2024 NBA Draft Primer – Expect Pure Chaos On Draft Night

Things could go nuts on draft night – and I’m here for it all!

In a draft as wide open as this one, just about anything could happen at the top of the draft, in the lottery and throughout the entire draft. We have a decent idea of who the top few selections will be but we have no idea which teams will be making those selections. Expect lots of trades, surprises and general pandemonium in this draft! And of course the over dramatized story of Bronny James.

The Top Of The Draft

The Atlanta Hawks have the first pick and rumors are that it will come down to Zaccharie Risacher or Donovan Clingan. Sarr has yet to work out for the team and might be steering his selection elsewhere, or maybe he’s not valued quite as a high by NBA teams as by media mocks.

Stephon Castle maaaaay be considered at no.1 but that seems a bit rich. He’s a likely top 5 or 6 pick.

The rest of the top 5 could include Reed Sheppard, Matas Buzelis or perhaps Cody Williams. But with how wide open this draft is don’t be surprised if another name lands in the top 5. Tidjane Salaun has been a hot name and could crash the top 5 party.

French Players

For the second straight year we could see a Frenchman go no.1 overall. And for the second straight year we could see multiple Frenchmen go in the lottery. This year it will likely be three (Risacher, Sarr and Salaun) with a fourth (Pacome Dadiet) likely going in the first round.

The rise of France as a basketball powerhouse has been impressive and that trend is set to continue with some very high level prospects coming up in future drafts.

A Few Wild Scenarios

I doubt we’ll see a 2013 level surprise, when Anthony Bennett was inexplicably drafted no.1 overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers. That would be the equivalent to Ja’Kobe Walter or Devin Carter being selected first this year. We won’t see that level of madness but we are sure to see some big surprises. Here are a few wild but not completely outlandish scenarios that could play out on draft night(s).

There’s a chance, albeit a small chance, that the Hawks stay put at no.1 and take UConn center Donovan Clingan. It wouldn’t be totally crazy, but it would be a surprise and would mark the culmination of a meteoric rise for Clingan over the past six months. For most of the season Clingan was ranked as a mid first round pick, then rose into the lottery in February and March. He is now looked at as a top half of the lottery prospect. If he rises all the way to no.1 it would be an impressive move up boards, and perhaps speaks to the parity/lack of star talent at the top.

Tidjane Saluan has been another playing leaping up draft boards over the second half of the season and is rise could continue all the way into the top 5. More likely he’ll land at no.7 or no.8 but he could go higher. The 6-10 French forward is one of the youngest, most intriguing and highest upside players in draft. The Spurs are rumored to be enamored with him.

Trades Galore

The trades could come early and often, starting right at the top. In past years we’ve had plenty of trade rumors that didn’t materialize on draft day. This year I think we’ll see a lot of movement with teams targeting certain fits instead of staying pat and taking the BPA.

The San Antonio Spurs currently hold the no.4 and no.8 picks in the draft and they could look to package those two picks (or some other combination of picks and players) to trade up for their guy. Could they target Zaccharie Risacher at the top of the draft? He’d be a great fit from a skill/position standpoint and would bring a French connection to pair with Wemby.

Donovan Clingan has been connected to various rumors/teams near the top of the draft and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see a team slide up a few spots to draft the UConn center.

Upperclassmen Devin Carter and Tristan da Silva have also been connected with multiple teams in the late lottery/mid first round range and could be the targets of a team trading up to get them.

And trade activity will likely be high at the top of the second round, thanks in part to the new two-day draft format. All indications are that the picks at the top of the second round will have added value with his format and could command a high price.

Which Player(s) Will Slide

Every year we see at least one player take a draft day slide. A lot of indications are that Nikola Topic’s knee injury could lead to him falling at least a few spots, if not out of the lottery completely.

