Dink Pate could shake up 2024 NBA Draft with unexpected decision

With G League Ignite officially decommissioned, 18-year-old Dink Pate could change the landscape of an uninspiring 2024 NBA Draft class.
Dink Pate, G League Ignite
Dink Pate, G League Ignite / Cassy Athena/GettyImages

The 2024 NBA Draft class is widely considered the weakest in recent memory. One single prospect can't change that — Victor Wembanyama ain't walking through that door — but the landscape could shift seismically if G League Ignite guard Dink Pate gets his way.

According to Tobias Bass of The Athletic, the 18-year-old Pate is seeking a waiver to enter the 2024 draft following the Ignite's dissolution. Pate, who became the youngest professional basketball player in U.S. history this season, originally signed a two-year contract with the Ignite.

Pate was slated to follow the Scoot Henderson path with G League Ignite, stepping into a more robust role in his second season before transitioning into the NBA in 2025. Now, Pate enters unprecedented territory with the program shutting down at season's end. Pate has always wanted to play professionally, not in college, so his options are limited.

The G League prospect opened up to FanSided about his professional ambition in an interview during NBA All-Star Weekend.

"My plan was I always wanted to be a pro," Pate said. "That has always been my mindset. There was nothing wrong, or me going against college, but I would rather wake up and go to the gym 24 hours instead of waking up and going to campus."

Dink Pate seeks waiver to enter 2024 NBA Draft

Pate entering the mix would meaningfully shake up the 2024 draft. Long considered a potential 2025 lottery pick, Pate's intriguing set of physical tools, as well as the inherent upside of such a young player with professional experience, could rocket him to the top of draft boards in a weak class.

At 6-foot-8 and 210 pounds, Pate considers himself a point guard through and through.

"I’m a point guard," Pate said. "I don’t to go out and do other things I know I’m not good at. I’m a very good passer, so that’s one thing I showcase, whether scouts are there or not there. I just want to showcase the things I know I can do well."

His role was limited behind older prospects like Matas Buzelis and Ron Holland, but Pate was free to explore the breadth of his skill set with the Ignite this season. He averaged 8.0 points, 2.9 rebounds, and 3.6 assists on .348/.271/.727 splits in 23.6 minutes. Pate appeared in 31 regular season games for the Ignite, with 20 starts under his belt.

Pate will require more patience than the average top pick, especially if he declares for the 2024 draft. He would be a year behind his peers, having only turned 18 last month. That said, NBA teams are always searching for the intersection between size and skill. Pate is very much a jumbo point guard, blessed with the height to see over defenders, the agility to create advantages with his handle, and the vision to fire high-level passes on the move.

Efficiency is easily the biggest knock on Pate after one season with Ignite. He simply didn't hit shots, struggling with contact at the rim and bricking the majority of his 3s. That said, Pate's age, movement skills and basketball I.Q. make it easy to look ahead and imagine the long-term benefits.

He can defend multiple positions, pressure the rim, and create for teammates in a prototypical wing frame. Not only is Pate a probable top-10 pick if he's allowed to enter the 2024 draft, he could receive real consideration as high as No. 1 overall. Faced with an uninspiring crop of top prospects, all it takes is one team to believe in Pate's upside.

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