2024 NBA Mock Draft: Hawks take Alex Sarr with top pick; Donovan Clingan to Rockets

NBA Draft season is in full swing, and while this class might be viewed as weaker than others on paper, I’d look at it this way: If you are an organization that was unable to land a top-five pick, you should not feel down. 

Why? Because there is no clear-cut set of favorites in this class. Several prospects could emerge from this week’s NBA Combine and other workouts, and there could be real steals later on in the first round. We might even ultimately find that the best player in this class comes from outside the top five.

[7 players who made a splash at the NBA Combine]

The best move Atlanta, Washington or Houston could make in the top three slots is to trade out of the pick and get a nice haul in return because, in this class, there’s more pressure on those front offices to get it right at the top, especially when considering there is not a sure-fire bet to be a home run selection.

With that said, here is a look at my first 2024 NBA Mock Draft:

[2024 NBA Draft No. 1 pick odds: Alexandre Sarr favored to be first pick]

1. Atlanta Hawks: Alex Sarr, C, Perth Wildcats

The Hawks had 3% odds to land the No. 1 pick in the draft. They do not own control of their first-round pick again until 2028 due to the Dejounte Murray trade in 2022. So, this is a major stroke of luck for the Hawks — or is it? — who are also dealing with Trae Young and potential trade options. Yes, you love to have the No. 1 pick, but during a time when Atlanta falls somewhere between major contention and being bad, they’re sort of in the middle ground. That being said, I like the Hawks to take Sarr, the 6-foot-11 big man who plays like a wing and is incredibly versatile with a 7-5 wingspan. Sarr’s athleticism makes him really switchable on the defensive end of the floor, and on offense, he is aggressive on the attack, possesses a great ability to handle the ball and is a really willing passer. Evolving his perimeter game is the next step, but all the tools are there for Sarr to be the most unique talent of this class.

2. Washington Wizards: Nikola Topić, G, Mega MIS

While he suffered a knee sprain in the Adriatic League finals this week, the 6-foot-6 Topic should still be a full participant in NBA pre-draft activities in June, according to reports. With Washington’s Tyus Jones hitting free agency, the Wizards could use another point guard, and the Serbia native is a strong choice at No. 2. He averaged 19 points and seven assists for Mega Basket this past season, showcasing an elite ability to score on the drive and being difficult to stop in the lane between his elusive dribble penetration and playmaking talent. When watching him on film, I am impressed with his decision-making skills. Yes, the jump shot does need some work, but I believe NBA spacing could allow for him to get that into form. More than anything, Topic is so difficult to stop when he puts the ball on the floor and gets even a bit of separation from a defender. 

3. Houston Rockets: Donovan Clingan, C, UConn

The two-time national champion feels like a good fit for Houston, a team that looks to keep accelerating with its young core under head coach Ime Udoka. Clingan, who stands at 7-foot-2, is a relentless competitor who protects the rim at a high level, has a nonstop motor and passion for this game, and has seen his offensive skill set grow in the last year. In the NCAA Tournament, he averaged 15.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game while combining for 19 blocks over the six contests. With an emerging jump shot that showed real potential this past season, it makes you believe in the idea that Clingan can play with center Alperen Sengun. The two could potentially form a really intriguing frontcourt duo. Clingan checks off so many boxes, with great mobility for his size and an increased efficiency as a distributor. 

UConn’s Purdue game plan: Donovan Clingan on Zach Edey, blanket the 3

4. San Antonio Spurs: Rob Dillingham, G, Kentucky

If he is on the board at No. 4, this would be a home run for the Spurs. San Antonio is in a position where it can build around the perimeter with Victor Wembanyama’s star having launched. Dillingham could offer a change-of-pace, creative guard who can both score at a high level and distribute on the go. This would make for a fascinating duo between Wemby and the one-and-done Kentucky prospect, who averaged 15.2 points and 3.9 assists under John Calipari while shooting an impressive 44% from 3-point range. 

5. Detroit Pistons: Zaccharie Risacher, F, JL Bourg

The Detroit Pistons were the NBA’s worst 3-point shooting team this past season, and the 19-year-old Risacher could be an answer to their problems if not Matas Buzelis or Reed Sheppard in this spot to fit in alongside Cade Cunningham. But I will go with Risacher here, a 6-foot-8 forward who shot close to 48% from 3-point range in France. Not only does he present a versatile offensive package with a solid ability to handle the ball at his size, but Risacher’s length should help him be a capable defender in The Association.

