The NBA Draft is now exactly two weeks away. We’ve all been hearing the debates on who should be selected first overall and who is better: Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball. However, there has been little conversation surrounding non-lottery draft picks or lesser known players. With this being widely regarded as one of the deepest NBA drafts in recent time, here is a list of five potential “sleepers” and hidden gems which teams can steal in the later picks.
1.Jonathan Jeanne (C, Le Mans, France)
Weight: 210 lbs
Draft Projection: Late 1st to early 2nd round
Jeanne has incredible potential to excel in the NBA. His 7’6” wingspan allows him to tip passes and get steals on defense. He is tall, fast, athletic, and one of the strongest rebounders in this draft class. Jeanne is comfortable running the floor and catching passes inside. On the defensive end, he uses his quickness to force turnovers and his length to block shots and clog up passing lanes. He possesses the ability to be an elite rim protector at the next level as well as a decent perimeter defended who is comfortable switching on ball screens. The potential is there for Jeanne on offense as well. He has solid footwork on the low blocks, a solid post game, and good touch around the rim. He has been improving his jump shot which now extends beyond the three point line. Jeanne is very much a work in progress, and teams may be wary on his lack of physicality and strength. Nevertheless, with his young age and undoubtedly high potential, one team could get a possible starting center in the later picks.
NBA Comparison: Rudy Gobert
2. Tyler Dorsey (SG, Oregon)
Weight: 180 lbs
Draft Projection: Mid to late 2nd round
Dorsey is what ESPN announcer Dick Vitale would call a “PTPer.” The guard has solidified himself as one of the most clutch players in college basketball for the past two seasons. It seems as if Dorsey desires the close, late game scenarios as he is always the player to take and make shots in crunch time. Some of his best performances occurred in the March Madness tournaments. Dorsey has a great three point shot and a good mid range game as well. He is comfortable spotting up and shooting off the catch and creating his own shot by shooting off the dribble. He can also slash and attack the basket, making difficult, contested shots in traffic. Dorsey has the potential to be a high level shooter and scorer in the NBA. Although he is not known for passing or rebounding and is seen as a poor defender, he has been working to improve on these skills. And Dorsey definitely has the killer mentality and fearless attitude that many teams lack and could always use. Teams in need of increased offense should take a stab at Dorsey in the 2nd round.
NBA Comparison: JJ Redick
3. Peter Jok (SG, Iowa)
Weight: 205 lbs
Draft Projection: Late 2nd round to undrafted
Jok is written off by several people simply because of his age. Not many college seniors will be drafted in decent positions if drafted at all. And I’m sure a lot of fans haven’t even heard of him. Make no mistake though, Jok will be a great addition for any NBA team, and it would be stupid for teams to look past him. Arguably the best shooter in this draft class, Jok has an incredibly pure jump shot. He shines in all three aspects of jump shooting: off the catch, off the dribble, and creating his own shot. His size and length gives him the ability to shoot over most defenders. This is a skill that is greatly overlooked in the NBA. Jok has decent ball handling skills which shows his versatility at the guard position. He is amazing off the ball also, utilizing screens to get open looks. Two things that Jok could improve on are his scoring inside and his foot speed on the defensive end. However, with his amazing shooting ability, teams really should take a chance on him. It’s always good to have a player who will stretch the floor and knock down open threes. Think of Jok as the opposite of Jae Crowder.
NBA Comparison: Kyle Korver
4. Melo Trimble (PG, Maryland)
Draft Projection: Late 2nd round to undrafted
Trimble finished his freshman year at Maryland as a potential lottery pick. Despite this, he played two more collegiate seasons, and although he performed well, he was hindered by injury problems. These have done enough to scare GMs from considering drafting him as many mock drafts have him going undrafted. But the talent is definitely still there for Trimble. He still has the potential to be an above average starting point guard in the NBA. Most of Trimble’s success comes from scoring off the dribble. He uses his strength and size to drive to the basket and make contested layups. He can also be very dangerous from downtown. In college, he made around two threes per game. His shooting and driving allows him to abuse pick and roll scenarios. Trimble is comfortable shooting off a screen or driving and kicking off a screen. In addition, he is a sufficient defender and a marvelous passer. Trimble is a player who simply knows how to play the game of basketball. Whether it’s anticipating passes on defense or scoring from anywhere on offense, the guard will work hard and succeed. If he can retain his health and develop more consistency, watch out for Melo Trimble because he will be any team’s dream one day.
NBA Comparison: Jeff Teague
5. Kyle Kuzma (PF, Utah)
Weight: 225 lbs
Draft Projection: Early to mid 2nd round
Kuzma has made a name for himself not only in his stellar college career but in this year’s NBA Draft Combine. His skill set impressed many scouts and his draft stock has risen since then. Kuzma is a bit undersized for the small forward position. However, he makes up for it with his agility and quickness. The forward loves to run the floor in transition, and he will also push it on fast breaks on occasion. Although Kuzma is not incredibly explosive, he has a knack for getting to the basket and scoring in the lane. His quickness and length make him a very capable defender and rebounder based on NBA standards. He can do a job defending the perimeter or inside. Kuzma also can shoot the ball. He can easily shine in pick and pop scenarios. He is not the best at creating his own shot but is a fantastic catch and shoot player and an effective face up scorer inside the arc. In the NBA, he will have to work on his decision making and commit less turnovers than he did in college. The tools are there for Kuzma, but he has to put them together. I believe he’ll have no problem doing so, and he’ll be a gift for one lucky team this summer.
NBA Comparison: Paul Millsap