2024 NBA Mock Draft: Zaccharie Risacher rises to No. 1; top three players all from overseas – The Athletic

Sam VecenieFeb 20, 2024

The 2024 NBA Draft cycle is officially here now that the trade deadline has passed. High-level evaluators are traveling worldwide to get eyes on elite prospects and shifting their attention a bit more toward shaping their draft boards.

There remains a lot of variance team by team in those boards. The 2024 draft is not considered an overly strong one. In fact, at the top, it’s seen as clearly the weakest in the past decade. Many team evaluators are comparing it to the 2013 draft, in which Anthony Bennett was selected No. 1 overall, only one All-Star was selected in the lottery and only three All-Stars were picked in the entire draft. The good news for teams: Giannis Antetokounmpo went in that draft, as did Rudy Gobert. As in every class, All-Stars will emerge. But it will be a lot more difficult for teams to identify those players.


Beyond that, scouts have continued to question the depth of this class. Prospects such as Kyshawn George from Miami (Fla.) and Kansas wing Johnny Furphy have arrived ahead of schedule to potentially add some upside to the group. However, scouts are concerned some of the players who could go beyond the lottery could end up deciding to return to school and try their luck again in 2025 when they are seemingly more ready to play in the NBA. The proliferation of name, image and likeness money has allowed players to be more patient with their decisions to turn pro.

Expect to see many players test the draft process, starting in March and April and going through workouts, the May combine in Chicago and more. The number of players I think have a chance to hear their name called near the end of the first round exceeds even this 58-person group. I’ve heard that scouts are keeping their eyes on some unexpected names across the mid- and high-major spectrum for potential first-round value. This draft could be deep into the second round, but we won’t know until the final college withdrawal date.

One final note: For the first time this cycle, I’m taking team needs and preferences into account. Drafting for need often doesn’t work, but every team and key decision-maker has real tendencies worth considering. I typically do not take team needs or preferences into account this early in the process, but because the talent in this draft is in the eye of the beholder, they will play a bigger role in the final order.

(Ages listed are as of June 26, the first day of the 2024 draft.)

1. Detroit Pistons

Zaccharie Risacher | 6-8 wing/forward | 19 years old | JL Bourg

Risacher is clearly at No. 1 for me right now. The NBA is constantly on the lookout for big wing/forward types who can knock down shots, defend at a reasonable level and play with the ball in their hands. The French forward has done an enormous amount of that this season while producing at a high level in EuroCup competition. Through Feb. 14, in total EuroCup and French League games, he’s averaging 11.4 points while shooting 50.5 percent from the field, 45.1 percent from 3 and 70 percent from the free-throw line. He’s rebounding at a reasonable rate for a wing and has shown some passing and decision-making chops. His jumper looks real, with great touch off the catch, as well as when Bourg runs him off movement actions to get him free. He cuts well to the rim and creates buckets in transition. On defense, Risacher is really sharp off the ball, cutting off angles with his length, especially as the low man in ball-screen coverages. On the ball, he’s defended at the point of attack against guards at times with mixed results, to the point where I think he’s more of a two-through-four defender.


The worry: Risacher is not a particularly good shot creator at this point. The difference between him and someone like current Charlotte Hornets rookie Brandon Miller is the latter knew how to play with more poise and how to create his own shots in pick-and-roll situations, particularly from the midrange. Risacher doesn’t have that yet and doesn’t quite have the first step to beat anyone off the dribble. Still, he’s only 18 years old (he turns 19 in April), and there’s a ton of room between where he is now and what he will be at his peak. With how often NBA teams are on the hunt for his player type, I think more teams near the top of the draft are likely to value Risacher higher than other prospects.

2. Washington Wizards

Alex Sarr | 7-1 big | 19 years old | Perth Wildcats

Sarr has emerged throughout the season as a legitimate potential No. 1 pick. He comes off the bench for Perth in Australiasia’s National Basketball League, but the Wildcats are a top-two team, and Sarr plays behind an All-NBL big man in Keanu Pinder. When Sarr plays, he is a genuine difference-maker on defense. He covers an immense amount of ground, flying around when defending  ball screens, switching out on guards and when condensing the court for opponents with his off-ball positioning. If he’s waiting at the rim and opponents dare challenge him, odds are he’ll get to the shot and contest it, if not outright block it. So far this season, Sarr is averaging 9.7 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 1.3 blocks in 17 minutes per night, shooting 52 percent from the field while attempting two 3s per game.

I think Sarr’s range is across the top five right now, as many scouts question his ultimate offensive role. He has displayed some potential as a rim runner in ball screens, but for the most part, he pick-and-pops and doesn’t make great screen contact. Additionally, he’s not a high-impact defensive rebounder, which has led to some questioning if he can consistently play the five in the NBA. He may require a more physical center to play alongside him early on, but if so, can his offensive game work well? He’d need to play next to a floor-spacer five man, or he’d need to be a dangerous perimeter shooter himself.