6. Charlotte Hornets: Stephon Castle, G, UConn

As Charlotte looks to build on the perimeter with another option to complement the duo of Brandon Miller and LaMelo Ball, the Connecticut Huskies’ one-and-done freshman feels like the perfect fit. Castle is a 6-foot-6, physical and athletic wing who is an elite defender for his age (19). His offensive ability really evolved under Dan Hurley in his one year in Storrs. Castle combined for 36 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the Final Four and national title games. Over the final 20 games of the season, he averaged close to 13 points per contest in the most balanced offense in the country. He is a solid ball handler, but can he improve his perimeter shotmaking? If he can, Castle will have the entire puzzle completed. 

7. Portland Trail Blazers: Reed Sheppard, G, Kentucky

The Trail Blazers have their point guard in 20-year-old Scoot Henderson. The next area of need for Portland is shotmaking. The 19-year-old Sheppard was electrifying in his one season in Lexington, averaging 12.5 points, 4.1 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game while shooting 54% from the floor and 52% from 3-point range. He is such a savvy player, possessing great instincts and quality defensive ability. Sheppard is a pest when defending an opposing guard with active hands and great feel for where he needs to be, even though he is a little undersized at 6-foot-3. His shot technique is silky smooth and his vision to look ahead and deliver great outlet passes while creating for others in the halfcourt is elite.

8. San Antonio Spurs: Matas Buzelis, F, G League Ignite

If the Spurs have Dillingham and Wembanyama, not to mention Jeremy Sochan and Devin Vassell in place, they have a nice luxury with this pick and can go in a variety of ways with it. Plus, in this class, we could see a guy who ends up being one of the best players in this mysterious class in this position. Buzelis is a 6-foot-11 point forward who has a combination of length, unique playmaking ability at his size, and a sharp feel for the game when he doesn’t have the ball, which should allow for him to step in and help a team. His defensive ability is solid as well, as he uses his frame to be disruptive and block shots. Like many top prospects in this class who possess several tools but some questions as well, the concern around Buzelis is his jumper. He shot just 26% this past season on a rough G League Ignite team. 

9. Memphis Grizzlies: Dalton Knecht, G, Tennessee

Memphis is an organization that wants to win right now and capitalize on this window with Ja Morant. Dalton Knecht could be that plug-and-play home run pick at No. 9, and if he’s still on the board at this point, I’d argue it would be a steal. The 6-foot-6 wing is wired to shoot the basketball at an elite level, and his knack for scoring in one year under Rick Barnes in the tough SEC was extraordinary. Had Zach Edey not been the national player of the year, I would have given the honor to Knecht. He averaged 26 points per contest on 48% shooting from the floor and 42% from 3-point territory. He could go nuclear in games, and capped off his college career with a 37-point performance in the Elite Eight against Purdue. Knect gives me those Jaime Jaquez vibes of a guy who is just ready to make an NBA team better.

10. Utah Jazz: Cody Williams, F, Colorado

The brother of Oklahoma City Thunder standout Jalen Williams, Cody is a 6-foot-8 versatile wing who possesses a great feel for the game. Williams might have underwhelmed a tad in his lone season at Colorado, averaging 11.9 points, 3.0 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game, but it was easy to see why there’s so much anticipation around his upside. His ball handling skills and defensive versatility make him an intriguing prospect, especially if he can follow in his brother’s footsteps and fully carve out his jump shot consistency at the next level. The pull-up game is my concern right now, and he’s not strong at creating shots off the dribble. The Jazz are in a place where versatile wing play is likely the priority for their organization, and if it’s not Williams here, I predict it will be G League Ignite product Ron Holland.  

11. Chicago Bulls: Devin Carter, G, Providence

Bulls head coach Billy Donovan is a Providence legend. Could we see one Friars great unite with another in Chicago? While the Bulls have DeMar DeRozan’s free agency and Zach LaVine’s future up in the air, they could use a player in the backcourt who can be a plug-and-play guy. I love everything about Carter’s skill set and how it can translate to the NBA. The son of 13-year NBA player Anthony Carter, Devin is a 6-foot-3 guard who evolved into the Big East Player of the Year because he did anything and everything for the Friars this past season, averaging 19.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game. I’ve been around a lot of college players, and the level of intensity Carter plays the game with is as close to Jalen Brunson that I’ve ever seen. He is an elite-level defender and will not be a liability when he gets into the NBA. Is he a bit undersized? Could he have issues adjusting to the physicality level of the league? Sure, but Carter is going to help a team win, and he understands what it means to be a great teammate. 

