Alex Sarr, Stephon Castle among top 10 2024 NBA Draft prospects

Sarr, a forward, and Castle, a guard, are highly touted to go near the top.

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The 2024 NBA Draft has been a guessing game.

And that'll continue until the Atlanta Hawks -- barring a trade -- make the first pick on Wednesday, June 26, when the first round begins.

Because there is no generational prospect this year, like Victor Wembanyama in 2023, who will go No. 1 overall is completely unknown.

Glass half empty, it's quite unlucky to have first dibs this year. A year's worth (or more) of shaky results may not result in a potential long-term gem.

Glass half full, maybe a diamond in the rough is unearthed through proper scouting and development.

So, which players could see their names off the board early in Brooklyn, N.Y.? Let's look at some of the top prospects to watch for in the 2024 draft, in no particular order:

Alex Sarr, F, Perth Wildcats (NBL) and France

Just who exactly is the best prospect is different for most experts and scouts. The best way to tell is by judging which players have the skill and profile to be difference makers at the highest levels of the game. It's not always easy because growth isn't linear, but it's a good way to start.

Why Sarr stands out is because he's 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-4 wingspan, moves well laterally, can handle the ball and initiate plays and protect the rim.

There's plenty of room to grow in terms of passing volume, decision making and hitting deeper shots, but the 19-year-old has the profile of a special talent should things pan out.

Alex Sarr comes from a family of professional basketball players, and now it's his turn as he heads into the 2024 NBA Draft as the projected No. 1 pick.

Zaccharie Risacher, F, JL Bourg (LNB Pro A of France)

NBA teams love a good 3-and-D wing. It's no wonder they're always in demand. But quality ones are hard to find.

Risacher's elevator pitch would be just that. His floor is a 6-foot-8 wing with a 6-foot-9 wingspan coming off a season in which he shot around 35% from deep on decent volume along with reliable ball-handling and defensive abilities.

He'll need to develop a stronger dribble-drive game to reach the next level. His burst isn't that fast but his lanky frame allows him to create separation more seamlessly than others. He knows what he wants to do with the ball, whether that's hitting the next teammate or producing a shot for himself.

Zaccharie Risacher is a projected top-two pick in the 2024 NBA Draft and is the son of an Olympian and French Hall of Famer.

Stephon Castle, G, UConn

UConn boasts two potential lottery picks in this draft, with one of them being Castle. A combo guard measuring 6-foot-5 without shoes and a 6-foot-9 wingspan, Castle has the knack to play the game at his pace, whether that's with crafty passes or driving downhill.

Castle's biggest flaws involve shooting. He can be inefficient and his 3-point shot is severely lacking. He shot 26.7% from deep on 2.2 attempts, which won't cut it in the NBA.

Turning 20 in November, his highest ceiling is at the 1 as a lengthy point guard who can defend multiple positions and knock down deep shots. He'll need plenty of work to get there, so if a team has time to develop him, they should be all over him.

After shining during UConn's NCAA title run, Stephon Castle is ready to make a splash in the NBA.

Ron Holland, F, G League Ignite

Another potential high-end 3-and-D player is Holland, who's been with G League Ignite. Holland is one of the youngest players in the class at 18 but plays a little beyond that.

At 6-foot-6 with a near 6-foot-11 wingspan, Holland is extremely sound as a versatile defender. He's a shifty lateral mover and can hang with smaller players with speed.

Where he'll need long-term improvement is his shooting. He can attack the basket and score off slashing, but his spot-up shooting is too wobbly to make a tangible difference. His release has a low starting point and his free-throw numbers aren't the best. However, he can be a useful playoff rotation player at just league average shooting.

Forward Ron Holland is one of the most buzzed-about players in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Dalton Knecht, G/F, Tennessee

Knecht at 23 is one of the older players in his class, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Desmond Bane, a senior out of TCU, went No. 30 overall in 2020 and developed into a special two-way guard.

It's not a guarantee, but Knecht has some similarities. He's a multi-level scorer who thrives the most from range, converting on 39.7% of 6.5 attempts. He can do it spot up or off the dribble and can adjust on the fly. He's not the best shot creator, but there's definitely the possibility of him being a robust 2-guard who can spend time at the 3 in small-ball lineups.

Defensively, Knecht, who is 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, needs to improve with his lateral movement to stay on the court longer. Otherwise he'd be a mismatch for faster players regardless of size.