Having said that, Sarr has shown flashes as a ballhandler, as well as touch as a shooter. There is upside offensively in his package of skills that could make him a legitimate difference-maker.

3. San Antonio Spurs

Nikola Topić | 6-6 lead guard | 18 years old | Crvena zvezda

Topić has been out since early January due to a knee injury he suffered after leaving Mega Basket and returning to Crvena zvezda for the second half of their season. Topić did his damage prior to that, though. In his 13 games for Mega Basket to start the year, he averaged 18.6 points and 6.9 assists per game while shooting 52.4 percent from the field. He’s a dynamic ball-screen distributor and consistently lives in the paint in the Adriatic League. He can execute nearly every pass in the book once he gets that downhill advantage and hits them with flair and creativity. Topić also can really score at the rim, using inventive touch in finishing high off the glass and around rim protectors.


Scouts have consistently brought up two issues. First, where is Topić as a shooter? He makes his free throws but is inconsistent shooting from distance. Can he make shots enough to keep defenses honest? If he can’t, how will that affect the rest of his game? Second, will he be able to separate as consistently from NBA defenders as he does from slower players in the Adriatic League? Players will be quicker, but the NBA court will have more space, so this could go either way.

Regardless, Topić has a good chance to be taken in the top six. The Spurs could use a lead guard to develop alongside Victor Wembanyama, so they’re a good fit here.

4. Charlotte Hornets

Cody Williams | 6-8 wing | 19 years old | Colorado

The brother of Oklahoma City Thunder wing Jalen Williams, Cody Williams looks like the kind of prized high-end prospect who can pressure the rim, pass, make plays and potentially defend across multiple positions. Fitting the big wing archetype to a T at 6-foot-8 with long arms, Williams has showcased the ability to play some point guard this season in addition to attacking in transition and slashing from the wing in a straight line. He’s averaging 14.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 59.2 percent from the field. He’s also made 47.1 percent from 3, although NBA teams are concerned about his jumper translating to the next level given that he doesn’t take many 3s in college.

The biggest questions scouts have regard his self-creation upside. To be an NBA wing in 2024 is to be able to create and knock down pull-up jumpers. That’s just not a part of Williams’ game at this stage, and it wasn’t in high school, either. If he can showcase any upside as a pull-up shooter, teams would feel better about taking him in the top three. Even so, most evaluators have him in the top-six range at this point.

5. Portland Trail Blazers

Stephon Castle | 6-6 wing | 19 years old | Connecticut

Welcome to the top five, Stephon Castle! Over the last month, few freshmen around college basketball have been better than the 6-6 guard/wing hybrid, who is averaging 12.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists in his last 12 games while shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 39.3 percent from 3. He’s played at a really high level on defense too, taking on tough assignments in variety of different roles, ranging from point-of-attack defender to general off-ball helper. He guarded Creighton All-American candidate Baylor Scheierman as well as anyone all season, helping to hold the Blue Jays guard to 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting. While I think Castle tends to defend better when his job is specific, his versatility has been a huge part of Connecticut’s stingy unit.

Teams still question whether Castle can play point guard at the next level or if he’s more of a secondary ballhandler. Some wonder if his jumper will translate. But no other freshman in the country is consistently impacting games positively for a winning team. Castle immediately stepping into the No. 1 team in the country and making this large of a contribution sets him up to be in the top-five conversation for the rest of the season.


CJ Moore’s Top 25: UConn towers above the field

6. Memphis Grizzlies

Ron Holland | 6-8 wing | 18 years old | G League Ignite

Holland has been the most Ignite’s most productive player this season, averaging 19.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game while being one of the team’s few sources of offensive creation. However, most of that offense has either come in transition or in inefficient settings. He has a below-average true shooting percentage and more turnovers than assists as he struggles with his decision-making. That’s to be expected from an 18-year-old playing professionally.


Holland’s motor is what excites NBA teams most. He constantly plays hard, getting the most out of his terrific athleticism by going at 100 percent every moment. Sometimes, that energy can bite him on defense, when he gets overaggressive and physical. But despite the Ignite’s season not going to plan, Holland has at least continued to improve throughout the season, showcasing a capacity for growth that has impressed evaluators.

His range seems to be in the No. 4-12 area, though Holland will miss the rest of the G League season with a recent thumb injury. He is expected to have a full pre-draft process, and scouts believe it will have little impact on his draft placement.

