How many Next Stars will be selected at this week's NBA Draft? This year's graduating class is the best yet.

26 Jun

This year’s group of Next Stars is already considered the best yet, but this week’s NBA Draft should only solidify that fact.

Just how many of the NBL24 crop of youngsters get selected will be confirmed in the next two days, but you only have to look at recent mock drafts and draft boards to illustrate the talent on show.

Each and every one of the Next Stars nominated for the Draft has been listed in ESPN’s top 100 ranked prospects. In fact, the Next Stars are all named between two and 64.

With 58 live picks when things get underway on Thursday, just how many of these emerging talents will land an NBA spot?

In Jonathan Givony’s latest mock draft, Alex Sarr is listed at the second overall selection, Bobi Klintman is at 34, AJ Johnson at 37 and Ariel Hukporti at 58.

But so much can change on Draft night, and Trentyn Flowers and Mantas Rubstavicius are very much in the mix to land on NBA rosters too.

It’s looking increasingly likely the NBL will surpass its greatest Next Star draft haul in history, and its greatest haul of players going direct from the NBL to the NBA in a single season - three. 

According to Givony, Flowers’ x-factor makes him an exciting development prospect.

“Flowers' combination of leaping ability and shot-making prowess certainly pops, giving him real upside to grow into in the G League in the long term. He lacks experience on both ends of the floor, but he has the tools, potential as a set shooter and youth to leave room for optimism for a team willing to be patient with his development,” Givony said. 

Likewise AJ Johnson, who has seen the biggest rise in his stocks on the back of some impressive work at the Draft Combine. 

“Johnson flashed his talent at the NBA combine much like he did in short spurts this season in the NBL, showing his ability to operate at different speeds, make shots off the bounce and find teammates on the move. He has obvious things to build off as his frame and game continue to mature, especially on a patient team willing to give him the developmental reps,” Givony added.

The NBA Draft expert said Hukporti could come in and make an immediate impact in an NBA rotation.

“Hukporti had a highly productive season in the NBL, showing his ability to rim-run, finish lobs, corral rebounds and block shots at a strong rate. His reach and energetic style of play make him a fit at the end of an NBA bench,” Givony said.

While Rubstavicius’ strong late-season form at the New Zealand Breakers has brought his name even further into calculations as a late second-round selection.   

“Rubstavicius is a skilled offensive player with an excellent feel for the game who made encouraging strides last season after being slowed by injuries. He turned the corner developmentally a season ago after a late growth spurt,” Givony said. 

Of course, Alex Sarr and Bobi Klintman have been the constants across NBA Draft boards this season, with all eyes on where the former will land among the first few picks.

“While Sarr still needs to get stronger and continue to evolve offensively, he fits a coveted mould as a power forward/center with the potential to be a difference-maker on both ends of the floor,” Givony said.

Klintman, meanwhile, tipped to land late in the first or early in the second round.

“He flashed his talent more consistently in Australia. At his best, he fits a coveted mould with his size, shooting and mobility on the defensive end,” Givony added. 

With Alex Toohey and Rocco Zikarksy both set to nominate for the 2025 NBA Draft, this year’s Next Stars class has well and truly lived the mantra, ‘WE GOT NEXT’.

Watch the NBA Draft live on ESPN via Kayo on Thursday morning from 9.30am AEST, with the second round on Friday from 6am.

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