Top Sleepers in the 2019 NBA Draft

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NBA Draft Sleepers

Ah Draft Day is here!

For many of us, we will get to cheer or jeer our favorite teams based on who they pick or don’t pick. The draft is a great five hour holiday that can make or break an NBA franchise. Teams now look to build through the draft for their cornerstones and build the rest via trade or free agency. With the excitement that comes in the lottery, there are also guys that get drafted later who have made great careers while not being a first round pick, with some not hearing their name called at all. Looking at the NBA Finals we saw Marc Gasol, Draymond Green, Fred VanVleet, Jordan Bell, Alfonso McKinnie, and Danny Green who were all either second round picks or went undrafted.

I’m going to rank 10 guys who may or may not hear their names called tonight that could be “Second Round Sleepers”. Some of them have been in bad situations and some have simply under-performed.  One thing is for certain, don’t count these guys out and don’t be surprised if you see them playing valuable minutes one day.

I want to note that I tried looking for guys who will be picked in the second round on general consensus so fringe guys weren’t considered. You’re not going to see guys like Carsen Edwards or Dylan Windler on this list even though they are quality prospects. Instead, we are going to dig for some diamonds in the rough. That being said, let’s get started.

 

10. John Konchar – IPFW

John Konchar won’t wow you with speed, bounce, handles, or athleticism but simply put this kid can do a little bit of everything. A workhorse for IPFW, Konchar has had a great career showing improvement every year. He’s shown the ability to make shots efficiently with a 63% TS percentage. He has a solid deep ball off the dribble and on catch and shoot opportunities. At 6’5″, he only has a 6’7″ wingspan which could be a cause for concern but he is strong for a guy his size and has shown the ability to guard both guard positions and to consistently fight for rebounds.

Guys like Konchar are needed in the NBA. He is a guy who will do anything asked of him and be that role player. He doesn’t have an elite skill but can do everything pretty well. Sounds pretty good, but he does have some flaws. His FT shooting isn’t impressive and he lacks some athleticism that is concerning to execs. With a good attitude and a do whatever is needed mindset, it wouldn’t shock me to see Konchar coming off the bench for NBA teams for years to come.

Projection: Undrafted

9. Dean Wade – Kansas State

Measuring in at 6’10” Dean Wade has the size of a modern day NBA Power Forward. If Dean wants to find his way in the league he’s got to focus on being a Stretch Four. Lucky for us, Dean has shot over 40% from deep the past three seasons at K-State. A foot injury nagged him at the tail end of the season but, when healthy, Wade shows solid speed for a guy his size in the open floor.

The issue with Dean comes in two questions. Will Dean be able to defend at an NBA level? While Dean shows some athleticism in the open floor in the half court setting he doesn’t have the quickest feet and lateral movement is an issue. And the other is…Can Dean play with contact? As a four he is going to have to go through contact at some point as a small ball five and be matched up against bigger players. He’s got to show that he can take a hit and bounce back or finish a layup through contact. Overall, Wade has a chance to be a great value stretch four if he can prove he can defend at an NBA level.

Projection: Late Second – Undrafted

8. Charles Matthews – Michigan

Matthews was a force in workouts before tearing his ACL weeks before the draft. There was legit talk of him in the late first or early second and teams were making a mistake by having prospects be guarded by him in workouts. Matthews’s game is defense and he does it very well. He struggles to create his own shot, but if he can prove he can take advantage of open shots and be a serviceable offensive player off ball, there is a spot for him on many NBA rosters.

The injury killed his stock but many teams will still be looking to take a chance on him during the back half of the second round. His ability to score at the basket and on the move paired with, dare I say, lock down defensive potential will have teams buzzing.

Projection: Late Second

7. Jaylen Hoard – Wake Forest

Hoard is raw. He lacks an offensive arsenal that will plague him for a little while, but what this kid does have is excellent athleticism. Standing at 6’7″ with a wingspan over 7′ makes him very exciting especially when you pair it with great speed and vertical explosion. Hoard will make his mark on defense playing passing lanes and getting out in transition. He has solid handles and an okay mid range game. Hoard is also a solid rebounder for a player his size in part due to that vertical explosion.

Hoard needs time to work on his offensive game. He needs to show that he can be a knockdown shooter on the outside. A team that likes to run and make tons of off ball action will best utilize Hoard’s abilities. A guy that may have not been in the best situation on a weak Wake Forest team can definitely be an exciting player in the NBA after a year or so’s work in the G-League.

Projection: Mid-Late Second

6. Zylan Cheatham – Arizona State

Zylan transferred to Arizona State from San Diego State after two seasons there. He excelled in Pac-12 ball. Cheatham has a MOTOR and that can’t be undervalued. People love this kid and he is going to work at his game. He is a forward who isn’t incredibly long at 6’8″, but he does have tenacious rebounding abilities averaging a double-double for the Sun Devils this season.

Zylan is athletic for a four, but his glaring weakness comes on the offensive side of the ball. He doesn’t have a great jump shot and will need to work on that part of his game. However, his passing is surprisingly effective and once he develops a shot, his passes could lead to more assists as he becomes a threat. His athleticism and motor will wow you. His age and lack of jump shot will scare you. All said, don’t bet against him.

