Drafts are exciting, there is no way around that. Everyone at some point in their life really gets into a draft whether it be football, basketball or even baseball.
One of the reasons these drafts are so exciting is because they have a certain unknown mystery to them. There is uncertainty in all drafts in every sports and nothing personifies this better then sleeper prospects who generally fly under the radar — well until they get to the NBA and begin to light things up.
It makes not having the first, or second or even the thirtieth pick in the draft something to watch; there very well could be a solid player coming to your team if it the pick’s not glitzy and doesn’t have a unibrow.
Notable sleepers in recent memory include Rashard Lewis who was taken 32nd overall in 1998, Manu Ginobili who was sleeked 57th in 1999, Mo Williams who went 47th in 2003, Monta Ellis who went 40th in 2005, and Marc Gasol who went 48th in 2007.
What do all of these aforementioned guys have in common? They were all second round selections and with the exception of Lewis they were all mid to late second round selections.
It’s tough to sort out a sleeper pick int he second round because if you aren’t projected to go in the top 25 and you outperform your expectations, you’re pretty much a sleeper — that’s the definition of one.
But you do have players fall and other unforeseeable events happen which make it seem like a guy taken later isn’t that good. The guys I’m about to name aren’t those guys. They’re the guys that are barely on the radar’s of the most die hard fans.
Well okay maybe they’re not that obscure, but they definitely won’t be in any danger of going above the 28th pick.
And for the record, don’t compare the NBA Draft value to that of the much more popular NFL scale. grid round talents in the NFL are still expected to perform at a high level. To get a grasp of the value system of the NBA Draft think of it this way: picks 1-10 are the first round, picks 11-15 are the second round, picks 16-22 are the third round, picks 23-28 are the third round, picks 29-32 are the fourth round — you see where I’m going with this?
The Spurs grabbing Manu Ginobili at 57th overall in 1999 is the equivalent of Tom Brady in the NFL who went in the 6th round and did what he did.
In other words it’s rarer then half of the things Indiana Jones hunts for.
So are we going to see any Ginobili’s in the 2012 draft? Probably not, but there is a pretty good chance you could see a few Mo Williams or Kyle Korver’s creep put of the woodwork as a second round sleeper. .
Simply put, Johnson-Odom can score and he can dot it well. While at Marquette, particularly his final season there, he proved he cane a NBA style scorer as he averaged 18.3 ppg and unlike the other Johnson mentioned thus far, Darius played his ball in the Big East and averaged 17.0 ppg in the NCAA Tournament. He’s also insanely athletic and can defend really well. Johnson-Odom could end up being a solid reserve and even one day a starter.
NBA Comparison: Fred Jones
Mike Scott – PF/Virginia
He’s one of the oldest prospects in the draft at 24 years of age but Mike Scott isn’t going to let that be a bad thing. He’s got experience and to add to that he’s got height to be a stout defender in the NBA. He’s not on a lot of people’s radar’s at all and some mock drafts even have Scott going undrafted. But if a team at the end of the second round like the Sixers, Warriors or Spurs want to add some depth at forward, grabbing Scott could pay off big off the bench.
NBA Comparison: Dante Cunningham
Scott Machado – PG/Iona
Machado may not be similar to most point guards in the second round. Machado is lighting fast and it a pure and true point guard that some scouts say is the second best in the entire draft class. If he gets into an up-tempo offense he’s going to do massive damage. He’s not really the most athletic guard in comparison to other NBA guards and he won’t shut down anyone like Russ Westbrook or Derrick Rose but if he comes off the bench as a change of pace guy, Machado is going to be a nice pick up.
NBA Comparison: Earl Watson
Hollis Thompson – F/Georgetown
First off he’s 6’8″ which means teams right off the bat are a little put off by the conundrum of where to play him. He’s a little too small to be a power forward and doesn’t really score enough to be a small forward. But what Hollis Thompson has is pure basketball skills and that’s something that is universally appetizing to NBA execs. If a team that can use depth in their front court like Denver or the Clippers have him on the board in the second round they will have to think long and hard before passing on Thompson.
