Trail Blazers 2024 NBA Mock Drafts: Projecting all 4 of Portland's picks

If the season ended today, here's what could happen for the Blazers in the draft.

(l to r) Donovan Clingan, Stephon Castle, Alex Karaban; Connecticut Huskies
(l to r) Donovan Clingan, Stephon Castle, Alex Karaban; Connecticut Huskies / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
2 of 5
Next

No. 7: Stephon Castle, G, UConn

With top prospects such as Alex Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher long gone, it's worth taking a swing on Castle. The 19-year-old Connecticut guard - a consistent starter on the best team in college basketball despite being a freshman - has the skill set to become the best player in this draft.

Castle is a 6-foot-6 guard, but the fact that UConn Head Coach Dan Hurley is comfortable slotting him into the starting lineup on the wing is evidence of his versatility. Castle was a point guard and pick-and-roll ball handler in high school, but with a senior backcourt flanking him with the Huskies, he hasn't been able to display his skills as a lead play-making guard.

Castle can use his size and strength to bully through defenders and is a savvy finisher at the rim. He's also an unselfish and skilled passer who can drive and find open teammates.

Perhaps most attractive to the Blazers, the Georgia native is a versatile defender willing to do the dirty work on that end of the floor. His size, length and quickness allow him to switch and guard 1 through 4 and he shows tenacity fighting through screens. He's a solid rebounder (he averaged almost 5 boards a game this season) who can finish possessions and use his point-guard skills to kick off a fast break.

Castle's swing skill, like many other prospects, is his shooting. He's knocking down 47 percent of his shots from the floor but only 26.2 percent from three. NBA teams will sag off him until he proves he can hit from deep, but until he develops a respectable shooting stroke, he can use that space to get a head of steam and use his big body to drive at or through defenders and make plays.

Putting someone with Castle's size, unselfishness and defensive versatility in a backcourt next to smaller guards such as Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons would add an important element that Portland's missing on its current roster.