1 NBA Draft prospect every current lottery team should highlight

As the 2024 NBA Draft landscape takes shape, here is one prospect every current lottery team should take special interest in.

Alex Sarr, Perth Wildcats
Alex Sarr, Perth Wildcats / Paul Kane/GettyImages
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6. Toronto Raptors — Kel'el Ware, Indiana

The Raptors' rebuild is in full effect. Jakob Poeltl is probably stuck in Toronto for a while due to his contract, but there's reason to start thinking about his long-term replacement. Scottie Barnes and Immanuel Quickley figure to dominate the rock for Toronto moving forward, while R.J. Barrett and Gradey Dick are, more or less, the future staples on the wing. The rest of Toronto's roster is fungible.

Kel'el Ware is going to pick up steam over the next few months. If not during the season, then during pre-draft workouts, when his athleticism and shooting touch can flourish. A mobile 7-footer capable of springboard finishes at the rim and the occasional spurt of 3-point proficiency, Ware has all the trappings of a modern center. He doesn't always impose himself in the paint at Indiana and the 3-point volume is low, but he's averaging 14.2 points and 9.4 rebounds on .545/.417/.676 splits in 30.9 minutes. He's a cleanup artist around the basket, an easy lob target, and there are enough mid-range and face-up flashes to get NBA front offices properly excited.

Factor in Ware's incredible upside as a rim protector, and he should be front of mind for Toronto. He offers more offensive flexibility than Poeltl, with the lateral quickness to supply more schematic versatility on defense one day. It could take him time to establish footing in the NBA, but Ware is a tremendous talent worthy of patience in a diluted draft class.

5. Portland Trail Blazers — Alex Sarr, Perth Wildcats

Alex Sarr has emerged as perhaps the closest to a consensus No. 1 pick in the 2024 class, which means very little. There's still a chance he stumbles over the next five months, and there's an equally strong chance team fit simply doesn't encourage his selection in the top spot. For now, the Blazers should take special interest in the French 7-footer.

Sarr is 7-foot-1 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, easily the most immediately impressive athlete on the board. He's quick enough to guard the perimeter and he's a one-man wrecking crew on defense, blowing up shot attempts from the weak side and constantly devouring drives. Sarr needs to bulk up and improve his physicality — his rebounding numbers aren't great and he will get pushed around by the NBA's elite interior scorers — but the base-level tools are in place.

On offense, there's lots to like about Sarr, both simple and complex. He's a bouncy lob threat who should feast on basic finishes around the rim. He's also quite fluid as a face-up scorer, with mid-range pull-ups and hook shots that suggest legitimate go-to upside if all the pieces come together. That, too, is where physicality comes into play. Sarr is often bumped off his spot and coerced into contested jumpers when he should take it strong to the rim. But, there's reason for Portland to view him as a long-term fit next to Deandre Ayton.