Connect with us


2024 NBA Mock Draft: How 3 Blockbuster Trades Could Impact the Lottery



The 2024 NBA draft could be a thriller.

And not only because no one quite seems to know the order these prospects will be selected. There’s also the potential for a flurry of trade activity over the course of the two-night event.

How would big deals impact the draft board, you ask? Well, it’s funny, because we’re actually examining that very topic here with a mock lottery featuring three different trades inside of the top 10.

Paul Kane/Getty Images

This isn’t the type of draft in which the No. 1 spot is already cemented, leaving Atlanta to, in the words of general manager Landry Fields, “cast a wide net” with its decision.

There could be a handful of prospects getting at least some degree of separation, but Alex Sarr still seems the likeliest selection. With the size, length and athleticism to protect the paint, plus the lateral quickness to keep up on the perimeter, he could be the protector who finally stops the bleeding with Atlanta’s 27th-ranked defense.

Plus, Sarr’s offensive potential should pair up seamlessly with whichever star playmaker the Hawks keep. His finishing should flourish as soon as he hits the NBA hardwood, but there are reasons to believe he’ll be popping out to the three-point arc and making plays out of the short roll in no time.

Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images

Washington’s blank-slate rebuild essentially consists of crossed fingers, whatever Bilal Coulibaly becomes and maybe the two-way playmaking of Deni Avdija. There are myriad options in front of the Wizards, so it makes sense to target Zaccharie Risacher here, since his play style should be a simple fit with anyone.

He looks like a readymade three-and-D wing—as a 6’8″ 19-year-old. He flashes all kinds of movement-shooting skills, plus he can create off the dribble and make smart, simple reads as a passer. He has the length and tenacity to be a valuable on-ball defender, and his instincts could add some off-ball playmaking to the mix, too.

Does all of the above ever add up to full-fledged stardom? Who knows, but shot-makers with size and defensive versatility will always add value to a roster.

David Becker/NBAE via Getty Images

Houston Rockets receive: Donovan Mitchell

Cleveland Cavaliers receive: Jalen Green, Tari Eason, Jae’Sean Tate, Jock Landale and No. 3 pick

Houston probably needs an external star to launch into Phase 3, and the Rockets may already have circled Donovan Mitchell as the player who can make that happen. The Athletic’s Kelly Iko reported Houston has been “monitoring [Mitchell’s] situation for months.”

If the Rockets could land Mitchell while forking over just a single draft pick, they’d have to be all over that deal. They could always add draft assets to the deal if needed—especially if Mitchell expressed a desire to stay in Space City long-term—but they maybe wouldn’t need to if the Cavaliers saw star potential in Jalen Green, viewed Tari Eason as a building block and believed Ron Holland could make good on the promise that once had him regarded as the top prospect in this class.

Holland, by the way, remains the No. 1 prospect for The Athletic’s John Hollinger despite struggling with his shot and some turnover troubles with the Ignite.

“He came into the year as the top-rated player on most boards, had better numbers with G League Ignite than any other one-and-done in its history … and somehow went careening down draft boards anyway, even in a draft year where absolutely nobody came in and claimed the top spot for themselves,” Hollinger wrote. “I don’t really get it.”

If the Cavs agree with that assessment, there could be traction on a trade here. If Holland’s shooting comes around, he could provide a lot of the same things Isaac Okoro has given them defensively only without the offensive liabilities. Between Holland, Green and Darius Garland, Cleveland’s perimeter trio could be set for years to come, and maybe it would even have enough shot-making to allow the Evan Mobley-Jarrett Allen frontcourt to function.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Spurs might be studying this draft board closer than most, since they’re slated to have a pair of top-10 selections (this, and No. 8). The more they look into this class, the more it seems they like Stephon Castle, who is reportedly “moving up their draft board,” per Kelly Iko of The Athletic.

Castle is probably more of a combo guard than a true floor general, but he shows an ability to manipulate defenses that you seldom see out of non-primary playmakers. His jumper needs work, but there are already fiery flashes of three-point storms that could be coming in his future. Defensively, he’s a tone-setter with all of the physical attributes needed to check players across the perimeter.

