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

OK, I’m gonna have a little fun and get a little weird here.

If I’m just going fully with my gut instinct on which players from this draft will end up having the best NBA careers it would look something like the list below. Some of these rankings are in-line with consensus, while some are way off from consensus.

This list will probably look ridiculous on draft day and also one year out from draft day. But hopefully it looks less and less ridiculous over time. Time will tell 🙂

It starts with three French players at the top, followed by the two UConn stars. The talent coming out of France recently has been insanely good and that trend is set to continue this year (and in 2025 for that matter) with Sarr, Risacher and Salaun topping the list. Stephon Castle and Donovan Clingan both made major moves up draft boards over the course of the 2023/24 season.

One player my gut instinct is much higher on than consensus is Yves Missi. The athletic center from Baylor has been playing basketball for less than four years but shows truly great flashes of natural talent and his progression over the past few years has been awesome. He might not get drafted in the lottery but a decade down the line I think he’ll look like he should have been a top 10 pick.

Here’s my top 30 gut instinct big board with a few hots takes.

Gut Feeling Big Board – Top 30

1) Alexandre Sarr – PF/C – Perth, NBL (France) – Sarr has awesome tools that you just can’t teach. I’m not convinced he’ll be a franchise cornerstone or best player on a championship team level player but I think there’s a good chance he’s a many time All Star, and in this draft that will land him at or near the top of most mocks and big boards.

2) Zaccharie Risacher – SF – France – I’ve gone back and forth a little on Risacher but his recent play in the French playoffs has been really awesome, especially considering that he’s still just 18 years old. His athleticism has looked much better over the course this year and he looks much better driving to the basket and finishing at/above the rim. Add in his great 3pt shooting and all around defense and he’s got a good chance to one of the best, if not the best player in this draft.

3) Tidjane Salaun – PF – France – Every time I see tape of Salaun I just can’t look away. His movement on the court, at this size and age, is mesmerizing. He’s a swing for the fences type of player but I’m a believer that he’ll reach his considerable upside and could end being a star in the league.

4) Stephon Castle – PG/SG – UConn – There are so many things that Castle does well and it just feels like there are even more layers to his game that will be revealed once he gets the ball in his hands more and continues to develop his outside shot. It might take a few years but I think he can be a star in the league.

5) Donovan Clingan – C – UConn – I feel like we know what we’re going to get with Clingan – and that’s a good thing. He’s a dominant physical force who should have an impact in the NBA from day one. He’s also an emerging offensive talent who could end up as sneaky good scorer and passer early in his career.

6) Cody Williams – SF – Colorado – After a somewhat mixed freshman season Williams is widely projected as a late lottery pick or even a mid first rounder. But I’m super intrigued by his game and think he can end up as a top 10 and possibly even a top 5 player in this class. His feel for the game is somewhat underrated and I think he’ll shoot the ball, in time.

7) Dalton Knecht – SG – Tennessee – Knecht is the most plug-and-play prospect in this class and I wouldn’t are surprised to see him have some big scoring outbursts as a rookie. Long term I think he’ll be a near All Star level wing or even possibly a multi-time All Star.

8) Yves Missi – C – Baylor (Cameroon) – OK, I get that this ranking is nowhere near consensus but Missi is another player (like Salaun) where I can’t look away when I’m watching him play. His fluid, quick-twitch movements at 6-10 plus are stupendous. He’s just scratching the surface of what his offensive game will be and he’s already showing the ability to face-up and drive the ball and rapidly improving finishing ability. His first step and overall quickness and agility are too much for most defenders to handle and, as he gains experience and improves his skill level, I think he’ll be a menace on his drives to the basket. And yes, he’s also a standout defender who can protect the rim, guard in space and switch everything. It’s going to take him some time but the sky is the limit for Missi.

