NBA mock draft: Lakers may make up for missing out on Jaime Jaquez Jr. last year

Zaccharie Risacher shoots a free throw
Zaccharie Risacher of the French team Bourg-en-Bresse could be the first pick in the upcoming NBA draft.
(Associated Press)
Share via

The 2024 NBA draft, which will be spread over two nights in New York City beginning Wednesday, is a bit of a mystery for teams around the league. Traditionally, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise, the closer you are to the top of a draft, the better a player you’re likely to pick.

But there’s some sense that this draft, more than most, will come down to what teams value, meaning one organization’s big board could look pretty different from another’s board.

There is a consensus by NBA talent evaluators that the eldest son of LeBron James could be a second-round draft pick.

April 5, 2024

Although trades aren’t just a possibility but almost a certainty, this exercise won’t try to predict those. It will, though, lean heavily on team needs. On to the mock:


1. Atlanta Hawks

Zaccharie Risacher dribbles under pressure
The Atlanta Hawks could take Zaccharie Risacher (10) of France with the No. 1 pick.
(Uncredited / Associated Press)

The pick: SF Zaccharie Risacher, France

The need he fills: For a team heavy on small guards and rim-running bigs, a two-way wing with real room to grow on both sides of the ball has real value. In a perfect world, a team like the Hawks would win the lottery and walk into the chance to draft a no-doubt franchise-changing player. Look around. This world look perfect to you?


2. Washington Wizards

The pick: C Alex Sarr, France

The need he fills: For a franchise that’s in the early stages of a reset, you can do a lot worse than a big who wants to set the tone at the rim on both ends of the floor. Washington has needs everywhere and won’t be done adding the right pieces for a couple of seasons, but this is a good box to check.


3. Houston Rockets

Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard dribbles up the court against Tennessee.
Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard (15) could be the first U.S. player taken.
(Wade Payne / Associated Press)

The pick: G Reed Sheppard, Kentucky

The need he fits: Despite his size, he’s a do-everything guard who can impact the game with his shooting, rebounding and defense. For a team that should be on the doorstep of the postseason, he’d be an early rookie of the year favorite.


In the aftermath of Bronny James’ workout for the Lakers, here’s a breakdown of the top players the team could target in the 2024 NBA draft.

June 13, 2024


4. San Antonio Spurs

The pick: C Donovan Clingan, UConn

The need he fits: Teams might just decide not to try anything near the basket in the next decade or so in San Antonio if the Spurs pair Clingan with Victor Wembanyama. Wembanyama’s unique skills on both sides of the ball allow for a pairing like this to occur.


5. Detroit Pistons

The pick: Matas Buzelis, G-League Ignite

The need he fits: A mix of upside with the kind of projectable three-point shot this team desperately needs, Buzelis is a plus athlete who is probably a better shooter than he showed last year in the G-League.


6. Charlotte Hornets

Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht plays during a Sweet 16 college basketball game
Tennessee guard Dalton Knecht could be a good fit for the Charlotte Hornets.
(Paul Sancya / Associated Press)

The pick: SF Dalton Knecht, Tennessee

The need he fits: Knecht is one of the older players in the draft and one of the better scorers. He should give the Hornets size, maturity and offense — all things the Hornets desperately need as they try to figure out if LaMelo Ball is a player they can build and win around.


7. Portland Trail Blazers

The pick: SF Cody Williams, Colorado

The need he fits: Williams has the kind of toolkit NBA teams want from their wings, especially on the offensive end where he can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim while hitting open shots created by others. Defensively, he’s not the lockdown player Portland probably needs, but seems like he’ll be good enough on that side.


Many view Bronny James as a strong NBA draft prospect, but it would be a disaster and big distraction if the Lakers drafted him.

May 30, 2024


8. San Antonio Spurs

The pick: G Stephon Castle, UConn

The need he fits: More defense, more size, more ball skills would give the Spurs the kind of young core that could define a generation of Western Conference basketball. Castle isn’t the kind of outside shooter you want from a guard, but he does everything else and could be picked higher because of it.


9. Memphis Grizzlies

The pick: SF Ron Holland, G-League Ignite

The need he fits: Holland does a lot of things well — and one thing very badly — but his athleticism, defensive approach on the wing and size fills a real need for a team that should be more competitive next season. His shooting needs a lot of work, but he and Ja Morant as dual rim attackers will challenge defenses.


10. Utah Jazz

The pick: PG Rob Dillingham, Kentucky

The need he fits: The Jazz have time, ammunition with future draft picks and needs in their backcourt. Dillingham is an explosive offensive player with quick hands on defense. He’s small, but lightning-fast.


11. Chicago Bulls

The pick: PG Devin Carter, Providence

The need he fits: Carter is a ready-to-go, defensive-minded guard with plenty of offensive skills. He’d gives the Bulls flexibility after trading Caruso to OKC and acquiring Josh Giddey.


12. Oklahoma City Thunder

Baylor center Yves Missi shoots savor Colgate forward Keegan Records
Baylor center Yves Missi (21) could be a fit for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
(George Walker IV / Associated Press)


The pick: C Yves Missi, Baylor

The need he fits: The Thunder were a real contender this postseason, but a lack of heft in the frontcourt proved to be an issue against Minnesota. There are real center options here — Purdue’s Zach Edey and Indiana’s Kel’el Ware — but Missi’s size, athleticism and potential nudge him ahead.


13. Sacramento Kings

The pick: G Jared McCain, Duke

The need he fits: He’s small and not really a true point guard, but he plays with confidence, and his shot is one of the best in the draft class — the kind of skill that the Kings love and that they could need if Malik Monk is lured elsewhere in free agency.

