The college basketball season is underway and in a draft class that is wide open, a few players are making strong statements early on. USC freshman guard Isaiah Collier is one of the most powerful guards with the ball in his hands and has made a compelling case for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft in June with how well he's played early in the season.
Another player in the mix for the top spot is 7-foot-1 French center Alex Sarr, who is playing for the Perth Wildcats in Australia's National Basketball League. Sarr has shown tremendous growth from last year to now, particularly with his physicality in the post and improved 3-point shot in the pick-and-pop. G League Ignite forwards Ron Holland and Matas Buzelis are also two players NBA scouts will be tracking closely this season and are contenders at the top of the draft.
There will be more clarity as the college and professional seasons progress. Here's a look at Yahoo Sports' first-round projections for the 2024 NBA Draft.
(Draft order is from Tankathon as of Nov. 19.)
1. Washington Wizards: G Isaiah Collier
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 210 pounds | Class: Freshman | USC
Collier entered his freshman season at USC as the No. 1 high school recruit coming in and has hit the ground running immediately. He is the most impactful player on the court for the Trojans. He has a little bit of Anthony Edwards in him in how explosive he is in the open court and how well he finishes at the rim. His 3-point shot remains an area of development (he did go 3-for-5 from behind the arc in a recent win over Brown) but if he can, his first option is always to get downhill and either collapse the defense for an easy pass or finish through contact. In his first four games, Collier is averaging 21 points and 3.8 assists and shooting 52% from the field.
2. Detroit Pistons: C Alex Sarr
Ht./Wt.: 7-1, 217 pounds | Perth Wildcats (Australia)
Sarr is the younger brother of Oklahoma City Thunder center Olivier Sarr, and shot up draft boards after a pair of impressive games against the G League Ignite in September. Since then, he's been a force in the lane for the Wildcats, particularly on the defensive end with his elite rim protection. Sarr has been working on extending his game past the 3-point line in the pick-and-pop situations and moves extremely well for 7-1. In an overtime win over the No. 1 team in the NBL, Melbourne United, Sarr finished with 17 points and six rebounds and played the majority of the second half against players much older and stronger than him.
"The physicality of the game here in Australia has really helped me a lot," Sarr told Yahoo Sports. "I'm just learning how to use my body and get the advantage for good position on and off the block. I've been working a lot on my shot and just trying to add more versatility to my game."
3. San Antonio Spurs: G Ja'Kobe Walter
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 195 pounds | Class: Freshman | Baylor
Walter is by far the best shooting guard early in the season, connecting on 40% from 3-point range on six attempts per game. He has great size at 6-5 and can defend the perimeter with ease thanks to his long frame and footwork. Walter is more than just a 3-point threat with the way he reads the defense with his long ball and his ability to create for others in spacing off the half-court set. He’s also a terrific rebounder for the guard position, averaging 4.8 rebounds per game and grabbing eight boards in an early win this season over Gardner-Webb.
4. Portland Trail Blazers: G/F Ron Holland
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 206 pounds | G League Ignite
Despite his slow start to the G League season, Holland still remains a top talent in the 2024 draft with the way he can create when getting downhill and his finishes around the rim. The Ignite had a shocking start to the season when they lost by 59 points to the Salt Lake City Stars on Nov. 13. Holland had 11 turnovers and finished with nine points and six rebounds in 35 minutes. The Ignite were missing Buzelis, Eric Mika and London Johnson with injuries and bounced back nicely in a close loss to the Santa Cruz Warriors a few days later. Holland finished with 11 points (5-for-14 from the field, 0-for-4 from 3), seven rebounds and five assists.
5. Charlotte Hornets: F Matas Buzelis
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 212 pounds | G League Ignite
Buzelis is out with a minor ankle sprain but is expected to be back for the next game against the South Bay Lakers on Nov. 25. Buzelis added 20 pounds to his frame from the spring and showed promising signs as a two-way threat as an inside-out forward early on against the Perth Wildcats in a pair of exhibition games in September.
NBA scouts are still trying to figure out what Buzelis can be at the next level. He shows glimpses of a long-range game and has the footwork to be productive in the paint, but where he shines is in transition and the way he plays above the rim.