Projection: Mid-Late Second

5. Louis King – Oregon

King has shown great signs of improvement over his one year at Oregon and is probably the highest rated guy on this list in terms of true potential. At 6’9″ he is a combo forward who has shown that he can finish through contact and can knockdown the open shot. He can handle the ball well and has plenty of bounce. As a defender, he uses his length to get into passing lanes, quickness to switch on to quicker guards, and communicates really well.

King is raw though. He shot inconsistently from deep on the year and still is a little small. Bigger forwards will take advantage of him. His bounce, athleticism, defensive potential, and improving offensive game are all reasons to believe that he could be a solid starter at one point during his career.

Projection: Early-Mid Second Round

4. Jalen Lecque – Brewster Academy

Until the one-and-done rule is over with, we will continue to see guys get creative with how they get to the NBA. Recently both RJ Hampton and Lamelo Ball chose to go oversees while in this draft we have to prep to pro candidates. They are both Darius Bazley and Jalen Lecque. Lecque is uber athletic for a kid his age and guys older than him. Invited to the combine, his athleticism showed against this year’s competition. There simply aren’t many more prospects who can explode like he can. He can get to the bucket and finish plays pretty well.

The issues for Lecque are that he is 6’4″ but isn’t a true point guard. He has the size of a 1, but plays like a two and can be too much scoring oriented. Lecque is not a good shooter, but is a solid rebounder and playmaker. He is a PROJECT and it could be a few years before we see him on an NBA roster. The potential with him is there though and someone will be willing to bite.

Projection: Mid Second

3. Simi Shittu – Vanderbilt

Some guys go to school and are in a bad situation, some have injury issues, and some may not get along with a coaching staff and in the rare case of Simi Shittu there is both. At one point a top 15 recruit, Simi went with Darius Garland to Vanderbilt to play for Bryce Drew. Long story short – Simi tore his ACL in January before going to Vandy then once there, he clashed with Drew and things got worse when Garland went down.

Simi is a fluid athlete who can excel in transition. Simi has solid strength and athleticism to grab rebounds and start his own break. He can excel in the face-up game as his first step is very good for Power Forwards. He excels at going through contact and can get to the line. He has a strong frame and can rebound really well.

However, there are glaring weaknesses. His defense is still suspect despite the athletic tools. The worst weakness is that he has a bad shot. It’s flat and needs to be reworked. In a league that is stretching players out to the three point line, a good shot could do wonders to his offensive arsenal. His ability to either shoot the three or attack slow footed defenders to get to the rim or make passes could be intriguing. Betting on Simi is betting on his ability to develop a jumper and to believe that his time at Vanderbilt was bad due to a recovering injury and coaching issues. Nevertheless, he was once a top rated recruit and thought to be a first round pick and time could tell whether he can get back to that level of pedigree.

Projection: Late Second-Undrafted

2. Jordan Poole – Michigan

Poole is a scorer, simply put. He can score from anywhere and can score off the dribble or the catch and shoot. His shot is lethal and once he gets going, it’s tough to stop him. He doesn’t have great athleticism, but his tight handle and quick first step allows him to generate space and to finish at the rim with either hand. Poole is an improved on-ball defender.

Jordan doesn’t come without his faults either. He was very inconsistent this year even though he took a leap from his freshman year. Poole also is not a play-maker and it is not the best passer in the draft. His shot selection can be suspect when he is cold as well.

Overall Poole is a bucket-getter and that will be his role at the next level. He can shoot it in every kind of way and can attack the basket as well. Betting on Poole is a smart thing to do as microwave scorers can come in and instantly change a game. If Poole can add some consistently to his game he can become the kind of 6th man that thrive in the second unit such as a Jamal Crawford or Terrence Ross type.

Projection: Early Second Round

1. Naz Reid – LSU

Numero Uno on this list is the very definition of boom or bust. Naz Reid registered a 14% body fat percentage at the combine which is in the top 10 total of the last decade. He went to play at LSU whose coach got suspended during a crucial part of the year. Reid was very inconsistent during his time at LSU. His motor is being questioned and some believe he may not love basketball. He’s overweight. Despite having a 7’3″ wingspan Reid struggles to alter shots.

A lot of negatives for my number one sleeper, but here is the upside. He can score down low with an array of crafty post moves. Paired with excellent handles and a solid frame allows him to create the separation he needs to get off his shot.  He has a solid three point shot to stretch out defenses. When he does, he can use his handle to take his defender to the hoop which will be a plus. Reid is also a solid passer from the post and can be effective running an offense from there.

Reid has the tools to be a quality big and before the year, some viewed him as a first round talent. Reid has showed all these abilities and flashes while overweight and questions of the love of basketball were there. If a team takes a chance on Naz and they get him into real shape and he shows that he does love basketball, we could be seeing a lot of Naz Reid in the future. He’s a risk but the potential reward is HUGE!

Projection: Early-Mid Second Round

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