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Instant grades on every 2024 NBA Draft pick

2024 NBA Draft - Round One
Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

It’s time to grade every first round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

The 2024 NBA Draft is hardly the most anticipated in league history, but it’s important to remember that even weak drafts have plenty of good players. Take 2013, for instance: Anthony Bennett was an all-time bust at No. 1 overall, but there was a future two-time league MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo and four-time Defensive Player of the Year in Rudy Gobert taken outside of the lottery.

What makes this draft a fun and challenging evaluation is that there’s no consensus top player available. I’ve seen more than 10 players be listed as No. 1 overall on various boards. We won’t really know how this draft shakes out for at least five years, but that won’t stop us from assigning instant grades for 2024 draft picks as they happen.

These grades will mostly be based on my final top-60 big board for this draft class, but will also consider team fit and value based on consensus mocks. The fireworks have already started in the NBA with the Knicks’ bold trade for Mikal Bridges, the Trail Blazers’ deal for Deni Avdija, and the fascinating pick swap between the Rockets and Nets.

Let’s grade every first round pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

1. Atlanta Hawks - Zaccharie Risacher, F, France

Grade: B-

Risacher looks nothing like a typical No. 1 overall pick. He doesn’t create much with the ball in his hands, doesn’t have takeover scoring ability, and isn’t an elite athlete. The main appeal of Risacher is his combination of size and shooting. At 6’9, he knocked down 39 percent of his threes while playing a big role at a young age in the top French pro league. His defense looked good, particularly when smothering smaller guards with his length, but he’ll have to bulk up to be a true wing stopper. Risacher is a high floor pick who can fit into team structure, and there’s value in that in a weak draft. I didn’t view him as one of the top talents available because of his lack of creation ability, but he’s still the type of player ever team wants as the wing complementing their stars.

2. Washington Wizards - Alex Sarr, C/F, Perth Wildcats (France)

Grade: A

Sarr is a super athletic big man with a terrifying combination of length and mobility. At 7’1 with a 7’4+ wingspan, Sarr projects as a switchable defender who can also put on a lid on the rim as a shot blocker. Sarr’s offensive impact is less certain, but he’s shown some tantilizing flashes as a shooter and ball handler in the open floor. Sarr will need to learn to play with more force around the rim to reach his ceiling as a play finisher. His physical tools give him a tremendous long-term ceiling, and he’ll get every opportunity to push the boundaries of his game on a rebuilding Wizards team.

3. Houston Rockets - Reed Sheppard, G, Kentucky

Grade: A

Sheppard might be the best shooter in the draft after hitting 52 percent of his threes as a freshman at Kentucky. He has incredibly strong hands defensively, able to rip the ball away from opponents with steals and blocks. Sheppard is only an average athlete and he’s very small — measuring under 6’2 barefoot with a 6’3 wingspan — but he found a perfect landing place in Houston. Sheppard can space the floor for Amen Thompson and Alperen Sengun, and help players like Jalen Green, Tari Eason, and Cam Whitmore get out in transition. This is a great fit for the player and team.

4. San Antonio Spurs - Stephon Castle, G, UConn

Grade: B+

Castle isn’t a traditional point guard, and he struggles to shoot from the perimeter, but there is still so much to like about his game. He’s one of the best perimeter defenders in this class, using his strong 6’6 frame to matchup with bigger wings and his quickness to blanket smaller guards. He’s such a physical player on both ends of the floor, fighting for loose balls, hitting the glass, and finishing through contact at the rim. San Antonio’s defensive potential with Castle and Wembanyama will be through the roof, but the Spurs will need to find some shooting and playmaking soon.

