The 2019 NBA Draft Class has certainly received some mixed reviews this past year. During the season, many were claiming that it wasn’t a very good draft class at all, but some players started to prove their worth including Ja Morant.
In this article, we’ll be going through some of the lesser known players that fell into the 2nd round or out of the draft that our NBA Draft writers think will end up being better than their perceived value. Just to simplify things, what we mean by that is that if we include Shamorie Ponds, who was undrafted, one of our writers believes that he is going to find as much success as a 1st round talent, for example. We gathered many of our main NBA Draft writers and asked them who their top 2 sleepers in this draft class were that will perform a lot better than their market value.
Here are our writers participating:
Cody Martin – Charlotte Hornets
Selection: 2nd Round, 36th overall
Cody Martin flew under the radar during his time at Nevada because his twin brother, Caleb, was the one who usually found his way atop the stat sheet. Cody, though, was the one doing all of the grunt work. He was defending the opponent’s best perimeter player and being the main facilitator for the team. He was always extremely efficient and continued to get better from outside the arc.
Although many were surprised to see Martin selected that high in the draft, I was happy with the Hornets taking him here. He’s a 1st round talent that just wasn’t getting enough recognition. I expect him to have a very long term career in the NBA as an above average role player.
Zylan Cheatham – New Orleans Pelicans
Cheatham has work to do to find a place in the NBA. I’m not sure if it will be in New Orleans with the Pelicans, given that is now Zion’s city, but I do strongly believe he will find a home. Cheatham is extremely athletic and uses that to make some phenomenal defensive plays.
Zy needs to get in the gym and add more muscle to his frame, which I’m more than confident that he’ll do. During Summer League we saw him get outmuscled and wasn’t able to contribute much when his defender was fundamentally sound on the boards. Again, I think Zy figures it all out and ends up being a very good bench player for a contending team in the future.
Terance Mann – Los Angeles Clippers
Selection: 2nd Round, 48th overall
Terance Mann has all of the attributes necessary to become a perfect role player in the NBA. He defends well, plays hard on both ends, and is very unselfish. Mann has already shown the great versatility in his game during Summer league play, supporting the theory that he could be an Andre Igoudala type player. I believe he’ll end up as an absolute steal for the Clippers in the long run.
Iggy Brazdeikis – New York Knicks
Selection: 2nd Round, 47th overall
Iggy Brazdeikis is overshadowed by RJ Barrett and will continue to be for the early part of his career. However, there’s a chance he could end up being a better pro than Barrett. Brazdeikis is a tough minded player that will give you all he’s got on both ends of the floor and will never be rattled by the harsh NY media. He is a great slasher, can finish well with both hands, and will knock down open jump shots. On the other end, he is defending and rebounding with great tenacity.
Iggy may take some time to fully adjust to the speed and skill of the NBA, but he has what it takes to be a quality player in this league for years to come.
Jordan Bone – Detroit Pistons
Selection: 2nd Round, 57th overall
Jordan Bone was rated as a first round talent and the Pistons got a steal when they acquired him. He will be playing behind veterans Derrick Rose and Reggie Jackson and will be able to learn how to adjust to the speed of the game through them. His high basketball IQ and great athleticism gives him the opportunity to create chaos for the opposition and points for Detroit.
Look for Bone to make a real impact soon and prosper as one of the latest picks in the 2019 NBA Draft.
Donta Hall – Detroit Pistons
Donta Hall is an undersized big man in today’s NBA but does not play like it. Standing at only 6’9″ he does not let that hinder his effectiveness swatting shots away. He averaged 1.7 blocks in his 4 years at Alabama and has continued to be a rim protector throughout Summer League competition. He is by no means a dominant player, but is serviceable given an opportunity and in Detroit, he just may have such a chance.
Nicolas Claxton – Brooklyn Nets
Selection: 2nd Round, 31st overall
Nic was drafted as a project due to his unique style of play and thin frame. His path to the court will be to show that defensively he is better than Kurucs, specifically on the perimeter while being a serviceable option on offense. Hopefully that includes an improved 3PT shot. His high energy and length could be intriguing to play alongside the new look Brooklyn roster. He needs to prove that he can bang with the bigs to be successful, but I see it happening in time.
Dean Wade – Cleveland Cavaliers
It was a college career plagued by injuries for Dean Wade. He went undrafted, but did land in the best spot for him. He stood out in Summer League for his solid rotations on defense and ability to knock down shots. Wade has also shown solid passing ability in his time as well.
Beilein will want to get the best out of Wade and needs him to improve his post-game to get there. When he is healthy and because of his defensive improvements, simply put, teams are better with him on the court.
Alen Smailagic – Golden State Warriors
Selection: 2nd Round, 39th overall
Alen Smailagic is a 6’10 18 year old center prospect who spent the last year in the G League. He has shown the ability to hit jumpers off the catch and even off the dribble. Alen has an advanced passing acumen and is surprisingly fluid and handles the ball well for someone of his stature.
A lot to be excited for right? He’s a defensive first prospect who has great timing and awareness for a big this young and was legitimately one of the best defenders in the G League last season as an 18 year old. Big things ahead for Smailagic.
DaQuan Jeffries – Orlando Magic
DaQuan Jeffries is a 6’4 G/F prospect out of Tulsa. He’s built like an NFL running back with a 6’11 wingspan which allows him to switch multiple positions. Daquan also has world class athleticism and is clearly one of the most explosive players from this past year’s draft pool. He is not only physically an impressive player, but also sports a very high IQ and shoots the ball well enough for me to buy all of his future stock.