2024 NBA Mock Draft: Updated 1st-Round Predictions Before NCAA Championship

April 7, 2024

More often than not, the annual NCAA tournament features players destined for the first round of the NBA draft, some of whom are lottery locks.This year’s version of March Madness is a bit different, as a host of international players, NBA G League Ignite stars and college hoopers who didn’t make the tournament will be hearing their names called early on June 26, when the NBA draft kicks off from Brooklyn.In fact, only 14 players on the top 30 of Jonathan Wasserman’s latest big board for Bleacher Report took part in this year’s tournament.However, some players who look like potential lottery picks (or have a shot at landing in the first round) did participate in March Madness, and some guided their teams deep into the tourney.We’ll take a look at three of those players below alongside a new mock draft. Note that the current order is via Tankathon.2024 NBA Mock Draft1. Detroit Pistons: Perth Wildcats F/C Alexandre Sarr2. Washington Wizards: JL Bourg-en-Bresse SG/SF Zaccharie Risacher3. Charlotte Hornets: Kentucky PG/SG Reed Sheppard4. San Antonio Spurs: KK Crvena Zvezda PG Nikola Topić5. Portland Trail Blazers: G-League Ignite SF Matas Buzelis6. Toronto Raptors: Kentucky PG Rob Dillingham7. Memphis Grizzlies: UConn C Donovan Clingan8. Utah Jazz: G League Ignite SF Ron Holland9. Houston Rockets (from Brooklyn Nets): Tennessee SG/SF Dalton Knecht10. Atlanta Hawks: UConn SG Stephon Castle11. Chicago Bulls: Colorado SF/PF Cody Williams12. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Houston Rockets): Baylor SG/SF Ja’Kobe Walter13. Portland Trail Blazers (from Golden State Warriors): Duke PF/C Kyle Filipowski14. Sacramento Kings: Miami SG/SF Kyshawn George15. Philadelphia 76ers: Providence PG/SG Devin Carter16. Miami Heat: USC PG Isaiah Collier17. Toronto Raptors (from Indiana Pacers): Cholet PF Tidjane Salaun18. New Orleans Pelicans (from Los Angeles Lakers): Duke PG/SG Jared McCain19. New Orleans Pelicans: Indiana C Kel’el Ware20. New York Knicks: Kansas SG/SF Kevin McCullar Jr.21. Orlando Magic: Cairns Taipans SF/PF Bobi Klintman22. Cleveland Cavaliers: Illinois SG/SF Terrence Shannon Jr.23. Phoenix Suns: Colorado SF/PF Tristan Da Silva24. Milwaukee Bucks: Baylor C Yves Missi25. New York Knicks (from Dallas Mavericks): Pitt PG/SG Carlton Carrington26. Washington Wizards (from Los Angeles Clippers): G-League Ignite PF Tyler Smith27. Utah Jazz (from Oklahoma City Thunder): Cal SF/PF Jaylon Tyson28. Denver Nuggets: NBA Africa Academy C Ulrich Chomche29. Minnesota Timberwolves: Kansas SF Johnny Furphy30. Boston Celtics: Purdue C Zach EdeyDraft order: TankathonUConn C Donovan ClinganNo one has been better in this tournament on a per-minute basis than UConn center Donovan Clingan, who entered Saturday posting 15.8 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks in just 23.0 minutes per game and added another 18 points and four blocks Saturday in a Final Four win over Alabama.He amassed 14 points, 14 rebounds and eight blocks against Northwestern and added a 22-point, 10-rebound, five-block day versus Illinois in just 22 minutes.This tournament has almost been too easy for him, and his stock is clearly on the rise. Yes, he isn’t the type of big that excels the most in today’s NBA, in that he isn’t going to stretch the floor or start raining threes.But he’s an efficient offensive player and an exceptional defensive one who should carve out a niche and a long career in this league.Wasserman wrote in his big board article that Clingan “should be able to mirror the trajectory of a valued role-playing center like Jakob Poeltl.” Poeltl, a former top-10 pick, is in his eighth NBA season and currently serves as a staring center (and nightly double-double threat) for the Toronto Raptors. Clingan could certainly meet or exceed that comparison.Let’s get the cons out of the way real quick. Yes, Castle is not a prolific scorer. He entered Saturday averaging just 10.7 points per game, shooting only 26.2 percent from three-point range.But let’s focus on the pros. The 19-year-old is showing incredible maturity in this tournament on a massive stage for the defending national champions. He’s one of the main reasons why UConn has exhibited shutdown defense in this tournament. Plus, he showcased his best on Saturday, leading UConn with 21 points on 7-of-13 shooting.Castle also previously dominated the defending national runner-up, San Diego State, to the tune of a 16-point, 11-rebound double-double.Castle has plenty of time to work on his shooting and include his scoring prowess. But his defense and poise are traits that are too hard to ignore.He’s also fared well on the boards (5.8 RPG in the tournament) and is an adept and willing passer as well. Castle won’t fall below the lottery line at this rate.From an NBA draft perspective, Zach Edey’s problem is that he was born in the wrong era. If this were the 1990s into the early 2000s, when big men were treasured above all other positions no questions asked, Edey seems like a lock lottery pick.But the NBA is a much different game today. Edey is a 300-pound big man who can’t spread the floor on offense and has trouble defending away from the basket due to limited mobility.On the flip side, it’s impossible to ignore what he’s doing in this tournament. He entered the Final Four averaging 30.0 points on 65.6 percent shooting and 16.3 rebounds per game and added a 20-point, 12-rebound double-double against NC State in the national semifinal win.He isn’t likely to just go into the NBA and be a complete flop incapable of doing anything and washing out in a few years.The guess here is that Edey finds a way to sneak into the first round. Is he going to be a double-double machine in the pros? Probably not. But can he provide quality minutes off the bench at center in a limited capacity and amass points and rebounds, a la what Andre Drummond does now for the Chicago Bulls? It’s certainly feasible.