2024 NBA Mock Draft: Isaiah Collier, Ja'Kobe Walter on the rise early

The latest NBA mock draft sees Isaiah Collier and Ja'Kobe Walter surging after impressive college basketball debuts.
Isaiah Collier, Cam Carter, USC v. Kansas State
Isaiah Collier, Cam Carter, USC v. Kansas State / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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Aday Mara. . . Aday Mara. 7. player. 142. 7. UCLA. Big

The NCAA cleared Aday Mara with seconds to spare. He's only averaging 13.3 minutes across UCLA's three games, but he should carve out a bigger role as the season progresses. At 7-foot-3, Mara's base appeal is right on the surface. He's a towering presence in the paint, which causes guards to think twice about venturing down the lane. His instincts as a rim protector and dominant presence on the glass provide him with a solid NBA floor.

Of course, there's natural trepidation when picking drop coverage bigs so high in the lottery. That said, in a class with such little established star talent, Mara's reliability on defense should go a long way. He's no slouch on offense either, operating comfortably as a passing hub in the high post. And, surprise, surprise, he's also a dominant rim finisher. The Wizards have a few game-changing perimeter defenders in Deni Avdija and Bilal Coulibaly. Mara can provide a much-needed backstop in the paint.

8. player. 24. Stephon Castle. 8. . . Stephon Castle. Guard. Connecticut

The Chicago Bulls' roster will probably look very different next season. The Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan era is waning, and one has to imagine the front office will pull the trigger on a rebuild eventually. Enter Stephon Castle, a potential building block for a team short on high-level, affordable young talent.

At 6-foot-6, Castle should mold comfortably into a variety of personnel groups. He's a talented pick-and-roll creator who has mastered the stop-start handles required to keep defenders off balance. He plays strong too, and should draw plenty of fouls. He attempted eight free throws in 19 minutes in his UConn debut. Castle's passing creativity and defensive edge push him over the edge as a legitimate top-5 candidate.