Don’t Sleep on the Rest
Published by CROWN staff on June 24, 2009
Don’t Sleep on the Rest
Any general manager will tell you that sleeper picks are where drafts are won or lost. Whether you’re the head of an NBA franchise or a couch potato playing in a fantasy pool, you know you have to step up your game as the picks roll on. And while most sleeper picks never realize their potential, once in a while you do find a diamond in the rough. Guys like Carlos Boozer, Michael Redd and Manu Ginobili come to mind.
When I look for sleepers, I think of guys who have already proven themselves. Just because you have great potential, it doesn’t mean you’ll be a great player. If I’m a boss interviewing a guy for an important job, I want credentials, not just promises of things to come. So while some GMs have visions of Ricky Rubio dancing in their heads, I’ve decided to remind the rest of you about who to keep your eyes on. They might not be considered lottery material, but that doesn’t mean they can’t make a splash in the NBA.
Maynor is a dominant scorer and slick passer who uses his craftiness and high basketball IQ to dominate offensively. His calling card is his ability to carry his team on his back during crunch time, something that made him a VCU legend during his years there. Coming off a season where he averaged 22 points and 6 assists, Maynor looks to bring his tough, scoring presence to the big time.
On a Pittsburgh team with lots of talent, Sam Young always stood out to me as the motor that kept the squad running. In the NBA, I look for him to be a ‘glue guy’ who contributes in every aspect of the game. Blessed with great length and athleticism, teams are seeing him as a lock-down defender for years to come. Add the fact that he’s a proven scoring threat anywhere inside the 3-point line, and you have a lot to work with here.
Collison strikes me as a player who will stick around the NBA for years to come, yet never become a star. He’s a great defender who uses his wingspan and IQ to set the tone on both ends of the court. He’s also a natural point guard with great instincts. Unfortunately, he’s only 6’1 and an inconsistent scorer. Nonetheless, he’ll be a valuable role player for teams who need strong defence and poise at the guard position.
This young Australian is a lightning-quick guard who excels in transition and creating shots for himself. He is prone to playing too fast sometimes and making bad decisions though, plus he’s a little guy (6 feet, 175 pounds). However, the reason I’m looking at him as a sleeper is because every credible mock draft has San Antonio taking him in the 2nd round. And can you think of another small, fast international guard the Spurs drafted who also had the same weaknesses Mills has? Tony Parker comes to mind. If Mills can play for the Spurs and learn from Parker, who’s to say he won’t become a good pro? He’d have the benefit of accelerated learning from a guy who’s already earned his stripes.
Marcus Thornton will be an asset on offence for any team that gives him a chance. An excellent scorer in every sense of the word, Thornton can produce with the ball in his hands or off catch-and-shoot scenarios. He is very aggressive off the dribble but at the same time can pop off from anywhere on the court. He is also a good rebounder despite only being 6’4. Similar to Eric Maynor, Thornton possesses a killer instinct that should help him transition from terrorizing college kids to contributing nicely in the NBA.
If I asked you who the best pure scorer was in this year’s draft, I doubt you’d say Jermaine Taylor. But then again, most people don’t know about this young star out of Central Florida. He’s not a good defender or passer, but man, can this dude put the ball in the hole. Last year this 6’4 guard averaged over 26 points per game while also putting up 3 treys a contest. Taylor is an explosive and versatile scorer who can kill you any time he touches the ball. He is a terrific slasher and a deadly shooter. He also excels in isolation situations, something that is a big part of NBA ball. Taylor is a tremendous athlete with a chiselled frame to boot. The only knock on him is that he doesn’t play hard on defence. However, when it comes down to it, his offensive skills are ready for the pros and he has the physical tools to become a decent defender.
A ‘role player supreme’ is how I’d describe Carroll’s value. At 6’8 and 225 pounds, he has the size of a power forward, yet managed to play the small forward position very well at Missouri. His offensive skills aren’t the greatest, yet he can still do a little bit of everything. In terms of hustle and getting in your face, Carroll can go toe-to-toe with anybody. It may take him a couple years to polish his game a little more, but I think he’s definitely a keeper. Carroll’s the kind of guy who doesn’t need a lot of minutes, but can still provide rebounding, steals, a couple put-backs and immeasurable amounts of energy. Could he be the second coming of Jerome ‘the Junk Yard Dog’ Williams?
You probably haven’t heard of him. He might not even be drafted. But I’m still hollering about Leo Lyons. The 6’9 power forward out of Missouri has several qualities that I like in a power forward. Aside from his height, Lyons is solidly built and has a good feel for scoring. He is very smooth and possesses a nice touch around the net. He can put the ball on the floor, score with his back to the basket, and even step out and knock down open looks. The downside is that he’s not much of a defender, even though he has made improvements in that department. But then again, if you have a smooth big man, that’s more than enough to work with. If he lands in the right situation then Leo Lyons is a name you might be hearing more about.
Personally, I look forward to the picks that come later in the draft. The lottery is fun and all that jazz, but you can usually predict who’s getting picked and at what spot. Once you get past the first 15-20 picks though, every selection leaves the possibility for drama and debate. Hopefully you all have a chance to tune in to the draft. I know I’m pumped for it.