Why Alex Sarr should be the first pick in the 2024 NBA draft

Alex Sarr

Alex Sarr, a French-born big man who joined the NBL’s Perth Wildcats after two years growing with Overtime Elite in Atlanta, burst into the NBA draft scene this season as one of the class’s most distinctive prospects. Alex Sarr, a staple for France at the young level who has made considerable advances with his physique and game in recent years, has positioned himself to hear his name called early in the selection in June.

Alex Sarr | F/C | Age: 18.6 | Perth Wildcats

Sarr’s Strengths

Sarr, 18, is one of the most physically talented players in this draft class, towering at 7-foot-1, 217 pounds with a 7-412 wingspan and 9-212 standing reach. He has ideal proportions and a body type that can still add muscle. He combines that physique with excellent agility for his stature as a fluid athlete who can shift his feet, shows explosiveness as a leaper, and successfully covers territory on defense.

Sarr possesses the characteristics and potential to be a high-level interior defender by NBA standards, capable of playing the 4 or 5 and providing rim protection, schematic versatility, and some ability to switch on the perimeter. Sarr has the potential to develop into a top-tier defensive big man.

Sarr’s offensive contributions come in spurts, but he’s surprisingly good for a guy his stature. He can attack with the ball, shoot shots with range out to the 3-point line, and finish around the basket. Consistency has been a concern in all of those areas. Sarr can do all of those things, giving for some potential as a two-way big who can finish plays efficiently, even if he is unlikely to develop into a go-to scorer.

Sarr’s Weaknesses

Sarr’s consistency is unattainable at this point in his career. He made a relatively successful transition to the NBL from a much lesser level at Overtime Elite, and he has had a few of huge games while playing 15-20 minutes each night on average. The guards on his squad are better scorers by trade, so he isn’t getting fed as a finisher as frequently as he could be. However, his general feel for the game and ability to execute his job at a high level are still developing and will influence where he is picked. His ball-handling decisions and defensive tendencies require improvement.

Sarr has tremendous touch on his made shots, but his results have been disappointing — he’s making 62% of his free throws and 33% of his 3s. His mechanics aren’t poor, but he’s inconsistent in how he moves the ball to his shooting pocket, which is caused in part by an elongated dip while catching and shooting, which causes extra motion. He doesn’t always shoot with confidence, and projecting him as a top-tier shooter at his position demands some hope.

Furthermore, scouts have long criticized Sarr for his lack of physicality and toughness, an area in which he is developing but which does show up on occasion. He should be a more effective rebounder, and he doesn’t inflict much damage on opponents near the basket, sometimes avoiding contact and preferring to finish with delicacy when a body is between him and the rim.

What NBA scouts are saying about Sarr

After speaking with a number of NBA scouts, it appears like Sarr has some long-term potential. It’s simple to point out his flaws: having an inconsistent motor and a lack of physicality is nothing new for adolescent bigs adjusting to life at the professional level. Teams I talked with mainly saw Sarr’s move with Perth as a success, expressing excitement about his potential and praising his overall contributions to the squad.

Given his present trajectory, it is expected that Sarr will take a little longer to fully grow. A handful of scouts agreed that they’d rather pick him later in the draft, with his prospects presenting a superior value proposition if he’s taken outside the top five. Sarr would be projected as a late-lottery to mid-first-round player rather than a top-five choice in a superior draft class.

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