"I just want to show growth to my overall game to the NBA scouts," Buzelis told Yahoo Sports. "They’ve pretty much seen me throughout high school, but it’s a different league now with more physicality and a much faster pace to the game."
6. Memphis Grizzlies: G/F Zaccharie Risacher
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 204 pounds | JL Bourg (France)
Risacher struggled during last year's Nike Hoop Summit, playing for Team World, but NBA scouts loved his upside at the wing position. In the French LNB Pro A league, Risacher has found his rhythm, particularly from 3-point range where he's posted 15 or more points in five games this season. In his most recent win over Chalon-sur-Saône, Risacher went 3-for-4 from 3-point range and finished with 14 points in 16 minutes. He's great in catch-and-shoot situations, but needs to show a little more fluidity in his long ball off the dribble.
7. Utah Jazz: G/F Justin Edwards
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 185 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky
Edwards has had a quiet start to the season for Kentucky and couldn't do anything to get his shot to fall in the loss to No. 1 Kansas during the Champions Classic where he went 0-for-6 from the field and 0-for-3 from 3-point range. It's a long season and his size at the wing position and how skilled of a player he is will start to translate on the court for the Wildcats. Defensively is where he's most effective with his long frame and footwork to guard multiple positions.
8. Chicago Bulls: G Tyrese Proctor
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 180 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Duke
Proctor, along with Kyle Filipowski, are the second-year leaders of this Duke team and Proctor is showing way more confidence with the ball in his hands and is comfortable sliding anywhere in the backcourt rotation. His 3-point shot looks smoother and he cuts very well off the ball. Defensively, he's anticipating passes and shooting the gaps in the half-court set. NBA scouts love his size as a primary ball-handler and Proctor made the right decision returning for his sophomore season, elevating his draft stock to a projected lottery pick.
9. Oklahoma City Thunder: G Stephon Castle
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 215 pounds | Class: Freshman | UConn
Castle is currently out with a right knee injury and will miss two-to-four weeks, the team announced Saturday. This is a huge blow for the defending national champions as Castle had a lot of buzz entering the season. A lot of scouts flocked to Storrs, Connecticut, for practice during the preseason to get early eyes on the talented freshman. Similar to Collier, Castle has a strong frame and is an excellent finisher around the rim. He also possesses a better touch from around the rim and can convert on shots off the dribble from midrange and 3-point range. In two games, he's averaging 14.5 points, 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists.
10. San Antonio Spurs: G/F Cody Williams
Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 185 pounds | Class: Freshman | Colorado
The NBA looks for a few characteristics in prospects: youth, length and upside. Williams has all three and is the younger brother of Oklahoma City Thunder wing Jalen Williams. He plays the right way and isn't necessarily the flashiest player but can have a quiet 15-point, 10-rebound game that looks effortless. Williams is averaging 10.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game and is coming off his best game of the season in a win over Milwaukee where he posted 17 points, five rebounds and four assists in 25 minutes.
11. Portland Trail Blazers: G Nikola Topić
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 201 pounds | KK Mega Basket (Serbia)
Topić is one of the youngest players in the 2024 NBA Draft (turning 18 in August). He has great pace for a lead guard and has a solid mix of natural feel and playmaking that make him appealing as a lottery pick. Topić has been on scouts' radar for a few years now in his development and progression playing in a very tough Serbian league. He's really become an offensive threat and has put up 20 or more points in six games this season, averaging 19.2 points, 6.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
12. New Orleans Pelicans: F Izan Almansa
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 216 pounds | G League Ignite
Almansa has great size and can play inside-out at the four position or even the five in a small-ball lineup. He has great hands and nice touch around the rim and can comfortably put the ball on the ground and make a move off the block. He moves with intention in the half-court set, sometimes slipping screens or making great backdoor cuts and is a solid passer with the way he can see over the top of the defense.