5. Detroit Pistons - Ron Holland, F, G League Ignite

Grade: A

A year ago, Holland was the leading candidate to go No. 1 overall. A week ago, he was supposed to slip out of the lottery. Holland struggled with his efficiency as a member of the G League Ignite, but he still scored nearly 20 points per game and showed impressive rebounding and better playmaking than expected. He can’t shoot at all from the outside, and that makes him an especially strange pick for the Pistons. Detroit drafted another super athletic wing who can’t shoot last year in Ausar Thompson. The Pistons have badly needed spacing around Cade Cunningham, and they keep going the other way, although it’s worth noting that the team has a brand new front office led by Trajan Langdon. Still, I believe Holland is one of the best players in this draft for his athleticism, slashing, transition scoring, and defensive motor. Playing hard is a skill, and no one plays harder in this class than Holland. Weird fit, but the player is undeniably talented. Read my feature on Holland here.

6. Charlotte Hornets - Tidjane Salaun, F, Cholet (France)

Grade: B-

It’s easy to see why the Hornets find the long-term potential of Salaun appealing. He’s a huge forward with a strong frame who has a projectable three-point shot on spot-ups. He can be a more physical forward next to Brandon Miller, and still help space the floor for LaMelo Ball. The issue is that Salaun is the youngest first round pick in this draft. As his skill level develops, he’ll have to be an energy player off the bench who can grab rebounds and make plays defensively. He may be a few years away from making a real impact, but his ceiling is there.

7. Portland Trail Blazers - Donovan Clingan, C, UConn

Grade: A

Clingan was in the mix to go No. 1 overall, so this is a great value for Portland at No. 7. Clingan will be one of the tallest, longest, and heaviest players in the NBA from the minute he plays his first game. He has an easy NBA translation as a rim protector on defense, and could evenetually become one of the NBA’s best shot blockers. Clingan seemed a little quicker last season than he was as a freshman, but he’s still mostly a drop coverage big man. Offensively, the 7’2 center doesn’t shoot from the outside and is limited as a run-and-jump athlete, but he’s a very good passer who should help set up Scoot Henderson and Shaedon Sharpe for scoring opportunities. Clingan was super productive at the college level while winning back-to-back national championships at UConn.

8. Minnesota Timberwolves - Rob Dillingham, G, Kentucky (from Spurs)

Grade: A

Dillingham is one of the most electric offensive players in the draft. He’s a dynamic shooter on- and off-the-ball who can splash three-pointers on pull-ups, off movement, and by relocating quickly off the ball. The Kentucky freshman is also a shifty ball handler, and has awesome vision as a passe. Dillingham is just extremely tiny, with his 164-pound frame making him the lightest player in the NBA next season. It would have been so much fun to see Dillingham play with Victor Wembanyama, but this pick is reportedly going to the Timberwolves. Dillingham’s shot creation and shooting is a nice fit for the NBA’s No. 1 defense. The Spurs pick up future picks in this move:

9. Memphis Grizzlies - Zach Edey, C, Purdue

Grade: B+

What a pick by Memphis. Edey is legitimately one of the most productive college basketball players ever. At 7’4 with a 7’10 wingspan and 300 pound frame, Edey is an absolute giant who can score inside with soft touch and crush the offensive glass. His conditioning is phenomenal for a player his size, but he lacks mobility and the defensive coverage versatility that comes with it. Putting him next to a more mobile big man in Jaren Jackson Jr. should be a mutually beneficial pairing. Edey will be able to provide a lot of what Memphis lost with Steven Adams while adding a lot more scoring. This is a fascinating pick, and I respect the vision by Memphis. Read my big Edey scouting report here.

10. Utah Jazz - Cody Williams, F, Colorado

Grade: B-

Williams is the younger brother of Jalen Williams, but he has a much skinnier frame after weighing in under 180 pounds at the combine. While Williams badly needs to bulk up, his long arms (7’2 wingspan), impressive finishing ability, and spot-up shooting potential is a good fit in the modern NBA. Williams needs to prove he can shoot on real volume, and he needs to tighten his ball handling, but he’s really good in the open floor and shows nice touch. Williams will need some time to develop, but he could have a high ceiling down the line.

