Our NBA draft cheat sheet: Everything you need to know on players, team needs and predictions (2024)

  • Our NBA draft cheat sheet: Everything you need to know on players, team needs and predictions (1)

    ESPN staffJun 25, 2024, 06:31 AM ET

The 2024 NBA draft begins Wednesday in New York with the Atlanta Hawks on the clock holding the No. 1 overall pick. There will be 58 total selections over two rounds, with the draft being held across two days for the first time in its history.

The big questions heading into the draft: Is there a consensus top pick? Which teams could shake up the top 10? How will teams such as the San Antonio Spurs use their multiple draft picks to build around their stars? Will Bronny James be drafted, and during which round?

We provide you with a one-stop shop for everything you need to know: times, locations, draft order, top prospects, rankings, mock drafts, stats and more. Read about the draft's best players and what to expect this week.

Our NBA draft cheat sheet: Everything you need to know on players, team needs and predictions (2)

Where, when and how to watch the draft

Round 1: Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET (coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN/ESPN+)

Round 2: Thursday at 4 p.m. ET (ABC/ESPN/ESPN+)

Wednesday's Round 1 will be at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, with Thursday's Round 2 at ESPN's Seaport District Studios in Manhattan.

Some of the invited players who will be on site in New York include: French forward Zaccharie Risacher, French forward/center Alex Sarr, UConn center Donovan Clingan, Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard, G League Ignite forward Matas Buzelis, UConn guard Stephon Castle, Tennessee forward Dalton Knecht, French forward Tidjane Salaun, G League Ignite forward Ron Holland, Colorado wing Cody Williams, Providence guard Devin Carter, Baylor wing Ja'Kobe Walter.

Two-time Naismith Award winner Zach Edey, who is projected to be a first-round pick, will watch the draft with his friends and family at Purdue.

What is the draft order?

There will be 58 picks in this year's draft: 1-30 on the first night and 31-58 on the second. The Hawks won the NBA lottery for the first time since it began in 1985, despite having 3% odds of winning it. It will be the fourth time the Hawks have the top pick, but the first since 1975.

The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers have the most picks with four apiece. The Spurs have two top-10 picks (No. 4, No. 10) and two second-round picks (No. 35, No. 48). The Trail Blazers have two lottery picks (No. 7, No. 14) and two second-round picks (No. 34, No. 40).

The Brooklyn Nets are the only team with no picks. The Philadelphia 76ers and Phoenix Suns were each forced to forfeit second-round picks for violating rules governing the timing of free agency discussion. The Sixers still have two picks, and the Suns have one.

Top 14 (lottery picks):

1. Atlanta Hawks
2. Washington Wizards
3. Houston Rockets (via BKN)
4. San Antonio Spurs
5. Detroit Pistons
6. Charlotte Hornets
7. Portland Trail Blazers
8. San Antonio Spurs (via TOR)
9. Memphis Grizzlies
10. Utah Jazz
11. Chicago Bulls
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
13. Sacramento Kings
14. Portland Trail Blazers (via GS)

More: Needs for teams with first-round picks (ESPN+) | Full draft order

How good is the 2024 draft class?

This class has been widely panned for its lack of star power at the top for some time, and there is certainly truth to that with no one player you can point to with definitive All-Star potential, let alone several as we're typically accustomed to seeing. Instead, we find a group of high-end role players, with several prospects who project to be elite defenders expected to be among the top players picked, and others with question marks regarding their size, perimeter shooting or readiness to contribute making up the rest of the lottery.

Outside of the top picks, this is a fairly normal draft, not all that unlike the 2023 draft beyond the top three selections in that group. There's significant depth throughout the first round and into the second.

Financial implications surrounding the new cap and luxury tax apron rules that go into effect this summer will likely cause quite a few trades.

Historically, the best players in the draft rarely go in any type of order at the top. NBA executives expect that to be the case even more than usual, making this a year that teams with elite talent evaluators and intel gatherers can separate themselves from those who weren't paying close enough attention during the season and could easily be distracted in the pre-draft process. -- Jonathan Givony

How do the prospects rank?

For a full list of the top 100 prospects (including strengths and weaknesses), check out the complete rankings compiled by ESPN's draft experts.

At 6-foot-8, French forward Zaccharie Risacher ranks at the top of ESPN's list. The 19-year-old is a versatile wing whose ability to shoot on the move, competitiveness and versatility defensively and overall feel for the game helped him stand out playing high-level competition in the EuroCup and French league.

ESPN's top 10 prospects:

1. Zaccharie Risacher | SF | Bourg (France)
2. Alex Sarr | PF/C | Perth (Australia)
3. Donovan Clingan | C | UConn
4. Reed Sheppard | PG/SG | Kentucky
5. Matas Buzelis | SF/PF | G League Ignite
6. Stephon Castle | PG/SG | UConn
7. Dalton Knecht | SF | Tennessee
8. Rob Dillingham | PG | Kentucky
9. Tidjane Salaun | PF | Cholet (France)
10. Nikola Topic | PG | Red Star (Adriatic League)

More ESPN+ content: Which NBA players do top prospects compare to? | NBA insider Kevin Pelton's top 30 prospects

Latest mock draft and intel

Click here for the latest mock draft for all 58 picks (ESPN+), based on exhaustive evaluation and intel gathered from scouts and front office personnel.

