Long before reigning Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Victor Wembanyama was officially made the 1st overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft by the San Antonio Spurs, most NBA analysts and executives had reached the very same conclusion about the 2024 NBA Draft, and that conclusion could be summarized by one single, uninspired, guttural sound: Meh.

Now of course, in comparison to Victor Wembanyama-led class of 2023 — along with heralded prospects Scoot Henderson and Brandon Miller — it was going to be difficult for any draft class to compete with the hype last year's, particularly if you're looking only at top-end talent. Even as we're just weeks away from the 2024 NBA Draft, there is still no clear-cut number one pick, or even prospect. But according to ESPN's NBA Draft expert Jonathan Givony, that may be changing, because whether it be in Chicago, Los Angeles, or in the statistical models set up on the laptops of NBA executives, Kentucky Wildcats guard Reed Sheppard is turning heads.

“Several teams have said that Sheppard's statistical profile — with his incredible scoring efficiency (56% FG%, 52% 3P%, 83% FT%) combined with his excellent steal, block and passing metrics — have him ranked as the No. 1 prospect in their draft models, something that surely has caught the attention of analytically inclined front offices.”

Jonathan Givony notes that Reed Sheppard, who spent the season coming off the bench for former Kentucky head coach John Calipari and providing an instant spark for the Wildcats, has not only tested and measured off the charts — “Sheppard measured a little bigger than expected at 6-3 in shoes while testing a 42-inch vertical leap in Chicago” — he's also impressed on the court, standing out as the best shooter in the class. Because of that, Sheppard now appears to have as good of a chance as anyone to be the top pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, becoming the fifth Coach Cal product to earn that honor.

Kentucky guard Reed Sheppard rising up for a jumper

Reed Sheppard's best NBA fits

As things stand right now, the Atlanta Hawks hold onto the 1st overall pick in the 2024 NBA Draft, though there's no guarantee that by the time the Draft begins on Wednesday June 26th, that'll be the case. The Hawks offseason plans remain a mystery, with both Trae Young and Dejounte Murray, and every other player on the roster for that matter, seemingly available in trade talks. The Hawks could go into full-blown rebuild mode, trading either Young or Murray, which could potentially open the door for Reed Sheppard to be a more viable option with the top pick. However, the Hawks could also pivot, trade the pick, keep the group together and move forward in win-now mode.

Regardless of whether Reed Sheppard is the top pick or not, there are landing spots that, at least from his perspective, would make more sense than others. Landing in San Antonio, with the chance to play alongside Victor Wembanyama for the next decade or so, represents a proverbial golden ticket, especially for someone with Reed Sheppard's skillset. San Antonio has both the 4th and 8th picks in the Draft. Sheppard falling to 8th seems unheard of at this point, but there is certainly a world where he's still on the board when San Antonio picks 4th.

With that said, if I were a betting man, I'd be inclined to think that Houston doesn't let Reed Sheppard slip past #3. The Rockets are an analytics-driven organization, and as Givony noted, the numbers for Sheppard are eye-popping.