13. Atlanta Hawks: G Trey Alexander
Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 190 pounds | Class: Junior | Creighton
Alexander elected to return for his junior season after testing the NBA waters last spring and receiving positive feedback from NBA teams. He was one of the best players on the court during the 5-on-5 scrimmages at the NBA Draft Combine and will definitely help his draft position with an additional year at Creighton. Alexander is the first option for the Bluejays offense and he's put up some big numbers early, averaging 21 points, 7.3 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game. He was one assist away from a triple-double in a win over Iowa and is looking like one of the most complete guards in college basketball this season.
14. Houston Rockets: C Kyle Filipowski
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 220 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Duke
Duke primarily runs the offense through Filipowski, whether that's in a pick-and-roll option or a pin-down screen for the mismatch seal in the post. His confidence in shooting the 3 has always been there and he has yet to start making them consistently. Filipowski is a tough competitor, great on the boards and defensively in the lane and is moving just fine after undergoing double hip surgery last spring.
15. Cleveland Cavaliers: C Aday Mara
Ht./Wt.: 7-3, 245 pounds | Class: Freshman | UCLA
Mara moves well for his size and is patient in the post, not forcing anything. He is a great passer out of the double-team. Originally from Spain, Mara's European versatility is what sticks out immediately when watching him play. He runs well in the open court, is unselfish but also assertive and strong with the ball in the post.
16. Phoenix Suns: F Kel'el Ware
Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 223 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Indiana
Ware looks more comfortable within head coach Mike Woodson's system than he did a year ago at Oregon. He's looking like his old self when he used to dominate at the high school level and be more of a threat, on and off the ball. Ware is way more active on offense, taking the open 3 if it's there or making backdoor cuts when his man swings over for help side defense. He's averaging 16.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game.
17. New Orleans Pelicans: G A.J. Johnson
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 180 pounds | Illawarra Hawks (Australia)
Johnson might be one of the most intriguing players in the first round with his endless potential as a 6-7 combo guard. His stint in Australia's National Basketball League hasn't exactly showcased his talent or what he projects at the next level. He could end up sneaking into the lottery once he starts working out for teams after his season in the NBL. The Illawarra Hawks parted ways with their head coach, hiring Justin Tatum as the interim head coach (Jayson Tatum's dad), and it has opened the door for more playing time for Johnson and more freedom in the half-court set and as the primary ball-handler.
18. Orlando Magic: G Carlton "Bub" Carrington
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 190 pounds | Class: Freshman | Pittsburgh
Everyone loves an early first-round sleeper and Carrington fits that mold perfectly after what he's done early at Pittsburgh. He has great size at the guard position and has improved his 3-point shot from high school, draining long 3s (sometimes from the logo) in his first couple of games. Carrington is averaging 18 points and 6.3 assists in his first four games and many scouts will be watching to see what he does against tougher competition coming up.
19. Oklahoma City Thunder: F Bobi Klintman
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 225 pounds | Cairns Taipans (Australia)
Klintman elected to make the move to Australia for this NBL season after playing one year at Wake Forest and averaging only 5.3 points and 4.5 rebounds in 20 minutes on the court. His role has expanded in the professional game and the spacing and freedom alongside the perimeter have given glimpses of how versatile he can potentially be as an NBA player. He's currently averaging 11.1 points and six rebounds in eight games in the NBL.
20. Miami Heat: F Tyler Smith
Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 224 pounds | G League Ignite
What an incredible start to the season for Smith. The 6-10 skilled forward didn't show much punch during his last season with Overtime Elite but has come alive in the best way possible with the G League Ignite. He is playing his way into a first-round prospect. In the first four games of the season, Smith has been incredible for the Ignite off the bench, averaging 18 points, four rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game, while shooting an astonishing 66% from 3-point range on five attempts per game.
"In practice, before the season started, I was passing up shots and coach [Jason Hart] said, 'You're a shooter, shoot the ball,' so that really gave me confidence in having the green light and it's just translated to the court," Smith told Yahoo Sports.
21. New York Knicks: G Matthew Cleveland
Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 205 pounds | Class: Junior | Miami
Clingan showed glimpses of upside aa a NBA center during UConn’s championship run last year but has been a bit slow in the defensive pick-and-roll and a little heavy-footed early on in the season. In a draft that is still wide open, particularly at the center position, Clingan has plenty of time and is averaging 15 points and 6.7 rebounds early on.classman guards early on, averaging 16.8 points, 5.2 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 32a minutes.
