The New Rooks are Alright: A 2024 NBA Draft Preview

June 26, 2024

The NBA Draft is rapidly approaching and features one of the more intriguing groups of prospects in recent memory. No one really knows who will be going No. 1 and especially what the order will look like after that. Regardless of who gets taken where, franchises can take comfort in knowing that they have guys coming in who can make an impact sooner than later. 

Here’s your look at some of the top prospects in this year’s class.

    • Reed Sheppard, Kentucky: Sheppard has been one of the biggest risers up draft boards since the start of the 2023-24 college season. More and more eyes turned to Lexington to watch the 6-foot-3 freshman run the show. He displayed tremendous proficiency as a facilitator and three-level scorer, averaging 12.5 points and 4.5 assists while shooting 53.6 percent from the field and 52.1 percent from 3. He’s also one of the better athletes in this draft class, which he showcased at the NBA Combine.
    •  Donovan Clingan, UConn: Clingan averaged 13.0 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.5 blocks over 22.5 minutes while anchoring the Huskies in 2023-24, leading them to a second consecutive national title. Defense is the 7-foot-2 big man’s specialty. He just knows how to erase space on the court, whether that’s in the paint or out on the perimeter when he gets switched onto a guard. His offensive game consists mostly of paint touches, and he’s an elite finisher around the rim. Alley-oops are always on the table for Clingan, who’s been getting buzz as the potential No. 1 pick.

  • Matas Buzelis, NBA G League Ignite: Another member of the Ignite, Buzelis has been balling for some time now, The dedication to his craft is very evident when you put on his tape. He has an advanced array of moves in his offensive bag and the instincts that typically belong to the purest of pros. The franchise that takes him is getting someone who is almost addicted to being in the gym and figuring out new ways to improve. 
  •  Dalton Knecht, Tennessee: The offensive side of the court is where Knecht has the most value. He averaged 21.7 points at an efficient 45.8 percent clip (39.7 from 3) as a senior. The First Team All-American — who also took home SEC Player of the Year Honors in 2023-24 — is a true three-level bucket-getter and a great athlete who can get up on the rim, snag boards and function as a quality team defender.

Let’s rattle off a few more quick hitters that could sneak into the top 10. Providence’s Devin Carter and Jared McCain are two other guard prospects that could easily come off the board early. Carter is a tremendous athlete, who boards really well at 6-foot-3 and plays stout defense while having the ability to shoot off the catch (37.7 percent from 3 in 2023-24). McCain is a pure sharpshooter who can make any shot, at any time.

Another wing prospect that is flying up big boards is Frenchman Tidjane Salaun.  Salaun has one of the sweeter shooting strokes in the class, with the ability to swish stationary as well as off of screens.  Down low, two-time National Player of the Year Zach Edey is a prospect scouts have loved more and more in recent months. He’s worked hard to add a few things to his offensive game in order to be more of a threat at the pro level.

You’ll be able to find these players and others in the near future on Panini cards, starting with the Instant Collection coming soon!