Alright, so last year around this time I wrote an article discussing guys who I thought would be sleeper picks to be successful in the NBA. By that I mean they would have a decent career adding some value for several years. Some guys I hit on and some guys I didn’t but I figure I would give an update to their progress or for some, there lack of. If you want to check out the old post here is a link. (2019 NBA Draft Sleepers). We’re going to work through this list starting from the bottom and work our way up as I discuss the players’ season and give a short verdict on whether they will be the sleeper I thought they could be, while keeping it in mind that it is pretty early for most of to judge some of these guys.
10. John Konchar, IPFW
Konchar went undrafted after a successful college career where he netted 2,065 points, and received first team All-Summit League honors for four consecutive seasons. He eventually signed a two way contract with the Memphis Grizzlies where he competed on their summer league team that won the tournament.
G-League: In the G-League he managed to start all 20 contests with the Memphis Hustle. Konchar averaged 12.2 PPG on 57% shooting. He would also grab 8.5 RPG and dish out 4.4 APG. Overall his numbers were pretty efficient. His time was limited as he missed several weeks with a calf strain starting in mid-November.
NBA: Konchar saw limited action this season competing in 15 games for the Grizz while averaging 11 mpg. The numbers were encouraging for the small dosage we got as he shot 65% from the floor and 44% from three. Overall his stat-line was 3.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, and 1.4 APG.
Verdict: Intriguing Start
9. Dean Wade, Kansas State
After a successful collegiate career that featured back-to-back first team All-Big 12 honors Wade saw himself go undrafted. It’s worth noting that in his senior season he saw a foot injury that shortened his season. Nonetheless, Wade landed a two-way deal with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
G-League: Wade started 29 out of 30 contests for the Canton Charge. Wade showed his calling as a potential stretch big after averaging 14.2 PPG while knocking down 39% of his 3PA. His 84% FT rate shows his real touch for a big and he was also a menace on the boards tearing down 7.5 rebounds per game.
NBA: There was a limited NBA role for Wade in his rookie season as he only saw action in 12 games. This in part could be to how the Cavs coaching situation with John Beilein played out. As the season went on the Cavs focused a little more on a youth movement and as a result we saw Wade receive a call up on January 3rd. In the NBA he averaged almost 6 MPG in his time but the stat numbers are too small to judge anything off of.
I said in the prior article that Wade simply makes teams better when he is on the floor and the Cavs must of thought the same when they converted his two-way contract into a standard multi-year deal along with fellow forward Jordan Bell. The Cavs roster is loaded with forwards though so we’ll see how much of a chance he gets going forward.
Verdict: Encouraging Start
8. Charles Matthews, Michigan
Matthews started off his collegiate career at Kentucky but after a hip injury he was granted a release where he decided to transfer to Michigan. After a successful sophomore and junior season Matthews decided to declare for the 2019 NBA Draft. There was some serious draft buzz about Matthews mostly with his ability on the defensive end to be able to contribute to an NBA team sooner rather than later but on June 9th, 2019 he tore his ACL in a pre-draft workout with the Celtics. Unfortunately, we never got to see him in the summer league or G-League but he was rehabbing his injury this past season so time will tell if he ever gets his chance.
7. Jaylen Hoard, Wake Forest
Hoard went to Wake Forest as a top 20 recruit and had a tough season with a lot of pressure on his shoulders. Nevertheless Hoard declared for the draft and went undrafted on draft night but landed a two-way deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.
G-League: Hoard showed his intriguing explosion and impressive wingspan with the Texas legends. He started only four contests of the 24 he competed in but still played 27.6 MPG. He was third on the team in scoring with 16.2 PPG, fourth in rebounding with 6.9 per contest and second in FG% with a 52% rate.
Hoard has a good chance to show what he has in the NBA restart coming up as he was brought with the team in Orlando. Fellow Trail Blazers forward Trevor Ariza opted out of the restart so Hoard has increased odds to show his chance. He is one to monitor in Orlando.
Verdict: On the Bubble
6. Zylan Cheatham, Arizona State
Cheatham stands a little undersized at 6’5 but has an impressive motor and athletic tools to make up for it. After going undrafted the New Orleans Pelicans signed him to a two-way deal.
G-League: Cheatham started 30 of 34 contests with the Erie BayHawks where he averaged a double double with 16.3 PPG and 11.9 RPG. There were some encouraging signs of Cheatham developing a deep shot as he took 2.6 attempts making them at a 33% clip.
