What they’re saying: The latest on Kel’el Ware’s NBA draft stock

  • 06/21/2024 8:42 am in

The 2024 NBA draft at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn is five days away.

Indiana’s Kel’el Ware will attend as a green room invitee at this year’s draft. What’s not sure, however, is how Ware fits in with this year’s draft class.

Earlier in the week, longtime NBA scout and consultant Ryan Blake noted that Ware could go as high as the late lottery. Most of the current projections for Ware have the 7-footer landing in the later parts of the first round.

This year’s draft will take place over two nights: the first round will be held on Wednesday, June 26, and the second round will be held on Thursday, June 27. Only first-round picks are guaranteed contracts for their rookie seasons.

Here’s the latest on Ware’s draft stock and projections on where he could be selected next week (previous projections are listed in parenthesis):

ESPN.com, Jonathan Givony and Jeremy Woo: No. 23 to Milwaukee (no change)

Ware’s ability to both pop or roll gives him coveted flexibility he can tap into, along with his solid rebounding and shot-blocking prowess. At 7-1, talent is certainly not a question mark for the 20-year-old, making him a solid value play for any of the teams picking in this range. — Givony

Bleacher Report, Jonathan Wasserman: No. 13 to Sacramento (no change)

The Ringer: Kevin O’Connor: No. 17 to Los Angeles Lakers (previously No. 9 to Memphis)

Ware could be a rookie lob threat and rim protector in the mold of Dereck Lively II of the Mavericks. But if Ware’s 3-pointer translates as well as it did during his sophomore year at Indiana, he could bring another dimension. Then again, the Lakers picked a Hoosier at No. 17 last year—and that hasn’t gone too well.

The Athletic, Sam Vecenie: No. 23 to Milwaukee (previously No. 32 to Utah)

The Bucks need depth across the board, especially in younger players who can fit specific long-term needs around Giannis Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard. Brook Lopez only has one year left on his contract before hitting free agency again, and it’s hard to find players like him for a bargain in free agency, which is the pool the Bucks will need to swim in given their contractual obligations to Antetokounmpo, Lillard and Khris Middleton.

Ware ticks the box of a drop-coverage big they could develop under Lopez’s tutelage for a year before hopefully giving him more playing time to become an effective NBA player. He needs to work on bringing the same defensive intensity on every possession, but his tools are elite at 7-foot with a near 7-5 wingspan. If he hit under Doc Rivers, it would be an enormous win for the organization to solve a potential problem down the road at the center spot.

NBAdraft.net: No. 23 to Milwaukee (no change)

SBNation, Ricky O’Connell: No. 20 to Cleveland (previously No. 17 to Los Angeles Lakers)

Cleveland has so much up in the air entering the offseason. Will Donovan Mitchell sign a long-term extension? Will Darius Garland be shopped if that happens? Will the trade rumors that have floated around Jarrett Allen in recent years come to fruition? Ware makes sense as the best player available if the Cavs do decide to swap out Allen for a wing. He has similar athletic tools to Allen, but has the potential to be a real floor spacer with his jump shot. This would be an extremely skilled young front court if Cleveland can keep Ware’s motor up.

CBSSports.com, Adam Finkelstein: No. 18 to Orlando (previously No. 24 to New York)

There’s been a lot of Ware buzz as of late and while he’s deemed a high risk/high reward prospect because of his wide range of outcomes, a floor-spacing five-man could be a nice longterm fit alongside the two-headed forward monster of Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner.

Yahoo Sports, Krysten Peek: No. 10 to Chicago (previously No. 14 to Portland)

Lonzo Ball could be returning at some point next season and Coby White is coming off a great season, possibly becoming the lead guard for the franchise. Where the Bulls need help is in the frontcourt, and Ware was solid at Indiana with his rim protection and movement in the pick-and-roll.

On3, James Fletcher III: No. 21 to New Orleans (previously No. 15 to Miami)

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