Five NBA Draft Steals by Adam Spinella
This article was originally featured on TheBoxand1.Blogspot.com.
Every year, there are a few players that fly under the radar heading into draft night. For whatever reason, (age, size, injury, fit, lack of production, some sort of red flag, etc.) there are plenty of good prospects that end up being found in the later stages of the first and even second rounds. Giannis Antetokounmpo, the man most would take first if they could re-draft the 2013 draft, wasn’t picked in the lottery. Isaiah Thomas, the leading scorer on the 48-win Celtics, was picked 60th. It happens, and there’s no real way to identify which players will turn out well other than great trust in your scouting department.
Here at the Box and One, we’ve done this list for the past three seasons. Some of the names included on prior lists include Jordan Clarkson from 2014 and Solomon Hill and Andre Roberson from 2013. These names are not necessarily star players, but they are guys that fit the bill of providing more value than their draft spot would indicate. Here’s a few names we’ve targeted this year to pull off the same feat.
SG Timothe Luwawu, France
For the first time, we’re putting an international player on this list. To most fans of the league, any international prospect comes with some risk. As the stereotype goes they’re usually thin and all finesse, don’t know how to play physical and might not translate well to the NBA. Luwawu, I can assure you, may be thin, but he doesn’t fall under any other category. He’s got the makings of a big time NBA scorer despite only being projected by some as a 3-and-D wing. As far as a high floor goes, this kid has one. But his ceiling is so much higher. Standing 6’7″ with a seven-foot wingspan, he can guard multiple positions. He’s really quick in transition and attacks the rim with ferocity (we’ll see him in a Dunk contest some day), while also being a strong shooter. A fast wing that is still improving is worth a lottery pick, and Luwawu may fall farther outside — I’d even spend a top-ten pick on him! Two way players like this don’t come around often; he’s got a bit of Paul George to him.
SG Isaia Cordinier, France
The second French swingman on this list, Cordinier is barely getting first round looks at this point in time. Defense could be a work in progress from Cordinier, who likely won’t be coming to the NBA for another year or two. But once his frame fills out, he’s going to be able to hold his own at the 2-guard spot. Sure, he’s only 6’5″ and doesn’t have the length of Luwawu. But Cordinier is better laterally and bothers a lot of ball handlers with quick feet. His 1.2 steals per game in limited action is encouraging to those that are skeptical of his defense. Still, he projects as a shot maker and someone that plays similar to a smaller Evan Fournier. If you get that type of value late in the first or early in the second round, you’re not doing too bad.
C Diamond Stone, Maryland
Seven footers that are as mobile as Stone don’t grow on trees. He’s huge and thick for a center, but with an enormous 7’3″ wingspan and a greater ability to move around the court than given credit for, he slides in as a potential Festus Ezeli type of acquisition for a franchise. Laugh now, but Ezeli is closing in on max money; Stone could provide that type of value to a team as a second round pick. He does have a back-to-the-basket game, but he also catches anything thrown his way and finishes through traffic and fouls. Stone will have to improve in the pick-and-roll at the NBA level, something that scares scouts away. Still, he’s a capable finisher near the rim and those are rarely appreciated to the extent they should be.
SG Malcolm Brogdon, Virginia
Mr. Solid All Around, Brogdon is an excellent two-way player that is being overlooked because he isn’t a jump-out-at-you athlete and is 23 entering the draft. Something against old guys has dropped down several good players into the second round. Brogdon is ready to play now though, and many playoff teams will value that. He’s a lock-down defender at the combo guard spot and a capable offensive threat with the ball in his hands. Brogdon could fill out a roster well since he’s got a 6’10” wingspan; the ability to guard smaller 3’s could creep into a coach’s head eventually and give him even more playing time. It’s hard to knock this kid just because of his age; he’s got a little Nate McMillan in him.
PG Tyler Ulis, Kentucky
Don’t tell me that he’s too small. After watching what Ulis did in the SEC and against the elite out-of-conference NCAA competition this past year, don’t say he’s too small to play at the NBA level. Ulis has thrived on that his entire life, and he’s run the show at the college known for its collection of the best future NBA talent in the world. Ulis is different than some of the other small, small guards we’ve seen come through the league before. He’s not a scorer, he’s a passer and a facilitator. While Ulis does need to improve his jump shot to get to the point where his pick-and-roll game is defended respectfully. However, no prospect can you bank on to work harder at that than Ulis. There are injury and size concerns, shot concerns, and all those existed before Ulis got to Kentucky. Lok at what he did while there and then tell him that he isn’t going to exceed expectations at the next level as well.
Other potential steals: SG Caris LeVert, Michigan; PF Robert Carter, Maryland; C Zach Auguste, Notre Dame; C Marshall Plumlee, Duke