There Is No Number One Worthy Pick In The 2024 NBA Draft – But Here Are 10 Possibilities

On May 12th some lucky team will win the NBA Draft lottery, landing the no.1 overall pick in the draft and the opportunity to select the cream of the crop in this draft class. The problem is the 2024 NBA Draft has no cream.

We’ve seen this before:

The 2013 draft had no clear top player and mock drafts were all over the place with their predictions. I had the incomparable Alex Len mocked at no.1 that year. The Cavaliers ended up selecting one Anthony Bennett – and we all know how that turned out.

In 2001 The Wizards selected high school enigma Kwame Brown with the first pick. After a lackluster career Kwame has gone on to provide great value to humanity with his insightful podcasting and thoughtful commentaries. But he was a terrible top draft pick.

Will this year be one of those years where the top pick is a complete bust?

Team Fit vs. Best Player Available

As a rule the team drafting first should always take the best player available. Finding a good fit is nice but finding a star is a priority. This year, however, could be the exception to this rule. With no sure-fire star player available, finding a really good fit could be worth the trade off of swinging for potential upside.

For instance if the Trailblazers land the top pick and their scouting department has Castle and Topic as the two best prospects in this class, it probably wouldn’t make sense for the team to add another guard. Better to trade down, if possible, or take one of the wings or bigs.

The Stars Will Shine

There will be some star players that come from this draft class, it’s just very unclear which players they will be. And the top of the draft is about as wide open as I’ve ever seen – on par with 2013.

If we look again at that 2001 draft class Kwame was a bust at no.1 while Hall of Famer Tony Parker was selected with the last pick in the first round. No matter where they are selected the star players will find a way to shine. As bleak as it appears at the top of this draft I guarantee you there will be some star players that come from this class.

Someone Has To Go First

Even if there is no clear top player the team drafting at no.1 will have to pick someone. Below are some thoughts about the most likely players to get drafted at the top of the draft. Good luck and godspeed to whichever GM/team is drafting at no.1.

The Candidates For No.1

Alexandre Sarr – C – Perth, NBL (France) – If I was a betting man I’d put my money on Sarr being the no.1 overall pick. But I wouldn’t bet much. This class is too wide open. Sarr is a special athlete and has tantalizing upside. Some of his game is still theoretical but he has also been productive in a pro league and has gained valuable experience this year playing against grown men. I’ve long compared him to Evan Mobley and I think that level of player is about what we can expect from Sarr. That is, not a no.1 option or a franchise cornerstone but a really solid starter with some star upside.

Donavan Clingan – C – UConn – I’m convinced that Clingan will be a really good starting level center in the league and, while he might be the sexiest pick, he’d be a solid selection at no.1 overall. We all love to see offense, deep 3 pointers and flashy dribbling but defensive anchors are incredibly valuable in the league, especially in the playoffs, and Clingan is one of the best defensive big men I’ve ever scouted. He’s also a talented passer off the short role, has good touch in the paint and is a solid FT shooter. His outside shot will probably develop in time but his value at the top of this draft is the way he shuts down the rim.

Stephon Castle – PG – UConn – Castle at no.1 overall is starting to make more and more sense. If there’s a team in need of a versatile, high-upside guard they could be very tempted by the two-way talents of the UConn freshman. Castle was a key cog on a national championship team and he got better and better as the season went on. If he shoots the ball well in workouts it’ll go a long ways towards boosting his draft stock and putting him squarely in the no.1 overall conversation.

Nikola Topic – PG – Serbia – Topic going no.1 overall would be a bit of a surprise but he’s consistently mocked in that range (top 5) and if a team falls in love with his creative abilities and has a need at the point guard position they could select the 6-6 Serbian at the top of this class. He feels like a natural fit in San Antonio or Washington and so it’ll be interesting to find out on May 12th what number picks the Spurs and Wizards land. Topic is one of the younger players in the draft (he’ll still be 18 years old at the time of the draft) and had some incredibly productive months in the Adriatic League ,earlier this season before getting injured in Euro League play.

