly when he doesn’t have to fight through contact. His defense is a mess, but there’s plenty of time to figure out that end of the floor when you can shoot like this.

17. New Orleans Pelicans – Kel’el Ware, C, Indiana

Ware is oozing with talent as an athletic 7-footer with a projectable jump shot, nice scoring touch inside the paint, and the ability to finish plays above the rim on both ends of the floor. After a woeful freshman year with Oregon, Ware transferred to Indiana and looked like the McDonald’s All-American scouts saw him as out of high school. His shooting potential — 42.5 percent from three-point range on 40 attempts — is enticing for teams looking for a five-out look even if his volume wasn’t all that high. Ware is so talented that he often leaves you wanting more: he doesn’t play with much force around the rim, and his motor has long been questioned. At this point in the draft, it’s worth taking a chance on Ware’s tools if he can put it all together.

18. Orlando Magic – Jared McCain, G, Duke

McCain was a prolific high school shooter out of Southern California who proved his shot could translate to the next level when he showed up at Duke. The freshman guard hit 41.4 percent of his threes on nearly six attempts per game, and also made 88.5 percent of his free throws. His scorching NCAA tournament performance showed there’s more to his game than just long-range shots: McCain looked comfortable operating as a secondary handler in ball screens, and also scored efficiently inside the arc. He’s not the biggest or most explosive athlete for a guard, but his strengths are a perfect fit for the Magic’s weaknesses as a team.

19. Toronto Raptors – Yves Missi, C, Baylor

Missi is an athletic big man who can block shots, roll to the rim with power, and even flashed some ball handling ability during his freshman year at Baylor. Missi plays a relatively simple game for a big man: he sets hard screens, rebounds well, and can quickly explode off the floor to finish to dunks and putbacks inside. He had 59 dunks and shot 70.3 percent at the rim as a freshman at Baylor. He also showed some comfort as a driver by taking two hard dribbles and attacking the paint. He’s not going to make many plays as a passer and he’s a total non-shooter, so it will be interesting to see how he measures at the combine. For now, Missi has a high floor as a rim runner/rim protector type who could raise his ceiling by adding more perimeter skill.

20. Cleveland Cavaliers – Pacome Dadiet, F, France

Like Bilal Coulibaly a year ago, Pacome Dadiet is a late-rising French wing who could be a big winner of the pre-draft process. At 6’8, Dadiet shows good instincts as an off-ball scorer and a high motor as a defender playing for German team Ulm. Dadiet isn’t a boundless leaper like Coulibaly, but he looks comfortable and confident taking spot-up threes or putting the ball on the floor to get into his mid-range pull-up. The Cavs need to take chances on a potential two-way wings to fit around their core, and the 18-year-old Dadiet is a solid long-term bet at this point in the draft.

21. New Orleans Pelicans – Ja’Kobe Walter, G, Baylor

At 6’5 with a 6’10 wingspan, Walter is an off-ball wing who can space the floor and defend bigger guards. He’s a smart relocater around the three-point line, and got up an impressive 220 three-point attempts as a freshman at Baylor even if his accuracy wained. Walter ended the year at 34.1 percent from three, which is disappointing after a hot start, but his volume combined with his 79 percent free throw mark should give teams confidence he’ll shoot it in the league. Walter doesn’t have great burst as a ball handler which caps his creation ability, and he can get overpowered defensively by stronger wings off the bounce. He doesn’t have the most exciting skill set, but it’s still one every team needs.

22. Phoenix Suns – DaRon Holmes II, C/F, Dayton

Holmes is a 6’10 big man who blossomed into one of the best players in college basketball in his junior season for Dayton. He was always a bouncy finisher around the rim who stockpiled dunks and blocks, but this year he looked more comfortable as a shooter and passer. After making only seven combined three-pointers in his first two years of school, Holmes knocked down 32 threes at a 38.6 percent clip as a junior. His assist rate also jumped from 12.1 percent as a sophomore to 18.9 percent as a junior as the Flyers used him as a hub in more halfcourt actions. He’s a bit undersized for an NBA center, but Holmes’ athleticism and developing skill level makes him a worthy first round pick.

