NBA Draft rumors on Hawks, Bulls, 1 player rising, and 1 falling

It would make sense if the 2024 NBA Draft leads to more volatility in terms of trades and against-the-grain picks than a typical year. SB Nation has been covering this draft class since the day after the 2023 draft, and the only thing evaluators can agree on with this group of players is that no one can agree on anything.

Unlike most years, there’s nothing close to a consensus No. 1 player in this class. The jarring results of the lottery only added to the uncertainty with the Atlanta Hawks jumping up from No. 10 to No. 1 overall. The Hawks didn’t think they’d be choosing from the top tier of players, and that has opened up more possibilities at the top of the draft.

With the 2024 NBA Finals now underway, some draft intel is starting to trickle out. Here’s what we’re hearing about the draft so far.

Hawks considering trade down from No. 1

There have been three names loosely connected to the Hawks at No. 1 overall so far: French forward Alex Sarr, French wing Zaccharie Risacher, and UConn center Donovan Clingan. We know the Hawks watched Risacher up close in his recent playoff games. We also know they brought in Clingan for a workout.

The Hawks are “exploring trade down scenarios,” according to ESPN. That doesn’t mean the Hawks don’t want to pick a player at No. 1 — more that they’re doing their due diligence to see where they can get the most value. Could Clingan be their ultimate target if they trade down? ESPN reports Clingan’s range is viewed to be from No. 1 to the Portland Trail Blazers’ No. 7 pick. He’s also worked out for the Wizards with the No. 2 pick.

The Hawks have a ton of roster building questions to answer before they even consider their decision at No. 1 overall. Or they trading one of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, or keeping both? Is the team finally ready to commit to Onyeka Okongwu as its starting center after inking him to a $62 million extension last summer? Atlanta feels like it has infinite possibilities with the first pick, and they’re going to explore all of them.

Bulls looking to trade up for 2 players

The Bulls pick at No. 11 overall, and badly need to find a player to raise their ceiling. Chicago has so many big questions heading into the offseason, which includes its desire to trade Zach LaVine, the impending unrestricted free agency of DeMar DeRozan, and the restricted free agency of Patrick Williams. Chicago could be in a good position to wait and see who falls to the them, but apparently the Bulls front office is looking into trading up.

The Bulls are poking around on the cost of trading up for Clingan or Matas Buzelis, according to ESPN. Buzelis is a Chicagoland native, and the Bulls reportedly watched him in an early private workout. It feels unlikely the former G League Ignite wing will fall to No. 11: he’s currently getting looks in the top-5, according to Bleacher Report, which has him projected to the Spurs at No. 4 overall.

The Bulls also brought Providence guard Devin Carter in for a workout, according to Bleacher Report. Carter feels like a ready-made role player who can complement a star player, but the Bulls don’t really have one on the roster with DeRozan aging out of his prime as he enters free agency. The Bulls need to make this pick count given the dire condition of the roster and the fact that the team owes a protected first round pick to the Spurs next year.

Ron Holland could fall outside lottery

Holland was a leading candidate to go No. 1 overall in this draft at the start of the cycle. A trying year with the G League Ignite has reportedly cooled league interest after he spent a season losing tons of games and struggling to shoot from the perimeter.

Holland is now working out for teams outside of the lottery just in case he slips on draft night. He’s had workouts with the Miami Heat at No. 15 and Los Angeles Lakers at No. 17, according to ESPN. Holland is a “candidate to slide,” according to Bleacher Report.

It would be a mistake to let Holland fall. He’s one of the few players in this class with a pathway to star upside thanks to his combination of defensive motor, rim pressure, athleticism, and youth. We’ve had Holland as a top-3 player in the class all season long, and we’re not moving off it.

Nikola Topic has torn ACL, disappointing wingspan measurement

Topic emerged as the No. 1 player on our draft board in Dec. during a hot start to the season in the Adriatic League. The Serbian 18-year-old showed off a startling combination of burst, finishing, and playmaking as a 6’7 lead guard, and put up excellent all-around numbers playing against pros at a young age. Unfortunately. Topic injured his knee in Jan., tried to come back, and then suffered a torn ACL last month, as reported by ESPN.

Topic also went through measurements as the NBA’s European draft combine, and only measured with a 6’5.5 wingspan, according to ESPN. Unconfirmed internet reports had put him at a 7-foot wingspan earlier in the cycle, which never seemed realistic. Still, that wingspan measurement is disappointing, and combined with the injury, could push him down the draft board.

Devin Carter is getting looks in the top-10

Carter was so much fun to watch during his breakout junior season at Providence. The 6’3 guard, long considered to be a tenacious on-ball defender, blossomed offensively by improving his three-point shot and showing a great ability to play off two feet after deep paint penetration. He’s also been crushing the pre-draft process: he put up a monster vertical leap, shot the ball well, and exhibits the type of mentality teams love.

The Spurs are high on Carter, according to Bleacher Report. San Antonio’s No. 8 pick could represent the start of his range. The Grizzlies at No. 9 are another possible landing spot, in part because his father, former NBA guard Anthony Carter, is a developmental coach with the franchise.

Carter has already worked out for the Bulls at No. 11 and Kings at No. 13, per ESPN. It’s looking increasingly likely he’s a lottery pick, and he could go even higher than that.

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