Steals and Sleepers
Every year, a few players slip through the cracks on Draft night. Whether that means that they fall through the first round or out of the Draft altogether, it’s a process that baffles front offices when late June rolls around. Last season, the Wine and Gold’s rotation featured a slew of second-rounders like Boobie Gibson, Ryan Hollins, Ramon Sessions, Anderson Varejao and Luke Harangody. And Cleveland’s brass even uncovered a couple gems that fell through Draft night altogether – like Samardo Samuels and Manny Harris.
Just the past few Drafts have produced (or not produced) their share of steals and sleepers – players like Landry Fields, Wesley Matthews, DeJuan Blair, Chase Budinger, Omer Asik, DeAndre Jordan and Marc Gasol.
So when the big names are off the board this Thursday, don’t think that there aren’t contributors lurking in the second round and beyond. And when the Wine and Gold is on the clock at picks No. 32 and 54, they might just find a player we’ll one day include among the aforementioned steals and sleepers of the Draft.
Only time will tell ...
Strengths: Excellent mechanics, high release and length make him a dangerous shooter; mobile, though not necessarily quick; strong court vision and decent passing ability; has been labeled the best pure shooting international player since Dirk Nowitzki.
Weaknesses: Somewhat one-dimensional; at just 211 pounds, is thin for either forward position; not a threat to get to the rim and gets crowded by defenders.
How he could help the Cavs: The Cavaliers have some solid big men on the roster, but none who – at 6-10 – can pop out and can the three.
Strengths: Great size and length for the point guard position; is good in both pick-and-roll and isolation situations; improved shooting from both three-point range and the stripe; good NBA pedigree – his father was former NBA player and he was coached by Fred Hoiberg at Iowa State.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t get to the rim often; still not viewed as a great shooter; incredibly turnover-prone; will likely be a bench player at the next level.
How he could help the Cavs: Once again, the Cavaliers would love to add an athletic wing player to their backcourt, and Byron Scott has no problem playing two lead guards together.
Strengths: Exceptional athlete; long, quick and explosive with excellent body control; has improved as a shooter; uses athleticism to get to the rim (or stripe) frequently; excellent in the open court; led the Vols in scoring an three-point percentage; solid defender.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t have great handle and is turnover-prone in traffic; inconsistent from game to game; not a great or willing passer; tends to coast.
How he could help the Cavs: The Cavaliers never got Coach Scott’s up-tempo system in full gear last season, but an explosive athlete like Hopson could jump start that.
Strengths: Long and athletic combo guard with elite defensive capabilities; terrific speed and toughness; excellent in transition; handles the ball well and has a decent offensive repertoire off the dribble; worked to improve his jump shot; All-First Team Pac-10 and All-Defensive Team.
Weaknesses: True position is a question mark in the pros; doesn’t have a playmaker’s mentality but doesn’t have a two-guard’s bulk; not a great primary ball handler.
How he could help the Cavs: As Clyde Frazier often says: “No D. No W.” The name of the NBA game is defense, and an athletic wing who can defend is a commodity. Former Bruins also tend to become better pros once they take the next step.
Strengths: Athletic, mature and versatile wing player; makes good decisions with the ball; offensive game improved in each year in Columbus, including a 7-for-7 3pt performance in the NCAA Tourney; can defend both guard spots at the next level.
Weaknesses: Not a top-flight athlete by NBA standards; some injury history; only average handle and first step; likely won’t be the transition threat he was in college.
How he could help the Cavs: The Cavaliers early selections could still be in their teens and a mature man in the Class of 2011 might be helpful. The pride of St. Joe’s isn’t an elite athlete, but could be a solid rotation guy for years.
Strengths: Exceptional defender who can guard multiple positions; has made strides as a shooter and ball handler; was SEC All-Defensive Team as a junior; not an explosive athlete; assortment of offensive tools; capable and comfortable putting the ball on the floor.
Weaknesses: Not highly-skilled offensively; poor free throw shooter; inconsistent and odd-looking jumper; old (23) for a junior; sometimes lets his emotions get the better of him.
How he could help the Cavs: Any team can use a lockdown defender who can guard three perimeter positions, and Liggins has defended some of the best in college ball.