23. Milwaukee Bucks – Tristan da Silva, F, Colorado

Tristan da Silva has a combination of size and shooting that should attract looks in the first round even if he lacks the athleticism and strength teams look for. The 6’9 forward spent four years at Colorado as one of the most versatile shooters in the country, hitting 38.7 percent of his threes on 212 attempts over his final three years of school, and 77 percent of his free throws. He just isn’t a run-and-jump athlete by NBA standards and can get bumped off his spots easily by physical forwards, but adding a veteran shooter feels like a smart move for a team with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez in the front court.

24. Knicks – Johnny Furphy, F, Kansas

Furphy emerged late in the season for Kansas as an efficient off-ball scorer with real NBA tools. The 6’9 Australian wing was a willing shooter from deep on spot-ups (35.2 percent on 6.3 three-point attempts per 40 minutes), scored well in transition, and looked coordinated enough to attack closeouts. He’s not a very physical player and often looked lost defensively, so a patient approach with an emphasis on his strength development would be best. With a deep team and two first round picks, the Knicks are in position to take the long view on his development.

25. New York Knicks – Bub Carrington, G, Pitt

Carrington is a big 6’5 lead guard with obvious talent despite a rocky freshman year for Pittsburgh. While he didn’t score all that efficiently (53 percent true shooting) and struggled with turnovers at times, there is still a lot to like here for a late round bet on shot creation. Carrington is skilled ball handler who can get into his pull-up jumper and get to the rim, even if he struggles to finish. He handled a high usage rate for a freshman (23 percent), shot free throws well (78.5 percent), and showed the ability to get up a ton of threes (202 attempts on the year). He’s not the most powerful athlete around, but for a late first round flier, he actually has some upside for a patient team willing to develop him.

26. Washington Wizards – Zach Edey, C, Purdue

Edey is truly one of the best men’s college basketball players of the last 40 years as a two-time national player of the year who led Purdue to the national championship game as a senior. His translation to the NBA will be fascinating in part because there isn’t much recent precedent for a player with his size (7’4, 300 pounds) and skill set. Edey obviously has tremendous scoring touch around the basket, but what’s most impressive about him is his ability to play all 40 minutes in big games. Yes, he’s slow-footed and doesn’t have any shooting range, but there’s a pathway here for Edey a microwave-scoring big in a smaller role. Read our full breakdown of his draft stock here.

27. Minnesota Timberwolves – Nique Clifford, F, Colorado State

Clifford was a tough wing defender who couldn’t score much in his first three years at Colorado. He transferred to Colorado State last summer, and blossomed offensively into one of the better two-way players in the Mountain West. A 6’6, 200 pound wing, Clifford can handle bigger forwards defensively with quick feet and a strong chest. He posted an impressive 2.7percent steal rate and 3.2 percent block rate. He looked much more comfortable shooting from the outside this year, knocking down 37.6 percent on three three-point attempts per game. He also shot nearly 60 percent on two-pointers, and 76 percent on free throws. His ability to make an impact without needing the ball makes him a quality bet as a future NBA role player.

28. Denver Nuggets – Tyler Kolek, G, Marquette

Kolek was one of the best guards in college basketball the last two years, and has both the skill set and mentality teams look for in college veterans at this point in the draft. The 6’3 guard isn’t going to burn anyone off the dribble, but he’s a good shooter (38.8 percent from three and 85 percent from foul line), a gifted playmaker (42 percent assist rate), and uses his hands to disrupt lanes lanes (2.8 percent steal rate). The Nuggets could use a young point guard ready to handle minutes right away off the bench, and that makes Kolek a great fit if he’s still available.

29. Utah Jazz – Kyshawn George, F, Miami

George emerged on NBA radars as a breakout freshman because of his size and shooting. The 6’8 wing takes the vast majority of his shots from three-point rage, with 130 attempts coming from deep vs. 60 attempts from two-point range. He knocked down 40.8 percent of his threes. The issue for George is he can’t do much when he’s run off the three-point line, but he’s still a good bet as a wing floor spacer at this point in the first round.

30. Boston Celtics – Izan Almansa, C, G League Ignite

Almansa is a 6’10, 230-pound big man who had an extremely decorated youth career playing for Spain before losing some momentum by joining a rough situation with the Ignite. There’s still a lot to like about his game. He’s a good rebounder, a capable short roll passer, and a skilled interior scorer. He’s not going to finish plays above the rim or stretch the floor, but his well-rounded big man skill set should serve him well in the league.

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