2024 NBA Mock Draft 3.0: Alex Sarr takes top spot with international prospects impressing early in the season

There are still six months until the 2024 NBA Draft in June and as predicted, the race for the top spot is still wide open. Two months into the college basketball season, there are several players helping their draft stock but it's the international players who have impressed the most early in the season.

Alex Sarr, the 7-foot-1 Frenchman playing in Australia, has consistently played well against bigger, stronger opponents in the National Basketball League, giving him the edge as the top prospect in the draft class right now. Zaccharie Risacher is looking like one of the best 3-point shooting wings, and Serbian point guard Nikola Topić is one of the best young two-way players in Europe right now.

Conference play is about to kick off in college basketball, while the international leagues are already deep into their seasons. Here's an updated look at Yahoo Sports' first-round projections for the 2024 NBA Draft.

(Draft order is from Tankathon as of Dec. 17.)

1. Detroit Pistons: C Alex Sarr

Ht./Wt.: 7-1, 205 pounds | Perth Wildcats (Australia)

The Pistons have lost 23 games in a row and things are not looking good for the franchise that has been trying to rebuild for several years now. In a draft year between Victor Wembanyama and Cooper Flagg, the potential No. 1 pick in the 2025 draft, there is no surefire prospect who will be taken off the board first. Sarr has shown tremendous growth as a versatile center and still has a high ceiling as an NBA big. He's an elite rim protector and has started to add some range in the pick-and-pop. He plays a grab-and-go style rebounding game and has great hands, particularly when catching in traffic in transition. Sarr is averaging 10 points and five rebounds off the bench for the Wildcats so far this season.

Alex Sarr of the Perth Wildcats warms up before a game against the Sydney Kings on Dec. 1, 2023, in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

2. San Antonio Spurs: F Cody Williams

Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 185 pounds | Class: Freshman | Colorado

The young Spurs team is still trying to figure things out with how to best utilize Wembanyama and the organization has been patient with the growing pains. It's clear the Spurs value length, versatility and players who can be plugged into multiple positions. Williams has really hit his stride for the Buffs and has put together back-to-back games where he’s scored 20-plus points recently. Williams is the younger brother of Oklahoma City Thunder forward Jalen Williams, who was a lottery pick two years ago. Cody Williams has a high IQ, doesn’t force anything on offense and can guard multiple positions on defense. He’s currently averaging 14 points, 3.6 rebounds and two assists per game.

3. Washington Wizards: G/F Zaccharie Risacher

Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 204 pounds | JL Bourg (France)

Risacher is shooting the ball well in France's LNB Pro A league and is one of the best catch-and-shoot wings from behind the arc. He's averaging 13.8 points in December and shooting 47% from 3-point range on the season. Risacher, not yet 19, is one of the youngest players in the draft and has a ton of untapped potential. He's coming off screens better this season and finding different ways to get open off cuts. He still needs to get better defensively when moving laterally, but there's a lot to like about the sharpshooter out of France with how much improvement he's shown so far this season.

Zaccharie Risacher, during a game in February, is averaging 13.8 points in December and shooting 47% from 3-point range on the season. (Photo by Alfonso Cannavacciuolo/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)
Zaccharie Risacher, during a game in February, is averaging 13.8 points in December and shooting 47% from 3-point range on the season. (Photo by Alfonso Cannavacciuolo/Euroleague Basketball via Getty Images)

4. Memphis Grizzlies: G Nikola Topić

Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 201 pounds | KK Mega Basket (Serbia)

Topić is a tough guard who does a lot of little things very well and has started to consistently put up big numbers in the Serbian league. He's averaging 18.9 points, 6.2 assists and 3.6 rebounds per game and can score from anywhere on the court. He has a quick burst as a primary ball-handler, finishes through contact at the rim and wins a lot of 50-50 balls, using his size to his advantage. There are other big guards, like Stephon Castle and Isaiah Collier, projected toward the top of the draft, but Topić gets the edge with how well he's been playing recently and consistently doing so in multiple games.

5. Portland Trail Blazers: G Ja'Kobe Walter

Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 195 pounds | Class: Freshman | Baylor

Walter is one of the best perimeter freshmen in the country with the way he shoots the ball but has been a little inconsistent in recent games. Baylor suffered a surprising loss to Michigan State recently and Walter attempted only one 3-pointer and finished with nine points in the loss. He's currently shooting 37.3% from 3-point range and is showing more promise as a two-way threat with how he can score off the dribble, instead of just in the catch-and-shoot situations. Walter is averaging 14.3 points and 3.8 rebounds with his best game of the season coming in a win over Oregon State where he posted 24 points.