A few wildcards are Ron Holland and Rob Dillingham. Holland was once considered a likely top 5 pick but his stock has seemingly cooled off over the past few months. He reportedly hasn’t shot the ball well in workouts; an area of his game that remains a concern/area for improvement. I think he has a wide draft range. There’s a chance some team still sees him as a top 8 player in this class…and there’s a chance he falls out of the lottery.

Rob Dillingham is a polarizing prospect who shows breathtaking flashes of offensive firepower and who had a great single season at Kentucky. But he’s also undersized at about 6-1 and a feathery 164lbs. If a team sees him as a viable long-term starter he could be a top 10 pick but I imagine some teams see him as a high octane 6th-man, in which case he should be drafted later in the lottery/mid first round.

As mentioned above, another player who could tumble on draft day is Nikola Topic, who was recently diagnosed with a partially torn ACL, after already suffering a knee sprain early this year. This will give teams some caution and the crafty point guard who was once considered a likely top 5 pick could slide out of the top 10 and possibly even out of the lottery.

The New Two-Night Draft Format

I’m a huge fan of this change. For one thing, my favorite day of the year is now two days! It also gives me more time to create content and analyze the draft picks without reaching a state of stupor and delirium that causes my brain to melt out through my ear-holes, as it has for the past 15 drafts.

The new format will give teams plenty of time to reassess and re-calibrate their strategies overnight, heading into day two. Picks at or near the top of the second round should become more valuable, with teams vying to trade up to target a player at the top of the second round.

Watch The Bronny James Drama Unfold

Draft nerds will be tuning in for both nights of the draft regardless, but many casuals will be watching to see how the drama of Bronny James plays out. Will he go in round one or will the drama play out over two nights?

It’s widely expected that the Lakers will select Bronny. They currently hold the 17th pick, which would seem a bit rich, and the 55th pick. A trade up or back to acquire a pick in the 25—35 range could be in order. The Suns are another team that Bronny has worked out for and be a potential landing spot for him. The Suns hold the 22nd pick in the draft (a spot that has been connected with Tyler Kolek) and they don’t have a second round pick, as of now.

The Zach Edey Selection

I’m fascinated to see where Zach Edey gets selected. He’s one of the most unique prospects to come out in years. Players his size are rare and it’s hard to tell how NBA teams will value him.

20 years ago he would have been considered for the no.1 pick in the draft but during the small-ball era he might not have even been a first rounder. Now the league is shifting back to valuing size and I imagine at least one team will see him as a lottery level talent.

It’s hard to tell if he’ll end up as full-time starter but he seems like a player that could provide meaningful minutes in shorter spurts, and for a playoff level team, that could be an enticing addition in the late lottery to mid first round.

Edey got better and better every year at Purdue, ultimately becoming a dominant force and one of the most decorated players in college basketball history. The thing that impressed me the most is how he went from being a somewhat timid player to developing an edge and a mean streak. This past year he seemed to realize how unstoppable he can be and started forcing his will in the paint.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is that this draft lacks a superstar talent but has a lot of intrigue. There are a ton of interesting story-lines to follow, a number of high upside/developmental prospects that will be fascinating to watch (not only where they get drafted but how they develop over the coming years) and a bunch of really solid NBA-ready upperclassmen who should step in right away and bring value and production to whichever team drafts them.

The two-night draft format is a welcome change from the one night of mayhem and the top of the second round will be especially interesting to watch.

With so much uncertainty with this year’s draft class this will be one of the most interesting and entertaining drafts to watch in recent memory. There will be plenty of drama and intrigue starting Wednesday night and continuing over to Thursday (or whenever Bronny gets draft :) Grab a cold beverage and some popcorn and enjoy the show!

Also check out:

The 15 Youngest Prospects In The 2024 NBA Draft

Bronny James NBA Draft Analysis And Humble Opinions

The Fourth Annual Draft Superlatives!

Gut Feeling Big Board – Ranking The 2024 Prospects Based Purely On Gut Feeling

2024 NBA Draft Superlatives

My Final Big Board (Patreon Preview)

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And stay tuned on draft night for live coverage of all drama.

2024 NBA Mock Draft