7. San Antonio Spurs (via TOR)

Matas Buzelis | 6-10 wing/forward | 19 years old | G League Ignite

This is earlier than I would personally select Buzelis, but the feedback I get from scouts has been more positive than his overall numbers would indicate, given he’s averaging 13.0 points with a negative assist-to-turnover ratio and a true shooting percentage below the league average. Much as they do with Holland, many evaluators are giving Buzelis the benefit of the doubt for the G League’s Ignite’s poorly constructed roster, especially at the guard positions.

Scouts would love to see Buzelis do more as a shot creator, and they aren’t sure how well his on-ball defense will translate. But many have also appreciated the way Buzelis is settling into a role with the Ignite and playing more intelligently. Buzelis doesn’t try to do too much. He cuts sharply on offense and has impressed scouts with timely off-ball rotations, particularly around the rim, where he’s averaging 1.8 blocks per game. In the open court, he attacks in a way that makes many sense his long-term upside as a ballhandler and scorer. There’s some downside risk in taking Buzelis this high, but it appears unlikely he gets outside of the lottery and is consistently mentioned in the No. 4-12 range.

8. Houston Rockets (via BKN)

Ja’Kobe Walter | 6-5 wing | 19 years old | Baylor

Walter has been a bit up and down this season, averaging 14.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. A lot of his struggles have to do with his inconsistent shooting. Walter has always been known as a solid marksman going back to high school, but he’s made just 32.9 percent of his 3s so far this season and just 25 percent in his last 11 games. If that part of his game turns around as expected, Walter is a good investment. He’s an athletic, 6-5 wing who can be run off movement into tough shots. He rarely makes mistakes, has strong feel for the game and plays well within a team concept.

There’s a split about Walter’s overall upside? Most scouts don’t see him as a star, but they disagree on whether he’s a starter long-term or more of a rotation player. Evaluators who believe he’s closer to the latter, such as a few team scouts, may have him more in the No. 15 range. Those who buy into his shooting and think he can improve his shaky defense could even see him landing in the top six. This ranking splits the difference.

9. Oklahoma City Thunder (via HOU)

Kyle Filipowski | 7-0 big | 20 years old| Duke

Oklahoma City wants to be able to play with five shooters spaced along the 3-point line. The biggest impediment, typically, is that it’s hard to find centers who can dribble, pass and shoot with legitimate size for the position. In Filipowski, the Thunder would have an opportunity to get another player who fits that mold along with 2022’s No. 2 pick Chet Holmgren.


Filipowski has played like an All-American this season, averaging 17.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists while shooting about 50 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3. He carries Duke through long stretches of games with his ability to catch the ball on the block and score, but it’s his well-rounded perimeter game that will most appeal to pro scouts. Filipowski can shoot from the perimeter, attack heavy closeouts and bring the ball up the court.

I also think Filipowski’s defense is underrated. The Blue Devils have a top-25 defense, and he usually positions himself well, contests enough shots and can slide his feet a couple of times on an island to stay with wings and even some guards. In my opinion, Filipowski to the Thunder is a perfect blend of scheme and player.

10. Atlanta Hawks

Dalton Knecht | 6-6 wing | 23 years old | Tennessee

I’m not sure we’re recognizing the extent to which Knecht is obliterating the SEC. He’s scoring at a staggering pace for this level. In his 12 SEC games so far, Knecht is averaging 25 points while shooting 50.2 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from 3. He’s grabbing 5.3 rebounds and dishing out 2.3 assists. For the season, he’s averaging 20.1 points per game on 48 percent from the field, but those stats are dragged down by a stretch where he played at less than 100 percent following an ankle injury at North Carolina. If you remove those games, Knecht is averaging nearly 25 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.1 assists, which would make him a clear All-American.

He should be, regardless. Everything he does offensively should translates to NBA settings. He is a terrific shooter but is also a high-end athlete who can sky in transition and finish inside using legitimate hang time in the air.

The issues come on defense. Knecht is rough around the edges on that end and consistently makes errors that lead to problems for Tennessee. But I tend to buy into these late bloomers, especially those who can really shoot and possess legitimate NBA athleticism. Knecht’s range is somewhere No. 10-20 for scouts right now.

Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht is putting up about 25 points per game in SEC play. (Nelson Chenault / USA Today)

11. Chicago Bulls

Reed Sheppard | 6-3 guard | 20 years old | Kentucky

Sheppard and his teammate Rob Dillingham (more on him below) are the two most polarizing players for scouts right now.

With Sheppard, it’s easy to understand why. As a 6-3 player without much length or the kind of athletic traits that raise a guard to this level, Sheppard doesn’t look like the typical lottery pick. But I think he has a real case for being one of the five best players in the country as a freshman, and I’d certainly consider him an All-American in some capacity. He’s averaging 12.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 4.1 assists while shooting 52.6 percent from the field, 51.4 percent from 3 and 80.8 percent from the line. He racks up 2.6 steals per game on top of averaging nearly one block per game. His closeouts on shooters are textbook and disruptive.


