2024 NBA Draft on B/R

Bleacher Report: How the 2024 Combine changed our latest Mock Draft

After the NBA Combine in Chicago last week, Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman details how it impacted his latest prospect rankings.


Zaccharie Risacher is in contention to be the No. 1 overall pick.

Editor’s Note: Find more of Jonathan Wasserman’s coverage of the 2024 Draft on Bleacher Report or to read this article on BleacherReport.com, click here.

(B/R) — Performances at the NBA Draft Combine affected the Draft stock for several key names and under-the-radar prospects.

For the first time in years, everyone in attendance was mandated to drill, measure and test athletically, which allowed teams to see things they hadn’t before.

NBA teams also always put stock into scrimmages, which allow evaluators to evaluate players in different roles or compete against other NBA-caliber prospects.

We made a handful of key changes to our mock draft projections after spending a week in Chicago scouting and talking with scouts and executives around the league.

Alex Sarr bumped from No. 1 spot

Alex Sarr had been our projected No. 1 overall pick for the few months before the NBA combine. But he’d been a soft No. 1. Even today, there is still no consensus answer for who’s the top prospect. Sarr fits with a lot of lineups. His archetype — a 7-foot switchable defender with some ball-handling and shotmaking skill — remains highly coveted. And theoretically, no other prospect offers the same type of upside at both ends.

But talking with scouts and executives in Chicago, the confidence in Sarr’s No. 1 overall potential didn’t feel overly strong. Questions about his offensive impact for the first pick were brought up.

And then there is Zaccharie Risacher, who’s playing in the LNB Pro A playoffs. General manager Landry Fields, assistant GM Kyle Korver and coach Quin Snyder made it to France for JL Bourg’s first game against Nanterre, with Risacher scoring 14 points in 23 minutes.

The 19-year-old followed up by exploding for a season-high 28 points in 29 minutes. Despite the loss, he showcased his signature shotmaking, improving perimeter self-creation and athleticism around the basket.

Scouts ultimately seem to have a comfort level with Risacher’s game, which feels highly translatable based on his positional wing size (6-foot-8), 38.8% on 3-pointers, the eye test on his mechanics, the fluidity of his movement and leaping, his foot speed to defend the point of attack and his tools to guard multiple positions and contest jump shots.

And in a Draft lacking surefire stars, the Hawks could be more inclined to play it safer with a high-floor, three-and-D prospect who’s still extremely young and has room to grow as a shot-creator.

Risacher may look even more appealing to Atlanta after AJ Griffin played just 20 games and Saddiq Bey tore his ACL. For now, before workouts, the French wing has been moved to the No. 1 spot in our updated mock draft board.

Donovan Clingan moves to No. 3

There isn’t usually much to take away from NBA combine drills, particularly since most of the top projected picks were able to skip them in previous years. Not this year. One of the highlights was watching Sarr, Donovan Clingan and Zach Edey participate in the same shooting exercises conducted for the guards, wings and forwards.

And Clingan looked surprisingly comfortable and believable.

Multiple executives expressed their intrigue to Bleacher Report around his surprising form, competence and the exciting potential of a top rim protector who can step behind the arc.

Just watching Clingan shoot the ball and talk to the media, it’s clear to me that showing teams he can make outside shots is a priority for him during the pre-Draft process, considering he didn’t have the freedom to let 3-pointers fly at Connecticut.

We moved him to No. 3 in our latest mock draft to the Houston Rockets, who could now be drafting for depth behind Fred VanVleet, Jalen Green, Amen Thompson, Jabari Smith Jr., Alperen Sengun, Dillon Brooks and Cam Whitmore.

Clingan would give the Rockets a defensive presence they’re missing. But he’s also an appealing trade-up target for other teams looking to improve defensively. And the Rockets figure to be active in trade discussions at No. 3, given their surplus of young players and a likely desire to add veteran talent and push for the playoffs.

Stephon Castle jumps into top five

Stephon Castle had been building momentum through the NCAA tournament heading into Chicago. Then, he measured 6-foot-5.5 in socks, 210 pounds with a 6-foot-9 wingspan — strong numbers for a wing, but tremendous ones for a player who can handle the ball and facilitate.

