• When judging prospects, it is always important to remember that we must also account for growth rather than just the player they are currently. The “bust” label is sometimes thrown at players too quickly as the learning curve can be sharper for some. There will be players with a lot of good raw tools who need development over a few years to realize their full potential. These “project” players are intentional long-term investments who can pay off that faith as we saw with the breakout of Jalen Johnson for the Hawks this past season, a few years after being the 20th pick in the 2021 draft. Another breakout player from the 2021 draft in 2023-24 was Jonathan Kuminga, who was featured in our Patience Required article the year that he was drafted.

    All of these players won’t be successful, but they are some of the names you want to know for dynasty leagues if you can commit to a multi-year stash, but if you’re in a redraft league, having these names in the back of your mind for the coming years can also give you an edge. A passing thought of how is “this guy” doing now? How is he developing? Is 2027 “his year” to shine? Maybe you’ll get the next Jalen Johnson in a future fantasy draft and dominate the competition.

    Tidjane Salaun, F, Cholet Basket (France)

    Salaun has gathered momentum as the next “high-upside lottery prospect with measurements that just need to develop enough NBA skills”. We’ve seen plenty of these prospects come into the league, with varying success levels – Aleksej Pokuševski, Ousmane Dieng, Ziaire Williams and Cam Reddish are all names that could apply here. However, just because a prospect is drafted high is no guarantee of immediate success. In fact, nearly no rookies are positive on-court or fantasy players early in their careers. It takes time for players to become the full version of themselves – just look at Giannis Antetokounmpo as a shining example.

    For Salaun, he has decent bones to start out with in regards to the player he will become on the court. First, he is nearly 6’9” in height without shoes, with a 7’1.5” wingspan, and is nearly 220 pounds. Those are great measurements for an NBA forward, especially one who will not even be 19 years of age when he will be drafted. Second is the age just mentioned. Salaun has time to develop before he even approaches his prime athletic years. Third, he does have some decent developing skills already in his shooting and steals. Salaun shot 32.9% from deep on acceptable volume, which is a fine percentage at this point in his career. While his defensive tape is highly inconsistent, he still flashes a propensity for event-creation, with 1.2 steals in his 22.7 minutes per game. All that said, Salaun has much to work on to become an NBA rotation player. Given some of the signs though, he could be a gamble worth taking in your fantasy dynasty drafts. Just be prepared to stash him for the first two seasons.

    – Written by Mark Camero

    Cody Williams, F, Colorado

    Cody Williams will naturally draw comparisons to his brother Jalen Williams. Some may tell you that any hype Cody has is only linked to his brother and some may equate their playstyles in a 1-to-1 way. We aren’t going to do that. but one thing can be said, Cody at 19 years old is considered to be further along in his development than his brother was at that age. After all, despite J-Dub’s success in the NBA so far, he entered the draft at 21 years old and only saw a late rise up 2022 draft boards during the combine. There is some disagreement surrounding Cody as some see him as a coveted lottery talent and others view him as more of a mid-first round prospect.

    Cody measures in around 6’6.5″ to 6’7.75″ depending on where you look, with a plus wingspan around 7’1″. Besides enticing physical tools, Williams excels at finishing at the rim, as a 3-point shooter albeit on low volume and in his general understanding of the game. He needs to add some muscle to a slight frame and become more consistent as a defender despite already showing willing effort. There are also some hints of playmaking potential too. If Cody does not hit the ground running he is a player at risk of having the “bust” label pointed at him due to his brother’s rookie season and general success, but this is a reminder that Cody is younger than J-Dub was and may have more tools at his disposal in the long term.

    Ulrich Chomche, C/F, NBA Academy Africa

    Ulrich Chomche hails from the NBA Academy Africa and he simply screams raw potential. The level of competition was not great, but the flashes of dynamism were unbelievable. As a 6’11” big man with athletic tools, he showed some ability to comfortably shoot 3-pointers, put the ball on the floor, make some passing reads and play versatile defense in the pick-and-roll including drop coverage and even switching. He has a background in soccer (football for the non-Americans), and the footwork seems to have translated over to his defense, as he shuffles around nicely a low defensive stance.

    Chomche only played three games though so it is a small sample size of film and once again, the level of competition was not exactly high. He also averaged 5.0 turnovers a game despite the impressive flashes but if they are real, he could have true upside to be a balanced 9-cat producer. That future is very far away and will depend on how he develops though, as he simply should not be ready for NBA competition anytime soon. Chomche needs to land with an organization known for their development and spend some time in the G League honing his skills and reading of the game. If there is a candidate from the lower portions of the second round to explode on the scene in a few years though, it would be Chomche. Unfortunately, he could also be a player you never hear from again after draft night, but that’s how it goes with these high-risk, high-reward prospects.

    Pacome Dadiet, G/F, Ratiopharm Ulm (Germany)

    Pacome Dadiet will be among the youngest names called on draft night, but he is a long, athletic wing which gives him a high ceiling. He has the makings of a potentially good on-ball scorer, but it isn’t something he will likely do a lot in his early years. He was a solid standstill spot-up shooter from three, but he should work on his shooting off movement and off the dribble. Dadiet’s raw length could also make him a player capable of playing positions 2 through 4 depending on how much muscle he adds to his frame.

    Dadiet will likely need to get on-ball reps in the G League to grow that facet of his game. While some of the players on this list could get some small minutes in their rookie year, Dadiet is a name we may not see much until a few years down the line. Despite not being there yet, as pointed out earlier, he has potential as a defender and if the on-ball game does not develop, Dadiet could fall back on some 3-and-D potential. He isn’t ideal at either of those traits either but with NBA coaching and youth on his side it could definitely be viable in a few years. Having multiple development paths should also be helpful for his case to earn a role in the future.

    A.J. Johnson, G, Illawarra (NBL – Australia)

    A.J. Johnson is a 19-year-old electric athlete who boasts speed and the explosiveness to get off the ground. That is always an exciting combination, but it isn’t his only allure. Johnson is 6’5″ with a tight, creative handle and that gives him self-creation upside alongside hints of playmaking potential seen from a variety of passes to create for others. He already has a decent finishing package when he gets to the rim but his 3-point shot is very inconsistent both off- and on-ball at the moment. He did flash some super-deep range at times when he was feeling it though.

    The drawbacks? Johnson is very slim and his physique just does not look ready for the NBA. The lack of physicality will hinder him finishing in traffic and getting to his spots. Additionally, he wasn’t playing significant minutes in the NBL and will need playing time to learn and grow from in-game situations. That will likely have to occur in the G League. Players like Johnson don’t always project well defensively but he actually competes on that end with solid activity and flashes of on-ball defensive upside. Once again though, a lack of physicality sometimes hinders that defensive potential. He can also lose his focus at times when off-ball but that can certainly be corrected. The best thing about Johnson is the way he speaks, seemingly eager and willing to learn and improve. While he likely won’t see the court much as a rookie, Johnson is another name that could pop up sometime in the future, and I hope you remember this piece if he does.

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