Five of the seven draft eligible Next Stars have featured in The Athletic's NBA mock draft.

14 Nov
Dan Woods for

Sydney’s Alex Toohey is being seen as one of the biggest climbers in the upcoming NBA Draft rankings. Barely a week after ESPN’s Jonathan Givony pushed the previously unheralded talent to 83rd in his player rankings, The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie has the young King being selected in the first round.

Toohey’s rise to first round prospect has coincided with Vecenie’s belief that Perth’s Alexandre Sarr is the top prospect in this draft class, after he was named as the projected first selection in the same mock.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Next Sarr is on the rise ?<br><br>Could an NBL Next Star be the first pick at the next NBA Draft?<br><br>The latest mock draft from The Athletic&#39;s <a href="">@Sam_Vecenie</a> affirms that could definitely be the case ?<br><br>Read more ?? <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBL (@NBL) <a href="">November 13, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Praise for Toohey has been high around the NBL as he’s continued to find his niche in Sydney’s starting line-up. Kings part-owner Andrew Bogut recently praised Toohey’s ability to bounce back from “subpar” performances in an interview with NBL Media, while head coach Mahmoud Abdelfattah described him as a near incomparable talent following yet another strong performance in Sunday’s win over Brisbane.

Vecenie used Toohey’s exceptional basketball IQ as justification for his launch up the draft projections.

“There’s always a place in the NBA for 6-foot-8 players with a 9-foot standing reach who can shoot, provide reasonable defensive play and make quick decisions,” Vecenie wrote.

“He’s provided legitimate floor-spacing and capable defensive play right from the jump for the Sydney Kings due to his high basketball IQ.

“Most expected him to require two years in the league after he chose to turn pro instead of attending Gonzaga. But that has proven to be the right decision.”

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Perfection ?<br><br>Alex Toohey put out an impressive showing on Sunday with +27 and some key lockdown defensive plays on a tough Brisbane lineup ? <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBL (@NBL) <a href="">November 13, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Cairns’ Bobi Klintman also features high in Vecenie’s latest projection, with the draft expert currently placing him at pick 20.

Klintman is currently sidelined with a hip injury but is expected to return imminently, and NBL analyst Liam Santamaria recently pushed Klintman’s case as a possible Best Sixth Man contender on NBL Now.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">“If everything goes as it should, I’ll be back for the next game.” <a href="">@cairnstaipans</a> Next Star Bobi Klintman provided an update on his injury status during the Taipans game against Illawarra ? <br><br>Catch the final quarter of action live on ESPN via Kayo ? <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; NBL (@NBL) <a href="">November 11, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="" charset="utf-8"></script>

Vecenie believes if Klintman continues to play off his instincts, he could further rise.

“When he simply plays off instinct and attacks, he’s been terrific,” Vecenie wrote. “When he starts thinking a bit too much, the gears in his mind start going and things slow down too much for him.

“He has some five-minute patches when he looks like the best player on the court and others when he is invisible.

“He clearly has touch, and like Risacher (projected 17th pick Zaccharie Risacher), is that kind of bigger wing/forward on whom NBA teams love to take a shot.”

Vecenie has ranked Illawarra’s AJ Johnson 43rd and Melbourne’s Ariel Hukporti 49th, which means five of the seven draft eligible Next Stars have featured in his mock draft.

Given his age, Brisbane's Rocco Zikarsky is not draft eligible until 2025.

New Zealand’s Mantas Rubstavicius looks close to being included after Givony ranked him as the 71st best talent on ESPN, while Bleacher Report has Adelaide’s Trentyn Flowers being taken with the 56th selection.

View The Athletic's full 2024 NBA Mock Draft here.

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