NBA: Appearing in three games for the Pelicans and playing an average of 10 MPG, Cheatham scored 1.3 PPG while grabbing 2.0 RPG.
Overall the Pelicans have a lot of depth at the PF position and it’ll be tough for him to carve out a role with them going forward but with a season like this it is tough to deny his potential as an energy player.
Verdict: Cautious Optimism
5. Louis King, Oregon
King went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft after an injury hampered season at Oregon but he found his way with a two-way contract with the Pistons. King was known as a project player who had an impressive body of work but a slender frame that needed to be filled out.
G-League: King started 22 of 31 G-League contests for the Grand Rapids Drive. With the Drive he averaged 15 PPG, 5.4 RPG, and 3 APG. His 1.3 STL per game is also a good feat to have. He showed impressive driving capabilities while also having some good touch on floaters.
NBA: King played 10 games for Detroit while playing just over six minutes per game. The numbers were in a small sample so looking into averages may not be the best picture of his game.
Overall King has the potential to really make an impact for the Pistons here soon. He has the traits of a perfect complimentary player. Hopefully we see King as a role player with the NBA squad sooner then later.
Verdict: Encouraging Start
4. Jalen Lecque, Brewster Academy
Making ways in high school as being labeled “Baby Russ”, Lecque is a human highlight reel and bypassed college to go straight to the NBA Draft. He showed off a 43 inch vertical at the combine which was the most of all candidates. He went undrafted in the 2019 NBA Draft, but was signed to a four year deal by the Phoenix Suns with two years guaranteed.
G-League: Lecque was in fact a highlight reel for the G-League. If you follow their social media it was constantly a dunk contest for Lecque. He started 23 of 33 games averaging 13.4 PPG, 3.4 APG, and 3.3 RPG. The downside for him is the shot where he shot 21% from outside on the season.
NBA: Lecque made four appearances for the Phoenix Suns while playing 6 MPG.
Overall Lecque is a project just like he was last year but there are some real signs of encouragement to his game. I think it will come down to having defenses respect him as a shooter to keep spacing open.
Verdict: If he can shoot he can play
3. Simi Shittu, Vanderbilt
Simi went undrafted after leaving Vanderbilt. I thought the situation may have not defined the player but it seems my take was wrong on that. He still found his way to a G-League contract with the Windy City Bulls.
G-League: Simi recovered from his Vanderbilt season for the Bulls where he started 18 of 40 contests. He put up 12.3 points per game and 6.4 rebounds per game.
Verdict: Very Improbable but not Impossible
2. Jordan Poole, Michigan
This one doesn’t feel fair. I thought he was going to go in the early to mid second of the 2019 NBA Draft, but the Warriors thought otherwise and spent a late first on the scoring guard. That being said Poole had some serious opportunities to gather some NBA experience as the Warriors were injury struck for most of the season.
NBA: Poole played major NBA minutes this season with the Warriors. The season was very up and down as he tried to adjust to the NBA however Poole went on a tear to end the season which will provide some major insight to his potential with Golden State. From February 5th on, Poole scored in double figures for every game but one til the suspension of the season including a back to back 19 point performance against Houston and New Orleans. On the season, Poole averaged 8.8 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 2.4 APG.
Verdict: Exceeded expectations so far
1. Naz Reid, LSU
Reid went into LSU with big expectations as a consensus top 20 recruit. He had an alright season but didn’t exactly wow NBA scouts and as a result didn’t hear his name called on draft night. However he did enough to catch the eye of the Minnesota Timberwolves who guaranteed to split time 50/50 between the G-League and NBA on a two-way deal.
G-League: Naz had a fantastic showing in the G-League showing a lot of traits that scouts were fascinated with as he was coming out of high school. Reid wowed in his 16 games (16 starts) with the Iowa Wolves as he scored 18.4 PPG while shooting 50% from the field and 38% from beyond the three point line. He also pulled down 9.8 RPG and 3.3 Stocks per game with the majority being blocks.
NBA: Reid played 30 games with the Timberwolves and impressed enough to start 11 of the contests. His best games came in early march where he notched back to back double-doubles against New Orleans and Chicago. Reid averaged 9 PPG, 4.1 RPG, and 1.2 APG in 16.5 MPG.
Overall the Timberwolves have something in Reid and thought so as they signed him to a multi-year deal in July.
Verdict: Exceeded Expectations