Matas Buzelis – SF – Ignite – He would have to shoot the lights out in workouts for this to happen but big wings who can dribble, pass and shoot are very valuable in the League. I’m a big fan of Buzelis but I think he projects more as a high level role player than a star at the NBA level and so he would be a stretch at no.1 overall. He’s a really good athlete for his size, showed improved aggressive over the course of the G league season and his trajectory is pointing up. He didn’t shoot the ball as well as I expected but I’m still a believer in his shot. If the shot does come around he’ll be a really high level player, and could be a good value in the top half of the lottery.

Zaccharie Risacher – SF – France – Risacher’s draft stock has been on a roll coaster ride. Last spring and summer his stock plummeted and there were questions about whether he would even be a first round pick. Then he had a strong first half of the season with JL Bourg in France and his draft stock soared, with many mocks listing him as the potential top pick. But over the past 2 months he’s hit a wall, has been shooting the ball poorly and there are once again major questions about his NBA talents and whether he’s got star potential at the next level. I see Risacher as a very good third option or possibly a second star on a NBA team but not a go-to first option or franchise-altering talent. And so even in this weak draft that’s the type of player I’d rather draft in the 4-10 range, not in the top 3.

Cody Williams – SF – Colorado – Realistically, probably not…but there could be a scenario where Cody shines in workouts and a team falls in love with his upside, length and promise of being a do-everything wing built in the mold as his older brother. My bet is he falls in the 4-10 range on draft night and if things go right, he could be a steal in that range. It’s going to take some time for him to add weight and strength, develop his off-the-dribble shooting and get more consistent from 3pt land but he’s got all the tools to be great and I’d bet he reaches his considerable upside.

Robert Dillingham – PG – Kentucky – Coming into the season I was convinced that Dillingham would be exciting but inefficient and probably more of a second round prospect – or a multi-year college player. But he blew my expectations away, not only with his efficient shooting but his willingness to get teammates involved. He is hands down the most exciting player with the ball in his hands in this draft, a blur with the ball who puts defenders on skates and can shake free for jumpers whenever he wants. His awesome season at Kentucky puts him in the high lottery conversation, and in this draft with no clear no.1 player he could even be considered for the top spot. Drafting an undersized guard that high isn’t unprecedented, but it does come with a fair amount of risk. I’d prefer to take Dillingham in the 5-10 range…but I could say that about most of these prospects.

Ron Holland – SG/SF – Ignite – Nine months ago Holland was consistently mocked in the top 3 and seeing him listed at no.1 overall wouldn’t have come as a surprise. After a solid to mixed season in the G League, which confirmed both his strengths and his weaknesses, Holland’s draft stock has lost some luster and he is now usually mocked in the second half of the lottery. I see him as a RJ Barrett type of player; aggressive with the ball in his hands, high energy on both ends and an overall impactful player but not a sure-fire All Star. Holland showed flashes of self creation ability and the promise of a 3pt shot but his strengths are based around his athleticism, hustle and tenacity. There’s an outside chance he develops into a first option on offense but more likely is a complimentary piece who impacts winning in lots of subtle ways but isn’t a true star.

Reed Sheppard – PG/SG – Kentucky – At the beginning of the season anyone having Reed Sheppard in the running for the top pick in the draft would have been considered clinically insane and promptly institutionalized. But Sheppard had one of the best seasons I can remember ever seeing from a freshman guard, shooting the 3-ball with incredible accuracy while also being a disruptive defender, a solid connector and a guy who made winning plays all over the court. Drafting a 6-3 (maybe 6-2) guard with average athleticism at no.1 doesn’t, on the surface, seem like a smart move (and it probably isn’t) but if a team sees him as an ideal fit in their rotation he could be considered for the top spot. More likely Sheppard gets drafted in the 5-12 range in June.

Here’s my latest 2024 NBA Mock Draft