Offensively, he’s potent leading the break in transition or delivering hit-ahead passes to get his teammates involved. When combined with his elite shooting, Sheppard is one of the best connective players in this draft class. Defensively, he’s an impactful playmaker, but has some off-ball lapses that can cause issues for Kentucky. On the ball, he’s excellent at staying in front of guards, but his size can be exploited on mismatches size-wise.

Sheppard presents a fascinating argument. Do you believe in his remarkable feel for the game and high skill level, or do you worry too much about his physical deficiencies? Given the success of other supposed “skill-first” guys across the league, such as Jalen Brunson, Brandin Podziemski, Desmond Bane and others, I buy into Sheppard’s positives more than I fret about his negatives.

His range is all over the map. I get individual evaluators working for NBA teams who rate him as a top-five player, and I just as often hear some who believe he shouldn’t be picked in top 25. In the end, I think Sheppard’s name will end being called in the lottery. Too many people who work for NBA teams love his game.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via UTA)

Tidjane Salaun | 6-9 wing/forward | 18 years old | Cholet

Salaun is another one of those bigger wing/forward type of prospects who has perimeter skill. And if any team has invested more substantial resources in that player type in recent years than others, it’s Oklahoma City. Salaun fits the Thunder’s archetype of terrific positional size and skill. At 6-9, Salaun has been productive this season in the French League and Basketball Champions League, averaging 9.4 points and 3.5 rebounds while shooting 37 percent from behind the 3-point line. He has a smooth-looking stroke that looks like it’ll have no issue translating out to NBA range, and he can attack the glass on cuts and straight-line drives to get to the rim.

I’m a bit lower on him right now, though, because I have some worries about his overall feel for the game. I also think that, right now, he’s a bit more forward than true wing athletically, which could hinder his positional flexibility. But he’s extremely young and has all the time in the world to be able to figure out the feel for the game question. Teams are very interested and see him as a real option starting in the back half of the lottery right now.

13. Portland Trail Blazers (via GSW)

Johnny Furphy | 6-9 wing | 19 years old | Kansas

Furphy is the big riser on the board, as he’s emerged over the last month into a critical cog on an excellent Kansas team. Playing for Bill Self, a coach who generally has an aversion to playing raw freshmen, Furphy is averaging 13.7 points and 7.0 rebounds while shooting 55.7 percent from the field and 42.6 percent from 3 in his last 10 games. Furphy has a lot of what NBA teams look for across the landscape when trying to identify interesting projects in whom to invest.

At 6-9 with legitimate athleticism in the open court, Furphy is a potential one-and-done who was not even really on the radar this time last year. Over the last 18 months, the Australian has exploded. At the Center of Excellence in Australia, he was always seen as an interesting upside swing due to his athleticism and shooting ability, but he didn’t always know how to impact the game when he was out there. Now, Furphy has earned serious minutes and consistently hits the score sheet with his rebounding, and he forces teams to run in transition with Kansas because of how much pressure he puts on the rim. It’s hard to find guys who are this big, this athletic and can play on the wing. My bet is teams invest the developmental resources in Furphy in a big way.


14. New Orleans Pelicans (via LAL)

Rob Dillingham | 6-3 guard | 19 years old | Kentucky

With Dillingham, scouts point to his elite speed with the ball in his hand in addition to his touch. Dillingham plays fast but maintains his control at a really high level. He’s averaging 14.7 points and four assists this season while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 44.8 percent from 3. He has a bevy of high speed crossovers, then he’ll use his speed to play off a hesitation game to change pace. Having said that, he’s also listed at 6-3, and scouts have some questions as to whether he’ll measure quite that big. That impacts him as a finisher at times despite his explosiveness, but it really causes issues on defense. Dillingham has a real case as the worst defender in the class, struggling to get over screens at the point of attack and having issues dealing with any sort of mismatch. He also can get a bit distracted off the ball and make poorly timed digs and rotations.

The questions surrounding Dillingham are pretty simple. Can he be a starting point guard, or is he more of a backup? Is he a good enough distributor? Or is he going to settle in largely as a score-first guard? Can he hold up at all on defense to allow him to close games? The best comparison I have been able to come up with for Dillingham is Lou Williams. Where would a team take Williams in this class? My best bet right now is in the back end of the lottery. But I’ve gotten ranges from No. 5 all the way down to No. 20.


‘They give no resistance.’ Can Kentucky’s defense be saved before it’s too late?