NBA Comparison: James Jones
Orlando Johnson – SG/UC-Santa Barbra
Johnson is starting to become a first round sleeper as his stock rises. But the chances he goes before round two starts is pretty slim. That being said, Johnson posses the skills to become a solid all-around guy off the bench. His 6’5″ frame and almost 7″ wingspan in addition to his 34-inch vertical can make him a great defensive shooting guard. He averaged 19.7 ppg in his last season with UC-Santa Barbra which has some scout quietly raising his stock as we speak.
NBA Comparison: Daequan Cook
Sammy Emile – F/Mars Hill College
Sammy Emile personifies the idea of a second round sleeper. He’s not from a Division I school and not a lot of people have heard of him but if he gets a serious chance to play in the NBA people will recognize. Emile is 6’6″ and although he’s a forward he scored 25.0 ppg on average to lead off of Division II. This showcased Emile’s versatility to play just about anywhere in the NBA and if there is something that is invaluable it’s a utility man. During his college playing days Emile played everywhere from the forward position he’s listed at to point guard. If he goes to the right system he’s going to flourish.
NBA Comparison: N/A
William Buford – SG/Ohio State
Buford has been all over the place in pre-draft mocks from the end of the first round to the middle of the second. But no matter where he goes he’ll bring his size and his strength to the table. He’s a good passer and is generally an unselfish player on the court and considering he’ll start off on the bench this is going to benefit where he can be used. Buford doesn’t stand out as a defender but his jump shot is a thing of beauty and if teams can work on his weaknesses and avoid slumps Buford is going to be solid.
NBA Comparison: Gary Neal
Kyle O’Quinn – PF/Norfolk St.
One of the biggest draws to the average basketball fan to O’Quinn is that he was the face of Norfolk State’s miracle run to the second round of the NCAA tournament. He’s got a big frame and although he’s not the most creative shot creator in the NBA, he’s going to come off the bench and be an extremely solid reserve in the right system. He’s listed as both a power forward and a center so if a team wants to avoid his lame shot creation and use him as a center off the bench O’Quinn could make a miracle run of his own in the NBA.
NBA Comparison: Epke Udoh
Kevin Murphy – SG/Tennessee Tech
Here’s another shooting guard that doesn’t light things up enough to be a flashy first round prospect but he possess skills to be a solid contributor in the NBA. He’s also listed as a small forward so that coupled with his 20.6 ppg average means he can be a scoring forward for whoever gets him. He can score off the dribble and at the combine he showed an ability to get in a 3-point groove. All of this is attractive (or should be) to a team searching for a pick in the second round.
NBA Comparison: Marshon Brooks
Casper Ware – PG/Long Beach State
He’s virtually on no one’s radar but for those who pay attention to Ware will see that he can be a nice reserve point guard in the NBA. He’s drawn comparisons to Norris Cole and given how stupid some execs are, the heat winning a title with him on roster is actually going to help Ware’s stock if only marginally. But he’s actually going to make said stupid exec look smart as he’s an ace decision maker and is one of the fastest players in the draft. He hit a ton of tough shots at the Brooklyn Nets combine and showed a lot of energy but not a lot of people got a good look at this as he was snubbed from an invitation to attend the combine in Chicago.
NBA Comparison: Isaiah Thomas
Tu Holloway – SG/Xavier
I’ve been insanely high on Holloway since he started working out for teams and his slide in the mock drafts aren’t accurate representations of his skill set. Teams are sinking Holloway because of some character issues he has which were reflected in his involvement in the massive Cincinnati-Xavier brawl last season which resulted in his suspension. His size is also a bit of an issue as he’s a generous 6’0″ but that doesn’t stop Holloway from controlling the ball with his massive Rajon Rondo like hands and his tough exterior. Holloway is a combo guard as well which serves him well especially considering he rarely loses his composure during games. He’s worth a second round gamble especially if a team picks late. If he’s there for the last pick for the Lakers he’s gone before their clock even starts.
NBA Comparison: D.J. Augustin