Dalton Knecht’s Unique Path to Becoming an NBA Lottery Pick

Dalton Knecht has come a long way since his time at Northeastern Junior College, and Northern Colorado. Following a transfer to Tennessee, Knecht blossomed into a national star, collecting SEC Player of the Year honors, and looking like a surefire lottery pick in the upcoming 2024 NBA Draft. Knecht is a slightly older prospect (23), then the typical player who is selected in the lottery, but Knecht’s game speaks for itself. With textbook shooting mechanics, and a 3pt connection rate north of 39%, Dalton Knecht has a real argument to be the best shooter in the draft. Although Knecht is not viewed as a prospect with a ton of untapped potential or upside, he still carries an immense amount of value because of what he will be able to bring to an NBA offense on day 1, whatever team selects him will likely be expecting him to play an immediate and impactful role in a competitive environment—and that’s not something that can be said about every lottery player.

Following a remarkable run through the SEC regular season and conference tournament, Dalton Knecht continued to showcase his scoring exploits deep into March during the NCAA National Tournament. Although Tennessee would eventually fall to a dominant Purdue squad during the Elite Eight, the fault could not be placed at the feet of Knecht. Throughout the duration of Tennessee’s run in the tournament, Knecht continued to show off the dynamic combination of positional size, electric perimeter shooting, and sneaky athleticism that has caused many NBA teams in the lottery to look past his age (23). As the defense tightened and the overall level of competition raised, Knecht still managed an efficient and effective 26ppg during March Madness.

At the next level, Knecht’s ability to stretch out defenses and create spacing on the court will likely be his number one calling card. There is a clear pathway for him to develop into a player similar to that of Bojan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, or Max Strus. And while no one would mistake Bogdanovic, Huerter, or Strus for All-Star level players, they are solid role players, who have held down key positions on competitive NBA teams for many years. If Knecht manages to find his way onto a team that is looking to be competitive as soon as next year, he could find himself making an impact very early on. A rookie campaign eerily similar to that of Brandon Podziemski or Jaimie Jaquez Jr. is not out of the question.

When projecting where Knecht might land, there are three franchises with realistic chances of landing him, who would be ideal fits. Firstly, the San Antonio Spurs, with pick #4 or #8, (pick #8 seems more realistic), are likely trying to load up on all the floor-spacing they can to pair with Victor Wembanyama. Although the Spurs are definitely still in rebuild mode, and likely still a year or two away from truly being competitive, an opportunity to play for a once-in-a-generation talent like Wembanyama is surely an opportunity that anyone—bar none—from the 2024 NBA Draft would pass up. Secondly, the Memphis Grizzlies at pick #9 would be another great landing spot for Knecht. Following a down year, the Grizzlies are surely looking to regain their place amongst title contenders next year, and what better way to do that than to select the most pro ready floor spacer available. And lastly, the Thunder, who own pick #12, are always on the lookout for more shooting. Although as things currently stand, the likelihood of Knecht lasting until pick #12 seems rather slim, if he is there the Thunder would surely jump at the opportunity. And needless to say, following years of tanking and slow building, the Thunder are in full-blown win-now mode following their finish as the #1 seed in the highly competitive Western Conference last season.

Dalton Knecht has come a long way from his humble beginnings, starting out his college career at a junior college. After making measured improvements year after year and eventually transferring to a big name school in Tennessee, Knecht is set to become a lottery pick on the night of June 26th. Wherever Knecht winds up, his staying power within the league will be inextricably tied to his ability to shoot the basketball. In a class that draft analysts have long bemoaned for its perceived lack of top-tier star power, Knecht once again has an opportunity to prove the critics wrong, and truly make a name for himself.

You May Also Like

More From Author