2024 NBA Draft Winners and Losers: Rookie Class Will Face Tough Road to Making an Immediate Fantasy Hoops Impact

Round 1 of the 2024 NBA Draft is over, but we’ll get another dose of draft season on Thursday when the second round kicks off at 4:00 PM ET. With several surprises in the first round, we’ll see what value slipped into Day 2 and which team might draft Bronny James.

As analysts continue to provide their initial draft grades, let’s take a closer look at the winners and losers of the fantasy basketball draft and assess the impact of some of the trades that occurred before or during the draft.

Before we dive in, I should give my usual spiel on why I don’t like drafting rookies. It’s not easy for most first-year players to get into the league and see minutes in a meaningful enough role to yield fantasy points.

Last season was an extreme outlier because Victor Wembanyama and Chet Holmgren have real star potential. Not this class. That’s why I projected the best of this class as late-round picks at best. There’s a lot of time between now and the 24-25 season, but that probably won’t change.

Okay, off my soapbox to the winners of the draft.

France is becoming the new mecca for basketball talents. The first two picks this year were French, with F Zaccharie Risacher going first overall to the Atlanta Hawks and F/C Alex Sarr going second to the Washington Wizards. Four Frenchmen were selected in the top 25 (a new record), with PF Tidjane Salaün going sixth to the Charlotte Hornets and G Pacôme Dadiet going 25th to the New York Knicks.

Of the four Frenchmen selected on Wednesday, Sarr has the most potential to be an immediate contributor for fantasy managers as the Wizards approach a complete demolition.

Zaccharie Risacher (right) and Alex Sarr (left) were the top two picks in the 2024 draft. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)Zaccharie Risacher (right) and Alex Sarr (left) were the top two picks in the 2024 draft. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

Zaccharie Risacher (right) and Alex Sarr (left) were the top two picks in the 2024 draft. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

The Deni Avdija trade was a deal I didn’t see coming, but makes sense after seeing Washington’s corresponding moves. That move cleared the card for Bilal Coulibaly. Coulibaly’s offseason play (Summer League or Paris Olympics) will likely determine how high he will rank in next season’s fantasy leagues. Still, a late-round pick is reasonable given his stock potential and increased role on offense.

I foresee a similar opportunity for second overall pick Alex Sarr. He said he wanted to play in DC rather than Atlanta because he would get more playing time as a rookie. He also has some late-round appeal due to the Wizards’ extremely thin front court, and his athleticism and versatility help fantasy managers in terms of stocks and boards.

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Back to the Avdija trade for a moment: In going to Portland, the Wizards received buyout candidate Malcolm Brogdon and a first-round pick in 2024. That selection was used for Carlton “Bub” Carrington, a 6-foot-5 guard who can facilitate and score from both guard positions — and who fills a need without backcourt help next to Jordan Poole. To cap off their stellar night, they made a late-round trade with the Knicks to land Kyshawn George from Miami, a 6-foot-8 Swiss Army Knife who looks like a better-shooting version of Anthony Black.

Kyle Kuzma will likely be the next trade commodity for Washington, and once he’s off the books, the youth movement in Chocolate City will be underway.

The 23-year-old Tennessee alum was projected as a lottery pick, but concerns about his age likely played a brief role. As luck and circumstances would have it, Knecht was selected 17th overall by the Los Angeles Lakers, making him one of the steals of the draft. Knecht was one of the nation’s most prolific scorers, putting up more than 21 points with five boards and 2.6 threes per game in his senior season with the Vols. He shot 40% from three on more than six attempts per game and, more importantly, connected on 42% of his catch-and-shoot threes.

The Lakers needed a three-point threat on the perimeter, and they got one. Knecht’s defense is a question mark at the next level, but he’ll likely cement himself in the rotation immediately because he’ll be the JJ Redick version of JJ Redick. He’s not a redraft option, but he could be a source of three-point waivers throughout the season.

Carter is one of my favorite players in the draft and is a great fit for a Sacramento Kings team that wants to win now. De’Aaron Fox is waiting to sign an extension to see what moves can be made this offseason, and between the re-signing of Malik Monk and the drafting of Carter, things are looking up. Carter is the son of former NBA veteran Anthony Carter, and while he’s only 6’1″, his skill set reminds me of a more explosive version of De’Anthony Melton (floor) or Derrick White (ceiling).

He is a great defensive player and prides himself on being an exceptional defender with a knack for passing passes.

In his junior season, he averaged 19.7 points, 8.7 rebounds, 3.6 dimes, 2.5 threes, 1.8 steals and 1.0 blocks with 47/38/75 shooting splits. Although he is a small combo guard, he is much more dynamic than Davion Mitchell and Kevin Huerter. He’s a player who can get immediate minutes for a Kings team that needed a two-way punch next to Monk off the bench.

Missi replaces Jonas Valanciunas as the Pelicans’ inner-rim protector and rebounder. Missi, a 7-foot-1, former five-star prospect who transferred out of Baylor after his freshman year, is far more athletic and defensive-minded than Valanciunas. Missi possesses some Dereck Lively II traits in his ability to run the floor at a high pace, rebound and block shots. Larry Nance Jr. is the closest thing to a center currently on New Orleans’ roster, so there’s some serious sleeper potential in fantasy redrafts if that holds true.

Fun fact: Missi is only the sixth Cameroonian player to play in the NBA.

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If the Hawks stick with their current roster, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2024 NBA Draft won’t be fantasy relevant as a rookie, and that’s an L. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with being the top pick, so I expect the Hawks to take their time considering he is a 19-year-old prospect. Additionally, there is a logjam on the wing with Bogdan Bogdanović and Jalen Johnson currently occupying the SF and PF spots.

His 3&D skills could get him into the rotation, but I’m skeptical how quickly he’ll get enough meaningful minutes for fantasy managers to see an ROI. He won’t be a bust, but it will take time for him to develop into a primary offensive option.

Blazers GM Joe Cronin’s post-draft presser made it clear that C Donovan Clingan was one of the higher-rated prospects on the Blazers’ draft board. Before diving into Cronin’s praise for Clingan, he emphasized that he was looking for competitors and would be open to trading veterans.

Regarding their seventh overall pick, Cronin told the media that Portland’s scouting department picked him up after his freshman year. To see him improve so much in one year as an effective screener, roll man and passer, after already being a defensive monster, the pick was a no-brainer.

Extension-eligible Deandre Ayton and Robert Williams III should sweat as Clingan enters the fray as a direct competitor. Their stock drops, as does Jerami Grant, who will likely be drafted this offseason with the Blazers bringing in dual forward Avdija.

There was actually quite a bit of action on Bronny James to go first overall to the Hawks. He was No. 1 in ticket count per BetMGM, and took 25% of the bets for the top pick in the 2024 NBA Draft — that’s wild!

Those people burned through cash because Bronny wasn’t drafted in the first round. The 6-foot-1 combo guard had a strong combination, and despite Rich Paul’s best efforts, NBA teams still have to be persuaded to draft Bronny. There’s still time to hear his name called on Thursday.