Shooting remains the obvious drawback to Castle, and there was nothing he could do in Chicago to turn that weakness into a strength on scouting reports. But his jumper looked far from broken. Even if drills aren’t great indicators, considering nobody is guarding them and they’re releasing in rhythm, to make 18 of 25 threes in a star drill (movement shooting) takes a certain level of competence.

Convincing a team that he can be league average from 3-point range would likely earn him a top-five grade — because there is a ton of love for the rest of his game and a knack for making an impact.

The Detroit Pistons haven’t shown they care about fit in the Draft. Ausar Thompson’s poor shooting didn’t bother them. Jaden Ivey and Cade Cunningham didn’t sound ideal on paper. Jalen Duren and Isaiah Stewart aren’t super compatible. The Pistons have shown they’ll take the best player available in their rankings.

They could easily be drawn to Castle’s defensive toughness, passing, physicality and hustle plays, which would make a gamble on his shooting feel worthwhile.

Assuming Castle’s jump shot continues to look as capable in workouts as it did in Chicago, he’s likely to earn consideration from the teams drafting before Detroit as well.

Rob Dillingham takes a slide

Rob Dillingham was allowed to skip athletic testing and drilling after suffering a minor injury in workouts. But he did have to measure.

The results were both mostly expected and discouraging — Dillingham came in at 6-foot-1 in socks, 164 pounds with a 6-foot-3 wingspan. The only current pros in the NBA’s database under 164 pounds are essentially G Leaguers: Jacob Gilyard, Markquis Nowell and Terquavion Smith.

His measurements and weight are identical to Trae Young’s, only Young has led the NBA in assists, and Dillingham isn’t nearly as effective using his quickness and dribble to make plays for teammates.

The other ball-handlers under 170 pounds — Kira Lewis Jr. and Bones Hyland — have either struggled with efficiency and/or defense.

Dillingham is undoubtedly more wired to score than pass, which has scouts picturing more of a combo than a lead decision-maker or point guard. But given his measurements and brutal defensive tape at Kentucky, playing him at the two may raise more concerns.

As of now, we have teams in the Nos. 4-8 rage opting for bigger guards/wings and better defenders.

From a fit standpoint, Dillingham’s ideal landing spot is a team with a jumbo-sized playmaker who can match up with 2-guards. Amen Thompson, LaMelo Ball and Cade Cunningham come off as strong backcourt partners who play for lottery teams.

Devin Carter strengthens his case

Devin Carter gradually started winning scouts over this year with his improved shotmaking and expanding creativity. He’d already had a reputation for being an outstanding defender with signature intensity, peskiness and unique shot-blocking ability for a guard.

And then he showed up to Chicago and lit up the athletic tests.

Carter tied for the highest max vertical at 42 inches. He set an NBA combine record for the fastest sprint time. He finished tied for third in the lane agility drill. Scouts can now confirm that Providence’s 19.7-point-per-game scorer who also averaged an unusual 8.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 2.5 threes and 1.8 steals also possesses elite speed, bounce and change of direction.

Throw in a tremendous 6-foot-9 wingspan, and teams aren’t going to put too much negative stock into a 6-foot-2 measurement in socks, particularly since the improved creation could allow him to play some point guard.

We’re now projecting Carter in the back end of the lottery, where he feels like a safe bet with more upside than most pictured during his college career.

New information pushes Zach Edey up the board

Even if it’s unrealistic to expect Zach Edey to start shooting 3-pointers in an NBA game, scouts learned that he can at least make an open jump shot if left open. He made plenty over 30 minutes of drilling, including over 55% combined on his movement shooting attempts.

He also measured a half-inch taller and roughly seven pounds lighter than last year. He improved his max vertical by two inches. Both of his jumps, sprint, shuttle run and lane agility times were better than Donovan Clingan’s.

These numbers helped validate the eye-test results from the season that suggested Edey was in better shape.

We’re talking about small details here, but they’ll only help teams talk themselves into the 7-foot-4 center. We moved him from No. 23 overall to No. 19, the highest he’s been all year.

Baylor Scheierman on the rise

Usually, there’s at least one player who jumps out in scrimmages as an obvious pro. And usually, it’s not a fluke. Brandin Podziemski and Ben Sheppard looked like easy bets last year and were. In 2022, it was Andrew Nembhard who dominated, and Quentin Grimes popped in 2021.

