The NBA Draft always seems to have some hidden gems lurking somewhere. Take two-time NBA champion Draymond Green, who fell all the way down to No. 35 in the draft and proceeded to revolutionize the league with the Golden State Warriors. Who could those potential sleepers be in the upcoming 2017 NBA draft? Here are five good candidates, one for each position.
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2017 NBA Draft Sleepers
Point Guard – Jawun Evans, Oklahoma State
Evans had quite the sophomore season at Stillwater. As the undisputed No. 1 option for Oklahoma State, Evans went on to average 19.2 points (2nd in the Big 12), 6.4 assists (1st), and 1.8 steals (3rd), which are very impressive numbers.
Evans isn’t the tallest player around—he’s listed as a very generous 6-1, but he may not even be six foot. However, he plays much bigger than his height thanks to a 6’5 1/2″ wingspan, which should help him compete defensively.
There shouldn’t be too many concerns on the offensive end, though. Evans got to play a lot of pick-and-roll at Oklahoma State, which should make him very prepared to play in the PNR-heavy offenses at the next level.
Most mock drafts currently have Evans in the 20s, which feels low given his talent level. But whichever team lands him at that range should get some terrific value.
Shooting Guard – Sterling Brown, SMU
Brown is the younger brother of former Los Angeles Lakers guard Shannon Brown. While he’s not quite as athletic as Shannon, who was known for his high-flying dunks, Sterling does have a very valuable NBA skill with his shooting that makes him a big draft sleeper.
Sterling had some simply sterling shooting numbers at SMU, as he shot 45 percent from 3 for his four-year career. He doubled his 3-point attempts from his junior year to his senior year, but he still shot an impressive 45 percent on nearly four attempts per game.
Brown is also a bit better built than his brother at 6-foot-5, 225 lbs. with a 6’9 1/2″ wingspan. In a league that’s starved for 3-and-D wings at the moment, Brown has all the tools to excel in that role and would make the team that takes a chance on him in the second round very happy.
Small Forward – Devin Robinson, Florida
Over the years, we’ve seen several athletic freaks—oftentimes wings—fail to stick around in the NBA because they could never really learn to shoot. But Robinson doesn’t look like he’s bound to join that list. Robinson made himself into a reliable 3-point shooter in his junior year at Florida, where he shot an impressive 39 percent.
Robinson also has a lot of potential on the “D” part of the 3-and-D equation. He’s got great size—6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-1 wingspan—and with his terrific athleticism, he could be able to guard at least four positions.
You’d think someone with that type of skill set would be lock for the first-round, but Robinson still has some flaws. Apart from his age—he’s already 22—his left hand is very weak, and he has problems putting together consistent performances.
But despite those negatives, Robinson just reeks of being a sleeper who can be great if he lands in the right situation with the right coaching that can tap into his immense potential.
Power Forward – Jonah Bolden, Australia
Bolden made a bold move to leave UCLA and play in the Adriatic League in Serbia, not only because of the huge cultural and lifestyle changes, but because he took his name out of the limelight compared to other stateside prospects. But he made it work, so much so that he took home the league’s top prospect award last season, an award that was also handed to Dario Saric and Nikola Jokic in the recent past.
Bolden doesn’t figure to be a breakout star like Jokic, but the Aussie does have the potential to be a very valuable 3-and-D wing/small-ball 4. He has all the tools to be successful in such a role, from size (6-foot-10) to length to athleticism to shooting ability (40 percent shooter from 3 in Serbia) to defensive ability. He’s currently slated in the mid- to late-second round in most mock drafts, but don’t be surprised if he rises as the draft draws nearer.
Center – Anzejs Pasecniks, Latvia
Pasecniks is a much different player than his fellow Latvian, Kristaps Porzingis. While the Zinger is a more perimeter-oriented player who loves shooting 3s, Pasecniks’ specialty lies in his superior interior finishing, particularly in the pick-and-roll. He is similar to Porzingis in that he remains very mobile despite his tremendous height of 7-foot-2. He also has a bit of a stroke from beyond the arc.
Pasecniks still not very good on the defensive end, but someone with his height and mobility should be able to at least get better. He’ll likely do a lot of that developing in Europe, though, as some teams will likely plan to draft-and-stash him for a few years. But with his potential, don’t be surprised if that investment pays off in a big way down the line.
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