He could be a fit with this franchise’s culture, too, as Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman noted “scouts and coaches rave about [Castle’s] intangibles.”

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Detroit Pistons: Brandon Ingram

New Orleans Pelicans: Jaden Ivey, Isaiah Stewart, No. 5 pick and 2026 first-round pick (lottery-protected)

The Pistons may not be keen on making the No. 5 pick for a third year in a row and could instead view Brandon Ingram as their accelerator. His scoring punch and secondary playmaking would take plenty of heat away from Cade Cunningham, with whom Ingram shares an agent (Jeff Schwartz).

Detroit also has money to spend and a front office now run by Trajan Langdon, who had been New Orleans’ general manager. Getting a dialogue with his former colleagues shouldn’t be difficult, especially if the Pelicans view Donovan Clingan as a frontcourt fit with Zion Williamson.

Clingan shines brightest with his defensive potential—Wasserman likened him to Rudy Gobert, a four-time Defensive Player of the Year—but the shooting he’s flashed during the pre-draft process is highly intriguing. If he has a Brook Lopez-type of future in front of him, that sure sounds like someone who could share the floor with (and help elevate) Williamson.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It’s possible Reed Sheppard’s actual draft night ends a lot earlier than this. As ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo reported, Sheppard’s analytics have him ranked “as the No. 1 prospect” in draft models for “several teams.”

Sheppard’s college stats popped for a number of different reasons. His 52.1 percent three-point splash rate is the obvious headliner, but he also converted 55.5 percent of his two-pointers and 83 percent of his free throws. Further down the stat line, he better than doubled his turnovers (2.0) with assists (4.5) and averaged a wildly impressive 5.9 steals-plus-blocks per 100 possessions.

Sheppard doesn’t have great size (6’2″, 182 lbs.), though the athleticism he showed at the combine could help counteract that. The Hornets could be drawn having his off-ball scoring alongside LaMelo Ball, or if they’re really bullish on Sheppard’s playmaking, they might even see him as some creation insurance if Ball can’t get his injury issues under control.

Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

The Trail Blazers could shoot for more upside here, but their long-term plan may not be as lengthy as you think. Or perhaps they think they’re covered on potential by Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe and simply like the idea of drafting someone who could make life easier on them in a hurry.

Either way, multiple paths could draw Portland to Dalton Knecht in this spot. He might be the best pro-ready scorer and shooter in this draft, though he kind of needs to be since there’s a decent chance he’ll be the oldest player taken in the first round (23).

If he’s a late-bloomer, though, his age isn’t quite as worrisome. Two seasons back, his hoops home was Northern Colorado. Then, he leveled-up to Tennessee this past season and was an obvious choice for SEC Player of the Year. Now, he’s an NBA lottery prospect. This trajectory could take him somewhere really interesting.

ALTAN GOCHER/Middle East Images/AFP via Getty Images

The Spurs will make a significant investment in playmaking this summer. Maybe they’ll do that on the trade market, but here, they add creation with both of their two top-10 picks.

Nikola Topić is a 6’6″ playmaker who pressures opponents off the dribble and either finishes drives himself or feeds teammates with dump-downs, wrap-arounds or corner kicks. He’ll never hold onto the ball longer than he should. When he sniffs out a passing lane, he’ll zip the ball through it, often threading needles like an experienced tailor.

His jumper is a bit of a work in progress, though simply cranking up his perimeter volume would go a long way toward easing that concern. The bigger worry is a lack of athleticism that could pose problems with his self-sufficient scoring and anything related to defense. Still, this would be good value for San Antonio, considering it isn’t hard to find mocks with Topić inside of the top five.

Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

Memphis Grizzlies receive: Jakob Poeltl

Toronto Raptors receive: Brandon Clarke, Ziaire Williams and No. 9 pick

The lottery ping-pong balls were barely done bouncing when ESPN’s Zach Lowe brought word that the Grizzlies “are expected to explore the potential return for the No. 9 pick.” In a typical draft, a top-10 pick might bring back a more exciting player than Jakob Poeltl, but the big fella might be an ideal candidate to fill the Steven Adams-sized hole at center.

