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2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

Posted on: June 18, 2011 2:22 am
Edited on: June 18, 2011 10:00 pm
 
A look at five potential sleepers in the 2011 NBA Draft. Posted by Ben Golliver. jeremy-tyler

Ask any NBA GM and they will tell you that draftology is an "inexact science." Put more simply: "Hey, we mess up a lot." We've all seen enough draft failures over the years to have developed a spider sense for how guys slip through the cracks.

Some of the most common reasons: a player takes a nontraditional route to the league, a player stays in college too long and scouts nitpick him to death, a player appears not to have a clear position, a player excels at a small school but scouts doubt that his skills will translate, or a late-blooming international player doesn't appear on the radar until too soon before draft night.   

As has been written about extensively virtually everywhere, this year's draft class is not a traditional class. The top end talent is very thin, the international contingent is fairly deep but filled with questions, there's not a quality American-born center projected to go in the first round and there are really only three point guards expected to turn into potential franchise-type players.

Even with the impact positions so weak and the star caliber talent so thin, there are some quality players that will likely be selected later -- perhaps much later -- than they should be.

Here's a look at five names, all of whom fit into one of the common categories of how guys that get overlooked that were mentioned above. The players listed below might not be falling like rocks past where they should be picked, but each deserves better than what he's seeing on mock drafts in the week leading up to Thursday's draft.

1. Jeremy Tyler

How often can we legitimately call one of the nation's top five prospects coming out of high school a sleeper? Not very often, but Tyler (pictured) is obviously not your typical top prospect. He redefined what "nontraditional route to the NBA" means when he left high school early to pursue a professional career in Israel and Japan. There's no question that his decision -- and the negative headlines that emerged during his professional career -- killed his draft stock in a major way. 

Watching Tyler play in a pre-draft workout, as I did this week, one can only leave with the conclusion that he is a top-15 caliber player, if not better. He's very big, very strong, and blessed with good coordination and a solid feel around the basket. His reputation has him going late in the first round in most mock drafts and it's certainly possible that he could slip to the second round on draft night.

More than one evaluator called Tyler a "tempting" risk this week. Someone needs to go ahead and take the plunge. 

2. Andrew Goudelock

Goudelock is almost the prototypical small-school diamond in the rough. College of Charleston isn't exactly Kentucky or North Carolina, but scoring is scoring and Goudelock has shown the ability to fill it up. He averaged more than 23 points a game this season and drew nice reviews for his ability to shoot the rock at the Portsmouth Invitational. He's projected as a second round pick and gets knocked for his tweener size because he's listed at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds while doing more scoring (18.9 shots per game) than passing (4.2 assists) at the collegiate level. 

Remember: scoring off the bench is one of those must-have roles for contenders, and perfect positional size and fit simply aren't all that important in this niche. Ask J.J. Barea. Ask the Chicago Bulls, who would have sacrificed Carlos Boozer for anyone at any height and weight who could have scored consistently off their bench against the Miami Heat.

There are other players in this draft that fit this bill -- Josh Selby comes to mind -- but Goudelock is likely to dive fairly deep because of his lack of name recognition. Whoever plucks him out of the second round stands to be rewarded nicely.

3. Kyle Singler

You don't need a crystal ball to see Kyle Singler's future. He will be a solid rotation player on a perennial playoff contender, stepping in off the bench to play either forward position. He will make smart plays, go hard on both ends of the court, constantly have television announcers say he's playing over his head, and will knock down the open shot.

One of the best competitors in this draft, Singler gets overlooked this year for two obvious reasons: he stayed at Duke for longer than he probably should have and isn't an elite athlete. Earlier in his career, Singler had lottery buzz; he now expects to go in the mid-to-late first round and, if things don't break right, he could even find himself landing in the early second. There are certain to be multiple flameouts selected before him.

In a draft with a shallow star pool, why not take a solid, low-risk player who is wholly devoted to playing the game the right way? 

4. Jordan Hamilton

Hamilton's path to the NBA wasn't as rocky as Tyler's, but it wasn't pretty either.

He was forced to sit out his senior year of high school because of eligibility issues after working to get ranked in the top 10 nationally. He then spent two years at Texas, averaging 18.6 points in his sophomore year after not making the impact that was expected in his first season. A classic wing scorer with good size, Hamilton showed he could carry the load on offense at the college level and should be able to be a nice complementary scorer in the pro game.

Aside from his red-flag route to the NBA, Hamilton also has a ways to go on defense. Nevertheless, this was a highly-touted scorer who was able to find his groove despite a layoff from basketball and and adjustment period on a deep college team. Projecting five years down the road, it's difficult to imagine Hamilton inot filling it up for someone and creating highlights along the way.  His stock has bounced around the second half of the draft a bit. On talent, he should be go in the mid-first, if not earlier. If he slips much past that, he's a full blown sleeper by this year's definition. 

5. Bismack Biyombo 


Sure, we don't often consider projected lottery picks to be sleepers. Biyombo is exceptional in so many other ways, though, that we should make another exception here.

If Biyombo had a longer resume or had handled his pre-draft run-up better, he is a player who should be talked about as a top five selection. Biyombo is arguably the best defensive prospect in the draft. His combination of absurd length, ability to contest shots intelligently, his ability to play one-on-one in the post and roam as an active help side defender, and his ferocious desire for cleaning the glass make him elite on that end of the floor. With that package, who cares about his out of nowhere backstory (raised in the Democratic Republic of Congo, limited professional career in Spain).