15. Miami Heat

Isaiah Collier | 6-5 guard | 19 years old | USC

Collier has been one of the toughest evaluations this season. On one hand, he’s been very productive, averaging 16.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 4.4 assists. He’s made 48.5 percent of his shots and 31.7 percent from 3. And he’s getting the early season turnover issue he had under control, averaging only 2.2 per game in Pac-12 play. Since returning from a wrist injury, he’s been a machine getting to the foul line. Collier is an extremely impressive downhill athlete who lives in the paint and has the wherewithal to hit kickouts and dump-offs for assists. Having said that, USC has been a mess with and without him this season. Despite his size and strength, he has not been an impactful defender in any way, struggling to stay in front of opposing guards and wings. Questions still exist about his feel for the game and shooting ability. Expect Collier to be an exceedingly polarizing player in this class. His range is pretty wide, but I feel good about having him in the top 15.

16. Orlando Magic

Kyshawn George | 6-8 wing | 20 years old | Miami (Fla.)

The Magic tend to draft young and with plus positional size. That’s the Jeff Weltman strategy. George is a player scouts are extremely excited about due to his performance thus far in ACC play, as the 6-8 wing is averaging 9.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists versus only 2.0 turnovers per game since Dec. 21. On top of that, he’s drilled his 3s this season at 40.8 percent from distance. George looks every bit the part of a big wing creator who can knock down shots from distance with a smooth set shot that has range out to NBA distance, as well as drive and kick when the opportunity arises. He makes early hit-aheads to find transition offense and just knows how to play. A Swiss player whose father played college basketball at St. Francis (Pa.) in the 1990s, NBA scouts who have been in to see Miami have said all season that George was their most interesting prospect. But he’s starting to actually showcase it on the court in a way that makes me believe it’ll be hard for the 20-year-old to turn down the NBA given how much upside evaluators believe he has. His range is somewhere in the back half of the first round right now, but I’ve been a bit aggressive here.

17. Toronto Raptors (via IND)

Yves Missi | 7-0 big | 20 years old | Baylor

Missi is a project, but he’s one who might end up hearing his name called much earlier than this on draft night if the right team falls in love with his tools. He might have the best frame of any low-usage center prospect in the class, at a legitimate 7-foot tall with a 7-5 wingspan. He’s a terrific athlete who moves his feet fluidly in space and also has hops to be able to sky for impressive lobs and dunks, both in transition and the dunker spot. He blocks shots well, finishes far above the rim and has potential to stick with guards for multiple slides on defense.

The idea here is a Clint Capela-style big man who can guard a bit in space once he gets the nuances of ball-screen coverage down, as well as protect the rim with his physical frame. He needs to put on a bit more weight in his lower half and get stronger through his base — he can get moved on the block and struggles on the defensive glass sometimes — but he has the look of a starting center defensively if he can reach his ceiling.

18. New York Knicks (via DAL)

Donovan Clingan | 7-2 center | 20 years old | Connecticut

Clingan has had an up-and-down year due to injuries to his foot in the preseason and an ankle injury midway through the season. But when he’s been on the court, he’s been one of the most dominant players in college basketball. He completely shuts down the paint when he’s in the game, with an enormous frame that takes up a significant portion of the paint. He moves well and is elite in drop coverage defensively, stopping ballhandlers from turning the corner on him and getting to the rim. On the weak side, he makes his presence felt when necessary. Offensively, he’s more of a screen-and-roll big who covers ground quickly and finishes well at the rim. Where evaluators have the most questions is regarding how long Clingan can actually play within games. That answer hasn’t been given yet this season after he was essentially a part-time player as a freshman on the way to Connecticut’s title run due to the injuries. He’s only played over 25 minutes in a game four times in 60 games so far. Still, with the Knicks potentially in need of a backup center if Isaiah Hartenstein gets a big offer this summer, Clingan could be an interesting combination as an elite rim protector with Mitchell Robinson.


UConn and Donovan Clingan dominate Marquette, break Golden Eagles streak

19. Atlanta Hawks (via SAC)

Jared McCain | 6-3 guard | 20 years old | Duke

McCain was seen as a potential one-and-done entering the season, but a slow start gave pause for evaluators as they waited to see exactly where he’d settle in. The good news? McCain has settled in nicely as one of the best freshman scorers in all of college basketball. Since Duke’s Dec. 9 game against Charlotte, McCain is averaging 16.6 points and 5.1 rebounds over his last 17. He’s hitting 41.3 percent of his more than six 3-point attempts per game and is also consistently getting into the lane either in transition or off closeouts. Scouts very strongly believe McCain will end up as a high-level shooter even by NBA standards, and the name Seth Curry comes up in a reasonable amount within conversations. The key will be continuing to impact the game in other ways beyond just the offense. He rebounds well for a small guard and generally makes good decisions. But there isn’t much margin for error for him in either of those capacities given that he’s 6-3 and doesn’t have a ton of length.