The SEC Player of the Year, Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht, is primed to be a lottery pick in the 2024 NBA Draft.

Matas Buzelis, F, G League Ignite

Buzelis is this year's primary northeastern Europe project. At 6-foot-9 with a 6-foot-10 wingspan, the Lithuanian is a playmaking power forward. He's likely too lightweight to be a 5 in the NBA, but he's a silky offensive creator who has shown flashes of being a capable initiator.

He'll need to be a much better shooter to reach the next level. His high release oozes promise, but his numbers on all levels are inconsistent.

His best moments defensively have been as an off-ball defender in help scenarios, otherwise his frame can make him a target. He's a player who'll need the most time possible to extract the best version of him.

Forward Matas Buzelis is hoping his time with the G League Ignite will propel him to the next level at the 2024 NBA Draft.

Reed Sheppard, G, Kentucky

Three-and-D wings are one thing, but 3-and-D guards can be just as useful in certain scenarios. Patrick Beverley and T.J. McConnell are some that stand out. Derrick White is a slightly taller version.

Sheppard, a 20-year-old Kentucky product, may fit that billing. At 6-foot-2 with a 6-foot-3 wingspan, Sheppard's height is his biggest drawback but he has the ability to immediately fit into a team's rotation.

He's an excellent on- and off-ball defender in spite of his size, and his 3-point shooting complements his game. He shot 52.1% on 4.4 attempts this past season, which won't fully translate to the NBA but demonstrates the levels he could be at.

For a team who isn't looking for the next superstar, Sheppard checks numerous boxes as a safer bet.

Profile of Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard ahead of the 2024 NBA Draft.

Donovan Clingan, C, UConn

Don't fall for any narrative that discredits traditional centers. They're still valuable, especially ones with athleticism.

Clingan, at 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-7 wingspan, does all the basic things at a high level. He rebounds, blocks, dunks and sets screens like NBA teams would want.

But how high is his ceiling?

He is not a floor spacer and his free-throw numbers don't suggest he'll develop into one. He's also a slow perimeter defender and isn't the best post scorer, though his size and strength could get him there with time. If a team is looking to add an interior presence with upside, Clingan could be a better version of Utah Jazz' Walker Kessler.

Profile of UConn center Donovan Clingan ahead of the 2024 NBA Draf

Rob Dillingham, G, Kentucky

In terms of dynamic scorers, Dillingham is easily one of the best in his class. Like his teammate Sheppard, Dillingham's main knock is his lack of size at 6-foot-1 with a 6-foot-3 wingspan. He's also not as adept as a defender.

But if you're looking for a potential sixth man, Dillingham can get to his spots on all levels and knock down shots at efficient clips. His passing also started to improve as the season progressed, but he'll still need more work to run NBA-level offenses.

He gives off vibes of a Tyrese Maxey lite or a potential Malik Monk archetype, both of which are valuable in today's NBA.

Devin Carter, G, Providence

Speaking of the Boston Celtics' White or even Bruce Brown of the Toronto Raptors, Carter, a 22-year-old out of Providence, could also be a Day 1 rotational player.

At 6-foot-2 with a strong 6-foot-9 wingspan, Carter does all the little things on both sides of the ball to an extremely high level.

He made 37.7% of his 3-pointers on 6.6 attempts, hauled in 8.4 rebounds and has no issues guarding multiple positions, regardless of his size.

Some questions will be the effective of his 3-point stroke since it's low and partially sideways, but players like Tyrese Haliburton also have awkward releases that convert at efficient rates. He's someone you would want in your playoff rotation.

Honorable mentions

Cody Williams, G/F, Colorado: A 6-foot-7 wing with a 7-foot-1 wingspan. Has 3-and-D potential but is quite raw.

Tristan Da Silva, F, Colorado: Efficient spot-up scorer who can play the 3 and 4 and can hold his own defensively without elite athleticism.

Ryan Dunn, F, Virginia: Arguably the best defender in his class at 6-foot-6 and a near 7-foot-2 wingspan, but significantly needs to develop a shot. Has Matisse Thybulle shades.

Harrison Ingram, G/F, UNC: Potential 3-and-D gem in the second round at 6-foot-5 with a 7-foot wingspan and shot 38.5% from deep on 4.6 attempts.

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