Home » Reed Sheppard a top 5 pick in The Athletic’s updated NBA Mock Draft

Reed Sheppard a top 5 pick in The Athletic’s updated NBA Mock Draft

Reed Sheppard’s draft stock doesn’t appear to be crashing any time soon.

On Tuesday morning, The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie released his updated 2024 NBA Mock Draft. Vecenie notes that, with no clear-cut number-one pick, NBA teams are all over the place with their evaluations at this stage. He also claims the top of this draft to be the weakest of the last decade.

Regardless, Vecenie is high on Sheppard, slotting the SEC Freshman of the Year at No. 4 overall to the Memphis Grizzlies.

“A month ago, I said Sheppard and Kentucky teammate Rob Dillingham were the two most polarizing players in this draft class,” Vecenie, who mentioned that Sheppard is “exceedingly likely” to go in the top eight of the draft and could even go No. 1, wrote. “That label remains accurate for Dillingham, but I don’t think that applies to Sheppard anymore, based on my conversations with NBA team personnel.”

Vecenie points to Sheppard’s unbelievable shooting splits and feel for the game as reasons why he’ll go so high in the draft, but adds that his lack of physical attributes and poor defensive tendencies give some NBA personnel pause. All that being said, Vecenie believes and is hearing that Sheppard’s “skill-first” playstyle will thrive in the NBA.

Sheppard has been dicing up college defenses this season no matter the competition. Just looking at his play against Southeastern Conference opponents, the native of London, KY averaged 12.4 points, four rebounds, 4.7 assists, and 2.4 steals in 30.7 minutes per outing. In those 18 games, Sheppard shot 51.4 percent from the floor, 52.4 percent from deep, and 78.9 percent from the line.

He wasn’t the only Kentucky freshman high on The Athletic’s list though. Fellow rookie guard Rob Dillingham checked in at No. 9 to the Utah Jazz on Vecenie’s mock. As mentioned above, Dillingham might be the most polarizing prospect in this draft cycle — those who love him, really love him. Those who don’t have serious concerns about his style of play.

“Can Dillingham be a starting point guard, or is he more of a bench sparkplug?” Vecenie wrote. “Is he a good enough distributor to be the former, or is he too much of a score-first guard? Can he hold up at all on defense to allow him to close key games?”

In 17 games against SEC teams this season, Dillingham averaged 15.9 points, 2.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists in 23.2 minutes per game. The 6-foot-3 playmaker shot 49.5 percent overall, 43.6 percent from deep, and 78.9 percent from the line. He’s the most explosive shotmaker in college hoops, but his defense has plenty of room to improve.

A third Kentucky freshman just snuck into the back end of Vecenie’s first-round mock, too. That would be 6-foot-8 wing Justin Edwards, who has vastly improved his on-court production over the last several weeks. Outside of his poor outing in the SEC Tournament, Edwards has begun to look more and more like the five-star recruit he was out of high school.

Vecenie has Edwards going with the 30th and final pick of the first round to the Boston Celtics.

The last Wildcat mentioned in this mock draft is fifth-year guard Antonio Reeves, who Vecenie has projected to the Orlando Magic with the 48th overall pick. The All-American has been Mr. Consistent this season for Kentucky, averaging 20 points and 4.2 rebounds in 31.3 minutes per game on splits of 50.8/44.1/86.9.

The Athletic’s 2024 NBA Mock Draft

  • Reed Sheppard: No. 4 | Memphis Grizzlies
  • Rob Dillingham: No. 9 | Utah Jazz
  • Justin Edwards: No. 30 | Boston Celtics
  • Antonio Reeves: No. 48 | Orlando Magic