Will Atlanta stay at No. 1? Hawks general manager Landry Fields said last week the team is satisfied with keeping the top pick. Here's what Givony wrote about Atlanta's potential decision, whom he projects will take Zaccharie Risacher at No. 1:

Zaccharie Risacher, as he has for much of the pre-draft cycle, continues to hold firm as the choice at No. 1 following a positive workout with Atlanta. The feedback from those who have seen him in the United States is that he is a better passer and does a better job of initiating contact and playing through physicality than is expected with his lean frame. Donovan Clingan, another favorite of the Hawks' coaching staff, remains in play at No. 1.

Wemby's future Spurs co-stars: With two top-10 picks, the Spurs are in a prime position to build around Rookie of the Year Victor Wembanyama. Here's the latest on what Givony is hearing from San Antonio:

The Spurs are telling rival teams they will be taking a best-player-available approach at both picks No. 4 and No. 8, despite having backcourt needs and a lack of shooting and playmaking -- areas they'll need to address in due time. Taking a patient approach seems to be San Antonio's strategy for now, as there are plenty of scenarios in which more attractive options become available in the near future.

The return of big men: The NCAA championship game pitted two of the most intriguing center prospects in recent years, with UConn's Donovan Clingan (7-foot-3) getting the best of Purdue and counterpart Zach Edey (7-4) en route to a second straight title. As ESPN draft expert Jeremy Woo explains, both players have been labeled as throwbacks to the 1990s and 2000s NBA, but there's still appeal surrounding two of the draft's biggest outliers.

Where Bronny James might land: The son of LeBron James isn't expected to be selected in the first round but could go late in the second round. Bronny's agent, Rich Paul (who also represents LeBron), told ESPN last week that the 6-2 guard has worked out individually for just two teams: the Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers. Catch up on ESPN's assessment of Bronny's game following his workouts at the NBA draft combine in May.

Who are the top prospects by skill?

Our experts put together an ESPN+ list of the top prospects based on skills and traits in 20 categories. Here are notable names who stand out.

Best pick-and-roll finisher: Zach Edey | C | Purdue

Edey is a dream target for playmaking guards to pair with in pick-and-roll actions. He sets wide, bruising screens and is an outstanding mark rolling to the paint and catching everything thrown his way with his huge, magnetic hands and 7-11 wingspan.

Best ball handler: Rob Dillingham | PG | Kentucky

Dillingham has a wide array of elusive moves at his disposal, including herky-jerky crossovers, double crossovers, in-and-out dribbles, behind-the-back dribbles and more.

Best leaper/dunker: Matas Buzelis, SF/PF, G League Ignite

Not many 19-year olds at 6-10 have the audacity to pull off in-game windmills like Buzelis did in the G League this season, but that combination of explosiveness and bravado is a big part of his appeal.

More ESPN+ content: Sleeper picks at every position

Who are the top international players?

Fourteen international players have been selected first overall in the draft, with the latest coming last year when the Spurs took Wembanyama at No. 1. This year may not be different if the Hawks select fellow French talent Risacher with the top pick. Here's other international prospects worth noting:

Alex Sarr | PF/C | Perth (Australia)
Age:
19 | 7-1, 224 pounds

With a 7-4 wingspan, Sarr's combination of size, length, mobility, defensive versatility and finishing ability gives him an easy niche he can fill as a vertical spacing big who can protect the rim and slide with guards on the perimeter.

Nikola Topic | PG | Red Star Belgrade (Serbia)
Age:
18 | 6-7, 203 pounds

Topic has great size for a point guard with an outstanding combination of ball handling, pace-changing speeds out of hesitation moves, and creativity finding teammates on the move and finishing skillfully around the basket. It remains to be seen how a partially torn ACL will affect his draft status.

New this year: NBA Draft Day Predictor

ESPN analytics' new NBA Draft Day Predictor is driven by expert mock drafts, ESPN's top 100 prospect rankings and historical draft results to determine probabilities for players across a range of picks. Check out ESPN analytics writer Chris Harden's analysis on some of the draft's biggest questions.

In addition, ESPN has released its 2024 NBA mock draft simulator, allowing you to act as the key decision-maker for your favorite team to make picks in both rounds and conduct trades. The simulator will be live throughout the draft, providing minute-by-minute percent chance each prospect is selected at each pick.

Try out ESPN's mock draft simulator

ESPN Stats & Info: 5 things to know about this draft

  • This draft could be the third time in the modern draft era (since 1966) that the top two picks didn't attend college, and first such instance since 2003 -- when LeBron James and Darko Milicic were taken with the top two picks.

  • If Bronny James is selected, it would mark the first time that a son has been drafted with their father still an active NBA player. There have been 51 instances of fathers and sons being selected in the NBA draft in the modern draft era, which includes a pair last year (Jett Howard and Trayce Jackson-Davis).

  • A Kentucky player has been drafted in the first round in 14 straight drafts, the longest streak in the modern era.

  • It will be the final draft in which G League Ignite players will be selected after it was announced the team would be shut down. Since its founding in 2021, G League Ignite has had 10 players drafted -- more than any college, country, or other developmental program in that time. Duke has had eight, followed by three other college programs with six (Gonzaga, Kentucky, Michigan).

  • UConn could have two players (Donovan Clingan and Stephon Castle) projected in the top 10. The last national champion to not have a lottery pick in the following draft was North Carolina in 2016-17.

Our NBA draft cheat sheet: Everything you need to know on players, team needs and predictions (2024)

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