Bronny James, son of Lakers star LeBron James, will remain in the 2024 NBA draft after playing one year at USC, agent Rich Paul says.

May 29, 2024


14. Portland Trail Blazers

The pick: F Tidjane Salaun, France

The need he fits: He’s got the kind of long-term potential a team like Portland should be prioritizing. If he can grow as a playmaker, he could be a real difference-maker down the line.


15. Miami Heat

Red Star point guard Nikola Topic dribbles during a EuroLeague game
Point guard Nikola Topic (44) of Serbia could get drafted by the Miami Heat.
(Uncredited / Associated Press)

The pick: PG Nikola Topic, Serbia

The need he fits: He’s a giant point guard who would be off the board much sooner if it wasn’t for a knee injury in June. His shot will have to get better, but he’s the kind of guard who can really run an offense.


16. Philadelphia 76ers

The pick: SG Ja’Kobe Walter, Baylor

The need he fits: Walter has a real chance to be a two-way player on the wing, the kind of scoring and defensive traits that competitive teams such as the 76ers thrive with.


17. Lakers

Colorado forward Tristan da Silva (23) looks to pass during a game against Florida
Colorado forward Tristan da Silva may be a strong draft option for the Lakers.
(Michael Conroy / Associated Press)

The pick: F Tristan da Silva, Colorado

The need he fits: One year after passing on J Jaime Jaquez Jr., the Lakers would grab a player as ready as any to come in and contribute because of his size, smarts and shooting.


18. Orlando Magic

The pick: PG Tyler Kolek, Marquette

The need he fits: Kolek can really shoot and ran an offense despite being the top of the scouting report. He’s reportedly been on the climb.

Bronny James has worked out individually for only the Lakers and Suns, but LeBron James’ oldest son has received interest from other NBA teams, said agent Rich Paul.

June 19, 2024


19. Toronto Raptors

The pick: C Zach Edey, Purdue

The need he fits: Maybe it’s a little on the nose that Canada’s team would take a Canadian college basketball legend, but the Raptors are really thin in the frontcourt and Edey’s just a massive presence.


20. Cleveland Cavaliers

Kansas guard Johnny Furphy brings the ball up court
Kansas guard Johnny Furphy is young but has a lot of potential as a shooter and scorer.
(Rick Bowmer / Associated Press)

The pick: SF Johnny Furphy, Kansas

The need he fits: The Cavaliers have needs on the wings, and Furphy has a lot of potential as a shooter and scorer. He’s really young but the things he does well now could impact winning sooner than later.


21. New Orleans Pelicans

The pick: C Kyle Filipowski, Duke

The need he fits: A smart, tough player who has some decent touch and could develop into a shooter. With Jonas Valanciunas headed to free agency, the Pelicans could use help up front.


22. Phoenix Suns

The pick: PG Isaiah Collier, USC

The need he fits: He’s a tough, physical guard who can take advantage of space getting to the rim. If you struggle from the perimeter like Collier has, you can do worse than playing with Devin Booker, Bradley Beal, Grayson Allen and Kevin Durant.


23. Milwaukee Bucks

Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II backs into Nevada forward Nick Davidson during an NCAA tournament game
A draft mystery, Dayton forward DaRon Holmes II (15) shut down workouts with individual teams after the draft combine, signaling a first-round promise.
(Isaac Hale / Associated Press)


The pick: PF DaRon Holmes II, Dayton

The need he fits: He’s one of the most intriguing mysteries in the draft, a player who shut down workouts after the combine signaling a first-round promise. He’s a competitive rim protector who shot it great this season and in Chicago and could be gone before here.


24. New York Knicks

The pick: PG Carlton “Bub” Carrington, Pitt

The need he fits: Jalen Brunson needs help and Carrington, one of the youngest players in the draft, has shown plenty of comfort being a primary option. He has the skills to run a second unit and look for his own shot.


25. New York Knicks

The pick: C Kel’el Ware, Indiana

The need he fits: He’s a shot-blocking big who showed he can step out and make shots last season with the Hoosiers. The Knicks could use the shooting and depth at the rim.


26. Washington Wizards

Miami guard Kyshawn George (7) drives against North Carolina guard Elliot Cadeau (2)
Washington could go after Miami guard Kyshawn George (7) because of his size and his potential after a strong shooting year.
(Chris Seward / Associated Press)

The pick: SF Kyshawn George, Miami

The need he fits: He’s a really interesting prospect who has some late lottery interest because of his size and his potential after a strong shooting year for Miami.


27. Minnesota Timberwolves

The pick: SG Baylor Scheierman, Creighton

The need he fits: He has great positional size and can really shoot the ball, making him an ideal fit on a team with players who can create open looks the way Anthony Edwards can. He’s a mature player


28. Denver Nuggets

The pick: PF Tyler Smith, G-League Ignite

The need he fits: The Nuggets could add some help to the frontcourt while taking on a strong shooter in Smith, who played well last season in the G-League despite being just 19.


29. Utah Jazz

Wake Forest's Bobi Klintman (34) handles the ball during a game in Durham, N.C., on Jan. 31, 2023.
The Jazz could gamble and take Wake Forest’s Bobi Klintman (34), who impressed scouts in the Australian professional league a season ago
(Ben McKeown / Associated Press)

The pick: F Bobi Klintman, Sweden

The need he fits: A big upside play after impressing scouts in the Australian professional league a season ago. He might end up playing both forward positions, and the Jazz can afford to gamble and be patient.


30. Boston Celtics

The pick: SF Jaylon Tyson, Cal

The need he fits: Tyson has good size and strength and the ability to be a primary guy, but he’s also got the kind of defensive and shooting complementary skills that would look great on the defending champs.