22. Indiana Pacers: C Donovan Clingan
Ht./Wt.: 7-2, 265 pounds | Class: Sophomore | UConn
Clingan showed glimpses of upside as an NBA center during UConn’s championship run last season, but has been a bit slow in the defensive pick-and-roll and a little heavy-footed early this season. In a draft that is still wide open, particularly at the center position, Clingan has plenty of time and is averaging 13 points and 7.3 rebounds.
23. Atlanta Hawks: G Caleb Foster
Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 197 pounds | Class: Freshman | Duke
Foster made himself known during the Champions Classic when he led the Duke Blue Devils with 16 second-half points (7-for-8 from the field and 4-for-5 from 3) in a win over Michigan State. Foster was one of the most impressive prospects on the court, during an early event several NBA scouts and executives attended. With his length and consistent 3-point shot, Foster could be a player teams are targeting in the first round.
24. New York Knicks: G Kylan Boswell
Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 195 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Arizona
Arizona beat Duke at home early in the season, and Boswell is the floor general responsible for the Wildcats' success. He played limited minutes as a freshman, coming off a shoulder injury and adjusting to the pace of the college game after reclassifying. Boswell showed his leadership over the summer at the USA Basketball U19 tryouts where he was the best guard on the court and that has carried over to the start of the season. Boswell is averaging 13.8 points and four assists in the first three games of the season.
25. Indiana Pacers: G Trentyn Flowers
Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 185 pounds | Adelaide 36ers (Australia)
Flowers has slowly started to make his mark in the NBL with his high-flying dunks in transition and cuts off the ball plus his improved 3-point shot off the dribble in practice runs. The 18-year-old reclassified up a grade and originally committed to Louisville before electing to join the 76ers in August. Flowers has grown exponentially in his time overseas and with his size and upside, he’s definitely a player NBA teams have on their radar in the first round.
26. Milwaukee Bucks: G Rob Dillingham
Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 178 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky
Dillingham is the best passer in college basketball and has a great touch around the rim with his size. He's a true competitor who is making NBA scouts look at him as a first-round prospect with the way he facilitates and sees the floor in transition. His 3-point shot is improving and even with his size, he's showing he's a lead guard who impacts winning for a team full of talent. Dillingham is averaging 16.8 points and 4.3 assists per game.
27. Denver Nuggets: F Jarin Stevenson
Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 210 pounds | Class: Freshman | Alabama
Head coach Nate Oats has done it again with a raw, athletic freshman forward who possesses endless potential. Last season, it was Noah Clowney (the Brooklyn Nets drafted him with the 21st pick) and Stevenson appears to be further along than Clowney early in the season. He’s getting more comfortable with the college game and improving in each outing, averaging 10.3 points and 3.8 rebounds in 19 minutes on the court.
28. Minnesota Timberwolves: F Trevon Brazile
Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 220 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Arkansas
Brazile is a player to watch after coming off an ACL injury early last season. He's had a slow start and isn't showing the same power off the bounce as he did a year ago. Head coach Eric Musselman finds a way to get the best out of his players every year, and Brazile might be finding his legs easy on. He's averaging 10.8 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.8 blocks (recording nine blocks in two games).
29. Philadelphia 76ers: G D.J. Wagner
Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 175 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky
Wagner hasn't adapted to the college game as early as scouts have anticipated. There are some early red flags with his finishes around the rim that have been unsuccessful and his inability to convert from 3-point range. Wagner is averaging only 9.3 points and 2.8 assists and was held to one field goal in 25 minutes (for four points) in a loss to Kansas. He is still one of the top freshman talents coming in and could pop a bit more with the return of Aaron Bradshaw and Zvonimir Ivišić, whenever the pair of 7-footers are cleared.
30. Boston Celtics: G/F Dillon Jones
Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 235 pounds | Class: Junior | Weber State
Jones has been on NBA scouts' radar from last season and and has followed up a strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine and G League Combine with a strong start to the season. Jones is averaging 22 points, 11 rebounds and 2.6 assists to start the season and is the early favorite for the mid-major prospect to the watch in the first round.