Wednesday, July 17, 2024

2024 NBA Draft: Dalton Knecht, Alex Sarr, Reed Sheppard top Big Board projecting best pro careers

Matt Norlander attempts to project the 30 players, in order, who will have the best careers from the 2024 NBA Draft class

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With the 2024 NBA Draft just around the corner, I’m back for my annual appraisal of prospects in the lead-up to the big night. But after years of doing my big board in mock draft style, we’re finally switching it up to purely have this be a subjective echelon of prospects — without attaching players to teams. Below, I rank out the top 30 prospects in this year’s draft class and, beyond that, am specifically attempting to project who will have the best NBA careers well over a decade from now, once all the players in this class have seen their time come and go in the pros.

This is NOT a pick-by-pick projection of how players will be selected next Wednesday on the first night of the NBA Draft. (Reminder: We now have two nights of the NBA Draft. Reminder: Nobody asked for this.) But it is the order of how I think they will wind up ranking more than a decade into the future when we look back on 2024.

So, as you peruse through the capsules, know that this is purely about who I think is best set up for NBA success. Trying to guess the top five in order, let alone all 30 first-round picks, isn’t the point. (That’s literally impossible.) It’s about giving you, the reader, an understanding of what you should expect of these players in the years to come.

I’m also not trying to guess who will be the best rookie or be the best at the end of this decade. It’s taking the entire career into account. Last year, I told you I liked Dereck Lively II as a top-three prospect when nobody else was that high on him. (One year in, it’s looking good. But we’ll see how the next decade or so plays out.) The year before that, I went on the record about Paolo Banchero being No. 1 days before the Magic shocked most everyone on draft night and picked him first. 

As we get going, I have to drop this context: This year’s draft class is the most underwhelming (at least going into draft night) of any in the past 15 years that I’ve been covering the NBA Draft. Of course there will be good players that emerge from this class; maybe we wind up with one or two great ones. Maybe. But in spending the past couple of weeks burrowing into this group and talking to sources and evaluating what’s waiting … it’s left a lot to be desired. It doesn’t seem like this class is strong at the top, and I’m not seeing the kind of depth into the late teens and 20s that we usually get. Just a weird year.

BUT! Even if this isn’t a stacked pool of players, we’ve still got some fun guys to evaluate and track as they head into the NBA. With so much uncertainty, why not go against the grain right off the top. Here’s my 2024 big board. (And be sure to check out the CBS Sports’ prospect rankings for the 2024 NBA Draft class.) 

Matt Norlander’s 2024 Big Board projecting NBA careers

Five players outside my top 30 who could make me look foolish years from now: Kyshawn George (Miami), Tristan da Silva (Colorado), Cam Christie (Minnesota), Kel’el Ware (Indiana), Antonio Reeves (Kentucky).

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