Reed Sheppard was, by most accounts, one of the top performers at the NBA Scouting Combine in Chicago last week.

Sheppard measured in at 6’1.75″ without shoes and 181.6 pounds. He posted a wingspan of 6’3.25″ and a standing reach of 7’9.50″. While small by the modern NBA’s standards, he posted comparable measurables to Steph Curry when he went through the draft process and seemed to impress those in attendance with his 3-point shooting and his athleticism.

Scouts knew Sheppard had a lethal shot from downtown. He displayed it time and again in his lone season at Kentucky. His defensive numbers were strong as well. He showed sound decision-making as a freshman and generally surprised people in college basketball with just how good he was right away. But, because of his size, there were going to be some questions that needed answering in the Combine environment.

Sheppard then went out and posted a max vertical leap of 42.0 inches, tying for the best at the Combine. And, for good measure, he looked great shooting off-movement 3s.

There’s no doubt Sheppard helped himself at the Combine. In individual workouts, he might continue to rise if he shoots the ball well. Several teams will fall in love with a guard that has all his attributes.

It seems like a lock that he’ll be drafted in the lottery. Figuring out where exactly in the lottery is a little tougher. At one point before the NCAA Tournament began, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor had Sheppard as the No. 1 overall pick in his mock draft. (He currently has Sheppard sixth.)

At FanDuel, French big man Alex Sarr is the betting favorite to go first overall (-240). Sheppard’s odds sit at +5000 at the time of publication. With a little more than a month to go before the 2024 NBA Draft on June 26, there might be some serious value there.

This isn’t like last year, where there was a generational talent at No. 1. Sarr is not a can’t-miss prospect. Frankly, no one in this draft class fits that bill. Some NBA executives even told college hoops reporter Jeff Goodman they believe this is a historically weak class.

What happens when there’s no consensus and general pessimism? Chaos. Think Anthony Bennett in 2013.

It’s also entirely possible the No. 1 pick changes hands between now and the time of the draft. The Atlanta Hawks own the top pick and there is plenty of speculation about what they will do with it. After a 10th-place finish this season, the Hawks have a star backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray to either build around or break apart. Atlanta gave up 3 firsts to acquire Murray in 2022 but has won just 2 total Playoff games since. The Hawks are well over the cap, so trading No. 1 might be the best way to add a major piece to the team if they want to keep the backcourt together.

And there are several teams who could come calling.

ESPN’s Jonathan Givony ranked Sheppard as the No. 4 overall prospect in the draft on Friday. (His player rankings did not have Sarr at No. 1.) On Sheppard, he wrote the following:

Sheppard measured a little bigger than expected at 6-3 in shoes while testing a 42-inch vertical leap in Chicago. He also looked like the clear-cut best shooter in the draft every time he had a ball in his hands — both at the combine and his pro day in Los Angeles this week. Several teams have said that Sheppard’s statistical profile — with his incredible scoring efficiency (56% 2P%, 52% 3P%, 83% FT%) combined with his excellent steal, block and passing metrics — have him ranked as the No. 1 prospect in their draft models, something that surely has caught the attention of analytically inclined front offices, such as the Houston Rockets.

With the premium that NBA teams are increasingly placing on perimeter shooting, it’s hard to see Sheppard dropping below the top 5, with his fit in San Antonio alongside Victor Wembanyama looking especially strong at the Spurs’ No. 4 pick. 

Is there a Sheppard team that is willing to give up the necessary assets to trade for the first overall pick and use it on a 6-foot-1 guard? That remains to be seen.

But it’s also worth mentioning that John Calipari has one of the best track records of any coach in the college game at producing high-end NBA guards. Devin Booker proved better than his selection (13th overall) would indicate. Same goes for Tyrese Maxey (21st). De’Aaron Fox (fifth) would be a top-3 pick if his class was re-drafted. Cason Wallace (10th) played Playoff minutes for Oklahoma City as a rookie. Tyler Herro (13th) has already won Sixth Man of the Year. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (11th) had an MVP-worthy season. If a team “reached” on Sheppard, the front office could mention Kentucky and folks would just nod in agreement.

Sheppard averaged 17.2 points, 6.2 assists, and 3.4 steals per 40 minutes as a freshman. He did that while primarily coming off the bench. He shot 54% from the field and 52% from 3 on high volume. He had the best box plus/minus of anyone in the Kentucky rotation and the most defensive win shares.

Given his Combine testing, Sheppard has a unique case.

Related: Want to bet on Kentucky sports? Get signed up today with a bet365 Kentucky promo code and start winning real money today.