It's never too early for a franchise such as the Portland Trail Blazers to look ahead to next year's draft. Unfortunately for an organization focused on the future, the class of 2024 doesn't offer any sure-fire Victor Wembanyamas, Chet Holmgrens or even Scoot Hendersons.
That doesn't mean the talent cupboard is completely bare, though. A lot can happen between now and the draft in June, and at the moment, the Blazers have lucked into two lottery picks: their own and the Golden State Warriors. Will Steph Curry and Co. continue to struggle and miss the postseason? Maybe, maybe not. Regardless, Portland should have a pair of top-20 picks, including one that will likely land in the top five.
What type of player could general manager Joe Cronin, assistant GM Mike Schmitz and head coach Chauncey Billups be targeting? At this point in the rebuild, does position matter, or do the Blazers simply take the best player available and figure things out later?
If a recent mock draft is to be believed, Portland's brain trust will be rolling the dice with all four of their current selections.
Trail Blazers go all-in on upside in 2024 NBA mock draft
Bleacher Report's Jonathan Wasserman released a pre-Christmas mock, and with the standings at the time falling in Portland's favor, the Blazers landed two selections in the top 11 picks.
No. 4: Alex Sarr, C, Perth Wildcats
With the fourth overall selection, Wasserman has Portland grabbing an uber-athletic 7-foot-1 center in Alex Sarr. The Frenchman currently plays for the Perth Wildcats in Australia.
Defensively, Sarr looks like a teenage Kevin Garnett. He's long, explosive, rangy and plays with tenacity and aggressiveness. He can switch onto smaller players and hold his own, bang with bigger players in the post and has a knack for flying in from the weak side to swat shots into the 15th row.
Offensively, the 18-year-old is as raw as it gets for a big man. He scores most of his points off dunks and easy baskets inside, but he's flashed a decent shooting stroke and enough ball-handling ability to attack closeouts.
Grabbing Sarr for his all-defense potential and betting on his offensive development would be a wise move for Cronin and the Blazers.
No. 11: Tidjane Salaun, Cholet
Portland makes it two French prospects in the draft's first 11 selections with the pick of Salaun. Wasserman compares him to Indiana Pacers forward Obi Toppin as an athletic, toolsy forward who can get to the rim and finish strong.
Salaun knocked down 13 3-pointers over a four-game span before Christmas, and if his shooting comes around, he becomes a 6-8 wing who's an explosive finisher, pesky defender and shotmaker at just 18 years old.
No. 36: Melvin Ajinca, Saint-Quentin
Three picks, three French teenagers for the Blazers in this mock. Ajinca is a 6-7 wing with some guard skills and a projectable shooting stroke.
He's been money on catch-and-shoot threes this year and has shown some ability to run off screens and hit shots, but at this point, that's about it as far as what the 19-year-old brings to the table.
Still, taking a shot on a young wing with potential knockdown shooting ability isn't the worst way to go in the second round.
No. 39: Izan Almansa, G League Ignite
Almansa's game should be familiar to Blazers fans. He's a 6-10 forward/center who makes a living off instincts, energy and hustle plays.
In fact, Wasserman lists his comp as current Portland forward Jabari Walker.
An 18-year-old energetic big who's willing to play a role but still has room to grow is worth a second-round flier. The franchise's new G League affiliate, the Rip City Remix, would provide the perfect developmental spot for a prospect such as Almansa.