Rob Dillingham: Road to the 2024 NBA Draft

2024 NBA prospect Rob Dillingham has ‘future microwave-scorer’ written all over him. And after securing SEC Sixth Man of the Year honors during his lone season at Kentucky, Dillingham appears to be on course to be a top 10 pick in the draft. 

Dillingham is widely regarded as the prospect with the most dynamic combination of ball-handling wizardry and 1-on-1 isolation scoring. However, question marks about his size and durability—he measured in at just 6’1” (without shoes) and only 164 pounds at the NBA combine—along with defensive concerns, may cause some teams to hesitate to use a top 5 pick on him.

Throughout the entirety of the draft process, players get ample opportunities to raise their personal draft stock. While teams have already seen an abundance of game film on most the players in the draft, things like interviews, athletic measurements, and live scrimmages can drastically alter a team’s overall perception of a player—for better or for worse. For a player like Dillingham however, the predraft process doesn’t project to play that large a role in where he ultimately end up. Dillingham’s on-court strengths and weaknesses are about as clearly defined as any prospect in the draft, so when projecting where he’ll end up, it’s really more a matter of fit.

With a game that screams Bones Hyland, but also carries whispers of Darius Garland, Dillingham has a wide range of possible outcomes at the NBA level. Dillingham’s overall development over the next few years will ultimately determine whether he is best suited for a heat-check off the bench role or if he is capable of maintaining a high enough level of offensive output to offset his defensive shortcomings. Players with as slight a frame as Dillingham are few and far between in the NBA, and even fewer still maintain large roles on NBA rosters. Having said that, players like Trae Young and Anfernee Simons stand as comparable players who’s offensive exploits are so explosive that they more than make up for whatever ineptidues they have on the other end of the court.

As I previously mentioned, overall ‘fit’ could be the most telling indicator in determining where Dillingham may end up. Teams like the Atlanta Hawks, Detroit Pistons, and Portland Trailblazers all have high picks, but they also all have fairly crowded backcourts, and perhaps not a solid enough defensive foundation to support Dillingham’s deficiencies. 

Teams with high picks that come to mind as good potential longterm fits for a player like Dillingham include, the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, and Charlotte Hornets. Depending on which direction the Washington Wizards decide to in the early stages of their rebuild, they could also be in play for Dillingham at pick #2. Of all the teams potentially in the mix for Dillingham, the San Antonio Spurs seem like the current frontrunners to swoop him up on draft night. 

It has long been reported that the Spurs are looking for their point guard of the future to pair with generational talent and defensive system unto himself, Victor Wembanyama. And with picks #4 and #8 in the 2024 draft, they will almost certainly have a chance to select Rob Dillingham, if he is indeed deemed an ideal fit with Wembanyama.

Small guards often dominate the game at the college level, manipulating and domineering with a combined mastery of both ball handling and perimeter shooting. In many cases however, those same guards struggle to adjust to the speed and physicality at the next level. For just as many Steph Currys, Jalen Brunsons, and Kyrie Irvings, there are just as many—if not more—Trey Burkes, Jonny Flynns, and Jimmer Fredettes. With that being said, given the perceived lack of star-power in this draft, teams likely won’t take too many previous draft flops into account when contemplating Dillingham. 

Despite his shortcomings, Dillingham is clearly one of the most talented prospects in the draft, and offers a next-level mixture of on-ball craftiness and scoring dynamism, \\that is rivaled by no other prospect in the draft—bar none.

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