6. Charlotte Hornets: G Stephon Castle

Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 215 pounds | Class: Freshman | UConn

Castle is only three games back after missing several weeks with a minor knee surgery. He has yet to reach full strength but is already making a huge impact defensively for the Huskies. Castle can defend every position on the perimeter and even in mismatch situations against forwards, he has the strength to hold his own. Offensively, his touches have been limited with all the offensive talent on the court with Tristen Newton (16.3 points, six assists per game) and Donovan Clingan (another projected lottery pick). Castle has great size and is strong when getting downhill and finishing at the rim. He's averaging nine points, 4.2 rebounds and three assists per game. As he continues to get stronger and his minutes increase, his productivity and consistency should follow.

7. Utah Jazz: G/F Ron Holland

Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 206 pounds | G League Ignite

Holland has started to find his rhythm in the G League and continues to find creative ways to score. He's a high-volume shooter, averaging 16 shot attempts per game, but can get hot from the field, averaging 29.5 points over a two-game stretch. He's also an incredible defender in his ability to force turnovers when digging down low in the post and fighting over screens. In the Ignite's most recent game against the Salt Lake Stars, Holland forced five turnovers and added 15 points. He can be a little turnover-prone at times and needs to clean up his handle. With his size and skill set, there's a lot to like about Holland and how he projects at the next level.

The G League Ignite's Ron Holland is a high-volume shooter, averaging 16 shot attempts per game. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
The G League Ignite's Ron Holland is a high-volume shooter, averaging 16 shot attempts per game. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

8. Chicago Bulls: G Isaiah Collier

Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 210 pounds | Class: Freshman | USC

Bronny James is back in the lineup, but USC continues to struggle. Collier and Boogie Ellis are having a difficult time finding chemistry in the backcourt as the Trojans have lost their last three games. Collier as a prospect is still unmatched with how well he finishes around the rim and what he can do in transition, whether that's leading the break or making tough shots. Collier has been careless with the ball in the half-court set recently and scouts still want to see progression in his 3-point shot (shooting just 33.3% from deep).

9. Atlanta Hawks: F Matas Buzelis

Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 212 pounds | G League Ignite

Buzelis returned from an ankle injury on Dec. 2 and has been the offensive spark the Ignite need to win some games. The Ignite are 4-2 since Buzelis returned to the court and he even hit the winner against the Rip City Remix on Dec. 12, finishing with 21 points, eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks in 30 minutes on the court. Buzelis is visibly stronger, adding 20 pounds of muscle mass since last spring, and his motor has improved. NBA scouts questioned his toughness, particularly on the defensive end, and he's put all those criticisms to rest in what he's done in the first six games back.

10. San Antonio Spurs: G Rob Dillingham

Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 178 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky

Dillingham is one of the best facilitators in college basketball, and the Spurs, at times, have a hard time getting the ball to Wembanyama and miss him on open lobs. Although Dillingham is considered undersized for an NBA guard, he makes up for it with how well he passes and his incredible natural feel for the game. Dillingham had trouble trying to finish through contact early in the season, something he was great at in high school, but he's adjusted his game when refs refuse to bail him out. His shot selection has improved and although he needs to get stronger and add some weight, his passing is elite and NBA teams are starting to look at him inside the lottery.

11. Portland Trail Blazers: C Donovan Clingan

Ht./Wt.: 7-2, 265 pounds | Class: Sophomore | UConn

The thing that stands out most when watching Clingan in person is just how big he is and how well he moves for his size. Clingan has not yet reached his full potential, still coming back from a preseason injury, but he's made his presence known in the lane every time he hits the court. He's so good at establishing position and if he gets two feet in the lane, it's an automatic two points. Clingan is a solid passer out of the double-team, finding teammates drifting down for corner 3s, and is averaging under one turnover per game. After coming off the bench last season, Clingan is one of the most dominating centers in college hoops this season, averaging 13.9 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game.

12. Houston Rockets: G/F Tidjane Salaun

Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 203 pounds | Cholet (France)

Salaun is a dynamic wing who is shooting the ball well recently for Cholet in the LNB Pro A league. In a win on Dec. 5, Salaun went 5-for-6 from 3-point range and had a season-high 24 points. His creation upside at the next level is unmatched and his scoring instincts are coming through this season. His 7-1 wingspan allows him to contest shots on the perimeter and he does a decent job defensively on the block. Salaun is averaging 16.4 points in the last three games and has seen his minutes increase over the season.

12. Phoenix Suns: C Kyle Filipowski

Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 220 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Duke

The Duke center flirted with a triple-double in a recent win over Hofstra where he finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. The Blue Devils run the majority of the offense through Filipowski with pin-down screens, ball screens and high-low action. After shooting just 28% from 3-point range his freshman season, Filipowski has shown improvement in his long ball, now shooting 32.4% from deep. NBA scouts love his versatility at center and how effective he is from multiple spots on the court.

14. Oklahoma City Thunder: G/F Justin Edwards

Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 203 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky

Edwards has struggled for Kentucky and isn't finding the same success when getting downhill as he did in high school. There isn't a lot of change of speed or direction and in his offensive touches, he has a one-line drive pattern getting into the lane. Edwards has great size and potential as an NBA wing and a team like the Thunder can have the patience to develop him. He has showcased some efficiency from the field, shooting 45%, and is one of the best rebounding guards for this young Kentucky team.

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15. Cleveland Cavaliers: G Tyrese Proctor

Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 180 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Duke

Proctor sprained his left ankle in a road loss to Georgia Tech on Dec. 2 and is still weeks away from returning to the court. Prior to the injury, he was showcasing a much improved handle, not turning the ball over in traffic and he's a tremendous passer averaging close to five assists per game. His shot still needs to get a bit more consistent, averaging just 10.3 points in 28 minutes on the court. Proctor elected to return for his sophomore season to improve his draft stock, but he needs more reps this season for a team to feel comfortable taking him in the lottery.

16. Indiana Pacers: F Kel'el Ware

Ht./Wt.: 7-0, 223 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Indiana

Ware looks like a completely different player from his freshman year at Oregon. Coming into college, he was known as an elite rim protector and he's been great in the lane defensively for Indiana. He's been consistent on the block when he establishes position, but if he faces up and puts the ball down, he turns it over from time to time. Ware was comfortable stepping into transition 3s during his high school career but in Indiana's system, he hasn't had the opportunity to show NBA scouts if that's still an area he's improving on yet.

17. New York Knicks: G Reed Sheppard

Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 187 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky

There's a lot of value in young players who read the game well and just play the right way. Sheppard has consistently been the glue guy off the bench for the Wildcats and someone a lot of teams like early on with how well he's playing. He's not afraid to take the big shots, even with a defender in his face, he's a terrific passer and a very tough defender with how he shoots the gaps and gets his hands on a lot of loose balls. Sheppard is averaging 12.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.

18. New Orleans Pelicans: C Aaron Bradshaw

Ht./Wt.: 7-1, 226 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky

Bradshaw recently returned to the court after undergoing foot surgery late last spring. He's played in three games so far this season and looks great as he adjusts to the pace and physicality of the college game. Bradshaw was one of the best players coming out of high school and is comfortable as an inside-out big, extending his game past the 3-point line. He'll need to improve on keeping players in front and has a tendency to foul and not stay disciplined with shot fakes, but those are easy adjustments he'll undoubtedly make as the season goes on.

19. Miami Heat: F Tyler Smith

Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 224 pounds | G League Ignite

Smith started the season hot from 3-point range, averaging over 50% on six attempts per game, but has since cooled off a bit after settling into the season. He's now averaging 14.1 points and 5.1 rebounds off the bench and his biggest improvement has come on the defensive side of the ball. His footwork has improved and he's showing upside as an elite rim protector with his size and length at the forward position.

20. New Orleans Pelicans: G Ryan Dunn

Ht./Wt.: 6-8, 216 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Virginia

Dunn is one of the best defenders in college basketball and can guard multiple positions on the court at a very high level. He has no problem stepping out and guarding the one or two guards in a half-court set. He's also one of the best shot blockers at the guard position with how well he closes out and uses his length to come from behind if he's coming over for help or recovering after getting beat off the dribble. In a win over Texas A&M last month, Dunn recorded five blocks and added 12 points, five rebounds and three steals in 36 minutes.

21. Oklahoma City Thunder: G Trey Alexander

Ht./Wt.: 6-4, 190 pounds | Class: Junior | Creighton

Alexander is one of the best scoring guards in the Big East and even though he's typically a score-first player, he's shown strides as a playmaker as well, averaging 4.5 assists per game. He's more aggressive at the rim this season and looks much stronger with the ball in his hands. Alexander tested the NBA waters last season and elected to return for his junior season to develop his game more and help his draft stock. His return this season has done just that and he could continue to rise up draft boards.

22. Atlanta Hawks: G Kylan Boswell

Ht./Wt.: 6-2, 195 pounds | Class: Sophomore | Arizona

Arizona just suffered its first loss of the season against No. 3 Purdue and it was an unusually quiet game for Boswell. Prior to that game, Boswell flirted with a double-double in a win over Wisconsin where he finished with 10 points and nine assists. He's a true floor general who is patient in letting plays develop. When he's on the court, it's almost like the game slows down for him with how well he reads the defense.

23. Denver Nuggets: G A.J. Johnson

Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 180 pounds | Illawarra Hawks (Australia)

Johnson recorded his best game so far this season in the NBL in a win over the Perth Wildcats where he logged 14 minutes off the bench and put up eight points and three assists, including one of the best dunks of the season in a poster over Sarr. NBA teams that are hesitant on Johnson because of his small sample size might be going back to watch how impactful he was at the high school level where he was scoring consistently off the dribble and making numerous athletic plays at the rim.

24. Orlando Magic: F Bobi Klintman

Ht./Wt.: 6-10, 225 pounds | Cairns Taipans (Australia)

Klintman has the desired combination of size and skills at the wing position. He put together his most impressive game of the season on Dec. 9 in a win over the Adelaide 36ers. He scored 22 points (including four 3-pointers) off the bench and did it in a variety of ways. He's still developing as a playmaker, averaging only 1.2 assists per game, but he's showing potential as a 3-and-D threat at the next level.

25. New York Knicks: G Carlton "Bub" Carrington

Ht./Wt.: 6-5, 190 pounds | Class: Freshman | Pittsburgh

Carrington has cooled after his hot start to the season but is still showing upside as an elite playmaker in how well he can break down defenders off the dribble. His outside shot and shot selection needs some fine-tuning, shooting 33.8% from 3-point range, but he has great size for the point guard position and a lot of raw talent to boot.

26. Indiana Pacers: G Trentyn Flowers

Ht./Wt.: 6-9, 185 pounds | Adelaide 36ers (Australia)

Flowers unexpectedly left the Louisville program in late summer and with the recent drama surrounding the Cardinals, it appears he made the right decision for his further development as a player. Flowers has great length as a perimeter player and a team with a deep depth chart at the guard position might take a swing at Flowers in the late first round and take some time to develop him under their NBA system.

27. Philadelphia 76ers: G Terrence Shannon Jr.

Ht./Wt.: 6-6, 225 pounds | Class: Senior | Illinois

Shannon is one of the best guards in transition and one of the top scoring guards in college basketball. He's averaging 20.9 points per game and is getting to the free-throw line six times in his last two games. There is always a senior guard who sneaks into the first round and is ready right away to give solid minutes with the secondary team at the NBA level. Shannon could be that player in this year's draft.

28. Milwaukee Bucks: F Oso Ighodaro

Ht./Wt.: 6-11, 235 pounds | Class: Senior | Marquette

Defensively, Ighodaro had success guarding Zach Edey (Purdue) and Adem Bona (UCLA) in back-to-back games during the Maui Invitational. He has the ability to finish with both the left and right hand around the rim and has really found success in the turnaround floater when he's in iso situations on the block. Ighodaro is averaging 20.5 points in Marquette's last two games and is one of the best offensive bigs in the Big East.

29. Minnesota Timberwolves: G Kevin McCullar Jr.

Ht./Wt.: 6-7, 212 pounds | Class: Senior | Kansas

McCullar and Kansas center Hunter Dickinson have become options one and two offensively for the Jayhawks this season. Through each game, McCullar gets more confident with his shot selection and has improved his reads off the pick-and-roll option. McCullar has posted 20 or more points in three out of the last four games.

30. Boston Celtics: G D.J. Wagner

Ht./Wt.: 6-3, 175 pounds | Class: Freshman | Kentucky

Wagner entered this season as one of the best guards in high school basketball and he's had his challenges adjusting to the college level and settling into Kentucky's offensive system. Wagner has struggled creating separation in his shot off the dribble but is finding success when facilitating for others, averaging 3.9 assists per game and logging 12 assists in the last two games.