Toronto, meanwhile, seems somewhat committed to a rebuild after trading away both Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby, so it could see more value in the No. 9 pick than in Poeltl. And if the Raptors think they can tap into Ziaire Williams’ potential or picture Brandon Clarke sticking around a while, they probably think they’re winning this deal.

This probably all hinges on their evaluation of Cody Williams, who has some big, two-way wing appeal to him. He needs to get a lot stronger and more physical, but if he does, he could fill a three-and-D role with better handles than the label typically implies.

Louis Grasse/NBAE via Getty Images

Matas Buzelis might be more interesting in theory than reality right now, but the Jazz can afford to throw a dart and hope they’ve just found a 6’9″ connector.

He has a natural feel for distributing, which isn’t true of many players his size. His handles are more functional than flashy, but he is comfortable in the open court moving toward the basket. Defensively, he should be versatile enough to handle most assignments at the forward spots, and he might even be able to serve as a small-ball 5 in stretches if his body fills out.

His ceiling looks more like high-end role-playing than outright stardom, but further development of his outside shot could change that. There’s a lot to like about his size-skill combo, especially for those buying his perimeter shooting potential.

While the Bulls don’t seem super interested in the rebuild everyone else is waiting for them to start, they should still seize this opportunity to add upside to their roster. Tidjane Salaun would bring exactly that to the Windy City.

He’s mostly just size (6’9″, 212 lbs), length and athleticism right now, but there are bunch of budding branches on his skill tree. If enough of them come to life, Chicago could have a legitimate difference-maker here.

He’ll be a helpful, disruptive presence on the defensive end, and he can serve as a play-finisher on offense. Shooting and creation are two big swing skills, but he isn’t hopeless on either front. He doesn’t turn 19 until August, so patience will be a must with his development, but he could be really worth the wait.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

This might get an eye roll from the Thunder faithful, as guards definitely don’t top the team wish list right now. But unless this front office wants to reach on a big man like Indiana’s Kel’el Ware or Baylor’s Yves Missi, this might not be the right spot to attack a need.

So, Oklahoma City could just go with the best player available—scratching a subtly critical need for shot-creation in the process. Yes, this would be the second time in as many years that the Thunder leave the lottery with a not-huge guard out of Kentucky, but much like Cason Wallace did, Rob Dillingham could snag a rotation spot as a rookie.

Oklahoma City looked light on self-sufficient scoring at times this postseason, and that happens to be Dillingham’s greatest strength. He can get wherever he wants off the dribble and pumps in points from all three levels. His lack of size (6’1″, 175 lbs) will see him targeted plenty defensively, but he at least shows the kind of fight where he’ll offer as much resistance as possible.

Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Are the Kings at all worried about losing Malik Monk to unrestricted free agency? Do they have any doubts about the sustainability of Keon Ellis’ late-season emergence? Is there any hesitation about keeping Davion Mitchell and his offensive limitations in the rotation moving forward?

Any of those factors could steer Sacramento toward Devin Carter. So, too, could the fact the combo guard is just a rock-solid prospect. He oozes glue-guy potential—Wasserman comped him to Derrick White—and flashed tremendous physical tools at the combine.

Carter is the kind of player who makes you want to believe in his long-term outlook, even if you aren’t holding out much hope for stardom. Think more Swiss Army knife than jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none. Ball-handling, quick-read passing, smothering defense, relentless rebounding, shot-making—he has just about everything in his arsenal.

Justin Ford/Getty Images

After playing it relatively safe with Dalton Knecht earlier, the Trail Blazers take more of a dice roll here. And if Ja’Kobe Walter even approaches the full height of his ceiling, this could be the pick Portland fans wind up remembering most from this draft.

His one-and-done Baylor season didn’t quite live up to the hype, but it didn’t necessarily eat into that upside, either. There were flashes of the lights-out long-distance shooting, physical finishing at the basket and defensive playmaking that initially excited scouts.

It doesn’t require the most vivid imagination to picture Walter carving out a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope type of niche at this level. And if Walter brings his handle along and taps back into the playmaking prowess he showed in high school, he could easily surpass that.

Continue Reading