20. Phoenix Suns

Ryan Dunn | 6-8 wing | 21 years old | Virginia

This is all about defense. If anyone across college basketball has a vote for the National Defensive Player of the Year award and you’re considering giving it to someone else, you’re wrong. Dunn is the most impactful defender in the country, and I’m not sure it’s all that close. He can do everything you ask of him on that end and more. He can guard one through five in college and projects to guard one through four in the NBA. He is an elite defensive playmaker who is averaging 1.5 steals and more than two blocks per game. He’s always available as a weakside rim protector, and he can run any ball-screen coverage you want. The issue for Dunn is on offense and trying to figure out what you do with him. He plays hard, crashes the offensive glass and is a sharp cutter. But the jumper has been rough throughout his two years at Virginia, and in recent games, he’s been a bit less confident in taking it. The defensive side of the floor is so strong that it’s hard to imagine him not playing in the NBA for a while, but he needs to find a role on offense. If you’re the Suns, you’re probably a bit more willing to take a chance on an All-Defense upside player at the expense of offense given their roster build.

Virginia’s Ryan Dunn defends Pitt guard Blake Hinson earlier this season. (Amber Searls / USA Today)

21. New Orleans Pelicans

Jaylon Tyson | 6-7 wing | 21 years old | California

Tyson’s gone on a real journey to this point, going from Texas to Texas Tech to Cal in three years. But after entering college as a top-40 player in his recruiting class, Tyson has finally emerged as an elite player who looks like a real NBA prospect. At 6-7 with long arms, he has great measurements for the NBA. He’s not an elite athlete in terms of explosiveness, but he’s powerful and isn’t all that bothered by contact, allowing him to get the most out of his length and athleticism, throwing down 15 half-court dunks this season. He’s averaging 20.3 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 48.8 percent from the field and 37.2 percent from 3. Over the last 30 years, only four other players reached those statistical thresholds, and all of them went on to be first-round picks. Tyson plays an archetype of need around the NBA as a wing with size and is clearly coming into his own.

22. Philadelphia 76ers

Devin Carter | 6-3 guard | 22 years old | Providence

Carter is one of the best players in college basketball this season, point blank. The son of former NBA point guard Anthony Carter, Devin was terrific last year at Providence after transferring from South Carolina, but his leap this season has been different. Carter has always been a terrific defensive player, rightfully nominated as a semifinalist for National Defensive Player of the Year. He is aggressive at the point of attack and has elite off-ball defensive instincts. But where the real jump has come is on offense. Long a questionable shooter, Carter has hit 40.5 percent of his nearly seven 3-point attempts per game. Shooting something of a moon ball that arcs high in the air before falling, he’s hitting shots at volume at a level that is hard to ignore on his way to 19.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. The idea here is a 3-and-D guard who can do a little bit more than that.

23. New York Knicks

Tyler Kolek | 6-3 guard | 23 years old | Marquette

It’s hard to be more on-fire than Kolek has been over the last month. Since Jan. 15, Marquette is 7-1 as Kolek has averaged 19.1 points, 8.7 assists and shot 48.8 percent from the field and 45.7 percent from 3. He has the Golden Eagles in a strong position to succeed moving forward. He’s a crafty guard who I’m not totally convinced can dunk, but he knows exactly how to play off two feet and is an elite distributor out of ball screens. The big leap this season has come as a shooter, as he’s drilling 40.4 percent from 3, but more than that, he looks much more confident pulling up when the opportunity arises. Kolek will need to prove he can hold up on defense in regard to footspeed in the NBA, and he’ll need to prove he can separate well enough. But New York has an affinity for Big East players, and the Knicks also have a real need at backup point guard even with the emergence of Miles McBride recently. They could use more playmaking and distribution skill from the backcourt with one of these picks.

24. Milwaukee Bucks

Bobi Klintman | 6-9 wing/forward | 20 years old | Cairns Taipans

It’s been a season of ups and downs for Klintman in the NBL playing for Cairns as a Next Star. He has put up some big games, especially in the first half of the season when Cairns was rolling a bit and looked like a potential finals contender. However, Klintman has dealt with a few minor injuries over the back half of the season and missed time sporadically. On top of that, Cairns has struggled and fallen out of the contention picture. Klintman is still a 6-foot-9 wing/forward who can knock down shots from the perimeter, having hit 35.4 percent from 3 this season and 80 percent from the line. He can dribble a bit and make passes out in transition. He’s still learning what exactly he’s capable of as he continues growing into his frame, and his feel for the game is still developing, as he came to basketball late. Most teams see Klintman as likely to hear his name called in the post-lottery range of the first round, even if he’s a bit polarizing for evaluators league-wide due to his mix of age and the raw nature of his game. The conversations surrounding him are not dissimilar to those that occurred five years ago when Rui Hachimura was in the draft.

