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When Michael Jordan in 2017 famously -- er, rather, infamously -- said the "ceiling is the roof" in reference to UNC's football program, it was interpreted by myriad people to mean myriad things. Was it a metaphor? Nerves? Trolling? Did he accidentally impart the GOAT of riddles in front of Tar Heels fans for the world to see?

Literally though, despite what one Duke engineering professor argued, the ceiling is not the roof. The ceiling is the ceiling: material the covers the underbelly of the roof. And the roof is the roof: the area above the ceiling that protects the structure. Maybe it's semantics. MJ gets a pass on a technicality from yours truly, but there is a distinction.

So to steal straight from the GOAT himself -- and to help keep things simple for the directionally challenged -- today I'm going to rip his famous line to draw my own distinctions about the 2024 NBA Draft class and some of the top prospects. Instead of an examination of the best and worst case scenarios for some of this year's talents, below I will instead look at the ceiling and the floor for a handful. That's two separate areas -- think high vs. low, best vs. worst -- that even MJ can draw a distinction between. We'll keep it simple.

Let's get to it. 

Alex Sarr
C | 7-0 | France
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Ceiling scenario: Jaren Jackson Jr.
Floor scenario: Nic Claxton

The range of outcomes for Sarr is as wide as just about any prospect in the 2024 draft class. If he hits his ceiling he'll develop his natural defensive instincts and become an anchor defensively who can switch almost everything while molding himself into a well-rounded shooter who can space the floor. If he hits the floor he'll have a career similar to Claxton as a starting big who can be great defensively but isn't dynamic enough on offense to be worth the No. 1 pick. 

Zaccharie Risacher
SF | 6-9 | France
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Ceiling scenario: More dynamic Michael Porter Jr.
Floor scenario: Torrey Craig

In an ideal world, Risacher in the NBA becomes a more functional version of Porter Jr. -- an excellent shooter who thrives off catch-and-shoot opportunities and consistently makes shots from beyond the arc. This ideal world would involve Risacher also adding to his bag more dynamism off the bounce and adding strength to allow him to be a threat off the dribble and finishing around the bucket. In a floor scenario, Risacher never develops that part of his game and the shooting -- which right now appears to be one of his biggest selling points long-term given the way he's grown in that area -- never fully materializes. 

Stephon Castle
UCONN • PG • #5
PG | 6-6 | UConn | Fr.
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Ceiling scenario: Supercharged Jrue Holiday
Floor scenario: Pat Beverley

Castle was the lead attack dog on the perimeter for a UConn team that finished fourth in defensive efficiency last season and finished 37-3. Everyone knows he played for the Huskies but no one truly appreciates the dog in him as a tireless defensive energizer who can cover the length of the floor and clamp down. His game reminds me of Holiday -- who, by the way, is on the cusp of winning another title -- and there's some projection in that comp, too, with the hope that he grows into a dynamic playmaker. A floor outcome for Castle might be like a Beverley circa 2015 range -- a good NBA player with a long career who can hold up defensively and develops a shot to become a threat, but is never quite a primary playmaker entrusted with running the show. 

Reed Sheppard
UK • SG • #15
PG | 6-2 | Kentucky | Fr.
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Ceiling scenario: Jeff Teague
Floor scenario: Sharper shooting Davion Mitchell

This feels like a very narrow window of outcomes for Sheppard and reflects the confidence level I have in him and his NBA career. He's a dynamic defensive playmaker and a very underrated passer and offensive playmaker. Jeff Teague feels like a great potential outcome for his career -- a former All-Star who averaged 5.6 assists over his career and developed into an ultra reliable 3-point shooter. Sheppard has the tools to piece together a Teague-like career and on paper he's a much more dynamic shooter to boot. 

Donovan Clingan
UCONN • C • #32
C | 7-2 | UConn | Soph.
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Ceiling scenario: Rudy Gobert
Floor scenario: Mo Bamba

There might not be any players in this class more NBA-ready defensively than Clingan, who served as the anchor each of the last two seasons for UConn in its run to back to back titles. His size and anticipation should move up and project at the next level nicely to make him one of the highest floor players in the class with a ceiling of Gobert -- a multi-time Defensive Player of the Year. The floor would be a player like Bamba, whose size is tantalizing but skill is evasive. Clingan's much more reliable as a finisher around the rim and much more of a threat as a shot-blocker, so I feel more confident in the ceiling here than the floor, which is an excellent case for him to be viewed as a top-three talent in this class.