Last week, Baylor Scheierman was the clear standout, both in terms of his play and leadership. He hit three threes in the opening game, which was on brand for the senior who’d made 356 total for his career and lit up shooting drills on Monday. He confidently handled and passed out of pick-and-rolls. He shook defenders with fancy footwork. He finished on the break. He was vocal and competitive.

Scheierman just looked the part of an NBA wing with his offensive versatility, skill level and intangibles. Scouts agreed that they expect to see him on an NBA floor at some point in the near future.

There are bound to be teams in the 20s that are less interested in the upside and more focused on adding a surefire contributor for the next few seasons on a rookie contract. His combination of size, shotmaking, playmaking IQ and toughness create an easily perceived fit for a connector role.

KJ Simpson inching closer to first-round status

NBA combine scrimmages opened on Tuesday with KJ Simpson beating his man three times with drives in the first half.

He overcame a lack of size at Colorado to average 19.7 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists on 47.5% shooting. And at 6 feet (in socks), he remained effective in Chicago finishing after contact, grabbing boards and making tough shots.

His fearlessness, aggression and energy simply made him likable. When pairing that with the handle and craftiness he demonstrated, it became easier to buy his rim pressure and success in the paint carrying over.

Between his 79 3-pointers, accuracy off the catch (43.1%) and dribble (42.7%) and 87.6% on free throws, Simpson’s shotmaking was already convincing.

He didn’t show perfect discipline as a passer, but scouts will take those occasional turnovers with his scoring confidence and playmaking threat.

Simpson currently sits at No. 31 on our latest mock draft with workouts upcoming.

Bronny James left off mock draft … for now

Despite generating positive buzz in Chicago during shooting drills and his second scrimmage, Bronny James remains off Bleacher Report’s board.

His Draft stock was a hot topic at the NBA combine, and scouts delivered mostly the same opinion when asked if he gets picked: Maybe by the Los Angeles Lakers.

James will get plenty of workouts from other teams, but it’s worth noting that teams can work out roughly 100 players before the Draft. They do this for due diligence, scouting for the future and creating/maintaining relationships with players and agents. James getting workouts from other teams shouldn’t be overly newsworthy.

Of course, all it takes is one team to believe that James’ shooting, passing IQ and defense can translate to something useful. Most scouts Bleacher Report has spoken with still sound hesitant to buy in.

But expectations around the league suggest that if a team is going to draft him, it will be L.A. in the second round. The Lakers have the No. 55 pick, but they could likely add him as an undrafted player 15 minutes later if they believe someone better was on the board.

The Lakers brought their entire scouting department to Chicago, and they weren’t focused solely on James.

New additions to the board

No. 37: Keshad Johnson

It became easier to picture Johnson’s NBA fit after scrimmaging against second-round prospects. His athleticism popped on his 42-inch max vertical and several defensive plays, both at the rim and around the perimeter. He made some outside shots and smart reads as a passer. The shooting looked fairly convincing, as did his defensive movement and IQ.

No. 47: Jonathan Mogbo

Scouts still think Mogbo could return to college, though he looks too tempting not to take in the second round if he stays in the Draft. His ball-handling and passing remain unique for a strong, athletic, high-energy big who should be able to earn easy baskets and win battles around the basket.

No. 48: AJ Johnson

Johnson may need a full year in the weight room and G League. But his positional size, ball-handling for creation, playmaking ability and shotmaking looked enticing long-term. He had also had the highlight of the combine on a driving dunk over a shot-blocker.

No. 54: Nikola Djurisic

Djurisic could easily go earlier than No. 54 if he continues to answer questions about his shooting during workouts. At 6-foot-7 in socks, he showed how he could score in different ways, both off self-creation, shotmaking and athletic plays around the basket. He didn’t handle as much in Chicago, but the tape from overseas shows a functional ball-handler with some fun, live-dribble passing skill.

No. 56: Enrique Freeman

A big storyline in Chicago focused on Freeman’s emergence. He had to play well at the Portsmouth Invitation just to get an invite to G League Elite Camp. Freeman then capitalized on his call-up to the combine, scoring in different ways inside and out using his post game, improved shooting range and motor. A scout texted me on Wednesday saying he believed Freeman definitely got himself drafted.

Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports