Who is this NBA Draft class with no clear star? Here are 5 rookies to know for fantasy basketball

We're a day away from the 2024 NBA Draft, and to get you informed on the incoming rookie class, I'll discuss five prospects projected to go to teams where they could become fantasy-relevant next season. This rookie class lacks the same fantasy hype and allure of a group that included Victor Wembanyama, Chet Holmgren, Brandon Miller and others a year ago. It's not even close. Still, getting picked by the right team or lucking into a favorable situation can change a rookie's trajectory.

Here are a few projected lottery picks with a couple of late-rounders I've pegged to make an impact (at some point) in the next season.

Sarr is among the top prospects in this year's draft. He's 7-foot-1 and has been lauded by NBA scouts for his athleticism and defensive versatility. The 19-year-old Frenchman moved around quite a bit as a teenager, playing high school ball for Overtime Elite in Atlanta and then taking his talents to the Australian NBL, where he played for Perth.

Sarr was very effective in 27 games with Perth on a per-minute basis. He averaged 9.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 0.9 assists, 0.4 steals and 1.4 blocks with 52/29/71 shooting splits in 17 minutes per game. While most of his scoring opportunities came within the painted area and on lobs, he's shown a surprisingly nice touch in the mid-range and foul-line extended areas. The three-ball obviously needs work, but remember, he's only 19.

Fantasy managers will likely get to know Sarr very well, as Yahoo Sports NBA Draft analyst Krysten Peek's latest mock draft has Sarr projected to go second overall to the Washington Wizards. The Wizards may seem like something other than the ideal landing spot for Sarr, but it actually is. Sarr can earn minutes right away, playing both forward and center positions. The on-the-job training will benefit his development, especially since he has such a thin frontcourt in front of him.

Nothing is guaranteed — the Hawks could still draft him No. 1 despite Sarr's unwillingness to workout for Atlanta, but the sportsbooks and draft insiders are all trending toward Sarr going second. The Wizards are a mess, but he's a rookie to watch, given his attributes and production in limited minutes.

Sheppard had one of the best freshman campaigns in recent memory for the Wildcats. He was the first Kentucky player to win SEC Freshman of the Year since Tyler Herro. The efficiency, marksmanship and stat-stuffing set him apart from most in this class, and he has the skills to contribute as a rookie.

Sheppard shot a ridiculous 52% from 3 while being a beast defensively, racking up an average of 2.5 steals and 0.7 blocks per game. And he came off the bench!

Now, transitioning from college to the NBA won't be easy, but given his playmaking, defense and shooting ability, he'll find his way on the court quickly. Landing spot will matter, and the Rockets and Spurs look like the best options for Sheppard to thrive in year one.

Castle could go between picks 3-9 in the draft, but I've seen most mocks projecting him to the Spurs at No. 4 overall. If that happens, I'll be very intrigued come draft season. Any two-way guard with an opportunity to play alongside a young core built around Wemby is appealing. Though he didn't play much PG in his first year at UConn, he was primarily a point guard in high school. His tenacity on defense is his calling card, as he can guard on-ball at the level and handle both guards and forwards because of his athletic 6-foot-6 frame. There's certainly room for growth as a shooter, but the kid already said he's been modeling his game after Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and that's what I like to see. I love prospects who can get after it defensively because it'll likely accelerate their timeline of seeing meaningful time on the court.

I could be getting ahead of myself, but with several mocks projecting Kolek to the Phoenix Suns at 22, Kolek is certainly a name to watch in this upcoming draft. He's one of a handful of true floor generals available, and Phoenix's big three could use a traditional point guard to help facilitate their offense. Kolek led the NCAA in assists per game last season and finished third in the country in 2022-23.

His playmaking overshadows his scoring ability, but Kolek quietly shot 39% from 3 on almost four attempts per game. Showcasing what he can do off the ball, he knocked down 46% on catch-and-shoot 3s last year. At 6-3, he is good-sized for a PG; at 23 years old, he has plenty of college experience to contribute immediately off the bench.

Shannon is back in the conversation as a late-first-rounder after his draft stock fell because of a legal matter that has since been resolved. He's an older prospect, turning 24 on July 30, but his skill set is a great fit for any team looking for a "ready-now" prospect.

He's a three-level scorer who is one of the better wing defenders in this draft class. I mean, look at the speed and anticipation on defense here:

In his senior campaign, Shannon averaged 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, two stocks and over two 3s per contest with 48/36/80 shooting splits. Shannon was originally linked to the Knicks at 24, but that could be less appealing after New York acquired Mikal Bridges in a trade Tuesday. Krysten Peek's latest mock draft has Shannon going 20 to the Cleveland Cavaliers. It's worth noting that Shannon worked out for the Bulls, Heat, Lakers, and Magic, too — all teams that draft between 11 and 18, so there's a legitimate chance he could hear his name called earlier than expected. He's been a late riser up draft boards because he can contribute immediately.

Other draft prospects to watch:

  • Jared McCain

  • Donovan Clingan

  • Isaiah Collier

  • Devin Carter

  • Zaccharie Risacher

  • Kel'el Ware

  • Cody Williams