Tennessee basketball's Dalton Knecht ranked as NBA Lottery pick

Tennessee Volunteers guard Dalton Knecht (3) holds up three fingers to celebrate a three-point
Tennessee Volunteers guard Dalton Knecht (3) holds up three fingers to celebrate a three-point / Grace Hollars/IndyStar / USA TODAY

Tennessee basketball struck gold last year when they signed Northern Colorado small forward Dalton Knecht to play his final college basketball season on Rocky Top. He had a unique path to Tennessee, but it will all be worth it for Knecht when he hears his name called in the 2024 NBA Draft. 

Knecht committed to JUCO Northeastern as a zero-star prospect out of high school before transferring to Northern Colorado, where he became one of the best small forwards in the transfer portal last season, and coming to Tennessee for his final season and became a top prospect in this year's draft.

He caught fire from the start of SEC play and finished the season averaging 21.7 points per game, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists while shooting 45.8% from the field and 39.7% from three.  He almost single-handedly carried the Vols through the ups and downs of conference play and helped the Vols win another SEC Championship. 

ESPN has ranked the top 25 prospects in this year's NBA Draft, and Knecht is ranked No. 8 overall and the fourth-best prospect out of college. Three international players and one G-League player are also ahead of Knecht. This would project Knecht to land in the draft lottery, consisting of the first 14 picks. 

"There's little doubt Knecht is one of the most polished scorers in the draft after a huge season at Tennessee that legitimized him as an NBA talent -- he wasn't on the radar this time a year ago at Northern Colorado," ESPN's Jeremy Woo writes. "Not every team will prioritize selecting an older prospect this high in the draft, but there's a real chance Knecht will be selected by a lottery team that's comfortable with his defensive limitations. In an uncertain draft class, Knecht has been able to set himself apart as a relatively easy player to evaluate -- he should space the floor and score when called upon -- and will be appealing as a plug-and-play option beginning in this range of the draft."

Some notable players ahead of Knecht are Kentucky's Reed Sheppard and Robb Dillingham and Connecticut's Donovan Clingan. Knecht brings some physicality, toughness, and versatility that many don't in this year's draft, which is why he is so high on many'smany draft boards. 

The 2024 NBA Draft will take place on June 26-27, and the Draft Lottery is right around the corner on May 12, 2024, which will be the day we will know where Knecht will likely be drafted in June. The NBA Draft Combine also starts on May 12 and will go through May 19. 

The NBA Draft Lottery determines where teams with picks in the top 14 of the draft will ultimately pick. It's not as cut and dry as the NFL Draft, where the worst team gets the first pick. Here are the odds for each team to land the first pick in this year's draft. 

1. Detroit Pistons (14%)

2. Washington Wizards (14%)

3. Charlotte Hornets (12.5-14%)

4. San Antonio Spurs (12.5-14%)

5. Portland Trail Blazers (10.5%)

6. Toronto Raptors (9%)

7. Memphis Grizzlies (7.5%)

8. Utah Jazz (6%)

9. Brooklyn Nets (4.5%) - Rights to pick to Houston

10. Atlanta Hawks (3%)

11. Chicago Bulls (2%)

12. Houston Rockets(1.5%) - rights to Oklahoma City Thunder

13. Sacramento Kings (1%)

14. Golden State Warriors (0.5%) - rights to Portland Trail Blazers