11. Chicago Bulls- Matas Buzelis, F, G League Ignite

Grade: B+

Buzelis is a local prospect out of Hinsdale, Illinois who struggled to adjust to the physicality of the G League last year, but still showed flashes of his tantalizing long-term talent. A 6’10 forward comfortable playing out on the perimeter, Buzelis can be a creative ball handler and a capable live-dribble playmaker. He looked better defensively than anticipated last year, blocking a bunch of shots while playing against grown men. The big issue with Buzelis is that he struggled to shoot all over the floor last season: 26.1% from three on 115 attempts, and 69.6% from the free throw line. If the shot is dropping, the rest of Buzelis’ game will fall into place.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder - Nikola Topic, G, Red Stars (Serbia)

Grade: A

I ranked Topic as the No. 1 player in the class despite the fact that he tore his ACL late in the season and could miss his entire rookie campaign. The Serbian point guard’s talent is worth the wait. Topic has great burst as a ball handler getting to the rim and soft touch as a finisher. He has an excellent feel in the pick-and-roll and knows how to blend his scoring and playmaking with the height to see over the defense at 6’6. This feels like a bit of a strange fit just because Topic has to play with the ball in his hands and the Thunder already have a lot of talented creators, but he’s clearly the best player available to me. His defense and shooting are question marks.

13. Sacramento Kings - Devin Carter, G, Providence

Grade: A

Carter earns high marks here for his tremendous defensive motor, improved shooting ability, and nose for the ball as a rebounder. He feels like something of an odd fit for a Kings team that could use more size, but his defensive potential gives him the ability to play with either De’Aaron Fox or Malik Monk. If the improvement in his shot holds, Carter should have a high floor with his length, elite athleticism, and defensive playmaking.

14. Washington Wizards - Bub Carrington, G, Pitt

Grade: B

Carrington is a very tall (6’5) and very young guard who thrives getting into his pull-up jumper. He’s not an elite athlete and tends to settle for difficult looks, but his shot-making touch and deep range gives him a sliver of star upside. He should be able to get plenty of reps in a low pressure environment in Washington, but it feels like he’s a few years away from making a real impact.

15. Miami Heat- Kel’el Ware, C, Indiana

Grade: A

Ware is huge, super athletic, and had 42 percent of his threes at low volume this past year at Indiana. He’s known for being a “low motor” player who could make more hustle plays than he does, and there’s no better landing spot for someone like that than Miami. In the Heat’s development program, Ware will be able to add strength and focus on perfecting his mentality. He’s bubbling with upside as a potential drop coverage shot blocker, lob threat, and spot-up shooter. It will be interesting to see if he can play minutes alongside Bam Adebayo, but if he comes out as a 40 percent three-point shooter, it won’t be an issue.

16. Philadelphia 76ers - Jared McCain, G, Duke

Grade: B+

McCain lacks ideal NBA size and athleticism for a guard, but he makes up for it with shooting. He has a deep range and fantastic accuracy as a three-point shooter, which should be a good fit around Tyrese Maxey’s drives to the rim and Joel Embiid’s interior creation. I worry that McCain might be a too small to be a long-term backcourt partner for Maxey, but his shooting is so good that this is a perfectly fine selection.

17. Los Angeles Lakers- Dalton Knecht, F, Tennessee

Grade: B+

Knecht was projected to go much higher than this, but dropping to No. 17 feels like a more appropriate range for him. He’s an older player who was in total anonymity in college basketball before his fifth year breakout with Tennessee, where he emerged as the country’s top perimeter scorer. At 6’6, Knecht is a great outside shooter who has enough athleticism to attack the rim. I think he’s a poor defensive player, but it isn’t hard to imagine him spacing the floor for LeBron James and Anthony Davis on offense.

18. Orlando Magic - Tristan da Silva, F, Colorado

Grade: B

The Magic need shooting, and da Silva can shoot it. While he’s not the best athlete or the most powerful physical force, da Silva has an easy plug-and-play fit spacing the floor for Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner. The Magic did spend a lottery pick on another shooter without great athleticism in Jett Howard last year, and he couldn’t get off the bench. This feels like a safe pick, but only if he continues to prove he’s a high-level shooter.

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