9) Ron Holland – SF – Ignite – I can see a few outcomes for Holland: the best case scenario is that he develops the jumper, the handles and the offensive creativity and becomes something like a Jaylen Brown or RJ Barrett level player. I think there’s a decent chance of this happening. The lower-end case is that he’s a high energy role player who impacts a team of a bunch of years but never fully locks in a starting role or becomes a high level starter. I think he’s got a decent ceiling, a fairly safe floor and is well worth a gamble in the mid to late lottery.

10) Rob Dillingham – PG – Kentucky – I’m not yet fully convinced that Dillingham will be a long term starter – he could be a dynamic change of pace guard off the bench, but his upside case is a guy who will score the ball in bunches while constantly putting pressure on the defense. His slight frame and lack of overall size certainly hurts him on the defensive end and could be enough of a liability to keep him from being a true star at the NBA level. He’ll be one of the most interesting rookies to watch next year, to see how his game and frame handle the NBA.

11) Nikola Topic – PG – Serbia – I’ll be honest, this low ranking for Topic has a ton to do with the two recent knee injuries. That scares me. He’s got the talent of a top 7 pick but gets bumped down a few spots here out of caution around his knees. I’d love to see a world where he develops into an elite NBA point guard and carves up the league with his passing ability.

12) Reed Sheppard – PG/SG – Kentucky – I might regret this ranking but my gut instinct tells me that he’ll be more of a high end role player in the NBA, rather than a star guard. His shooting ability will keep him on the floor and his defensive awareness and quick hands take his game to a different level. I’m just not a big fan of undersized guards, even when they can shoot the lights out. But yeah, I’ll probably regret this low ranking.

13) Devin Carter – PG/SG – Providence – Carter isn’t a big name but he’s a super productive and versatile guard who looks ready to contribute to a NBA team in year one. If the 3pt shot comes around he’s got sneaky star potential.

14) Zach Edey – C – Purdue (Canada) – The Zach Edey experience is going to take some franchise by storm next season and I can’t wait to watch the drama unfold. It’s so fun to watch a colossal massive human like Edey move on the court, dunk on defender’s heads and shut down the paint on defense. He’s been on a steady upward trajectory over the past four years and if that continues this ranking will look ludicrously low. But there’s also some concerns about his speed and ability to keep up with the NBA game. Either way, it’s going to be really, really fun to watch!

15) Matas Buzelis – SF – Ignite – This low ranking for Buzelis has mostly to due with questions about his jumper. I like his overall game, his versatility, solid defense and flashes of play-making but if he can’t really shoot it, that lowers his ceiling. With that said, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does make big improvements in his shot and vastly outplays this ranking.

16) Johnny Furphy – SG – Kansas (Australia) – Furphy is another hit or miss guy for me. I see the appeal and am tempted to rank him a few spots higher but he’s got some shortcomings as well, so mid first round feels about right.

17) Kyshawn George – SF – Miami (Switzerland) – I go back and forth on George. Sometimes I think he’s a future star and other times the foot speed, or lack thereof, scares me into viewing him as a rotation player but not necessarily a starter. I really like his feel for the game and his catch and shoot ability. He’ll have a long career and it’s going to be interesting to see how it plays out.

18) Tyler Kolek – PG – Marquette – I freaking love Tyler Joseph Kolek. Not only is he incredibly fun to watch, both in the game and in post game interviews, but he’s got some real star potential in the NBA. Many mocks have him in the late first round, and I get it, but my gut tells me he’s a top 20 player in this class and even that could be selling him short.

19) Tristan Da Silva – PF – Colorado (Germany) – Silva is a plug and play big forward who doesn’t have a ton of perceived upside but could be really good right away – and of course get better and better over the course of his career. This ranking is pretty much in line with consensus, perhaps a bit higher than some of the mainstream mocks.

20) Jared McCain – PG/SG – Duke – The 3pt shot is for real but he’ll have to expand his game to warrant this top 20 ranking. At this point he’s limited in his drives to the basket, doesn’t play above the rim and is average on the defensive end. Still, with his shooting ability he’ll find a spot and fill a valuable role on a NBA team.

