Because We Can't Shoot

NBA Draft Big Sleepers

Written by: Ben Steinmetz, Jordan Dant, Matt Sawyer

Every team in the NBA is looking for the next Draymond Green. Every season players slip through the cracks into the second round and late first round for seemingly inane reasons, and every year fans continue to ask “why do these scouts and GM’s make so much money if they continue to pass on Draymond, Parsons, Manu, Millsap, etc.?” I’m not saying that has all of the answers, but when one of these guys inevitably turns from late second rounder into a starting caliber player in the NBA we’ll be here to remind you that you heard it here first.

Ben’s Sleepers

Dillon Brooks: Brooks was a go-to player who could be counted on to create offense for Oregon. He has good size for the two guard position and should also be big enough to play some NBA three. He’s a good shooter with solid athleticism who I could see in a similar role to Nick Young at the next level, an energy guy off of the bench who can get hot and go on one man scoring runs.

James Blackmon: Near the back end of the draft you’re either looking at slim pickings in terms of skill or longshot developmental players. Keeping that in mind, if you can find a player with one elite NBA-level skill, then that player is worth a late second round selection. Blackmon possesses elite shooting with NBA range and has solid size and wingspan for a guard. His defense is abysmal, but near the end of the draft he could have a similar impact to Ian Clark.

VJ Beachem: Length and shooting ability define Beahcem, and near the back end of the draft he’s a rare high-upside pick. As an NBA wing he possess good size and wingspan, and can stretch defenses with his shooting. He could find himself as a 3 and D role player and would be a solid and welcome addition to most NBA teams’ bench units.

Alec Peters: My sleeper of this draft, I think that Peters is worthy of a late first round pick. He’s got great size for a wing, and maybe enough size to be a stretch four. His shooting is elite and his rebounding and passing are both solid. He’s not quick and he’s not an explosive leaper by any stretch of the imagination but he’s strong and has a high basketball IQ. I look at Peters’ game and I see a bigger Kyle Korver. I know that most NBA teams could use a guy who can stretch the floor at the 4 position and I think Peters’ value in this draft is being overlooked by nearly everyone. 

Damyean Dotson: Dotson had a terrific shooting season, hitting 108 threes on 44% from deep. He measured well at the combine with a 6’9 wingspan and a 38 inch max vert. He’s already 23 and his abilities off the bounce and running the pick and roll are limited, but he’s undervalued in this draft and could fit well as a 3 and D player who can defend guards and wings while stretching the floor with his elite shooting.

Jordan’s Sleepers 

Frank Jackson: Jackson surprised a lot of people by coming out early, after being originally pegged as a mid-second round pick. However, after a strong combine teams began to take a closer look. Jackson showed some very impressive flashes at Duke. He’s an elite athlete and shows the potential to be a good shooter from deep (40%). If Jackson can add some shot creation ability he could be a great combo guard. As you will see with a lot of my sleepers, the ability to be a shooter and/or a versatile defender is at a premium and teams should be trying as hard as they can to fill their rosters with these types of players.

Davon Reed: Davon Reed is the prototype for 3nD. He’s 6’6” with a 7’0” wingspan, he showed good defensive potential at Miami (2.3 steal rate) and he shoots the 3 at 40%. He will need to round out the rest of his game, but he certainly has the potential to fill a role that every team is looking for more of.

Jamel Artis: As much, if not more than most, I am a huge believer that you should draft as young as possible. The 24 year old Jamel may be an exception however. He has a 6’10” wingspan, and has a great defensive pedigree after playing 3 years for Jamie Dixon. He can score at the rim, with pull ups, and from 3 point range (55% from 2 and 39% from 3). One last thing that set him apart for me is his 22.8 assist rate. At 6’7” if he can be a wing who can defend, hit 3s, and attack closeouts, it’s arguable he should be a 1st round pick.

Cameron Oliver: I’m frankly unsure of how Cameron Oliver isn’t getting more attention. We are talking about a good rebounder with an 8.3 block rate. Not only that, but he is a great finisher and stretches the floor out to the NBA line with a 3pt% of 38%. As in demand as stretch bigs are, especially those that can defend as well, it’s hard to believe that Cameron Oliver isn’t picking up more hype.

Jordan Bell: Big men were hard to find playing the the later rounds of the NBA playoffs, but Jordan Bell is the one type of big man who can find a role there. He rebounds both offensively and defensively, finishes above the rim, has a massive block rate (8.4), and most importantly will be able to switch out on pick-and-rolls if necessary. While he isn’t going to spread the floor or be a guy you run offense through, he can be exactly the type of big man role player that will be an asset in any game or series.

Matt’s Sleepers

Monte Morris: During his time in Ames, Monte Morris orchestrated 4 offenses that never finished below 12th in efficiency. His usage continuously increased and, coincidentally, so did his scoring and passing numbers. The amazing thing is, while Morris’ usage rate went up, he shattered the Assist:Turnover ratio record in 2016 and followed that up by doing it again in 2017. HIs final AST% was 32% and his final TO% was 7.5%. With a relatively high usage, that is remarkable. He is an efficient enough scorer (53% 2PT and 38% 3PT) and, with decreased usage and more shot selectivity, he has a chance to become more efficient. He is not going to be Tony Parker, but as less of a shooting threat but a good finisher and midrange shooter, he can fit nicely into an offense with other ways to score. As a ready to play PG on a more established team, I think Morris is a smart late first round pick. 

Dwayne Bacon: Bacon is the same size as Glenn Robinson III. They shot nearly identical numbers in college and both possess the same physical maturation necessary to make an instant impact in the NBA. While Bacon is not an elite shooter, he improved his 3PT% by 5% between his first and second seasons at FSU and he shot 75% from the FT line. Like other players in this draft who were the best scoring option on their team he had a very high usage rate (his usage was at 29%), and that probably contributed to some of his offensive pitfalls. He can add value if he can use his strength and size to play solid defense and if he can improve his shooting enough to keep the defense honest. If that happens, it opens up his ability to make shots and get to the FT line.

LJ Peak: Like Bacon, he is physically ready to play in the NBA now. Like Bacon, he can help a team defensively with his versatility — he is big and has a 6’10 wingspan — and offensively with his ability to score in multiple ways (7.3FTA per 40 and 60% TS). He is an 80% FT shooter, which signals that he can grow from his 33% 3PT shooting number at Georgetown. He has valuable role player all over him: defense, underrated passing (4.2apg per 40), scoring off cuts and in spot moments of isolation, and enough shooting to keep him on the floor. 

Sterling Brown: Sterling Brown is 22 years old, 6’6 230lbs with a 6’10 wingspan, and shot 45% from 3 last season. If you ask me, he can be a 3 and D wing in the NBA now. He is not the most natural scorer with the ball in his hands, but he doesn’t have to be to carve out a role on a team. As long as he uses his strength, size and quickness on defense, continues to shoot well, and translates his solid rebounding (8rpg per 40), he will make an NBA team and play.

Kyle Kuzma: The main questions surrounding Kuzma are if he can shoot and defend. Offensively, he showcased great footwork in the mid-post, handled and finished in transition, and played well driving out of the pick-and-pop. To that degree, he has versatility. If he cannot improve his shooting, however, his ability to be a prototypical NBA 4 will be hindered. Defensively, he is 6’9 with a 7’0 wingspan, but it remains to be seen if he is agile enough to guard wings. He is a clear second-rounder to me but, if he can improve shooting and become a more willing passer (3.1apg) out of post and PnR situations, I think he can find a spot on a team.

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