Unfortunately, he's now working to prevent a draft day slide after tanking a workout in Europe and laying low for almost the entire pre-draft process. Biyombo is now projected outside of the top 10 and potentially outside of the lottery, which would be borderline criminal given his upside and physical tools.

There's no question that it will take guts to draft him given the red flags about his age (he could be much older than he says he is) and his meteoric rise to the first round following the 2011 Nike Hoop Summit. But this is a player about whom people will almost certainly look back in five years and say, "how in the heck did they pass on that guy in that draft?"

Comments

Since: Aug 16, 2006
Posted on: June 19, 2011 3:23 am
 

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

ManOfSteel86--"gritty", "scrappy", and "hustling".  These are well-known words from the Official Sportswriter's Cliche Book, and are absolutely "whites only".  White writers reserve them for usually undersized (in baseball and football), generally undertalented white guys who really don't do anything well, but who get along well with the media, are a decent interview, and who have a good week or two every three years (in baseball) which they parlay into two-year contracts given out by white owners and GMs.  That's not to say that they are bad players, only not generally good.  In basketball, there are so many incredibly athletic guys, usually black, that it is assumed that a white guy is not athletic until proven otherwise.  I say all this as a middle-aged white guy who's seen this for a long time.
Eh, guys like Dustin Pedroia are also called scrappy.  It depends on the player.  What I hate is when a white basketball player comes out and always gets compared to "insert white basketball player" or a black quarterback comes out and is compared to "insert black quarterback".  It bothers me that we just can't look at skill sets and compare them to similar players.  And we wonder why racism still exists in this country.




Since: May 21, 2009
Posted on: June 19, 2011 1:36 am
 

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

Eastcoast119; First of all, I don't think that NBA teams would intentionally draft "scrubs"! Nor do I understand how a "star" could be called an overachiever. NBA teams don't draft would-be considered scub players in the first round. Secondly; I'm not sure you even know where the players you cited were drafted. And I certainly khow that you can't spell their names correctly for that matter! I know for a fact that Lowry, Brooks, Fisher, and McCarty were all drafted in the first round. I think you might be reading into this one a little too deep!



Since: Feb 6, 2011
Posted on: June 19, 2011 1:14 am
 

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

I hope the rumor the Knicks are moving up to draft Biyombo is just a rumor.
Just what we need, another forward trying to play Center and guard 7 footers w/o help.
Buy another pick and draft Nikola Vucevic and Markieff Morris and pick up a point in the 2nd Rd



Since: Jun 19, 2011
Posted on: June 19, 2011 12:40 am
 

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

My previous comment was a reply to Trojan Owl saying

"It is noticable.  I am still waiting for the first black athlete that the announcers say is an "overachiever"."
 



Since: Jun 19, 2011
Posted on: June 19, 2011 12:38 am
 

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

Plenty of black scrubs and stars have been called overachievers in the NBA. Your comment is trite and tinged with lameness.
Here's a few that I've personally heard called overachievers.
Bruce Bowen
Adrian Griffin
Kyle Lowry
Aaron Brookes
Derek Fischer
Udonis Haslem
Glenn Davis
Cuttino Mobley
Scottie Pippen 
Micheal Petrieus
Walter Mcarty

and on and on.
undrafted, late picks, small power forwards, D leaguers and slow point guards... actually just like the white players that are called that.
 



Since: Oct 4, 2008
Posted on: June 18, 2011 11:08 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

OK guys, here's a sleeper.  Brad Wanamaker.  Hard worker, not a great athlete, plays smart.  (Oops, sorry, he's black, I can't use any of those terms to describe him.)

He will be a fine PG off the bench, with the size and the will to defend those scoring machine type 2nd string PG's - and he'll light them up on the other end with his midrange game.



Since: Jul 26, 2007
Posted on: June 18, 2011 10:12 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

ManOfSteel86--"gritty", "scrappy", and "hustling".  These are well-known words from the Official Sportswriter's Cliche Book, and are absolutely "whites only".  White writers reserve them for usually undersized (in baseball and football), generally undertalented white guys who really don't do anything well, but who get along well with the media, are a decent interview, and who have a good week or two every three years (in baseball) which they parlay into two-year contracts given out by white owners and GMs.  That's not to say that they are bad players, only not generally good.  In basketball, there are so many incredibly athletic guys, usually black, that it is assumed that a white guy is not athletic until proven otherwise.  I say all this as a middle-aged white guy who's seen this for a long time. 



Since: Jun 4, 2008
Posted on: June 18, 2011 9:15 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

Yeah because Jimmer spot up shot so often Undecided.


He's a crap defender, average ball handler, slow, and is going to get his ish stuffed by bigger, more athletic SGs because he has a low release point and doesn't get very high. He's also a ball hog. Thought that needed to be mentioned. 



Since: Oct 5, 2006
Posted on: June 18, 2011 9:15 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

It is noticable.  I am still waiting for the first black athlete that the announcers say is an "overachiever".



Since: Jan 23, 2009
Posted on: June 18, 2011 8:51 pm
 

2011 NBA Draft: 5 sleepers

ManofSteel when guys come out like Derrick Williams, guys like Singler look pretty unathletic.  Also check out the Duke-AZ NCAA game for further reference.  How many times did that guy dunk in traffic in that game. Sorry dude, but there's no f-ing way I'm going to pay a few hundred bucks at an NBA game to see a player flopping and taking charges.  For that price, somebody better get posterized...


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