21) Kel’el Ware – C – Indiana – The former 5-star prospect has all the tools and ability and showed better intensity and tenacity this past year at Indiana. His ceiling is as a very good starting center, which would make this ranking too low, but his floor is a perennial back up big, which you can find for cheap as a free agent. He’s definitely got some boom or bust potential.

22) Ja’Kobe Walter – SG – Baylor – The big question with Ja’Kobe Walter is can he bring more than just great shooting ability. He’s got limited creativity with the ball in his hands, doesn’t defend particularly well and if his shot isn’t falling he’s not a major factor on the court. I actually like his upside quite a bit and think there’s a chance he rounds out his game and becomes a really good starting level 2 guard but there’s also a chance he stays somewhat one dimensional and doesn’t reach that upside. I see a high ceiling but a somewhat low floor.

23) Baylor Scheierman – SG – Creighton – He fits the mold of the type of prospect that has been successful jumping to the NBA level. He’s a strong, aggressive and versatile player who only needs to hit the 3 consistently to become an impact player. He’s a great rebounder for a guard, brings toughness and intensity on defense and looks to be a very pro-ready player.

24) Isaiah Collier – PG – USC – This might seem way too low for Collier but I have enough question marks with his game that my gut instinct can’t put him in the top 20. He’s going to have to shoot the ball a lot better to be a high level starter. His below the rim game is effective but his lack of explosiveness will standout more at the NBA level. I’m fascinated to see which team he lands with and how his early career goes. I know there’s a chance this ranking will prove to be way too low but I gotta go with my gut.

25) Antonio Reeves – SG – Kentucky – he might be a bit one-dimensional but it’s a good dimension to be in, as a streaky 3pt shooter who can catch fire from outside. I’ve been impressed by his development over the years and think he has more upside left to tap into. This ranking might be a bit aggressive but my gut instinct tells me his scoring is going to translate and he could be a guy who outplays his draft position.

26) Tyler Smith – PF – Ignite – Smith was the one prospect that really flourished this year for the Ignite team. He shot the 3 ball well and with a ton of confidence and impressed with his aggressive drives and above the rim finishing. He needs to get stronger rebounding and defending in the paint but his combination of floor spacing and athleticism should give him good value at the next level. I don’t think he’ll be an instant impact player but over the course of his career I think he’ll carve out a nice role for himself in the league.

27) Kyle Filipowski  – C – Duke – I think he’ll be an effective player and if the 3pt shot proves to be real he’ll be a good starting level forward. There are just some other prospects I like more in this range. I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets drafted in the top 15 or 20 but I’m not fully there on Flip.

28) Carlton Carrington – PG – Pittsburgh – Bub Carrington has a lot of upside and is a super intriguing longterm prospect. I think he’s more of a developmental player but if he reaches his potential this will be way too low for him. I’m not fully sold on his athleticism and worry about his struggles finishing around the rim.

29) Jaylon Tyson – SF – California – I think Tyson will be an effective scorer who most likely has a role coming off the bench and providing instant offense. He’s a good athlete who is on a nice trajectory and warrants a first round pick.

30) Nikola Durisic – SG/SF – Serbia – Druidic had a strong second half of the season followed by a very good showing at the combine last week. He’s got the size, handles and driving ability, has a good feel for the game, although some of his passing is still theoretical, and he’s shown improvement as an outside shooter. He might not get drafted in the first round but I think he could end up as one of the top 30 players from this draft class.

The player I’m most struggling with leaving off this list is Bobi Klintman, the 6-10 forward from Sweden who played for Cairns in the NBL this year, after one season at Wake Forest. I’m a big fan.

There are also a number of upperclassmen who are hard to leave off this list including Hunter Sallis, Ajay Mitchell and Kevin McCullar Jr.

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