2024 NBA Mock Draft: Blazers take game-changer, Spurs get star at 1

2024 NBA Draft, Ron Holland. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
2024 NBA Draft, Ron Holland. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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2024 NBA Draft
2024 NBA Draft, Aday Mara. (Photo by Francis Gonzalez/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images) /

19. New Orleans Pelicans draft Aday Mara

The Pelicans took Jared McCain, a point guard from Duke, with their first pick in this mock. They need a big man to pair with Zion Williamson and would be ecstatic if Mara slipped to them here.

He is projected to go in the lottery in most mocks, but several teams are set at the five. Mara has top-five pick upside but needs to prove it on the floor during his freshman campaign at UCLA. The 7’3 big man is an impressive passer who finishes well inside. There is plenty to be excited about, but it is all overshadowed by one massive question.

Can Mara stay on the floor defensively? He has struggled to defend in space and is not the best shot-blocker and rim protector considering he is 7’3. The 18-year-old is still growing into his body and could struggle to guard big men down low until he does. It does not matter how many points he can create if Mara is always giving them up at the other end.

He must play adequate defense this season and continue to improve his offensive game if he wants to climb draft boards. The New Orleans Pelicans draft for need with their second first-round pick in this mock draft.