2024 NBA Mock Draft: Trail Blazers land No. 1 pick and make unforgivable mistake

USC v Kansas State
USC v Kansas State / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

As of Dec. 1 and coming off a promising 8-point road win over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Portland Trail Blazers sit sixth in the 2024 NBA Draft order. With much of the season left to play and the Blazers' second-half rally against the Cavs more of the exception than the norm, there's a strong likelihood a higher draft pick comes Rip City's way.

Perhaps the No. 1 overall pick, at least according to CBS Sports.

This isn't the ideal draft class to earn the top selection, but it's never bad to have every option at your disposal. The crucial part - especially for a team at the beginning of a rebuild like the Trail Blazers - is using it correctly.

Unfortunately, according to that same CBS Sports mock, Portland chooses...poorly.

Blazers select USC guard Isaiah Collier with No. 1 pick in 2024 mock draft

There's no consensus top prospect, at least not yet, in the 2024 draft class. French phenom Alex Sarr can look like Kevin Garnett at times and show zero offensive skill at others. Ron Holland and Matas Buzelis of the G League Ignite haven't impressed as expected. No NCAA player has set himself apart from the others.

The player who's shown the most flashes of superstar upside has been USC freshman Isaiah Collier. Collier is a lead guard with good size, the athleticism to play well in transition and the handles and finishing ability to get the rim in the half-court. He's at his best offensively in the pick-and-roll, where he can get downhill and score through contact or spray passes to open teammates.

Those are all excellent qualities to have in a potential franchise point guard.

And therein lies the problem.

The Blazers just drafted what they hope will be their next franchise point guard, and while Scoot Henderson has struggled to begin his NBA career, there's nothing that points to him being a dreaded B-word (bust). Collier is listed at 6-foot-5 and Scoot is 6-2, but a 3-inch difference isn't enough to pull the trigger on a similar player at the same position in consecutive drafts.

Some NBA franchises have seen rebuilds melt in front of them because they ignored the "best player available" mantra and drafted for need. If Collier was the clear consensus No. 1 prospect like Victor Wembanyama was in 2023, then sure, take him and figure out the rest later. But that's not the case.

It would be a wiser choice for Portland to gamble on the defensive upside of a big man like Sarr or the versatility of a big wing like Buzelis, or even trade out of the No. 1 spot to grab more assets.

Unless something changes between now and June, the Blazers have their three guards of the future in Scoot, Shaedon Sharpe and Anfernee Simons. That trio is the foundation of Portland's future. Using the No. 1 pick on another guard, let alone one with a skillset very similar to Henderson's, would be a crushing mistake that could stunt the franchise's rebuild.