4 Prospects Blazers should already be scouting for 2024 NBA Draft

Elmarko Jackson, Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw, Matas Buzelis, and DJ Wagner, McDonald's All Americans, Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Elmarko Jackson, Justin Edwards, Aaron Bradshaw, Matas Buzelis, and DJ Wagner, McDonald's All Americans, Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mackenzie Mgbako, McDonald's All American
Mackenzie Mgbako, McDonald’s All American, Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports /

Blazers 2024 NBA Draft prospect No. 4: Mackenzie Mgbako, forward, Indiana (Nigeria)

Mackenzie Mgbako is a talented forward who was initially committed to Duke but ultimately decided to take his talents to Indiana. At 6-foot-8 and 210 pounds, Mgbako has the size and skill set that makes him an intriguing future NBA prospect.

While he doesn’t possess the flashy athleticism that many top draft prospects have, Mgbako’s strengths lie in his basketball skill set and feel for the game that impacts winning at a high level.  Mgbako’s positional size gives him excellent potential as a two-way player and a versatile modern-day forward.

Offensively, Mgbako’s standout skill is his exceptional shooting touch. That, combined with his size, gives him the potential to be a potent floor spacer in the NBA. However, Mgbako transcends the label of a three-and-D player. His well-developed ball handling ability allows him to drive to the rim and pushes him into top-10 pick consideration in the 2024 draft.

This versatility compensates for any limitations in his athleticism and enables him to create scoring opportunities for himself and his teammates.

Another dimension to Mgbako’s game is his passing aptitude. His court vision and decision making make him valuable in team-oriented offensive systems. This quality bodes well for his transition to the NBA, where his all-around abilities should seamlessly integrate into various team strategies.

Mgbako’s potential fit with the Blazers

Mgbako’s fit with the Blazers would a seamless transition, with several key factors indicating that he could be a suitable replacement for Jerami Grant. Grant recently signed a massive five-year, $160 million contract, which was one of the Blazers’ worst offseason moves. However, there are reasons to consider why Grant may not be part of the Blazers’ long-term outlook.

For one, the deal was technically agreed upon before the news broke that Lillard wanted out of Portland. Grant very well could have just been a signing in an attempt to try and convince Lillard to stay.

Additionally, now that Lillard is seemingly out of the Blazers’ plans, Grant, age 29, doesn’t fit into the team’s new timeline. As the Blazers position themselves for a potential rebuild following an anticipated Lillard trade, it becomes essential to prioritize younger talents who can grow alongside the emerging core – this is where Mgbako’s potential comes into play as a promising alternative.

Mgbako would offer a cost-effective solution and bring youthful energy to the roster. His skill set is strikingly reminiscent of Grant’s, making him a natural successor. The parallels are evident in various aspects: both players excel at spacing the floor, possess length on both ends of the court and can create their own scoring opportunities.

Regardless of the path the Blazers decide to take with Grant, Mgbako’s integration into the team’s emerging core makes a ton of sense. The Blazers need more depth in the forward positions, and Mgbako could fill this gap nicely. His presence alongside rising talents like Henderson, Sharpe and Simons would provide a well-balanced and dynamic lineup.

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Mgbako’s cost-effectiveness, youthfulness and similarity to Grant make him a compelling 2024 NBA Draft candidate who could bolster the Blazers’ roster and contribute significantly to their rebuild.