Strengths: Excellent outside shooter for his size; good hands and soft shooting touch; reliable finisher inside; very good ball handler; solid post player; can defend both forward positions; decent shot-blocker; very high basketball IQ.
Weaknesses: Just an average athlete; better in the halfcourt than the open court; can improve on his rebounding significantly; is better defending speed players than power players.
How he could help the Cavs: Mirotic would give Byron Scott an excellent frontcourt option with his ability to spread the floor. And he’s already played at the highest level of European hoops.
Strengths: Was the SEC Player of the Year as a junior; excellent passer for a forward with solid ball handling skills; decent defender with good length and lateral quickness; led the team in rebounding and assists in final season at Florida; outstanding instincts in pressure situations.
Weaknesses: Not an aggressive scorer – fourth on his team as a junior; average athlete without great explosiveness at the rim; might not be quick enough to guard SF nor strong enough to guard PF in the pros.
How he could help the Cavs: Parsons likely won’t be an NBA star, but he could be a versatile bench and solid contributor in the vein of a Luke Walton.
Strengths: Powerfully-built guard with scorer’s mentality; good size for a lead guard; great first step and strong penetrator; came to Kansas as No. 1 recruit in the country; aggressive and physical defender.
Weaknesses: Shot just 38 percent from the floor as a freshman; not a great ball handler; didn’t leave a great impression at Kansas and not seen as an immediate impact player.
How he could help the Cavs: Time is on the Cavaliers side and, depending on where they go early in the Draft, could be a solid project/backup for Byron Scott – who’s worked with and developed his share of point guards.
Strengths: Long, extremely athletic combo guard; exceptional defender and rebounder for a guard; can play either backcourt position; led Tech in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals as a junior.
Weaknesses: Inconsistent; bad shot selection – averaged five three-point attempts per game but shot just 27 percent; turnover-prone; needs to improve jumper.
How he could help the Cavs: The Cavaliers are in need of wing players and, at 6-5, Shumpert could be a strong two-way performer for Cleveland.
Strengths: Combo forward with good size and a well-rounded skill-set; high basketball IQ; faced top-level competition in college; shoots with range and makes a high percentage at the stripe; competitive, unselfish team player who’ll make the extra pass; is an experienced winner.
Weaknesses: Below-average athleticism could cause him to struggle on the defensive end as a pro; shot just 32 percent from three-point range as a senior; plays below the rim; is already 23 years old.
How he could help the Cavs: Singler is a known commodity to pro teams and would be a versatile frontline threat – and solid team player – for the Wine and Gold.
Strengths: Maybe the most explosive athlete in the Draft, certainly pound-for-pound; proved his toughness and clutch play in last year’s NCAA Tournament; led the Huskies in scoring and assists in each of his three seasons; gets to the line often; tough and willing defender for his size.
Weaknesses: not a pure point guard and court vision can be a problem; not a consistent shooter; could struggle defensively at the pro level.
How he could help the Cavs: The Cavaliers have passed on smaller players before, and it’s come back to bite them. Thomas could come into the pros with a chip on his shoulder, like other overachieving small guards.
Strengths: Versatile big man with a soft touch who can play both inside and out; strong ball handling skills for his size; active rebounder and shot-blocker; exceptional footwork in the post; has a nice 10-15 foot jumper; unselfish player who finds teammates when double-teamed.
Weaknesses: Not a great athlete with below-average leaping ability; conditioning has been an issue at Georgia; poor lateral movement; his toughness has been questioned.
How he could help the Cavs: The Cavaliers have some bruisers on the front line, but could use a skilled big man with an array of moves and willingness to pass around the bucket.
Strengths: Highly-touted big man, committed to Louisville before going overseas; monster 7-5 wingspan and huge hands; good footwork for his size; raw ability to score with both hands; nice soft touch and can step out to hit face-up jumper from 18 feet; strong finisher.
Weaknesses: Doesn’t have polished post game; didn’t produce greatly overseas and considered high-maintenance; great upside, but still viewed as a project in the pros.
How he could help the Cavs: If Tyler could live up to the potential that he had coming out of high school, he could be the steal of the Draft. And a team can never have too many skilled big men.