By Elijah Silas-Tafelsky
Last year Malcom Brogdon was the 36th pick in the NBA draft and nobody thought much of it. Brogdon ended up having arguably the best season of any rookie last year helping the Milwaukee Bucks make the playoffs. With the NBA Draft, only a week away I am looking at the upcoming drafts potential sleepers who could suprise during the next NBA season
- Derrick White: PG/SG – Colorado
- One year ago, Derrick White was on zero, I repeat zero NBA draft boards. He has incredible story of perseverance and drive to get to this point. White received zero division I or II scholarship offers out of high school due to him only being 6-foot-0 and 155 pounds. A late growth spurt and chance taken a by a local coach, White enrolled and played three seasons at Division II Colorado- Colorado Springs then transferred to the University of Colorado earning first-team All-Pac 12 honors during his lone season with the Buffalo’s. White was then he was invited to the Portsmouth Invitational Tournament and performed well enough there to get a spot at the NBA combine. White has done nothing but impress scouts with his overall game and now is considered a potential late first-round draft pick. He averaged 18 points per game in his one season at Colorado along 4 assists and 4 rebounds. White has knack for scoring and uses his height at 6-foot-5 to his advantage on defense and offense. And while he is not the quickest or strongest player, White picks his spots well and doesn’t try to force things on either end of the court. Even at 23 years of age, White has a lot to learn to improve his game. Considering White only played one year of division I basketball there will be an adjustment period with the overall jump in skill level but after what he has been through to get to this point doubting him would be certainly wrong.
Ideal Fits: (OKC, Orlando, Atlanta, Philadelphia, New Orleans, New York)
- Edmond Sumner: PG – Xavier
- If not for a season ending Torn ACL injury, Sumner would almost be guaranteed as a first-round pick. At 6-foot-6 Sumner has the combination of speed and size to be a productive guard at the next level. Sumner will likely redshirt the first half or most of his first season in the NBA but I think he is a steal if he falls into the second round. Not only can Sumner score but he averaged 5.0 assists 4.3 rebounds and 1.3 steals during his junior season which was cut short due to his ACL injury. His jump shot will need some work but outside of that he profiles great at the next level. Sumner for now profiles as a Shaun Livingston but if his jumper improves he can become an elite point guard at the next level. Even if Sumner misses most of the season recovering from his Torn ACL it won’t hurt as he is still learning how to become a complete player. A team where point guard isn’t a necessity for a season or two can and should take a chance on him.
Ideal Fits: ( Portland, Charlotte, Milwaukee, Memphis)
- Jonah Bolden: PF – Crvena Zvezda (Serbia)
- Born in Australia, Bolden enrolled at UCLA in 2014 before being ineligible because he was a partial qualifier, but played the next season with the Bruins before deciding to go play overseas for two seasons. Bolden is a terrific finisher in the lane and can post up and finish consistently with his turnaround jumpers while at the three-point line he shot 41.2% on 4.2 attempts per game. One thing that stands out about Bolden is his arms. At 6-foot-10 with a wingspan of 7-foot-3 Bolden is a great offensive rebounder. He has also shown to potential to be an elite shot blocker but has not been consistent enough on the defensive end and his positioning with his post defense needs work. With his length and skill set Bolden looks the part of a multidimensional power forward in the NBA for years to come. He is being considered a potential late first-round pick by many draft experts.
Ideal Fits: (Memphis, Utah, Toronto, Sacramento, OKC, Boston, Washington, Atlanta)
- Wesley Iwundu: SG/SF – Kansas State
- Standing at 6-foot-7 with a wingspan of 7-foot-1 and weighing 205 pounds, Wesley Iwundu has the body type of a natural small forward in the NBA. Iwundu was a late bloomer in high school receiving only a few division 1 offers. What stands out about Iwundu is his length and vision on the court. When you watch, him play Iwundu is great with the ball in his hands. He can attack the basket with his height and either put the ball in the hoop or dish it to an open teammate with ease. He averaged 5.3 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game as a senior at Kansas State. The one concern with Iwundu is his shot. As a freshman, he made seven 3-pointers on just 17 attempts from deep, but only 12 of his 49 attempts from beyond the arc as a sophomore and junior. Iwundu has the potential to be a good shooter but it appears he has lost confidence each season he played at Kansas State opting to attack the basket more. Another calling card for Iwundu is his defense which is fantastic and should improve as he gets to the NBA. His length plays a huge part in locking down defenders and he is a lot quicker than people would think at his height. If he gains more confidence in his shot, he should be a good NBA player for years to come and even if it doesn’t he will find his way stick on a NBA roster just based off his defense and ability to create with the ball in his hands.