25. Denver Nuggets

DaRon Holmes | 6-10 big | 21 years old | Dayton

The Nuggets have tended to draft older under general manager Calvin Booth, and the team has a significant need on the interior behind Nikola Jokić. Zeke Nnaji hasn’t been good enough. Holmes would give them a chance at a high-level producer who has a very real case as an All-American this season. Since Dec. 9, Holmes is averaging 22.1 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.3 blocks while shooting 58.1 percent from the field and 38.5 percent from 3 on over three attempts from distance per game. That is about as well-rounded a skill set as you can find when it comes to translating to an NBA backup big man role. He passes well out of short rolls, can pick-and-pop or can catch lobs above the rim in ball-screen situations. He’s a tremendous weakside rim protector and has gotten better on the glass to where he might be able to handle ending possessions in the NBA despite being a bit undersized, depending on who else is on the court with him. He’s carrying Dayton back to the NCAA Tournament this year and should be considered a likely top-40 pick at this stage.

26. Washington Wizards (via DAL via OKC)

Ulrich Chomche | 6-11 big | 18 years old | NBA Africa Academy

Another one of the high-upside potential swings in this class, Chomche is at the NBA Academy in Africa. Scouts got to see him up close at the G League Showcase in December, where he showed off the tremendous tools that have built his stock. At 6-11, Chomche moves fluidly and has good feet that allow him to slide around defensively as well as run the court offensively. Plus, with his 7-4 wingspan, he displays strong shot-blocking instincts on the interior. The real game-changer, though, is the jumper. Chomche has a ways to go, but the ball comes out of his hand fluidly and displays the kind of touch necessary to be a floor-spacing five.


Chomche is extremely raw. He’s clearly still learning the nuances of the highest levels of hoops as he gains more experience playing against tougher competition. There is a real consideration that he might end up going to college and using that as a bridge between the Academy and the NBA. Scouts will get an opportunity, in all likelihood, to see him at Nike Hoop Summit, where they can evaluate him in a bit more detail and decide if the 2024 draft is a distinct possibility. I’m putting him here now because scouts are telling me he’s a legitimate name to know for this class.

27. Utah Jazz (via LAC)

Tyler Smith | 6-11 big | 19 years old | G League Ignite

Smith is all about the upside. Right now, he’s an unfinished player, but his skill set at his size mixed with real athleticism is difficult to find. At 6-11 with something in the ballpark of a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Smith is a fluid athlete who moves well around the court both in transition and off the ball on offense. He’s a strong cutter, particularly backdoor, and has the leaping ability to be able to play out of the dunker spot. More than that, Smith has a beautiful jumper that looks easily translatable as he gets stronger and more consistent. He’s hit 42.1 percent from 3 on his way to 13.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. There is a case that he and Holland have been the two most consistent Ignite players this season.

Having said that, Smith’s defense is going to need a lot of work at the four or the five. He’s messy in help situations and needs to get much more comfortable within scheme. He would be unlikely to play early in the NBA, but the former five-star prospect has every chance to be a difference-maker down the road if he can focus on the details.

28. Cleveland Cavaliers

Hunter Sallis | 6-5 guard | 21 years old | Wake Forest

Sallis has been a real riser — arguably one of the biggest — throughout the process this season. The former Gonzaga guard is averaging 18.4 points per game while shooting 49.9 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from 3. The shooting from distance is the big leap. In his two seasons at Gonzaga, Sallis never hit over 27 percent from distance. Now, Sallis has confidence and is drilling his nearly six 3-point attempts per game at a high level. If he can keep that up — and his free-throw percentages have long indicated that he has some shooting potential — he has a chance to be the kind of scoring combo guard who litters NBA benches league-wide. He’s athletic and shifty with the ball and is leading Wake Forest to a strong season that has come as a bit of a surprise to those around the ACC. If they can close the season well, they should make the NCAA Tournament, where Sallis might get a real shot to do some damage and build the feeling around his game even further.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves

Trey Alexander | 6-4 guard | 21 years old | Creighton

Alexander has been a bit up-and-down this season. He started incredibly strong, averaging 21 points, seven rebounds and seven assists for his first four games. Then he dropped off, averaging 11 points while shooting 29.6 percent from the field in his next six games. Over his last seven games, though, Alexander has been back to his best. He’s averaging 20.1 points, 6.4 rebounds and 5.1 assists, shooting 49.1 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from 3. All told, Alexander is a good defender and tough combo guard. He’s physical at the point of attack. But he can also be a primary creator on offense for the Creighton offense and proved last season he can play off the ball and knock down catch-and-shoot 3s. He’s a perfect fit for the Timberwolves if he falls down to 29th, as Minnesota could use another good backup guard and a potential developmental starter long-term given Mike Conley’s age.

