2024 NBA Draft recap: Seven picks who were taken too late and will outperform their draft slot

Even in a down draft there are bound to be really good players who blossom years down the road. And no matter what draft you’re looking at, it is 100% guaranteed to see a lot of players taken far later than they should have been. With that in mind, and with the 2024 NBA Draft now over and the basketball offseason officially here, I wanted to share a postmortem on which players waited too long to be picked. 

As a rule, I am not considering anyone taken in the top 10. But everyone else between Nos. 11 and 58 was up for consideration. These are the best value picks of the draft, and I’ve got seven to share. In the spirit of Jalen Brunson’s All-NBA push, I made sure to include four players who went in Thursday’s second round — guys I believe will wind up having good careers and all making it to a second contract. 

This wasn’t by design, but every player listed has a least three years of college experience to their name. Let the payback begin.

Devin Carter (13th to Sacramento)

A year ago, the Miami Heat drafted UCLA’s Jaime Jaquez Jr. with the 18th pick. It was near-universally regarded as one of the best picks outside of the top 10. I get the same vibes off Carter going 13th to the Kings. Carter is two things at once: a proven high-level athlete capable of playing on Day 1 in the NBA and also quite a few stages from his ceiling. The fact he’ll likely be able to be a lead guard, defend almost any 1 or 2 by the end of his rookie season and has the rebounding instinct to play all over the floor has me firmly of the believe that Carter will easily wind up being one of the 10 best players from this draft — and maybe in the top five. The Kings make it back to the Playoffs in 2025 thanks to decisions like this. He will not fail.

Dalton Knecht (17th to Los Angeles)

The most obvious pick of them all. I am on record predicting he winds up being the most successful player in this draft, so of course he’s going to be listed here. Knecht’s slide was indefensible, though winding up playing alongside one of the two best players ever and living in Los Angeles is quite the consolation prize for losing out on millions he would’ve otherwise been paid had he been taken in the top 10 as predicted. Knecht, like Devin Carter, has the tools to be a rookie who can immediately have an impact and could wind up logging more than 15 minutes per game. He’s 23-years-old, but that doesn’t mean he can’t log 10 productive seasons of dynamic scoring and floor spacing. He’s also a really good athlete. Bet on the shooting! Oh, and in that regard, he’s linking up with a coach in JJ Redick who probably is overjoyed at getting Knecht as his first pick. 

Terrence Shannon Jr. (27th to Minnesota)

Every player you see listed here I had a first round/top-30 grade on. For me, Shannon was a top-15 prospect in this class. Like Knecht, he’s older (23). I’ve got Shannon here not just because he’ll have a great chance at thriving due to his size as a prototypical two-guard, but because the spot/situation he’s being sent to should allow him to learn and bloom on an accelerated timeline. Shannon’s a blazer in transition, can be a plus defender and is more a scorer than shooter. Minnesota’s built a terrific culture. He won’t be asked to do too much, but he’ll potentially step in and contribute right away on a team trying to make the Western Conference finals.

Tyler Kolek (34th to New York)

Now we get to the guys who had to wait to Day 2 to realize their NBA dreams. Here’s your most likely Jalen Brunson candidate. The reason Kolek wasn’t taken until Thursday, most of all, was the fact he’s a pure point guard. That’s something of a dying breed in the NBA. If you’re a “lead” guard, that means you can shoot and score just as much as you look to initiate offense with your passing. Kolek — who of course is capable of getting buckets — is viewed as a backup, pass-first point guard. However, he’s a maniacal competitor and going to the Knicks could be the absolute best spot for him to stew his competitive juices. That team is in the midst of its greatest stretch in 25 years and now gets another Big East alum to up the ante. It hasn’t been often where you could point to a player starting his career in New York and see that as an optimal situation, but Kolek fits there nicely.

KJ Simpson (42nd to Charlotte)

The Colorado guard had to overcome questions about his 6-foot frame (with a wingspan under 6-5), but I tell you this: Simpson was WAY more often than not the best player on the floor for the Buffaloes last season, easily outpacing his teammates (Cody Williams, Tristan da Silva) who were taken in the first round. He’s got a good deep shot, was an excellent rebounder (5.8 per game) for a point guard and rated nearly as good as a Reed Sheppard in getting in the lanes to swipe for steals. It’s reasonable to wait until the second round to take a chance on a point guard (check the trends in recent years), and I don’t know if Charlotte is where Simpson will be best served, but if he can get enough time to hone his craft, he should emerge as one of the 30 best players in this draft and easily outperform his second round destiny.  

Jamal Shead (45th to Toronto)

Talk to NBA players, coaches and front office people and they’ll tell you about 30% of the league is so good that those players can overcome any other other issues (legal and moral aside) from losing their place in the league. Everyone else is on some level replaceable. And within that 70%, there’s a fraction of guys who are such great teammates and so dedicated to the job, they stick on rosters because they don’t make situations complicated. They’re lubricators. They’re winners. Shead fits this description so well. You can be a career backup and still outperform your draft slot. If Shead never starts more than 10 games but lasts in the NBA until 2031, he’ll still have been taken too late. I’ll be genuinely surprised if he flames out.

Harrison Ingram (48th to San Antonio)

What a terrific pick for the Spurs. Ingram’s workouts didn’t spike his stock in the way he would have hoped after leaving North Carolina, but there’s no denying that he has the size, basketball IQ and defensive prowess to win his way onto a roster. As in: right away. Ingram has put on the muscle he’ll need to make it in the NBA, and I love his potential as an off-the-bench ball-mover who can play or guard the two or three. Going to San Antonio is a really good spot for his development. It’s not a shocker he had to wait until the 48th pick to hear his name called, but I’m willing to bet that will look like a bad decision by 15-20 teams by the end of the 2025-26 season. 

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