Providence’s Devin Carter throws down a NASTY alley-oop jam vs. Georgetown

12: Oklahoma City Thunder: Ron Holland, F, G League Ignite

I believe Sam Presti would take Cody Williams if he is still on the board at No. 12 to team up with his brother, but I’ve got Holland falling a little bit on draft night at the moment. Regardless of what Oklahoma City does at No. 12, the Thunder can afford to take more of a risk with this pick or get creative with how stacked they are with depth and a championship window opening. Holland was Ignite’s top player this past year, averaging 19.5 points, 6.7 rebounds and 2.9 assists. At 18 years old, the 6-foot-7 wing presents a lot of upside because he plays with an endless motor, is a willing defender and can attack the rim at a high level. The issue: he’s very inconsistent as a shooter. That area of his game needs some time in the lab. After missing the end of the G League season due to a thumb injury, Holland’s draft stock carries a high amount of variance.

13. Sacramento Kings: Jared McCain, G, Duke

He might have the best jumper in the entire draft class, and with Malik Monk’s status up in the air as he enters free agency, McCain could be an option for Sacramento if the Kings are looking to bolster their perimeter shotmaking. Shooting more than 41% from 3-point territory, the one-and-done Duke freshman really bolstered his stock in March with two 30-plus point performances in the final three games of the season, averaging four made triples per NCAA Tournament game. McCain is also a solid defender for someone his size and can do a lot of different things as a passer as well. His attitude will help a locker room, as Jon Scheyer noted throughout this past season. 

14. Portland Trail Blazers: Ja’Kobe Walter, G, Baylor

A 6-foot-4 guard who combined for 39 points and 10 rebounds in two NCAA Tournament games under Scott Drew this past season, Walter possesses the traits to be a bucket-getter at the next level. While he underwhelmed in his one season with the Bears as a shooter, going 34% from beyond the arc, many scouts that I talk with are not concerned about his shot once it gets some work in the lab. The issue with Walter is that he’s not someone ready to take opposing guards off the dribble consistently, and he was not a lead playmaker at Baylor. Now, could that have been because of the way the team was constructed and RayJ Dennis averaging almost seven assists per game? Maybe, but Drew is a great coach and knows what it takes to win a national championship. If Walter had that ability, I’d think that Baylor would have used him in that capacity more. Walter could get picked as high as No. 10 or as low as No. 20, and it would not surprise me. 

Post Lottery

15. Miami Heat: Tidjane Salaun, F, Cholet Basket

16. Philadelphia 76ers: Tristan Da Silva, F, Colorado

***The New Orleans Pelicans own the rights to the Lakers’ pick at No. 17, but it looks like they will defer to the 2025 NBA Draft when the pool of players is deeper. New Orleans has until June 1 to decide whether they will take the pick or leave it to the Lakers***

17. Los Angeles Lakers: Isaiah Collier, G, USC

18. Orlando Magic: Kel’el Ware, C, Indiana

19. Toronto Raptors (via Indiana Pacers): Zach Edey, C, Purdue

20. Cleveland Cavaliers: Baylor Scheierman, F, Creighton

21. New Orleans Pelicans (via Milwaukee Bucks): Kyle Filipowski, F, Duke

22. Phoenix Suns: DaRon Holmes II, F, Dayton

23: Milwaukee Bucks (via New Orleans Pelicans): Yves Missi, C, Baylor

24. New York Knicks (via Dallas Mavericks): Carlton Carrington, G, Pittsburgh 

25. New York Knicks: Tyler Smith, F, G League Ignite

26. Washington Wizards (via LA Clippers): Kevin McCullar Jr., G, Kansas

27. Minnesota Timberwolves: Bobi Klintman, F, Cairns Taipans

28. Denver Nuggets: Jaylon Tyson, G, California

29. Utah Jazz (via Oklahoma City Thunder): Hunter Sallis, G, Wake Forest

30. Boston Celtics: Tyler Kolek, G, Marquette

John Fanta is a national college basketball broadcaster and writer for FOX Sports. He covers the sport in a variety of capacities, from calling games on FS1 to serving as lead host on the BIG EAST Digital Network to providing commentary on The Field of 68 Media Network. Follow him on Twitter @John_Fanta.

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