Ideal Fits: (Toronto, Detroit, Denver, San Antonio, New York)
- Devin Robinson: SF/PF – Florida
- Devin Robinson just looks bouncy and well he is bouncy. When he wants too Robinson can flat out play on both ends of the floor. Based off his body and potential most thought Robinson would be at Florida for one or two seasons tops but he spent three seasons mainly because he didn’t look fluid on the court. What I mean by that is he sometimes looks out of position on offense and defense and is unsure where to be or move. Robinson does do a lot of good things. First off his length is tremendous asset on the court. At 6-foot-8 with 7-foot-1 wingspan and great speed for his height, Robinson can defend on the perimeter extremely well. Only 190 pounds, he will need to bulk up to make an impact down low. Robinson has steadily improved as a shooter in his time in Gainesville, making 43-of-110 three-point attempts this season for a career best of 39.1% as a junior. Robinson runs the floor well and in the NBA, he skill set should play great in an up-tempo offense. His feel for the game still isn’t there and weight is an issue going forward but with the way, the NBA is trending Robinson should find his way on to an NBA roster based off his potential.
Ideal Fits: ( Houston, Milwaukee, Golden State, San Antonio, Boston, Atlanta)
- Damyean Dotson: SG – Houston
- Dotson shot 44.3% on 244 attempts from three-point range as a senior at the University of Houston, which was 10th best in the country last season. His three-point percentage improved every season in college at Oregon and then Houston. That percentage along with his 6-foot-5 height make him an intriguing 3-and-D player at the next level. While scoring was, what Dotson was known for in College he averaged 6.9 rebounds per game as a senior after averaging 6.8 the year before. Dotson is athletic when he gets to the rim finishing with authority which he demonstrated throughout his career. If you are looking for a comparison Dotson from a shooting standpoint reminds me of Patrick McCaw who the Warriors took last season but his overall game reminds me of Aaron Afflao. Dotson is 23 years old, but a team in the mid to late second round would be getting a player who could contribute as a shooter right away in the NBA.
Ideal Fits: ( Memphis, New Orleans, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia,)
- Sterling Brown: SG/SF – SMU
- Brown for sure looks the part of a productive wing in the NBA. In fact, he isn’t even the first member of his family to play in the NBA. Sterling’s brother Shannon was first-round pick in 2006 and played eight years in the NBA. Brown does not have nearly as much athleticism as his brother but he can shoot the ball well. Brown shot 44.9% on 110 three point attempts last season while also averaging 6.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game. He averaged at least four rebounds per game through his sophomore season and Brown is also 230 pounds and 6-foot-6 and should be able to match up well with guards and small forwards defensively. He needs to improve his dribbling to create his own shot, but Brown won’t be asked to do much of that when he comes into the league.
Ideal Fits: ( Miami, Utah, Memphis, Sacramento, Chicago, Indiana, Cleveland)
- Cameron Oliver: PF – Nevada
- Oliver played in the Mountain West conference for two seasons so most people probably will not have heard much of him. In his two season at Nevada, Oliver became most known for his ability to score all over the court. At 6-foot-8 he rebounds the ball extremely well, averaging over nine rebounds in his freshman season at Nevada and then over eight in his second season. Oliver also improved his three-point percentage from 32.8% on 61 attempts in his freshman season to 38.4% on 172 attempts during his sophomore season. Oliver is ferocious finisher around rim using his 7-foot-1 wingspan to dominate in the post. If there is area of concern for Oliver, it’s his motor on both offense and defense. He is way too talented to not be involved on both ends of the floor yet even as one of the main players on a good Nevada team he would not get a touches for multiple offensive possessions or not hustle back on defense at times. Oliver will also need to adjust his shot which has a little too much movement when he jumps up and begins his release. Oliver is likely a project his first few seasons in the NBA but has enough talent and skill to be a player we look back on as a steal in the second round of the draft.
Ideal Fits: ( Boston, Utah, Brooklyn, Minnesota, Dallas, LA Clippers)