2024 NBA Draft: Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht, Purdue’s Zach Edey among upperclassmen who can make instant impact

Written by on June 26, 2024

One-and-done players have accounted for a majority of the NBA Draft lottery selections over the past decade, but there are still numerous examples of older players coming into the league and making an immediate impact. This year’s draft class is teeming with questions from top to bottom, and NBA decision-makers could lean on experience to find the next hidden gem. 

With the draft less than 24 hours away, we’ve put together a list of eight upperclassmen on the CBS Sports Big Board that could make an impact for years to come.

Christian Braun was a major part of the Denver Nuggets’ championship run in 2023 after spending three years in the college ranks with the Kansas Jayhawks. Last season, CBS Sports named UCLA forward Jamie Jaquez Jr. to this list. The Miami Heat rookie lived up to the billing, earning a spot on the All-Rookie team. Other players on last year’s edition of instant impact upperclassmen included Andre Jackson Jr., Trayce Jackson-Davis, and Julian Strawther.

Let’s have a look at the experienced players we see making an impact in the 2024 NBA Draft class.

Dalton Knecht, G/F, Tennessee

Age: 23 | CBS Sports big board ranking: 6

Knecht went from a mid-major star at Northern Colorado to a first-team All-American selection in his final collegiate season at Tennessee. He is a skilled shooter with the size to play shooting guard or small forward at the next level. The 23-year-old is an elite shot-creator who can score on a variety of movements. That makes him one of the highest-floor players in this draft. Per Synergy, Knecht connected on 29 of 47 attempts (38.3%) on transition 3-pointers — a skill certain to translate to today’s fast-paced NBA. CBS Sports’ Matt Norlander ranked Knecht as the best in his class when it’s all said and done. I won’t go that far (Knecht is No. 4 on my personal board) but he should be one of the top contenders to win Rookie of the Year. The team that drafts Knecht will get a player who can average at least 14 points per game in his rookie campaign.

Devin Carter, G, Providence

Age: 22 | CBS Sports big board ranking: 12

Carter is a tough-nosed defender capable of stepping into an NBA rotation and playing a significant role from Day 1. While his calling card may be his defense, the Providence standout’s all-around offensive game improved in his final college season. He shot a career-high 37.7% from distance, was 78th percentile on long 3-pointers and 80th percentile on jumpers, per Synergy. A strong showing at the NBA Draft Combine should put him in the running for a top-10 spot.

DaRon Holmes ll, F/C, Dayton

Age: 21 | CBS Sports big board ranking: 20

Holmes is the prototypical modern NBA big man because of his ability to stretch the floor and protect the rim. He may be somewhat undersized for a center in the league, but he’s a solid option as a stretch four or a small-ball five. The former Dayton star will need to show more consistency on the defensive end, but it’s hard not to see the potential. He should go off the board in the mid-to-late first round.

Zach Edey, C, Purdue

Age: 22 | CBS Sports big board ranking: 23

If you asked 10 NBA draft experts where Edey should land on draft night, you would get 10 different answers. He has been slotted anywhere from the top 10 to the bottom of the first round. Edey is one of the most dominant college basketball players of the 21st century, but back-to-the-basket centers have struggled in the NBA’s modern era. Edey may struggle in drop coverage or against ball screens, but he could do some things well at the next level. He’s worth a swing in a class filled with question marks.

Tristian da Silva, F, Colorado

Age: 23 | CBS Sports big board ranking: 24

Da Silva finished at No. 24 on our CBS Sports big board. He will be the “Jaime Jaquez Jr.” of this draft class because he is everything a contender is looking for with size, shooting ability, experience, basketball IQ and more. The Colorado big man would thrive on a team where he can cut to the basket to get some of his looks while exploiting mismatches. He’s been mocked frequently to the Miami Heat at No. 15 and the Philadelphia 76ers at No. 16. Either of those teams should be thrilled to land him.

Baylor Scheierman, G/F, Creighton

Age: 23 | CBS Sports big board ranking: 28

Scheierman’s shooting ability compares with Kentucky’s Reed Sheppard and Duke’s Jared McCain at the top of this class. He is capable of knocking down deep 3-pointers in different ways. The Creighton star shot 38.1% on just over eight attempts per night from distance, but his long-distance shooting doesn’t tell the full story. Scheierman can also post up against smaller defenders when given a mismatch. His size will also allow him to slot into a lineup as either a shooting guard or small forward. Like da Silva, Scheierman could be the missing rotational piece a contender needs.

Dillon Jones, F, Weber State

Age: 22 | CBS Sports big board ranking: 34

One of the most unique players in this class, Jones is one of just four players since the 1992-93 college basketball season to post at least 1,500 points, 1,000 rebounds, 400 assists, and 200 steals in a career. He could be a steal at the end of the first round or early second. Jones isn’t the most explosive athlete, but he’s a capable playmaker and an above-average disturber for his position.

Jamal Shead, G, Houston

Age: 21 | CBS Sports big board ranking: 41

Defense. Defense. Defense. That is Shead’s bread and butter. He was one of the top on-ball defenders in college basketball this past season and that will be his calling card if he’s going to make it in the NBA. Shead is the type of defensive pest opponents will dread playing against in the Summer League. Shead may not have the “upside” of point guards in this class, but it’s hard to see him not finding a role at the next level thanks to his defensive skills. 

The post 2024 NBA Draft: Tennessee’s Dalton Knecht, Purdue’s Zach Edey among upperclassmen who can make instant impact first appeared on CBS Sports.

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