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2024 NBA Mock Draft: Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard in top five, France’s Zaccharie Risacher goes No. 1

2024 NBA Mock Draft: Kentucky's Reed Sheppard in top five, France's Zaccharie Risacher goes No. 1

Sheppard is the first college player taken in David Cobb’s first 2024 NBA Mock Draft

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USATSI

Evidence continues to mount suggesting Kentucky freshman Reed Sheppard should be regarded as one of the top prospects in the 2024 NBA Draft class. The 6-foot-3 guard turned in the best performance of an impressive campaign Tuesday by leading the Wildcats with 32 points, seven assists, five rebounds, two steals and two blocks in a 91-89 win at Mississippi State.

Sheppard hit the game-winning floater with under a second remaining and came away with the game-clinching steal on the Bulldogs’ ensuing possession in the latest demonstration of his all-around game. Detractors will claim his 51.7% 3-point shooting mark won’t translate to the NBA. They’ll claim that his size and moderate athleticism will limit his defensive impact. But if they do, it’s likely because they haven’t watched Kentucky play much this season. Sheppard’s feel for the game is off the charts, as are his fundamentals and shooting mechanics. His athleticism is also on par with a handful of high-impact NBA guards who have similar physical frames.

Tyrese Maxey, Jalen Brunson, Derrick White and Fred VanVleet come to mind as examples of high-level NBA players who are all 6-4 or shorter. None were selected in the top-20 of their respective drafts. But they’ve all either been All-Stars or All-Defensive Team honorees, and all four rank among the top-60 in win shares per 48 minutes this season, largely because of their intangibles.

if NBA general managers had it to do over again, all four would have been selected much higher. In this relatively weak draft class, there is no excuse for Sheppard to slip out of the lottery. If he does, there will be widespread regret for years to come.

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