30. Boston Celtics

Zach Edey | 7-4 center | 22 years old | Purdue

Edey continues to be nothing short of the best player in college basketball yet again. He’s averaging 23 points, 12 rebounds and over two blocks per game. He establishes position anywhere and everywhere on the court because of how big and strong he is, and he has touch around the rim. He’s probably most underrated as a big in ball-screen actions. He has a case as the best screener in all of college basketball, consistently crushing guards trying to get through and rolling to the rim either into post-ups or easy buckets.

I think Edey has grown defensively over his time in college. He’s a really good, impactful drop-coverage defender for Purdue now. Around the basket, he consistently impacts the game and dissuades guards from trying to drive and finish with how much space he takes up. The questions here are obvious, though. He’s a 7-4 supergiant who doesn’t move particularly well. Can he stop the corner from getting turned on him enough? Can he get back consistently in transition defense in the up-and-down NBA? Still, I consistently get feedback regarding Edey that he’ll likely be taken in the first round.


Midseason All-America team: Zach Edey, R.J. Davis, Jaedon LeDee and more

Second Round

31. Toronto Raptors (via DET): Oso Ighodaro | 6-11 big | Marquette

32. Utah Jazz (via WAS): D.J. Wagner | 6-4 guard | Kentucky

33. San Antonio Spurs: Tristan da Silva | 6-9 forward | Colorado

34. Portland Trail Blazers (via CHA): P.J. Hall | 6-10 big | Clemson

35. Milwaukee Bucks (via POR): Kevin McCullar | 6-7 wing | Kansas

36. Minnesota Timberwolves (via MEM): Izan Almansa | 6-10 big | G League Ignite

37. Philadelphia 76ers (via TOR): Melvin Ajinca | 6-7 wing | Saint-Quentin

38. Memphis Grizzlies (via BKN)Hansen Yang | 7-1 big | Qingdao

39. Oklahoma City Thunder (via HOU): A.J. Johnson | 6-5 guard | Illawarra


40. Portland Trail Blazers (via ATL): Baylor Scheierman | 6-7 wing | Creighton

41. Boston Celtics (via CHI): Alex Karaban | 6-8 wing | Connecticut

42. New York Knicks (via UTA): Ajay Mitchell | 6-5 guard | UC Santa Barbara

43. Houston Rockets (via GSW): Kel’el Ware | 7-0 big | Indiana

44. San Antonio Spurs (via LAL): Cam Spencer | 6-4 guard | Connecticut

45. Miami Heat: Payton Sandfort | 6-7 wing | Iowa

46. Orlando Magic: Adem Bona | 6-10 big | UCLA

47. LA Clippers (via IND): Pelle Larsson | 6-6 wing | Arizona

48. Boston Celtics (via DAL): Adama Bal | 6-7 wing | Santa Clara

49. Sacramento Kings: Trevon Brazile | 6-10 big | Arkansas

50. Washington Wizards (via PHX): Keshad Johnson | 6-7 wing | Arizona

51. Indiana Pacers (via NOP): Wooga Poplar | 6-5 wing | Miami (Fla.)

52. Detroit Pistons (via NYK): Justin Edwards | 6-7 wing | Kentucky

53. Indiana Pacers (via MIL): Pacome Dadiet | 6-7 wing | ratiopharm Ulm

54. Memphis Grizzlies (via OKC): Ariel Hukporti | 6-10 big | Melbourne United

55. Los Angeles Lakers (via LAC): Blake Hinson | 6-8 wing | Pittsburgh

56. Indiana Pacers (via CLE): K.J. Simpson | 6-2 guard | Colorado

57. Denver Nuggets (via MIN): Dillon Jones | 6-6 wing | Weber State

58. Charlotte Hornets (via BOS): Malique Lewis | 6-8 wing | Mexico City Capitanes

(Illustration: Sean Reilly / The Athletic; top photos: Michael Hickey / Getty Images, Ethan Miller/Getty Images, Konstaninos Tsakalidis / SOOC / AFP via Getty Images)

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Sam Vecenie covers the NBA Draft, college basketball and the NBA for The Athletic. His podcast, the Game Theory Podcast, is regularly ranked among the top podcasts on iTunes. Previously, he worked for CBS Sports, SB Nation, Sporting News, and Vice. Follow Sam on Twitter @Sam_Vecenie