Uncertainty looms as 2024 NBA Draft tips off in Brooklyn

NBA draft risacher
Zaccharie Risacher, of Bourg-en-Bresse, shoots a free throw during a Betclic Elite basketball game against Limoges in Bourg-en-Bresse, eastern France, on Oct. 31, 2023. New names will soon adorn replica NBA jerseys of French youths competing on basketball courts around Paris. Frenchmen Zaccharie Risacher, Alexandre Sarr and Tidjane Salaün are among the top picks in the NBA draft, where a second straight French No. 1 pick is expected after Victor Wembanyama last year. (AP Photo, File)

Many young hopefuls will hear their names called during one of the most exciting nights on the sporting calendar as the 2024 NBA Draft officially goes on the clock at 8 p.m. ET on Wednesday at Barclays Center. 

The Atlanta Hawks will pick first after winning the lottery on May 12. Atlanta finished 10th in the Eastern Conference with a 36-46 record, giving them only a 3% chance of obtaining the No. 1 overall pick. They defied the odds and now, it sets up a very important offseason for a franchise that has been stuck in the mud ever since a 2021 Eastern Conference Finals appearance. 

The Hawks are expected to select French forward Zaccharie Risacher with the first pick. It will mark the second consecutive season where a Frenchman has been taken No. 1 overall after the Spurs took rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama last year.

At 6-foot-9, Risacher is already an intense defender, albeit one who sometimes may be a bit overzealous. He will not be relied upon nearly as heavily on the offensive side as long as star guards Trae Young and Dejounte Murray are not traded. Even if one of them is, the Hawks still have De’Andre Hunter, Jalen Johnson, and other talented young scorers to shoulder the load.

If selected, the Hawks coaching staff will look to fine-tune this young international star to lead the future of their team. 

One of the more fascinating stories of the draft is where Bronny James, son of LeBron James, will end up. LeBron remains with the Lakers, who have the 55th pick overall in the second round. Bronny is projected to be a second-round pick. There may be a recipe for a father-son team-up. 

Many see the guard out of USC being picked by the Lakers to fulfill his dad’s dream. Bronny averaged just 4.8 points per game during the 2023 season in a limited role at USC, so there will undoubtedly be questions about nepotism if the Lakers select him. 

However, he is considered an elite athlete and there is a chance that he scores much more in a bigger role in the NBA

One under-the-radar draft talent could be Creighton forward Baylor Scheierman. He is projected to be a second-round pick in most mock drafts but could sneak into the first round.

While not known as an elite athlete, Scheierman has an undeniable scoring ability that stems from strong dexterity and court awareness. He averaged a strong 18.5 points and 9 rebounds per game during the 2023 season. A team looking for scoring help from their forwards could use someone like him, especially if he can improve his defense.

Another major draft headline will be where center Zach Edey lands after leading Purdue to a national championship appearance. He averaged a robust 25.2 points and 12.2 rebounds per game during the 2023 season.

Edey is kind of tall. Ok, he’s actually really tall — tall enough to be the tallest player in Big Ten history, coming in at 7-foor-4. Despite this towering height, there are questions about Edey’s skill the further you go from the basket, as in college he mainly dominated the paint.

The NBA landscape is shifting away from traditional bigs for more versatile ones who can stretch the floor, leaving Edey in a potentially challenging spot. He is ultimately projected to be a mid-first-round pick, though it does not seem impossible for him to end up going in the lottery.

The NBA draft is where the future of the league shapes up. New to this year, the draft will take place over two days, meaning it will end Thursday night. 

For more on the NBA Draft, visit AMNY.com